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What happens in a close combat when a player removes the only models in base to base contact with a model that has yet to make its attacks that round?
If they were in base contact with at least one regular model (i.e. not just characters or champions). Then they can attack as normal and the wounds they cause spread to rest of the regular models
I see. What about when models are removed in the magic phase from abilities such as burning alignment or cleansing flare?
They have to be in base contact with the model at the start of the combat phase. If the model is gone, for any reason, you may target another model in base/base if there are any available, otherwise you cannot attack.
If for some reason you charge, hit a unit, and then destroy that unit entirely during an earlier phase (burning alignment for example), you are assumed to have won the combat and get your "over-run" as usual.
Remember, casualties may be removed from the fighting rank, but any models behind them will shuffle forward to fill the gap. If you kill 5 models with burning alignment, the 5 models behind them will advance and you will attack those models during combat.
What about in a situation where a unit of 5 cavalry models is being flanked by another unit. A spell of some sort causes a casualty before the combat phase and the player choses to remove the one cavalry model on the side of the flanking unit. This removes the only model that the flanking unit was touching. There are no models in a back rank to replace it with. What happens then?
You can actually remove the one closest to the unit, but the whole unit will then shift over to fill the gap. I've done this to intentionally remove standard-bearers before the enemy can capture the banner. It's cheap, but it keeps the enemy from scoring those beloved 100vps.