Skyhammer and the Pay to Play 40k Era

Hello all!

Rawdogger here to talk about Games Workshop’s latest marketing strategy, the Skyhammer Annihilation Force, and why it’s a really bad thing for the hobby.

For those of you who are wondering what the Skyhammer Annihilation Force is I would first question why you are reading this blog to begin with, but then would apologize if you were just starting the 40k hobby in the sorry state it’s currently in.  The Skyhammer Annihilation Force is a formation consisting of miniatures that Games Workshop wants to sell to players that consist of models from kits that they just released with the Space Marine codex release.  By taking the models listed in the Skyhammer Annihilation Force the player essentially unlocks several special in game bonuses that will help them ‘Annihilate’ their opponent on the first turn of the game.  What are these bonuses I speak of?


  •  Devastator Squads in drop pods get the relentless special rule, meaning they can fire their Grav Cannons, Lascannons, or Missile Launchers at full BS the turn they drop down. Any unit that gets targeted by the Devastators in this formation must take a leadership test at 3D6 and if it is failed they immediately go to ground.
  • Assault Squads in this formation can not only deepstrike turn 1, but they may assault the turn in which they do because fuck you buy those kits that’s why.  Oh, and if a unit went to ground due to those asshole Devastators the Assault Squads get to re-roll both hits and wounds when they assault that unit on turn one after deep striking because fuck you buy these kits that’s why.
  • The entire force (2 Devastator Squads in Drop Pods and 2 Assault Squads) can either come in turn 1 or turn 2 with no need to roll for it.  Deathwing silently cry into their For the Emperor O’s.

Now, this isn’t the first ‘pay to play’ type formation that Games Workshop has released lately but it definitely seems that everything they have done so far was leading up to this point.  Starting with free wargear options for Blood Angels taking the veteran formation followed up by the Mechanicum’s take units from THREE DIFFERENT FUCKING CODICES and get amazing super powers deal and then double Demi-Company free transports shenanigans we have seen the slow greed of the GW marketing department negating any type of balance from a game that had that in short supply to begin with.

There are plenty of naysayers and apologists making excuses for GW’s blatant cash grab rules development that we have been seeing for the past year (though there is plenty of evidence pointing to it NOT WORKING) and they do bring up some fair points.  It’s too bad my belligerent cynicism clobbers any coherent argument they try to make.


  •   It’s not a big deal since most people have these models anyways – Yeah, THIS TIME.  Remember this is just the scout to probe the defenses of their customer base.  They sell a ton of new Space Marine Devastators with those sweet Grav Cannons and babbies carrying missiles and the next thing we know they release some formation consisting of new units and so on and scene.  Games Workshop tried to humorously sell the new models kits with a copy of the Annihilation Force ‘official’ rules seemingly forgetting that the internet has become a thing and the rules had been released as a Google image search a week before their ‘limited’ release.   Oh, and those people that actually bought the (web exclusive!) Annihilation Force bundle from GW…..You’re NOT helping.
  •  It makes Assault Marines Viable – Oh so this is how we make an underwhelming unit viable?  Man, they should do a formation that includes all the units from Chaos Space Marines then.  Look, Assault Marines DID need a boost.  They are one of the most lackluster units in the codex but giving them the ability to assault the turn they Deep Strike (on turn 1) without even needing to roll for them to come in is like burning down your house to kill a spider (which is ok in some cases).

Now, does this formation have weaknesses?  Sure, if you took the formation by itself and didn’t add in your other 1100+ points into models that will compliment the already powerful formation.  With the Skyhammer Annihilation Force we are seeing the beginnings of a purchase models for bonus in game perks marketing strategy from a company that has adamantly professed that they are not a rules company.. We have seen the devolution of the points system to balance the game and now we begin to see obscene bonuses in game as rewards for purchasing certain models.  I don’t know what it is but this latest release has just left a really bad taste in my mouth.  It’s just TOO blatant.  I’d like a little of wining and dining before heading to the bedroom, you know what I mean?  I don’t MIND Games Workshop driving sales to reward their shareholders. It’s what companies do. I just wish they did it in such a way that I didn’t know that they were writing rules for their game (remember they AREN’T a rules company) for the express reason of selling model kits.  It’s such a great universe they have created and there are so many thousands of fans throughout the world, it just doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to write balanced rules that drove sales as opposed to writing unbalanced OP rule sets to sell the models they were producing.


So how do you feel about this new ‘purchase models for in game special rules’ we are seeing come out of Games Workshop?  Do you mind the blatant financial incentives with rules writing or do you think a well balanced approach to rules writing would sell more models?


About Jason

Raw Dogger, aka, Phat J Sleaze (formerly of the Booty Boyzzz) is a highly opinionated, questionably skilled 40k enthusiast. When not working at Frontline Gaming, he can be found down on Jabroni Avenue.

113 Responses to “Skyhammer and the Pay to Play 40k Era”

  1. bigpig June 25, 2015 12:11 am #

    From a competitive standpoint, we are rapidly approaching the “no formations” point. This has been a rapid ramp up from OP formations with Eldar (+1 BS to all your Aspect hosts without a real tax because (to quote RD), Fuck you!) to War Convocation, free SM transports, and now this.

    At some point, TOs will have to take the reins and take us back to strict CAD and allies I think. I was initially worried about the free points formations, but these obscene rules formations are even worse. Yes, there are hard counters to it, but… still

    • bigpig June 25, 2015 12:30 am #

      let me add, btw, that Skyhammer really isn’t THAT bad in the current meta of competitive play. Note; This is not by intentional design but GW, but just random luck. It is kick your teeth in brutal against your buddy and his mashed together army of models he got in two starter kits and hand me downs on ebaym, but against hit and run jetbikes rerolling jink saves, Nids in 2+ cover, and super reanimating Necrons, it is good but not THAT good. I just fear for what is coming next.

