Death From the Skies, or Just Cake?

There’s a new flyer book in town, and it’s got enough rules in it to raise some eyes. So let’s delve into things and see what we think of it- and what the tournament opinion is likely to be.

Death From the Skies got its second edition this week- for those who didn’t know or had forgotten, there was a near-identical supplement released during 6th Edition with many of the same rules and options, albeit with some pretty significant tweaks and presented as an optional expansion. It never gained much traction for a number of reasons, so the new edition appears to be GW’s attempt to make a stronger push for its use (and thus also sales.)

The first thing to take note of is that Death From the Skies officially replaces the flyer rules in the BRB (as well as the datasheets in all of the relevant codices), by its own text. While mostly not all that different, there are a couple of pretty important rules in it that we’ll get into later that makes this a very big deal. Just as importantly, it means that players who don’t purchase the supplement will have access to incorrect rules in many cases- and that is problematic, because mandatory supplement releases are not something that I think we are particularly eager to see. It’s definitely one big strike against the book right from the start.

However, let’s go ahead and set that aside for the time being, as well as the history of DFtS while we evaluate the new book and try to take it on its own merits. The book is broken up into four main parts- a fluff chapter at the beginning, the new rules for flyers and dogfighting, the new section on flyer wings and attack patterns, and finally the updated datasheets and new formations for the various flyers.

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Fluffy Bible

The first chunk of the book is, as usual, devoted not to rules but to background and images for the various races; the art is actually quite good in many cases, with lots of completely new full-color paintings and lots of dynamic page-and-a-half spreads showing off flyers in motion. And that’s all well and good, but unfortunately it seems to come at the cost of much actual descriptive text; every race gets a two-page section describing the organization of their air forces and how they operate (from where personnel are drawn, heirarchies, etc) but this text is extremely limited due to most of the pages being eaten up by the big, glossy art pieces. Since EVERY faction featured in the book gets such a spread , the first twenty pages or so are really just the same four paragraphs repeated over and over again as it describes how masterful and unbeatable every single race’s pilots are and how they are the very best in the whole galaxy, with just a small handful of pages of actual fluff that means anything quickly cut short.

The book then uses another thirty pages to have colored three-view pictures of various paint schemes that we get in every codex now- and while this sort of thing is okay as a reference here and there, I don’t need six pages of the same shot of a Stormhawk from different sides with the Ultramarines, Black Templars, and Imperial Fists colors on them followed by the exact same image of a Stormtalon instead with the same three chapters. It’s a rather frustrating waste.

The actual photos section, however, is a lot better; the ‘Eavy Metal team doesn’t do anything exceptional here, but they are all solid-looking pics that give some good looks at the various flyers and their details. One could certainly ask for more, but compared to the previous parts of this chapter it comes across as being surprisingly good.

All in all, DFtS continues the trend of the 7E books with regards to fluff- that is, more pics, more three-views, and less interesting text. I think this is pretty sad, as a lot of the stories in the 2E-5E codices were a huge part of what made the 40K universe feel compelling and drew players in to certain factions. Even the 6E books, while they made some missteps in places, added a ton more volume of detail and information compared to previous books and thus I think had some very real positives. Sadly, 7E appears to be moving away from all of that, and I think the game is worse off for its loss.

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Only One Rule

The second chapter of the book is where we get into the real meat of things; it includes the updated rules for flyers and dogfights as well as attack formations, wing leaders, and the Altar of War missions. This is also where the book begins to become problematic (rather than merely vexing) and where, I think, the biggest issues with its acceptance for tournament play will lie.

The first big change is to flyer types; all flyers now have a subtype (or “role”) that dictates what they are good at. Attack Flyers are the most common type; they are designed to hammer ground targets and have no specific bonuses. Bombers are like Attack Flyers but worse- they almost universally have worse statlines and worse armaments as well as gaining worse formation benefits. Don’t let your kids grow up to be Bombers. Fighters are the air-superiority vehicles in the game now; only Fighters can choose to gain the Skyfire rule while on the table (the way all flyers used to be able to.) However, being more specialized than the other two, Fighters are worse against ground targets and suffer -1BS when shooting them.

(Of note: the distinction between ground targets and air targets is spelled out in the book, and it looks pretty familiar- anything you can shoot effectively with a skyfire weapon is an air target, but the list also appends Jetbikes to the list. However, the Skyfire rule itself remains unchanged, so don’t try shooting your Hydra at those Scat Packs or you’re gonna have a bad time.)

All flyers also have two new stats, Pursuit and Agility. Pursuit is how fast you are in a straight chase and adds to the maximum distance you can move when going Flat Out as well as doing some other niche things; it’s not actually a very useful stat. Agility, on the other hand, is how well you can turn and all flyers can attempt to make an extra 90 degree turn during their movement by rolling their Agility or less on a d6; as this is somewhat unreliable, you really can’t predicate your turn on it, but it does give them an option where they might otherwise have been sitting useless.

The really big change, though, is the Air Superiority rule. If one player has flyers in reserve and the other player does not, that player has Air Superiority and gains a +/-1 to their own reserve rolls (player’s choice) and penalizes all enemy reserves by -1. As this stacks with other modifiers and is essentially automatic, it means any kind of reserve-reliant army (such as Grey Knights, Drop Pods, or even just Eldar) is almost forced to have one or more flyers in order to keep the enemy from dominating them. It also means that flyers will normally arrive on a 2+ (rather than a 3+) since the dogfight phase typically means that any flyers in reserve will either kill the enemy there or die, and for some armies that had no way to gain a reserve bonus it can be a godsend- the bonus (or penalty) applies to all units, not just flyers.

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Flyer wings are the next part of the equation; they are, in some ways, “squads” of flyers and function as such. All flyers in the book can purchase additional models to form a wing in the same manner as most units would purchase a squad, but a flyer wing does not actually use the vehicle squadron rules. They do have to come onto the board in coherency the first time they arrive, but following that they are not required to maintain it nor are they limited in choosing targets, suffering damage results, etc, the way a true squadron would be. Flyer wings can each choose a Wing Leader, who gets one additional bonus off of a random chart; many of them are reasonably-significant (+1 BS against a type of target, 4+ to repair a hull point, etc) but none are completely overwhelming.

