Wound Allocation is something that a lot of players still struggle with, and I see this is having two main causes:
1) Relative Inexperience with the rules in general, or this one in particular;
2) The Legacy Virus.
Now, each of those could really generate an article of their own, but they're not the focuii here today.
Suffice it to say that the former is by far my favourite, as those players have a much greater willingness and capacity to learn. The latter is oft the realm of stubborn, arrogant chump everyone hates. In my view 'accidentally' cheating because you don't read the rulebook is still a form of cheating - though it's only truly cheating if you argue about it.
Anywho, Wound Allocation is the process whereby you determine which members of a unit have been wounded. It was a wholly natural progression from the 4e 'Torrent of Fire' rule, one that most of the internet has either forgotten about, or cheated and ignored.
Essentially, the premise is very simple. Before rolling any saves, but after the opponent rolls to wound, you divide the unit (without moving models!) into groups of identical models. Where no models are identical, each is then a group of one, and so forth. A Space Marine Tactical Squad with a Multi-Melta, Flamer, 7 Marines with Bolters and a Sergeant with a Bolter is therefore 4 different groups, as the Sergeant, despite identical equipment to the troopers, has a different profile. Even having a different name, but the same statline (if such an example exists) counts you as a different group. A unit with multiple groupings like this is known sometimes as a 'complex' unit.
A typical example of uniquely equipped individuals is Ork Nobs, typically on Bikes. Here we have a 5-man example...usually these units are ten-strong, for obvious reasons (and still each unique!) but I can't be bothered typing the whole lot of that.
Nob 1 - Power Klaw, Waaagh! Banner
Nob 2 - Power Klaw
Nob 3 - Painboy Upgrade, Grot Orderly
Nob 4 - Big Choppa
Nob 5 - Big Choppa, Shoota/Rokkit Combi-weapon.
Units like this, where every model forms an individual unit (though not, of course, units that only consist of one model, such as Independent Characters, Trygons, Lone Wolves or BA Techmarines with no Servitors) are usually known as 'fully complex' units.
Once you have worked out what type of unit you have, and calculated the number of groups, it's time to get to business. Fortunately, it's a simple step, and really shouldn't take more than 5 or 6 seconds...if even that.
At this point, we need to know how many wounds the enemy has inflicted. It is important to note at this point that this is why units shots are rolled separately from other units - it would create a horrid distortion of the figures if, say, you fired two Imperial Guard Infantry Squads at the Orks there without doing it properly - For the sake of argument, they are in Rapid Fire range (else they'd have been charged!) We have, then (Autocannon, Plasma Gun each squad, let's make it fun!) 2 Laspistol shots, 4 Autocannon, 4 Plasmagun, 24 Lasgun shots. Of those, we average 13 S3 hits at an insignificant AP, 2 S7 hits at AP4 and 2 S7 hits at AP2.
[Often, for ease of calculation, we lump together shots that are the same roll to wound and both ignore armour - for instance, if Eldar Guardians outside of Cover are shot by Fireknife Battlesuits. In THAT instance, both weapons cause Instant Death, wound on 2+ and ignore Armour, so no functional difference exists, no reason to roll differently coloured dice or whatever. This technique is not, however, applicable in situations where there is a significant S difference (generally, when firing on Multi-Wound models, this matters a lot) or when wounds that ignore Cover or Invulnerable Saves are involved (eg Grey Knights firing both Stormbolters and Psycannon) - or, where Feel No Pain is involved (say, if they were Dark Eldar Wracks instead of Guardians) and finally, where different values of Saves exist in the unit - a prime example being Black Templar squads containing Neophytes, or Wolf Guard Terminators in Long Fang packs. ]
Anyway, in this instance, Feel No Pain is conferred upon the unit by the Painboy, and so the AP2 wounds are materially different from the AP4. Note that these wounds are considered to be inflicted simultaneously, and so FnP would not be removed from consideration even if the Painboy was wounded and failed sufficient saves to kill him 'first'. [Remember though, we deliberately fired two squads at once, wrongly...]
The S3 shots (pistol and 'gun) are identical at this point (only range and type divides the weapons) so they are rolled together. On a 6 to wound these T(4)5 models, we wound twice...let's make it three, for ease of calculation. The others wound on a 2+, being S7...let's say the IG player is a little fortunate and gets them all.