    • Loopy June 25, 2015 8:47 am #

      Generally speaking, I would not attend a “no formations” tournament.

      • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 10:13 am #

        Out of curiosity, why?

        • rcketscientst June 25, 2015 11:02 am #

          Out of curiosity, how would one go about running a Skitarii or a Harlequin force using only a CAD/Allies force organization structure?

          • bigpig June 25, 2015 11:10 am

            One could easily make adjustments at the TO level to include some of the outliers such as the ones you mention.

            The point is that excluding all formations and then making some minor adjustments to bring these smaller factions back into the fold is easier and more even handed than trying to identify which formations are “broken”

            Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that tournament play should currently go to a no formation format. What I am saying is that the trend of formations becoming more and more overpowering may get us to the point at some time in the future. Remember when Skyblight came out and everyone was up in arms about how unbalancing Objective Secured was? ….and that was on a formation that made you pay a nearly 300pt tax of two harpies. How does Skyblight look now? It gives a feel for where we have been and where we are heading.

          • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 12:06 pm

            The Skitarii Maniple and Harlequin Masque detachments are not formations.

    • Wischfulthinking June 25, 2015 8:55 am #

      Seconded. I think we need to go back to no formations, just CAD & allies + the few codexes that can’t be taken as either (assassins, basically anything without an HQ or Troops, harlequins??) & not I’m not talking about LoD. Remember nobody wanted formations or thought they were necessary until Nids & the skyblight or whatever & they don’t need that any more with the new model releases (that should’ve been in the original codex).

      • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 10:14 am #

        So you would be against unique detachments (like Great Company, Baal Strike Force, etc) in addition to formations? They are actually different things.

        • bigpig June 25, 2015 11:12 am #

          I’m not sure on this point. The unique detachments aren’t TOO bad at this point, but more and more they are getting wound up in the formations. What I wouldn’t want to see is TOs being put into a position of having to pick and choose what is in and what is out. That just leads to too much disagreement.

          • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 12:10 pm

            There’s not really a lot of grey area; detachments have slots that can be filled with any unit of the appropriate battlefield role; formations have specific requirements for which units have to be included in them.

            The Company of the Great Wolf is just a detachment because it allows any units of the appropriate faction and role to be taken in it; contrawise, the 1st Company Strike Force is a formation because it explicitly specifies the units that can be taken as part of it (even though it allows a limited amount of flexibility.)

    • Deuce11 June 25, 2015 12:53 pm #

      the DA codex shows why you cannot do this (even though i really wish we could). There are a selection of units in the DA book that ONLY function well at their stated points BECAUSE of the rules they get from the formation. The balance has been screwed with too much and there will be no simple way to get it back short of ITC tourney-permitted, and written, fan-dexes.

      • PrimoFederalist June 28, 2015 2:36 pm #

        There are two detachments that allow for a FOC change for the Deathwing and the Ravenwing. By banning formations, both of those detachments would still be legal as I understand it.

  2. bassface7 June 25, 2015 12:31 am #

    How to turn the FLG comment section into the BOLS comment section in one easy step.

  3. Jarrod June 25, 2015 12:34 am #

    Cash hammer will always be a thing though. At my last tournament, one of the guys who tied for second brought a fw tau battle suit that had two torrent str6 ap2 flamers with it’s experimental rules (it was also unpainted by the way). Now the same guy runs a brand new (unpainted) admech army. So I wouldn’t worry about it.

  4. Blackfel June 25, 2015 12:49 am #

    I had hoped that this edition of 40k would lose the bipolar nature of GW codex design, but it looks like codex creep is still alive and well. For tournament play, perhaps sticking strictly to a CAD design and banning all other formations is the way to go. I’d even take it back a bit further, to the days of percentage-based army lists. 25% characters, 50% troops, 25% heavy/elite, no Lords of War, and no special characters. That would get rid of the majority of the problems right there.

    • bigpig June 25, 2015 1:05 am #

      Yep, formations were fun at first for competitive play as they added variety, but at some point…. soon, maybe very soon… they will jump the shark

    • Caldria June 25, 2015 2:08 am #

      Although that does then give major problems to things like the new Dark Angels codex – where pretty much all of the Deathwing and Ravenwing rules that they used to have are now tied into formations and detachments.

      More so Deathwing than Ravenwing, so it would only screw over Deathwing even more than it is (not that terminator’s are really worth running anyway)

    • Blackfel June 25, 2015 3:08 am #

      It would, however, make the weaker armies like the Dark Eldar, Harlequins, and Chaos Space Marines viable as something other than allies on the tournament scene. Better yet, it would tone down the power of the uber-elite lists to an almost manageable level.

      • Lex June 25, 2015 3:33 am #

        Except GW keep designing armies, like Harlequins and Skitarii, that can’t be used in either a CAD or Allied Detachment. That is one of the problems all of these restrictions create.

        • Wischfulthinking June 25, 2015 8:56 am #

          So make an exception for any codex that doesn’t have an HQ or troop

          • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 10:15 am

            If you make an exception for one army, everyone else is going to want an exception as well.

          • z3n1st June 25, 2015 11:25 am

            using the % base with a value like characters in lieu of HQ slot would allow people to field elite characters instead (and would be universal in its application and include even the codex that doesn’t typically follow the ‘ally or CAD format’

            heck use that % base (instead of formations, cad, etc) but still follow general ally matrix and suddenly you have a fairly balanced set. I don’t agree with no LOW or the like, just limit the crazy by putting a cap on that category.

          • bigpig June 25, 2015 11:32 am

            That is a simplistic argument AP. I think everyone would clearly understand that an army with no HQ must have some kind of exception to the HQ requirement. It is when one starts making exceptions that aren’t so idiot proof that people start to get up in arms and either disagree vehemently with the changes made or say, “I want MY exception as well.”

          • fluger June 25, 2015 11:52 am

            I agree with bigpig. Also, the exception could easily be.