The much bigger part of being in a flyer wing is that they can assume attack patterns- essentially, particular placements on the battlefield in relation to each other that grant specific bonuses. All attack patterns have a position requirement (such as being directly to the side of one another, or in a diagonal line, or what have you) as well as a minimum number of models in the Wing to qualify (between two and four, depending.) The bonuses scale up as the number of models increases; three can get you Ignores Cover or Tank Hunter if you position right, four can get you Preferred Enemy for the remainder of the game or a 4++ and IWND. Ignores Cover is, of course, the one to really watch out for here, but since it requires careful positioning of models as well as maintaining all of them alive, I don’t think it’s going to be a game-breaker.

Finally, we get to the dogfight phase. This is the biggest change to the rules, since it adds a whole new phase to the game, and not one that is particularly short, either. Of course, most armies will simply skip it because they, or the enemy, or both have no flyers. However, when you have to actually play it out it takes a fair chunk of time and can be rather annoying. The general gist is that during the dogfight phase all flyers in reserve engage in fights with each other and certain rock-paper-scissors type choices (as well as the Pursuit/Agility values of the vehicles involved) determine the exact sequence of things.

I won’t go through the full sequence of events because it’s actually not all that interesting, but essentially it has three steps- determining the range (modified by Pursuit), determining the angle of engagement (determined by Agility) and then finally shooting at each other (in which the choices previously determine whether a flyer shoots at normal BS or Snap Shots as well as which of the two models gets to shoot first.) Damage is resolved in the normal fashion (although models generally cannot Jink except in special circumstances); flyers that are destroyed can crash somewhere on the battlefield, depending on yet another random die result. Once the dogfight has been resolved (whether or not any models are destroyed) then the turn proceeds as normal- it is quite possible for a flyer to destroy an enemy in reserve during the dogfight phase and then succeed its reserve roll to come onto the field and act normally, including getting to fire again.

The air missions are… they’re not great. No, that’s giving them too much credit; they are, in fact, pretty bad. They range from Apocalypse-style shoot-em-ups where you can bring as many models as you want without regard for points to weird bombing-run missions to attempts to simulate an aerial massed battle. None of these are innately bad ideas of themselves, but they all suffer from one problem: 40K is not a good system to recreate air battles in, not even with the DFtS updates. Other systems that specialize in aerial combat have much more meaningful and useful rules for maneuvering, height and positional advantages, and the many other factors of combat in the wide-open sky. 40K, however, is a game of retro land combat- and its attempts to incorporate flying battles really just look sad more than anything. Not every system is (or should even try to be) good at everything, and I think that the air missions show just how much of a misstep trying to introduce this sort of thing as a major focus of 40K is.

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Wings of Steel

The final section of the book is the new datasheets and formations; it starts out with the Air Superiority detachment, which consists of between one and three flyer wings (each of which, as you’ll recall, must be at least two flyers.) All of the formations in the book are also considered flyer wings and can be included in the detachment as one or more of the three choices, though as with most detachments an Air Superiority detachment must draw all of its components from the same faction. The formation bonuses allow you to reroll one die during part of a dogfight and increases the bonus for having Air Superiority over your opponent (i.e. none of their flyers in reserve) to +/-2 to reserves on either side. You also can roll for all models in the detachment on a single reserve die and any transports in the detachment that can Hover have the Objective Secured rule. All in all it’s a reasonably useful detachment, though not a huge one- the reserve bonus/penalty is probably the biggest thing it does.

The updated datasheets are, for the most part, little different than their codex counterparts. There are, however, a few things to take note of in the book, either by their presence or absence. Imperial Guard, for example, features the Valkyrie but not the Vendetta- which strongly implies that the latter will not be making an appearance in the new Guard codex if and when it is released. The Stormraven (listed three times for its different factions) no longer has the ability to carry a Dreadnought- which seems like a pretty bizarre nerf on a vehicle that hardly needed it. Oh I see they hid it in the equipment section, exactly where you would think to look for a rule about transport capacity! The Nephelim Jetfighter’s missiles have a special rule that makes them better in dogfights (they essentially never snapfire), and the Sun Shark bomber still hasn’t remembered to bring its first Pulse Bomb along to the fight.

However, beyond the old units there are also a number of new units and formations, foremost of which is the Stormhawk. Built like a hybrid between a Stormtalon and a Stormraven, the ‘Hawk is a little bit tougher (Front AV12) and is a Fighter rather than an Attack Flyer (if you happen to be using those rules.) It lacks the Hover Mode and Strafing Run of its smaller cousin and its 15pts more expensive, but to compensate it comes with an extra gun- a two-shot Lascannon that can be replaced by a a three-shot Interceptor autocannon if you prefer. It also can reroll failed cover saves when Jinking, which is a very powerful defensive tool, but due to the model’s geometry it cannot spin the chin weapon to face hidden enemies the way the Stormtalon can. If you ignore the new DFtS rules for dogfights and flyer sub-types and all that I think it is potentially an even stronger flyer than the ‘Talon is; taking them in mind, it’s an excellent dogfighter but rather mediocre against ground targets and thus probably not worth the cost overall, though it’s still a long ways from horrible.

Space Marines get an update to the Storm Wing formation (1 Stormraven + 2 Stormtalons); it still gives Strafing Run to the Stormraven, but now the models can and must move an extra 12″ the first turn they arrive from reserve and enemies can only fire Snap Shots at them with Interceptor attacks. A pretty solid upgrade to them, although probably still not tournament-worth in the end. They also gain a new formation of two Stormhawks and two Stormtalons; the formation gets two Wing Leaders instead of just the normal one and can “split up” into two smaller wings or act as a single full-sized one as it prefers. Nothing particularly exciting, to be honest, but since it features some pretty good units it’s hard to complain too much.

Dark Angels similarly got a “two fighters one bomber” formation of their own, which gives the leader +1BS and +1 to Jink as long as you maintain a formation. It’s okay I guess? Space Wolves get what is by far the most expensive of the formations, which necessitates two each of their two flyers (for a total of nearly 900pts) and gives Fleet to units that disembark from them as well as “freezing” any unit that suffers wounds from two or more Helfrost weapons. Freezing prevents them from making any kind of voluntary movement and reduces them to WS1, which are really powerful abilities but c’mon you guys it’s nine hundred points and you haven’t even put a model inside your transports or anything yet. And freezing the enemy requires causing at least two unsaved wounds to a unit, which against the units you really want to be freezing (MCs, GCs, deathstars) is pretty difficult to do. So I would rank it a solid “meh” despite the potentially-powerful abilities.