Now we have to calculate the effects of the 3xS3, 2xS7AP4 and 2xS7AP2 wounds on the target unit (the Nobs.) This is done by allocating each wound to a group member, weapon by weapon. There is no restriction on the order in which these are processed - it is the owning player's prerogative to allocate, for instance, a Lasgun, then a Plasma, then another Las...or whatever fashion you wish. As long as no model is wounded twice before every model is wounded once (and so on for subsequent steps ie, third wound, fourth wound etc) then you can do it as you like. In this instance, we shall put a Plasma on Nob 4 from above, and one on Nob 5. Then we will put one Las wound on each of the other three, leaving just the two Autocannon wounds. These go on the first two victims, Nobs 4 and 5. By doing this, we guarantee that at least three of the Nobs survive - and the others have good odds too. Though they will only have their Cover Save against the Plasma, they get Cover and FnP against the Autocannon shots, making it unlikely they willl lose more than the one W they can afford to give up.
Partly for drama's sake, I will roll each dice one at a time, using Vassal.
Nob 1 (Las) 1, 3 - Failing his FnP and his 4+ save (lol!) and losing a W.
Nob 2 (Las) 1, 5 - Failing save, but passing FnP. (Curious number of '1's...)
Nob 3 (Las) 6 - passing Armour, no need to roll FnP
Nob 4 (Plas) 1 - losing a Wound. Remember, no FnP.
(Auto) 2, 1 - Failing Armour, then also FnP, and therefore dying.
Nob 5 (Plas) 4 - passing Cover.
(Auto) 6 - passing Armour.
...That backfired slightly with the results. Let's say, now, that the FnP roll for Nob 2 failed. If that were the case, 4W total wound have been inflicted, enough, without any Wound Allocation rule, to kill 2 Nobs, and force a Morale Check. In that instance, the rule would have SEEMINGLY disadvantaged the IG player...[even used wrongly to his benefit, rolling multiple squads' shooting at once] - but, on the other hand, he would have inflicted wounds on BOTH Klaw'd Nobs...the dangerous ones. This would make it MUCH easier for subsequent shooting to kill them, not least because subsequent shots that don't force 'wound lapping' onto every model cannot afford to be soaked up by the Klaws, even if they do not deny armour and FnP.
[Stop me if it's confusing...]
Now, if the last two Nobs had been identical instead, we have a whole new issue. In that case, the wounds, instead of being allocated:
Would start out the same:
Then they would be allocated identically, as there are TWO models in the last group, they can take TWO wounds for every ONE in every other group. There is NO difference at this stage. Following on from this, saves are rolled, and everything is the same, bar that you roll the two Plasma dice and two Auto dice together.
"With that the case," you ask, "how do you know which one gets wounded by each?!?" - My answer is simple. It doesn't matter. Where this is the case, you remove models AFTER working out all the saves. This means that you are simply not permitted to wound each Nob once, but one must be removed, while the other escapes unscathed. In this way, the 'defending' player can be disadvantaged by this rule as well.
If, instead, we had fired the IG units PROPERLY, rolling the same results for the saves when they come around, the following is likely the result (ask if you can't follow!) :
Squad 1 does:
[We are assuming the same number of Wounds inflicted, and I rolled a dice 1-3 this unit did the extra Las, 4-6 Squad 2. I got a 5.]
1 Las, 1 Plas, 1 Auto - wounding 3 Nobs - 2[Las], 4[Plas], 5[Auto] - rolling 1,3,1,5.
This means Nob 2 loses a W, Nob 4 loses a W.
Squad 2 does:
2 Las, 1 Plas, 1 Auto - wounding 4 Nobs - 1[Las], 3[Las], 4[Plas], 5[Auto] - rolling 6,1,2,1,4.
This means Nob 3 loses a W, Nob 4 loses a W and dies, while the others are fine. Overall, this works out in the GUARD's favour, as he kills the same number of models, and wounds both the Painboy and a Klaw. By forcing the Ork player to bypass Nob 2 for the second round, we increase the odds of killing the models that are most beneficial to kill, ie, the Painboy.