            “If your army does not have an HQ option, it may take a troops choice as the required HQ in a CAD or Allied Detachment.”


          • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 12:14 pm

            Sure, you can make up an additional layer of rules and exceptions to cover for your system. The question is: why? Why not just allow people to use special detachments (as long as they don’t consist of formations, like the Decurion et al)? Most of them are very arguably worse than the CAD/Allied options, and none of them are drastically better. It prevents any need for making special exceptions for books and stops armies like GK/Skitarii/Harlies from being total garbage (because without their unique detachments, they are.)

          • Punchymango June 25, 2015 3:48 pm

            Rule changes or house rules that require a cascade of exceptions or additional rules patches are never helpful.

            Also, while I’m in no hurry to defend GW’s business practices and I dislike what 40k has become, is this really going to be more disruptive in competitive play than the good ol’ Fire Support Cadre? ‘cuz that thing single-handedly made a large number of units and builds irrelevant in tournament play.

          • PrimoFederalist June 28, 2015 1:14 pm

            I think it could be easily curtailed by declaring that alternate Force Organization charts provided as part of the codex/supplement are legal. I don’t know of any that have particularly heinous rules (i.e. OP), but I could be missing something.

            This would allow Harlequins, Skitarii, Deathwing detachment, Knights LOW army, Ravenwing detachment, Champions of Fenris, Dark Eldar FA FOC, BA Baal FA FOC, etc.

            To date, none of those Force Organization chart changes provide any ridiculous rules that I’m aware of, and I think it would eliminate insane formation power-creep while keeping all the armies available.

    • Wischfulthinking June 25, 2015 8:56 am #


  5. Hush June 25, 2015 1:21 am #

    To be honest I think all the crystal of pay to play are rubbish. There is nothing stopping you using the formation if you have some devestators, assault marines and drop pods. Its no different to formations we have had around for months now such as fire cadra.

  6. ChosenOfKhorne June 25, 2015 2:38 am #

    Most of the POTENTIALLY broken/unfun parts of the game for can be boiled down to : unbalanced formations, allies rules (drop pod and special rule transferrance tricks), Lords of War, certain psychic abilities, and decurion style bonuses. Of course thsee are all changes emphasized with 7th edition, so we don’t seem to be trending in a good direction. There is more army variety, but at what cost?

    There is such an emphasis on list building to combo up a deathstar, etc., and all of the hard counters to armies out there, I wonder how much of winning really depends on skillful gameplay and tactics any longer. I know the guys winning these tournaments are better players than the rest of us, but I wonder if they are challenged by matches prior to the final couple of rounds when they meet other optimized lists with trickery run by other skilled opponents. Or do their lists allow them to breeze through the first 4 rounds without much struggle, hoping not to hit a hard counter along the way. Any thoughts?

    • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 10:20 am #

      If you did a “no Battle Bro allies, no formations, no special detachments, no LoW” tournament then Eldar would absolutely DESTROY everyone else. Just sayin’.

      >but I wonder if they are challenged by matches prior to the final couple of rounds when they meet other optimized lists with trickery run by other skilled opponents.

      It is very, very rare for a good player to only run into “real” opponents in the final rounds of a tournament- there are typically quite a few good players at any given tournament of size and you’re almost guaranteed to run into them at multiple stages of a tourney. Swiss pairings kinda force this, as you’re playing people with better and better records each round, which means your chances of playing one of the other major contenders for the top spot go up exponentially. (There’s also plain ol’ dumb luck- I played DrInsanotron round 1 of the last BAO.)

  7. Cavalier June 25, 2015 3:06 am #

    I’m with you Jason. I’m not a huge fan of the formations in general because so many of them are dramtically more powerful than even the Apoc. formations of the past. But the thing that really bothers me is the Atom Bomb Alpha Strike formations like the Skyhammer.

    As an Eldar player I retired my wraith-bomb when the new book came out because I hate that feeling of being ambushed by something you have almost no defense against. As Reece likes to say it takes the “interactivity” out of the game… its less about maneuvering, terrain etc because defense of any kind is nullified ignore all cover, ignore toughness, ignore armor, remove from play or statistically overwhelming weight of dice ridiculousness.

  8. Ghost Valley June 25, 2015 3:39 am #

    Every tournament and game store I’ve played at has required the player to have an official copy of the rules or codex that they are using for their models. Not photocopies or a scan or a summary of rules from a website.
    Only a limited amount of people would have the actual official rules card, and since there is no way for anyone else to get an official copy (until gw releases them as a dataslate, if they ever will), I would be fine with these type of pay to play scarcity formations not being allowed at tournaments.
    Why allow something that not everyone can have official access to? It also sends a message that we as players don’t want these to continue.

    And I do realize how easy it is to find a scan of these and confirm the correct rules, but again I have always seen it required for the player to have the actual rules. I’d be happy to just photocopy a page out of my IA2 book rather than take it on a plane when travelling to tournaments, I just assumed that it wasn’t acceptable.

    • westrider June 25, 2015 5:44 am #

      Given that several of these things have been limited edition, this pushes it even more into Pay to Win territory, with the added bonus of “get up early on Saturday to camp the preorders because they sell out instantly” to win.

      And for others, can you tell the difference between a legit copy of the WD with the Battle Convocation on someone’s tablet and one they pulled off bittorrent?

      • Ghost Valley June 25, 2015 6:23 am #

        I agree that if someone pulled out an ebook version of codex:whatever, I would not be able to tell if they text edited a line or rule. The distinction for me is that I could still buy the rules from GW ( I am one of those zombies that buys all the codicies and rulebooks whether I play the army or not ).

        I cant explain why it matters to me, but I just feel that if a ruleset for a formation/army/dataslate is legal, that should mean I can purchase it…but I concede that that idea is becoming antiquated…and limited edition rules/models/maybe even armies are multiplying.

