Where’s Your Ack Ack?


Howdy fellow wargamers, Mr.MoreTanks here to talk more about something that many 40k armies and army lists struggle to balance, anti-air. How much is enough? Too much? Is it better for some races to simply forget about it since their options can’t cut it? What do you need to bring to make your AA worthwhile? I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers to these questions, but I think I’ve got some thoughts that could be useful to a few of my fellow nerds.

First of all let’s look at what you need to worry about when you face fliers.   The two types you’ll face, vehicles and monstrous creatures, are two very distinct and different threats that are taken down in very different strategies. Vehicles in 7th between hull points and a pretty resilient damage table, are fairly survivable.  If you’re not bringing AP2 or better, you’re going to have to drag down that vehicle kicking and screaming to the ground as the change to the immobilization results has on fliers makes them much less likely to crash and burn rolling on the damage chart.  So we need to look for low AP weapons that at least have a shot at taking down flying vehicles in one shot.


FMCs are perhaps in my personal experience the most frustrating unit to deal with.  Most players have that unit they look across the board and groan at, mine is the all too common dakka flyrant.  They are the whole package, but at least they aren’t too cheap so I’ll spare you my soapboxing.  Against these and other FMCs, we face a new issue, killing it through wounding it.  Bar a small list, its all but impossible to Instantly Kill FMCs.  That being said, we need to be able to pump out enough shots to knock these guys down.  The best armor out there for FMCs is 3+, so at first glance, we don’t have the immediate need to bring low AP guns, especially with how FMCs interact with terrain.  Great, now we don’t have to worry about expensive low AP weapons, we can bring other things. Right?  Nope, for FMCs, especially ones like Flyrants, we REALLY need to make those guys Jink, so we need to bring low AP high Strength weapons that will concern our opponents and make them more likely to Jink.  Jinking may save the flyer, BUT the fact that the flyer is now stuck snap firing, be it FMC or vehicle, could be the difference between your AA unit getting another turn to shoot or keeping another crucial unit of your alive.

Okay, so unlike the days of 6th where we could rely more on Quadguns and the like, we see that we are stuck relying on high Strength and low AP weapons.  Unfortunately, these weapons usually cost more and usually have less shots compared to other weapons, but we must adapt and adjust to our meta so take them we will.  Lascannons, lances, and meltas are your best bet, but krak missiles and the like can be enough to get by. Next comes perhaps the real difficult question for list construction, what platform will you use to supply your AA?  The biggest issue is how the rules regarding Sky Fire now work.  Units with Sky Fire are now stuck Snap Firing at non-flyer and non-skimmer units, and there is no other rule to make it so you can fire freely at full BS at whatever targets you wish.  Bummer dude.  That makes units dedicated to Sky Fire pretty limited to what they can contribute.  Armies containing no fliers or skimmers are surprisingly common now a days, despite how common Wave Serpents and Flyrants are.  Bringing units dedicated totally to Skyfire can be somewhat of a gamble in my opinion unless they are cheap enough to not take away from the rest of your options in an army list.

So what does that leave us with then?

Well the only other real option is to bring other flyers of either type.  Here, the Imperium has a significant advantage in my mind.  The Stormraven and Stormwolf are the bane of both other flyers and vehicles or other MCs on the ground.  They are expensive, but they can take a beating.  The major downside though, is that it is almost impossible unless you place objectives carefully on higher terrain pieces, for flyers to grab terrain, and that’s only even an option if the vehicles can switch to hover mode and FMCs to gliding, making them VERY vulnerable.  Flyres that can never hover or glide are points that will never be able to get you an objective, and that can be an issue significant enough to make their inclusion in an army worth reconsidering.  Missions are most often the way to win your games, and with the change to how the Secondary is scored in ITC missions making them equal in worth to the Primary, getting objectives has never mattered more.

At the end of the day, I take the approach to air as I do to the psychic phase, go big or go home.  With my Guard I bring Sabers and Vendettas, and with my Marines, I bring nothing but snap fire and a prayer.  Is it the best?  Certainly not, but you’re reading my article so I get to stand on the soapbox and pretend that my ideas about little toy soldiers is better than yours.

What do you bring, if anything, to deal with flyers?  Are they something you think about in your list construction?  Maybe just FMCs?  Let us know below! (So I can steal your ideas.)


About Mr.MoreTanks

Lover of gaming, whiskey, steak, poker, and politics. T.O. of the http://tshftopen.com/ and http://cruisehammer.org/ events.

25 Responses to “Where’s Your Ack Ack?”

  1. Hotsauceman1 April 9, 2015 4:50 am #

    Broadsides and riptide because they can choose.
    Vendetta and sabres.

  2. Calle April 9, 2015 5:45 am #

    Tractor cannons and/or lootas! 🙂

  3. Requizen April 9, 2015 6:34 am #

    AA needs to fit one of the following categories:

    1) Be able to choose whether or not to use Skyfire. Either through having multiple weapon profiles (like the Soul Grinder) or having and upgrade for it (like Tau), having a unit that can only snapshoot at most things is garbage.

    2) Be extremely cheap. For example, an Aegis Defense Line with Icarus Lascannon is only 85 points! Easy to fit into most lists. IG have AA tanks that are pretty cheap for what they do, as well.

    3) Be a flyer itself. If you can’t beat em, join em, right? Either way, other flyers aren’t dedicated AA, so they can fire normally at ground targets, and are generally good themselves (otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation haha).

    4) The unit itself must bring something else to the table. Going back to the Aegis Defense Line with Lascannon above – even if there are no flyers or skimmers for it to shoot at, you still have a Defense Line for your shooting unit to camp on and get cover saves from. And that’s good!

