Pimpcron: The Death of Cover in 40k

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A eulogy for your most powerful ally before 8th edition.

We are gathered here today, to celebrate the life of a dear friend. I am The Pimpcron and I want to take a moment to say goodbye to my friend Cover. He is survived by his wife Invulnerable, and their children Feel No Pain and Reanimation Protocols. He was a true hero, saving countless lives from utter destruction more times than we can count. Cover was always looking out for the little guys, and never paid much attention to the people who could defend themselves with better saves. He will truly be missed.

This Is Not New News

I just received my copy of the 8th edition rule book! (Postal service to my Tombworld is a bit slow) I was  leafing through it and I realized that cover isn’t the same! Okay, I am aware that 8th has been out a while, and the change in cover isn’t anything new. But the other day I was in the middle of a game and found myself missing the way cover used to work. Specifically, I miss the way that being obscured would give you a cover save; just like being into obscure hobbies used to give you a save against dating.

As it stands now, you are either IN cover or you are considered out in the open, even if you aren’t really out in the open. Can the tip of your foot see my model’s ear through a pinhole 48 inches away in a driving rain of hamsters during a Chaos Warp storm? Well unless I was IN the foot print of a building, you’ve got a “clear shot” at me despite the strange conditions and hail of rodents.

I Get It, I Get It, I Totally Get It

I’m fully aware that this new cover system has been made into what it is because of simplicity. No more arguments over what percentage someone is obscured while you stick head down into the scenery for a ground-level view. And with GW’s propensity for spikes on their models, I’m sure eye injuries are down by a factor of 10.

Best wear goggles checking line of sight.

I can’t tell you how many times I checked line of sight, and went about my business while my opponent struggles to tell me Pox Walker is dangling from my eye ball. They just stare at you like there’s food on your cheek, and kind of wipe their eye and grimace saying, “You’ve, uh, got a little something …” until you get the hint and wipe a Pox Walker out of your eye. How embarrassing is that?

But aside from the overall improvement in quality of life for gamers, it just feels kind of empty for me. No, I’m not about to go into how “unrealistic” this cover system is for my humongous angry Fungi to be saved from the .75 caliber explosive rounds being shot from your (also) humongous genetically enhanced super soldier-monks. I’ve been making games my whole life, and I am the first to accept that some things need to be abstracted for ease of use and speed of play. But I do feel like some of the cinematic feel of previous editions has been stripped.

It’s a Pendulum, Baby!

Ever wonder why a car might be slightly side-swiped on their right, and then go careening off to the left and fly off the road into the ditch? It’s called over compensation. We just came from several editions where cover was what made or broke your army. Cover was our everything. Hitting my Squig with a Lascannon shot? Pssssh. I got this. He’s in cover.


On second thought, some walls are more hazardous than they are helpful.

I was about to say that “it’s only natural”, but I guess I’ll change that to “it’s common” for people, organizations, and game rules to over compensate for problems. So we went from Coverhammer, to Lifeboathammer. It’s like they’ve made terrain into life boats; you’re either in them or your dead. Side note: Is it still too soon for Titanic jokes?

Anyway, I guess cover is just another casualty of the changing of the times. And just like the lack of templates, removal of fire arcs, armor facings, etc., I think overall the game is more fun and faster for it. In life you don’t get to choose what changes you want, it just kind of happens and you have to deal with it. It just feels like they went too far with it trying to correct the issues of the past.

What do you miss most about the older editions?

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  • Gleep

    Totally agree with you on this point. Somehow something is missing… but on the other hand i remember clearly endless discussions whether a model was in cover or not.

    May be they went to far, but something had to be done. But what i miss even more are a little (just a tiny little bit) more complex terrain rules.

    • FugeeLaw

      It is the same argument repeated over and over again everywhere: “I remember CLEARLY endless discussions whether a model was in cover or not”. Yes there were these discussions but now there are discussions like: “Hey i see the head of one of your dudes so i can destroy the whole unit” “NOoooO you cannot see that dude and wipe out my whole squad”. So the stakes are much higher now. It is not anymore: do i lose one guy more easily. Now it is: Do i loose one whole unit or not. How can this make a game better. Especially when you more or less take out a huge chunk of the game and why we play it. I mean we play in 3D terrain because we have 3D Miniatures. And the game should be about cool miniatures seen in awesome terrain to create cinematic visuals which suck you into the battle. And not about 2.5D terrain and models that are nothing more then markers (Hello Mr Warmachine.).

