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Rules Update - Actions and Reactions

Very big welcome to our new backers, thanks for joining us! 

The main part of this update is the actions and reactions rules. I also wanted to mention a couple of other things:

The brilliant chaps at Beasts of War posted a big interview with us on friday evening, it contains some more information on the vision so it's worth watching, and you can check it out here if you haven't already 

Updated John's Secret War Room tier - We're going through the top tiers to add more cool stuff and the first change is that now this tier includes 'being a miniature', rather than just a game character. We'll turn you into a playable miniature as part of our range, write some history about you and feature you in the rulebooks. 

Lets get into the rules shall we:


OK – this is going to be a bit of a long section as I’m going to try and cover the basics of actions and reactions in the game. One change I’ve made recently is to change the name of combat status green units from ‘active’ to ‘alert’ as this avoids confusion with units that are acting or taking actions – as discussed on the forums at one point and duly noted – so thank you those who contributed to that.


There are six actions in the game and some types of unit can only undertake a limited range of actions – but no need to worry about that for now. More importantly, a unit’s choice of action is also restricted by its combat status. Make sure you are familiar with the combat status system before reading this – as the two key together during play. These are the actions:

  • Rest 
  • Manoeuvre 
  • Engage  
  • Support 
  • Regroup 
  • Special 


The unit recovers its combat status by one step.  


The unit moves without attempting to engage the enemy.


The unit engages an enemy unit either by shooting at it or by moving to close quarters.


The unit waits for another unit to make an action, and then makes its action.


A broken unit can make a regroup action to try and return to the fight.


The unit uses the action to set-up or activate a machine, attempt a repair, or otherwise do something specific to that unit. These kinds of special actions may be defined at the unit level or as part of the scenario being played. Examples include, to activate a med-drone, deploy a sizeable weapon such as a heavy fractal cannon, open a hatchway into an environmental module, focus a displacer dish, or initiative a launch sequence on a sphercraft. Don’t worry about these at the moment – ‘Special’ is a placeholder action that will cover a number of specific unusual or occasional actions.


A ready or exhausted (i.e amber or red) unit can use its action to rest. The unit’s combat status is raised one step: ready units become alert, and exhausted units become ready. Units with other combat status (green/black) can’t rest.


An alert or ready (i.e. green or amber) unit can use its action to manoeuvre. When a unit makes a manoeuvre action it can move at up to double its Move Rate (use a base value of 6 inches Move Rate for now) without attempting to engage the enemy. This action is commonly used when a unit needs to move fast, and where it is in no immediate danger from enemy attack. Units with other combat status (red/black) can’t manoeuvre.


An alert or ready unit (i.e. green or amber) can use its action to engage with the enemy. This allows a unit to move up to its Move Rate and either shoot at an enemy unit or engage an enemy unit at close quarters. Units with other combat status (red/black) can’t engage.


An alert unit (i.e. green) can make a support action changing its combat status to alert + support. Place a support marker with the unit to show this. Such a unit is described as supporting or as a supporting unit. Note that only an alert unit can make a support action.

When a unit makes a support action it does nothing during that player turn. Instead, it defers its action until an adjacent unit (within 6” base value for now) makes an action. A support action is used where you want several units to act in unison.


Only a broken (i.e. black) unit can make a regroup action and this is the only action a broken unit is allowed to make. When it makes a regroup action, the unit’s combat status changes from broken to broken+ regroup. Place a regroup marker with the unit to show this. For convenience we describe such units as regrouping. For now all we need to know is that this affects the chances of the unit passing its combat status check at the start of the game turn. Broken units that fail their check are normally destroyed and those that pass their check remain broken. Broken+regroup units that fail their check remain broken and those that pass step up to exhausted (i.e red).


Special actions are often defined by a scenario, or as special rules for a specific troop type. When and how such actions are made are therefore not fixed. However, in most cases, units that are alert or ready can make a special action, whilst units that are exhausted or broken cannot.


