Lets talk about the rules debate behind the Salamanders’ secret weapon, the Ancient.
Last week I talked about why the Salamanders are the best of the Codex Chapters. As can be expected there was some healthy debate among players about this pronouncement. In particular there was a lot of debate, and misunderstanding, about how the Salamanders’ Chapter Tactic interacted with the Astartes Banner ability that several Ancients get. You can check that article to see what I said about the ability, but the long and short of it is that each time a model gets to attack from the Ancient’s ablity it gets rerolls. Now some people contended that the ability would work differently then I described, so lets take a look at the abilities in questions and walk through a few examples.
Just to get everyone on the same page, here is the Salamanders Chapter Tactic:
Now lets take a look at some examples of how these work.
For the purposes of these examples we will be using a small squad of 5 Tactical Marines. One member of the squad is armed with a Lascannon. In addition the Sergeant has a powerfist. Keep these guys in mind. Now lets walk through a turn and the various ways the Salamander ability works.
Example 1: Shooting Phase
Lets start simple. In my shooting phase I decide to target an enemy unit. I manage to hit with all my shoots, but the lasconnon which misses. Due to my chapter tactic I get to re-roll this, and its a hit! I also fail to wound with the lascannon (on a 2+ come on!) but reroll it for a wound. Simple right? Any questions? No? Good lets move on.
Example 2: Fight Phase
My shooting was good, but not enough to wipe out the enemy, so I charge my squad into them. In the ensuing fight my sergeants power fist misses once, so I get to reroll that, and I also reroll a wound with a tactical marine. Again pretty simple, each time I shoot or fight I get one to hit and one to wound reroll. All is working well.
Example 3: Fight phase, part 2
At the end of the fight phase I chose to use the stratagem “Honour the Chapter” to allow my squad to fight for a second time. Because Master Artisans allows me to reroll each time I shoot or fight, I again get to reroll a hit and wound, nice! Thats twice in one phase, and it allowed me to kill the enemy unit. Unfortunately it does mean I am going to get shot.
Example 4: Enemy Shooting Phase
Now it’s my opponents turn and sadly they get to shoot me. She picks a unit and fires at my squad, and one of my brave dudes goes down. But wait! I am within 6 inches of an Astartes Banner, I roll a dice and get a 5. Now my Marine gets to take a last shot before being removed, and since I am shooting I again get to reroll a hit and a wound.
Example 5: Enemy Shooting Phase, part 2
That only seems to have made them mad. My opponent fires another unit at me, two of my marines go down this time, and one of them rolls a 4+ with the banner, he gets to shoot back! Since this is a new instance of the squad shooting, guess what! He gets to re roll a hit or a miss.
Example 6: Enemy Shooting Phase, Part 3
A third squad fires on my last two marines. Under a barrage of fire they both go down. This time both of them roll 4+ with the Astartes Banner and get to make last shots. Now here comes the real question: How many rerolls do I get? Lets take a look at the debate on this and how people have answered the question.
Some people will say I should get no re-rolls at all on this attack or the last one as I’ve already gotten to re-roll this phase. This is a clear misconception as the Chapter Tactic happens each time the unit shoots or fights, not once per phase. We can discount this answer as wrong.
A number of people have argued that I should not get any re-rolls in the shooting phase. They argue that the Astartes Banner ability does not trigger the chapter tactic at all. This is based off of the wording of the two abilities. The Astartes Banner allows a model to shoot, while the chapter tactic works for “A Salamanders unit with this tactic each time is shoots or fights.” They argue because the model, not the unit is shooting or fighting it does not get re-rolls.
However I feel these arguments are all pretty moot. The Astartes Banner allows the model to shoot “as if it were the shooting phase.” Lets quickly take a peak at step one of the shooting phase:
As you can see the first step of shooting in the shooting phase it to pick a unit. There is no way, using the shooting phase rules, for a model to fire on its on, shooting is done by units. This interaction is basically the as when a unit with only one assault weapon shoots after advancing. Though only the model with the assault weapon can shoot, it is still the unit shooting. Because you following the shoot, or fight phase rules which are the same, you have to pick a unit, and thus the Chapter Tactic works.
A third group of people argue that you get to re-roll one hit and one wound, while it does trigger each time the unit shoots or fights it is only shooting once, with both remaining models getting to attack. While this seems to make a certain logic sense it is the least supported result by the rules. According to the rules attacks are resolved one at a time. More importantly wounds are allocated (and saves made) one at a time. This means that each marine’s death takes place at a separate time and triggers separate attacks from the Astartes Banner. This leads us to:
The correct answer, according to the rules is that each Marine is a separate attack and thus both of them get to re-roll a hit and a wound. Not clear on that? Lets look at it in more depth.
Since you resolve attacks and wounds one by one it works like this: When shooting at the tactical marines you assign a wound, fail the save, then roll for the Astartes Banner for that one model, resolve his shots, then assign wounds the remaining wounds to the final model and make saves until he dies. When he dies you again roll for the Astartes Banner and with a successful roll triggers a second instance of the squad shooting which allows the Chapter Tactic to again trigger. Again, each attack is resolved on its own, and since it does not all happen at the same time, but one by one, each use of the banner triggers a separate shooting attack and each new attack gives your re-rolls.
So there you have it. A step by step breakdown of Salamanders rerolls and how they work with the Astartes Banner. For those of you keeping track in this example the one unit got to make a total of 14 rerolls in one turn. Now while this is an extreme example its not an impossible one, and as you can see getting 8-10 rerolls a turn is well within reason. Clearly a powerful ability once your really understand it.
So there you have! So many rerolls! Let us know what you think about these rules, and how awesome you think Salamanders are, down in the comments!