Guest Editorial: In Defense of Death from the Skies

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Guest Editorial by Val Heffelfinger: Restore your seats to their upright position, place all loose articles in the overhead compartment and buckle that barely adequate seat-belt: I’m clearing the runway for Death from the Skies. Even murderers get a defense and I’ll tell ya, this rule set is getting killed out there.

I’m not going to recap the rules changes on this one – if you’re just tuning in – check out this (https://www.frontlinegaming.org/2016/05/10/death-from-the-skies-or-just-cake/) and this (https://www.frontlinegaming.org/2016/05/18/the-problems-with-implementing-death-from-the-skies-in-tournament-play/) for excellent, if not horribly misguided views on things. ; ) <- winky face.

Firstly: allow me to be clear – I have an inherent flyer bias. I love them. I own a lot of them (16) … yet they remain deep in my hobby shame closet. Because as is widely known: flyers are not very good and my shame closet is very deep.

But have you heard the good news my friends? There’s hope for the most viscerally nostalgic pew-pew-pew toys in our collections. You’re just going to have to read a ton of bull shit to find out about it. So I’m going to write a ton more bull shit and attempt to set the record straight on some things, and to maybe even suggest some ideas on how to stop worrying and love Air Superiority.

Point of contention number 1: DFS NERFS FLYERS!

The Right Honourable Presidents of 40K and proprietors of this fine site have raised some salient points about DFS and whether it hurts more than it helps.

Currently the top five reasons to take a flyer all have to do with killing flying hive tyrants. I will accept that this is tough to do when all bomber and attack flyer types can no longer use Skyfire.

Taken in a vacuum, this is indeed a nerf. However, DFS is a complete rule set that attempts to make Flyers more relevant to the game action. This is accomplished by making drastic changes to how they work in the “meta game” (action off the board) as well as on the tabletop itself. This includes the much maligned dogfight phase and Air Superiority rules (as well as the generally well regarded Wing Commander traits, brake turns, and attack patterns which I won’t go into here.)

I agree, the loss of Skyfire is a big blow – if that’s where you stop reading. Keep reading. #itgetsbetter.

Avenger and Vultures

Avenger and Vultures

One of the big knocks against flyers as we knew them was that they were a big point sink for something that couldn’t contribute until turn 2 at the earliest. DFS addresses this by adding a way for them to interact with each other off the board, and by providing army wide bonuses for having them there in the first place. This means flyers are no longer in the penalty box to start the game – they actually add value to a list and can do something while they’re chilling on ice.

Point of Contention number 2: The Dogfight Phase… IS STUPID/TAKES TOO MUCH TIME/JUST A DUMB GAME OF ROCK PAPER SCISSORS/ OH GREAT MY FLYER GOT SHOT DOWN BEFORE IT COULD DO ANYTHING/THE GAME IS LONG ENOUGH ALREADY/ I’M STILL MAD ABOUT THE PSYCHIC PHASE.

I really think the phrase “new phase” should be preceded by a trigger warning. 40K wasn’t ready for this. Minds have been blown – everyone forgot how to read English. Literal panic has ensued.

As mentioned above, the dogfight phase actually fulfills a much needed purpose – so let’s dispel some misconceptions about it, shall we? It’s actually kind of strange how completely misconstrued this all is.

    1. It happens once per game turn, not player turn. Yes that’s correct, it does not have a chance to occur more than once per GAME turn. This also means that in many cases a dogfight will occur, at most, once per game (as flyers will likely enter from reserves in turn 2.
  • It can only ever involve two flyers. That’s right. Two flyers. Not all flyers in reserve, just two.
  • There is absolutely no need to use a “sideboard.” Just place the flyers temporarily 36″ away from one another literally anywhere there is space to do so. Don’t worry. It will be over soon.
  1. Dogfights happen in the dogfight phase. No flyers or no opposing flyer just means no dogfight. Not “no dogfight phase.” Just like every other phase in the history of phases. This is important because Air Superiority is determined at the end of the phase, not at the end of a dogfight.
  2. A Dogfight is more likely to not happen than happen if one player has a headache that night. If a dogfight is not a consensual tango, the players roll off to see if it occurs. If one player still wants to just barrel-roll over they can end it if they win the engage sub-phase. That is two separate opportunities to end the dogfight if you just don’t have that flying feeling.
  3. Once you know what you’re doing this thing will not take long. You draw straws three times and compare to a chart to setup a round of shooting. That’s it. Remember the first psychic phase you ever tried? It still hasn’t ended. Take a long time, this will not.
  4. It is super important in the new world of Flyers. Why? Because the dogfight phase, if it goes your way, allows for all flyers to shoot at full ballistic skill. See what they did there? So when it seemed silly before for your Valkyrie to be able to shoot that Crimson Hunter reliably… nowadays they can – but it takes some luck to pull it off… just like it might in that narrative you’re working hard at forging.It also makes it so that a player cannot simply bring a lonely Arvus Lighter and be secure in never losing Air Superiority. There’s a chance the more committed player can take it out and still receive the benefit of raw air power.

