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Escaping Assaults: A Ten-Minute Tactica

Submitted By: Blazinghand Date: January 9, 2018, 05:32:06 PM Views: 250
Summary: The rules for leaving assault in Eighth Edition specify various penalties for using Fall Back to leave assault. In this article, we will discuss three maneuvers for leaving assault without using Fall Back in 8th Edition Warhammer 40k.

Escaping Assaults: A Ten-Minute Tactica


Assault in 8th Edition is a strange beast, different from previous editions in large part because of what it means to get into and out of assault. In previous editions, one might end up locked in assault until a failed morale test. After retreating, a unit could be caught by sweeping advance, killed in crossfire, swept off the board, or perhaps the unit will safely regroup shortly thereafter. Under the new rules, leaving assault is much easier, though there remain consequences for doing so.

Typically, it is easy to leave assault by having the assaulted unit Fall Back, assuming it is not surrounded. However, absent a mitigating factor, such as Fly or special rules to ignore the penalties of Fall Back, a unit that uses Fall Back will not be useful for the rest of the turn. In this article, we will discuss three maneuvers for leaving assault without using Fall Back in 8th Edition Warhammer 40k.

I. Escaping Assault During the Opponent’s Morale Phase

Although it is somewhat trivial to Fall Back from assault, it comes with a variety of drawbacks. So, how might we disengage from assault and still be able to move, shoot and charge? This maneuver involves removing models lost to Morale to cause your unit to no longer be within 1" of an enemy, and only works against enemies who have a small number of models coming up against a spread out high model count unit of your own.

As an example, in a recent game, a large squad of my Guardian Defenders was charged by a Daemon Prince.

The Daemon Prince charges in, coming into range of several Guardians.

The Daemon Prince stuck the charge and I immediately began planning what to do in my own shooting phase to destroy him, since he was well ahead of the rest of the army. The only question was, what would I do with the surviving Guardians on my turn? I could use Fall Back, but then they would not be able to shoot. I could spend CP and use an Eldar Stratagem to let them shoot anyway, but this would be quite CP-inefficient given their guns and their target.

So, I took another path: I decided I would try to remove casualties during assault so that they would disengage during my opponent’s Morale phase if they failed a Morale check.

The Daemon Prince gets 5 kills.

First, I lost five Guardians when the Daemon Prince fought. I removed all but two of the Guardians near him, so that he could not Consolidate into the rest of my unit.

The Daemon Prince consolidates into the two Guardians near him.

When I activated my Guardians, I did not move any models during Pile In or Consolidate, so once again only two Guardians were within 1” of the Daemon Prince. The Guardians made a few ineffective attacks, but the goal here is not to be effective in the Assault phase. Next, in the Morale phase, I rolled and thankfully lost two Guardians to Morale. I removed the two in front, hanging the Daemon Prince out to dry.

After models flee in the Morale phase, the Daemon Prince is no longer within 1” of any Guardians.

Remember, the Morale phase happens well after any opportunity the Daemon Prince would have to use a Consolidate move. My Guardians are now out of assault and therefore they are ready to move, shoot, and charge as normal during my upcoming turn.

II. Escaping Assault during the Psychic Phase

Even if a unit begins its turn in assault, the actual rule that may prevent it from shooting or charging if it leaves assault is in the Fall Back rule. So, even though a unit may begin your turn within 1” of an enemy unit, if it can get out of assault without using Fall Back, it is free to shoot and charge as normal. This maneuver involves destroying the unit in assault with your unit during your own Psychic phase, bringing your unit out of assault without using Fall Back.

As an example, in a recent game, I had several Fire Dragons in assault with the remains of a Space Marines Tactical Squad at the start of my turn. I wanted my Fire Dragons to be able to shoot a nearby Predator. A normal Fall Back would not allow them to do this.

So, I took another path: I decided I would try to destroy the Tactical Squad in my Psychic phase, leaving the Fire Dragons free to shoot in my Shooting Phase.

My Fire Dragons in assault with the Tactical Squad would like to shoot the Predator.

First, I had my Farseer use Executioner to generate mortal wounds and clear out the Tactical Squad in the Psychic phase. Smite could also do the job. Neither Smite nor Executioner is restricted from targeting enemy units that are in assault.

The Tactical Squad is destroyed in the Psychic phase.

The Fire Dragons were no longer within 1” of an enemy model, and had not used Fall Back. This meant they were free to shoot the Predator in my Shooting Phase.

The Fire Dragons did not Fall Back, so they can shoot.

Even though the Fire Dragons began the turn within 1” of an enemy model, because they are no longer within 1” of an enemy model and did not use Fall Back, they are able to fire at will. That Predator is in trouble!

III. Escaping Assault During the Shooting Phase

One thing that is often forgotten is that models may fire pistols in assault. This is probably the simplest maneuver to exit assault without having the unit Fall Back. Let us consider the following situation, based off of something a friend of mine did in a game. At the start of your turn, your Eversor Assassin is in melee with a single T’au Fire Warrior. Nearby is an Ethereal, whom you would much rather go after. As things stand, your Eversor will kill the Fire Warrior at the end of your turn and get shot down on your opponent’s turn without a chance to go after the Ethereal.

A tough situation.

The Eversor Assassin could Fall Back, but then he would not be able to charge the Ethereal, making the move pointless. So, what can you do? Well, the Eversor Assassin has a great pistol, and pistol rules state that you can fire them into the closest enemy unit if you are in assault. So, during your shooting phase, you have him shoot the Fire Warrior, who promptly dies.

After shooting pistols in the Shooting phase.

The Eversor Assassin is now free to charge the Ethereal. This is because he did not Fall Back, and therefore is not subject to the normal restrictions of Fall Back.

A legal charge.

By remembering to use your pistols in assault, you will increase the damage of units with pistols, and also open up opportunities to make charges your opponent does not expect.


With these three maneuvers in your back pocket, you will be able to find ways to leave assault without using Fall Back. This will let you increase the effectiveness of your units, allowing them to potentially move, shoot, or charge as normal. Remember to evaluate all your options when your valuable units are tied up in assaults they would like to escape.

Thanks for reading!

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