      • Heinz Fiction

        If you have your discussions about important things instead of unimportant ones, it’s already an improvement.

        • ZeeLobby

          Woosh. The sound of his point going over your head…

          • thereturnofsuppuppers

            I don’t think it did.

            His head is clearly visible.

            I will fight you over this.

          • ZeeLobby

            lol XD

      • Fergie0044

        How would you lose the entire squad? Just take away the one guy he can see as your first causality and there you – rest of the squad is now not within line of sight.
        Although I confess I wouldn’t know how this works if he inflicts multiple wounds at once. Do you have to apply them all or one at a time?

        • Karru

          Yes you do. If one model is visible, then the entire unit is now viable to be wounded. The only rules in order to shoot someone is to have at least one model within range and line of sight to the shooting unit, then wounds can be assigned to any model within the unit regardless of line of sight.

          “The player commanding the target unit allocates the wound to any model in the unit (the chosen model does not have to be within range or visible to the attacking unit).”

          Also, you can’t remove the visible model first against and deny rest of the unit’s shots, as at this point, you no longer need LoS. You only need LoS and Range when picking the target, if everything is within range and LoS, you can now shoot with them until you are finished with the shooting completely.

          • Fergie0044

            Huh, really? So say a marine unit with one plasma gun was shooting. Say he shot the plasma gun first and that killed the one guy he could see. Could he still then shoot all the bolters at the squad? Does it count as a separate shooting attack since its a different weapon?

          • Karru

            Yes and no.

            If I shot a unit of 10 Tactical Marines at a unit of Boyz that are currently taking cover behind a ruin and I can only see 1 model, this is the sequence that takes place. I am also going to make it so that they are now within ruins, excluding the one visible model for extra hilarity

            I say “I am shooting this unit of Tactical Marines to your Ork Boyz.”

            Then I take a measuring tape and check for range as well as LoS, I determine that everyone is currently within range of the one visible model and that even 3 of my Tacticals are within Rapid Fire Range.

            After that, I will roll my dice, I’ll choose the Plasma Gun first. I roll to hit, to wound and my opponent, in this case, doesn’t roll to save. He decides to remove the one Boy that was out in the open, thinking that now he is protected.

            Then I start picking up rest of my shots, as all these attacks are simultaneous. My opponent scratches is head and says “wait, you can’t do that, you can’t see any models.” but in fact I do, or did. Since I could see one Boy before I shot, my whole unit is now able to shoot at the enemy.

            I roll my hits and wounds, my opponent starts picking up his to save and goes “okay, well, I got my cover so I’ll be fine”, again I go “nah brah, one of your models was outside, so no cover as the entire unit has to be within cover in order to get it, one of your boyz wasn’t so no one gets cover”. At this point my opponent is most likely frantically checking the rules and will quickly realise that this is in fact the case. He reluctantly removes his Boy unit from the table as they are now wiped out thanks to one misplaced model.

            Isn’t 8th edition fun?

          • Fergie0044

            Thanks for the walk through. Ugh – mercifully this hasn’t come up in any of my games yet.

            I was hoping for more terrain rules in CA. Like for the wall or barricade type stuff that you stand BEHIND rather than IN.

          • ZeeLobby

            lol. It sounds so painful. Always, lol.

          • Kabal1te

            You need to check your FAQ and designer commentary. It clearly states that the instant you remove the last not in cover model as a casualty from a unit that started
            partially in cover the remaining models get their cover saves against the remaining wounds.

          • archie d

            So what’s the right answer? Karru had me convinced, but this makes it sound like he was totally off base. Kind of an important issue.

          • ZeeLobby

            He’s probably right if it’s in the FAQ.

          • winterman

            LOS wise he is correct – LOS and range is determined when picking your target(s), not for the rest of the firing resolution. However you technically resolve each shot individually after that (you are allowed to fast roll, but you still deal with the rules on an individual basis) so you can remove any units out of cover first in order to get the benefit of cover for the rest of the saves. This was indeed clarified in the Designer Notes.

          • Heinz Fiction

            Exactly. Cover is an armor mod and armor mods are calculated at the last step of each individual shot. So if at this point the unit has cover, it is applied. Target selection however is done on a unit by unit base. Doesn’t matter which models are removed after that.

          • ZeeLobby

            NM, if that’s true your right if it’s in the FAQ. Designer commentary… eh…

          • Kabal1te

            Designer commentary is an official from GW document with straight from GW rules answers.

