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An interesting scenario:
You have a unit of 6, 9, whatever, Bret KOTR (or anything else that can form up in Lance formation), but for some reason all you have in the front row is the Champ. No Standard, no musician. Now, lets say you charge a unit of dwarfs.
And of course that beardy freak has a character with the rune of "I always hit first, haha", and with some insane rolling (and horrible rolling on your part) manages to kill 2 knights, technically leaving your front row empty except for the champ.
Do you still get to use the benefit of the lance as normal, or can the knights up the flanks no longer it because they technically do not have a unit in front of them?
From a rules basis I can see them not being able to hit, but from a "omg seamless battle" basis their momentum would carry them into combat.
Well, firstly, GW has officially moved away from "RAW" interpretations of the rules, so I think the obvious intentions are that all the knights down the flank get to attack, and the bit about "directly behind a model" is just extraneous wording that they seem to think is necessary but only ends up polluting things more. The lance formation is utilizing their momentum to crash into and through the enemy and that hasn't changed for the guys in the 2nd rank and beyond.
Now if someone is really going to be a prick and insist on playing it RAW, he killed 2 guys, others who don't get to attack moved up in their place, which will include one guy from the middle of your formation and one from a flank. Those models are still engaged in close combat though, so you lose at most (in this scenario) the 2 guys in the front rank who were killed, and 1 lance attack. Everyone else is still behind a model that is engaged in close combat to its front.
I don't like playing raw. I see it as a constant movement and this is the argument I had, was that yes the lance still takes effect.
Oh well, this is the guy that argued to shoot through a stand of trees at my Treeman that he couldn't see.
The whole point of the lance is it is a block of heavily armoured knights moving at full tilt with long pointy sticks. They aren't going to just go screaming towards the enemy unit and stop dead, even if one particularly quick dwarf killed a couple of them.
Helper monkey, bring me beer and donuts
The Bretonnian Knights would still get all the attacks for the Knights in the flank who were alive as well as the champion.