When a unit makes an action during the player’s turn it is possible for one or more enemy units to make a reaction in response. Reactions are triggered or declared at the moment when the acting unit has completed any movement it is going to make and before it does anything else. E.g. before it shoots.

A unit can only make a single reaction in response to an enemy unit’s action. In some situations, two or more units may be able to each make a reaction in response to the same enemy unit’s action – for example during opportunity fire reactions.

There are two kinds of reaction: combat reactions and unit reactions. The difference is that unit reactions are voluntary and require a test to be successful, where combat reactions are triggered automatically and override any unit reactions otherwise available to the player.


A combat reaction is triggered when a unit makes an engage action and either shoots at an enemy that can shoot back within 12", or moves into touch with an enemy unit that can fight back.

A combat reaction is triggered automatically, resulting in either a firefight or an assault.

If a unit’s action triggers a combat reaction no unit reactions are allowed. The assault or firefight reaction ‘overrides’ all other reactions that might otherwise be possible.


A firefight is triggered if a unit makes an engage action and shoots at an enemy target within 12" that is capable of shooting back.

A firefight is triggered regardless of the combat status of the target unit, even if the target is exhausted or broken and therefore normally unable to shoot. If the target unit is supporting or regrouping then its status automatically reverts to alert (i.e. green) or broken (i.e black) and it loses its supporting/regrouping markers.

We’ll deal with how firefights work another time – but in summary a firefight is an exchange of fire – and generally of small arms only – both the shooters and targets fire and shots are worked out simultaneously. Once both sides have fired units that are hit must make combat status checks.


An assault is triggered when a unit makes an engage action and moves into touch with an enemy unit.

An assault is triggered regardless of the combat status of the target unit, even if the target is exhausted or broken and therefore normally unable to move or shoot. If a target unit is supporting or regrouping then its status automatically reverts to alert (i.e. green) or broken (i.e black) and it loses its supporting/regrouping markers.

Again we’ll cover assaults later – but in summary an assault is broken into two phases – the first ‘assault’ phase is an exchange of fire at point blank range worked out the same way as a firefight – the second phase is a grappling phase resolved using the opposing Strength or in some cases Agilty stats of the opposing units.


Only status alert (i.e. green) units can attempt a unit reaction. Other status units are affected by combat reactions (firefights and assaults) but cannot make unit reactions. This is an important distinction and one of the chief differences between alert (green) and other status units.

A supporting unit can always revert to alert to make a reaction, if you do this the unit is no longer supporting and the support marker is removed.

Remember – very importantly - unit reactions are only permitted where the acting unit’s action does not trigger a combat reaction (firefight or assault). It is always one or the other: combat reactions or unit reactions.

Unit reactions can be made in response to enemy manoeuvre or engage actions only. Other actions, such as rest or support, do not trigger reactions. Because reactions are voluntary, the player must declare when a unit is reacting and must state aloud what reaction it is making.

If more than one unit is reacting then the player must declare all reactions at once – you can’t react with a single unit and, if unsuccessful, try and react with another.

Units can never make reactions to other reactions – in case you were wondering – a reaction can only be triggered by an enemy unit’s action.


Make a standard check against the unit’s Initiative Value. If successful the reaction is allowed. If unsuccessful the reaction is not allowed and the unit’s combat status drops one step to ready (i.e. amber).

Return Fire – if a unit is shot at by enemy at over 12" range then you can attempt to return fire. If the test is successful both units shoot simultaneously – work out shooting for both sides.

Dash for Cover – if unit is shot at by enemy at over 12" range then you can attempt to dash for cover. This move has some specific restriction – like you do have to try and move into cover – which we won’t go into here. For now, it is sufficient to know that the dash to cover allows the unit to move up to double its Move Rate (2xM) into or behind cover or out of sight of the shooter.