To summarize: the dogfight phase allows for Flyers to be a more dynamic and involved part of the game – and gives them a turn one impact that did not previously exist outside of a skyshield landing pad. The dogfight phase gives all flyers the chance to shoot at full BS vs another flyer, a chance to react to a flyer before it comes on the table, prevents flyers from “hiding” off the table, and provides the chance to win air superiority if your opponent only brought one flyer.

And finally, the sour grapes about “not even getting to place a model on the table before they are killed” are a bit much. Is it that much more thrilling to get intercepted and shot down immediately after placing your model on the table? Because that can already happen. And it happens like… all the time. We haven’t banned interceptor because of that.

nightshroud bomber

Which brings me to point of contention number 3: “AIR SUPERIORITY IS OP”

Air superiority is good for the game. It provides hard counters to traditionally difficult to deal with armies (or can make them even better), it adds a layer of gamesmanship to reserves that doesn’t exist at present, and greater flexibility to make decisions about the timing of reserves by adding or subtracting from reserve rolls.

Air Superiority is such a significant mechanic that it will, more than anything, force players to consider flyers during list construction – you only need to have a single flyer in reserve in order to deny Air Superiority. (thanks to the guys at Heroic Intervention for learning me on this.)

And that is a wonderful thing because list building is a zero sum game. Taking one thing means not taking another. It means different things, but not more things.  A popular podcaster even claimed recently to be considering a couple Stormtalons rather than his usual Librarius Conclave. Of course, that idea sounds insane, but if that wouldn’t be good for the game then my name isn’t actually Val Heffelfinger.

And finally, point of contention number 4: DUDE, WHERE’S MY VENDETTA?

The Forge World problem is … actually a problem. Forge World flyers are simply unsupported right now. DFS is cool in many ways but it is not backwards compatible. Simply using the old rules for Forge World and DFS for the GW flyers is not an option.

There are two ways forward: don’t use DFS until the rule set is complete, or, apply a vanilla temporary solution.

necron night scythe

NEW POINTS OF CONTENTION:

As you can tell if you’ve slogged this far, I’m pro DFS. By no means do I think it’s the best flyer rule set we could have dreamed of, but there’s enough salt already out there if you found my points to be bland. My feeling is actually that DFS is benign enough, but still interesting enough, to warrant inclusion. It is by no means worthy of the incredible backlash easily found across the internet. I actually find the reaction pretty confusing. #welcometotheinternet I guess.

I’ll remind my gentle readers of the middle tables – not everyone is rolling with double stormsurges and deathstars or even just regular old optimized lists. Some people would like to use these rules, and it’s not going to hurt the hyper competitive folks if they do. And who knows – maybe we’ll even see flyers being used in concert with reserves manipulation to make Grey Knights great again.

So I propose two options:

A.    Don’t use any of the book for ITC tournament play. Wait for 7.5 or 8th or whatever and let the chips fall at that point.

Or

B.    Take advantage of DFS in all of its flyergasmic glory with the following stipulations “for the ease of tournament play.” ; ) <- winky face.

1)     Attack Flyers retain Skyfire but have a -1 penalty to their Ballistic Skill when shooting Air Targets.

This maintains the spirit of the DFS rules change, while not being overwhelmingly punitive. It also mirrors how fighters work and seems to be the painfully obvious solution to the number one complaint about DFS.

2)     The dogfight phase should be used. It’s not anything more complicated or onerous than a lot of codex based silliness. It has a purpose, and the rule set is incomplete without it.

3)     We adopt “vanilla” stats for all Forge World flyers that do not share a GW chassis until an update is provided. (IE – Storm Ravens, Vendettas etc will use the DFS stats of their closest counterpart)

Fighter, Attack, and Bomber types will be assigned to the remaining unique flyers based on how the codex flyers got slotted in DFS. The Presidents and T.Os are free to use discretion as always.

For simplicity, I’d suggest applying the following vanilla profiles:

Fighter: Pursuit 4, Agility 4.
Attack: Pursuit 3, Agility 3.
Bomber: Pursuit 2, Agility, 2.
Superheavy Flyer: Pursuit 0, Agility 0.

And that’s that! I hope if you’ve gotten this far that I might have added something to the conversation. And just so we don’t “get it twisted” – anyone who uses the handle Val Heffelfinger has his tongue firmly in cheek.

God bless 40K. Let’s make Flymerica Great Again.

