Just over two years ago, in an unpredicted and horrifying move cheating was legalized in 40K. How did this happen? Two words, Wound Allocation.
That’s right my friends, two years ago Warhammer 40,000 5th edition was released, and something subtle and nefarious found its way into the ruleset. It seemed like such an innocent little rule at first glance. This rule was, again I assume, never intended to be used to allow people to cheat, and yet it like Anakin Skywalker, was used and turned to evil. The rule I speak off is the often debated and controversial wound allocation system. Now last week I called out true Line of Sight. I said it was killing our games, I said it was a plague upon wargaming, and I stand by that. But for me TLoS is a major plague on all wargaming, not just 40k. Wound Allocation is only a major problem for 40K. But in that limited scope, and by limited I mean the most popular and played wargame of all time, it is most likely the most serious flaw. That’s right, I said it, Wound Allocation is the single biggest flaw in 40K at this moment. Why, and how has it made cheating legal you might ask? Well lets look at the facts.
Wound Allocation Was Supposed to Help the Shooter
When 5th Edition was released all the interviews and production notes agreed, wound allocation was in the game to help the shooting player. Wound allocation had been added to the game to allow for the chance that the shooting player might kill one of the target squad’s important members. This was seen as a huge positive, a move away from the old style of play where the last model in a squad was also the most important, normally the sergeant or special weapon guy. Wound allocation was put into the game to replace the older “torrent of fire” rule which allowed the shooting player to force saves to be taken on a model of his choice if he did enough hits. But in the face of canny players this new rule backfired.
6 Space Marines (a Sergeant, a meltagunner, a guy with a lascanon, and 3 normal Marines) get shot by an Imperial Guard veteran squad. The Marines take 6 lasgun wounds and 6 wounds from plasma guns. Now your first instinct is to say “man they took 6 wound from weapons that ignore their saves, they should all die.” And that makes sense. But then in comes wound allocation. The defending player knows the wound allocation rules, so he allocates two lasgun wounds each to the sergeant, the meltagunner and the guy with the lascannon. Meanwhile the 3 normal marines take the 6 plasma gun wounds. So the normal guys all die, but there is a good chance the special guys all walk away unhurt after making their saves. And those three extra plasma gun wounds that should have killed the squad? They vanish into thin air, victims of black magic voodoo.