Monday, December 5, 2011

A Solution Desperately Seeking A Problem

This weekend the NZ Masters is not using the True Line of Sight (TLOS) rules from the Warhammer rulebook but rather an alternative system pioneered by the Danish Giant Fanatic Tournament and used at the ETC.

Here are the rules:

Size chart:
0: Swarms - models of this size never block line of sight or give cover.
1: Infantry, War Beasts, War Machines, and unique without the Large Target rule
2: Cavalry, Monstrous Infantry/Cavalry/Beasts, Chariots, O&G Manglers
3: Monsters, all Large Targets

Line of sight is always checked virtually, drawn "base to base". Models see in their front 1/4 zone. Line of Sight is blocked by models that are equal to or larger than both: the model whose line of sight we are checking and its target.

Line of sight and war machines:
Catapults (and similar) can place their template so that the centre is over any one unit that is at least partially visible to them.
Cannons can choose any point between themselves and a visible target when firing. Over- or under-guessing to shoot at units the cannon does not have line of sight to is not allowed

Hills are size two for each level (so a 3-step hill is size 6) and block sight / give hard cover just like models of that size. Models standing on hills add the hill size to their own size.
Edit - In 2011 all hills are level 1, therefore size 2.
Buildings and large rocks always block line of sight completely.
Forests do not block line of sight, but soft cover applies to all shots fired through or into (but not out of) forests.
Ruins do not block line of sight, but hard cover applies to all shots fired into (but not through/out of) ruins.
Units standing behind obstacles gain soft (wood) or hard (stone) cover as per the RB.
Buildings are treated as: as infinitely high, units inside are height 2 (in terms of what they can see and determining cover against their shots). All buildings are level 1
Lakes – treat lakes exactly the same as rivers in the Rulebook
Hedges/fences etc. – treat all of them as stone obstacles: grant hard cover and -1 to hit in close combat against the defender, exactly as per the rulebook.
Fields – Soft cover for any unit inside the terrain (discerned by majority of models/base), no other effects.

Cover from intervening units/terrain
Cover is granted when at least 50% of models in target unit are fully or partially obscured by other units/terrain from the shooting model. In order for intervening models to grant cover, their size must be: larger than, equal to, or one size smaller than both the target unit and the shooting model.

Skirmishers never block LoS, and are seen in accordance with their size on the chart, but provide cover as per the above rules. The gap between skirmishers is treated as part of the unit when determining if skirmishers give cover to something behind them. Skirmishers formed up for combat block Line of Sight like normal units.

So there they are in all there glory.
The first question I ask when I read them is - WHY?
I've had more than 100 games of 8th Edition (using the rules). and I have never had a problem in any of these games in relation to TLOS.
These strike me as a solution looking for a problem rather than something that is needed. In fact it screams unnecessary complication.
Overseas the ETC LOS rules were developed by one of the ETC Chairmen in the first two months after the release of 8th when he thought there would be a problem. However that problem never eventuated. They now represent a legacy of those who were trying to turn 8th into 7.5 Edition.
On the weekend i'll be asking my opponents if they would like to play by the normal rules (TLOS) or these rules - then go with their choice.


  1. I have to agree. Its the second biggest turnoff to a great tourney. The first being soft/peer comp scores! Hard caps and TLOS FTW

  2. Sounds like a pain in the ass.

  3. I like it for only one aspect.

    Some models are so big you can see them from space, try hiding an Araknarok anywhere with TLOS, where in reality it's the same size category as Saddler's sunken pile of goo he calls a Great Unclean one.

    Should be able to hide behind a hill too imho.

    Otherwise, TLOS is fine, and is a self-solving non issue.

  4. Its the same kind of thing which happened with 40k last edition changeover, everyone kicks up a fuss about how its going to break the game when in reality it makes everything run much smoother.

    Really the only thing which might need adjusting is the physical terrain itself. As Chaoswolf mentioned some of the new big monsters have no hope in hiding behind 99% of the terrain people used in 7th and for variation and a more tactical game you sometimes want to be able to hide them for a turn. In practice this just means making a few new terrain pieces to scatter around the boards at a tournament (not all the boards need one so its not a massive task). It certainly doesn't require rewriting a huge chunk of the rules. Again its similar to the 5th edition 40k changeover, where it was suddenly important to have true LOS blocking terrain (and people complained that the game wasn't balanced when they were playing with the same terrain as they did in 4th).

