In my recent battle with Kris, we had an interesting rules query, that was a little more in-depth than most of the questions I face. At first glance, it seemed insignificant (and indeed, it had no bearing on the game), but it was a curious little quirk and I’d like to share that with you.
The question came up in turn three during Kris’ movement phase and is disguised in the battle report as: “Kris shuffled his other librarian around for a clear shot, and started plinking away at my other vehicles…” What actually happened is that Kris had a librarian attached to the left side of his unit, and wanted to move him to the right side–without moving the unit. (It’s important to note that the “without moving the unit” clause was simply a statement of convenience, as it really made no difference to him whether the unit moved that turn or not). There’s a picture below to more cleanly explain what I’m talking about.
The pertinent rule question that seems to apply is:
Can a character join and leave the same unit in a single turn?
Since you can only join (or leave) a squad in the movement phase, it shouldn’t come up very often, but it did in this game. Since the rules say that if one model in a unit moved, the whole unit counts as moving, this could have had an impact if he had wanted to fire heavy or rapid fire weapons.
So I delved into the rulebook and had an interesting find. After reading through the section on Independent Characters (IC), I’d say it is possible to leave and join the same unit during the movement phase, based upon two quotes (pg 48 of the rulebook):
An independent character can leave a unit during the Movement phase by moving out of coherency distance with it.
In order to join a unit, an independent character simply has to move so that he is within the 2” coherency distance of a friendly unit at the end of their Movement phase.
Since you can apparently leave a unit whenever you want (in the movement phase that is–indicated by moving out of coherency), but can only join a unit at the end of the movement (which is automatic), it is possible to leave and join a unit in the same phase, though this is predicated on a couple of pre-requisites.
- The character must already have been attached to the unit before movement begins. This means that the character must have been in the unit since the last movement phase (since he couldn’t have joined at any other point).
- The character would have to move farther than unit coherency away from the unit (in most cases, this is 2″) to leave, and then must come back to rejoin the connection. This is difficult (though not impossible) to achieve. I can think of two possible ways to do just that:
- EXAMPLE #1: The first of which is to have the character move 2.1″ – 3.0″ away from all models of the unit, to break the connection, and then turn around and come back to roughly the same spot. Granted, it doesn’t seem to make much sense.
- EXAMPLE #2: The other way to do it is to have the unit in a formation of either an L or a U so that the character can leave one side of the unit, and join the opposite. This is effectively what Kris was trying to do, but since he wasn’t able to get out of coherency, his entire squad would have had to move to make this happen.
An interesting take on a third option would be for the opposite of the above options to happen. What if the squad moves away from the character and then comes back into coherency? Well, I don’t think this is actually possible based upon the fact that the only method for a character to leave a unit is to move away during the movement phase. If the unit were to move, the character joined to that unit would have to be moved with it. So, the only way to move him out is if he does it himself.
This all seems incredibly tedious, but it does have considerations in real games.
It means that a character can not choose to remain in place while the unit he is with moves. It is possible though, for the character to leave the unit while “staying” in the same position, but the character counts as moving by doing so. To do this, the character has to follow example #1 above: He moves away from the unit to break coherency, and then moves back to his original spot. The unit can then move freely away from him, as he’s not automatically joined to the unit until the end of the movement phase.
When would this happen? Whenever the IC wants to shoot at a different target than the squad he’s joined to, but does not want to move. This could happen if the IC was choosing to fire a heavy weapon (orbital bombardment from a Space Marine Chapter Master, Master of the Forge with Conversion Beamer, Eldar Autarch, etc.) or even a rapid fire weapon (such as a combi-plasma) at long range.
It also means that any effect that applies on the turn a character joins a squad (if such a rule exists) can be used in subsequent turns by leaving the squad and rejoining it. Granted, I’ve never heard of such a rule, but then again I don’t normally read through every codex with a fine-toothed comb. Can anyone think of something like this?
Again, it had no bearing on our game (since it didn’t matter whether his squad moved or not), but it does seem to have a potential effect on other games. Have any of you come across something like this before?