Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stormy's A.S.S.: Casting Jaws into Combat. Update. Again.

I googled Ass demotivators and this was the only one SFW .
Hello and welcome for the fourth time (yes, really) or Army Specific Shenangians and what I hope will be an irregular addition to the blog that appears every so often when someone discovers a tactic or rules loophole that makes you wish you'd spotted it for yourself beforehand. FAQ's tend to have a hand in this stuff cropping up though, so expect an article after one is released to the masses.

The stuff I'm hoping to bring to light is mainly for use in competitive games in tournaments and such, so springing it on your friends might result in you getting your A.S.S. handed to you. Or being heckled by the crowd of onlookers that invariably gathers when the game suddenly becomes very interesting.

Like it does in Other Realms (my LGS) where I took the pics. Thanks for the help with the camera Nathan.

First up is something close to my heart: Jaws. Not the giant shark from the 70's but the psychic power that causes Tyranid and Ork (and now Necron) players to have fits. I'm going to assume you know the basics about how it works. It might be a bit of a gimmick but I'm very fond of it because at worst its a 1 in 6 chance to kill something outright, and when used to snipe Power Fists/Weapon wielders before an assault begins you can swing things in your favour significantly.

Things have been changed (again, maybe inadvertently) with the addition of the latest 40k FAQ:

Q: What psychic powers count as psychic shooting
attacks? (p50)

A: Any psychic power with a profile like that of a
ranged weapon (i.e. has a range, strength and AP
value) and any psychic power that specifically states
that it is a psychic shooting attack.

Q: Do psychic shooting attacks need to roll to hit? (p50) 
A: Yes.

Q: Do you need to roll To Hit with Jaws of the World Wolf? (p37)
A: No.

So now do you only need LOS to your target with no need to roll to hit. This makes Choosers of the Slain slightly less of a requirement for a Rune Priest unless one of his powers is a shooting attack.

There are some restrictions on it which were spelled out in the SW FAQ:

Q. Does Jaws of the World Wolf require line of sight? Does it ignore terrain that blocks line of sight (i.e., impassible terrain)?
A. As a psychic shooting attack, Jaws of the World Wolf requires line of sight. The Rune Priest must have line of sight to the first model that the power affects – in effect he is treated as the target model; the power just happens to hit everybody else on its way through!

So we know how it works and its requirements for being cast. Now for the funny stuff to help you target guys in combat. Yes, killing guys in combat. The power requires you to have a target that can be affected by the power so as long as you're not first directing it at a Vehicle or Jump Infantry you're good to go.

Draw the line to your eligible target making sure that he's directly in front of a model that is currently in combat. As the power has already said: it hits 'everybody else on its way through' so when you draw the line from the first guy hit, you stretch it out so that it passes over the combatant's base. There is nothing to say that you can't hit models locked in assault as any model touched by the line tests and there are no restrictions on where the line may be placed. Only the initial target model is subject to the shooting attack rules.

Below are a few pics to show what I'm talking about.

This one is easy: there is a straight line from the Priest to the Warboss so you just measure and test if the target is in range. Here is another one where there's no doubt.

Don't steal my kill, you Noob.
No doubt until a Wolf Lord on TWC decides he's going to do the job himself and gets in the way that is.

Someone doesn't have Saga of the Bear and now needs to be bailed out like an Irish bank. Cue Rune Priest.

Here he can't as the Warboss is in combat. But what's this? Some other Orks are spoiling for a fight and trying to get stuck in? Nice one. Target practice.

Note: A red line means the power cannot be cast into combat, a blue line means it can. 

Casting Jaws into Combat

Here a unit of Nobs has hopped out of their Trukk but have thought twice about assaulting the Wolf Lord and are out of range of the Priest.

The Priest casts Jaws and declares his target model (the guy hit by the blue line). He has LOS, passes his psychic test and it hits the Nob and the power continues in a straight line 24", hitting the Warboss in combat behind him.

If the Warboss fails then the Wolf Lord is free to squash either the Nobs or the Trukk in combat. Evil, no?

How about Jaws from one floor up?

You can't do that. Have a look at the Jaws power in C:SW. You draw a line along the ground which I take to mean board level so you can't target units a level above you or a level below you if your Priest is one floor up.

Note: I've been chatting with a few people recently and they claim that you actually can cast Jaws a level up by choosing a level before you shoot but I'm not sold on that yet. Pg 37 of C:SW says:

As a psychic shooting attack, the Rune Priest may trace a straight line along the board, starting from the Rune Priest and ending 24" away.

The BRB on pg 84 and 85 under Ruins/Buildings deals with Blast, Barrage and Template weapons which require you to (a) declare which floor you are aiming at; (b) always hit the top floor and finally (c) models can only be hit when on the same level as the firer, or one level higher or lower respectively. Seeing as that provides little meaningful help it is probably best to go with what is given above, namely that you cannot hit a model with Jaws if the Rune Priest/Target model is not on the ground level.

Now we'll change things a bit. How about if the Nobs get out behind their Trukk and park their ride in front of the Warboss' combat?

No LOS means No Jaws.
Here the Ork player is being crafty and making sure that Jaws can't be used on his Warboss: the reason for this is in the FAQ.

'The Rune Priest must have line of sight to the first model that the power affects'

Jaws doesn't affect the Trukk but there's no restriction on firing it at a vehicle to hit a guy behind as long as you have LOS. Here, not only is the Trukk blocking the Warboss but he's also an invalid LOS target for a shooting attack as he's in combat.