          • OctopusVolcano

            I have to declare where all the weapons of a unit or model are shooting before rolling to hit.

    • ZeeLobby

      It’s because true line of sight is a dumb rule, especially for a game of this scale. You either need to implement larger hitboxes than the models themselves, or go back to more abstract terrain rules if old. What’s funny is they picked TLoS to make the game simpler, but if anything it makes shooting take longer.

      • Karru

        We use a mix. Guy behind a forest base, but not technically behind a tree? Cover.

        Unit inside ruins that doesn’t have walls behind it? No cover.

        It is more or less a quick glance that we do, mostly to check if the model can actually see the other guy, beyond that, we just go with what looks logical, which is of course not an option with many groups and especially tournaments.

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah. I dunno why they made them so weird honestly.

        • Dennis J. Pechavar

          We do that as well. But then again my group ,while wanting to win, is about having fun games.

      • marxlives

        I agree, even you have to use true line of sight in Deadzone, I just roll my eyeballs. It is only by virtue of the game being so low model count that makes it not a huge pain in the but. I like Warmachine’s cover rules but honestly I feel Dark Age does it the best. If a model is in or 1″ within a terrain feature it controls that feature and benefits from cover. If enemy models are in or within 1″ of the same terrain feature than both models do not benefit from cover when making attacks against each other.

        While Dark Age is a skirmish alternating activation game I feel it can work for 40k. Just use the Dark Age rule and say that when a unit take wounds, wounds must be taken from those models which are not in cover first. Boom, cover is resolved quickly and wound resolution is solved.

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah, Infinity has similar rules to that of Dark Age and WMH. I think it’s pretty great as well. Again a lower model count though. My feeling is that once the scale gets to a certain level, you simply just need to abstract beyond LOS in any form. Models IN ruins get cover saves but can be seen. Models behind 2″ of ruins can’t be seen, and can’t see through it. Only models that can be seen can be removed. Etc.

          It’s how 40K used to be, and it was dead simple.

      • Heinz Fiction

        Yes, true line of sight in an otherwise rather abstract game was a dumb idea. It’s neither simpler nor is it more realistic.

    • vlad78

      So because some players are idiotic you think GW HAD to make of 8th edition the worst 40k edition of all times.

      Nice move. Smart.

      • AdeptusAstartes

        You okay hun?

  • zeno666

    We’re using the area terrain rules from 5th edition (not granting ++ saves though, just +1 Armour) to kind of make this trainwreck edition work.

    • ZeeLobby

      It’s def a better option. I think TLOS without hitboxes is the culprit of many of the games issues though.

      • zeno666

        Yeah, TLoS just don’t work. It means they have to make up crappy rules like the Characters can’t be shot at if they’re not the closest enemy.

        Its the 8th patch guys, the game is dead already.
        Do a total reboot.

        • Richard Palmer

          Would you not be happier playing 5th Edition then?

          • zeno666

            Actually yes. But the 40k guys around here really want to like 8th edition and still have hope in GW it seems.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      I’m just playing 7th. Solves all of 8ths problems!

      Terminator Genisys has a good system. Terrain is either dense terrain (can see into but not though, various saves depending on its make up) or obstacles (can see over if your ‘height’ is more than the ‘size’ of the obstacle, in which case the model behond gets cover save, if height not enough then obstacle blocks line of sight). Dense terrain also has a height, so you can see over it if you are flying etc.

      • zeno666

        Sounds interesting!

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          its written by Alessio Cavatore (like 5th ed 40K), best rules system I’ve come across in a long time.

          • zeno666

            Hmmm, isn’t that the guy who introduced TLoS?

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            well, it was one of these guys… Rick Priestley, Andy Chambers, Alessio Cavatore, Pete Haines, Anthony Reynolds, Jervis Johnson and Adam Troke. They all have design/author credits on 5th.

  • Tigirus

    I dunno, while 8th edition cover doesn’t give much improvement to saves only 1/6 better defense when your save isn’t ignored but I feel 6th and 7th edition went too far with cover saves. I played games in 7th edition that between stealth/shrouded and jink saves some armies could have a 3+ to 2+ save all the time against shooting with no recluse except for the rare “ignores cover” weapon or psychic buff with Tau being one of the most heinous offenders for this.

