In the table top war games we all play, there is a fine balance between making the rules too complex or making them too simple. Personally I tend to favor more simplified rule sets, because I think streamlined rules make for a better playing experience. But with simplified rules you also find more game situations that are counter intuitive. I have heard this phrase many times, “It makes no sense at all. But that is what the rules say.“ This is the story of one of those situations.
The last game we played was Imperial Guard vs. Orks. A very common tactic for Ork players is to deploy a squad of Ork Boyz and a squad of Gretchen together. Gretchen are not very scary to the enemy but the Ork Boyz certainly are. The Ork player moves the two units so that the Gretchen stay between the enemy forces and the Orkz until they get within assault range, then: Waaagh!. This forces the enemy player to choose between shooting the Orks and allow them to take a 4+ cover save or shooting the Gretchen with no cover save. This was the tactic the Imperial Guard found themselves up against in our battle.
After a few turns of getting stuck in, the battlefield was looking like a proper warzone. In the Imperial Guard shooting phase we found a bizarre situation. The guard had the standard choice between shooting the Ork Boyz or shooting the Gretchen. But both choices resulted in the target unit getting a cover save from the other unit. You see the majority of the Ork Boyz were behind the Gretchen. But at the same time the majority of the Gretchen were behind the Ork Boyz. Nuts! Check out the pictures:[singlepic id=118 w=100 h=100 float=]
The Ork Boyz are on urban-grey colored bases and the Gretchen are on desert-tan bases so you can easily tell them apart. Drawing line of sight from the Leman Russ both units seem to be protected by a 4+ cover save. Definitely counter intuitive to everybody playing the game. But this is clear in the rules so we went with it.
So it is possible for two units standing in the open to both get 4+ cover saves by co-mingling the units. As cool as it sounds, this is not really a viable tactic to aspire to. The rules state you must move your squads one at a time. Plus you must measure the movement distance for each model through the gaps the in the other co-mingled unit. So arranging your squads as seen in the picture will result in your Orks moving less then their full movement “as the crow flies”. As an Imperial Guard player I fully support you slowing down your Orks to give your Gretchen a cover save. Bring it on!
This situation only happened in our game because of the randomness of running. The Gretchen didn’t run far: two inches. The Orks, hiding behind them, got a good roll: six inches. The Ork player wanted his Boyz to assault the following turn. So he decided to co-mingle the units in order to get the most from the Ork run move. The “two unit cover save” was purly by accident.
What do you guys think of the weird situation we found? Should two separate units be able to get cover saves from each other? In plain logic it seems if Tom is hiding behind Harry then it is impossible for Harry to hide behind Tom, at the same time.