Distort Spinners and Grenades

Tim Bancroft takes a very close look at how Distort Spinners (D-Spinners) and Grenades work in the game

D-Spinners and GrenadesOccasionally, there can be an unfortunate confusion about how Compound SV works with grenades, which also affects the Algoryn Distort Spinners. There are various entries in the FAQs, but this article hopes to answer any questions you might have by going through some – interesting – examples.

The examples cover everything we can think of concerned with grenade use, so it might be worth reading this article in conjunction with the relevant rules in the main rulebook: Grenades on p.85, Distort Spinner (D-Spinner) on p.66, Assaults and Hand-to-Hand combat on pp.41-43 and perhaps Point Blank Shooting (PBS) on pp.40-41.

First off, it’s worth explaining what happens with grenades in hand to hand combat.  In hand-to-hand, grenades can be used just like hand weapons, granting a +1 Strength bonus. The D-Spinner is a hand weapon, too, so also grants a +1 Strength bonus. The difference is that grenades can also be used in PBS as most have a range of 5″, whilst D-Spinners can only be used in hand to hand.

Grr, Ghar! As with many Ghar weapons there is a twist: though listed under grenades, Ghar Disruptor Dischargers can only be used in PBS and not in hand-to-hand.

Allocating hits

In hand to hand, grenade hits are allocated exactly as any other weapon (p.42) and are spread around all the models in the target unit. This means that if an attacking unit using plasma grenades scores 6 hits on a 5-strong target, 4 of the target models will get one hit whilst the last receives two.

The important thing is that if there is only one model in the target unit, not only are all the attacks allocated to that one model, but grenade attacks are stacked together into one, huge hit. This is called Compound SV, which we’ll explain below.

Support Weapons: Lucky hits (natural rolls of ‘1’ on the dice) are allocated first, and by the attacking player. However, it is only these lucky hits that can be allocated to light or heavy support weapons. The defending player cannot allocate hits to the weapon in a weapon team, mainly because it isn’t fighting!

The same goes for buddy drones – if there are any left by the time the units close for hand-to-hand. Only the attacker’s lucky hits can be allocated to them.

Compound SV

When multiple grenade hits are assigned to a single model, the hits are combined into one hit with an SV of all the grenade SV added together. This does not mean that every hit against a target unit is amalgamated into one, only that after hits have been allocated, those models with more than one grenade hit on them have those grenades hits amalgamated into one.

Using the five-strong unit above as an example, four of the models have one plasma grenade hit against them, at 1 SV. However, the fifth has its two allocated hits compounded into 1 hit, but at SV2.

Against vehicles the effect is more dramatic. Those six hits at SV1 on the single vehicle are compounded into a single hit at SV6! For a light vehicle, such as the Algoryn Avenger, this means it has to make one save at ‘5’ (Res 11 – Compounded SV 6) rather than six saves at ’10’ (Res 11 – SV1). The Boromite’s SV2 implosion grenades are even more effective against vehicles: imagine those six hits compounding into a single SV12 hit against the same Avenger!

There isn’t an option to decline using Compound SV: all grenade hits against each model are compounded into one.


Some grenades or explosives, notably the fractal charges from The Dronescourge Returns compound as normal and otherwise use all the grenade rules but are limited in how many can act against a single target in any one attack. Fractal Charges are limited to three successful hits – so you roll tos ee which grenades hit (out of a squad of five troopers, for example) and even if four hit a target, only three hits are counted.

Hazardous Hand-to-hand

This is not nice. The Boromite implosion grenades mentioned above and the fractal charges from The Dronescourge Returns are hazardous when used in hand to hand combat (not in PBS). This effect is triggered on the natural roll of a ’10’ on the Strength-based, ‘to hit’ dice, in other words, when the attacker scores a Dud Blow (p.42).

A unit rolling a Dud Blow with a Hazardous HtH weapon allocates the hit(s) to itself. In the case of an implosion grenade, that’s a single, SV2 hit per Dud Blow. With the AI’s solar charges, however, that translates into D3, SV1 hits per Dud and with fractal charges up to 3, SV3 hits – potentially very nasty, indeed (p.85, core rules).

Distort Spinners

AI Assault trooper
AI Assault trooper

Little is changed with the Distort Spinners other than that these Algoryn weapons only work in hand-to-hand and not in PBS (Point Blank Shooting). However, when used, they have two (2) distinct modes: distort field generator or plasma shell launcher. In both cases the Algoryn trooper with the D-Spinner has two hand-to-hand attacks.

The difference is that in plasma shell mode, the attacks are SV2 and are considered grenade attacks so acquire the Compound SV rule (see above). In contrast, in distort field mode, the hits are not considered grenade attacks, so are not compounded and are at SV0 (or whatever the normal SV for the model is – at present, SV0).

It’s probably worth noting that the word ‘can’ on p.66 in the Distort Spinner rules doesn’t give the option of compounding or not in plasma shell mode: the plasma shells compound like other grenades. The explanation is just referring to the fact that against low-model-count target units the plasma shell hits will stack like grenades whereas against higher model count targets they probably won’t because the hits will be spread out more.

