[WFB] Eighth Edition Step By Step – Combat!

Or, as my mate Dale used to call it, KUMQUAT!  He was special.  And not in a good way.  In an ‘unpleasant surprise, keep items of furniture between you at all times’ kind of way.  Good Skaven player though.  Anyway, like Dale, Warhammer close combat rules are big, beefy, and have a tendency toward the bizarre.  Fortunately they’re the second to last section of the basic rules – it’ll be Panic tomorrow/Thursday and then I’m taking a break for a bit before plunging back into the Advanced rules.

Again, this is is a section that would probably benefit from some pictures and I’ll provide some as soon as I have some painted WFB models to take snaps of.  I don’t exactly miss owning three armies whilst not being able to afford food, but it was convenient…

Combats are resolved in an order determined by the active player, and each is resolved COMPLETELY, including flee and pursuit moves, before moving on. When do Panic tests for broken enemies trigger? Is it possible to panic the unit in the next combat over before it fights?  Find out more in the Panic rules, I guess…

Models in base-to-base contact with enemies must fight.  Models in base-to-base contact with different enemies who have different stats may choose which one to target before rolling to hit, and models with multiple attacks may split them between different profiles at the same stage. The one-per-model supporting attacks from the second, third or even fourth ranks (Hordes with Spears) are directed through the model at the front of their file and may be placed in the same places as that model’s attacks. Gaps in the rear rank are ignored for purposes of placing attacks.

Since corner-to-corner contact is still contact, you can use these rules to sink rather a lot of attacks onto one model of the same or larger base size than your dudesmen (potentially three models from the front rank plus nine attacks from those further back, if the target’s base is the same size and lined up cleanly), which is a neat way of killing Wizards or torrenting armoured characters down a peg or two.

Hordes must be ten models wide and can be of any depth, although they need at least three ranks for hording to be worthwhile.  All they get is the ability to fight in an extra rank.  If there are further benefits, I don’t see them in this section.  Personally I’d rather have the narrow frontage and control how many enemies I engage, but maybe the horde will have other benefits later in the rules.

Casualties are removed from the rear rank even if a unit is fighting to its rear.  The gaps are assumed to be filled from within the unit, and if the rear rank is entirely wiped out, the attacking unit is moved forward into base contact with the new rear rank (page 61).  Two ranks’ worth of models get to fight as long as there are two ranks of models to fight – if the unit only has three ranks and engaged from front and rear then presumably you get to choose which way the middle chaps swing.

Flank and rear charges always add +1 and +2 to their sides’ combat result BUT the flanking or rearing unit needs to have two ranks of five models apiece in order to cancel the rank bonus of the engaged unit.  There’s a mess of tactical choices opened up by this, viz. when it’s worth charging your chaff into a flank to tip the balance, maybe take some casualties and risk a net loss, but maybe spare the unit already being engaged some damage so it can tip the balance back again… and those choices will become more complicated later on.  Stay tuned.

A standard is worth one point of combat result, a battle standard is worth an additional point. What of a Battle Standard Bearer on their own? +1 or +2?  I’m guessing +2, since it’s still, y’know, a standard.

Lose a combat, take a Break test on your Leadership as modified by the difference between your combat result and the other unit’s.  Pass, and you can try to make what’s called a ‘combat reform’, on the same modified Leadership stat.

A combat reform is subject to the same rules as an ordinary one and is used to bring more models into combat, or to turn a unit so that it’s facing enemies engaging it from the flank or rear. However, you have to leave the same models, or rather the same number of the same statlines (rather than physiclly moving models with identical rules about within the unit), in contact with the enemy. Note that their positions don’t have to stay the same, so you can shuffle characters up or down the ranks and files as long as they stay in contact with the enemy (moving them from the central file to a flank, where fewer enemies can strike them or where they can prepare to receive and counter an incoming flank charge with high Initiative attacks).  You can only reform if engaged on one facing, so if you’re flanked, you’re stuck.

If both players want to make a combat reform in the same round, they roll off and the winner chooses – the active player’s choice rule DOES NOT APPLY here, for some reason (page 55).

