Tripping up on Assaults

There’s an interesting set of questions that keep coming up concerning Assaults, some of which include another gotcha, too: use of the blast template. So, I though it might be worth running through a particularly complicated assault and explain it, step-by-step. Such an assault would be between a unit of three Ghar Assault Troopers and a Weapon Drone, say the C3D1 with a plasma light support.

First, though, let’s clear up a misunderstanding: blast hits do not necessarily use the overhead blast template. Sound strange? That’s because it’s only overhead (OH) blast hits that use the OH template: weapons that inflict blast hits through direct fire such as disuptor cannon do not use the blast template. This means that if a Ghar disruptor cannon misses its target well, it just misses and does not scatter. Whilst this is disappointing for Ghar, on the upside the disruptor cannon shot doesn’t get the -2 for overhead fire…

In fact, it’s very rare that the OH template will ever be used in Assaults because, at the time of writing, I cannot think of any overhead weapons with a range of less than 10″ and point blank shooting takes place at point blank range.

But more on that later.

The situation

Let’s assume the three Ghar assault troops are 7″ away from the C3’s weapon drone. Neither have received an order, but the Ghar already have 2 pins from previous shooting. The Ghar player’s dice turns up and he assigns it to the Assault troops, stating he is trying to make an Assault on the weapon drone. First off, he must make an Order Test because the Ghar have pins – for the sake of this example, we’ll say he makes it, so lifts one of the pins, and puts a ‘Run’ order beside the Assault squad.

Assault has two phases: Point Blank Shooting (PBS) and Hand-to-Hand Fighting (HtH). There could be two rounds of Hand-to-Hand fighting, depending on what happened after the first round.

A quick note on Sprint and Down

It is often a good idea to Sprint into assault as you force the enemy to reroll hits they made during the PBS phase (see p.29 and 41) (this also applies to Fast units making a Run order to Assault).

Further, if the Assaulted unit is Down, and can benefit from rerolls due to being Down (infantry, beast, weapon team and equivalent command units), the attackers’ hits are rerolled. However, ‘Down’ units shoot second in PBS and also fight second in HtH – in both cases the attacker’s damage and casualties are removed before the Down unit responds, which might be nasty.

Reactions & PBS eligible weapons

In our example, the Concord player could elect to have their C3D1 make a Reaction. There are two possible reactions on being Assaulted: Stand and Shoot or Escape. Normally, Stand and Shoot is a good reaction as the reacting unit gets to shoot first in PBS. However, in this case, the trouble is that only ranged hand and standard weapons can shoot in PBS and the C3D1 is armed with a plasma light support, a light support weapon (p. 40).

The C3 player decides that the C3D1 will try and Escape, declares an attempt at a Reaction but rolls a 9 against the drone’s Initiative of 8 – a failure. The drone just has to face the Ghar.

The assault troopers are moved into contact with the drone. All three can fight and shoot in PBS as every member of a squad fights and shoots in Assaults (p.40 & p.41).

PBS shooting

The assault troopers’ gouger guns have a minimum range of 10″ so cannot be used in PBS. However, Ghar assault troops are armed with disruptor dischargers that they can only use during the PBS phase (p.86). The three Ghar loose off their dischargers and get a 4, 5 and 3 on the dice. Whilst they have a Accuracy of ‘5’, this is currently reduced to ‘4’ because they still have one pin, so only two dischargers hit.

Disruptor dischargers do D4 SV2 hits, so the Ghar player rolls a D4 and, unfortunately, gets a 1. As two dischargers hit, however, this means the C3D1 suffers 2 x 1 = 2 hits. These two hits can only be allocated to one target, the weapon drone.

If this were the hand-to-hand phase, and as the dischargers are grenades, all hits against a single model would be compounded into one with the sum of all the SV. In this case, the 2 x SV2 hits would be compounded into 1 x SV 4 hit. However (important) this is the point blank shooting phase, so we still remain with two, SV2 hits.

