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I'm asking this because I can't find an up-to-date and credible source of information on the subject (since it has apparently changed at least once over the years). My question is, when does instant death take place during wound allocation in close combat (and shooting for that matter)? Do you allocate wounds and THEN apply instant death (meaning some of it could potentially be wasted), or do you allocate a wound, apply instant death, then allocate another and apply instant death, and so on?

For example, say we have a 3 Centurions in CC with a Bloodthirster. The BT scores three wounds, one of which being ID. Do we, (a) apply the ID wound to the first Centurion, apply the ID rule and remove him, then apply the next two wounds to the second Centurion and remove him too, or (b) apply the ID wound and another wound to the first Centurion and remove him (essentially wasting the ID) then apply the third wound to the second Centurion, leaving him alive?

The last time I played, years ago, you would choose path "b" and waste the ID. But now I'm being challenged and can't find up-to-date evidence to support my argument.

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6th edition

When rolling with a weapon with the instant death rule, the wound itself delivers instant death. The rulebook advises:

Remember to use different coloured dice or otherwise distinguish between the Wounds that have different special rules attached to them (like those inflicting Instant Death....) (p. 25)

In short, since the die itself is the vehicle for Instant Death, you would be able to (in order to maximize your damage), apply your Instant Death wound first (assuming compliance with normal wound allocation rules), and allow all additional wounds to be distributed to other enemies.

If there is more than one eligible candidate, the player controlling the models being attacked chooses which model it is allocated to. (p. 25)

7th edition

Follow the above rules, except when dealing with Gargantuan creatures:

UNSTOPPABLE

Any attack that normally inflicts Instant Death or says that the target model is removed from play inflicts D3 Wounds on a Gargantuan Creature or Flying Gargantuan Creature instead

Other notes:

Instant Death effect is voided by the Eternal Warrior special rule; when this occurs, only the -1 wound applies, but not the "reduce to 0 wounds and remove from play".

In short, you can choose your path 'a', which is well within your rights and is supported by both rulebook editions.

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  • The 6th ed wound allocation does not apply to 7th ed. It is now handled very differently. Dice with different special rules go in different wound pools. So wounds inflicting instant death would either be allocated after all of the non-instant death wounds were allocated, or before, depending on which wound pool was chosen to go first. – Michael Campbell Oct 8 '14 at 9:43
  • What is so different from your 7th edition wound pool description than 6th? In 6th ed, p. 14, wound pools are described identically: Keep the dice that have scored Wounds and create a'pool', where each dice represents a Wound. If there are Wounds with different Strengths, AP values or special rules, keep them separated into groups of Wounds in the pool. Merely because it is uncited does not mean it is disregarded; I merely integrated a recommendation in my answer which advised that the ID wound could be allocated first (only wound of pool) for optimal play. – hexparrot Oct 8 '14 at 14:57
  • I brain farted, late at night, blah blah. Though I think you could add that wounds in 6th/7th are allocated and saved against one at a time, not as a group to your answer to add clarity. – Michael Campbell Oct 9 '14 at 4:44

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