    There will always be proponents for and against different types of cover saves, that’s just how the game works different armies and different players want it to work different ways, I have a friend that plays orks and tyranids and the army-wise 3+ and 2+ cover saves were great for him, put a unit of gaunts in cover next to a venomthrope and they’re extremely hard to shift for their points. Personally I like how it works now, the +1 save is simple and allows any unit to benefit from it in some way, the only gripe I have is I wish the save couldn’t be ignored full by rend so even a guardmen in cover still would have at least a 6+ save against a meltagun.

  • AEZ

    Sounds like how AoS works and I think it’s way easier to handle than old cover rules since it led to lots of discussion (and recently in SWA it did again). The generic walls and fences from AoS do provide cover if you are directly behind them.. and I think that rule could be use a bit more often for other pieces of not based terrain.

  • David

    The problem before was using percentage obscured which was always arbitrary. It’s just as fast to use the deadzone method of is any part of the model obscured.

    It would be nice to have some directionality back

    • euansmith

      I feel that the loss of flanking fire on vehicles is a shame, but I guess it avoids horrible gamey things like rhinos parking back to back to protect their rear armour.

      • ZeeLobby

        If they added movement penalty for rotating that’d prevent that. It’s give a penalty to turning vehicles in weird angles (like real life).

        • fenrisful2

          Vehicles did have rotating penalties, but people didn’t play it that way.

          Because land raiders would have been too slow, as they would need to use most of their full 12″ move, just to turn 180 degrees.

          A local FAQ team even kicked me out for suggesting this interpretation in 6th ed.

          Still people complained about DE Raiders.

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean just simplify. Tanks that rotate less than 90 degrees, subtract 2 inches. Greater, subtract half movement. It would at least prevent shenanigans like driving back to back up the table.

          • zeno666

            Yeah, thats something at least.

            My favorite is the Eldar tanks (FW) that gain a 5++ invulv save if they move 14″.
            Which mean they can actually move back and forth 1″ seven times to get this 😉

      • zeno666

        Indeed. Now you gain nothing from clever movement.
        Its all about first turn and rolling a lot of dice.

  • The bigger problem in my eyes is people not using enough terrain to begin with.

    • Karru

      Depends. The terrain both in my club I used to play and my own collection became pretty much “barren wasteland” in 8th edition but was absolutely fantastic in earlier ones.

      Lots of ruins, forests, silos and rock formations that could hide a small unit or a character pretty easily, but the main focus was to be able to get cover saves relatively easily. 8th edition made 90% of the terrain obsolete to most units when it comes to cover because they were designed to be both easy to store, so they have rather small base, and be in multiple smaller parts instead of one big one, which once again goes against what 8th edition does with the terrain rules.

      The core of the terrain gameplay-wise was that you couldn’t hide your entire army behind LoS blocking terrain, you still had to have something that could be shot at, of course you would still get cover as nothing was out in the open.

    • euansmith

      The Dearth of Terrain?

  • GridlineRacer

    Easy to amend. We just run that models get a cover save if they are within an inch of the edge of a terrain piece as well as the usual ‘wholly within’. If we didn’t have this then hundreds of hours of scenery building would have been for nothing.

    I really wish Chapter approved had came out with a more advanced rule set to add complexity to the game for players that want it. Fire arcs, multiple cover save values, some scatter, detailed terrain rules etc. It can’t hurt them to add a ‘hardcore’ mode to the game.

    • euansmith

      It would certainly have been a cool use for Chapter Approved; like the old GW articles that added all sorts of experimentation to the game and didn’t necessarily make it in to the final rules.

    • Advanced 40k rules are basically what it would take to get me back into the game after 8th ed, so good call

    • OctopusVolcano

      how about we sort out the current new rules before start adding even more complexity to a system thats still in fllux.

  • Andy Wise

    You absolutely do not want a pox walker in your eye. That’d get well manky. Even for an ageless robot.

  • euansmith

    I like the way that Deadzone and NUcromunda handle cover.

    In Deadzone, you are assumed to be making the absolute best use of any available cover, and your attacker gains a bonus if you are demonstrably in the open.

    In NUcromunda, the clear plastic range ruler is used to determine if any part of the line of sight crosses any terrain. Measuring from the centre of the attacker to the centre of the defender, if any part of the ruler crosses terrain, the target gains the effects of cover.

    Now, both of these are skirmish games, but I think they provide ideas that could be applicable to 40k’s Reinforced Company style play.

