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So the description in the codex says that line of sight is not needed, and that cover is only confered if "the target is in area cover or the cover lies between them and" the hive guard. I'm confused by the wording. Could anyone give me some elaboration on examples when cover saves would be allowed verse would not?
There are 2 cases to consider: infantry versus vehicles/monstrous creatures.
This one is relatively simple. If the infantry is in area terrain or actually touching cover that is between them and the hive guard, then they get the cover save.
Vehicles and MC's do not get cover like regular infantry. They do not get cover just because they are in area terrain. They need to actually be 50% obscured in order to get cover. Thus, they need to actually be touching terrain that obscures at least 50% of their view between them and the hive guard. Thus it is much harder to give vehicles and monstrous creatures cover from the Impaler cannon than it is for regular infantry.
One thing to note is that wargear/special rules that provide cover still does so against the Impaler cannon. Thus, popping smoke, disruption pods, kustom force fields, Shield of Sanguinius, Stormcaller and similar items/rules will still provide cover for vehicles against the Impaler cannon.
Record: Win - Loss - Draw: Hive Fleet Pandora (New) 32-6-6 Space Wolf 7th Co. 52-11-6
Blood Angels 12-4-2 Daemonhunters 20-8-3
Imperial Guards 12-5-2 Daemons 8-3-2
So in essence, targets will get cover saves if they would get cover saves from the hive guard assuming the hive guard had line of sight.
If a unit is behind a hill and the guard cannot see them they get cover saves as it lies between them and the guard (as if the guard could see them). Is it trying to prevent players from claiming cover saves from say a hill behind the target that would provide cover if the fire was coming from a different direction? One last thing, say the hive guard are in the basement of a building with no LOS. With the wall of the building between them and their target, that does NOT count as cover lying between them and the target i imagine?
The unit could only claim cover from the hill or wall in your examples if they are touching it.
"It takes a vast amount of self control to be this dangerous."
---Ogvai Ogvai Helmshrot, Jarl of Tra, VI Legion Astartes