Just Face It: The impact of "Facing" on mechanized warfare.

Illustration A

Illustration B

As I understand the rules, when a target vehicles armor value is being decided, that is, when you are trying to figure out just which of the vehicles armor values you have to penetrate, it is decided by "Facing". Huh? Whatsits? Yes, "Facing". I've pulled "Facing" out in tournaments to cockeyed looks of suspicion at best and in pick up games resulting in rule books being thrown! People don't get it. Players sometimes simply refuse to understand why they have a full view of the side armor, yet they have to target the front of my Baal Predator. To me it makes sense. Lets see if we can make sense of this together shall we?

Page 60 of the rulebook covers "Facing". From here on out known as fc.

Every one has been in this position. They have a Predator tank in open space at a funny angle. They can see both the front and the side of the tank. OF COURSE the shooter would rather shoot at the side armor value of 11 then the front armor value of 13. Well sadly shooter, you do not get to choose. Which armor value you are going to attempt to is decided for you by a vector drawn out from the tank, not by you. To decide which armor value you get to shoot, consult the chart on page 60.

The last sentence of the paragraph below "Vehicle Facing and Armor Values" states "Armor Values for individual vehicles also vary depending on which facing of the vehicle the shot comes from- it's front, sides, or rear, as explained in the diagram."

What this is saying folks is that when you shoot at a tank, you again, do not get to choose which of the sides of the tank you get to hit. A "Vector" is drawn from the sides of the tank out in all directions. The diagram on page 60 is a perfect example of this. A straight line is drawn from one corner, to its opposite corner, and out towards you. Which ever side of that line you fall on is the facing you are in, and that is the armor value you have to contend with.

Confused? Probably. It gets worse.

What happens if you are a large tank, or a squad, and you fall right on that "Vector" line. Well to answer, you resolve the individual shots against the armor value of the facing they are in. Some may be shooting at the front, while some may be shooting at the side.

Lets consult my crudely drawn diagram Illustration A. In it you see a Blood Angels Baal Predator (drawn larger of course) fighting 3 enemy Predator Tanks. Tank A is obviously in the front facing, while tank C is obviously in the right side facing. But tank B is the problem. It has a shot at both the front and side of the BA tank. Which armor value are its shots resolved against? By looking at the vector you can see that it goes right through the tank. (The line did not translate from photoshop to my diagram, look at the line on the BA tank and extend it out towards tank B.) In this case, the turret and its Right Side sponson are in the FRONT facing of the BA tank, while the left sponson, if it were able to draw a bead, is on the SIDE facing.

Still confused? Don't worry, you should have seen the look on my buddy Ed's face today when I tried to explain that yes his Russ could fire on my Predator, but not only would I get a cover save despite the fact that he could see all of the right side, I will get a 3+ cover save because he cannot see ANY of the front...(He was in the front's facing but it was blocked by terrain.)

Head smack...

We all know how cover saves work. If you are shooting at a vehicle, and it is more then 50% obscured it gets a cover save, and if less then 50% is obscured, it does not. Right? Not exactly. If you look at the first bullet on page 62 you will see that word FACING again. "At least 50% of the FACING of the vehicle that is being targeted needs to be hidden by intervening terrain or models from the point of view of the firer for the vehicle to claim to be in cover." I bet most of you gloss right over that word completely.

Now here is the kicker! At the bottom of the page it says this: "It may rarely happen that hte firing unit cannot see any part of the facing they are in, but they can still see another facingof the target vehicle. In this case they can take the shot against the facing they can see, but to represent such an extremely angled shot, the vehicle receives a 3+ cover save." Gulp...

Yes, that is correct sir! Please don't jack my sportsmanship points! You CAN fire at my tank, I will get a 3+ save!

Look at Illustration B. Tank A has pulled its front armor up against a large black wall. It completely blocks LoS to the front of the tank. Tank B is at a good enough angle to see the side armor, but if you extend the vector you can see that it is in the FRONT facing! It may take that side shot, but due to the angle tank A will get a 3+ cover save.

Bullshit? Hell no. Rule Munching? No Way. These are the rules as intended by GW. This gets rid of the "Which side can you shoot?" arguement. If you are a mechanized player, you MUST master this concept.