        • westrider June 25, 2015 7:37 am #

          My bad, I misread part of your comment. I thought you had put that you were OK with the limited edition stuff because scarcity would keep it from showing up very often. Never mind, we’re on the same page.

          • Ghost Valley June 25, 2015 8:01 am


    • novaStar June 25, 2015 11:05 am #

      No one has an “official” copy of the limited bundle rules as its a pdf in an email GW send the purchaser

      • Ghost Valley June 25, 2015 12:08 pm #

        My mistake. I thought it was a card, like the special chaplain in Dark Vengeance

    • Jural June 26, 2015 10:29 am #

      Yeah, this is one of my pet peeves. I lost a game at BAO because a Tau player “knew” he had Hit and Run and Init 5 on Shadowsun, but he didn’t have his Codex or any rules. I looked it up afterwards and was really pissed that he had lied on that point… Until I saw that he actually had Farsight in the same blob and Farsight did have Init 5… So no harm, but frustrating.

      I think it’s a common courtesy to bring your rules to the game, but i think only about half of my opponents have historically.

  9. Logan June 25, 2015 4:48 am #

    Semi-Joking Comment, All this free points for gear/models, formations/detachments/allies breaking the typical Army Building Detachment we were so used for so many editions, is leading to GWs 8th edition rules that makes everything unbound. There will be no more CAD or Decurian Style Detachement, it will just be formations and take whatever you want. The ally table will dissapear, and their will be no such things as factions, everything can join each others units, enter each others transports, and use each others rules regardless of obivous fluff reasons the two factions should hate each other (GK allied with CD).

    Joking aside, This whole P2W is just wolf in sheeps clothing. GW has always been P2W with codex creep and certain units. When Imperial Knights came out, wouldnt you consider that P2W since everyone didn’t like playing against a LoW but playing a Knight seemed ok? What about Inquistors, wouldn’t buying a Sub-Par Codex for pretty much a Single Model (Coteaz) or Servo-Skull abuse count as P2W? I can continue to list several examples about P2W that GW has done way before these “Recent” P2W Formations that everyone is complaining about.

    I personally don’t care that GW releases these Limited Edition Web Exlusive Bundles that comes with rules. At least GW is constantly releasing rules and models, we don’t have to wait for a whole new codex or edition for us to get something new. My biggest issue is and will always be codex creep. Look at the Pre-Necron 7th Edition Codexes, they all got the BIG FU!!! from GW. Look at BA Scouts compared to the new Scouts in SM and most likely DA. Granted it could be a simple fix with a FAQ from GW to make BA scouts WS/BS4, but that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

    TL:DR, GW has always been P2W with Codex Creep and specific A++ Units in a codex. The bigger issue with GW is Codex creep and how they shafted all the 7th edition Pre-Necron Codexes.

  10. Kartr June 25, 2015 5:54 am #

    Way to BoLS all over FLG! However you’re wrong on so many different accounts your opinion isn’t even valid.

    Grav are salvo so they fire at full BS whether you moved or not. So no Relentless doesn’t give grav guns full BS when they drop down.

    If Codex Chaos Space Marines isn’t replaced by the various Daemonkin Codics then they will undoubtedly get their own formations to boost their weaknesses. S4 Ap- hits aren’t really scary, even on turn 1.

    Want to avoid Going To Ground? Get a Fearless unit, get the psychic power that causes units to stand back up, put your units in transports, run more bikes, etc.

    Warhammer is going to become pay to play? It always has been! $80 for the BRB, $60 for a Codex, $300+ for an Army… It’s always been pay to play and it always will be, Hell it s always been pay to win to some extent. Spending more money gets you more options, better synergy, etc. If you want free to play go download Minecraft!

    Formations allow flavor, diversity and a way to shore up poorly performing units without rewriting a whole dex. So far none have been broken, just forced people to rethink how they play, and given the meta a little bump in a different direction. The bigger problem is players who refuse to adapt and pitch a fit when something they have no experience with and threatens their current style comes out.

    GW is not a rules company?

    “The games are a key part of both our Hobby and our business model… The more fun and enjoyable we make our games, the more customers we attract and retain,… This in turn allows us to reinvest in making more and more exciting miniatures and games, which creates a virtuous circle for all.”

    They’re a games company, you can’t do that without being a “rules” company. Whomever started this nonsense is an utter idiot.

    People keep commenting on the rules that GW has gotten right with comments like: “even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut” or “even a broken clock is right twice a day.” Over the last 2-3 months these comments have been a near constant refrain as people actually start playing the new rules and formations. If we keep hearing this, doesn’t that imply GW is actually doing a better job, and maybe just maybe, might be paying more attention to their rules creation/balance?

    On the other hand how many of the “bad/broken” rules are actually the players fault? We saw the other night that even experienced players can get rules like Tank Shock wrong, or forget you can’t assault from a blown up transport. On top of that it’s a big rule set so why do we expect them to get it perfect when we have trouble remembering rules, interpreting rules or twisting rules? If 40k were a video game it’d be lauded for how few bugs/glitches it had, but because we invest more time into it and “run the code” ourselves it is held to an unrealistic standard.

    So how about you quit yer bitchin’, start adapting your tactics and look for positive aspects of the game the way it is? How about it?

    • Pascalnz June 25, 2015 6:57 am #


    • Ghost Valley June 25, 2015 7:10 am #

      The rules company issue is that they dont bother to address errors anymore, let alone faq rules or answer questions. Digital editions differing from printed without update, no response to continual community calls for clarification. The daemonology entry from Space Marines being the latest, with glaring ones from the new DA dex already obvious. I doubt we will see any action from them.

      Also, I have to say – you start your post critizing the “Bols” flavour and then proceed to be dismissive, rude, caustic, and absolute in your reasoning. Is that not the definition of Bols commenting?

      Your opinion is valid, as is his. You come across really rude and aggressive though. Something I’ve noticed is happening in these comment sections with increasing regularity.