Steadfast units – those which lose the combat but have more ranks than the winning side – do not suffer negative Leadership modifiers for losing, and can therefore use their base Leadership to reform and ensure that they remain Steadfast, or give the status up in order to gain more attacks in the subsequent combat round.

Disruption from flank charges does not cancel Steadfast – it makes the rank bonus go away, not the rank itself (page 55).

More Leadership tests – restraining your unit from pursuing always requires one.  Overrunning after charging and wiping out an enemy DOES NOT require a test, you just get a combat reform or overrun move as you choose (page 56).

Fleeing and pursuit rolls are made before anything moves, so you know what you’re resolving before you move any models to resolve it.  This will come in handy later…

Fleeing units pivot on the spot and move away from’the victor’, but pursuing units pivot toward the centre of the fleeing unit.  Fleeing units move through allies and impassable terrain, pursuing ones stop for terrain and charge enemies in their way.  Note that if the newly charged enemies were already engaged and haven’t fought yet, the pursuing unit gets to participate in their combat; if they weren’t, the combat waits until the other player’s turn.  Incidentally, you can’t pursue more than once in a round; win the second round of combat and your unit automatically restrains.  Stick your finger in page 58 and flick back to it when we get to the Frenzy rules, arright?

Pursuers are the only units that can move back onto the table having left it.

 

Multiple Combats (that’s combats involving two or more units on both sides) are interesting in that the developers openly admit (page 59) that you may have to negotiate house rules for sensible resolution with your opponent, as the rules tend to break down a bit at this stage.  There are a few precedents and principles established, though.

Ranks, charging, high ground, standards and flank/rear modifiers are only counted once.

Steadfast is counted unit by unit: units on the losing side with more ranks than any unit on the winning side are steadfast.

Pursuers have to choose one fleeing enemy to pursue and must do so BEFORE any flee distance rolls are made.  A unit may only pursue if every enemy unit in base contact with it flees or has been wiped out through casualties.  Pursuers can move in any order.

Fleeing units must outdistance every unit pursuing THEM, not every unit WHICH HAPPENS TO BE PURSUING (wording in the rules is ‘their pursuers’ and the winning player has to choose who’s chasing who, page 60).

Units flee from whichever victorious unit has the most ranks of five, turning directly away from them (might be the precedent for dealing with units that flee from a combat where they’ve been flank charged).  Pursuers turn to face the centre of their target and move directly towards it.

If all this turning and pivoting ends up bringing pursuing units closer than one inch to fleeing units that have outdistanced them according to the dice, the pursuers stop one inch away from the flee-ers (diagram on page 61).

Note that if two or more units are defeated, flee and are not caught, the pursuit will be very difficult to resolve. Personally I’d selectively restrain pursuits to avoid the headache of positioning everyone correctly and the inevitable traffic jams that’ll result from units trying to pursue along the same path.

Remember, as well, that the sequence is ‘roll to flee, roll to pursue, remove ‘caught!’ flee-ers, move flee-ers, move pursuers’ (p56) – so you don’t have to choose what order your pursuing models move in until you’ve seen how far the enemy flees and where they end up.  You have to choose to pursue ‘blind’, as it were, but you have some control over the order of resolution, so traffic jams shouldn’t happen unless you want them to or all your units end up pursuing the same sort of distance, being nudged sideways to maintain the one-inch rule, displacing FURTHER units that they’re now within one inch of… it’ll be a mess.  So take some high-Ld combat units, make some restrain rolls, only pursue with fast disposable stuff… pursue responsibly, in essence.  Only you can prevent rules arguments.

Units engaging other units in the rear and killing every model in their target’s rearmost rank are nudged forward to contact the next rank.

Units which end up no longer engaged with any enemy UNITS (not models, UNITS) due to casualties are disengaged from the combat. their kills still count for combat resolution, but nothing else from them (flanks, banners, charges) does.

Pages 55, 56 and 61 are the Rules Lawyer’s Friends.  Keep coming back to them.

All this talk of Ranks and Flanks has made me think of some more things about charges, which I’m folding into the entry on movement.

Time to sort out my HoP Idol entry, methinks.

You may now commence belching

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