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Dark Eldar also get a 2+2 formation for their vehicles, and since the Bomber is pretty bad (like all bombers, actually) that’s not a great start- and the formation bonuses are Interceptor for the fighters’ guns and Preferred Enemy against a single unit in the enemy army, so not really all that thrilling. Eldar, as usual, get a much better formation- though the presence of the Crimson Death in their codex already makes it somewhat questionable of a choice, though far from bad. 2-3 Crimson Hunters escorting a single Hemlock Wraithfighter make it up, and the Hemlock automatically knows Shrouding (from Telepathy) in addition to its other powers as well as adding +2 to Deny rolls for the Hunters if they are within 12″ of it. Decent, and Shrouding is a really good power that gives you just what you want, but the Crimson Death is a 4+ cover save all the time (instead of a 5+ so long as you cast Shrouding) and a reroll if you Jink (compared to a 2+ if you Jink.) Probably better overall, since it also gives bonuses against other airplanes; if the Shroud of Kuranous was two Hemlocks and one Hunter there might be a lot more reason to take it, but as it stands it seems like a solution in search of a problem.

Necrons also get a passable formation, which you may start to recognize as a theme in this book- passable, but not great. It rerolls 1s to wound and penetrate when shooting enemy HQs (how many HQ vehicles are there, really?) and once per turn can “pull” a single vehicle from reserve and Deep Strike it within 6″ of the formation without scattering. The idea of chaining this into a Monolith into another unit is pretty amusing, but probably not actually any good at the end of the day, as Doom Scythes just aren’t what they used to be now that their Death Ray is more of a Moderate Discomfort Ray.

Orks end up with yet another flyer on the same chassis as before; however, this one at least has enough guns to make its price tag look somewhat attractive. Its twin-linked main gun is actually pretty decent at putting AP2 wounds on things (and can be exchanged for a shorter-range one that can randomly Instant Death things for a token number of points- this gun also gets a bonus shot off of a Waagh turn, so is probably a good choice.) It also comes with another single-shot AP2 weapon and a 5++ save against one hit per turn and can upgrade to having an extra Supa-Shoota with Interceptor. They also get two formations, one of which is almost hilariously unusable (it requires three wings of flyers taken together) and the other of which is still four flyers, but at least has the decency to give them a way to get a 3++ save to mitigate their fragility.

Finally, we come to Tau, who not only get what are easily the worst flyers of the lot (both the Fighter and the Bomber) but also get the worst formation to go with them- it’s an updated version of the formation from their codex, which is pretty weak on its own, but the designers had the brilliant idea of actually making it worse by adding in an additional requirement for one of its abilities. So if any of you Tau players were thinking that maybe you might finally get thrown a bone with this supplement… nah, sorry. Ain’t happenin’.

If it seems like we’re forgetting something here, it’s because we are- Flying Monstrous Creatures, though talked about in several times as part of the book’s fluff sections, are not included or integrated into the rules in any way. If you are a Tyranid or Chaos Daemons player, you can go straight to hell and you can die, sir, because this book is not for you. Given how niche air combat in 40K is (and the fact that the previous book had rules for them), it seems odd that the new book would completely through FMCs in the garbage- but there you have it, I suppose. Someone made an executive decision and several factions were just completely cut out of participation in this part of the game.

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Death, or Cake?

So, we’ve seen what the book contains. Now we need to ask ourselves what it means.

As we mentioned at the beginning, Death From the Skies is technically not an optional supplement, as its rules replace those of the core rulebook. But, on the other hand, I also don’t think it will be a very popular supplement, because there is very little new in here- only Space Marines and Orks get new units, neither of which are blowouts, and the new formations for the various races are fairly underwhelming and not even particularly unique in most cases. So players don’t have a strong impetus to pick the book up to see cool new toys.

But what about the new rules? Well, the DFtS rules don’t actually really change or fix all that much with the flyer rules- they slightly mitigate the turn-radius and participation issues that flyers have in the game, but not in any kind of fundamental way. And the new flyer roles really don’t add much to the game, either- they just further fragment an already minimally-present unit subtype. (Remember, for example, that Sisters of Battle don’t even have a flyer of their own, nor do other minor factions such as Cult Mechanicus/Skitarii or Harlequins, and even major factions typically only have one or perhaps two flyers.)

Moreover, the Dogfight phase is not just slowing down a game that already has complaints about being far too slow already, especially compared to previous editions, but does so in a way that doesn’t actually add much enjoyment and isn’t really very intuitive or useful. The Dogfight rules are certainly better than air combat as it exists in the game now (i.e. “play chicken while shooting at each other”), but not by a tremendous margin and not by enough to warrant a nontrivial investment like the DFtS book is. No one seems to be all that excited about them, which is hardly surprising, so neither is there much of a push from the player base to use the rules. In fact, most of the people I have talked to- even tournament players- seem only passingly aware of the book’s release and were rather halfhearted about the whole subject.

Finally, we have the somewhat-arbitrary Air Superiority bonus/penalty, which is a major hindrance for any kind of reserve army. Again, this isn’t a big enough factor to be particularly crippling in itself, but combined with the numerous other factors that are working against DFtS, it doesn’t paint things a good picture. Reserves are a pretty important part of the game and many armies simply don’t have access to- or can get any real use of- flyers. Functionally mandating that such armies include a flyer if they don’t want to get screwed in the reserve game isn’t really fun or cinematic for anyone and just adds one more obnoxious thing to remember in the game.

So, what does the community think? Shall we pick Death From the Skies, with its new rules and fancy toys for flyers? Or shall we just keep our cake and leave things as it were? We’re certainly no stranger to ignoring GW’s bizarre rules missteps at this point- lord knows we’re dealing with enough of those already right now, what with Angels of Death and its psychic powers still looming over the game as a whole. For my part, while I like some of the ideas contained in the book I don’t think that it’s going to add much to the game and will result in far too many “gotcha!” moments for inexperienced players who show up to play a tournament (or pickup game) only to discover that someone has changed the rules when they weren’t looking and now their army doesn’t do what they thought it does. If GW had released the updated rules as a free supplement then perhaps (since it would be available and accessible to everyone), but as a mandatory hardback that players need to shell out for just to have the core rules of the game in addition to buying an already-expensive rulebook? I say no.