-V.H

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About Reecius

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65 Responses to “Guest Editorial: In Defense of Death from the Skies”

  1. Turok117 May 25, 2016 12:43 am #

    Burn the heretic! Just messin, just messin. When I first read the book I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. After having thought about it, though, anud seeing it played, it really is not a big deal. The phase will not take that long (though I submit that it is very non-tactical). The Air Superiority rule is whatever. What I can’t I ignore or get over about the book, however, is your first point, that it makes flyers worse. I really believe that the good things in the book do not make up for what flyers lost. I play Eldar and own three Crimson Hunters. I have brought them to tournaments when I wanted some anti-air security as well as some high strength shooting. Was I disappointed when I didn’t play against any enemy flyers? Maybe a little, but they still pulled their weight against ground targets. Would I bring them to a tournament under the new rules? No. Minus one ballistic skill is nothing crazy, but it is enough to make me look elsewhere for more efficient options. So unless you are particularly worried about flyers, fighters are now less optimal then they were before. Attack flyers on the other hand not only lost skyfire, but now have to worry about how much easier it is for them to be killed by enemy fighters. Not only so they have a better shot in the dogfight phase, but almost all of the attack patterns give crazy bonus to fighters against air targets. Again, it seems like you would be better off just taking ground units to fulfill the role of your attack flyers. So when it comes down to it, I think most people will take a flyer not for the sake of the flyer and the role it can play in their army, but instead because they need insurance against reserve manipulation. I think we will see less flyers at tournaments. If, instead, we see more, I think it will be for the wrong reasons.

  2. Malekith May 25, 2016 12:48 am #

    Great words pro DFS. Thank you for that.

  3. abusepuppy May 25, 2016 1:55 am #

    My biggest problems with DFtS are the loss of any kind of Skyfire for most factions (as many of them have no access to Fighters at all) and the reserve penalty.

    With regards to the first point, the article essentially glosses over it- it’s mentioned in passing as a disadvantage for dealing with FMCs (and, I will point out, the Daemonic FMCs are much more relevant than the Tyranid ones these days, though both are still present in the meta) but beyond just sorta shrugging its shoulders offers little beyond that. The loss of Skyfire from the only units class that had it is not a trivial or dismissable matter- it was one of the few ways many armies had of even partially hoping to deal with such units. When 75%+ of the flyers in the game lose Skyfire, that is a HUGE boost in power for FMCs of all types, who not only do not have to deal with Dogfighting but also retain the Skyfire option themselves.

    The proposed rules change of -1BS against air targets feels much more palatable; however, it is a straight-up rules change and if you’re going to implement it, I honestly see little reason to use DFtS, as at that point all you’re really adding is the Attack Patterns (often irrelevant) and Air Superiority.

    I don’t feel like Air Superiority really offers a “hard counters to traditionally difficult to deal with armies”- rather, it takes a general part of the game’s strategy (staying in reserve against certain types of foes) and completely unravels it. Sure, having just a single flyer in reserve stops the penalty from happening- but consider what that means. You have to purchase a flyer in your army JUST to counter Air Superiority (and remember, some armies, like Tyranids, don’t even have that option), which is a non-trivial investment of points. Your flyer has to survive two full Dogfight Phases against the enemy- not impossible, but not an easy matter, either. And then your reserves have to come in on the appropriate turn when your flyer doesn’t. It’s a very sequential chain of events, any one of which failing negates the entire purpose and essentially wastes a large number of points.

    Remember, reserve strategies are typically used against shooting armies that are going first to prevent one’s own forces from being wiped off the table- by denying this option, it would be strengthening the potential for alpha strike armies to dominate the field (and many would argue that they are already one of the strongest archetypes thanks to Tau, Eldar, and Renegades.) Though not all armies will field a flyer, naturally, there are enough good flyers in the game that I suspect we will see them brought to the table for this reason alone.

    The dogfight phase is not, in itself, particularly long- it is largely people’s unfamiliarity with it that will take up time as the two players have to repeatedly look up rules, read them out for the other person, make their decisions for that particular step, etc. (Incidentally, I don’t believe it’s possible for a Valkyrie to shoot a Crimson Hunter at full BS- you only get one 90degree turn if you win the Maneuver step, plus an extra one if your Agility was two higher than theirs- but a Valkyrie certainly doesn’t fit this qualification, as it is not and cannot be Agility 7.)

    The real problem with the Dogfight Phase, aside from time (which is an issue that will fade as players become familiar with it) is that it simply isn’t very _good_. It’s vaguely amusing, I will give it that, and it occasionally gives your flyer something to do on the first turn of the game, but it’s really just a series of random dice rolls to see if something bad happens to one player’s flyer- neither player has any real control over the process (as all of the “choices” you make are essentially false ones, bar some very minor things) and there is absolutely zero strategy to the entire thing.

    Add in the fact that DFtS is a “mandatory” book with a non-trivial price to be added on to the codex, rulebook, dataslates, supplements, and all of the other garbage that players need to buy in order to be able to play the game and I just can’t feel all that good about it. I can understand why people might like it- and that’s fair, because personal preferences don’t need to be logical and rational. But I don’t think you can make much of an argument that it’s good for the game, for all the reasons I listed above.

    • Mythic May 25, 2016 5:33 am #

      I 100% agree about the potential for Alpha strike madness. As a hard core drop pod enthusiast let me say that ramming a couple of flyers into my list to shut my opponent out of reserves is a fantastic ability! It really makes flyers a necessity because lets not kid ourselves this bit about only 1 or two dogfights is bull shit. We all know how to keep shit off the table when we want to and for me to pay 120-ish points for you to NOT get your reserve units until turn 4? Ya thats fine.

