The Stupid, It Burns: 3++ & BoLS & Wound Allocation

Kirby from 3++ is the new black, pulled a classic Dick Move (I'm a secret fan of Dethron's blog, so props to Dethron on this article) in response to iamaddj's recent article on wound allocation. So he's fair game, right? To make it clear how this works, iamaddj's comments are in gray, Kirby's comments are in blue and mine are in this awesome shade of red.

(I loved Spy vs. Spy from the Mad Magazine. When I was growing up, I would look for those comics right after figuring out that lame, folding puzzle on the back cover (where those EVERY funny?). So in my article iamaddj is the ususpecting White Spy, which makes Kirby the ambushing Black Spy. Since I couldn't resist jumping in, I guess that makes me the little known Grey Spy (which is awesome because she always ended up winning, lol)!)

Let's get this party started!

"Just over two years ago, in an unpredicted and horrifying move cheating was legalized in 40K. Following GW rules = cheating. Oh, I knew I was doing it wrong. Abusing said rules "with the intention to gain an unforeseen and clearly unintended benefit = cheating" is more accurate, but not nearly as catchy. Who would get their panties all bunched up over that title? How did this happen? Two words, Wound Allocation. So what's the INAT FAQ then? Also two words??

That's right my friends, two years ago Warhammer 40,000 5th edition was released, I thought it was recent from your last article. Burn! Oh yeah, iamaddj, you just got burned! Did you feel the heat?! and something subtle and nefarious found its way into the ruleset. It seemed like such an innocent little rule at first glance. This rule was, again I assume, never intended to be used to allow people to cheat, It's a rule. How is it cheating? Yeah! It's a rule, lame-o! Wait, didn't you already use the "it's a rule" dig? and yet it like Anakin Skywalker, was used and turned to evil. What's your excuse for abusing the English language and our retinas? Ha! Take that, iamaddj! What's your excuse? Tell me! That's what I thought. No excuse! The rule I speak off is the often debated and controversial wound allocation system. It's not debated it's clear cut. One wound per model before wounds stack. Wounded multi-wound models must die first unless there are varied wargears then you allocate first. Was that hard? Yeah! Was it hard? Umm. Hold up, Kirby. Easy to understand doesn't mean it's not "often debated". I don't think anyone is unclear on how the rule works; the debate is about how it's used to gain unintended benefit.

Now last week I called out true Line of Sight. I said it was killing our games, You were wrong. 10-1 odds you are again here. Oooh! Another stinger! (By the way, if you plan to attack someone's use of language - which is lazy - then you should avoid starting a sentence with a numeral. It's one of those pesky grammar rules.) I said it was a plague upon wargaming, and I stand by that. But for me TLoS is a major plague on all wargaming, not just 40k. Wound Allocation is only a major problem for 40K. But in that limited scope, and by limited I mean the most popular and played wargame of all time, it is most likely the most serious flaw. Or lack of intellect. Lack of intellect is the game's most serious flaw? It's certainly an issue in the 40k blogging community.

That's right, I said it, Wound Allocation is the single biggest flaw in 40K at this moment. Why, and how has it made cheating legal you might ask? Cheating - violating accepted standards or rules (thanks to Web Dictionary). Hey, wound allocation is a rule. Shut up. I think it's funny you had to look up the definition of "cheating". Since you were looking at the definition, you probably noticed it also means "to elude or thwart" -- to using a rule to get around another rule could be considered "cheating" as well. Well lets look at the facts. That's all the facts I need thanks. Yeah! Who needs all of the facts?! Not us! Books are for sucks! Let's pre-face this. Wound Allocation slows the game down when you get a bunch of different attacks and models particularly squads of multiple wounds such as Nobz and Thunderwolves being hit by some weapons which ignore armor, some which cause instant death and some which are just regular old wounds. Actually, wound allocation slows down the game whenever lots of wounds are applied against a complex unit, which is pretty common. It usually doesn't bring the game to a stand-still, but the player taking the hits needs to communicate where the wounds are going and deal with them in distinct groups -- which is always slower than just allocating wounds and some rolling dice. When you have two players who know this system and have a somewhat decent IQ, it's not too bad. I thought you just said "lack of intellect" is the game's most serious flaw? Be consistent!  It's slower than what it was before (Wait , so you agree now?) but it also stops special guys only dying at the end. (Which is the opposite of the rule's intention...) I imagine there are serious ways to streamline this but nothing comes to my mind atm. Probably that "lack of intellect" thing... Let's hear your thoughts on this. How can wound allocation be streamlined so it's quick yet special/sarges/heavies can die mid-game? Yeah, it's pretty easy to write an article poking holes in another article without suggesting any solutions. Isn't it? I could do this all day!