Anyway, continuing on, we will now assume a PCS with 4 Meltas is in position to fire on another mob of similar Orks. This mob is 3 Nob Bikers, a Painboy, and two with Big Choppa. S8 makes the AP1 ability to ignore FnP irrelevant here, as we count T4 when working out Instant Death for Nob Bikers. In this unit, the last two are identical. The Meltas shoot, and hit thrice, wounding the same number of times. A Laspistol wound is also done.
In this circumstance, the Ork player can simply deflect the damage by putting the significant shots on the less expensive models, as there are more than he is prepared to lose. For some reason, he puts two Melta wounds and the Laspistol on the Choppas, and the third Melta on the Painboy. Luckily, the Painboy passes his Cover, and he passes another on the Choppas, but fails the pistol and third Melta.
Normally, in this circumstance, you may think you remove ONE of the Big Choppa Nobs, as he is pistol'd, and then killed by Melta, as they are identical - essentially, the 'free' wound generated by an ID weapon is wasted. The BRB counters this, however, by instructing you to 'remove whole models where possible'. This means that the Melta wound (basically) resolves first, killing one, before the Las wound gets carried over to the other. This is the same as the rule preventing you from simply wounding each of them once had both been Las wounds - one model must be removed for every time enough W are inflicted.
If the Ork player were more cunnin', he could have put all three Melta on the two Choppa models, and only the Las on the Painboy, thus guaranteeing his survival, and making failing all 3 Covers irrelevant, if it occurred. THIS is a major beef with internet blowhards who think this rule is 'broken' - but being too stupid to simply NOT fire a Laspistol at T(4)5 models is their own fault, not GW's.
Note that previously wounded models cease to be identical to unwounded models, allowing the Ork player to potentially gain benefit if passing that other Cover save by being 3 distinct groups again.
Um...I think that pretty much covers Wound Allocation.
I explained the mechanics of it in relation to Complex Units and Fully Complex units...I gave examples of Fully Complex units benefiting and suffering from it...an example of a Complex unit, taking the same IG fire from before, but this time a Combined Squad, so the rolls are legitimately together! lol
Okay, again, 24 Lasgun, 2 Laspistol, 4 Plasma, 4 Autocannon - vs 7 Bolter Marines, 1 Flamer, 1 MM, 1 Serg.
13 S3 hits, 2 S7AP2, 2 S7AP4. A third of S3 wound, so we shall call that 4. Almost the others wound - so that's 2 AP2, 1 AP4.
Now, with 7 total wounds, these could all be placed upon the Bolter Marines, in which case we roll 5 saves, and two men die, guaranteed. This is bad for the Marines, really, as they would likely lose 2 to failed saves, lose 4 men, and perhaps fall back. On the plus side, they would keep all the specialists.
How about, instead, we benefit? (Comparably.) If the Guard do a few more wounds (4) both Plasma wounds can be placed on one model (the Sergeant) then only one man is guaranteed to die. Assuming the others are 3 Las, one AC, they are then allocated with the rest of the Las and other Auto - as neither ignore Armour on Marines, the distinction is irrelevant. This way, despite doing 11 W to the Marines, the Marines aren't terribly worried...the MM takes one save, the Flamer one, and the Bolter guys roll the remaining 7, say failing 3. Despite inflicting more wounds, the IG have failed to kill any more Marines, as they have essentially traded a specialised trooper to save two of the others.
Despite this - the IG have benefited quite clearly compared to 3rd Edition style wounding that the Internet morons advocate. Under that system, the casualties would always be the cheapest models, with no possibility of injury to the specialists, like the Sergeant and HW/SW troopers. In 3e, (and 4e, because people didn't play it correctly) the Sergeant or Heavy Weapon were always last to die, depending on which was more useful to the owner. Apart from anything else, this predictable facet to the game was horribly unrealistic, and anathema to the Game Designers, quite rightly. While killing the Sergeant may not seems a huge boost to the IG in this circumstance, it reduces the SM Ld value, and their number of Attacks should they assault in their own turn. If they had forced the deaths, flukily, of all three specialists and none of the Bolters, they would be laughing their way to the bank as, even if the SM destroy the IG Combined Squad in CC, their effectiveness is so greatly diminished as to relegate them to all but insignificant. This would not be possible under the more primitive 'my models, my choice' system of the 90s.
THERE. Wound Allocation, GoT.
* - Wikileaks aside, of course.