-By: Scott (PG_Sc077y)

In today’s rules focus, I want to talk about a set of rules that are commonly misplayed, and some of the mistakes I see new players making.  Now, don’t feel bad, because I know a lot of experienced players that make these same mistakes, and trust me, the way they are worded makes people think one thing, but the reality is different.

So today, let’s talk about damage, choosing columns, and dealing “Auto” damage effects.

Yeah, snipers, or really, any model with the rules “Precision Strike”, “Deadly Shot”, “Marksman”, “Sniper”, are some easy to use, but often nuanced rules that need to be discussed, and just to clarify any misunderstanding, we are also going to be talking about Alten Ashley.  We’re including him for the sake of clarification, because while he isn’t a sniper, he is commonly seen with them, and there are several common mistakes.

Starting with Precision Strike, we learn that this rule reads:” When this model damages a warjack or warbeast with a melee attack, choose which column or branch suffers the damage” and its sister rule “Marksman: When damaging a warjack or warbeast with a ranged attack, choose which column or branch suffers damage”.  Both are essentially the same thing, the only difference between the two rules is one is in melee, one is shooting.

widowmakersWhile both of these rules are fairly self-explanatory, it’s important to note that you do not roll for a column or a spiral. You must choose a column to do damage too.  There is no optional clause in the rule.  You must choose a column or spiral to do the damage to, even if you accidentally roll a column die.  Another thing, while nuanced but still important, is that you must choose the branch or spiral to damage while damaging it, meaning as you are rolling the die for damage or before.  You don’t get to roll the damage, notice you only scored 3 damage, and elect to take out its arm once you know how much damage you’re doing.  Instead, before the damage roll is made, you must choose the column.

So with precision strike out of the way, we will now turn our sights onto the Sniper rule.  Sniper reads “Instead of making a damage roll to resolve a ranged attack, this model can inflict 1 damage point.  A model disabled by a ranged attack made by this model cannot make a tough roll.”

There are two very important distinctions to make here when using a model with the sniper rule:

  • The first is that regardless of whether you rolled for damage or just dealt the point of damage, models disabled by a sniper never make tough checks. This is critically important for two reasons, the first being that people automatically assume, because the structure of the sentences, that if you do NOT choose to deal a point of damage with the sniper rule, and roll the damage normally, your opponent gets to make a tough check. This is not true, both clauses of the sniper rule are independent of one another.  So regardless of whether you roll damage, or just deal a point, your target isn’t making a tough check.
  • The second key point to make about the sniper rule is that you do NOT get to choose to deal the auto point of damage AFTER you roll damage. In short, it’s not a backup or insurance policy to make sure you deal damage.  You must choose before a damage roll is made, whether the model is dealing a point or rolling for its damage normally.


Kind of tricky right?  I know for many readers you are going to read this and think to yourself “who gets this wrong” but believe me, I know a LOT of players that didn’t know that if you roll damage, they still don’t get a tough check.  We won’t even get started on whether or not you roll for damage and then decide on if you’re going to deal one point or not.

eAnd on that note, let’s talk about Deadly Shot for a second. Deadly Shot reads: “Instead of making a damage roll to resolve an attack with this weapon, you can choose to have a model hit by this weapon suffer 3 damage points instead. A model disabled by this attack cannot make a Tough roll.  It is essentially the same thing as Sniper, however, it deals 3 damage instead of just one.  This rules are typically found on solo models and isn’t seen on any units.  The Arcane Temptest Gun Mage Rifleman, Widowmaker Marksman, Kell Bailoch, Eirys 1, all have this special rule.  It behaves no differently than the sniper rule, other than you are dealing 3 damage instead of one.  About the only source of confusion, I have ever seen from this rule is people thinking you can break up the damage to go to 3 columns.  You cannot. The card doesn’t read deal one damage three times, it’s deal 3 damage once, meaning you would only choose one column to deal the damage to.

Now, at this point we have covered all of the rules that makes snipers great. Picking the column, dealing 1 or 3 damage at a shot and not having to roll damage.  But there is one model that stands out in this world of top shooters, and he isn’t even a sniper.

Yup, Alten Ashley.

Since MK3 has been unleashed upon the world, a few models stand out to me as format defining.  The Khadoran Juggernaut, now the bastion of powerful melee jacks everywhere and the gold standard by which all other warjacks are defined.  Lanyssa Ryssyl, Nyss Sorceress is the go to source for threat extension in Trollbloods, Circle, Retribution and Cygnar, and to charge for free to boot.  And lastly, Alten Ashley has defined the ranged game for many factions, especially against warbeasts.

aaSo let’s take a look at Alten really quick, then I’ll dive into what people often mistake about him.  So at first glance, Alten is an accurate, Rat 8, pow 12, rng 14 gun.  He has advanced deploy, pathfinder and his defensive stats are 14 def and 14 arm with 5 health boxes.  All of that seems mundane, but it’s when we flip the card over that we discover a whole new meaning of pain and suffering.

The first thing we notice is that Alten doesn’t much care who he works for.  Cygnar, Khador and Protectorate in Warmachine, with Circle Oroboros and Trollbloods rounding out the hordes side. The next rules to mention is that he has prowl, (which is really useful with advanced deploy and pathfinder) and reposition 3.  Both very handy rules on a range 14 gun that allows its user to come forward, shoot, then back up into the forest where he has prowl, making him more difficult to deal with.

But these next two rules are where his power truly is at.  Monster hunter deals D3+3 to a warbeast on the branch of your choice, and both of his weapons have grievous wounds.  Pairing Alten up with some snipers, particularly Kell Bialoch or a few Gun Mage Riflemen, is an easy way to take out the spirit on a beast and because of grievous wounds, it cannot be healed next turn.  Meaning that it can’t be forced, so the poor warbeast can’t even run!

A couple of things to remember though, when using Alten that I see people get wrong all of the time.

  • Alten does not have the Marksman or Precision strike special rules. He does not get to pick the column or spiral to do damage with his weapons.
  • Alten, when attacking a warbeast, still gets to make a damage roll. I know this seems silly, but Alten gets to deal D3+3 damage to the spiral of his choice because of the rule Monster Hunter, and THEN make a damage roll on the hit that connected, either from his gun or from his melee attack.  The thing to watch for though, as mentioned above, he doesn’t have precision strike or marksman, so when making the damage roll, you do NOT get to choose the column.
  • Grievous Wounds doesn’t last the entire game, it lasts one round. So if you shoot my Dire Troll Mauler with Alten, Grievous wounds is applied to the model on hit.  He would then roll his D3+3 damage from monster hunter and choose the spiral that damage is applied to, then roll his damage on his weapon that he used, and roll the spiral for that one.  Once his attack is resolved, Grievous wounds will stay on my Troll for the remainder of his turn and all of my turn, and once the round is complete, it will fall off.  To continue to apply grievous wounds, Alten will have to shoot the beast again, otherwise, he will not reapply grievous wounds again, and I will be able to heal my poor, picked on, defenseless troll.

And there we have it, another quick rules focus hopefully clarifying a few common misconceptions I see about these particular rules.
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