Wound Allocation Was Supposed to Help the Shooter

When 5th Edition was released all the interviews and production notes agreed, wound allocation was in the game to help the shooting player. Wound allocation had been added to the game to allow for the chance that the shooting player might kill one of the target squad's important members. I haven't seen any of these interview notes (In your face, iamaddj!) but yes, this was the concept behind this design (So you agree  players are abusing it?) but I imagine GW designers having some understanding of math (since the systems they use are based on math) knew wound allocation actually improved a squad's survivability once you hit a magic number or if there were armor ignoring wounds, etc. Maybe they wanted the game more realistic lol. (Or maybe they assumed their players weren't douche bags and wouldn't twist the rule to gain a benefit none of them anticipated when they wrote the rule? No, you're right it's probably more likely they *intended* this from the start!)

This was seen as a huge positive, a move away from the old style of play where the last model in a squad was also the most important, normally the sergeant or special weapon guy. Wound allocation was put into the game to replace the older "torrent of fire" rule which allowed the shooting player to force saves to be taken on a model of his choice if he did enough hits. But in the face of canny players this new rule backfired. How? This concept uh, well it works. Special models can die before their squad is wiped. Yes, it's possible -- just less unlikely. What is more likely is the rules are used to stack un-savable wounds on models that are already dead. So while Brothers Bill and Charlie get peppered with Lasgun shots, poor Brother Steve takes multiple Plasma Gun wounds to the pooper. As he said, the rule backfired -- meaning it had the opposite effect.

Many People Don't Actually Use Wound Allocation

The first major strike against wound allocation is that many, many people don't actually use it, or like the gym, use it infrequently. 100% of my games use (and abuse) it. When someone doesn't or forgets, we randomly roll to allocate the failed wounds's part of the rules. (Randomly allocating the failed wounds because someone forgot is part of the rules? Sweet!) Not doing so is cheating. Once again you've generalised from your personal experience which seems strange to say the least. (Aren't you also generalizing from your personal experience? Maybe he's just had a broader experience than you?) The truth is the wound allocation rules are a bit complicated and slow the game down. Spot on but you haven't explained how or why. Isn't that obvious? It's more complicated. It slows things down. Does he *really* have to prove it's more complicated than the old rules? Does he *really* have to prove  complicated things take more time than simple things? On a normal squad of 10 marines w/Flamer/Sarge/MM it's not complicated. On a squad of 3x TW w/TH, SS, m-bombs being hit by 3x S4, 1 AP2, 1 S10 hits, well it becomes a bit more difficult. (Heck, the acronyms alone make the latter much more complicated...) Because of this many people just skip the allocation step. And that is cheating. Didn't you just look up "cheating" on the web?! Misunderstanding a rule (or mutually agreeing to change a rule) isn't actually cheating.