      Also I suspect this is going to be one of those feel no pain/common sense things but can someone please clarify for me: Do you auto pass reserve rolls on a 6? And fail on a 1? Because otherwise it looks like I can get -4 to my opponents reserve roll and their shit will not come in until turn 4 automatically. And I can get +2 to my rolls and pass at will?

      • Threllen May 25, 2016 6:18 am #

        How could you make your opponent -4? Air Superiority gives -2 if the wing commander is still in Reserve. That wouldn’t stack with itself unless you have an army that also gives -2 from a different source.

        The rulebook specifically states that rolls 1 of still fail for reserve rolls. But say nothing about 6s. So, I guess, technically if you can make your opponent -4 they would fail automatically.

        • Mythic May 25, 2016 8:04 am #

          Okay so you will only get your stuff in 5/6th of the time. I can live with that. And ya there are plenty of ways to get a -2 to your opponents reserve rolls. The Elsian Drop troops have a couple if we ever get their flyers working with this book. There is also the strategic warlord trait. lias Issodon, officer of the fleet, etc. You only need 1 of em to stack with the air superiority to effectively shut down reserves and two it seems will do it it completely. Attach that to a powerful alpha strike like skyhammer or something and POOF i hope your shit is bulky as all hell.

          • Threllen May 25, 2016 11:37 am
            #

            Ultimately, if your goal is an all-out deep strike bomb you can probably fit an Aegis line w/ comms in for cheaper. 3+ re-rollable is also slightly better than 2+ straight up (89% vs 83%). However, the ADL doesn’t allow you to penalize your opponents.

            But, people have to remember, Air Superiority only works while your commander is in reserves. So you have to keep him (and his whole squadron) out of the game if you want to keep penalizing your opponent’s reserves. It’s a good way to get the alpha strike but it’s not like you’ll be holding them out until they automatically arrive.

    • westrider May 25, 2016 11:35 am #

      The Valkyrie actually can get to Agility 7 if it’s the Attacker, AND it wins the Maneuver Sub-Phase because both Players chose option 1, AND it then rolls a 4+ for the bonus.

      So, in practice, no, it can’t, because the Crimson Hunter Player is never going to choose Option 1 in that situation.

      • Val Heffelfinger
        Val Heffelfinger May 25, 2016 11:42 am #

        But it’s a random phase with no strategy! ; )

        I guess I was too tempted by hyperbole with this particular scenario… Should have played it out a few times to check my work.

    • Val Heffelfinger
      Val Heffelfinger May 25, 2016 11:41 am #

      Abusepuppy! I linked your article in the second paragraph on purpose! I can’t handle your heat, was hoping that’d appease you.

      But seriously – I’m impressed with the level of discourse on here. I just felt like DFS was getting flogged without any counterpoints. You’ll note that I don’t think it’s usable without modification… most notably FW, and a change to how skyfire is treated, and I accept that even these are tough sells.

      A thing though is that DFS will be supported by GW. Cool little formations and gimmicks will assuredly be released, and new codexes will have updated flyer stats printed that people will want to use. Ignoring it is blowing against the wind I feel, but waiting for an edition change is reasonable too. I’m just happy to have said something, and am comfortable if I’m wrong about it.

      As just some nerd sitting at home always reading this site though, it’s pretty cool to have something posted and commented on.

      Cheers!

      • AbusePuppy May 25, 2016 1:02 pm #

        Yeah, I appreciate that- good discourse means seeing both sides of the argument.

        As for “not being able to handle the heat” I think you’re doing just fine; you argue your case well for the most part and make a lot of salient points. I don’t necessarily agree with your overall conclusion, but I’m actually with you on a lot of things

    • Joshua Taylor June 1, 2016 12:55 pm #

      attack air craft still retain skyfire per the digital edition of DFTS

      • Drachnyen June 1, 2016 1:11 pm #

        This is a false rumor.

        I have the digital version and it clearly states on page 83 that only fighters have skyfire

  4. everyone May 25, 2016 2:09 am #

    I believe you can’t get air superiority unless both players brought fliers or was agreed to follow dogfight

    • AbusePuppy May 25, 2016 10:53 am #

      The Dogfight phase is distinct from a single dogfight happening just as the Shooting phase is distinct from a single shooting attack.

      • Mythic May 25, 2016 12:08 pm #

        Ya i tried making that arguement too but I was shot down. 😀

    • Joshua Taylor June 1, 2016 12:58 pm #

      if one player has a flyer in reserve and the other does not then the player with the flyer has air superiority. regardless of the dogfight phase, or even if it was done or not.

  5. Loopy May 25, 2016 2:32 am #

    Simply, I do not think we should be in the business of ignoring releases wholesale because of their effect on the meta. Meta shifts are a part of the game and have been since its inception. Of course, reasonable compromise designed to provide a fun gaming experience is to be expected and that is what I expect in regards to Death from the Skies and Angels of Death in the ITC. People who bought these books should be allowed to use the rules they bought. If we feel the need to soften the rules a bit, fine, but a carte blanche ban is a huge mistake.

