Saturday, 25 August 2012

Rules Conundrum: 40k Line of Sight

And finally, I'm back to doing what I started this blog for. Pointing out stupidly phrased rules.

One of my biggest pet peeves within the rules of 5th edition 40k was the Line of Sight segment. Of course, this is one of the few parts of the rules GW decided to simply copy and paste into sixth. So, while others gripe about double Force Organization Charts, Fliers and Allies, here's why the Line of Sight rules are next to unusable.

The Sighter
A model draws Line of Sight from it's eyes (Big Bloody Book, p. 8).

I'll let that sink in.

And then I'll show you this picture.

Do, please, point out the eyes. And no, the squiggly line does not count.
Do tell me how a Wraithlord is supposed to draw Line of Sight to anything. There are no eyes to sight from. The same is true for other models as well. Wraithguard are an obvious example, but what about Zoanthropes? Tyrant Guard?

Also, the rules fail to specify what counts as eyes. Do the lenses in a Crisis Suit count? The shiny orb at the front of a Canoptek Scarab? Can we be sure there are eyes under that mask thing the Talos has?

And lastly, the rule says 'eyes'. Plural. Which not only screws over models with just one eye - like Deathmarks, for example - but makes it all but impossible for models such as the Carnifex (whose eyes point in different directions) to see anything.

The Sightee
Line of Sight is drawn to a models body - its head, torso, arms and legs (BBB, p. 8). Also weapon, banners and other ornaments are ignored, as are wings, tails and antennae.

This works fine for infantry that is vaguely humanoid. It even works for most Monstrous Creatures and Tyranids. It does not work for models whose parts are not easily defined by the above terms, or for bikes. It is also unclear on where, exactly, the line between body and not-body is drawn.

Part the first: non-humanoid models.

Does a Canoptek Spyder have a torso? I could argue it has legs, and a head. But if the only bit that is visible is the carapace, is it in Line of Sight? The same goes for Scarabs. What about Spore Mines? Mycetic Spores (even without an official model, it's fairly clear it won't be shaped like a human)?

Part the second: bikes.

Just to be clear, these images are property of Games Workshop, and used here for purely illustrative purposes.
There are cases when the above bike is out in the open, but no part of its body is visible (especially if it has been dramatically tilted), as the hull of the bike is in the way. Is it then in Line of Sight? On the one hand, no, it is not. You need to be able to draw line of sight to the driver; if you can't, you can't see the model. On the other hand, what the frak?

Part the third: ill-defined parts.

So tails and wings don't count, nor do antennae. What about the chimney-things on the back of a Carnifex? A Daemon Prince's massive shoulder plates?

And for that matter, what about models that use their tails in a leg-like fashion, like the Sslyth or Canoptek Wraiths? Is a Ravener seriously half as big as a Tyranid Warrior? What part of a Ripper is its tail?

What about tentacles? Where do they fall? Or spikes and horns?

In many ways, vehicles get around the problems I've listed, because they follow their own rules. Some parts of the vehicle rules don't quite fit together, though.

Like wings and antennae on normal models, vehicles' dozer blades don't count as part of the hull (which is what you need to see when targetting a vehicle). Does that mean a Rhino converted from a Vindicator (which I've been wanting to do, for the coolness) can't be seen from the front?

When a vehicle draws Line of Sight, it traces it from the mounting and down the barrel of its weapon (BBB, p. 72). Where does this leave the Monolith's big ugly crystal thing? Can it only shoot things right above it? Same thing with the Exorcist, really. How about other weapons with no barrels, like the Manticore?

And I'm going to stop here. I think I've made my point.

So, until next time: ta.


  1. Targeting a Trygon / Mawloc is difficult too. Much of the model is tail and claws. The new big rule book says you only target Heads torso arms and legs.

  2. As for the Monolith, IIRC there was a FAQ a while back that said you draw LoS from one of the Flux Arcs.

    Something about TLoS that has always bugged me is the Turret on the Storm Raven... The only time I could imagine them actually drawing LoS is off of the sides, and then it still has a large deadzone.

    P.S. Cool blog, glad I found it on my most recent linky-spree. Consider yourself added to my blogroll.

  3. Unfortunately, the Monolith FAQ applies only to the Flayer Array.

    As for the other examples, all I can say is: yeah.

    Also, glad you like the blog.

  4. the group I play in ignore the 'true' los as the scenery is only meant to be a representation of the stuff.

    We draw a line base to base then have a look at what terrain it crosses, and how much of the base is covered by it.
    works for us, your mileage may vary :)