101 - Concealment & Cover

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This article is part of Warmachine University's Crash Course (101) series, which is "Basic Training" aimed at new players who are still learning the core rules.
The 101 series is intended to help you understand the rulebook, but you shouldn't be reading this instead of the rulebook.

Concealment gives you +2 DEF, and Cover gives you +4 DEF. Couldn't be simpler, right? Wrong.

"Intervening terrain" vs "Completely within the terrain"

When it comes to concealment & cover, there is important distinction to make when it comes to the "type" of terrain. It generally falls within two categories:

  1. "Area" terrain such as forests, swamps, patches of rubble, etc.
    Models can stop within this terrain, so a lot of people use 2d terrain. I prefer "2.5d terrain" which is a flat base with removable elements that I can shuffle around if/when they get in the way of models.
    Area terrain only provides defensive bonuses for models that are completely within the terrain.
    Area terrain doesn't provide bonuses for models partially within the area, or behind the area but within 1".
  2. "Object" terrain such as buildings, crates, hedges, walls, obstacles, etc
    Models cannot stop in this terrain, so more people use 3d for this. Some people still prefer 2d terrain to make it easier to measure when models move over this terrain, such as flying models.
    Object terrain only provides bonuses for models behind it and within 1".

Of course, you can always agree to play different terrain rules with your opponent.

Terrain is covered further in 101 - Terrain.

Shooting across terrain at an angle

Intervening Terrain Example 1a: When the Trenchers shoot at the Indictor, obviously the target will get cover from the red Trencher and get zero cover from the green Trencher. But how many of the blue Trenchers will be affected by the cover?
Intervening Terrain Example 1b: We draw a line from the Indictor to each Trencher, and see which has less than 1" to the wall (coloured red) and which have more than 1" (coloured green).
As a result, we can see that the wall is only providing cover vs the top 3 Trenchers.
Intervening Terrain Example 2: Although Sloan is within 1" of the wall (shown by the 1" purple aura), she is not within 1" of it in relation to her attacker (shown with the red line).

Refer to the first screenshot. When the Trenchers shoot at the grey Indictor, it is obviously going to get a cover bonus vs the red Trencher's attack and will get zero cover vs the green Trencher's attack. So somewhere along that arc of blue Trenchers it must switch from "cover applies" to "cover doesn't apply". How do we figure where that change occurs?

We work out by applying this rule:

Page 49 of the 2020.02 edition of the core rulebook
A model with concealment, either granted by being within 1˝ of a terrain feature that provides concealment in relation to its attacker or from another effect, gains +2 DEF against ranged and magic attack rolls.
(Cover has similar wording, and grants +4 DEF.)

It is a two step process

  1. Find the line between the attacker and the target that comes closest to the terrain feature
  2. Measure along that line to see whether it is 1" or less.
  • Then repeating that for every model you're not sure about.

In the second screenshot we can see that most of the Trenchers are far enough 'around' the wall that, from where they're standing, the Indictor is more than 1" behind the wall and can't claim cover from their attacks.

Tip lightbulb.png

Tip !
This within 1" rule only applies to ranged/magic attacks. The melee DEF bonus is applied differently.

Ignoring terrain for Line of Sight (LOS) vs Ignoring terrain entirely

If you have an ability that allows you to ignore terrain for LOS (such as Mage Sight), then you don't get to ignore that terrain for concealment/cover.

The reason for this is because determining LOS is a seperate step from determining cover/concealment. Consider the scenario where your target is 3/4 hidden behind the corner of a building:

  1. You've got fully unobscured view of 25% of the target. Any line you draw between the attacker and the target that doesn't go through the building is your LOS line.
  2. You've got fully blocked view of 75% of the target. Any line you draw that does go through the building is their concealment/cover line (if they're within 1" of the terrain, as per above).

In this scenario, there is no way that the LOS line can be the same as the cover/concealment line. They must be two seperate steps.

Now consider the same scenario but you get to ignore buildings when determining LOS. Step 1 becomes easy, but Step 2 still exists and therefore the target still gets concealment/cover from the building (if they're within 1") - even though you're ignoring the building for LOS!


  • Quite often abilities that ignore LOS will also ignore cover/concealment which renders this discussion moot. (For example Phantom Seeker).
  • Roadblock lets a model grant other models cover as if the Roadblock model were an obstacle. If you have a way of ignoring the Roadblock model for LOS, you still need to do step 2 as per above.

Wall templates

Several spells place "wall templates" into play (such as Wall of Fire). Unless the spell says otherwise, these templates are not terrain pieces and do not provide defensive bonuses to models within 1" the same way a normal wall would. (Infernal Ruling)

Wall Templates are 4" long by 0.75" wide (Infernal Ruling)

See also Category:Wall

In Melee

Melee example 1: In this example, the red Slayer gets +2 DEF vs the blue Mage Hunter Infiltrator's melee attacks (and vice versa) because there is a bit of a building between them.
It is only +2 DEF vs melee attacks, even though buildings grant +4 DEF vs ranged and magic attacks.
Melee example 2: In this example, the green Deathripper gets +2 DEF vs the blue Mage Hunter Assassin's melee attacks because there is a bit of obstacle between them, even though it is much more than 1" away.

Melee Attackers

You don't get cover or concealment vs melee attacks. Instead you get +2 DEF if there is any type of intervening obstacle/obstruction anywhere between you and the attacker..

  • Unlike ranged/magic attacks, you don't need to be within 1" of the intervening terrain to claim the bonus vs melee attacks.
  • Not all types of terrain count as "intervening terrain" for the purposes of this melee DEF bonus.
    • "Area terrain" never gives the melee DEF bonus.
    • "Area terrain" is defined as terrain that gives bonuses to models "completely within" it. For example, patches of forest and rubble. (Infernal Ruling)

Ranged & Magic Attackers

Sometimes a model will be able to make a ranged or magic attack even when they're in melee with you. A well-known example is Gunfighter.

In this case, the shooter does not ignore cover or concealment (even though melee attacks normally do). For example, if a Gunfighter and his target are both in a forest, and the Gunfighter makes a ranged attack, the defender will get +2 DEF for being in a forest even if the two models are B2B.

See Also