    • Vercingatorix May 25, 2016 6:11 am #

      I don’t think people are against it for Meta reasons. At least no one I’ve talked to. It’s a pretty ridiculous stance to take. I think most people, myself included, are more concerned about rules changes in a book I don’t own or want to own. As of now, I run a single cad army that requires two books and a main rule book, now another book is needed? That’s like 250$ in rules for the simplest constructed army.

      • Adam May 25, 2016 10:14 am #

        With that theory, we should also ignore Stronghold Assault. To take it a step further, we should also ignore any new codices and/or supplements that are released. I don’t own every codex in the game nor do I play every army in the game but when I go to a tournament I can’t just say, “I’m not playing army X because I don’t have it’s codex and I also don’t or want to own it.”

        • AbusePuppy May 25, 2016 10:56 am #

          Stronghold Assault is only relevant to players who want to take a fortification from that book, not players who want to use fortification in general. The same is not true for DFtS.

        • Threllen May 25, 2016 10:57 am #

          I don’t think that rebuttal makes any sense. There’s a difference between how an army operates within its own codex/supplement and how a game-wide supplement works. This would be more akin to if GW re-released planestrike and said the rules were “mandatory” for all missions including the assaulting from deep strike and stratagem points rules. Rules for one particular army (or in the case of Stronghold assault – rules for buildings [which aren’t already in the BRB]) are one thing. Mandatory supplements that change core game mechanics for EVERY army are another.

        • Vercingatorix May 25, 2016 11:03 am #

          I think you’re right, it is a step further. A step into straw man territory. Clearly I’m okay with fighting other armies. I just want to have all the rules for how MY stuff works and how unit types work. I think that’s a reasonable request.

        • CaptainA May 25, 2016 11:56 am #

          The problem with this thought IMO is that no one needs to buy other codexes or supplements unless they are using them. This is how it has been since the inception of 40k. The only things you needed to play were the rulebook and codex. Supplements were there to enhance the game and change things. Now we have a supplement that everyone has to own to play the game and this has never really happened before and feels more like a cash grab rather than a true supplement.

          • westrider May 25, 2016 12:14 pm
            #

            Actually, it was standard back in 2nd Ed, and to a lesser extent in 3rd as well. 2nd was very incomplete without Dark Millennium, and by the end of 3rd, the Chapter Approved Supplements were pretty much necessary.

          • AngryPanda May 25, 2016 12:26 pm
            #

            Yeah this just isn’t true. Dark Millenium as the biggest player here but also there used to be wholesale rule shifts via White Dwarf if they felt like it.

          • Threllen May 25, 2016 12:35 pm
            #

            Notice the operative words there are *used to* be. And those examples are from many editions and many years ago. This game has reached such a size and complexity that it’s fruitless to try to release mandatory supplements or mandatory rules in White Dwarves. There’s way too much for people to keep track of. Heck, a good friend of mine has a huge daemon army and never knew about Exalted Flamers on foot until CoW because they were only in one WD…

            It’s just not tenable to release rules like that. Which is why they haven’t from basically 3rd ed to now. It’s ok when the supplements and additional rules are optional/extras. It’s a bigger issue when they’re suddenly mandatory.

      • punchymango May 25, 2016 10:38 am #

        The more I think about it the more DFS’s rules changes seem cope-able with (although I wish some factions didn’t arbitrarily lack interceptors).

        But like Vergingatorix said, the book is kind of a hard purchase for me to justify: it’s a bunch of silly fluff about how every race has the gooderest pilots in the whole galaxy and nobody can every outfly them, a bunch of repetitive stuff about how awesome spess mehreens are, a new phase, and then slightly amended rules for units I already own rules for.

        That’s not a lot for $50.

      • Joshua Taylor June 1, 2016 12:59 pm #

        or you can do what you do with every army you face, and get the jist of the rules before you play.

    • Droids_Rule May 25, 2016 10:04 am #

      I don’t understand why we’re giving this release so much clout. No one is asking for Apocalypse formations in 40k. We haven’t adopted Planetstrike. We use a sparing amount of Escalation. I don’t see why ignoring Death from the Skies is any more criminal than ignoring Cities of Death. It’s an alternate ruleset for fluffy, flyer-focused games. If some of it gets adopted into the next edition, so be it, but right now there’s no reason to assume that’ll be the case.

    • Jural May 25, 2016 10:50 am #

      Yeah, but I’m all for ignoring releases if they provide no rules for interacting with other, still relevant releases (FW.)

      Pretty much it’s either DFS or FW, or some houseruled BS in between right now… I’d vote ignoring DFS.

  6. Horton May 25, 2016 3:11 am #

    I agree with your thoughts on DFS. I am unsure about those rules changes though.