Its something I see a lot. "Oh you did 10 wounds?" rolls ten saves together "Well I failed four, so I guess these four guys die". That's common occurrence, and unless the squad was all exactly the same, its wrong. And cheating. (Or not.) It in fact leads to the very thing wound allocation was made to stop, the most important members of a squad being the last to die. It's cheating, too. Umm, did you just switch sides? Iamaddj is saying the abuse wound allocation to keep your important squad members alive is cheating and you agreed with him. Aren't you supposed to be on the other side of this argument? (I recommend going back to the whole "GW rules = cheating" bit. It. Was. Golden.) Because the rules are complex and unpopular they didn't get used much, especially by newer players which is a major strike against them. So they are cheating. Again, not following a rule because you don't understand it (new players) or find it too complicated or unpopular (meaning your FLGS has a different house rule) isn't cheating. Are you using UrbanDictionary or something? 

 Furthermore unlike TLoS, which many people say simplified the game, wound allocation just made it more complicated. Correct but not using it is cheating...rather than using it being cheating like you said. The cheating part is the whole "using it to gain the opposite of the intended effect" thing. For game balance though, those specials being able to die and who are much more likely to die the smaller the squad, is important. That's not really true, his example below showed all of the "specials" in 6-man unit surviving SIX plasma wounds. That's a lot better than it used to be, right? Mechanics and balance > ease of use. Sorry, can you say that again? "Mechanics and balance > ease of use"? So you are saying the rule is 1) being used as intended and 2) provides some sort of balance to the game? What balance? Can you help me understand how 5E wound allocation makes anything better? Do I believe it needs a change to streamline it? Sure. Let's see if you offer up an alternative then and this article will just make me look like a douche then. Don't sell yourself short! You don't anything extra in that article to look like a douche! (Don't tell me you didn't see that one coming! Am I right? Or am I right?)

Wound Allocation Slows The Game Down

Another major problem with wound allocation is that is slows the game down. You just said this. (Maybe it's something he's trying to emphasize? Like your whole "it's cheating" thing?) Unlike the old system where you rolled saves and then pulled guys as you wanted, wound allocation makes you take the time to allocate the wounds. While this slows the game down a bit, the fact that you then have to roll saves separately slows the game down even more. By seconds...the allocation is actually the pain and only when you get complex units hit by different types of weapons as you need to think of the best way to allocate the ignore save wounds. Actually, if a complex unit takes more wounding hits than it has members then things get complex -- mixing in wounding hits that ingore armor makes it even more complicated.  The marginal (I don't think he's suggesting that the "rolling" part is more complicated -- it's the figuring out what to roll part and then resolving them all individually that's more complicated), especially since the majority of people have different colored dice. (which has become a requirement -- not to handle different types of wounds, but to handle different parts of complex units)

While every instance of wound allocation doesn't really take all that much time, doing it over and over again in the course of a game does tend to slow things down a bit. Worse so since many people just ignore wound allocation, this means you often have to stop and explain how it works. Many times in tournaments I have seen this bring games to a halt. This is the second major strike against wound allocation. Now these are both bad things about the rule, but not quite cheating. No. It's not cheating. At all. It's the rule. (Awesome. Shatner. Impersonation. "Khhhaaaaan!")

Wound Allocation Actually Helps The Target, Not The Shooter

Ah yes, the cheating. So remember how wound allocation was supposed to help the shooter? It does. Specials can die. (Being intentionally obtuse is fun.) Well it really doesn't - instead knowing the wound allocation rules well almost always helps the defender. It does this, too. (Do you see how you just said two different things? Two completely opposite things?) I've said it before and I'm sure the designers knew the math and the 'shenangians' that could happen. (It was probably in one of those interviews you didn't read, right?) One major case of this is with multi-wound model units. Remember a few years ago when Nob Bikers where the terror of the tournament world (they are still pretty annoying)? That doesn't mean much because they were never that scary. Over-costed and inefficient. (And yet somehow they still dominated tournaments. Weird.) Well they were so good in large part because of the wound allocation rules. Or so people though but they actually weren't. (Again, maybe iamaddj has broader, or at least different, experience here -- I certainly remember them being a problem; and solely due to wound allocation rules) Ideally with a multi-wound unit like Nob Bikers you would have to kill whole models, and that is clearly the intention of the rules. However players where able to find a loophole in the wound allocation rules to get around this. Namely the fact that is every model in the unit is equipped differently, which is possible in Nob Bikers you don't actually have to kill whole models. Instead by exploiting the rules you could put one wound on every one of your Nobs before actually killing any of them. Unless your opponent actually whacked them with S8+ weaponry. (Which were in ample supply before the release of the IG codex in 2009, right?)