    • davepak

      when you take into consideration that the 6×4 map is only a little bigger than a football field, 40k is fairly skirmish size as well (just has more models).

      • euansmith

        That’s kind of the issue 😉 For a company sized game, Epic is more the scale 😀

  • Deacon Ix

    Played a gem the other day using a lot of Imperial Sector buildings with GW don’t supply with bases… we on-the-fly ruled that with in the ‘footprint’ of the building would be considered in cover – which did lead to me shooting at a Leman Russ, of which I could see the entire model, and it being considered incover…

    We have now chatted about having a house rule which is – if the terrain has a base (craters, woods, ect) on the base you are in cover, if there is no base the model must be behind teh cover (ie partially obscured) to get a save – still a WIP but we’ll see how it goes.

  • Heinz Fiction

    The cover system is sufficently detailed for a game of this scale. I really don’t miss anything in that department.

    • Mira Bella

      You are easy it please then. 😉

  • I don’t get it, old cover wasn’t complicated or clunky. I don’t know who these gits people played with who argued about nonsense like templates and LOS are tbh, but it sounds like they were the problem, not the old rules.

    • Khelban Blackstaff

      The tournament neck-beards. The smallest percentage of gamers always dictates the rules changes in this game. GW loves the Cheetoes stained fingers of mindless rage, I guess.

      • davepak

        the neck beards don’t do tourneys anymore, now its the tourney hipsters (their beards are not attached at the neck, they are “float beards”).

    • ZeeLobby

      Thank you! That said I still miss templates for the cinematic effect. LOS could go though.

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        My template collection agrees with you. I still miss using the hand flamer template.

      • I do miss 4th ed cover

        • ZeeLobby

          What’s crazy is that I think it’s more simple than what we have now, in a game that was built with simplicity as it’s core pillar.

  • The current “cover” or terrain rules in AOS and 40k make me never play those games “RAW”. The lack of intuitive cover or terrain rules make the games more like board games than wargames.

    The over simplification really kills my interest.

  • Fraser1191

    The floor is lava!
    Easiest rules for cover ever!
    But honestly as a relatively new player (started in 7th) I can see why they did this change, in my short career in 7th I’ve had arguments over what’s in cover, so multiply that by thousands of players and over the entirety of 7ths run and it makes sense why they changed it. Frankly I didn’t like it in 7th how I thought “I’m gonna move this guy here into cover…” only to be told he’s not in cover and I have to defend my position and again only to find out the weapon had ignores cover !

  • fenrisful2

    Just give everyone -1 to hit if they are not shooting at the closest visible target to represent interveining models.
    Characters should give an additional -1 to hit rather than being untargettable.
    Snipers should ignore these modifiers.
    Current +1 to saves if in area terrain could still apply.

    Sneaky units could have more flavour this way, by either hide behind others or hide in terrain bonusses, as fits their fluff.

    No discussions because everything could be meassures easily.

  • I hated the old cover rules and dealt with those arguments for years. I don’t hate the new cover rules because I actually like playing these games. When a tank has no facing and can fire in every direction like a disco ball on party night… when an infantry model can fire a heavy weapon and then rocky-charge the enemy for some fisticuffs… when there are commanders that stand taller than a four-story ruins… I think the cover rules are just fine!

  • eMtoN

    Seems to me that writing cover rules should be pretty simple.

    A model adds 1 to their savings roll for being in cover if EITHER of the following conditions is true:
    – From the point of view of ALL models in the firing UNIT, the target MODEL is at least partially obscured by terrain.
    – the target MODEL is wholly within the terrain.


    Sure, you’ll have people making sure the tail end of their basilisk is slightly behind a hill or building in order to get a cover save but I’m fine with that. At the same time you don’t have to deal with percentages at all. Is it at least partially hidden? Yes? then it gets the modifier.

    This method also neatly sidesteps any discussion about whether it’s a hill, tree line, building, defensive works, etc.

  • piglette

    My friend and I just use a common sense houserule to allow a cover save if the majority is in cover. We are thinking of making it +2 defense instead of +1 as well.

  • Marco Marantz

    i think it makes sense to have two different types of cover; light and heavy; +1 and +2 respectively….as to what is what this needs set…but things like ruins are heavy.

  • Larry Gervella

    Why don’t you just quit playing, pimpcron. You are definitely not happy with the game anymore.

    • Pimpcron

      Oh you! You’re adorable

    • Larry Gervella

      And you are a negitve Nancy.