    If it doesn’t fit into any of these, it’s not worth bringing imo.

  4. Noah April 9, 2015 6:38 am #

    Tankbustas also work well against both units but particularly a little better against flying vehicles.

  5. Clover362 April 9, 2015 7:18 am #

    so skyfire only is not that big of a deal because there are some many fliers, FMC, or skimmers in the game and platforms that are skyfire only tend to be cheap (like the SM skyfire tanks). Seriously next time you are at a tournament count how many armies don’t have at least 1 flyer skimmer or FMC. By anecdotal evidence is that you will face an opponent with no targets for skyfire only about 15% of the time. Now using the SM examples there is no real negative consequence and it can still be useful having an AV 12 3 HP vehicle that only cost 70-75 points in a the few games where it does not have a clear target.

  6. Clover362 April 9, 2015 7:23 am #

    The issue of AA IMO has lived and died with the helldrake. When the helldrake was an entire army murdering machine you needed to have lots of AA to deal with the possibility of 3. Now that helldrakes have been severely nerfed (going from arguably point for point the best unit in the game to just a solid unit) AA is not that important.

    • Dash2021 April 9, 2015 8:28 am #

      12 twin-linked S6 shots and haywire templates disagree with you. Flyrantspam is as bad as Helldrake spam ever was, if not worse due to psychic powers. Pseudo-perma-invisibility while suffering virtually no penalties for it is a bad mechanic, which is usually offset by the flyers being lackluster in terms of damage output. Helldrakes and Flyrants in 6th had the damage output to make them OTT, but you could only take 2 flyrants and the rest of the codex sucked so Tyranids weren’t a huge issue.

      Now that we’re in 7th, I’ll give you that Helldrakes are mostly neutralized as OTT/OP threats and now simply worth their points. However, Flyrants being available to spam is absolutely a threat you NEED an answer for. If you disagree, compare Tyranid tournament #’s pre and post Leviathan and see if you can still make that argument.

      • CaptainA April 9, 2015 8:42 am #

        Hopefully with CTA allies out we will see less Tyrants joining whatever army they choose.

        • Dash2021 April 9, 2015 9:05 am #

          Not sure. 4 Flyrants + anything is good, so pure tyranids will still be incredibly popular.

        • AbusePuppy April 9, 2015 11:24 am #

          Of the Flyrant armies I saw at TSHFT and LVO, most of them were pure Tyranids- mixing in other stuff was actually comparatively rare.

      • Clover362 April 9, 2015 10:38 am #

        I never said flyrant were not good but you don’t’ have to plan on killing 3+ flyrant ever. Get them to jink and there shooting is neutralized significantly, kill the objective secured and support units and win game.

        • AbusePuppy April 9, 2015 11:25 am #

          But like Heldrakes of old, Tyrants almost never have a reason to Jink, not with 4+ area terrain cover easily available.

          • bogalubov April 9, 2015 11:35 am

            Things like high volume of S6-7 shots won’t make flyrants jink either. They’ll just take the armor save.

          • AbusePuppy April 9, 2015 8:26 pm

            That’s true, but at least they have a good chance of killing them compared to that single S7 AP2 shot or whatever.

    • Scotyknows April 9, 2015 8:29 am #

      I think that we will be seeing a similar resurgence in air power with 5 flyrant lists floating around. I’m going to an ITC event in a few weeks and I’m still struggling to build a list that can deal with them. A quad gun and a storm raven are all I really have as far as aa models go, and I don’t think that will cut it.

      • Clover362 April 9, 2015 10:39 am #

        Remember you don’t have to kill any particular threat to win the game. It is pretty hard to design any list to kill 3+ flyrantsever, design a list to win the mission.

    • Ciaran April 11, 2015 9:47 pm #

      I played against 2 lists with 5 fliers, and 1 list with 3 fliers at LVO. I can safely say that AA is pretty important.

  7. Kartr April 9, 2015 11:42 am #

    Battle of Sarosh legacy on a Relic Sicaran, 35 points one use Skyfire+Interceptor+Tank Hunters on a Twinlinked Heavy 6 Rending autocannon that ignores Jink. Backed up by a Mortis pattern dreadnought with dual twinlinked las cannons.

    • Mr.MoreTanks April 9, 2015 12:43 pm #

      Most people though will take the Schism of Mars since it’s 10pts cheaper, but it is an option for sure.

      • AbusePuppy April 9, 2015 8:27 pm #

        Schism is just too good not to take on a vehicle that wants to be shooting tanks every single turn of the game. Getting to sometimes survive a Flyrant is just gravy.

      • Kartr April 10, 2015 8:06 am #

        I actually take both the Schism and Sarosh as the rules state “Legacies of Glory may be taken on one vehicle for every full thousand points.” Which means only one vehicle can have legacies at 1850, but there’s limit on how many legacies that one tank can take. 😀

        • Kartr April 10, 2015 8:08 am #

          *no limit on how many legacies that one tank can take.

  8. Wren April 12, 2015 9:58 am #

    Need AA? Ally in a 125 point AA machine called the Icarus Array Dunecrawler.

    • Reecius April 12, 2015 1:15 pm #

      Yeah, I think a lot of folks will be exercising that option!

  9. Ian B April 12, 2015 2:45 pm #

    I bring a marine fire raptor in every marine list I make now. That thing has shredded daemon princes, flyrants, harpies, you name it! I’ve never had a game where it hasn’t killed 300+ points of stuff. Shoot the missiles at a vehicle, machine spirit the avenger in a FMC and rotate the flyer at an angle where I can hit it with the quad bolters and the avenger, while the other quad shoots at infantry. 4HP AV12 all around is no joke.

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