However, I realize my opinion isn’t universal or absolute- so what does everyone else think? For those that have read and tested the book, how does it play out? Is it really adding much to the game, or is it a waste of space? Certainly I’d like to hear, and I think that the Frontline staff would as well, since there are some major decisions to be made very soon and having a discussion prior to the potential votes can only do the community some good.

 

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About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

79 Responses to “Death From the Skies, or Just Cake?”

  1. Ytook May 10, 2016 5:32 am #

    Not going to say too much as we’ve been enjoying playing with it and haven’t found it adds too much time, there’s only one dogfight every turn (note: turn, not player turn) and as having flyers in reserve is a good thing it takes some time off the game as they are in reserve rather than on the board.

    But then I’m more of a casual player in a group where most people have a couple flyers, I can see how this without slimming down of other areas would put allot of time pressure on tournament games without adding all that much.

    Though the Stormraven hasn’t lost the ability to transport a dreadnought, it’s given by the “rear grapples” wargear.

    • Ytook May 10, 2016 7:48 am #

      Also the dogfight phase really doesn’t take that much time, once you’re used to it it’s fairly easy to do swiftly without needing to place models down like they say. Also the tables aren’t quite just rock paper scissors guessing as one result is always better for the attacker, so it comes down do you try to counter that or second guess and counter the counter, not perfect but quite fun with a bit of pokerfacing.

      Also realistically there’s only ever going to be 1-3 dogfights a game as flyers are destroyed and dogfights become too risky for both players in the late game. It’s nice having flyers matter (well… except the rubbish Tau ones :P)

      Well look at that I did end up saying too much 😛

      Again though I don’t play very competitively so don’t know how much my opinion helps.

      • anenemy May 10, 2016 2:30 pm #

        You and your friends would probably have more fun playing X-Wing on a side board instead of this abomination.

        • Ytook May 10, 2016 3:12 pm #

          We play X-Wing and like it. We also like this addition, the two are not mutually exclusive 😉

    • abusepuppy May 10, 2016 4:14 pm #

      >Though the Stormraven hasn’t lost the ability to transport a dreadnought, it’s given by the “rear grapples” wargear.

      I stand corrected, then.

      Still, what an incredibly roundabout way of writing that rule.

  2. bigpig May 10, 2016 6:20 am #

    Are there modifications made or mention of FW flyers at this point?

    • abusepuppy May 10, 2016 4:15 pm #

      No, and I would be surprised if FW updates them in any kind of timely fashion. It kinda makes all of their units rather awkward.

  3. Klr May 10, 2016 6:37 am #

    Of course it should be used. It’s substitues the older flier rules in the main rules.

  4. bigpig May 10, 2016 6:42 am #

    …and one more thought; With the rumor of a 7.5 rule set out there, I wouldn’t be surprised to see all the rules in this book (reserve modification and dogfights) making their way into the standard rule book in the not to distant future. If that does happen, completely ignoring the dogfight phase might become a more difficult thing. I get it that we are free to play however we like, but completely ignoring a phase/mechanic out of the core rules set in standardized competitive play is a bigger stretch than ignoring/modifying something like a minor rule or choosing not to use a supplement. Personally I’m not a fan of off the board activities (like the old “flying high” rule in earlier editions of WHFB) such as these dogfight rules, especially when it is more of a “did I guess right” game instead of a tactical exercise.

    I do like your review overall. Thanks for putting it together. Helps me decide if I will pick this up or not

    • punchymango May 10, 2016 10:29 am #

      Having fliers dogfight (and potentially die) off-table is just really off-putting for me. Nothing to do with balance, just sounds like a really unfun mechanic. “Oh, I guessed wrong, and your crimson hunter shoots down my Night Scythe, so it just dies before it gets to the table? Woo.”

      Adding a high stakes game of rock paper scissors, that has a chance of killing or crippling a fairly expensive unit (and Dark Gods help you if you had a transport full of guys or something) doesn’t strike me as a big improvement for 40k.

      Like Abusepuppy said, 40k just isn’t well equipped to systematize air combat.

      • Sanchezsam2 May 10, 2016 11:13 am #

        It’s not just auto killing fliers think of it as flyers fighting off the board. You still shoot the same weapons at each other.

        I hope the dfts rules are used in tournaments however I’m not sold on the dogfight phase yet.

  5. Vercingatorix May 10, 2016 6:55 am #

    What happens to FMCs in reserves?

    • abusepuppy May 10, 2016 4:20 pm #

      Absolutely nothing, other than taking a penalty due to enemy flyers.

      • Vercingatorix May 12, 2016 6:03 am #

        They work the same in game except losing skyfire?

        • abusepuppy May 12, 2016 1:17 pm #

          No, they still keep the Skyfire option while on the table, unlike most other flyers. This book actually makes FMCs stronger in some ways, but it also potentially makes them a lot weaker because a -2 reserve penalty can be pretty backbreaking if the enemy gets to go first and thus sets you in a position where you don’t wanna start on-table.

  6. Drachnyen May 10, 2016 7:03 am #

    I play Chaos Space Marines and I personally like the supplement for two main reasons :

    1. The current meta totally ignores flyers. If you look at most lists, most of them have no flyers or any flyer counters. They just don’t exist. The simple fact that this book is out there will shake things up a bit. If lists remain the same (with no flyers), people that use the air detachment will have a significant advantage against armies that rely of reserve rolls.

    2. It’s a good add-on for CSM, in general. I always run my lists with at least 2 flyers (helturkeys, or fire raptor). FW will release updated rules soon and I might be able to throw around some nasty HellBlade wings.

    This book, along with the new FAQ will drastically change the meta and how the game is played. I am looking forward to this (Evolve and adapt)

    • punchymango May 10, 2016 10:25 am #

      I don’t think this will much change #1, though; most of the content in DftS is skewed towards taking fliers in numbers most competitive players are averse to. Adding the possibility that your opponent might smoke one of them before it can even hit the table, and the only reason I can see people bringing fliers when they didn’t before is because of that weirdly punitive Air Superiority rule (I’d lay money that they added that to really push fliers as a thing).