The drone’s Resist is normally ‘8’. Reducing this by SV2 means the Concord player must roll 6 or below to save, but rolls a 7 and a 5, and fails one. The weapon drone has to roll on the Weapon Drone Damage Chart (p.37). Here, the Concord player is lucky and only rolls a 2, meaning his drone takes D3 pins (another roll of a 2) and goes Down. The two pins from the disruptor dischargers are now applied, meaning the weapon drone has four pins, and a C3 dice is drawn from the bag and placed beside the drone indicating it is Down.

Normally, a single model would have to take a Break Test for being shot at and ending up with more pins that models (4:1). However, weapon drones and similar vehicles do not take Break Tests unless forced to by a Damage Chart result (p.44).

HtH – the first round

The drone is Down, so fights second in hand-to-hand. The Ghar assault troopers are nasty in hand-to-hand, having a Str of 10  – the +1 bonus for Assaulting in round 1 and +1 for having a hand weapon (p.42) don’t really help! Though they have a pin, it doesn’t reduce their Str (also p.42).

Normally, each model in HtH only fights once, though some creatures have multiple attacks. In this case, the three Ghar have one attack each and roll 2, 6 and 9 – three hits. Their plasma claws have a random SV of D4, and their player rolls a 3. In response, the C3 player must make three saves against an adjusted Res of ‘5’ (8 – 3), getting a 2, 4 and 8: one of the attacks made it through.

Note that we roll only once for the random SV and multiply it by the number of figures. This is common amongst all such weapons (even disruptors) and a unit almost never rolls for each model’s random SV/random hits (see p.66, for example).

Once again, the weapon drone has to roll on the Damage Chart, getting a 4, giving D3 pins, go Down and a weapon malfunction (this C3 player is pretty lucky). Rolling a D3 and getting a 3, the C3 players has to apply receives another three pins, totalling seven. The ‘Down’ result is ignored as the drone is already Down, but a ‘weapon malfunction’ chit is placed beside the drone to show its plasma light support weapon is no longer operational.

Note that the drone does NOT receive an extra pin due to receiving a Down result when already Down. This only applies to Break tests (p.45) and not for Damage Chart entries (p.37).

The weapon drone now fights because it Down so had to fight second (a squad with multiple members could have suffered casualties, in which case it would fight without those members of its squad). The drone only has a Strength of ‘1’, with no bonuses, so it is hardly a shock when the C3 player fails on the HtH attack.

Both units have fought, so we now check to see if either has to take a Break Test. The loser of a round of HtH is the unit with the most pins, in this case the drone as it has 7 compared to the Ghar’s 1. However, there is no Break Test to take as the weapon drone only takes such tests when ordered to do so by a result from the chart (p.44). Further, as it has a Co of ‘8’, the drone has not yet reached its Automatic Break limit of ‘8’ pins (p.45, we’ll call it auto-break).

As they won, the Ghar have the option of choosing a second round of HtH fighting. Given that they have successfully dented the weapon drone, they elect to do so (see ‘Follow on Combat’, p.43).

A note on Drawn HtH results

If both units in an assault end up with an equal number of pins at the the end of a HtH round, the result is a ‘draw’ (p.44) but they are both ‘considered to have been defeated’ (p.43). This means that both units take a Break Test (if of a type that do so) and follow the result they rolled on p.45.

It’s probably worth mentioning that even had the drone Drawn the combat, it would still not have had to take a Break Test as it is ‘of a type’ that only takes such Break Tests when ordered to do so by the Damage Chart.

A quick note on grenades

As we said above, grenades compound their multiple attacks against a single model into a single attack against that model with the sum of all their SV. However, this onlyhappens in hand-to-hand fighting and not in PBS. Against a single vehicle or drone, a squad of 6 throwing grenades (or 12 outcasts!) in HtH may well strike with half their grenades or more and will find their SV start mounting up!