It is late, and I have no idea how the illustrations will translate to the blog, so I will just post this now and make edits. Feel free to offer ways to make this more clear if you understand, and feel free to ask for clarification if you do not!

I updated the images and put them in order and added lines today.


Please read all of the comments since this is a great discussion!

I left the contents of the original post so you could follow the discussion.

After reconsidering, it is impossible for a tank to fire over terrain, and claim a 3+ cover save on it's side, if a "front faced" shooter can see the turret FROM THE FRONT FACE. However, If the shooter cannot see the front of the tank or the turret from the front, but it can from the side, the tank will still get a 3+ save.

So, it is possible for a tank to have it's "Front Facing" completely blocked by terrain as well as the turret, yet still fire... depending on where it's target is.

Looking at Illustration B, which has not changed, you can see that tank B cannot draw LoS at all to the "Front Facing" of tank A since it is completely blocked by a large wall. It CAN fire at the 11 armor value "Side Facing" but it will get a 3+ save. Also, due to the placement of the turret on tank A, it can fire on Tank B! In this case, Tank A can collect a 3+ save, and still fire it's main gun. Depending on how much of the "Front Face" of tank B can bee seen while looking down the barrel of Tank A's turret, Tank B may or may not get a 4+ cover save.

Lol, this is fun!



daniel.herrmann0207 said...

Hey, you made it perfecly clear! Where's the problem? You even made drawings for your readers. I read it twice an checked it in my german rulebook. It's the same, of course! Thanks a lot for this explanation...

Parcival said...

Yep, the explanations are good and clear. I have read the rulebook numerous times, but there are still so many things that slip your attention because they just seem so obvious when reading through the book.

Heinz said...

Perfectly good explaination to me. It's how we've played it right from the start. I never realised how lucky I was that I don't have to explain this in my gaming group.

Although this is one of those concepts you either get it right away or you could struggle with understanding it.

Lach said...

I was at a tourney in Cleveland TN and faced a guy with alot of Guard armour. this was before the codex but after the new rule book. We spent the first round going over the rule of facing. Its a little tricky if someone doesnt break it down. Great job, and I hope they dont jack your Sports pts like mine lol.

Flekkzo said...

Sometimes it pays off to go back and re-read all the rules. It's real hard to miss all the details in the beginning and then you just continue and continue to play, and, wops, what happened?

JB, blow up a photocopy of the picture on page 60 and bring it with you when you play. Give it to your opponent before you play. It's better to inform before the game starts after all.

And winning by hoping your opponent don't know the rules... 'nuff said.

SynnerG said...

Since you said it was okay to suggest any changes... I'd say extend the "facings" with dotted lines out to your example attackers, like the facing lines in the rule book. Just makes it clearly defined.

But as to the rules themselves, it would be even nastier to roll up to your wall in Example B and have the front armor facing out, so they would be in your Side armor facing, but can only see your front armor value, and still get a 3+ save. I must keep this in mind, since I play a Tau that loves to use his Hammerhead tanks, so I need to get into his Side facing to really hurt him more.

jawaballs said...

Paying attention to facing can score you much easier cover saves on your tanks too. Place a couple tactical marines right in front of a Predator tank, and they will almost assuredly block at least 50% of the front side. The front of a predator is narrow! Terminators will do it for sure. So, even though the firer will have a clear shot at say... 80% of your tank, he is in the FRONT facing, and that side is blocked by a couple infantry. Cover Save! Flek you are right. Rather then busting out the "facing" rules when your vehicles come under fire, it is better to have a short discussion about them before the game starts. Maybe as simple as asking your opponent if he fully understands facing because you don't want to seem a poor sport by busting them out when he draws a particularly juicy bead on your Baal Predator that has been tearing him up for 3 turns.

jawaballs said...

Yah, i realized what I did wrong with the illustrations. i will go into photoshop and add color to the lines. Just didnt feel like it last night, and right now I just woke up and am laying in bed enjoying having NOTHING to work on at the moment.

pissclams said...

heh ! i must admit i was puzzled when this came up. I think my confusion actually was 2 fold in this case. Let me explain.

