Today's article focuses on the assault phase, and how many of the rules represent the chaos of close quarters combat.
To start, we look at the movement and shooting phases, as 40k's sense of time id supposed to be fluid, and this is represented by placing some restrictions on what can be done in those phases, or by creating opportunity costs based upon actions taken in those phases.
This s due to the fact that the same person cannot perform two exclusive actions at the same time. For example,you cannot charge after firing rapid-fire or heavy weapons, unless you have a special rule that says otherwise. Essentially they are saying that part of the process of firing those kinds of weapons takes place in the assault phase, or enough of it does that there is not enough time to finish firing and charge forward into close combat. This can be for many reasons, from the weight of the weapons, the need to aim carefully, or because the weapon simply needs time to finish firing.
When we look at jump pack infantry, you have a different kind of opportunity cost, where you have to choose whether or not you use the jump pack in the movement phase or the assault phase, but not both. This represents that the jump pack fires in bursts, and the trooper using it chooses whether they use it for a burst of speed to gain ground, or whether they use it to give extra impetus in charging into close quarters combat.
Pistols are another aspect of close combat that can be tricky, because they can be fired in the shooting phase, but also used as close combat weapons. Since I have already covered the latter, I will focus on the former. Most space marines equipped with a bolter also have a bolt pistol, which can be seen two ways, either as a sidearm meant to be used in close combat, or as a way to use the rules to provide them with abilities other, lesser warriors lack. Since they have a pistol, but no other close combat weapon, their pistol has no direct effect on close combat, but it does allow the marines to fire into enemy ranks before charging into close combat, something bolters cannot do. If you take the second view, it then makes more sense than marines switching to pistols before combat, then back to bolters when fighting in the melee, but what happens is thus: The marines see that they are close to the enemy, they fix bayonets while advancing towards their enemies ( movement phase) they fire bolters from the hip ( bolt pistol shots in shooting phase) and continue their charge, hopefully crashing into the enemy ranks ( assault phase). what this does is gives the marines a special profile for their bolters that allows them to fire their bolters and still charge into close combat, without having to make a separate bolter for marines, sisters of battle and imperial guard.
After all that, there is the fight....
for now, I will not go into depth in how melee combat is represented, but i do want to discuss how certain weapons represent certain effects.
For example, you have poisoned weapons, all of which allow for to wound rolls that are at a fixed value, and allow a re roll if the to wound roll is equal to or better than that value, this makes sense since if you would be able to create a lethal wound with just a knife, adding a virulent toxin or a taser-type device to it would make it very likely that you would, at a minimum, incapacitate your opponent with significant ease.
Now, this rule is most commonly used to represent weapons with some form of toxin, but it is also able to represent any form of weapon that can cause an opponent to lose their ability to fight, even if it is only temporarily. For example, a can of mace or a stun gun would also reasonably have the poisoned weapon rule, even though they do not use any actual poison.
Then there are close combat weapons with ap values other than (-) that are not power weapons, but weapons that are either very sharp, very heavy, or very accurate. This is further enhanced if the weapon has the rending rule, which usually represents a weapon capable of striking the vulnerable parts of armor, thus ignoring it. The close combat weapons that merely have an ap value have the ability to cleave through lesser armour, but do not do it through the use of an energy field.
I will discuss more later, as this is a rather large subject, and i do not want to go too long.