Friday, 23 August 2013

Fantasy and 40K: The Shooting Phase

The Shooting Phase is the phase were armies begin to show their killing potential. For 40k its often the most violent and causality heavy phase of the game, and for Fantasy it’s the phase where players aim to either weaken a unit before a big charge or cause a panic and delay their opponents plans for a few turns.  The mechanics of each system shooting phases reflect this as well as the profiles of the ranged weapons themselves.


In 40k the majority of units can shoot (even if having moved), the two most common reasons why a unit would not be able to shoot are 1) the unit is in assault and 2) The unit is fleeing.  Other reasons exist as to why a unit would not be able to shoot, but these are often race specific, the two above are the most common reasons why a unit would not be able to shoot.

After you have determined who will be shooting at what you will need to roll a number of dice equal to the number of models in the squad who wish to shoot. Ballistic skill determines how likely you are to hit (this is the same as Fantasy). After rolling to hit compare the strength of the weapon being fired to the toughness value of the target, this will determine what roll on a d6 you will need to wound the target. Finally the target gets a chance to save the wound with either Invulnerable saves, Armour saves or cover saves. Unlike Fantasy a models armour save is not affected by the strength of the shot. Cover saves are determined by what type of cover the model is in (if any). It is vitally important to pre determine what terrain piece gives what save before the game beginning in order to avoid arguments later on in the game.  Generally light cover gives a 6+ save, medium cover gives a 5+ and heavy covers gives a 4+. If half a squad is in light cover and the other half is in medium cover then the shooting unit can choose to focus fire on either only the models in light cover, or only the models in medium cover.

Where 40k sets itself apart from Fantasy is in the weapons themselves. There are 6 different types of weapons each with their own general rules set. For example assault weapons are the only weapons that a model can fire with in the shooting phase and then assault in the assault phase.

Finally the 40k shooting phase has the option for squads to fore go shooting in favour of making a Run move. A run move allows the squad to move equal to the roll of a d6. Note that squads that run cannot shoot or assault unless stated in their codex.


  • The 40k shooting phase is faster than Fantasy, with the majority of squads being able to shoot.
  • The 40k shooting phase can be a game winner, this means that armies who are good at shooting can win games in the shooting phase as opposed to just weakening the enemy.
  • The 40k shooting phase is very unforgiving, a misplaced squad can easily be obliterated in one turn.

Fantasy works in much the same way as 40k does for its shooting e.g. Ballistic skill determines what you need to get on a d6 to hit, the strength of the weapon Vs the toughness of the model being shot determines what you need on a d6 to wound. There are some major changes from 40k that set the Fantasy shooting phase apart. They are:
  • In Fantasy cover is broken into 2 categories, Hard and Soft. Hard cover gives a -2 to hit penalty for shooting and soft gives a -1 to hit plenty for shooting.
  • The majority of units can move and shoot (notable exceptions include any “Gun” units) however moving and shooting gives a -1 to hit and units cannot march and move
  • Ranged weapons have a short and long range distance. At long range all shooting attacks suffer a -1 to hit penalty and at short range there are no penalties (for range)
  •  Units that suffer 25% casualties must take a leadership test or flee (referred to as a panic test) furthermore units within a certain distance from a unit that flees as a result from a failed panic test must test for panic themselves.
  • The Strength of a weapon modifies the armour save of the target. Strength 4 reduces the armour save by one. e.g. a model with a 5+ armour save shot be a strength 4 weapon would have a 6+ save against that shot.
Here we see a example of the panic rule in action. The 3 units of Glade Guard focus their attacks on the center unit of Orc Boyz....

Which causes the unit to flee.......

Which in turn causes the other 2 units to flee due to failed panic tests


  •  The Fantasy shooting phase, while not as violent as the 40k, can still be effective, with whole battle lines turning tail and fleeing due to one unit being targeted.
  •  The rules do a good job of ensuring that ranged armies do not dominate in a game that is still largely based around close combat.
  •  While the rules do ensure that ranged armies don’t dominate, they do make it difficult for an all ranged army to do well. The rules force players to have some close combat units in their army.


Once again the 40k shooting phase continues the trend of being the more streamlined shooting phase, allowing for the majority of squads to shoot ensuring maximum damage from turn one. Fantasy shooting shows just how close combat focused fantasy is, with shooting attacks useful only in their ability to whittle down a until before a charge or causing a panic in the enemy lines. While having 3 units panic from shooting and fleeing sounds bad most units rally the next turn meaning that the shooting player only managed to buy him/herself another turn, 2 at the most, that being said this can be all a good player needs to turn the battle in his favour.

Hopefully you enjoyed this post, for the final part of Fantasy and 40k I will be looking at the close combat/assault phase and giving a summary of each system.

Until next time.


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