      • Raw Dogger June 25, 2015 7:22 am #

        Actually, I forgot to plug Rob Baers’ latest video and sale from Dice Head Games so I was pretty close to creating a BOLS type article.

        • Ghost Valley June 25, 2015 8:02 am #

          He really does spam those videos, doesent he?

      • Kartr June 25, 2015 8:27 am #

        I don’t claim that GW is perfect and I never will and the FAQ/errata issue is a perfect example of something they are getting wrong. I know FW is better about that and hopefully they will rub off on the GW half of the company.

        /shrug fight fire with fire right? Was I caustic, rude, aggressive and absolute? Yes, because I always try to respond with the same level of respect and reason the other person brings to the table. You’re hyperbolic, I’m caustic. You make sweeping generalities, I’ll use absolutes. You used a reasoned, thoughtful argument I’ll do the same. You show openness and I will show courtesy.

        • Ghost Valley June 25, 2015 8:35 am #

          Fair enough. I’m not trying to fight anyone elses fight or white knight – just noticing what I see as a general trend. But I’m far too fragile a person for sustained interwebbing anyways 😉

        • Raw Dogger June 25, 2015 9:32 am #

          Kartr, I’m sorry if you read these articles as a personal attack to yourself. They aren’t meant to be and are editorials reflecting my person feelings regarding Games Workshop. This article really wasn’t about tournament play it was really a complaint about Games Workshop’s business practices. I don’t think I mentioned the word ‘tournament’ once, though a lot of people in this comment section automatically apply my thoughts on the business of selling models affecting actual game play to what tournaments should and should not allow.

          • Kartr June 25, 2015 5:24 pm

            I didn’t Raw Dogger, I just have a lot of time on my hands at work, like the flavor and diversity of what GW is doing (even though I usually get my ass kicked), and am getting tired of all the negativity directed towards the new stuff. I let my irritation flow, I’m doomed to the internet dark side 😛 the “quit yer bitchin'” was meant to be humorous.

            I don’t think I mentioned tournaments either…

    • Raw Dogger June 25, 2015 7:14 am #

      That’s just, like, your opinion man.

      • Kartr June 25, 2015 8:29 am #


      • Cavalier June 25, 2015 9:31 am #

        This aggression will not stand… lol

    • novaStar June 25, 2015 11:10 am #

      @Kartr, I’d have to say you’re on the lower end of the spectrum of intelligence as well since being relentless also lets you fire your Grav cannons at max range and shots after moving etc. The full Bs sure does apply to all the other heavy weapons RD mentioned

      • Kartr June 25, 2015 5:27 pm #

        I know that Relentless would let them fire 5 shots each at 24″ range instead of 3 shots each at 12″ range. However the only thing RD brought up was full BS which doesn’t apply to grav cannons, which is what I hit on.

    • AnEnemy June 25, 2015 11:42 am #

      ” S4 Ap- hits aren’t really scary, even on turn 1.”

      Play an army besides Space Marines and repeat that statement. This formation can dump all of my DE out of their transports turn one. The ensuing assault would wipe all of my T3/5+ troops off the board or leave me in my deployment zone stuck in combat for two turns.

      • Kartr June 25, 2015 5:30 pm #

        Two transports and assaults against the units inside, or 4 transports and no assaults on the units inside. 4 transports turn 1, out of how many you’re bringing?

    • Tsumugi July 27, 2015 10:38 pm #

      Spending money to purchase a 1500 points worth of Space Marine is Pay to play, of course. But buying a formation with powerful Special rule is Pay to Win, not to mention it came with a bundle full of models that most Marine players already own. So essentially, GW is giving people a big middle finger and say: “You want this OP rule? Sure, buy these models as well or prepare to get stomped by others who do”. See? Pay to win.

  11. xTHExCLINCHERx June 25, 2015 6:29 am #

    Disclaimer: I fully endorse playing no-restrictions 40k. There are tools in every faction’s Codex that can make them competitive when playing well-balanced missions. If you have the rules and models (yes I believe that you should own the rules and painted models) would you want someone telling you that you can’t use them?

    I understand articles like this are just someone voicing their opinion, which everyone is entitled to do. Sparking discussion and debate are great – after all, everyone here has seemed to want to chime in, including me 😉 So to start, thanks for the article and extreme point of view haha (it certainly got some good debate brewing).

    We have to keep in mind what it is we all found exciting about this game in the first place… does everyone want to just line up rows of Tactical Marines and Guardians and just stand there shooting at each other? Or two tanks just parked in a forest shooting each other, waiting for the first person to fail that 4+ cover? No! We all want to pull off some “combo” or use a model we really like in a tricky way… we want to feel powerful at least once or twice a game. These formations were intended to make that possible. Furthermore, everyone has invested money into the game to play it… so we are all paying to play. These formations also make it easier for people to use the models they did buy in a more competitive way… it all balances out in the end.

    Everyone needs to just calm down about the latest thing that comes out, and instead of just yelling about it being broken, adapt. Just ask yourself, did I spend money on something that I wanted to use? Would I want someone telling me to leave my favorite things off the table because they don’t like them? Sort of sounds silly when you think of it that way… Articles like this pop up every time something new comes out (Battle bro allies trickery, Tau Christmas formation, psychic deathstars, flyer spam, LoWs, the D, Eldar, etc.) but it’s exactly that – everyone forgets abou what USED to be “broken” when the next new thing releases… so settle down and keep on, keepin on and playing with what you enjoy.

  12. N.I.B. June 25, 2015 6:59 am #

    As a Tyranid player, I’d gladly take blatant rules writing to drive sales for models, after suffering years of what seems to be the opposite – Malfunctor kit, Haruspex kit, Phodian Swarm fail.

  13. Neckutter June 25, 2015 7:41 am #

    The only problem comes from taking 40k seriously. Playing 40k 7th edition seriously is really difficult when there are MULTIPLE invincible and devastating units to be played.