An even worse exploitation of the wound allocation rules, and this is really what I would call cheating, Following the rules is cheating? is the ability to just make wound vanish, just go away. Here an example of what I mean:

6 Space Marines (a Sergeant, a meltagunner, a guy with a lascanon, and 3 normal Marines) get shot by an Imperial Guard veteran squad. The Marines take 6 lasgun wounds and 6 wounds from plasma guns. Now your first instinct is to say "man they took 6 wound from weapons that ignore their saves, they should all die." And that makes sense. But then in comes wound allocation. The defending player knows the wound allocation rules, so he allocates two lasgun wounds each to the sergeant, the meltagunner and the guy with the lascannon. Meanwhile the 3 normal marines take the 6 plasma gun wounds. So the normal guys all die, but there is a good chance the special guys all walk away unhurt after making their saves. And those three extra plasma gun wounds that should have killed the squad? They vanish into thin air, victims of black magic voodoo. Let's try a more realistic example. 10 marines w/Sarge, special & heavy take 6 normal wounds and 6 ignore save wounds. (I'm been looking at the NOVA lists all weekend, I don't think I saw a 10-man unit in any of the 3+ save armies -- so how is this more realistic?) Now here's where wound allocation really kicks in, by taking multiple ignore save wounds on specials you reduce the actual number of average deaths. You then have an opportunity cost, lose a special but less models or lose more models but no specials? ( the defender an advantage they didn't have before by misapplying a rule intended to benefit the attacker...)

So lets look at everything that is wrong with that example. Firstly wound allocation failed in all it's stated goals, it helped the defender and not the shooter, and it failed to get rid of the special guys while killing all the normal troops. So suddenly the shooter also has an option, shoot only with the plasma guns :O. (Again, that intentionally obtuse thing is awesome. It totally works for you.) Remember 4th ed was gun-line armies and GW moved away from that. This means assault armies have to be able to cross the battlefield somehow. Secondly it allowed the defending player to ignore wounds to his squad that should have killed people. Thirdly it was far more complicated than a simple, they took 6 wounds that ignore their armor, they die, rule would have been. And this took 5 seconds to figure out? (...and even less time to abuse!)

And finally here's the big kicker, it means the shooting player made a big mistake by firing all his weapons. See the IG player would have been better off just firing his plasma guns, with only the 6 plasma gun wounds the whole enemy squad would have died, by shooting his lasguns as well he actually saved his enemy. You mean, the shooter should of thought before hand and by being stupid and not, this is a knock against a RULE? How can you even defend that it's better to cause fewer wounding hits?Are you for real? And that's just wrong. In no system should shooting your enemy more times actually make it more likely he survives. It doesn't make any sense from either a logical perspective or a game play perspective. It's just bad. But specials staying alive until the end did. Got ya. Oh snap! I see what you just did there! Classic sarcasm!

So those are just a quick few reasons why wound allocation is a huge, huge problem in 40k right now. I thought it was cheating? And you wouldn't consider cheating a problem? Now I know it may seem like I just don't like change, like I just really want to go back to an older system. Who gave you that idea? Yeah!? Who gave it to you and could you ask whoever it was to give one to Kirby too? (See what I did there? I totally turned that one around on you!) Well that's not true. While I admit I really liked the old system of Torrent of Fire, that doesn't mean I want to go back to it, I think almost any other system would be better then the current one. And that's really the point I guess, the current wound allocation system is bad, really bad. It doesn't achieve what it was meant to, it slows the game down, and it very easily and legally, Whoa. Stop. ("collaborate and listen -- Ice is back with my brand new invention...") I thought you said it was cheating. Make up your mind. (" the extreme I rock the mic like a vandal...") exploited. And it's something we should talk about. Hiding our heads in the sand, saying things like "well that's the rules, we can't do anything about it" won't actually help. Waiting for your suggestions then... ("...Will it ever stop? Yo! I don't know.") 

