During CANCON this year, I experienced and was a bystander to two situations where I believe we identified an issue with the assault rules as written in the current tournament pack.
On both occasions, a player activated a formation with an engage order. At the completion of the move, the attacking and defending formation had units within 15cm, but no units from the attacking or defending formation had a valid line of fire to each other. The line of sight between them was blocked by a large piece of terrain greater than 10cm, therefor blocking line of sight but still able to bring units from both formations to within 15cms.
The assault rules found in the Tournament Pack at section 1.12.3 – Make a charge move state the following:
“It’s important to note that all you have to do is get one unit within 15cms of the enemy chosen as the target of the assault. There is no need for any units to get into base-to-base contact with the enemy unless you want them to.”
Under the rules as written, this situation is a legal action that can be taken by a player. If you factor in supporting fire or other assault modifiers and special rules such as “less blast markers” or “Inspiring” you can win an assault having never actually fought. While the tournament pack provides context for the question of getting a unit into base contact it does not stipulate a requirement to have a line of fire to the target formation. This presents a somewhat contrary situation. The design concept for assaults found in the Tournament Pack looks like this:
“The rules for assaults that follow are a crucial part of the Epic rules, and so it’s important to understand what they represent. Unlike most wargames, where assaults only really cover hand-to-hand combat, in Epic an assault covers everything that happens when a formation is ordered to assault an enemy formation. To put this another way, if you think of an assault as covering everything that happens in a typical 4–6 turn game of Warhammer 40,000, then you won’t go too far wrong!”
From my point of view, the design concept makes it clear that in an assault or engage action, someone fired a shot in anger at the opposing force. However, the current tournament pack and the FAQ do not force this requirement on to the player. An engage action and subsequent “assault” can be conducted, without ever firing a weapon.
I found this situation to be fairly frustrating. I believe an assault, at a minimum, requires someone to shoot using their Firefight value at the attacking or defending formation. The concept of “clipping” holds more in terms of representing a formation flanking a formation than the concept of “fighting without fighting“.
I also believe that the fix is fairly simple. Amend the following paragraph found at section 1.12.3 – Make a Charge Move:
“Make the move normally, as described in the movement rules given previously. Once the move is complete, the engaging formation must have at least one unit within 15cms of a unit from the target formation. If this is not the case then the assault does not take place and the action ends.”
To read as follows:
“Make the move normally, as described in the movement rules given previously. Once the move is complete, the engaging formation must have at least one unit within 15cms with a valid line of fire to a unit in the target formation. If this is not the case then the assault does not take place and the action ends.”
Line of Fire is adequately described in the Shooting section of the rules and removes the situation I encountered during CANCON. A select few within the Net Epic Armageddon community might argue that you cannot change the rules, that this will in some way, create a paradox resulting in the destruction of the universe. Others, say that exploiting an advantage in the rules is acceptable, rather than exploiting an actual tactical advantage. That said, this amendment will be made available in the Horus Heresy supplement, for those of you who wish to avoid, what you may believe is an oversight in the rules that needs to be fixed in order to meet the original design concept of the assault rules.