  7. Threllen May 25, 2016 6:14 am #

    I’m still not convinced these changes actually helped flyers. Especially not enough relative to the amount of new rules added.
    1. Flyers don’t do anything for half the game – this still isn’t fixed that well. You mention the dogfight phase, but that only happens if the opponent has another flyer and wants to engage in a fight. The Air Superiority rule is the biggest boon but it seems like a throw-in-the-towel let’s just give them something awesome rule that doesn’t make much sense given the multitude of ways reserves can come (burrowers, teleporters, walking off the board) that don’t make sense why Air Superiority affects them. The turn changes could definitely help them if they’re agile enough but I would have favored shortening movement restrictions as a better help.
    2. Flyers have limited interactivity with other models – This got even worse. Air fighters now have -1BS against ground which is punishing and bombers/attack craft don’t have skyfire so they can’t shoot other flyers or FMCs hardly at all. In theory do those rules make sense in a realistic fashion? Yes. But we’re not playing real war – we’re playing a tabletop game. And for a unit that was already neglected for many reasons, making it more of a niche threat isn’t going to help that.
    3. For a “mandatory” supplement it doesn’t cover most of the game – The “adopt a vanilla statline” is great in theory. But good luck getting it to work with complete strangers in a tournament setting. A vanilla statline isn’t going to appease opponent’s who think the other craft should have lower stats than it does and it won’t appease owners who think their craft should have better stats. It might work in a casual setting but it could be a nightmare for TOs who have to deal with everyone and their grandma who has an opinion on what the stats should actually be.

    • Reecius
      Reecius May 25, 2016 9:09 am #

      I agree, Threllen. This makes flyers worse, not better. You will see less armies with them as a result due to the fact that they have less versatility than they did.

      • Jason Wolfe May 25, 2016 1:05 pm #

        Why ever Ally in a Fire Raptor (or other expensive attack aircraft)? You set your self up to get Rocked to your Scissors for a significantly less versatile unit. If your opponent has no fliers, then the Fire Raptor shoots at his FMC worse than it used to. If your opponent has fliers, now your Fire Raptor might die for nothing before it even comes in.

        • Reecius
          Reecius May 25, 2016 3:13 pm #

          I agree. I think losing Skyfire on the majority of aircraft was too steep of a price to pay.

        • Drachnyen May 26, 2016 5:25 am #

          Because you should also have a wing of Fighters that will protect your ground attack aircraft.

          Example: An A10 Thunderbolt armed to the teeth with Air to ground weaponry cannot handle a F-35 in air to air combat

          FW will shortly release updated stats for its flyers and probably FW wings as well. (Bomber + Fighter and Ground Attack + Fighter for examples)

          If you need anti-air, there still lots of options out there: Quad-guns on ADL, Bastions, skyfire weapons, etc

          • AbusePuppy May 26, 2016 8:51 am
            #

            Yeah but here’s the thing: 40K isn’t played at a points level that supports that concept. We all get the idea of air support and different unit roles, but there simply isn’t room in an army to bring all of that stuff, nor does the game really do so very well.

            40K isn’t a realistic game. It shouldn’t try to be. No one is begging for rules for running out of ammunition or rations, or loss of command structure, or equipment failures, or squads getting bored and having their attention wander, or any of the other things that are realistic but not fun in a game. Flyers arguably never should have been part of the game in the first place- to subdivide them into smaller categories is to worsen that mistake.

            >If you need anti-air, there still lots of options out there: Quad-guns on ADL, Bastions, skyfire weapons, etc

            You can’t list the quality that is needed in for a weapon to count as something when listing example of that weapon. Most armies have NO Skyfire weapons listed in their codex- and those that do have them typically get only the worthless garbage of Flakk Missiles, which have never scared any flyer ever. Bastions and Aegis Lines are both expensive, insufficient, and easily countered by other parts of the enemy’s army- we know all of this because even back when they were an omnipresent part of most armies in 6th Edition (due to being able to shoot ground targets) they did little to solve issues with flyers.

            Most armies have no effective Skyfire solutions as of DFtS.

          • Reecius
            Reecius May 26, 2016 9:25 am
            #

            Fair point for a realism argument but in a game of 40k where you have limited points resources, taking a ton of fighters just to recreate a “realistic” air force situation simply doesn’t work out. What you will see is less flyers as you can spend the points better on other things.

      • Odras May 25, 2016 3:03 pm #

        I agree, previously to DFtS I used to take my Crimson death formation to some small tournaments. If then other player had flyers, great I had a perfect way to deal with them if not then at least I had a fair bit of strength 8 AP2 shooting that was difficult to get rid of. Now if the other player does not have flyers then my flyers are only hitting on 4s / exarch on 3s. I would rather take the chance that I am not going to be facing too many enemy flyers than waste so many points on flyers that are going to be missing half the time.

        • Reecius
          Reecius May 25, 2016 3:12 pm #

          My thoughts exactly. It makes flyers less versatile in general terms.

    • fleetofclaw May 25, 2016 2:03 pm #

      This is exactly my point too (which I made on the Heroic Intervention podscat… shameless plug). If you’re a fan of flyers, which I am, this book is kinda poo.

