Monday, July 5, 2010

The Cat's in the Crater

Well I was pondering on a topic for conversation and the idea of craters popped into my head as a relevant point of conversation. These pieces of terrain are on nearly every board in the 40k universe, and rightly so seeing as the universe has been in turmoil for centuries. This being said, there is an interesting gap in the rulebook regarding this widely varied and common terrain piece. So what category do we put them in?

I have been pouring through the rulebooks and other pages on the interwebs attempting to unravel the mystery of what makes a crater a crater. Many people have found calling them area terrain as the most simple of the categories and leaving it at that. But lets slow down and think about the cons of just simply going the simple route here. Area terrain (in 5th) does not allow a barrage weapon to remove the cover save from units hit when they are in these pieces. Now in some cases I can see this being alright as this rule was put in to simulate the walls of ruins, and or the dense foliage to cause problems actually getting an accurate location of the enemy. Were I can see a crater being useful to dodge, dive, dip, duck, and dodge from direct fire (much like a sandbag)... I find it hard to believe that a crater will stop barrage style weaponry which is suppose to simulate fire falling from above.

I was a huge fan of the Band of Brothers series on the History Channel, and one episode depicted them getting, well barraged from enemy fire, and their only "protection" was hiding in fox holes (or small craters dug to protect the soldiers from enemy fire). These worked well until the artillery shells landed in the holes... quickly reducing the protection, and the men to bits.

Now going back to game terms, I think that gaining a cover save from normal weaponry and any non-barrage style weapons out there is fine. I'll even say that a barrage weapon outside the crater still granting a save makes sense. The Rule Book says it's a 4+ cover and I can buy that. It also defines area terrain in a fuzzy manner. Any piece of terrain that does not have a defined edge is a little tricky in many circumstances as most do. To make matters worse, I look to a specific example in the new Tyranid codex. The Ymgarl Genestealers allow them to set up in a piece of area terrain. Now for them I can see the crater being a good spot to set up in... but I still do not think the crater should be area terrain.

This is where you the reader say "But then what would you call a crater?" And to that I have a simple answer. I call it a 4+ direction cover. My comparison would be saying it is like having a circle of sandbags. This allows the unit that is more than half in the center of the crater, to gain the benefits of cover from normal fire, while not negating barrage effectiveness against them. I find it hard to believe that by having a few men in a crater, that an Orbital Bombardment which is used to glass a planet, can't breach a craters defenses.

To be fair, I allow rules which utilize area terrain (such as the Ymgarl's set up) to still be used on terrain craters, but to me it just seems logical. Since the rules are a little iffy on what to call terrain... this is what makes sense to me as a player and logical human being.

What do you think? I am interested in your thoughts on the matter. Which way do you think it should be? Area? Directional? Or do you have a different idea? We would love to hear your thoughts. Until then...


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