Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rules from the Man-cave

Here are two house rules from the Galaxy in Flames Man-cave, that we use all the time. They add a lot of tactical depth to our Warhammer 40k games.

Think about it, who in their right mind would sit there not shooting their guns at an opponent charging into them? Or how hard it would be to launch an all out assault on the enemy if there is a withering hail of lead bearing down on you?

To us these rules make sense. They may not be for you, but hey I thought I’d put ‘em out here.

The Unit Suppression rule does not affect units that are Fearless. As they don’t care about being shot at, and can never be suppressed.

Unit Suppression in Warhammer 40k; we have added a suppression mechanic to our 40k games. It was shamelessly pilfered and tweaked from our experience with Flames of War. Suppression is used to affect a units ability to function properly in the Assault phase.

In the shooting phase keep track of how many hits each non-vehicle unit takes. At the end of the phase any unit that has taken five or more hits from shooting than it has models in the unit, must pass a leadership test or they become suppressed. Suppression lasts until the end of the suppressed units next player turn.

A suppressed unit must pass a leadership test to be capable of launching an assault. If the test is passed the assault is launched as normal; if the test is failed the unit falls back and automatically regroups at the end of the move, even if they normally would ‘not’ be able to do so. (For example, even a unit that has been reduced to less than half strength would be able to regroup in this type of fallback move)

If a suppressed unit is assaulted, they do not get their Defenders React move, but may pile in after the initial Assault is done.

Defensive Fire in Warhammer 40k; this was also shamelessly pilfered and tweaked from Flames of War. Defensive Fire makes assaulting more dangerous and tactical.

This is not a normal shooting phase and supercedes the normal infantry shooting rules; facing does matter. Any unit that receives an assault may fire all it’s weapons at the assaulting unit as they move into contact, as long as the assaulting unit starts off in the 180-degree models eye view of the defensive firing unit; 90-degrees to either side of the models head.

Vehicles may also defensive fire, but only at targets that start off in direction the weapons are facing; in defensive fire sponsons, pintle mounts and turrets do not move.

During Defensive Fire shooting each model in the unit fires their weapon at full effect as listed in the weapons summary in their codex, as long as the unit is not suppressed. If the unit is suppressed all weapons in the unit get one shot regardless of their normal game statistics.

If the assaulting unit becomes suppressed during the assault move it loses its +1 attack for launching the assault.

Edit: I may make this a regular bi-weekly set of articles if there is enough interest.


  1. Those are pretty cool house rules, I may suggest trying those next time I play.


  2. Interesting. These sound pretty cool.

  3. Cool rules. Might have to try them out next time my friends and I play at my place.

  4. This sounds a bit like something I'veheard long-time 40k vets talk about. You could fire into units that charged you.

    I think it makes a certain amount of common sense, but it does gimp the utility of assaulty units.

    I'm curious what armies you guys usually use, as I wonder if that informs your opinions on these rules.

    I certainly would not want to be playing an assaulty army versus a shooty army with this stuff out, unless my assault troops are fearless.

  5. Thanks for the feedback guy.

    Fearless or not, assault armies do just fine with these rules, as long as the table has the proper amount of terrain (25%) and uses good tactics.

    We use any of the Following armies:

    Imperial Guard
    Codex Marines
    Space Wolves
    Non-Cult/fearless Chaos Marines
    With the Dark Eldar appearing from time to time.

    It’s true that certain units shine under these rules through smart play and tactics. Jump infantry are the 'Rockstars' of many a game, with their ability to jump over a target and attack it from the rear. In fact most Fast attack choices seem to operate, as their category suggests.

    These rules tend to force a lot of symmetry in your list building. Mutual support is really important.

    You want to centralize your fire with multiple units on an enemy unit that you want to assault, to ensure that you suppress them.

    Like I said these rules aren’t for everyone, but we enjoy the tactical depth that they add to our games. It makes our games of 40k feel a lot less rock, paper, scissors.

  6. I would be inclined to run one rule, but not both at once, since they largely address the same issue. Both use shooting to counter assault. Why use two rules to do that when one will suffice?

    Of the two, I would pick defensive fire. For suppressive fire we have pinning. It's not the same, but it does try and address the same battlefield mechanism, whereas there is no current 40k equivalent of defensive fire, and I like the 'facing' mechanism it employs. However, since facing is irrelevant in the shooting phase, you could have a unit with models facing in all directions, so that at least someone will be able to use defensive fire against an assault unit whichever direction they come from.

    What is the penalty for defensive fire? Shouldn't the defending unit lose close combat attacks for any model that used defensive fire in the ensuing close combat phase? Or perhaps the unit as a whole should simply lose all its attacks if even one model uses defensive fire? That seems a bit more consistent with 40k.

  7. Sholto,
    I see where you are coming from, but using only the one rule will mostly only affect the assaulter. I'm not sure DF would work if you were to weak it as you suggested.

    Having models in a squad facing all different directions probably wouldn't be able to do much damage to the assaulting unit.

    I unfortunately omitted part of the Unit Suppression rule, I should have waited until I had the House Rule notebook in my hands before posting, my bad. I’ve added the missing bit onto the end of the rule.

    When we had first written these rules a suppressed unit only got half its attacks rounding up, in the assault phase. We adjusted the rule when 5th came out it was changed to the loss of the Defenders React move.

    We purposely left any loss of combat power out for units using defensive fire, because it’s not optional. So everyone defends themselves from being assaulted. These rules are symbiotic; suppress the enemy so they are less effective when they are assaulted.

    Either way, you are free to tweak and use the rules anyway you see fit, and if you find something that is brilliant by all means let me know.


  8. Interesting & please keep posting your house rules - they generate good discussions and I'm all for tweaks and additions to the core rulebook Personally I'd rather bring back an Overwatch type rule to allow a unit to fire during another player's turn (by sacrificing their shooting phase). But hey, to each their own.


  9. Thanks Andy, it has been a good discussion.

    We tried bringing back overwatch, but it didn't do it for us. The problem was that a couple of our group headed strait to the gunline overwatch armies and never wanted to move.

    Now this was back in 4th, with all of the new 5th ed objective based missions it may be worth another try.

    If you'd like I could write something up for reinstating Overwatch, test it out and post up the results.


  10. Big Jim,

    I would need to play the DF rule to see how it worked, but I see what you are getting at with the 'automatic' nature of the rules change. Not the way I would go (I prefer choices with costs) but I understand your aim now.

    As for facing, since all models can see 180 degrees, you place 1/2 your models facing one way and 1/2 facing the opposite direction. At least 1/2 your unit can fire whatever direction the assault comes from.

    How do you deal with flamer weapons? When do you put the template down - before or after the charge occurs? I suppose the same question applies to blast weapons.

    Overwatch is a decent rule, and plenty of other systems use it, but it needs to come with a cost and/or a risk attached, since otherwise it effectively doubles the damage output of a shooting army. An example cost: if you shoot on overwatch you can only fire at BS2 in _your_ next Turn (due to hasty reloading). The risk could be a leadership check to fire, or it could be target area designation - the unit on overwatch must place a marker on a point on the table within range and line of sight. This is the spot on the battlefield the unit has been told to watch. Any enemy movement within a corridor x" wide between this spot and the unit will trigger overwatch fire. You could vary this by allowing the player to place a couple of dummy markers. Even if the unit does not fire, it still suffers the BS2 penalty. I am sure you can come up with something better, though :)