      It’s like the old fantasy magic systems where you either didn’t bother at all or fully committed, except that fully committing is very risky. I don’t seriously think you’ll see people sinking 400+ points into fliers as a regular thing in competitive play, which is sort of what the supplement is supposed to incentivize us to do.

      I wish they’d just laid off. 40k is not X-Wing, it shouldn’t try to be X-Wing.

  7. Remigio May 10, 2016 7:11 am #

    I think Raven Guard armies will take two stormtalons or two stormhawks. Arriving on turn 1 with a +2 most times is great. And Raven Guard armies almost always use anyway the Stormwing formation. You lose tank hunters, but save the Landspeeder and gain several interesting rules.

    • abusepuppy May 10, 2016 4:23 pm #

      Well, there is one problem with that plan- only models in the Talon Strike Force can arrive turn 1, and there’s no way to get a Stormhawk as part of that formation. But for those formations in the Talon that can bring flyers, it’s definitely a solid option.

  8. PaD May 10, 2016 7:28 am #

    “The Stormraven (listed three times for its different factions) no longer has the ability to carry a Dreadnought”

    Umm – yes it can – “Rear Grapples”. Described on all three colours of Stormraven

  9. malc May 10, 2016 7:38 am #

    Are the rules for FW flyers in there? (i.e. Tau Barracuda etc)

    • Drachnyen May 10, 2016 8:08 am #

      No, only GW flyers are included in the book.

      FW said they would release something official “soon” and suggested we use Agile and Pursuit stats to similar models in the book in the mean time.

  10. Ragnulf May 10, 2016 7:39 am #

    Error here – the storm ravens can still carry dreadnoughts. Under equipment, look at “Rear Grapples”. That’s what allows them to carry a dreadnought.

  11. jadedknight May 10, 2016 7:42 am #

    This seems like a good opportunity to set the precedent that ITC will errata and FAQ core game rules.

  12. donthemagnificent May 10, 2016 7:53 am #

    A couple things to keep in mind, the Tellyporta gun on the new ork flyer is heavy, as is every one of their guns that is not a “shoota”. WAAAGH plane only affects “assault” weapons on flyers. As far as making the game “longer” with the dogfight phase, I don’t see how putting 2-3 models for 400-700 points in your army makes the army take longer to play with or against than an army that, instead has 8-12 squads of 5 tactical marines with dedicated transports for roughly the same cost. Aside from an initial explanation period on how the dog fight phase worked, all the dog fights that I have played in since the book came out have taken roughly 1-2 minutes depending on shooting/saves, which would be taking much longer on the actual battlefield. I do wish that they would have made FMCs part of this book too, as they too should be allowed the “air superiority” rule, and dog fights, etc. Also, the very first part of the dog fight phase says that it “IS” optional. If both players want to do such, they do. If neither player wants to do it, they don’t. If one does and the other does not, it is a dice off. Side note to mention, that I am surprised I did not see in your article. Transport flyers are even more deadly to their cargo. as when a flyer is destroyed in the dog fight phase, they roll on the chart which either lets your opponent place the crash and burn (1), you place the crash and burn (6), or your flyer and everything on it simply are removed as casualty (2-5).

    • abusepuppy May 10, 2016 4:48 pm #

      The Tellyporta Gun is Assault; you may be mistaking it for the Kustom Mega Kannon, which is Heavy. And yes, Waagh only affects Assault weapons, hence why replacing for the Tellyporta is a good option.

      And yeah, transports dying the dogfight phase usually kills everyone inside. I didn’t mention it because there are only a small number of transport flyers in the game and most people don’t even use them as transports half the time. There’s also lots of other small rules that I didn’t specifically bring up in the book as well, like the roll for whether or not a dogfight occurs, etc, etc.

  13. Codi May 10, 2016 8:01 am #

    I agree, 40k does not need another phase. However I do like the addition of Flyer Wings, it seems like a fun way to play flyers.

  14. Mythic May 10, 2016 8:10 am #

    Correct me if I am mistaken but doesn’t it say that if only one player has flyers the dogfight phase does not take place? Its not an auto win for the guy with flyers. And as the “air superiority” rule is given out to the winner of the dogfight phase I don’t think there would be any reserve roll manipulation when there is no winner or looser of the phase as there was no phase that turn/game.

    • Drachnyen May 10, 2016 8:14 am #

      Air superiority is given to when opponent does not have any flyers in his army. It applies with or without dogfighting phase. Its pretty clear in the book.

      Also, keep in mind the Dogfighting phase is purely optional.

      • Drachnyen May 10, 2016 8:22 am #

        Oh and to add to this point.

        If said player has a Air Superiority Detatchment and your opponent has no flyers, Air Superiority bonus is increased to -2/+2

      • donthemagnificent May 10, 2016 8:26 am #

        I believe Air superiority is very specific to having any flyers in reserves at the end of the dog fight phase. If they are already on the field then I do not believe they contest the Air superiority bit.

        • Drachnyen May 10, 2016 8:35 am #

          ohhh, you are correct!

          Now the big question is do you get the bonus if you didnt do a Dogfighting phase?

          • donthemagnificent May 10, 2016 8:53 am
            #

            The phase is still there, even if you did not play out a dog fight. Just as the psychic phase is still there for a tau army vs a necron army. The only optional part is whether you choose to act in it. This is just like choosing not to cast any powers in the psychic phase. Even tau still generate 1d6 warp charges in the psychic phase. They, simply, do not cast any powers during that phase.

          • Mythic May 10, 2016 1:39 pm
            #

            So i got home and grabed my book and I found this: If you check page 68 it is quite explicit that the phase DOES NOT occure if one or both players does not have flyers in reserve. And page 58 Air Superiority rule says “End of Dogfight phase” QED phase does not occure rule does not get invoked.