Follow on Combat – the second round of HtH

The Ghar are trying to take apart a weapon drone that is now little more than a tin can. As the drone is still Down, they fight first, again. Once more, the Ghar inflict a few hits on the battered drone, but it saves all bar one. Once more, it rolls on the Damage Chart and, though the C3 player only rolls a 1, this means it now has eight pins against its Co of ‘8’, an auto-break.

However, this brings up an interesting situation – the drone does not yet break as the HtH combat is not finished and Break Tests, including Automatic Breaks are taken at the end of an round of HtH (p.43 & p.45). In this odd case, the drone still has one model left in its unit (itself) and HtH has not yet finished as it has not fought. It does so, and the C3 player rolls a 1: a hit.

Unfortunately, the weapon drone has an SV of 0 so the Ghar player makes his save against a Res of 12. Unfortunately, the Ghar players rolls a 10 – a fail – and a Ghar assault trooper is removed. As a model is removed, a pin is applied, giving the Ghar a total of 2 pins.

Now we check to see who has won and take the relevant Break Tests. The Ghar have 2 pins, the drone 8: the Ghar have won. Further, the drone does not take a Break Test but now auto-breaks and is broken and destroyed (p.45).

The two remaining Ghar assault troopers win and consolidate (p.43), moving 5″ to place a useful obstacle between themselves and other C3 units.

Note that the Ghar do NOT have to take a Break Test due to having one pin per model. The Break Test condition is specifically ‘shot at and hit […] inflicting one or more pins’. At the end of HtH there has been no shooting (p.44)!

The point of this is that the Break Test results are all rolled into the single assessment and Break Test for losers at the end of a round of combat. Another way of looking at it is to ask that if a squad’s hand-to-hand enemy has died or broken in front of them, why would the unit suddenly give up? Such a situation is already covered by the situation where units having equal pins – a draw – at which point both are considered as ‘defeated’ and testing.


Comment on the Example Results

This is a rather complicated example using grenades, PBS, a Damage Chart vehicle and some deliberately fixed dice results. Most Assaults are much more straightforward, sometimes with Break Tests even taking place during PBS and certainly after each round of HtH. I’ve tried to explain why such tests were not taken simply because this Assault is one of those that are most likely to be confusing.

I hope I have explained it so that it can be understood!

(It should be noted that this Assault came off badly for the Ghar as they lost a suit for a weapon drone. However, normally, the assault troopers would have beaten the weapon drone through PBS and a single round of HtH without taking any damage to themselves.)

Have fun!

[Thanks to Yannik Klich, Mark Croft & others for pointing out the typos,
and to James Buckley for questions which were then explained above.]


4 thoughts on “Tripping up on Assaults

  1. Tim – great stuff, thanks for putting together. Illustrates well for me that this is a rule where I think the simplicity of the Bolt Action equivalent actually works better (though in general I prefer the Gates mechanics). Couple of quick couple clarification questions from me:
    a) in your examples you only role once for random SV, even where there are multiple hits – e.g. the plasma claw SV; I understood that you would roll for each claw that hit separarely, but you roll once (a 3) and apply to both hits. Is this correct?
    b) the drone was required to make a down order when already down – you say that consequently it ignores this; but doesn’t it actually take an additional pin as a penalty for being down when having to go down again?
    c) at the end, since the Ghar have two pins, and there are two left in the unit, do they not have to take an order test to avoid going down?
    Many thanks


    • Hi James
      a) Yes, it is correct. Roll once only and multiply it by the number of figures. This is common amongst all such weapons (even disruptors) so a unit never rolls for each figure’s random SV/random hits. See p.66.
      b) No, not for Damage Chart entries – see p.37. You’re thinking of Break Tests (p.45).
      c) No. The Break Test condition is ‘shot at and hit […] inflicting one or more pins’. At the end of HtH there has been no shooting! See p.44.


  2. Ok cool thanks for the quick response. Some of those rules seem a bit odd though… why would you treat a hit in hth any different to a hit in from a gun in terms of making you break or not? But fair enough, thems the rules as written. Catch you soon.


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