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Can someone please explain how it works? Surely when you are charged you are in combat?
It basically means you pile in before blows are struck (as well as normal pile in afterwards). It is designed to get as many of your models within 2" as possible so no matter where the enemy strikes your unit you will be able to move to get him.
It's not really the best of abilities, but hey if it comes as default you might as well use it. It's main use is to stop your enemy from staying out of reach of the power fist as he charges.
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lord link has it right. When your unit with counter-attack is charged , you move as many guys as you can just like a pile in move to get every one into the fight. This ability has come in usefull when harliquins and tyranids try to overwhelm my marines
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I end up having it with True Grit sometimes with the proper Space Marine trait...it's okay, and sometimes not exactly what you want to happen.
For troops it is a good ability, but not always necessary. It ensures that most if not all of your models will be able to fight in a close combat when charged. But, where counter attack really shines is on your HQs. It is common for an opponent to attack a squad but for whatever reason not make it into base contact with your HQ. Normally your independant character would not get to attack at all while not in base to base so you would have to hope to draw the combat and attack with him in the following round after consolidation. Counter attack allows you to move him so that he gets in his attacks. Even better, if you are playing wolves and dole out wolf pelts he'll get the extra attack associated with charging.
Please note you must counter attack - nohere does it state its voluntry.