A Coherent Look at Coherency

Hello, and welcome to another tactical tidbit by Skari from Art of War. You’re reading this as we approach the release of a new edition of Warhammer 40k. Games Workshop has been previewing information on what we can expect through a variety of faction focuses and other outlets for about a month now. The Pre Order Date is July 11th, and this means that the time is almost upon us! We will finally dive into the wonders of a new edition. 

One of the previewed rules shared with us was a simple yet impactful change to the way unit coherency works. In this article, I will explain the change and some of the ramifications within the game. What does this mean for our gameplay? I will also cover some tips and tricks for smarter casualty removal and notes to keep in mind when considering coherency with your army units. Receive custom tactical advice and personalized coaching from me through The War Room!

Coherency, Keeping Units Together –

Unit coherency is a rule that that has been in the game from a time before my own. Simply stated, it is a mechanic that allows units to play together on the tabletop as a cohesive unit. In the past, this rule was simple: All Models in the unit must be within 2 of another model in the unit.

This allowed you to create long lines of warriors across the battlefield. Now, many players might not have done this during fun and friendly games at home. However, it has been a tried and true competitive element to ensure that you get the most number of units close to an aura (for example, getting rerolls or becoming fearless). This allows the unit to leave a few stragglers behind and then effectively string out, leaving a conga line back to the aura in question many armies have ways that this became relevant to them.

The other two parts of this were board control. First, maximizing the distance between models allows you to take up real estate on the table, block enemy movement, block deepstrikes or redeploys, and create large screens that allow for a layered defense in depth across the table. The second is to control multiple objectives with as few models as possible, lining up a large horde unit such as cultists or ork boys across three or even four objectives at times! This was possible because casualties could be removed from any part of the unit. There was no penalty to ending out of coherency other than being pinned in place. However, when you face someone’s Tyranids, and they have three gaunts from one original unit spread over the table on three objectives that are very far apart, and they are being kept fearless by a synapse creature, that can be frustrating. SO, in comes the new rule:

At first glance, the rule has not changed. HOWEVER, now the rule stipulates that, if a unit has six or more models, you must now have EACH model within 2 of two other miniatures from the same unit… this is quite a large change! It effectively shrinks the possible footprint of large units and forces them to interact closely together rather than spread out over the table. If you like picturing shapes, the lines of previous editions will feel more like circles now (a bit abstract, I know). Also, note this rule will not affect units that are five models or less, so all you Custodes players should be fine.

The second part of this rule is the introduction of a Coherency Check. I won’t go into the rule word for word, but it states that if any part of a unit is out of coherency after morale is resolved, that unit will lose models until all models in the unit are coherent. Now, this is a crucial part of this rule as it will dictate what models you will want to remove as casualties as the game (or turn) progresses and will create some really cool tactical situations for the avid player. This is impactful as it means that we can no longer just remove casualties from any part of the unit, and you have to consider how casualties will affect this. Placement of key models such as a sergeant or special weapon will become more critical as well.

Gameplay Examples –

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Here is a unit of 20 Kabalite Warriors using the old coherency rules, with 2″ in between the miniatures. The unit takes over almost 60 inches of the table!

The change to the new rules is significant! Here is the same unit in a few new coherent formations.

The Double Single:

And the second style, the double line that is quite similar to this:

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In terms of board control, you can see the difference. However, the new table size will make this change not have much of an impact.

Let’s Talk Casualties!

In the new format, casualty removal is important. Keep in mind what miniatures are removed and what models they are still in coherency with this format. I find you will want to remove casualties from the edges of units rather than the middle, especially with the double single line to avoid being pulled out of coherency:

The double line allows you to take casualties from behind the unit and keep the footprint across the longer part of the table.

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Don’t forget that units that will go under six-strong after casualties become a lot more flexible when it comes to coherency! This means that you can then spread out more and create the lines that you have come to love. Units with large bases and few models (Custodes bikes, new Space Marine bikes, Harlequin bikes, and more) will have an advantage when it comes to board control as long as you do not remove miniatures in the middle of the unit that then leads to a break in coherency. Another thing to note is any abilities that your army might have that target specific models. For example, the Death Jester can pick the first model to flee in a unit. This could be a VERY powerful tool to force an enemy unit OUT of coherency, which would force the enemy unit to lose models to coherency checks, but that is for another article.

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In conclusion, the new coherency rules change how our units will be deployed and used on the table. Be mindful of how you deploy your troops on the table, especially how you take casualties from the units in your army. As we get more practice with the rules of the game, the team here at the Art of War will bring you more nuance within each phase of the game, so make sure you stay tuned for that. I hope you found this interesting. What change for 9th edition 40k are you most excited about? 

As always, reach out to me for coaching or list building advice on the Art of War. Thanks a lot for reading, and I shall see you on the next Skari Tactical Tidbit.

Skari – Out 

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2 Responses to “A Coherent Look at Coherency”

  1. Avatar
    gvcolor July 21, 2020 8:33 pm #

    Nice piece! Happy to see this rule change – you know what looked REALLY stupid on the game table… yup, the congo-line.

  2. Avatar
    kitane July 21, 2020 11:31 pm #

    A change for the better, but I will miss gaunt conga-lines and spirals, the formations and shapes were so ant-like.

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