          • Threllen May 10, 2016 2:30 pm
            #

            I can’t reply directly to mythic, but –

            Re-read your book. It definitely does not explicitly say the dogfight phase does not occur if both players do not have flyers in reserve. It says “a Dogfight does not take place.” It does not say “the Dogfight *phase* does not take place.” You can still have a Dogfight phase even if a Dogfight does not take place just like you can have a psychic phase without using psychic powers or a shooting phase without shooting.

            Also, the intention is that Air Superiority is determined after the Dogfight phase is over. Even if a Dogfight does not take place, the phase is over before reserves are rolled and, therefore, the player with planes left in reserve gets his Air Superiority buff. Just like if a rule says it occurs “at the end of the Psychic phase” and you don’t have psykers… the rule doesn’t suddenly become null.

            Apart from all the RAW proof, it wouldn’t make any sense that GW would only want this to apply if you won a dogfight. A) They would have put that in the dogfight phase section if that were the case. And B) they would have mentioned “winner of a dogfight” instead of just saying “if one player has flyers in reserves and the other doesn’t.”

          • abusepuppy May 10, 2016 4:54 pm
            #

            ^ Bingo.

            If there are no models locked in assault, no assaults take place- but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an Assault Phase, nor does it mean that abilities that happen during the Assault Phase (such as Thrust moves) don’t take place.

            Also, from a purely conceptual standpoint, if you assume no dogfight = no Dogfight phase, the Air Superiority rule can NEVER apply, which is probably not their intention.

          • Mythic May 11, 2016 4:26 am
            #

            I also cant reply to the correct comment but this is a facinating conversation so I’d like to keep going and risk the confusion.

            I think this phase is fundimentaly different than any other phase, eg the assult phase because of how its sub phases are broken up. If we are to assume that a dog fight phase can occure without a dog fight then when does the dog fight actualy start? In the assult phase it is clear you are not in assult the whole time. We have each actuon assigned to a subphase. However no such distiction occures in the dogfight phase. It does have subphases but the first one starts with thr assumption of combatants being already selected. It is my assertion that they are useing dogfight and dogfight phase interchangeably and without a dogfight to do you cant have the phase.

          • Threllen May 11, 2016 5:26 am
            #

            I don’t see how it is any different than the assault phase. Both of them have strictly structured sub-phases. The only difference is that there is the possibility for multiple participants in the assault phase whereas you can only pick one set of combatants to go through each sub-step of the dogfight phase. Either way, they’re both just one phase divided into mini phases and just because you choose to skip (or have to skip) some (or all) of those sub-phases doesn’t mean the phase never happened period. Just like any other phase, the dogfight phase always occurs – you just skip right to the end if no individual dogfight happens.

          • abusepuppy May 11, 2016 2:54 pm
            #

            > It is my assertion that they are useing dogfight and dogfight phase interchangeably and without a dogfight to do you cant have the phase.

            Alright, then, can you think of ANY situation in which the Air Superiority bonus would apply, then?

            Because if both players have flyers in reserve, it obviously doesn’t. And if only one player has flyers in reserve, you skip the phase so it also doesn’t. So you think they meant the Air Superiority rule to be completely inapplicable and useless?

  15. Panama May 10, 2016 8:32 am #

    So some armies don’t have flyers, nids don’t have anything bigger then a MC, I can understand that in a game that already takes to long to play from a tournament point of view that something that’s adds more time is not good, so why not just say that the ITC will not be using these rules.

    But remember this if GW want flyers played this way in the game it will only be a matter of time before there in it just like all the other stuff which was once only for apoc.

    • donthemagnificent May 10, 2016 8:50 am #

      Please play a game or two with it first. Time them compared to your regular games. It makes the game go much faster.

  16. Dakkath May 10, 2016 9:46 am #

    My vote is to treat DftS as optional just like stronghold assault and escalation.

  17. Jason Wolfe May 10, 2016 10:07 am #

    I think FMCs got a huge buff with this book. “Attack” flyers can no longer shoot at them via skyfire. Fire Raptors and Stormtalons are now crap against Flyrants. Flyers used to be good answers to Flyrants, but every model people already have are now garbage. The loss of skyfire breaks a lot of the utility the “attack” flyers used to enjoy.

    Furthermore, do FMCs have skyfire still? Are Flyrants now “fighters” or are they “attack” flyers?

    • punchymango May 10, 2016 10:35 am #

      Kinda, yeah.

      In my experience fliers have never been *great* counters to Flyrants, since most of them fold up and die when they eat mass brainleech fire.

      It is one less tool in the toolbox though. I doubt it’ll actually change things much, though; Flyrant spam will remain annoying to fight but not top-tier.

    • donthemagnificent May 10, 2016 10:49 am #

      Flyrants will be neither fighters or attack flyers. They are not flyers. Just as they can not move 18-36 inches in movement. It is like comparing a “bike” to a land speeder or a swarmlord to an ironclad dreadnaught. They are not synonymous at all.

  18. zyekian May 10, 2016 10:51 am #

    Great article Abusepuppy.

    I agree with your assessment here, there are bits here and there that look like they have potential but the whole thing ends up feeling like lost potential and generally not adding fun to the game. It feels like we’re looking at GW’s first draft of a flyer system – and maybe the rumors of 8e coming out in the fall will lead us to the second draft. Maybe GW will get these sub-systems to gel in the next edition in a way that’s both strategic and fun without being overly time-consuming and rock-paper-scissors fiddly.

    It’s probably best to wait and see what happens rather than using these rules by default in ITC events.

    If this does get used by default though then it’s yet another reason to knock points down from 1850.

  19. Trueknight May 10, 2016 11:12 am #

    I hope the ITC votes to ignore these rules… Just feels like it’s making complex even more complex…. Complexier???

  20. Sanchezsam2 May 10, 2016 11:45 am #

    I think everything is fine except for dogfight phase which isn’t bad just unneeded.

  21. HotSauceMan May 10, 2016 12:25 pm #

    I wish I could fit a Mortis into my Battle Company I hope the rumors of IA15 is true.
    Anyhow. I could live with most of the book, except the air superiority book. thats just annoying.

  22. westrider May 10, 2016 1:01 pm #

    I would like to see at least the two new Flyers allowed. If for no other reason than that the StormHawk looks cool.

    I can also see this being a big buff to Raven Guard, which I’m a fan of. It’s really hard normally to get Reserves Manipulation in a Talon Strike Force, and this is a really fluffy way to provide that.

