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Seeker missiles and cover
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Old 27 Oct 2008, 04:58   #1 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Seeker missiles and cover

There are several different perspectives on how seeker missiles interact with cover. I have yet to see a rules-based consensus on the matter, so I thought I'd start a thread to discuss it. Apologies if there's (as I suspect there is) already a thread on this; the search function is not my friend, and for some reason won't even find topics I know exist, because I wrote them.

The core question is whether the target of a seeker missile gains a cover save from terrain intervening between the launching vehicle and the target. A secondary question is whether the target gains a cover save from being inside area terrain.

My impression of all the discussion so far is that people answer these questions with assertions about what the rules say, whereas the rules actually say virtually nothing about what happens. Hardly surprising for a 4th edition special weapon interacting with rules that didn't exist in 4th ed.

Firstly, a review of the rules. Seeker missiles are found on pp 30-31 of Codex: Tau Empire, and the cover rules are on pp 20-21 of the core book.

Secondly, common misconceptions about the rules:

- seeker missiles travel in a straight line between launching vehicle and target: not so. This is only "for the purposes of deciding whether the shot strikes the front, side, or rear." "The missiles do not need a line of sight" (p31, C:TE)
- any intervening terrain or unit confers a cover save: not so. The target must be obscured (in the case of vehicles, more than 50% obscured), or the attacker must be firing between the elements of a piece of area terrain. Cover saves do "not apply if the shots go over the area terrain or unit rather than through it".

This latter point is also relevant to the new interpretation of Fish of Fury, but I'll make another thread for that later.

I think these are all the rules that touch on whether or not seeker targets get cover from intervening terrain. It is clear to me that these rules, taken together, mean that there is no RAW on how seeker missiles interact with cover.

On balance, I would play it that the absence of a LoS means that there is no basis for claiming that any given seeker shot passes between elements of area terrain or models in a unit, and that intervening terrain therefore provides no cover save. Targets that are themselves in area terrain would, on this interpretation, gain a cover save normally (see p22, core book - direction of shot is irrelevant to this save).

I would further back this interpretation up by pointing out that the absence of RAW means that the 4th edition interpretation should be fine - intervening terrain didn't affect seeker shots in 4th ed. Also, the common sense interpretation of seeker missiles not requiring line of sight suggests that they do indeed travel over intervening obstacles, thus p22 rules indicate that no cover save is conferred. I know SMS isn't a great precedent, but given that the scant rules on seekers and cover that I have outlined lead me to believe they act in the same way as smart missiles, I think the similarity is worth considering as a point in my interpretation's favour.

Ok, discuss. Have I missed any rules? Is my interpretation way off? Do you think seeker missiles are worth taking if intervening terrain gives cover?
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Old 27 Oct 2008, 06:20   #2 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Seeker missiles and cover

Here's my thought on the subject. The SMS says not only does it ignore LOS, but also ignores intervening cover.

The Seeker missile entry says only that it ignores LOS.

The rebuttal to my own argument, is that there is plenty of useless extra text in the tau codex with the introduction of 5th edition, so this doesn't really mean much.

So the old fall back: It doesn't say anywhere that it breaks the basic rules of intervening terrain, so it does not.
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Old 27 Oct 2008, 07:05   #3 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Seeker missiles and cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by emmagine
Here's my thought on the subject. The SMS says not only does it ignore LOS, but also ignores intervening cover.

The Seeker missile entry says only that it ignores LOS.

The rebuttal to my own argument, is that there is plenty of useless extra text in the tau codex with the introduction of 5th edition, so this doesn't really mean much.

So the old fall back: It doesn't say anywhere that it breaks the basic rules of intervening terrain, so it does not.
I agree. I think the seeker would have said something to the same effect back when it was designed.
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Old 27 Oct 2008, 07:17   #4 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: Seeker missiles and cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by emmagine
So the old fall back: It doesn't say anywhere that it breaks the basic rules of intervening terrain, so it does not.
I do agree with that approach, but my interpretation (which isn't super-clear in my original post) is that the basic rules of intervening terrain effectively rule that seeker missiles do not suffer from cover saves. They are all about what the firer has LoS to, and whether that LoS goes through area terrain, or over it, or whatever. There is no LoS for seeker missiles. What does this mean?

I argue that if you don't trace LoS, then you don't trace LoS through area terrain, or between models, or whatever. If the firing is not through area terrain, then that terrain doesn't confer cover saves. It takes more than simply having terrain between the firer and the target to confer a save; the shots must pass through the terrain according to the rules on page 22.