And the fact it took a long, complex sentence to explain probably shows why the word ‘can’ was used! 🙂

The D-Spinner either uses its plasma shell mode with 2 attacks at SV2 and grenade+Compound SV rules, or distort field mode with 2 attacks at SV 0 (and no grenade or compound SV).

A D-Spinner example

It’s worth running through an example to show the difference. It will also show how grenades and Compound SV works, too.

Let’s say a unit of five, inimitable AI Assault troopers are 9″ away from a squad of three Ghar Assault troopers. Luckily for them, the AI draw their dice first and decide to charge in. The Ghar squad tries to make a Reaction (Stand and Shoot), fails, and picks up a pin for its troubles (p.46).

After giving the squad a Run order, the Algoryn player decides to Sprint and moves the figures into contact with the Ghar. The Agility dice throw is passed, so the AI don’t suffer a pin. However, when the Ghar use their disruptor dischargers in PBS, the number of blast hits they roll (say 4) is halved (to two, see p.41 & p.29) – quite good shooting given they already have a pin. The AI have to make two Res rolls at (Res7 – SV2) 5 – it seems reasonable to assume one of their number is killed. Unfortunately, they also pick up two pins as the Ghar are using disruptor weapons.

In return, though, and simultaneously, the AI can shoot with their own PBS weapons, their mag repeaters. They cannot use their D-Spinners as the D-Spinners can only be used in HtH. Typically, they will have 10 shots (5*2) at Acc 5 – let’s say 5 go through. As these are just SV 0, the Ghar shrug them off and don’t even pick up a pin (they’re Res 12!).

At the end of PBS, neither squad has to make a Break Test as neither suffered enough pins or casualties to trigger it.

So, we move on to the first round of assault. The AI are charging and using hand weapons so are rolling against Strength 7 (Str 5 + 1 for charging +1 for the D-Spinners). Furthermore, they have 10 attacks, 2 per D-Spinner. The player states the squad is using them in plasma shell mode, giving each hit a strike value of two (SV2).

Against them, the Ghar are rolling against 11 – Str 10 +1 for a hand weapon (their claws). All this means is that will only fail on a ’10’ – but we won’t worry about their attacks as we’re more concerned with the D-Spinners.

Not unreasonably, the AI succeed with 7 hits, one of which is lucky. Whilst the AI player allocates this to one of the Ghar troopers (trooper 3-17-22), the hits have to allocated evenly just like any other hits, so the Ghar player allocates 3 to his squad leader, 2 to another trooper (trooper 3-16-78) and 1 to the trooper the AI selected (making 2 on that trooper).

Ghar Assault Suit
Ghar Assault Suit

These are now compounded. The leader ends up with a single, SV6 hit (3 hits*SV2) whilst both the other troopers end up with a single, SV4 hit (2 hits*SV2) each. One of those, however, is still considered a lucky hit, which potentially means trouble for a Ghar plasma reactor.

The Ghar player has to save vs Res 6 for the leader (Res12 – SV6). The first roll is a ‘7’ – a fail – but the Leader reroll kicks in, a ‘5’ is rolled and the leader is safe. On trooper 3-16-78 (the one not hit in its reactor), the save is vs Res 8 (Res 12 – SV4), the roll is a ‘3’ and the trooper is safe. Against the last Ghar, trooper 3-17-22, the save is also vs Res 8 but the roll is a ‘9’.

Disaster! The Assault trooper is not only destroyed by the plasma shells, but the compunded lucky hit means his plasma reactor explodes, sending a wave of superheated plasma across the battlefield. Both the leader and its fellow trooper have to check their overheated reactors: the leader rolls a ‘6’, and is fine, but its fellow trooper, 3-16-78, rolls a ’10’: its reactor overcooks, explodes, and yet another trooper is killed.

The Ghar units takes two more pins, one for each model lost in HtH even though one was accidental. With two troopers down, and three pins in total, the Ghar player is hoping that his three return attacks are very effective against the AI troopers!

Final Word

The example is deliberately one of the most complicated that will crop up in the game to illustrate the more involved hand to hand combats using grenades. The Compound SV is extremely useful against low model count units such as most Ghar squads and vehicles, but against larger model count units, the effects are much less dramatic.

The main point is that there is no option to use Compound SV or not: it is just part and parcel of the grenade rules and the D-Spinner’s plasma shell option.

With this in mind, though, a choice can be made as to whether or not grenades will be effective. Similarly, it helps to decide whether to use the D-Spinner’s “two attack, compounded, 2SV plasma shell (grenade) option” or to use its “two attack, zero SV distort field option”. Against low-model count units, the latter is likely to produce many, weak hits whilst the former is likely to result in fewer, much more powerful hits.

In either case, the D-Spinner is one of the most effective hand-to-hand weapons on the Antarean battlefield. Face down an Algoryn Assault squad at your peril!