Rule Clarification: Descent of Angels

The new Codex: Blood Angels is somewhat unclear about which units and characters benefit from their 'Descent of Angels' Special Rule.

The Special Rule verbiage on page 23 indicates it applies to 'a Blood Angels unit with this special rule;' if interpreted to mean therefore only those units with 'Descent of Angels' listed in their individual unit Special Rules, only the HQs Dante, Astorath and the Sanguinor, the Elite Sanguinary Guard, and the Troop Assault Squads appear to benefit from 'Descent of Angels.'

However, the Equipment listing for Jump Packs on page 62 states that *any* 'Blood Angels model with a jump pack has the Descent of Angels special rule' and then specifically refers to page 23 (emphasis mine). This would extend the benefit of the Special Rule to any other character capable of purchasing a jump pack, and to jump pack equipped units which do not specifically reference 'Descent of Angels' in their unit listing. Vanguard Veterans are the unit of relevance here, because 'Descent of Angels' combined with 'Heroic Intervention' could be especially powerful (a possible negative consequence of interpreting the codex this way)...but the ability to join any BAdex character wearing a jump pack to a like-equipped squad, as this interpretation would allow, seems an equal positive.

I think the unit which best clarifies which way this rule should be interpreted is the Death Company. It's unit listing does not confer 'Descent of Angels'--but Chaplain Lemartes, who can now only be bought as an upgrade to the Death Company, does have the 'Descent of Angels' Special Rule, which would be meaningless if his mandatorily-attached squad could not benefit likewise.

As the jump pack listing confers the Special Rule and the rule explanation limits it to those *with* the Special Rule, the interpretation most consistent with both of those codex assertions would seem to be that the presence of a jump pack on a character model or unit of models in an army built using Codex: Blood Angels confers 'Descent of Angels' to that character or unit, regardless of whether the Special Rule is specified in their unit listing alone.

This has the benefit of allowing Independent Characters other than the three (very unique) special characters so identified to strap on a jump pack and run with assault marines, and clarifies the Death Company (and, yes, makes Vanguard Veterans *very* hard).

Unless errata'ed otherwise at some point by Games Workshop, this will clarify how 'Descent of Angels' will be ruled at any events I moderate, and other local retailers and referees are welcome to refer to it, for consistency.

Wound Allocation In V5

Prefacing this with the acknowledged opinion that V5 Wound Allocation is stupid, counter intuitive, unnecessarily time-wasting and fiddly, and a change made almost certainly only so that it was something different from the system put in place by the previous Studio regime--we are nevertheless stuck with it. I understand players who simply choose to disregard it and assess casualties the old way, and frankly I tend to do so most of the time, too...but being less than diligent about enforcing proper V5 Wound Allocation has created multiple ways of playing this locally, several of which conflict--with fairly dramatic consequences. With Astronomi-Con only two months out, I have undertaken to get this right.

There seem to be two ways of interpreting the rule (and in fairness to the local gaming scene, in sorting through the forums to get the consensus correct answer on this, this is a common problem everywhere):

  • You split your targeted unit into as many different (by gear, stats, whatever) types as necessary and assess each Wound, one to a model at a time, *per type*.
  • You split your targeted unit into as many different (by gear, stats, whatever) types as necessary but assess each Wound one per model, only moving to specialist types when the basic type models have all received a wound.

The difference is small but meaningful, especially when only a few Wounds have been made (if there are enough inflicted Wounds to place at least one per model it doesn't matter): taking the book's five man Dev squad (page 25) as an example--what if, instead of the illustrated eleven Wounds (allotting at least two per model and three to one, pretty clear), the squad had suffered only three Wounds--two from bolters allowing a save and the third from a melta allowing no save? Do you assess the Wounds by the three types, as in 1) above, in which case a bolter armed target, a missile launcher armed target and the Sgt each must take a Wound with the melta wound being assigned by owning player's choice (probably the marine in the bolter armed group), or by model, as in 2) above, in which case one bolter armed marine is still going to get vaped, and either the sergeant or a missile launcher marine is still going to have to make a save, but the second bolter armed marine would get to take the last save, protecting one or the other (but meaning at least one type within the unit never gets allocated a wound)?

This really matters even more in larger squads with many more 'bullet shields' and fewer special and heavy weapon toters. It would matter in this example if there were a third basic type (bolter armed marine) model--as then, if 2) is correct, *none* of the other, specialist, types need face taking a save.

As it happens, 2) *is* correct. The rules specify that players must allocate one wound to each model in the target unit before a second can be allocated to the same model. They also specify that models with any differences in profile, etc, must be set out by type...but *do not* specify that this must be done first. Reading the Rules As Published, this latter requirement of setting out affected models in a target unit by type is *only* necessary if the number of wounds requiring saves exceeds the number of basic-type models in the unit, or if (for whatever reason) the owning player wished to allocate wounds to a type other than a basic model. Which would mean, for our example, 2) above is correct Wound Allocation. For an average ten marine tactical squad, six wounds could typically be taken before the owning player has to start dividing into types; for larger squads (orks being an excellent example), many, many basic type models can take an inflicted wound before needing to begin dividing into types, for Wound Allotment.

Your specialized models with better statlines or equipment, in other words, *do not* need to begin being assigned to make saves until the number of wounds inflicted on their unit exceeds the number of basic type models able to take those hits.

