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So I was at a friendly store tournament last week and I learned that apparently I've been entirely mistaken about how charges work.

My opponent charged one of my units with an extremely wide unit of his own while mine was far off to his left (still in his forward arc)

According to him, when charging one measures the closest distance between the units. If the charge roll (plus movement) is equal to or greater than that distance, the unit makes it in automatically. In other words while charging the unit gets a MASSIVE free wheel- in this case on the order of 12 or 15 inches.

I always thought that if one had to wheel while charging this distance was included in the maximum distance one could charge.

Well we looked it up in the rule book. Under the rules for charging It says that the unit may wheel up to 90, but does NOT say that this wheel is free. However, in the previous section about rolling for charge distance, the rules simply state "measure the distance between the units" and on another, completely unrelated page, it says all distances are measured between the closest points in the unit.

So as of now, it appears my opponent was correct. He was a good sport though, and allowed me to back my units up because I didn't know the rules (nice guy). Still, this rule seems EXTREMELY hokey to me. If he had successfully completed that charge, the models on the right side of his unit would have travelled like 24 inches in one charge.

Please tell me there is some rule, some errata somewhere, ANYTHING that says this is not the case.
 

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That is the correct way to play it, you measure the distance between the two units and have to equal it or beat it.

Some models really get a huge adrenaline boost right before they have to charge ;)
 

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Everything is right there in the charge section, with the exception of measuring distances between two units.
General Principles
Measuring Distances
(pg6, 3rd paragraph)
Distances between nits are always measured to and from the closest models in each of the units.
This is a "general rule" and therefore applies to all measured distances in the game. This would include charges, of course.

Charge
Calculating Charge Range
(pg19, 2nd paragraph)
With the unit's charge range established, measure the distance between the charging unit and its target.
This is what answers your question. You measure between the units, which would use the 'general rule' from pg6. Therefore, you measure closest-to-closest and ignore any wheels/pivots etc.

The part that you are referencing regarding the 90o wheel is below:
Charge
Move Chargers
(pg20, 1st and 2nd paragraph)
If your charge range was sufficient, it's time to complete the charge and move into base contact with the enemy. A charging unit can move an unlimited amount - it's already been found to be within charge range, so we don't worry about distance from this point on.

That said, the charge move is subject to an important restriction: the unit must move straight ahead, except that, during this move, it may make a single wheel of up to 90o. You are free to make this wheel in order to place your unit wherever you like against the facing of the enemy unit that is being charged.
Once you have determined that your unit is within range (closest to closest, as above) there is no further need to measure your charge - you just go. The wheel is free, as is the additional free wheel to align to the enemy.

I actually like this rule. Having played in previous editions where charging could be a real thorn as people finagled the distances and wheels and mis-measured, this simplifies it to a very black/white, pass/fail straight-line measurement. No more need to be weird about it.
 
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