Ability names and Cognitive Load

Can someone explain me why so often an ability has a name but then refers to a different ability? I was reading up on the Reef Troll and I noticed it again.

“Far Strike: the spellcaster gains Snipe”.
“Lightning Strike: The spellcaster gains Sprint”.
“Elusive: the spellcaster gains Dodge”

Why not give them just Snipe, Sprint or Dodge? There are more examples like this and I think it makes the game unnecessary cumbersome. I guess there is probably a good reason for it but I don’t see it.

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I think part of it has to do with targeting limitations, e.g. spellcasterf gains snipe vs target model gains snipe vs target model/unit gains snipe.

The spell “snipe” gives “snipe” to a whole unit, whereas the animus is only the spellcaster. Would be awkward to have the animus share the name, but have a different cost, duration, and targeting restrictions.


It’s a way to give a single point of reference for a rule.

If Snipe ever changes, then (presumably) exactly one change gets made to the Snipe rule itself, and then every instance of Snipe – whether from Snipe the spell, Far Strike the animus, “Shoot your guns an extra long distance this turn, fellows!” the once-per-game unit mini-feat – all change, rather than somebody having to remember and modify every single instance of something Snipe-like. :slight_smile:

(It’s a refinement born of previous editions, whose necessity is not immediately obvious until you realize, in the past, how many rules overlapped but were technically different just because one was a spell, one was a mini-feat, one was a battle plan, etc.)


I’d agree if there appeared to be a linked database of rules. However, given differences and inconsistencies in rules so far, I think that they are manually entering them in each instance.

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This is basically it. It cuts down on repeat text and lessens the ripple effect later with having to update entries.

In this example the Animus has additional restrictions and rules to follow but grants the effects of that spell.


To put it simply and cut the long story short, it is written this way to keep the rules concise, streamlined and tight (one of the things that attracted many into this game).

Most words in the rules are defined like a command. So if a ruling mentions a word, it does a certain thing and that certain thing only. Pretty much like programming. Cool huh?

So if you see a rule written that is pretty long winded, it likely needed to be written so in order for it to work within the Warmachine ruling environment. If there’s an opportunity to improve it, give your feedback to feedback@privateerpress.com. From my experience doing so, they treat it seriously and were very welcoming. They even implemented what I thought could be written cleaner!


Does this help regarding stacking? So you can’t have Unyielding come from multiple sources onto the same unit.

Thanks for the answers.

Sort of. Snipe gained from the Far Strike animus, and Snipe gained from the Snipe spell do not stack because they’re the same named effect. But that explanation alone won’t help understand why the animus isn’t named Snipe if that’s the only effect it gives. BR3ND0R and Michael explain the reasons for that.