Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Some insights on Fast Rolling...

The most amazing insights I've gotten on this game almost always seem to come not from my own studies and games, but from the oddball questions others ask of me. This one came from sturgard and was basically:
"My friend plays 3 lictors and sometimes uses a reserve denial list. So what he wants to know is can he roll all of his reserve rolls (say for the entire army), then decide which 3 rolls to go back and reroll?"

This was a fascinating item as at first look it seemed rather ambiguous. Neither the Reserves nor Pheremone Trail rules gave much insight. A basic look through the 5th edition rulebook (aka BRB) also didn't turn up a hard ruling. Taken before a judge at a tourney, I could see it being a coin-toss either way. It wasn't until I delved further that I realized the answer was simple, just that a rule had been expanded beyond it's original intent to become common gaming convention. The culprit: Fast Rolling.

Fast Rolling is a great rule that speeds up game play. In short, rather than rolling three sets of dice one at a time, you just roll three different coloured sets of dice once. It's so useful that it's become common convention to use it for just about every group roll.

The thing is, 40k is a permissive rules set. If it isn't in the rules, it's not legal. But wait, you say, Fast Rolling IS in the rules, right? Yes it is. Page 18 of the rulebook. What's interesting about this choice is that the rules for rolling and re-rolls are all the way back on page 2.

This was the key. Fast Rolling isn't part of the general rules of 40k. It is only common convention to allow all the time. 5th edition only allows it in specific places: To-Hit, To-Wound, and Save for both the Shooting and Assault phases.

What's this mean? Most of the time it is not going to matter as people won't have a way to influence the outcome of the rolls anyways. So sticking with a fast-rolling convention is just fine. But when the player has a re-roll or optional result modifier, don't let them game you by using Fast Rolling. Most players probably won't even realize they were playing it wrong until you point it out.


  1. Yes, it is very easy to develop poor habits in 40K. I'm guilty myself. My poor habit is forgetting to distinguish my saves between models that are not identical and forgetting to distinguish vehicle damage roles, glancing vs. penetrating. :(

  2. The interesting thing about this one was that it was one of the more subtle edition changes. As I recall, earlier editions defined Fast Rolling as a general convention in the section on rolling... making it more open for abuse. I recall seeing it defined in 5th and immediately extended it to everywhere convention dictated.

    Yes, it is very easy to develop poor habits in 40K. I'm guilty myself.

    Guilty here too. I think my worst ones are:
    a. I usually run Fearless armies... I'm so used to not having to take Ld checks from Shooting that I've forgotten them when fielding non-Fearless units.
    b. Expecting my opponent to know and understand the rules, especially oddball ones pertinent to our armies. (Like a Daemonhunters player not realizing my Chaos Daemons get Sustained Assault against him...)
    c. Not realizing my opponent was distracted. At tournaments I try to keep things moving and don't delay much between phases. There's been a number of times where I've called at target, rolled to-hit, rolled to-wound and then told my opponent the results, only to realize they were looking something up and didn't see any of the to-hit rolls.
    d. Mixing up the specifics of a rule with something from a previous edition. I've got better after my first few dozen games of 5th, but there's still the odd occasion. But that's why they make rulebooks... :-p