Checked the FAQ and what it means is that you maximize your frontage. However only up to a maximum of 4 against a units that do not have enough troops in the front rank to give you 4. i.e if you had 2 elves then you can only put 4 gor in the front rank.
This does not mean you can only put 4 in the front rank. But you're right in that it handicaps you if you're cunning ambusher jump out and you fail to kill a war machine crew and then to rub salt into the wound you can't even get your rank bonus.
The FAQ gets round it by saying it states to a max of 4 not to give a rank bonus, although they probably designed it with rank bonus in mind.
Long and the short though raiders do maximize frontage against the rank they are up against.
They I look at it with the rear rank of Dereks Sea Guard, is that when you charge you line up your unit to the centre of the rear rank with the centre of your front rank. Dereks rear rank was 5 wide. His front rank was 15 wide.
Due to my bigger bases the maximum I can get into combat is 6. I can see what Derek meant in terms of its silly that I charged his rank of 5 when the front rank also had there backs too me but then the counter argument is that Derek benefits from 15 shooting attacks from the front + a second rank of spears. You can't have your cake and eat it.
Unless of course you're beasts as you get to skirmish and you get ranks (but we don't like to talk about that). Which also means as long as 25% of my unit can see and charge a unit and they don't exceed their move I can charge what I like. So I guess the whole rear rank/front rank could be a moot point.
Either way it was a good game and Derek as ever is a nice guy to play against.
It's an interesting problem. I'm glad the rules query didn't spoil the game.
I don't think ranking up on the incomplete rear rank is correct. Imagine if there had only been 1 figure in the rear rank, you wouldn't have ranked up on that single figure (or 4 wide as per the Beasts book). I think it would help to ignore the fact that the Skirmishers were Beasts. If they were Dryads for example - they'd maximise, as per the rules - then rank up any spare figures who couldn't reach or fit.
Take a look at the diagram 36.2 on page 36 of the rule book - you ignore the incomplete rear rank for purposes of lining up. I think you should have ranked up much wider. Taken with the Skirmish rules - I'd have expected you to move everybody who could reach into base-to-base contact to where the rear rank would have been had it been complete. Maximising models in contact.
Not sure if this will look OK, but something like this. [Had to add spacer dots]
I think it would help to ignore the fact that the Skirmishers were Beasts. If they were Dryads for example - they'd maximise, as per the rules - then rank up any spare figures who couldn't reach or fit.
Yes my dice rolling even surprised me last night; I know I have a reputation for bad rolls but I hit a new low. I cant believe Matt that the answer is buying new dice but I think I will have to give it a go.