About Xenos and Proud

This is a small blog about my Warhammer 40,000 hobby. I will try to concentrate on the tactics behind the general game and my Xenos armies but there will be the odd post about random stuff.

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Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Xenos and Proud is an 18 year old from Scotland who has been playing 40K for the last 4 years. He loves the 'under-dog' xenos armies, namely his Tyranid Gorgon splinter fleet, his Saim-Hann windrider host, his Tau Vleastean Hunter-cadre and the newest addition, the Shadowfax Corsairs. Although his tactics are mostly 'borrowed', his painting skills still 'developing' and his luck becoming evermore 'ridiculous' he continues to play, paint and roll in the hope that one day things will get better.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Contentious Rules: Grey Knight Force Weapons

One thing we all love is a good contentious and confusing rule and the Grey Knight codex if full of them. While listening to the 11th Company podcast I heard a discussion about this following rule which they concluded to an end I disagree with. This is a rather important rule especially for the likes of Tyranids so lets look deeper.

Whoever did this picture; thank you. It is beautiful.

Firstly, the problem. If I cause say 6 wounds on a mulit-wound model squad (my beloved Shrikes maybe) from a unit of Grey Knights with force weapons who passed their psychic test how many models do I remove?

A - You remove a monstrous 6 as they are all Instant-Death wounds and as such remove a whole model each.

B- You remove only 2 as they are only power weapon wounds until the psychic test is taken AFTER allocating the wounds and taking any available saves.

I agree with scenario B. Here is my reasoning. Pg.50 of the rulebook is my main source as under 'Force Weapons' it says: 'Roll to hit and wound as normal, allowing any invulnerable save throws the victim may have. The psyker may then take a psychic test to use the force weapons power against any one opponent that suffered an unsaved wound by the weapon in that player turn.'

This says to me that until the wounds are distributed, any invulnerable saves taken and models even removed (suffered an unsaved wound implies it is not dead to me hence meaning it has more than one wound but that is not hard evidence) that the force weapon does not count as applying Instant Death.

Hence the rule which people usually refer to in this case to be found on pg.26 which states: 'Once you have determined the number of unsaved wounds suffered by a group of identical multiple-wound models, you must remove whole models as casualties when possible' does not come into effect as at this point the force weapon wounds (though unsaved) are not considered instant death until a model actually already suffers a wound from  the weapon. That is the crucial and contentious part of the whole mess.

So in our previous example the warriors only lose 2 models as the sequence is as follows: The Grey Knights hit, wound, armour saves are ignored, the unit suffers 6 'unsaved wounds', the Tyranid player allocates 3 wounds each to 2 models (6 to the entire identical group) as they would if that were struck by normal power weapons or even unsaved normal attacks, the 2 warriors are removed as they both have 0 wounds left, no model still alive now has suffered an 'unsaved wound' so now (the time for the psychic test) there is no point in making the test as it would only Instant-Death already dead models.

Where the instant death part would play a role is if the unit had more than 1 group or only suffered 4 wounds; situations where models are left alive but have 'suffered an unsaved wound'. In this case at the end of the long sequence I detailed above during the time of the psychic test there are models alive but wounded so would be affected by the instant death aspect of the weapon which is then activated.

What it really boils down to is whether the allocating of 'unsaved wounds' occurs before or after the psychic test. From my view and understanding it occurs after as it clearly says 'an opponent that suffered an unsaved wound'. However I equally understand that those rules were written with the intention of only being used by one model against one other model and as hence the phrasing/tense of each word is thrown into doubt. Also the second rule I quoted does say that the group as a whole suffered 'unsaved wounds'. However, it never indicates to when or how you apply wounds to a multi-wound group besides saying 'you must remove whole models as casualties when possible'.

What makes this rule even more confusing is when you start mixing in different initiative values. In the Grey Knights codex the rules for the Nemesis Force Weapons on pg.54 say: 'Any further wounds caused by the unit's Nemesis Force Weapons that phase will be bound by the result of that psychic test' meaning that from the moment the first psychic test for the unit's Force Weapons Instant Death ability is rolled and passed then whole squad counts as having Instant Death weapons. Nowhere does it say however that the weapons count as Instant Death weapons as it says in the Force Weapon entry that: 'The enemy model suffers instant death...'.

So with that in mind, what if a unit has a few Halberds? Now if they wound then you make a test, kill a few models even if it isn't from instant-death, but the whole unit now counts as having weapons that apply instant death basically. So does what I said previously change as now the order changes so they do remove one model per wound as they count as instant-death before they are distributed? Very confusing....

So overall it is very contentious and can go either way depending on personal understanding and interpretation of the rules.


  1. Option A is the correct answer for Shrikes and Raveners. Nobs and Thunderwolves who can have each model with different equipment can optimise to keep some models alive.

    You must allocate wounds to groups of identical models. All your Raveners are identical. After saves are taken (of which you have none) there is an interupt for the Force Weapon Psychic test to upgrade those 6 wounds to 6 Instant Death Wounds. Assuming Knights pass the test then you must remove 6 models from the single wound allocation group.

    If you have 4 Cybork Nobs with Klaws and one with a shooter then you could allocate 5 wounds to the Klaws and one to the Shooter. Even if you failed all 5 Klaw saves you would still only remove 4 models because there is only four models in that wound allocation group.

  2. You should check how instant death weapons are defined on page 26 column 1.

    "If a model suffers an unsaved wound from an attack that has a strength value double its Toughness or greater, it is killed outright and removed as a casualty."

    This has the same referenced to suffering an unsaved wound as your force weapon description so you would have to make your claim also for say a squad of long fangs hitting and wounding nid warriors with 3 krak missiles.

    Also look at the first sentence of the 4th paragraph of units with multiple wound models on the same page:

    "Once you have determined the number of unsaved wounds suffered by the group of identical models, you must remove whole models as casualties where possible."

    Look at the structure there, wounds are suffered by the group before they are assigned to the individual models within the group to remove casualties. This is the point that grey knight player jumps in and rolls his power check. Wham wounds now cause instant death and must be spread around the group.

    If you are going to say well the force weapon rule says model then note that the same model term is used to define instant death.

    The structure is helpful when you have 2 groups of multiple wound models say a swarmlord with a 2 tyrant guard. If they took say 5 wounds from the grey knights you would put 4 on the guards 1 on the swarmlord. So if the swarm lord makes his inv save then he will survive eventhough the guard are double killed.

  3. That makes more sense now, thanks. It is still another silly and unnecessary oversight in the new codex. So many rules questions got past them.

  4. Prolly the best overall thread/discussions on the topic comparing GK force weapons to boneswords for clarity: http://yesthetruthhurts.com/2011/04/tyranids-rejoinder/

  5. Boneswords are worse to deal with in the rules than the grey knights since it is a leadership test on the injured models but I would disagree with Stelek here. The same wording is again used about models suffering the wounds as to the normal instant death. Proper way is that model group has to take leadership tests up toeither the number of bonesword wounds taken or their number of models whichever is less. The number of failed ones are converted to instant death and those models are removed then the subtract that number from the bonesword wounds dealt and apply the remainder of the wounds to the rest of the unit.

    GW clearly does not really think this stuff out in their world were almost every codex now has multiple wound model units.

  6. Page 50 is the unclear part, not the grey knight codex.

    It seems clear to me that the psychic test for a force weapon is an additional step in rolling to hit/wound/save.

    With that in mind its clear to me that the psychic test is before any models are removed and page 26 is clear on how to handle instant death in units with multiple wounds.


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