 Talking about it, admitting that its a bad rule will help, telling people its a bad rule will help. Finding ways to house rule around it will help, short term and long term. So that's what I aim to do from now on, when I find a bad rule, wound allocation, TLoS, whatever, I'm never going to ignore it, I'm going to talk about. I have only seen complaining so far. Well, at least until you added that "petty, emo blogger attack" cherry to the top of the Bag of Douche Sundae. So now we've got complaining AND "petty, emo blogger attack". That's something, right? I hope you all will join me in talking about it, because remember at the end of the day it's our hobby. Quitting or keeping quiet won't help a thing, talking, arguing, about it just might. Or at least it'll make me feel a little better. Altruistic motivation my arse. If you want to promote discussion don't write an essay with a clearly negative overtone on why you think using a rule written by GW in their 40k rulebook is cheating. Yeah! Why would you believe your article -- which has attracted more than 400 user comments, forum threads and at least two other blog articles -- might lead to actual discussion, iamaddj? Clearly you don't know anything about "promoting discussion". You should try Kirby's technique of viciously mocking an article to a small, insular audience of like minded readers without contributing anything other than mocking vitriol -- THAT'S the real way to promote real discussion. Rather provide some basis for discussion like:

"I feel Wound Allocation is a bad system. I feel it was designed to help shooting armies by allowing special weapons to not remain alive until the last guy but make it possible for them to die before plebs of the squad dies. (You nailed it, Kirby. That's what we need, more open discussions about our "feelings".) However, this system can be very complex and slows the game down especially when there are different types of wounds (i.e. instant death, no armor save, etc.) and multi-wound models which goes against what 5th ed 40k was really about, streamlining. Furthermore, shooting with ignore save guns and non-ignore save guns can actually make you do less wounds! Whilst (Awesome use of "whilst", dude!) you can obviously make the choice not to shoot everything it seems counter-intuitive and perhaps bad for the game that shooting with more guns would lead to less deaths. What do you guys think? (Because all of the best articles need some sort of vote before coming to an actual conclusion.) Is this a bad mechanic for 40k or does it's purpose to potentially remove specials that important? What are some changes to perhaps stop the 'abusing' of this rule with multiple-wound models or speed up wound allocation? ("Can one of you readers take a stab at writing this article for me? Maybe if we all combine our efforts, we'll reach the requisite number of brain cells to come to an actual conclusion.")"

See how much different that is. (You mean how you said exactly the same thing without actually taking a stand or expressing your own opinion? Yeah, it's WAY better.) It covers most of your points whilst (Awesome use of "whilst", dude -- you are totally going to get that deprecated word back into popular use!) providing your opinion but is actually promoting a discussion rather than bitching and whining (and falsely accusing people of cheating). (But it's still cool to write an attack post mocking the article, right? That's not bitching or whining, right? Sweet!) I actually agree in regards to it slowing the game down ("...except for that part where I didn't agree -- you know, when I said things like "by seconds" and "rolling is.... marginal". But besides those times, I *totally* agreed with you.") but I believe the mechanic is very important for 40k and I think the biggest problem is multi-wound models like Nobs and Thunderwolves. Whilst (Holy crap! Another awesome use of "whilst", dude! You totally nailed that one too!) you could simply say any wounded models must have wounds allocated to them first (even with different wargear and excepting ICs) as a change, (...but don't do that because it would be cheating...) it's still going to be rather slow to someone who doesn't understand the game. So, let's hear your thoughts, what are some other options to help the wound allocation system out and do you think the mechanic is necessary in 40k. You may also flame, face-palm, rage, cry, rage war upon, etc. iamaddj to make yourself feel better."  
Feel better, iamaddj? I know I do.

**Cough** *Cough**

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