  5. The TLOS rules work perfectly fine when you are playing on a board with dynamic and "properly sized/GW" terrain. GW hills actually do block LOS, and use the GW gaming board and TLOS creates really fun games where having the high ground actually creates an advantage.

    However the last time I was up in Auckland for a 1 day tournament I noticed their terrain does not match the above description. I guess many editions of fake LOS has meant that large collections of "usable" terrain that "represents" what it is supposed to be has been created (and now rendered useless by TLOS). Hopefully the above rules are only a temporary measure while people/clubs slowly update their terrain collections.

  6. @ Joelatron - and perhaps therein lies the problem? If tournaments keep 'tweaking' the rules for line-of-sight, no one needs to get motivated enough to update their terrain.

    I've not personally had a problem with TLoS in any of my games but as a TO I've had to make rulings. Warmachines (especially BIG warmachines) tend to cause some grief (c.f "crosspiece" on the Treb; the new (HUGE) Warp Lightning Cannon vs the piddly Empire Great Cannon). People might have a lark about players building models to gain an advantage but I think there is some truth in the inequities between models - and it's not because players are converting stuff to get an advantage - the kits are just designed that way!

  7. I played at Guardcon last year and found the City Guard's terrain absolutely fine.

    As I said in my opinion it's a solution looking for a problem and unnecessarily complicates what has work in 99% of jurisdictions.

    My preference is to use the BRB rules and I'll give my opponents that options, if allowed.

  8. I'll play by the house rules, each tourney is different and what the TO wants is what I do. That said, I often can't be arsed with special terrain rules, but that is due to laziness not differing rule philosphy.

  9. Of course you are right in that it is up to each TO what they do and you go along with it if you want to attend.

    I have some sympathy if it is to fix a widespread perceived problem but that is not really the case here given Phil's comments in the Equinox thread on City Guard.

    Phil says there that the prime motivation is that it gives a better game because TLOS is too dumbed down. And that it forces people to buy GW terrain.

    I respect his opinion but my view is different. I think TLOS has removed an unnecessary complication in Warhammer - and I think it is better suited to the game than it is to 40k. GW have been accused of a lot of crimes - especially by me - but TLOS certainly isn't one of them.

  10. You know in saying this im not seeing many arguments why virtual line of sight is bad rather that TLOS isnt bad so why dont we move off the double negatives and actually do an actual comparison of which is better?

    i have no problems playing either and found both just as fun as each other

    -James Page

  11. FOr me, the biggest problem with false LOS is that it is adding rules where there is no real reason to other than "I miss the old ways". Playing on the GW 3D gaming tables with false LOS and you see the folly; there are parts of the board where you can comfortably see over a unit of similar "height" and not be on a hill (which as a terrain piece is in 8th another fancy way of saying "open ground with a Combat bonus if you charge off it that occasionally you can hide behind").

    TLOS has removed the all importance of having a hill in your deployment zone re: 7th ed. Hills can still hide units, just not as well as they used to-and that is not a bad thing. I remember more than a few games in 7th where my opponent played for a draw by hiding everything behind hills as they got close to 1/2 strength.

  12. I don't want to hide everything, just my Keeper of Unclean Changethirsters. People who don't care about using the size rankings of non-TLOS (and therefore becomes the solution seeking the problem) either aren't affected or benefit from TLOS.

    However.. if you have the correct scenery, then TLOS goes back to being even fine for that point. So give me good scenery, and you can TLOS to your hearts content.

    I'd think it'd be in poor taste to bring a Hardback copy of Pete-Lite for your opponent as an alternate ruleset when playing in a different 'hood'?

    And besides Phil's letting the 13th through unscathed, you should be happy with that fine piece of Triple-Blue ultra creamy cheese. :D

  13. >People who don't care about using the size rankings of non-TLOS (and therefore becomes the solution seeking the problem) either aren't affected or benefit from TLOS. <

    You obviously haven't seen my HPA. I'm not suggesting that we play by the rules so I get an advantage.