  8. AngryPanda May 25, 2016 7:30 am #

    On one hand I get that people think these rules are terrible, ’cause they are. But then in my book so were Imperial Knights then they were released and nobody said “nope gonna ignore that book” back then. It’s kind of interesting for me to see this right now as I follow the news about this from here and from White Fairy TV (which is the vid cast from the german ETC guys who wrecked everyone’s face last time) and the discussion doesn’t even seem to be about the same game.
    The idea that this coulld be ignored doesn’t even come up. It’s just a “well this is the shit we have to deal this now, let’s see how”.
    I don’t necesseraly think that’s the better way to deal with it, it’s just curious and I do wonder how and then the line came up at what can be ignored and what can’t. I was thinking the same thing about the new Marine powers at the time. Like, okay this sucks but how are these lines drawn? How do you get infinite detachments (or close to it, no one plays more than 3 here), Forgeworld, Superheavies, all that shit but then basic rules get changed at will. I just don’t get what system is at work here.

    • Mythic May 25, 2016 10:11 am #

      Welcome to America we dont take this shit lying down. /s

      But seriously we have a long proud tradition of pitching rules we don’t like. Waaay back we banned all named characters. Then we used to ban Forge World back before everyone could download the books. Then we baned escalation and parts of stronghold assult. Now we ban unbound and a host of other things. We changed the rules for inviz and stomp. I have been playing since 3rd and I don’t think I have ever played a game of “pure 40k” and I don’t think anyone else has either.

      • AngryPanda May 25, 2016 10:47 am #

        A long and proud tradition of telling the brits to stuff it 😉
        I do like it, I just don’t get there the line is at all. Not even the “wehre does it stop?” but more like the “where does it start?”.
        Here, any attempt at control is always in the list building. So no one ever banned say Escalation. They just didn’t allow Lords of War (which in that case comes down to pretty much the same thing) but I can see a clear line. TO’s give out a whitelist on what you can build your army list (which is usualy something like 2/3 detachments from max 2 sources).
        So that’s some pretty harsh limitations at time but I can clearly see the line.

  9. Russ May 25, 2016 7:36 am #

    But where does it all end? Or more correctly start? I believe 40k is about the immediate battle field, with some effects from external sources such as the rare orbital bombardment, etc.

    If there is the pre-air superiority phase, where’s the pre-orbital combat between spaceships to determine bombardments or drop pod assaults? Where’s the regimental or army artillery bombardments? And are they taken out before hand from space or air strikes? There has to be a cut off and I believe that cut-off is before this expansion.

    40k is a tactical game, not a planetary strategic game. If you want all those aspects that’s what epic was for.

  10. BBF May 25, 2016 8:24 am #

    It’s more rules bloat and the fact that it is a stand alone book is a negative.

  11. Reecius
    Reecius May 25, 2016 9:08 am #

    I am not a fan of DftS at this point. I think it is a net negative for flyers and makes FMCs even better when they did not need the boost at all. IMO, we will see less lists with flyers as a result of this unless they are flyer spam armies which are annoying armies to play in many cases due to a lack of interactivity. However, I could be wrong, of course, that is my initial reaction.

    Oh, and the Dogfight phase is so silly, lol, it is the epitome of random. I do not care for it at all.

    • AngryPanda May 25, 2016 10:49 am #

      It’s one of those cases that realy showcases how someone did not get game design at all. It’s so random it could be completly replaced with “roll off a D6, winner gets to decide to shoot with one of his flier at one of the others” with very little change.

    • Val Heffelfinger
      Val Heffelfinger May 25, 2016 11:48 am #

      Silly perhaps Reece, but man – you gotta appreciate that the nerd rage about it is sillier. The nerd rage is so silly that I felt the need to defend its silly ass.

      Thanks for that opportunity by the way. This is a lot of fun.

      • Reecius
        Reecius May 25, 2016 3:21 pm #

        I am actually not seeing much nerd rage on this one, personally, but perhaps I am missing it. The Dogfight phase I am sure gets a bit more sophisticated with experience, but man, the 10 times we’ve tried it is has been pretty stupid, lol. I am definitely not a fan of it, myself.

        And happy to have the article, Val, thank you for writing it.

      • Vercingatorix May 26, 2016 7:29 am #

        I think “Nerd exasperation” may be a more apt description. Just *snort* “really?”

    • Drachnyen May 26, 2016 5:55 am #

      I tend to agree with the Dogfight phase, we can probably live without it.

      As for the loss of Skyfire, we kinda need to shift our thinking. It does not make any sense for a ground attack flyer, equiped with air to ground weaponry to be able to fight air to air battle. These crafts are usually designed for low speed, low altitude, equiped with ground radar and ground targeting systems.

      If you need AA, we simply need to use the correct tools. Quad cannons on ADL/Bastions, skyfire weapons, or… the use of fighter jets. I remember seeing LOTS more ADLs with quad guns in the past years… How come we don’t see them anymore? This is again a shift, you will need to spend some points if you want AA.

