For the first time I can remember, GW have set out a clear, and easy to follow process for resolving multiple modifier in the rules, instead of having to FAQ individual weapon interactions (Gabriel Seth's Blood Reaver and Furious Charge, for instance.)
In of itself, this is a good thing.
The way in which they've chosen to resolve such conflicts, by disregarding any other modifiers where a set value is involved, and only taking the set value modifier, is possibly not how I'd have done it - but it's consistent with previous rules, and within the rules themselves. This is absolutely fine and dandy - it's not a bad change overall.
I mean, sure, it creates an issue wherein Tau Markerlights cannot be used to increase the Ballistic Skill of a unit intend on firing Snap Shots, including against Flyers (removing Tau's main anti-air hope) or as Overwatch (which could only be with the involvement of Marker Drones, as far as I can discern...)
Tau are limited to BS1 for these things, irrespective of other factors. Shame, but given the other crap they have to deal with, perhaps not that bad a situation.
No, where this causes a hole in the rules - and not necessarily a hard one to fix, but the only solution I can see is a roll-off, which is a bad answer conceptually; I'll explain.
If you have a roll-off situation, in a tournament, that does three main things:
- It rewards luck over reasoning - ok, it's unlikely a player will convince his opponent his interpretation is correct, but both should have a chance to convince an impartial arbitrator to their side. I know I certainly will respect a judge more if he makes a wrong judgment call than if he bottles it and makes us roll a freaking dice. We roll enough already thanks - it's your place to decide here.
- It creates a bad precedent, by setting a null precedent. By making a ruling, good or bad, you set a standard by which other players can learn and play for future games or turns. If it comes up once, odds are it will come up again at some stage. If you can resolve it with at least grudging acceptance from the players, then everyone will know where they stand in future, rather than getting a 50% chance of not working the same next time around.
- It rewards players who know or believe they are incorrect for sticking to their guns and being stubborn and intractable. Admirable as those qualities are in the sons of the Lion or descendants of Dorn, players should not be rewarded for what could be claimed to be unsportsmanlike conduct.
So, if we can agree a roll-off is bad (if not, let's roll off...) then we know that an FAQ is preferable to randomising the results so a genuine hole in the rules. WHAT IS THIS HOLE, sayeth you. Well, here it is:
What happens when two pieces of Wargear or special rules interact that both apply a set value, and therefore contradict?
Jeff owns this model:
This model is clearly equipped with a Power Axe, and a Shuriken Pistol (alternative pattern, cf 3e 40k Designers Notes.) A Power Axe has the Unwieldy special rule, making it strike at Initiative 1. The model also, however, has a Banshee Mask. This item of Wargear states "In the first round of an assault a model wearing a Banshee mask has Initiative 10".
There's an argument, of course, that I10 S4 AP2 attacks are overpowered. Then again, suck it. If you think Howling Banshees are overpowered, even with this boost, then you may want to revise your definitions of good units. It'd make them good, sure - but not amazing. No duality, cost..ugh, it should be obvious.
If a player went to the effort of converting or eBaying a whole unit of these old Banshees, then fair play to them, and I'd happily permit it.
Then again, I own a few, so perhaps my bias is showing...
End of the day, the example is irrelevant - what matter is that there is no rule for resolving these conflicts, and it's possible more exist and I simply haven't realised.
At least in this specific case we can probably agree that since Codex > BRB, the Banshee Mask trumps Unwieldy...