Go to Ground – if unit is shot at by enemy at over 12" range then you can attempt to go to ground. Again – for now just think of this as throwing yourself to the floor – this reduces the chance of being hit but means your next action cannot be engage – you have to get back up (manoeuvre) before you can start to shoot.

Opportunity Fire – if an enemy unit moves within the unit’s field of fire at more than 12" range and without shooting at an opposing target, then you can attempt opportunity fire. Test once the enemy unit has moved even if it has moved out of your line of sight – if successful you can shoot at the unit at the point where it was closest and within line of sight.

Close to contact – if an enemy unit moves to within two standard move distances (2xM) of your unit without triggering a firefight or assault, you can test to close to contact and trigger an assault– if successful immediately move into touch and an assault is initiated.

Withdraw - if an enemy unit moves to within two standard move distances (2xM) of your unit without triggering a firefight or assault, you can test to withdraw– if successful immediately move up to two standard moves away from the enemy unit you are reacting to.

NOTE: these various reaction moves are described in more detail in the rules for moving and shooting, but the outline versions given here should be enough to get you going.


If two or more units successfully react to the same enemy action, work out each unit’s reaction one at a time. Remember, all reactions have to be declared initially and tested for success, so only those units that pass their Initiative check will actually react.


We’ll describe how supporting actions work in more detail later on, but for now bear in mind a supporting action can be any other action including manoeuvre or engage. That means supporting actions can also trigger reactions. However, because supporting actions are always made one at a time after each other, this doesn’t introduce any additional complexity in the process. The units act and reactions are made just as with any other action+reaction sequence.


A unit can make any number of reactions in the game turn so long as its status is alert (i.e. green). We place no limitations on reactions other than the requirement to make a successful Initiative check each time a unit reaction is attempted.


Combat reactions (firefights and assaults) are an inherent part of game play and will happen in every game as opposing units close in upon each other. Unit reactions are options that involve a degree of risk – namely a drop in status – and that means you have to decide whether it is a risk worth taking.

Reactions to being shot at, return fire and dash for cover/go to ground are doubly risky because if the test is failed your unit will be more vulnerable because of the status drop. This means it is only worth attempting these reactions if you feel your chances are pretty poor if you don’t take a chance: for example, if you have been caught in the open and are about to be shot up by a large, well-equipped enemy unit.

Opportunity fire on the other hand is less risky, because you can always recover your status to alert (i..e green) in your following combat turn in which case all you will have lost is a shot. However, note that opportunity fire is less likely to hit than a normal ranged shot, so whilst it is best to pass the test and give yourself a possible two shots (opportunity fire followed by engage in your own combat turn), failing the test is still a poorer result than just sitting tight and taking the engage shot in our own turn. Decisions… decisions!

Withdraw is a fairly safe option and can sometimes actually help you to complete a mission where you are attempting to move away from the fighting. However, on the whole battles are not won by running from the enemy!

If you have any comments, head over to the forums 

Help us spread the word - If this email is interesting why not forward it to your friends?

We need to make sure everybody knows about us, so we’ve made some helpful artwork to help spread the word. GoA is all about involving you guys right at the start and our first job is to get us funded! So get creative on it, anything you can think of to spread the word from wandering around your home town with a robot WarDrone suit on (ok, so we haven’t actually made any but a simple cardboard box with the words “I’m a WarDrone – Pledge NOW or my IMTel nano-drones will infect you” will probably work!) to downloading this PDF (, emailing it to your friends and relatives, printing it out and handing it out to literally everyone you come across, you can even get some blu-tack and stick it on the foreheads of shop owners if you like! (apologies if you are actually a shop owner… stick it to a customer’s forehead perhaps? )

Anyway, the point is: If you tell as many people as possible there’s a much better chance of us first: hitting our funding target, and second: hitting some of our stretch goals and ultimately giving you even more cool stuff to play with.

Here’s the arty stuff: we’ve got banners, forum avatars and even facebook covers!

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    1. Daniel Cassidy
      on January 21, 2013

      nice i like should be easy to learn off after a few plays