      I can understand we had it “easy”: take one flyer an voila, skyfire is handled. People wont be happy because they will have to rethink their AA strategy. But if you think of it, look at the top lists and they have no flyers and no AAs, they simply ignore them.

      FW will come up with new fighter wings that will incorporate fighter escorts to bombers and ground attack crafts. Makes a lot more sense.

      • Threllen May 26, 2016 6:33 am #

        The reason you don’t see ADL with quad guns anymore is they are terrible. It has something to do with the fact flyers aren’t very prevalent, but it has more to do with how interceptor rule was changed between 6th and 7th edition. We saw ADLs with quads all the time in 6th because interceptor allowed you to fire at both ground and air with full BS. So if your opponent didn’t have flyers it was still a good tool for cracking transports or other light armor. With the advent of 7th, interceptor no longer grants the ability for skyfire weaponry to fire at ground targets with full BS. So they’re useless if your opponent doesn’t take a flyer.

      • Reecius
        Reecius May 26, 2016 9:27 am #

        I agree with you 100% that these rules do a good job of representing “real” air warfare, but in a game like this the way we play it, it makes these air units less appealing in general terms. Quad Guns stink now because they are expensive for something that MIGHT work in a game. As flyers are not that prevalent and a Quad Gun stinks vs. FMCs, there isn’t much reason to take it.

        Very few people will choose to spend hundreds of points on a Bomber/Fighter combo as while cool and fluffy, it isn’t good enough with these new rules to warrant the investment over more reliable ground units.

        • pascalnz May 26, 2016 9:46 pm #

          the gravy for flyers are the formations, hot damn, ignores cover for three attack aircraft, goodness that’s sweet. improved jink or invuln saves. there’s a lot of tight stuff.
          having flyers either in their own obsec detachment or only taking up one slot in a more standard detachment is also great.

  12. zyekian May 25, 2016 10:57 am #

    I find DftS just frustrating. There’s something cool here thematically and mechanically that has the real potential to add to the game by adding strategic depth. The book just misses the mark though and not just in one or two ways. It cheeses me off that they messed this up because something good really could have been done with this.

    Maybe they’ll clean it up in 8e.

    • AngryPanda May 25, 2016 11:06 am #

      Sure. It’ll be amazing! Especialy the rules for flying pigs 🙂

  13. zyekian May 25, 2016 11:11 am #

    It sort of feels like they jumped the gun on releasing an 8e mechanic and there’s more to it somehow that we can’t see yet.

    Either that or they want us to pay them stacks of cash to beta test for them.

    • Val Heffelfinger
      Val Heffelfinger May 25, 2016 11:51 am #

      In my heart of hearts I figure that DFS is something they had in the can from a long time ago and just pushed it out the door due to sunk costs.

      But that’s just my business hat taking a guess. It certainly isn’t on par with the more recent trends we’ve seen, and is decidedly half baked.

      Though – my overall point that I hope came through is that there’s a whole lot of bluster over it, and we’ve seen such bigger shifts just from the codex releases. It’s just odd to me that we wouldn’t find a way to make it work, I took a shot at some ideas – but I’m just a guy. : )

    • AbusePuppy May 25, 2016 12:56 pm #

      I would say the other way around- they took the original DFtS, slapped a couple of extra bits onto it and then called it mandatory. We might see some of this in 8e, but it’s just as likely not.

  14. westrider May 25, 2016 11:50 am #

    I actually kind of like the Dogfight phase, but then, I’ve always been good at Rock/Paper/Scissors 😉

    Seriously, tho, all this strengthens is Alpha Strike Armies that also include Flyers. Against anything else, it’s better to just not bring Flyers of your own. If they have a strong Alpha Strike, but no Flyers, you go hard Reserves. If they’ve got Flyers, but not much of an Alpha Strike, you start everything on the Board. Literally everyone else is either unaffected or nerfed.

    Also, as AP pointed out, it’s virtually impossible for an Attack Fighter or Bomber to get to fire at full BS in a Dogfight, because the relative Agility values just don’t let you get the necessary positioning unless you’re the Attacker and the Defender makes a stupid decision.

  15. Mike May 25, 2016 12:06 pm #

    My preferred option is to not spend monies on another unnecessary book just to nerf my two flyers, and pretend it doesn’t exist for now.

    • AngryPanda May 25, 2016 12:28 pm #

      My six fliers have been collecting so much dust I’ve actualy started to convert and repaint them. So the book can do whatever it pleases, clearly the things are so inactive it doesn’t matter to me anyway 🙂

  16. Toranaga May 25, 2016 5:48 pm #

    I don’t respect the argument that the dogfight phase is too random. Every phase, save the movement phase, relies on the results of random dice rolls. Even movement is random sometimes, with difficult terrain. If you analyze the dogfight charts, there are ways you can choose strategically, based on your flier’s agility, pursuit and class stats – some maneuvers have a better chance of success than others, especially for the attacker.

    Units get nerfed and boosted all the time. The times – they are a’changin…

    Let’s embrace it, move on, and make the best of it : )

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