First off my initial confusion was based on the fact that i could target his whole side. No cover save at the side armour. The Vectoring issue then came into play. I have to admit i wasnt clear on the rule and felt i shouldnt have to target the front at all since i could clearly see the side.

In retrospect the rule does clearly illatrate the vectoring i agree with the enforcement of the rule.

However here is where my frustration grew along with a "toss" of chris's rule book :)

The 3 plus cover save. In the situation of Illustration B, which was ours. The turret still counts as targetable as is directed under para #1 pg 60 under Shooting at Vehicals. Where it states that :

"When a unit fires at a vehical it must be able to see its hull or turret (ignoring the vehicals gun barrels,antennas, decorative banner poles,ect".

In our situation i could clearly see the turret yet not the front facing.

In my opinion thetanks gets a 4 + cover (mind you ...this is where my initial frustration came from and chris is right about getting a cover save..even though i felt he shouldnt at the time) however it should not get the 3+ cover.

whats funny is the shot failed to do any damage anyway so the argument was moot.

Furthermore i want once again to appologize to chris for my expression of anger twards his bringing this rule up. Ive been trying to bring up my game by playing guys who are tourny experianced. They bring way more knowledge to each of the games i play..and its what ive been looking for to gain experiance for the tournies i play in.


butcherbolivar said...

The whole vehicle from the front would have to be covered including turret to get the angled shot right?

pissclams said...

Thats the way i read it.. so its "almost" impossible to get a 3+ cover save on a turreted vehical.

jawaballs said...

Being able to see the turret just means that you can shoot the tank. At the top of page 60 it says that to fire at a vehicle you must be able to see its hull or turret. But the "Facing" rules are determined by the hull, ignoring the turret. And when you are shooting at a tank, the facing rules are used to determine which armor value you have to penetrate. The turret does not have an armor value. If they did, I would say you guys are correct.

To avoid confusion, it is better to think of it as armor values instead of sides.

When shooting at a tank detemine two things:

1. Which facing are you in? That determines the AV you have to beat if you hit it.

2. Does that FACING have cover?
Can you see it at all?

jawaballs said...

But what about if you are in front of a tank that is behind cover. You cannot see any of the tank at all, but you can see it's turret. Does the tank get a 3+ save? No. It will get a 4+ save.

Hmmm, good point! Turrets mess things up. I really cannot find any way to refute the impossibility of a turreted vehicle getting a 3+ save and still being able to shoot over cover. It's front will have to be completely blocked. No LoS from the front Facing. So a tank cannot sit behind a wall, shoot its turret, and collect a 3+ save on it's side.

I believe in our game example though, that particular tank was 100% obscured on the front by the large terrain piece Ed. The only shooting it was able to do was at the angled Russ that was shooting at it... which was out of range. I had turned the turret and shot at your tank.

This is still a little wonky because Turrets do not have an armor value and do rotate.

The_King_Elessar said...

Fantastic post. Absolutely brilliant. Saves me doing the same too, so I'm happily left with less work on my to-do pile. Well said. :)

pissclams said...

here is where GW doesnt fully flesh out the rule. Ive read the rule a number of times and it doesnt say that the turret has no armour value only front, side and rear. Is this the front, side and rear of the hull only ? excluding the turret ? Dunno because it doesnt actually say so.

It does say that the hull and turret are targetable.

I would imagine that if the tank was fully hidden accept the turret from a firering squad that it would only get the 4+ cover. In our case i could see the front of the turret however not the front of the hull.

According to the diagram: which we are using as a basis for facing arc, it does show the turret included.

I still dont think its fully clear and up to RAI confusion.

jawaballs said...

You could see the front of the turret because the front of the turret was facing your tank... it was rotated... You were only able to see the turret because you could see the side facing of the tank. A predators turret is set in the rear of the tank.

You could not see the front "facing". If turrets are used to determine facing, should the "Front" of a turret increase the side armor of a tank if it is rotated? Nope. That gets crazy. That is why turrets are ignored when determining armor value and facing.