WTF? Where'd he go?
Here's a more complicated (although usually more accurate) in-game occurrence.

Here the Ork player has moved his Trukk in front of his Boss and hopped the Nobs out behind the Trukk.

In order to get Jaws off the Priest has to be able to see the Nob that he's throwing Jaws at, then have it run onto the Warboss.

I can seeeeee you.

Top-down shot

Above is a pic that doesn't help determine LOS for us, so here's a few model's-eye view shots.

In this one on the right there is LOS to the Nob in front of the Warboss so you can throw it at him, as the Priest has Line of Sight to the first model affected and he is a valid target for a shooting attack.

As shown here.

Here's how the Ork player with some clever positioning can ensure that both the Warboss and the Nob mob remain immune from the Priest.

Thanks to where it parked up, the Nob is hidden by the Trukk (no LOS) so can't be a target and thus the Warboss can't be sniped out of combat.

Addendum: Thanks to David below for adding that when a model in combat is hit by a Thunder Hammer and lives the Rune Priest's job is made easier.

'In addition, all models that suffer an unsaved wound from a thunder hammer and are not killed are knocked reeling reducing their Initiative to a value of 1 until the end of the next player's turn.'  (pg 42 BRB)

The above shows that the Initiative drop isn't restricted to the assault phase so as long as the enemy is hit by it and survives he'll test on his reduced Initiative value. Sweet. This will obviously only work after a model has been locked in combat since the previous enemy turn. And hasn't been squashed flat by the Lord's S10 Hammer. So it isn't just for combat that the I drops to 1, its for the entire turn so Jaws should gobble him up.

I can't believe I forgot to add that, especially as the ThunderLord has a fecking Thunder Hammer in the pics. And is called 'ThunderLord' for a reason...

Arjac wishes he looked like this.
I'll also make special mention of Arjac Rockfist.

Q. Is a model that has suffered an unsaved wound, but
hasn╩╝t been killed, from Arjac throwing his Foehammer
reduced to initiative 1 until the end of the next player turn?

A. Yes.

So Arjac throws his Hammer at a Monster or IC and wounds him which is then dropped to Initiative 1. The Rune Priest can then target him and more likely drop him down a big hole.

Wound Allocation
Previously I've made no mention of Wound Allocation (BRB pg 39) and how it is affected by Jaws. Up until now I've played it that you can allocate wounds to the the casualties taken by Jaws out amongst the squad so that guys that fall down the hole can soak up wounds. Here's why.

Q. Does Jaws of the World Wolf allow cover saves? (p37)
A. No – you could take a cover save if the power caused wounds, but as it does not cause wounds, no cover saves are allowed. (Emphasis added)

The BRB pg 39 says:

...Otherwise, wounds are allocated against the target unit by the controlling player, exactly like the fire of a single enemy unit during the Shooting phase (refer to pg 25).

Out of the sake of completeness I'll include a portion of pg 25 (Complex Units):

Once the number of wounds caused by the firing unit has been determined, the player controlling the target unit must decide which models have been wounded, allocating the wounds to the warriors of their choice. Remember that any model in the unit can be wounded, not just those in range or in view.  
The player must allocate one wound to each model in the target unit before he can allocate a second wound to the same model.

As far as I can make out the unit that is being hit can allocate wounds to models that are taken out by Jaws when they get hit by a torrent of fire that includes the Jaws power amongst all of the bullets.

I think that pretty much covers it. I've gone over this a few times and I haven't spotted anything I've done wrong but if there is anything requiring corrections then please feel free to use the comment box below as others have done.

If you happen to play an army that gets victimised by Jaws and this article makes it worse here's an Nid-based article (a bit outdated now as its pre-FAQ) and a song for you. I was going to make it a sad one but this is deliciously ironic: Breaking the Law - Judas Priest.

P.S. I'll add more than a mere re-hash of an old article next time, but with the changes I felt like this needed to be updated to reflect the new rules. And yes, I know I'm flogging a dead horse but I reckon this will be amended again when 6th edition comes out.


  1. Not sure if you wrote this or if i missed it. But try setting up a nice combo if you are going to plan for this. By getting a thunderhammer into something big and reducing the intiative to 1. Very douchey by gets the job done :D

  2. Um... doesn't the hammer just mean you *strike* at I1? Because when it comes to pursuing someone who has been hit by a hammer, they test on regular I, don't they? Heh, I dunno :P

    Nice post though. It's good to know these sorts of things are out there, and be able plan accordingly :P

  3. Good God David - I can't believe that I forgot that. Thanks for addding it. I've just checked the BRB on page 42 and it says:

    'In addition, all models that suffer an unsaved wound from a thunder hammer and are not killed...reducing their Initiative to a value of 1 until the end of the next player's turn.'

    So it isn't just for combat that the I drops to 1, its for the entire turn so Jaws should gobble him up.

    I'll be editing the article to include this. Good catch.

  4. The, the raw cheese ....

    Kudos for sussing it out , not sure how happy people will be if/when you pull it on them ....

  5. Funnily enough I can't actually remember the last time I managed to pull this off. I tend to get Fateweaver more than statistics would allow with Jaws but that's about it.

    Hopefully there'll be more insightful shenanigans to add to this one.

  6. Is there anyway to contact you :)? i was wondering if you would do an interview for the 11th Company Podcast on this article, the ETC and your play scene in Ireland.


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