Lets talk about one venerable rule that the game could do without.
Warhammer 40,000 has a lot of rules. As a game, and one that has structured play, it of course needs rules. Rules are pretty important to 40K, but not all rules are good rules. Throughout various editions many rules have changed, but the core of 40K has stayed recognizable, with some rules existing simply because they always have. Now 8th Edition was clearly a big move towards simplifying the game, a lot of rules that had stuck around for decades got nixed, while many others, including stat lines, got simplified. Looking at the game its pretty clear however that when they got rid of rules they missed one big one that should have been dropped, Line of Sight.
Get…Rid of Line Of Sight?
Now you see me, now you don’t.
Yep, you heard me right. For those who aren’t clear line of Sight (LoS) represents what a unit can “see” on the table, and for many effects, what they can target. It’s had various versions over the years, from a semi-abstracted version that had high levels and special rules for forests, to the current True Line of Sight. True LoS is of course, just that, you get down to the model and anything you can see from the model it can see. Simple right? And yet this simple rule causes so many problems, for so little reward, that it’s clear we need to do away with it. Lets talk about those problems.
Every game night everywhere.
Scatter dice, templates, vehicle facings. These were all core concepts of 40K for decades that 8th Edition did away with. If you talk to most players about why they were gotten rid of many will point to the arguments that sprang up around those rules. Many a friendship was clearly lost over just how many models a template covered, or the exact degree to move a deep striking unit. These rules had to go, if for no other reason than to stop the inevitable fist fights from breaking out at events across the globe.
What do you mean you can see through my dreadnoughts legs!
And yet when I think on arguments I’ve seen in 40K games, none are more common than those over Line of Sight. Nearly every single game I’ve ever seen has had an argument over weather a model has LoS to a target. With players yelling, screaming, and leaving their significant others, over the outcome. And don’t even get me started on the arguments over modeling. Players fighting over whether you can target a model because you can see the tip of the banner. Players trying to draw LoS from the tip of an antenna. People modeling all their models in kneeling positions to make them harder to see. And who can forget the old, opening your droppod’s doors so you can see through it and then closing them so the other player can’t see you back? All these tricks and stuff lead to more and more arguments.
Banner is clearly a wargammer.
Or what about the old “intention” arguments. When you can totally see a target and the other player says “Oh, well I intended that model to be out of sight.” There is simply no way to resolve it. Even when no one is trying to pull anything shady the game will inevitably lead to arguments, over weather a unit can be seen, or if its 50% or more obscured. And since wargamers cannot ever find simple ways to resolve these arguments, they will almost certainly lead to fighting, divorce and untimely deaths. Any rule that leads to arguments has to go. It’s as simple as that.
Slowing The Game Down
Another big reason players will say many rules were removed was due to how much they slowed the game down. Templates not only took time to resolve, but forced players waste time spreading their troops out in a realistic fashion. Facing meant you had to waste time turning your tanks to take advantage of their armor, and so on. But really all of this can easily be said of LoS as well. I mean, how much time each game to players take making sure their models are hidden or not hidden? That their models have LoS to a potential target? Having to think about where you move and place your models in relation to the terrain and the enemy units is a HUGE waste of time.
About as useful as a Lasgun.
That doesn’t even take into account the amount of time it takes to resolve LoS. A simple action like trying to shoot a target can take forever. First both players have to look at the models and see if its blinding obvious. Then they have to start walking around the table bending down, squinting, trying to get models eyes views. But no, its not clear from one model, so they have to wander over to the other model and take a look there. Still not clear? Out comes the tape measure, can it draw a line? But then one player is bending the table measure, and that’s no good. Well good thing you brought your trusty laser pointer (and did we mention there is an entire industry devoted to solving LoS problems), lasers don’t curve that should be clear. Still not clear? Better call Todd over from the next table to get his input. And that’s all just to resolve ONE single models LoS. If Todd can’t give a good answer you’re back to an argument. At best case your wasting tons of time on LoS, at worst you’re knifing the Todd, who was best man at your wedding, over it.
What Does LoS Really Do?
The trees, they do nothing!
So for all the wasting time and slowing the game down, what does LoS really do for the game? Besides adding a layer of realism and depth to the rules, not much really. I mean with true LoS most of the time you end up being able to see targets anyway. So many play groups sadly have horrible terrain with things like “windows” and “gaps between trees” that LoS has come to have little meaning in 8th. Heck even most tanks have gaps under them you can see through – hello “Fish of Fury”. In fact players have had to invent extra rules, like “you can’t see through the bottom level of a building” just to make LoS have a game effect. Would the game really lose that much if you could just always see everything, that’s kind of how it works a lot of the time anyway. And after all this is 40K, is it that ridiculous to think that heighten senses or orbital telemetry or psychic ability could let people see through anything?
A Quicker Better Game
So lets ditch the arguments, the slow downs and the laser points and hope for a better LoS free game. It’s a silly old fashion rule from a bygone era that adds little to game, and takes a lot away. Yes, we’d lose a tiny smidgen of realism, but we all know 40K isn’t about realism, it’s about how fast I can make you pull your models off the table. I don’t need, or want, rules that will reflect the realities of warfare in the 41st Millennium or make be think in actual real world strategic terms, I just want rules that will let me smash giant models together with the least hassle. So lets save marriages, lives and tables from being flipped and kill LoS for good and all, and make sure to tune in next time when I discuss why measuring is killing 40K.
Let us know what you think of LoS down in the comments!