    On the other hand, yeah, a lot of it looks really clunky and awkward, and it largely makes Units that were already borderline even more specialized.

    That SW Formation… I saw it and went “Yeah, no. No way I’m buying two StormFangs.” Then I looked at the benefits, and temptation took hold for a moment, because that freezing effect is really cool. But not cool enough to justify taking two StormFangs.

    I also did like that they quantified exactly the extent to which the StormWolf/Fang is just a fucking flying brick. That was a nice touch.

    • abusepuppy May 10, 2016 4:27 pm #

      I imagine that, whatever the result, the new units and formations in the book would be allowed.

      Agility 1, baby!

  23. Mike May 10, 2016 1:29 pm #

    Hoping we just ignore the book in tournaments. I’m certainly not purchasing a 50$ “addendum” to the core rules that I’ll only open when I dust off my two stormravens. Also enemy flyers making terminators less likely to teleport in is dumb.

    It sounds like it could be fun in a giant apoc game, but I don’t think it has a place in 1850 ITC competitive scene. Nix it.

    • Edward Davidson May 10, 2016 5:43 pm #

      The rules in tnis book replace the rules in the core book. Not sure we can ignore them.

  24. Tim May 10, 2016 3:22 pm #

    FLG, ‘We fear change’ seems to be a common theme with regards to many of the new releases. Going to ignore: psy powers, new rules that replace ones from the rule-book? Next: ignore new rule book? Ignore, new faction supplements, new FAQs… All is well however when top 8 spots in tournaments are Eldar? Seems good.

    Couple of corrections:

    Stormravens can still take dreads, see “Rear- Grapples

    Any faction can take the 1-4 formation. +1BS to wing leader, then +1BS from a fighter wing, for everyone.

    You don’t have to dogfight. Roll off decides.

  25. Variance Hammer May 10, 2016 3:34 pm #

    My take on it is here: http://variancehammer.com/2016/05/08/review-death-from-the-skies/

    The short version: I think Death from the Skies is an *amazing* supplement, and a horrid mandatory ruleset. And we’d all be better off treating it like that.

    • abusepuppy May 10, 2016 4:28 pm #

      I think I can agree with that.

    • David May 10, 2016 7:53 pm #

      How much of this is theory hammer, though? I’m guessing few people have used the rules so far.

      I admit to having concerns, but sometimes things that look bad on paper end up being a lot of fun, and vice versa. And there are different play perspectives: tournament, narrative, competitive fluff. Is it bad for all of these styles? Two out of three? One out of three?

      • Variance Hammer May 11, 2016 9:56 pm #

        It is a bit Theoryhammer, though it’s not exactly subtle.

        I think for tournaments, it’s a serious problem, just because it slows down an already slow game. For narrative games, it’s potentially amazing. Like I said: Great supplement, terrible mandatory rules.

  26. TinBane May 10, 2016 4:27 pm #

    There’s a lot I like about this.
    The fact that ground attack vehicles were better than fighters, at shooting fliers needed to be addressed. Viking space-bricks were better then thunderbolt fighters at dog-fighting, etc.

    However, a mandatory supplement that overrules the core rules and ignores an important subset of fliers (FMC)…. bah.

    • BobC May 11, 2016 4:21 am #

      Viking space bricks still are better. They are one of the only “fighter” types in the game now.

  27. Edward Davidson May 10, 2016 5:42 pm #

    A quick note here. Why is no one mentioning that as of now, all FW flyers are unplayable in 40k? I have emailed Forgeworld about this and they have confirmed that as of now all FW flyers are lacking rules necessary for play in 40k, but “encourage you to talk with your gaming group to agree on how to play them”. They wouldn’t say whether or not an FAQ from FW would be coming any time soon. I am really dissapointed about this as I have 2 fireraptors, a hellblade and an avenger that I now cannot use in games (my play group is not one to just let me take models with incomplete rules).

  28. TheFinisher4Ever May 10, 2016 6:21 pm #

    I think the book has some pros and some cons and I think that the ITC should allow the good and toss out the bad. So let’s start with the good;

    – The Agility stat is great. Its optional, so if you don’t use the new data sheet, you aren’t missing much. But it helps out flyers a bit.

    – The formations and the Flyer wings are great ways to run flyer heavy lists. Both should be allowed.

    Now for the cons.

    – Only Fighters getting Skyfire is incredibly stupid. Grey Knights and blood Angels have 0 Skyfire now with the exception of Flakk missiles.

    – Air Superiority is far too unforgiving and should be ignored.

    – The dogfight phase is a train wreck.

  29. Lord Krungharr May 11, 2016 3:50 am #

    I like the Space Wolves formation! I think freezing enemy big dudes would be reasonably doable with the single shot options on the Helfrost cannons/destructors and changes in the FAQ cover saves rules. I just can’t afford to make that formation…. Unless I sell my Chaos stuff. Hmmmm, Lord of Skulls or four flying wolf bricks?

    • AbusePuppy May 11, 2016 4:01 am #

      The freeze option specifically only works if you core them in dispersed mode, unfortunately. Otherwise doing two wounds to an MC would be pretty workable.

  30. BobC May 11, 2016 4:19 am #

    I think 1 huge problem with dfts is that now some armies have ZERO ways of dealing with enemy flyers/FMCs. Necrons, for example, have no skyfire and niether flyer is now a fighter.

    In fact, very few factions have a “fighter” type flyer at all!

    • abusepuppy May 11, 2016 8:47 pm #

      Yeah, that’s a big part of the problem- subdividing an already-small number of models means that many factions simply have nothing at all (and even before these changes Skyfire was a thing that was sorely lacking in the game, to be quite honest.)

      The Stormhawk, Nephelim, Stormfang, and Crimson Hunter are basically the only real fighter-role units, which leaves the vast majority of factions without any options in that regard, and even with FW filling in some gaps it still leaves a lot of them without good options.

      There are also some really weird choices for what counts as a fighter-role; for example, the Razorwing (which is primarily armed with blast and poison weapons) is a fighter apparently, as is the Dakkajet (which has Strafing Run.) It seems rather arbitrary.