    I disagree with this formation, since you cannot just buy the page of rules anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have 30 assault marines, and 25 old school devastators…. YOU GOTTA BUY THE NEW KITS TO GET THE RULES.

    no thanks, GW, no thanks. And to counter this terrible formation i will have to include more bikes which cant be pinned, and more fearless units.

    • xTHExCLINCHERx June 25, 2015 7:45 am #

      Don’t forget, even if you PASS the pinning check, you still can’t fire overwatch at the Assault Marines 🙂 haha. So even though the rules exist out there on the internet, and everyone can just pull up the picture of them, you feel someone should have the physical copy that comes with the exact model kit? If so, that would mean you don’t think people should be able to play things out of White Dwarf magazines unless they have the physical magazine with them? Not saying I disagree, just curious how far that mindset applies…

      • novaStar June 25, 2015 11:11 am #

        funnily enough GW doesn’t make a physical copy of these rules, they email a PDF to the purchaser

        • Kartr June 25, 2015 5:31 pm #

          Cool, so people can put it up on the internet and we can all have the official rules!

          • Tsumugi July 27, 2015 10:43 pm

            Not all of us, unfortunately. Most tournament requires you to show the actual copy that you possess, not a screenshot or a google image. I am sure there are ways to get around when playing friendly games, but when it comes down to serious play, not gonna work.

  14. Blood Angel Player June 25, 2015 7:46 am #

    So I can take this Skyhammer formation in my Blood Angels CAD. Stick Dante in one Assault Squad, a Sanguinary Priest in the other and have the deep striking list the Blood Angels should have got IN THEIR BLOOD ANGEL CODEX!.

    • Loren June 25, 2015 10:03 am #

      Cant put IC’s im the formation. A unit can’t be in two Detachments at the same time. Pg 118 brb. n bold.

      • Kartr June 25, 2015 5:34 pm #

        They wouldn’t be in the same detachment because they were purchased from different detachments. The rule you’re referring to prevents me from taking a chaplain as my HQ for a demi-company and the same model as the HQ for my CAD as then he would be in two different detachments. If I take him as my hq in a CAD and join him to a squad from the 1st Company Task Force he’s a part of that unit, but not the detachment.

        • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 9:34 pm #

          He’s part of the unit but does not automatically gain the rules of the unit- including the rule that allows him to assault.

          • Hotsauceman1 June 25, 2015 9:38 pm

            While ITC said no, I will disagree, you can. He becomes part of the unit, and it says the unit can assault.

          • Blood Angel Player June 26, 2015 6:40 am

            I disagree AB. Skyhammer has “Special Rules” the IC joining is now part of that unit. If the Skyhammer formation wanted IC’s excluded they would be defined the exclusion as in the old Blood Angel Vanguard assault from deep strike where joining IC’s were excluded. The current Eldar battle focus also excludes non battle focus IC’s from the action. There is no such restriction excluding IC’s battle brothers joining a Skyhammer unit.

  15. Thejughead June 25, 2015 8:04 am #

    It is what it is. I don’t like alpha strike, but talk of banning formations and multi-detachments, when the GW design team has instituted the flavor into them is non-sense. Quite honestly, the only change I would do for tournament play to the game is allow all armies the option to null deploy and come in turn one from reserves. Funny for the same points I can do the Fist of Khorne and no one complained.

    • bigpig June 25, 2015 4:25 pm #

      but then the game hinges on whether you go first or not. Now I go first and have to roll on the 2/3 of my force that comes in from reserve piecemeal and gets whalloped by the alpha strike.

  16. marandamir June 25, 2015 8:20 am #

    The core issue here is the game GW built is designed for thematic and casual play. Its not meant for rigid competitive style play. GW has said this in the past, but people still try to wedge 40k into a competitive theatre and get frustrated when the next broken combo is released.

    Competition style games have continuous support of the game with errata and FAQ releases. They actually play test their products as well to iron out unbalance/broken stuff ahead of time. GW is a miniature company that has some very popular intellectual property. You cannot fault them for leveraging the games they own to create artificial demand for their products.

    GW isn’t gonna change anytime soon. So you shouldn’t try to control them. Instead, control what you can and fill the gap between what GW is producing and the requirements for balanced competitive play. You need an organized body to arbitrate rules and determine what is balanced and fair. GW isn’t gonna do it, so the tourney organizers need to do this. Don’t be afraid to make hard choices like stating some formations are no-bueno and some aren’t. At the end of the day those decisions (if they were unbiased) will make the overall experience better for everyone. It sucks for peeps who wanna abuse broken formations or spam cheesy units that get arbitrated. however, that is no different than when GW produced a shitty codex and peeps had to deal with that for years (sisters of battle?).

  17. John June 25, 2015 8:35 am #

    Hey Rawdogger, when are you going to do part two fo the Warzone intro articles. I am really looking forward to reading about and trying that game out.

    • Raw Dogger June 25, 2015 9:29 am #

      Hey John! We’ll actually be doing regular Warzone battle reports from the Martinez location as soon as the terrain factory is done for the BAO (and the store isn’t full of terrain). We will also be doing a narrative campaign. Stay tuned!

  18. John June 25, 2015 8:40 am #

    BTW great article!

  19. z3n1st June 25, 2015 9:11 am #

    RD, I have read many if not all of your articles and this one I feel like I can emphasize with the most. Great article.

    I have been a long time gamer (RT days), have gone through many different armies, and have drifted in and out of the tournament scene since I started playing. I came back into 40k because I liked the direction 7th edition was going (initially), lately I have felt less excited as balance has become all wobbly. Its not that I dislike the formations, I actually like them, but to determine who the best player is in a tournament setting it really has no business. Tournaments are supposed to be about skill and competency, not about who has the new shiny.