Going out Stars-style

There is no question the season, for a Dallas Stars hockey loyalist, has been disappointing; and, further, that perhaps all three bulwarks of the franchise were playing their final home game tonight. But for one night, everything was as it should be, again: Jere Lehtinen and Mike Modano set up the team's first goal, Modano scored the second with barely a minute left to send the game to overtime--then in the shootout Lehtinen and Modano both scored again, and Marty Turco stoned the opposing shooters to make the perfect ending stand up, for an electric victory.

I want them all back. There is no question Modano still has it, and makes everyone around him better, and what a helluva fourth line center he could still be; the talk certainly seems to be that he is leaning to retiring, and the argument can be made that the Stars are ready to run Richards, Rebeiro and some combination of Ott/Benn/Wandell down the middle without him; I counter that Modano, returning at the level he is still playing, allows some of those centers to stay on the ice as wings, and the front line becomes even more formidable. Bottom line, he is still greatness and if he wants to play one more, I will be heartily cheering. Lehtinen has had difficulty staying healthy and there have been games where he has looked spent...but those who know far more than I say his mastery of all the little, inobvious, intangible things is second to none, and that if he could be had at a bargain, he will be welcomed back. If he can contribute consistently like he contributed tonight, that would be grand. Marty is likeliest to be gone simply because the Stars, having signed their future goalkeep, will not give him a starting keeper's salary--wouldn't even if they somehow remedy their grotesquely-handicapping ownership situation in the off-season--but...if it happens that he isn't offered giant money elsewhere, one hopes the Stars have kept the relationship open enough that if he is forced to consider a lesser contract, he would welcome the one that keeps him home. I do not expect that to happen: someone is going to realize Marty's biggest problems this season were Dallas' woeful blue line, and realize how much his presence in goal will make them better. They way these things tend to work, it will probably prove to be a team which will allow him to make the Stars pay, repeatedly. But by all reports he is beloved in that locker room, and he certainly is in this community (and in this household, where 'wanting to be like Marty' has turned my seven-year-old into a rabid Stars fan, a budding hockey player...and allowed him to show us things we never guessed he had, as his team's soccer goalie)...and you hate to say goodbye to class like that.

But if they must go...what an amazing way to go. Life rarely follows the script; tonight, for Marty, Jere and Mikey, the heroes rose to the moment, and saved the day, and got to take us with them as they went out in style. Stars-style.

April 1829: The Fall of The Raven

Mention 'Sam Houston' in 21st century America and the image conjured by the name is of a giant of the War for Texas Independence, and in the governance of that same republic once independence was won; a man as big as the towering statue of him which overlooks I45 in Huntsville, Texas.

It is worth remembering that he was all of those things, while still being as human--and flawed--as us all. And his darkest moment of failure culminated almost two centuries ago this month.

Houston was an Andrew Jackson man. He fought under Jackson at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River against the Red Stick indians, where he was nearly killed but his relentless courage was noted by Old Hickory; both were promoted from Tennessee militia to regular army as result--Houston to Washington to recuperate from his horrific injuries, where he watched in fury as the British burned the upstart nation's capital in the War of 1812, Jackson eventually to New Orleans, where his makeshift coalition of bayou Cajuns, southern gentlemen, blacks slave and free and Jean LaFitte's pirates shattered those same British, further idolizing him in Houston's eyes--and when the two turned after to politics, they did so as virtual father-and-son, Jackson eventually to the presidency in no small measure due to Houston's relentless support in Congress, and Houston ultimately to follow Jackson to the governance of Tennessee, and commandery of her militia (whence he would take his title, like Jackson before him, of General). As the tidal wave of liberalized 'western' democracy reshaped the face of the establishment 'eastern' American republic in the late 1820s, there were no small few who believed the tall Virginian who had lived among the Cherokee in his youth and earned the name 'colonneh,' or Raven, would continue to follow his mentor on to the presidency.

His resume lacked only the social touch. The Raven needed a wife.

He took one in Eliza Allen, blonde and blue-eyed daughter of a Gallatin, Tennessee colonel. She seemed the perfect fit, embraced by the gentry of Nashville, and Houston, by all accounts, fell deeply for her.

And never recovered--for within three months, it was over, and Sam Houston's rise with it.

It is still not absolutely clear what happened. Considerable aspersions of character were suggested of Eliza, which so provoked Houston that he swore in print to kill any man who questioned her purity. She slipped after into obscurity, and Houston refused publicly ever to speak of it, the rest of his life; most likely, it was the simple, calamitous combination of a man in love with a woman who loved another, which neither could reconcile.

By April of 1829, the marriage was over (Houston not being of either honor or temperament to demand Eliza remain in a loveless union of politics or convenience), Houston had resigned the governorship of Tennessee due to 'overwhelming...sudden calamities'...and The Raven, once destined for greatness in the East, had disappeared, miserable, beaten and failed, into the west.

Fortunately--for Sam Houston and for the many liberty-minded settlers of the next decade--to the west lay Texas. Without the 'calamity' which took him down so completely in disgrace by April of 1829, there likely would not have been a man of his stature west of the Sabine in 1836, a man capable of making the difficult, wrenching decisions which kept the newborn republic alive in the face of overwhelming adversity, of weathering the bitter scorn of the humiliating 'Runaway Scrape' without breaking; he had broken once, and been so tempered by it he would not falter again. By the April of seven years later, the old Sam Houston was reborn...and when the time came to turn and break Santa Anna and Mexico instead, at San Jacinto, in the name of liberty, freedom, the selfsame rights so essential to the democracy of the west that had changed the American nation a decade earlier and borne him to triumph after triumph, this time, Sam Houston was ready.

The Raven had risen, phoenixlike, and borne a nation up with him. A weight he likely would not have been equal to without the tempering of disgrace, in April of 1829.