Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rules from the Man-cave: Rending Bolters

I have not done a Rules from the Man-cave post in a good while because I have been so busy with Killzone. I tried this gem of a rule out last night and it was great fun! First a little background into why I tried it.

Neil from the 11th Company podcast on one of the episodes had joked that Bolter Marines would be worth taking if their weapons were Rending.

This kinda made sense to me as according to fluff Bolters are firing mini missiles that explode upon impact/penetration. I know fluff and the actual game rarely survive contact, but in this case I say "why the heck not?"

We gave all Bolters, Bolt Pistols and Heavy Bolters Rending. We wanted to make sure this change was not overpowered or game breaking, so we decided to only allow the bolters to rend against non-vehicle soft targets.

My buddy Greg and I both fielded Marine armies, it was Imperial Fists verses Chaos Soul Reapers. We used these armies to see the maximum effect of the rending Bolters.

The game was glorious fun, with Marines hugging cover to avoid rending death. It added a new tactical element to the game, which in my opinion is a good thing! It also made combat squads very dangerous to utilize, as it did not take much to make them combat ineffective.

Over the course of six turns there were a combined total of 34 rending wounds from bolters. 20 of them were mine, it was glorious!

It really made standard marines shine more than usual, and made for a really dynamic marine on marine game!

You should definitely try it out if you get the opportunity.

Disclaimer: I don't usually post house rules that I have not extensively used/playtested, but these were so darned fun I wanted to share them now rather than later. This way I can make an update and give more thoughts after a few more games.

It had also been suggested that Eldar Shuriken weapons should probably have these special rending rules. I am not opposed to this, but it needs some table time.


  1. Well, I like fun! Sounds good so far!

  2. What a genius idea - well done, chaps!

    Reckon anyone'd let my guardsmen try it with their lasguns?

  3. I stand by my assertation that I think having Bolter weapons re-roll to wound would work better and make more sense in terms of effect desired.

    Rending, to me, implies the ability to get through armor for a variety of reasons. Bolter rounds seem less about getting through armor as they do for pulping "soft targets" as you say.

    This would also make them more deadly against units other than elite, high-armor units. For instance, the rending effect is totally wasted against Guardsmen, Orks, Hormagaunts, etc...

  4. Rending Sternguard bolters, rending Thousand Sons bolters. Good times, good times:) Though it bugs me that Lysander doesn't grant re-rolls to bolters army wide. If He'Stan can give it to melta and flamers…

    You should try a game with re-rolls instead of rending, see how it feels. But I think that playing with the rules is a great idea to keep the game fresh.

  5. I think Shuricats are more rending that bolters (they are monomolecular discs).
    And maybe bolters should make the enemy reroll saves or something like that.

  6. Thanks for the feedback guys.

    I like the rending over re-rolls simply for the fact 2/3rd of armies out there are MEQ's and it makes standard marines more deadly against those forces, which is where they currently are underpowered against.

    I think bolters are more than powerful enough against low strength targets.

    The problem with re-rolls is the potential of bogging down the game with tons of extra dice rolls, due to the sheer amount of bolters in a marine army.

    With all that said we'll give the re-rolls failed to wound rolls a shot next week.


  7. Jim, not sure you bothered to delve into the numbers I ran on the thread on the 11th company's forums; but, really, re-rolling to wound is actually almost identical in aiding you kill marines in the open, and better when they are in cover.

    Here's the link to the numbers:

    And here's the highlight

    T4/3+ save/no cover

    Regular: 1.7 unsaved wounds
    Rending: 2.8 unsaved wounds
    Re-Roll: 2.5 unsaved wounds

    T4/3+ save/4+ cover

    Regular: 1.7 unsaved wounds
    Rending: 1.9 unsaved wounds
    Re-Roll: 2.5 unsaved wounds

  8. Also, as I mentioned previously, I think that for fluff reasons; bolters should absolutely chew up lightly armored infantry; and re-rolling wounds is the best way to approximate that in game terms, while also having the side effect of making them more effective against MEq.

  9. Fluger, yeah I did see the numbers this morning. Like I said I'll try out the re-rolling next week.

    I agree they should chew up light infantry, but I also think that they should be able to brutalize marines. I just don't think there is a way to really represent this on the tabletop in 5th, without resorting to armor save modifiers.

    Again I'll take the re-rolls for a spin next week. I am totally into house rules and will try almost anything once to see if it works!


  10. I think you'll like it. As the numbers show, re-rolling to wound is only ~10% worse when the Marine is in the open and ~24% better when the Marine is in cover compared to rending.

    As well, the re-roll is ~25% better at killing guardsmen, kabalite warriors, guardians, termagants, etc in the open and a whopping ~33% better against killing Orks or Genestealers in the open in comparison to rending.