    I judge MA tournaments and that is what we look for:skill, determination, attitude all of which define a practitioner. We don’t judge based on a new outfit, or shiny weapon, we do judge on a difficult form or style (because more often than not its more a hindrance for them to attempt it than to go with the basics).

    I guess I would like to see 40k tournaments (championships specifically that are meant to ‘define’ a skilled player), actually become an event that relies more on skill than a wallet.

    • jy2 June 25, 2015 9:50 am #

      skill + wallet = good tournament player
      no skill + wallet = netlister
      no skill + no wallet = casual player, bad tournament player
      skill + no wallet = 40K freak

      • z3n1st June 25, 2015 10:13 am #

        pretty accurate account there jy2

  20. jy2 June 25, 2015 10:27 am #


  21. Bellerah June 25, 2015 10:53 am #

    This to me seems like a a good chance for the larger TO to divide it up a little bit and let the attendees choose. if a event Like BAO has 2 championship events, 128 each, one being CAD + formation restricted + plus one be a lot more open with the use of formations and the like (but not unbound). From a business standpoint it may be better to offer both if the player community is split, if it is not then it will quickly show itself in early sign-up data. The rest of the events can be exactly the same ( points, missions and so on). Given the size of the scene, maybe the one size fits all approach at this point?

    For myself, at this point in the game, I can not keep up with all the rules that are out their and how they play together, and at that point I feel unprepared to even attempt to go to an event.

  22. Alex Yuen June 25, 2015 12:03 pm #

    every “hobby” has a “entry” cost. can you play golf with a bag of $80 clubs? yes, you can but not for tournament player. most will spend min 10k+ to be a tournament player. Can’t afford 10k just on clubs alone. well then, golf is not for you and anyone complain about price on clubs, they just going to laugh at you. RC Car cost around 2k if you want a car that worth a dam. what about pro fishing? the price tag start at 20k for a boat. Car Racing as a hobby? just parts alone will cost 20k+ and up. One above that, jay leno’s hobby on collecting cars? that hobby starting price tag is one million. Or art collection.

    In comparison, 40k is a dirt cheap hobby. like Annihilation Force bundle that cost $450 include tax and shipping. for that price you might get a cheap putter or a car part. The bag boy want more than 450 tips for a tournament.

    • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 12:17 pm #

      Not everyone is drowning is dollar bills like you are, Alex. For a lot of folks sinking $450 on something that may very well be banned (and certainly will be obsoleted) in the relatively near future is a very significant expense.

      • Alex Yuen June 25, 2015 12:22 pm #

        then they should go look for cheaper hobby. Chess cost you less than 10 dollars and you got the complete set to play and win tournament.

        • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 1:25 pm #

          Sorry, you don’t get to be arbiter of who is and isn’t allowed to be part of the hobby. Good try, though.

          • Alex Yuen June 25, 2015 1:35 pm

            that why you are stupid, Sean. i am not arbitrating anything. if the price is too high then they will go find a cheaper hobby themselves. nice try on the redirect but a fail one

          • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 2:47 pm

            Telling people that they should “go look for a cheaper hobby” because they don’t meet an arbitrary price barrier you have decided is acceptable is, indeed, playing arbiter.

          • Alex Yuen June 25, 2015 3:17 pm

            First, i did not set any price barrier. you like to make statement which is not true and not contributed by me.

            you said “For a lot of folks sinking $450 on something that may very well be banned (and certainly will be obsoleted) in the relatively near future is a very significant expense.”

            I said “then they should go look for cheaper hobby.”

            that not an arbitrary price barrier set by me. According to you they can’t afford it so as anyone who can’t afford anything they should either go without it or find something cheaper. If anything that a price barrier set by GW.

            the problem with any argument with you is that you made up facts. In this case, you just made up the whole arbitrary price barrier set by me. I like have any control on pricing products at GW.

          • abusepuppy June 25, 2015 9:36 pm

            And the problem with any argument with you is that you don’t understand what words mean. I’m not even going to bother trying to play The Definition Game with you.

          • Alex Yuen June 26, 2015 11:39 am

            Cause you are just wrong. nice try but no you are wrong. The Definition Game haha keep trying to make stuff up.

        • Ghost Valley June 25, 2015 2:26 pm #

          People leaving the hobby because of money still impacts those who remain. The more inclusive the hobby is, the healthier the hobby is for everyone. Paying large costs for specific rules that could be included in a white dwarf or army book is just one more way to turn people away. Personally I enjoy playing against people from all socioeconomic levels. The more hobbyists around, the better the scene is for all.

        • David June 25, 2015 7:05 pm #

          Yeah peasants shouldn’t be allowed to play 40k. It is a rich man’s sport.

    • Bellerah June 25, 2015 12:53 pm #

      Did we not just see the results of a miniature game having a high entry cost that had went to high in both time and money? Why yes we did, it is WFB. Regardless of an individual’s finances, this games core player is not wealthy enough to consider the cost to play or even maintain trivial. GW needs to strive to keep active players buying and playing and also draw in new players at a reasonable cost. This game needs players playing, not 3 old guys with 8, 10,000 point armies.

      • Alex Yuen June 25, 2015 1:02 pm #

        WFB die for a different reason. but i do agree with you on the entry cost and core players.

      • Jural June 26, 2015 10:37 am #

        The time component is huge, I would say it’s worse than the financial component.

        If I try starting an Ork army, I’m probably 3 months in (and $1000) before I even put them on the table and realize I’ve made an uncompetitive list!

        That’s one of the best things about SM, by the way… it’s hard to get really unusable units… Try saying the same thing to my Defilers, Warp Talons, Forgefiends, Noise Marines with sonic blasters…. *Cries self to sleep*

  23. Alex Yuen June 25, 2015 12:53 pm #

    As for “play to win”, I heard the same complain from x-wing players at regional this last weekend also. they are talking about this newish ship call Decimator. The box runs about $45. if that was a new unit for 40k, no one here will say “play to win”. “play to win” is all base on personal price reference point. If the cost is too high then maybe is time to get out all together.