      • AngryPanda May 13, 2016 3:42 am #

        Even if they plugged those holes what would that achieve? Fliers are expensive vehicles. It’s not like you can go “Sure this is my attack wing, this is my fighter wing to guard them and now I’ll buy the rest of my army.”
        This whole book seems written by someone who has no idea of the actualy scae of a 40k game. Or even just how many fliers you can reasonably place on a single table.

        • abusepuppy May 13, 2016 5:18 am #

          Well, yes, the real issue was creating those holes in the first place, which was not good game design. But if they had made attack flyers and bombers still be allowed to have skyfire, just at a penalty (like the -1BS penalty fighters take) it wouldn’t be nearly so punishing.

          But if you look at the missions they put in the book I think you get a good idea of who the person that wrote the book is and how they view the game. Hey, let’s ignore all the rules and do something WACKY and RANDOM! It’d be really fun if two-thirds of my units didn’t come onto the board because you shot down my one flyer!

          • AngryPanda May 13, 2016 1:31 pm
            #

            I don’t see how making fliers less flexible is going to end with them being used more anyway. This all seems written from the perspective of someone just looking at a million cools models in some studio but not realy playing the game.
            In the end the intention had to be to sell both the book and more fliers and I’m not sure they will achieve either.
            Apart from some Marine players who realy want the rules for the new fler they got in there maybe.

  31. XcaliburNick May 11, 2016 8:02 am #

    Whether anyone likes the dogfighting phase, or the formations, is one thing but the fact is the “air superiority” and flyer classes are now part of the core rules. Sure, we can be annoyed that this isn’t currently printed in a form you can freely gain access to, which is irritating, but if you want to use flyers it’s now required. If you don’t, you just have to account for readily available information that will shift the meta (reserves and adding jetbike to the list of things considered ‘flying’ for skyfire targeting.

    The ability to affect your reserves roll in a tournament is costly points wise (if you run a decurion-style detachment you need 2 fighters minimums and an extra ‘air superiority detachment’). Eldar already had the ability to mess with reserves with an Autarch, so that’s not a new thing. Is it possible that this is a step towards making these deep striking/reserves armies less reliable? Maybe people will have to deploy more on the board on turn 1 or risk having to wait an extra turn or 2 to deploy their force that stomps their opponent…

  32. SemperSteel May 12, 2016 7:42 pm #

    Personally, I think this new book is about 90% crap. The agility/brake turns sort of stuff is nice. Flyers were already pretty limited in their role on the field, only getting maybe 2 turns of shooting a piece.

    However, there were HUGE oversights in the creation of this book. For example, Necrons now have 0 skyfire options in their main codex/supplements. Not a single one.

    Chaos only has flakk missiles, which are way overprice for what they do. A heldrake can vector strike, which is nice, but is completely offset by the fact that you can sit your 4 flyers in a square, and suddenly they have 4++. No need to jink, no ignores cover.

    So what you get is eldar/space marines get massive buffs to their flyers, and everyone else gets hosed hard.

  33. AngryPanda May 13, 2016 3:40 am #

    With the clear imbalance on how they give out formations I always tend to think they have absolutey favorites and of course give Eldar better options than Dark Eldar for example but then I look at this whole thing and think “they made this to sell fliers didn’t they?” and it almost universaly makes them worse. Or how they don’t seem to understand what their bombers do. And just wonder if they have any idea wat they’re writing at all.

    • abusepuppy May 13, 2016 5:20 am #

      The DE formation actually isn’t terrible this time around, but it suffers a ton from the Voidraven just being kinda a piece of garbage, whereas both of the Eldar flyers are somewhere between acceptable and good. Good components make for a good formation even if the rules aren’t that impressive- and I think you can make a solid argument that the DE formation’s bonuses are better than the Eldar one’s.

      • AngryPanda May 13, 2016 1:27 pm #

        I guess the thing I was trying to say was, if they do go to all the effort to release this book maybe they should have made it good enough that people will buy the models for it. Not only Dark Eldar specific. And I don’t think so, in fact it feels like it’s almost more attractive to skip the things now unless you already had realy good ones.

        • punchymango May 14, 2016 12:36 pm #

          Yeah, I’m distinctly underwhelmed by the Necron formation, and they didn’t even bother giving CSM one, so I’m very “meh” on this. Will grudgingly buy it if tournaments start mandating use of those rules.

  34. Unknown May 14, 2016 12:06 pm #

    sorry guys i think you all are made some mistake here..
    the first one is when you said that air superiority is gained even if opponent does not have flyers in his list.
    i think that the rule is clear but here is a sentence that maybe you miss..

    Page 74
    AIR SUPERIORITY
    After any Dogfights have taken place, if only one player
    has Flyers in Reserve, then they are said to have Air
    Superiority (pg 58).

    “After any Dogfights have taken place” means that a dogfight is needed to gain air superiority
    so if one of the players does not have flyers the other one cant get air superiority.

    Peace

    • Sceptic May 26, 2016 3:08 pm #

      That is not how the English language works. After any just states the order, meaning you can gain air superiority by destroying the enemy fighter in a dogfight. It does not require a dogfight to occur in order to trigger.

  35. DontNerfMeBro May 17, 2016 8:32 am #

    Short version, DFTS is making people who run null deploy armies panic like children because they don’t want to rewrite their list to include Flyers. That’s the entire reason for the push back, and anyone claiming to dislike the update (which is what this is, an official update to the core rule book) is lying if they say they don’t want games to take longer. No one is buying it. The ITC should not nerf something that one of the major opposition points is “It won’t have a huge impact anyway” SO LET IT BE PLAYED. If it won’t change anything then why are you screaming so loud that it be ignored?

    Bottom line – This is part of the game. Like it or not. If you want to house rule it at your freaking LGS that it isn’t used fine, but in a competitive event we should be able to utilize all advantages available respective to our lists, not “Well we don’t really like these specific builds so we’re going to make them unplayable.”

  36. PenguinFlapjack October 15, 2016 3:46 pm #

    My local club has, to a man, immediately mugged DFTS off. None of us are willing to shell out £35 for a load of rules that only three of us can use, and those three people aren’t always at the club together.

    The old flier rules worked fine, bar the Blood Angels being overpowered IMO.

    I agree with other posters, if GW expect people to replace 7ed rules with this then it should’ve been a free download. But then again this is GW….

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