How will 8th Edition tackle the Line of Sight Rules and the interactions with Cover?
Hey BoLS Readers, AdamHarry here with a simple question with a not-so-simple answer: Does True Line of Sight need to go away in 8th Edition? Let’s face it, while the current system does work it’s far from perfect. There has been lots of confusion, frustration and debate about this very topic. So before you say yes or no, let’s talk about the pros, cons and what could replace True Line of Sight.
True Line of Sight (TLoS) is an important part of what makes 40k cinematic. There is nothing quite like getting down and taking a look at the board from a model’s eye view. I think it’s important because it really helps draw you in to that micro-level and get absorbed in the sea of models and the narrative you’re telling. It also makes a lot of sense from a rules standpoint: Would this model be able to see that model?
If you can’t very literally draw a line from one model to the other then you can’t shoot. It’s also very easy to tell if a model can do that with the use of a laser pointer (unless you opponent can bend light in which case you’ve probably got other problems).
While getting down on the same level of a model sounds cool in theory, in practice, it’s not always easy. It’s hard to get your human-sized head in the right spot behind a 28mm model and “see what they see.” Anyone else ever been poked by a terrain piece when they did that? Yeah, I know I’m not the only one. And while using a laser pointer does end the “can you see it” argument, that also means you have to actually bring a laser pointer!
Also, what about the abstraction of the game? These models represent troops running, crawling, standing and shooting – in essence they represent movement but are static. How does TLoS compensate for that? While it might make sense from a rules perspective, it doesn’t make much sense as a representation of war.
Before we go into the replacements – lets also talk about the real issue of TLoS: Cover. How many times have you had to stop a game and get in a debate on what kind of save you’re getting because of the LoS? For me, it’s been a constant thing and it’s getting old. In my mind, if my opponent rolled a difficult terrain check to get into cover and the model is still in the cover, then sure – you get a save. We used to call it common sense…
But that’s not technically how the rules work for cover (which are on 37 and 77 of the BRB). Keep in mind I’m talking purely about infantry and not vehicles or even Monstrous Creatures – that’s a whole OTHER ball of wax I don’t want to dig into.
Going back to the Cons – how do you represent “go to ground” with static models? If the unit went to ground should you lay the models down? But that would change their LoS profile and could alter if they could be shot at in the first place…which is probably why we don’t physically lay the models down. That part of the Cover/LoS dynamic is abstracted – why can’t we use to make things less complicated and less argument prone?
Replacing True Line of Sight
So what could we replace it with? Well Warmachine uses an abstracted system for most of it’s rules regarding LoS and Cover. Models occupy a cylinder of volume determined by their base size. If you can draw a straight line from one base to the other then you have LoS. Even terrain uses “templates” that you can represent with paper-cut outs. It very clear if a model is in cover, fully within cover or outside of cover. There is no room for arguments to happen because it’s painfully obvious.
I like this system for it’s simpleness but it really lacks that cinematic vibe you get with the current rules in Warhammer 40,000. Plus this really cuts down on the need to create detailed terrain pieces. The system really doesn’t encourage the hobby aspect with your board/terrain that you play on/with. This total abstraction, while super practical, just doesn’t look good.
On the flip side, I can’t really think of a game that actually uses an entirely accurate TLoS system either. If you have a good example let me know in the comments below! Most systems are some type of hybrid between total abstraction and variations on Line of Sight. These variations might uses Squares, hexes or some other measurement to “draw” line of sight – Imperial Assaults LoS rules come to mind.
So What about Hybrids? Well, the current system already feels like a mix. It uses TLoS for determining if a model can see another model, but then it gets abstracted for things like cover. The down side is that the current rules leave room for debate – anytime the rules say “dice for it” that means players can (and some DO) argue for a cover save. If you’ve never had to deal with “That Guy” pulling this on you, then consider yourself lucky. It’s happened to me so many times I just stopped caring (see my reasoning above about “did you roll for difficult terrain check”). So while the current system is (I think) a hybrid, it’s still too lax to stop all arguments.
I think Deadzone has a really intuitive LoS/Cover system as well and it’s a good Hybrid example. Basically if ANY part of the model is obscured, you get a cover save (folks like to call this “Toe-In” cover). Now the cover save tops out so that goes both ways – If I can see ANY part of the model, it can be shot. That means even if it’s just a “Toe-Out” you still get a save, but you can be hit.
Now, that could work with 40k, but you’d have to go in and rework cover in general. Would Cover be a static 6+ save then and then all the other modifiers would get added on (shrouding, stealth, going to ground, etc)? I’m not sure! But it’s a good discussion to have.
So maybe it’s not that True Line of Sight needs to go – maybe it’s the rules for cover that need a rework…
So what do you think? Does True Line of Sight need to go? How would you change it?