  24. Klr June 25, 2015 2:35 pm #

    Some sort of pay to win has always been in 40k, but now it has reached new hights.

    I have played since 2. Edition, but after eldar 7.edition i sadly dropped out.

    I think i had most fun through 4-5 edition. The 6-7 editions was not good IMO, but i have given it a try.

    All my old veteran players and gaming group has given up on 40k (and wfb) and moved on to other stuff. It seems like a few national GTs are doing OK, but other than that local GTs seems disapering.

    I think its time for some GTs to try out a more heavily modified version:
    – only 1 cad. No formation, dataslates or allies
    – no LOW other than IC, and no super heavies/ garguants
    – no D-weapons
    – some models and weapons needs small nerfes.

  25. Hiveminded June 25, 2015 2:51 pm #

    This article is silly.

    All of 40k is pay to play.

    • Raw Dogger June 25, 2015 3:44 pm #

      I resemble that comment!

      • Eldarain June 25, 2015 5:51 pm #

        You do look quite similar.

      • Hotsauceman1 June 25, 2015 9:39 pm #

        Rawdogger, never stop raw dogging it.

    • Tsumugi July 27, 2015 10:45 pm #

      Yes, all 40K is pay to play. But this Skyhammer thing is starting to feel like GW’s take on “Pay to Win”.

  26. Hotsauceman1 June 25, 2015 3:25 pm #

    Screw yall, Im painting my Devs right now along with my AM. Im running this damn thing

    • Vercingatorix June 26, 2015 7:10 am #


  27. N.I.B. June 26, 2015 4:33 am #

    40K has been pay to win since the first time a faction got a new codex which changed which the best unit was, so you had to go out and buy more models in spite of you already owning 1500pts worth of stuff.

  28. Jural June 26, 2015 10:42 am #

    It’s always been pay to play/win. That’s part of any evolving meta really.

    I think the issue I have is if there are more and more “exclusive” Skyhammer type formations which are above and beyond other rules in the game.

    Skyhammer isn’t the end of the world, but if it’s just the start of these types of list, and we see typical GW type power creeeps… Well, let’s not be surprised to see the Tyranids in 2017 in a Battle Box with a formation wide rule that Psychic Screams every non Tyranid faction on the board…

    Yes, it’s a slippery slope argument, or you can just say it’s taking a current activity and extrapolating using GW past behavior 😉

  29. Simon June 26, 2015 11:58 am #

    Wheres my fucking pizza!

    Oops wrong comment section.

    * angry opinion about change in an ever evolving game *

  30. rexscarlet June 28, 2015 3:47 am #

    Great article Jason,
    Yes, GW is throwing you know what at a fan and seeing what will stick when it comes to marketing (if we can really call it marketing or desperation, underhanded, etc.?)
    Here is something about marketing you might find interesting when it comes to all those, apologists, white knights, and etc. that seem to have tons of free time on their hands to wax poetic constantly about GW, (when do they actually have time to model, paint, and play?)
    Forums, social media sites, and etc. are being Botted by the majority of businesses, mass media outlets, and etc.
    What this allows is, the opportunity for dedicated interests (Companies, a particular group, etc.) to distribute propaganda, and/or quell negative or non-like-minded comments.
    How about pro-bloggers, three 8 hour shifts, 24/7, 365, monitoring several popular sites, would cost how much “outsourced”? (see; compare that to the cost of a licensing expo trade show in Las Vegas, a booth 20’x20′ with structure, space, staff, and etc. for “three” days is well over 100k, (GW did attend that show, but did not have a booth).
    Example of a Bot, and/or a pro-blogger;
    One or only a few posts are made, all about a single issue.
    The posts are all strongly negative, effusively positive, or obviously irrelevant.
    There are rarely links and photos of real people or organizations behind the posting.
    No answers, or evasive answers, are given in response to questions about the post or source.
    The exact wording of the post comes from several accounts, all of which appear to have thousands of followers, and/or are following/friends of thousands of accounts.
    Here are just a few examples;
    20+ Bots for business;
    Disqus example;

  31. Skari June 28, 2015 3:08 pm #

    I am a blatant optimist. I love the game, and naive as it may be I want the game to continue and dont mind the crazy. although I do prefer the beer and pretzels aspect of the game!

  32. Tsumugi July 26, 2015 8:39 pm #

    Some people are mixing the concept of “pay to win” with the cost of the hobby itself, while in fact it has nothing to do with it. If this formation is for everyone to use freely, but they release a huge box of podded ASM and Devy with some exclusive decorative bits, then its all fine. But when GW decide to sell overpower rules for money? That is a completely different story.

  33. andyv2k14 March 3, 2016 9:22 am #

    OK, a couple of things. I have played tournaments for years (never been that good, but I at least usually win a game or two). From my experience, over almost 2 decades of playing 40k, newer armies (or in this case formations) always come out as being overpowered or unbalanced. Naturally, a new army or formation wins a lot because there is no counter. No one has had time to come up with a counter.

    Skyhammer is a great formation with some powerful boosts. However, there are also ways to avoid it fairly easily that should be built into most competitive armies. Sure, the same turn assaults are kind of lame, but there are ways to mitigate that (spread your backfield for one). Will it mess you up? Probably. But then anything can mess you up (take this from a guy who rolled 5 ones on six dice from 2 vet squads trying to meltagun a Land Raider Crusader).

    Ultimately, it isn’t that bad. Not saying GW is great, I hate the fact that they barely playtest their games before release, but really this formation isn’t about to break the 40k game. Neither are formations. Despite all the complaining about Gladius and Decurion detachments, I watched a couple of big tournaments get taken by Chaos Demons w/Chaos Marines and AM, despite not having a new codex release, is still managing to make a (small) splash. Player skill still means a lot.

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