LPG - Simultaneous Abilities & Attacks

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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.)

In this lesson we'll go over what it means when two or more abilities trigger/resolve simultaneously.

Golden Rule of thumb
If the abilities resolve "After the attack is resolved", then refer to Steps 12 to 14 of the Attack Sequence (Appendix A of the core rulebook).
Otherwise, refer to the "Triggers" section of the core rulebook (copy-pasted below)


Where the word "immediately" is used in a special rule, it is almost meaningless. "Immediately" is used more as a reminder that you cannot save the ability for later in your turn, and/or as a holdover from earlier editions of the rules.

Simultaneous Abilities


Quote marks.png

Triggers, pg 8 of the 2020.02 core rulebook
Whenever two or more special rules are triggered at the same time, such as “attack hit” or “end activation,” the active player chooses the order in which special rules on his models resolve and resolves them, then the inactive player chooses the order in which special rules on his models resolve and resolves them.

Personally, I found this wording confusing because I wasn't sure if the "rule on the model" meant the model that literally had the rule printed on its card, or whether it meant the model the rule was currently being applied to (for instance when a caster casts a debuff on an enemy model, is the rule "on" the caster or "on" the enemy?)

Consider this case:

  • Model A (the active player's model) destroys model B
  • Model A has a special rule that says "When this model (A) is boxed by an enemy attack (B), it can immediately make a basic attack."
  • Model B has a special rule that says "When this model (B) boxes an enemy model (A), centre a 3" cloud on it (A) then RFP it (A)."

Now it looks like both special rules are on the same model (A); one special rule says (A) gets to make an attack, and the other special rule says (A) transforms into a cloud.
However this is not the case, instead the "turn it into a cloud" rule is on the active player's model, and the "make an attack" rule is on the inactive player's model.

This can be further confused when a caster puts a buff/debuff into play, now you have a 3rd model that's not even involved in the attack who has "special rules on this model". But just remember, whether it's a buff that affects model A, or a debuff that affects model B, it's the player that owns the caster who counts as the player with the special rule on their model.

Recheck Triggers and RFP

Normally rechecking triggers is quite simple. For example Tough and Death Blast both trigger on disabled. You choose one to resolve, you resolve it, then you check whether the model is still disabled or not. If it is, you resolve the second ability.

However, if one of the abilities you resolve causes the model to be Removed From Play then that is a hard stop on all other triggers. Once something is removed from play, you can no longer trigger/resolve anything else on it - it simply isn't on the table for you to do so!

RFP on "Destroyed", Corpses/Souls, and Golab

Strictly speaking, the way models produce corpse/soul tokens when they're destroyed isn't a trigger and you don't resolve it - it just happens. Thus something that RFPs at destroyed isn't a "hard stop" to corpse/soul token collection. (Abilities that RFP at a step earlier than destroyed definitely prevent corpses/souls.)

However most abilities that RFP on destroyed also specify that no token is generated. So that is that.

And then there is Golab. Golab is a character warbeast for Legion who has an absolute headache of a rule, "Carrion Feast", that messes with corpse collection and Active/Inactive triggers. To save my sanity I'll just repeat the rule and its Rules Clarifications here.   [Show/Hide Carrion Feast]

Carrion Feast - When a living or undead model is destroyed within 5" of this model, you can choose to have that model be removed from play. If a model is RFP'd as a result of Carrion Feast, it does not generate a corpse token and this model can remove d3 damage points.
RC symbol.png

Rules Clarification : Carrion Feast      (Edit)

  • Even though this causes RFP, the model still reaches the destroyed step. As such effects such as Overtake and Berserk will still trigger. (Infernal Ruling)
  • Resolving this ability vs other Corpse Taker models is a little weird. (Infernal Ruling)
    1. Carrion Feast triggers at Step 10d, which is often simultaneous with other Corpse Takers. So first you need to work out Active vs Inactive player priority.
      (There's a bunch of examples in the linked thread).
    2. If Golab gets priority and chooses to use it, that will shut the corpse collection down (as per the text of Carrion Feast).
    3. If the non-Golab model gets priority and RFPs the model, it is no longer on the table so Golab can't trigger Carrion Feast. Also the other model might or might not be able to get a corpse (it depends on the wording of its own rule).

Simultaneous Attacks (Sprays, AOE, etc)

Often you'll get an attack vs multiple models. These attack and damage rolls are supposed to be simultaneous but in reality you need to roll dice one set at a time.

The short version is (longer version below): You need to do each step (hit, damage, disable, etc) for every model before moving onto the next step for any model. If an ability gets triggered, then you need to finish the step, then pause and resolve that ability, before starting the next step. In reality, you check if your opponent has anything to trigger and, if they don't, you just smash out all the hit and damage rolls on a model-by-model basis.

There's a few common scenarios you should be aware of:

  • Many models have an ability to collect corpses/souls from models they destroy, and use those to boost attacks and damage vs models they attack. Since everything is done simulatenously, you can't use souls/corpses from the models you are attacking to boost vs the models you are attacking.
    • Example: You have zero souls, and simultaneously attack models (A), (B), and (C). You roll to hit and damage (A), and collect its soul. You then start to roll hit and damage vs model (B) and spend the soul you just got. That's wrong! You're supposed to hit and damage all of them, before collecting souls from any of them.
    • Example: You have two souls, and simultaneously attack models (A), (B), and (C). You spend two souls to boost hit and damage vs (A), then make unboosted attacks vs (B) and (C). At the end of the attack you're at zero souls and can refill with the ones you just destroyed.
  • Some models have an ability to transfer damage, or share damage (such as warlock or Sanguine Bond). If this comes up, then you need to put all the damage they get into a "floating pool" of damage-to-be-assigned, finish rolling damage vs all the models, then assign the shared damage.
  • There is a minor error in Appendix A for applying damage to multiple models (Step 10) and it contradicts the main rules text. Basically, don't remove the model from the table (Step 10e) until you've done steps 10a to 10d for every model. (Infernal Ruling)
  • Many abilities get triggered quite early during an attack, but are resolved after the attack is complete (for instance Side Step is triggered when something is hit with an attack, but happens after the attack). You don't need to pause the attack to resolve these sorts of things.

The slightly longer version is:

  1. Roll to hit all the models, one after the other.
    • Pause, and determine if anything was triggered by models getting hit (like Shock Field) or missed (like Dodge).
    • Resolve these triggered abilities
  2. Unpause, choose a model, and roll damage vs it
    • Determine how much damage was dealt. Don't mark the card yet.
    • If it has a way to reassign damage (such as warlock or Sanguine Bond), then the damage goes to a "floating pool" of damage-to-be-assigned. If not, then mark the card.
  3. Choose another model, and roll damage. Rinse and repeat for all models.
  4. Once that's done, assign any unassigned damage from the "floating pool" and finish marking cards.
  5. Determine which models are disabled. They are all disabled simultaneously.
    • Pause, and determine if anything was triggered by models getting disabled (like Tough).
    • Resolve these triggered abilities.
  6. And so forth for the boxed and destroyed steps.

The super long version can be found in the rulebook.