    >I'd think it'd be in poor taste to bring a Hardback copy of Pete-Lite for your opponent as an alternate ruleset when playing in a different 'hood'?<

    To be honest I think this comment is ill-advised. I'm not suggesting using house rules rather that I'll give my opponent the option of using the actual rules if they so wish.

    It's nothing to do with Pete-Lite.

  14. Having played under Modified LoS rules a few times now, I think it actually encourages more defensive play tbh. If you can actually hide units behind buildings, Rocks etc, I found I tended to make use of that fact.

    Whereas if you know there's nowhere to hide, you have to just run at your opponent and get stuck in, making the game a much more enjoyable overall experience.

    Also for what its worth, it does nothing to encourage big gribblies, whatsoever. They are still massive points liabilities unless they have Regen/Wardsaves/are undercosted to begin with. Along with the fact that all the new ones are so damn big, you can't hide them behind anything that isn't the size of a sun, or if you actually can, any Indirect fire Stone Thrower will still hit them about 90% of the time anyway...

    Just my 2p.

  15. Not ill-advised (I over-exaggerated to hopefully avoid this discussion we're having), ill-phrased perhaps. I don't think anyone should be in a position to offer their opponents exemptions from the TO's stated rules? We can agree to disagree on this, for some it might be just fine, for me it's not.

    As for the size, I wasn't inferring you found advantage/disadvantage, you're probably worse off than me, it's just that GW have models from the Araknarok to the (whats a really small large target model?) KoS, and I don't think they have adjusted points cost when considering the varying vulnerabilities of them on the battlefield with TLOS. Also, hiding a model from the enemy seems like a HUGE tactical element to just lose because TLOS has certain assumptions about what standard scenery is.

    I'll leave it at that, not worth getting beat up by Jack and Charlie in the carpark over :(

  16. Sounds like "ETC play-style" in a nutshell?

  17. @Dan - it's all good robust discussion as far as I'm concerned :-) That;s what blogs (and certainly this blog) is for.

    You don't need to worry about Jack or Charlie they are pussycats.

    @James - I started from the assumption that to need to use SLOS then TLOS must be bad. However I then indicated that I was unaware of any widespread problems of TLOS.

    Looking at it the other way, I'll look at the "negatives" of SLOS then:

    1) It's not the default rules as per the BRB - I think this should always be the starting position unless fundamentally flawed.

    2) They are more complicated than TLOS which is elegant in its simplicity

    3) They potentially lead to more debate read conflict over what is visible. This, at best, slows the game down.

    4) They introduce a facet - hiding of models - that was not intended by the game designers. Dan has said that the rules haven't repointed models because they can't hide and possibly could in prior editions. I take the other tack and say that the rules as a whole are cognisant of that fact and have offered a lot of large models things like "Thunderstomp" and the like to compensate.

    In a nutshell, for me, they attempt to solve a non-existant problem and do so in a way that is complicated and removes focus from underlying game tactics/strategy.

    Hope that elaborates my dislike. And reiterates my starting premise i.e. that SLOS is a solution looking for a problem

  18. Yeah all good :) Although I've met Jack a few times, and he's too friendly and non-threatening... a sure sign he's a master Ninja a heartbeat away from destroying all he sees.

  19. Whatever Pete, I've shanked plenty of foo's back in prison.

  20. Curious, will like to here how it impacts on the tournament Pete.

  21. For Equinox I am going to have to print out the SLOS rules and read, ask questions etc etc which is going to slow down the game... then have to remind myself in deployment (rock lobber and DD on hills otherwise keep the lanes clear)... is going to be the proverbial pain in the .....

    oh and will not take my wyvern unless I use it as a unit filler!

  22. How about TLOS, but having hills and buildings as infinitely high. I think that was used at FluffyCon...and it worked.

  23. Really didn't make a whole lotta difference, might trip up the odd person who wasn't aware of it.

  24. Well it gives your Greater Daemons, Wyvern etc a place to hide until it's necessary for them to come out and wreck havoc - without totally ignoring the BRB. I think it's a good compromise.