LPG - Add, Return, and Remove From Play

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This article is part of Warmachine University's Learning to Play the Game (LPG) series, which is "Intermediate Training" aimed at new players who are still learning the core rules.
(See also Basic Training and Advanced Training.)

For this lesson, you should refresh yourself on the basic article 101 - Disabled Boxed Destroyed. This lesson is about how the Add-Return-Remove processes mixes the normal death routine up.


Bane Lord Tartarus has Death Toll which lets him Add models to friendly Bane units when he kills enemies.
The Bane Warrior Officer has a once-per-game ability Void Bringer which lets him Return Banes to his own unit.

Add to Play

You get to put a new model into play, regardless of previous events. These sorts of abilities are normally some form of necromancy or mutating the enemy into friendly troops, but occasionally it can be activating equipment (like Siege2's rocket turret).

The only complicated part is that the word "add" isn't actually used in the rules. Instead it uses phrases like "place a Grunt within 3" and in formation" or like "replace the destroyed model with the Deathstalker" so you need to figure it out from context, a bit.

Tip lightbulb.png

Tip !
By the way, the term "replace" is a defined game term with its own rules.

Things to note about Add:

  • When you add models to a unit, you can increase it beyond its starting size (unless stated otherwise on the ability).
  • You can use a new model from your gamebag, or reuse a model that previously died.
  • In a tournament game, if you want to add a model but don't own one (that isn't already in use), then you don't get to add that model.
    In a friendly game, you can proxy it with a different kind of model.

Return to Play

You take a dead model that was destroyed and taken off the table (but was not Removed From Play), and put it back into play.

Most of Return abilities are used to bring back troopers to a unit (like Revive and Deathbound), but occasionally you'll get an ability that lets you return a solo or warbeast (like Thagrosh1).

Things to note about Return:

  • You should reuse the same model that previously died. It is, after all, the same model.
  • You can't Return a model that has been Removed From Play.
  • If the model has a "once per game" ability which it has already used, it can't use it a 2nd time.
  • If the model already activated this turn, it can't activate a 2nd time.

Remove From Play

The Devil's Shadow Mutineers have a cool ability Blood-Bound, which means that every time they destroy an enemy they Remove that enemy and get to Return a member of their own unit.

Remove From Play actually has two functions, the second of which is often far more useful.

Function One: Anti-Recursion

Simply put, a model that has been Removed From Play is not eligible to be Returned To Play. This stops any army that depends on recursion mechanics dead in their tracks.

Function Two: Anti-Ability

The more subtle effect is how Remove From Play can interrupt the normal Disabled-Boxed-Destroyed process. Different RFP abilities trigger at different steps, and immediately get the model off the table before later steps are reached.

For example:

  • Consume will RFP a small-based model just when it hits them. It doesn't damage them, it doesn't disable them, it just takes them straight out of the game. So small-based models never get a Tough roll (disabled) or produce souls (destroyed) or etc.
  • Bone Shaker will RFP the target once it is boxed. So the target will get a tough roll (disabled) but it won't produce a corpse/soul token (destroyed).

Physical models

Many armies don't really care about the difference between Remove From Play and Remove From Table. These armies don't have any Return abilities, so dead is simply dead and the physical models just get shoved off to one side.

But if you have a Return ability, and your opponent has a Remove ability, then the distinction is important. Let alone if you have Return and Add abilities, or if you have multiple units all of the same kind that can have models returned to them. When these sorts of armies play, proper bookkeeping is essential.

The best way to do bookkeeping is:

  1. Have two dead piles, one for destroyed models and one for removed models.
    • Use some spare rulers or strips of paper to form a "jail cell" for the Removed models. Or just put them straight in your carry case.
    • If you have an Add ability, take Removed models out of the "jail cell" first. Since that is the only way a Removed model is going to get back on the table, it makes sense to grab them before you grab the Destroyed models.
  2. If you have multiple units, they should be painted differently so your opponent can tell them apart. For instance, one unit has green cloaks and the other has purple cloaks.
    • When you Return a model, you should always Return one that has the right colour cloak.
      If none of the guys in the dead pile have the right colour cloak then guess what? You know instantly that you have no one valid to be Returned.
    • If you get to Add a model, and the only spare model you have is one with the wrong cloak colour, you could add the wrong cloak guy but make sure you put some sort of token next to him to remind you to "ignore" his cloak.
      • For instance, if you get to Add a model to the green unit and the only spare model has a purple cloak, you could put the purple guy on the table with a green gem beside him.
      • And by gem I mean those plastic bead things. You can find them at your local dollar-store in the arts and crafts section.

See Also