Look at it this way. A seeker can go 'through' a solid wall that completely blocks line of sight (I'd argue it actually goes over, because that makes sense). This wall would not give a cover save in normal circumstances; it would prevent firing altogether. If the seeker can shoot anyway, why would the same wall suddenly give a cover save? Plainly the shot is not passing through the wall; the straight line is purely for the purposes of vehicle facings. If the shot does not pass through terrain, no cover save is conferred.
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Old 27 Oct 2008, 08:51   #5 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Seeker missiles and cover

you could also justify that if there are leaves getting in the way once the missile has fired that it may lose sight of the marker token, and end up missing.

The problem with your argument, is that if you read the rules for cover saves it doesn't say "when you checked for los when you were shooting, if there was stuff in the way..." Instead it says "to determine if you get a cover save, check los" So even if you don't check los to fire the weapon, the rules say you can check los see if you can take a cover save.


Now that said, I don't take cover saves against seeker missiles. I don't think it is RAI. I don't object if someone wants to, because as best I can tell, it is RAW.
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Old 28 Oct 2008, 01:19   #6 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Seeker missiles and cover

There have been threads about this, but when search doesn't work, search doesn't work...

I completely agree with Pseudomancer, as I have said on previous posts. Anything in or touching area terrain gets a cover save for it, unless cover saves are specifically not allowed from that weapon (flamer, ABFP, whatever). For intervening terrain, cover save is determined by whether LOS is blocked. No LOS means no cover save, so you can't take one from seeker missiles going around terrain. I point to the phrase "seeker missiles are assumed to travel in a straight line for purposes of determining which armor facing they hit" or some such. I also point out that with all other classes of weapon that don't require LOS (melee, template, and barrage) you don't get a cover save for intervening terrain.
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Old 28 Oct 2008, 03:15   #7 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Seeker missiles and cover

The way I'd always interpreted seeker missile rules is that when you score a markerlight hit (and if the unit is in cover from the unit markerlighting then it gets a coversave from the markerlight) and that if it fails to save from the markerlight hit, it takes a seeker missile hit. Think about it. A markerlight is essentially a laser designator similar to that used by our military, a laser guided missile doesn't hit a target from the angle of the vehicle/aircraft firing it unless the vehicle/aircraft is also firing from the same direction as whatever is designating it. I'd always assumed that the reason why a seeker missile ignored LoS was because it was being fired up into the air, and that it looks for the markerlight hit from there, not from the vehicle.

I.E. I've always played seeker missiles as being an extension of the markerlight hit. I assign markerlight hits, let the unit take cover saves from that, and then if they fail they take seeker missile hits if I decide to assign them.
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Old 28 Oct 2008, 04:36   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Seeker missiles and cover

Units don't get cover saves versus Markerlights at all, though. The Markerlight rules state that you place a counter next to the unit after you hit it. No wound is caused, so no saves apply.
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Old 28 Oct 2008, 15:26   #9 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Seeker missiles and cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlaguedOne
Units don't get cover saves versus Markerlights at all, though. The Markerlight rules state that you place a counter next to the unit after you hit it. No wound is caused, so no saves apply.
Hmph. Well, in that case I should probably start letting my opponent get cover saves from seeker missiles shouldn't I?
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Old 28 Oct 2008, 16:02   #10 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: Seeker missiles and cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saracen
Hmph. Well, in that case I should probably start letting my opponent get cover saves from seeker missiles shouldn't I?
What are you crazy? Play for absolute advantage! All's fair in love and Warhammer 40,000!

Seriously though, denying cover saves isn't exactly out of character for Tau. Those one-shot weapons aren't gonna pay for themselves if we halve their effectiveness.

While I'm posting (at 4am local time =.=), the main thing I wanted to ask on this thread is, do you think seeker missiles pass through intervening terrain, or over it?

My take on the whole issue is that RAW are entirely ambiguous (see initial post) and thus we're left having to interpret the matter. If you imagine seeker missiles flying up and then homing in on the marker, you're imagining them denying cover saves for intervening terrain (but not for area terrain the target is in).

This isn't my only argument for denying cover saves (again, see original post) but if seekers don't pass through terrain (which RAW suggests they don't, as LoS is irrelevant to seekers) then they don't suffer from cover saves for that terrain.
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