Looking at the diagram, it is clearly drawn using the sides of the tanks to determine facing. Going from corner to corner, regardless of where the turret is. Turrets have no bearing. They are in all different locations depending on make and model. But the method of determining facing is the same.

jawaballs said...

And I think I just screwed up all the video! My new camera shoots in MP4 and I tried to convert it all to MP3... Crap... any media wizards out there got any ideas on how I can turn these MP4s into something I can use? Windows Media player and Movie Maker dont recognize them.

pissclams said...

heh.. i dont mean to suggest that the turret retains any sort of armor value regardless of where it rotates. However according to the diagram and the rules description there is nothing to say that the turret is "not" included in the facing. The diagram actually shows the turret included in the facing determination.

I would imagine that this would also include such things as eldar and tau grav tanks with sloping sides.

pissclams said...


jawaballs said...

I believe that what you are saying is that since you could see the turret from looking at the side facing, my tank would have gotten only a 4+ save. You are saying that the ability to see the front of the turret, from the side facing, gives you the ability to see the Front Facing of the tank?

We have to remember that this discussion is not about turrets, it is is about:

A: Which armor value can you shoot.
B: What is the Cover Save

The ability to see the turret does not have an effect on facing. Substitute a rhino into the picture on page 60 and there is no debate. Facing is determined by lines drawn from corner to corner. If my tank were a rhino instead of a predator, it would have been without discussion a 3+ save.

In our game, we established that you were in the Front facing, but could not see the front of the tank due to rocks. You could see the side though, that also allowed you to see the turret from the side, but not the front.

Lets imagine for a second an opaque barrier blocking out that side vector. Looking at the front facing, your complete LOS was blocked and you had no shot. Now, we begin to dissolve the opaque barrier blocking the Side Facing. As we do that, the side of the hull, and the turret (The front of the turret in fact since it just shot at you) come into LoS. You can now shoot the tank! BUT, you are still in the front facing shooting at the side. This will confer a 3+ cover save against the 11 side armor. You get to shoot the weaker side, but at greater difficulty.

If from the front facing, you could see the turret, disregarding any view from the side... the tank would get the 4+ save and you would have to penetrate 13 front armor. We already established that.

In our game, the only reason why you could see the turret, was that you could see the side facing. Since you could not see the turret from the front... 3+

pissclams said...

fair enough... ill conceed that that would be correct.

Raptor1313 said...

I think I'll simply refer to this as a link-back instead of trying to explain it myself, but it needs doing.

It only gets better, though, against vehicles with hard-to-determine facings (IE: Eldar Grav Tanks). Fortunately, it's only the rear of them that matter, but still.

It's one of the sections that makes sense after you read it in-depth, but it just doesn't get a lot of reading time.

Old Shatter Hands said...

great post. I needed that. My good friend keeps pulling that in games and I just get confused when he explains why. Now I know! He's been right all along.

jawaballs said...

I think I saw some place that you have to imagine a rectangle around oddly shaped vehicles like Falcons. Harder to do, but with a little bit of civility, not impossible...

Try that at Hard Boys! :)

Flekkzo said...

Just force all Eldar players to paint their vehicles to clearly show the four facings. Can't be that hard now can it? :)

I am sure that the cover save rules get even more fun if you have... a squadron of vehicles!

Max said...

The squadron rules would work the same way, just make less sense in reality. You use the facing of the vehicle closest to the shooter, but if THAT vehicle's facing can't be seen at all then all of the vehicles get the 3+ on the off-side.

So even if you can see the correct facing on all of the other squad members except for the closest one, it doesn't matter- they still get the 3+ save.

Silly squad rules not making literal sense...

The Drew said...

I thought I got this, but then it escaped me, so Ed wanted to shoot at the side of your vehicle but couldn't because he was in the front facing? And JB got a 3+ save because more than 50% of the front facing of this vehicle was obscured?

Cypher said...

I'd like to point out that if you can't see their front facing then you can shoot at another facing although they get the 3+ save.

"...In this case they may take the shot against the facing they can see, but to represent such an extremely angled shot, the vehicle receives a 3+ cover save."

So if they couldn't see the front armor of your pred then they would just shoot at the side armor instead.

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