Loopy and Toranaga bring us their perspective on the controversial Death from the Skies supplement.
Unlike other supplements released by Games Workshop over the years, Death From the Skies has never been presented as a “different” way to play the game. Instead, it has been presented as an integral part of every game. Of course, we always work under the assumption that every rule in the game is technically optional and any rule which makes the game unfun or unfair for players is seriously considered for adjustment or removal. Death From the Skies, even in an unaltered state, does not ruin games like many of the other stuff we do allow, even when that stuff is altered to make it more fair to the average player. Str 10 2++/4++/5+fnp Wolfen anyone?
Having said that, the negative backlash from the community in regards to Death From the Skies warrants some kind of response and some kind of compromise. In regards to the extreme stance taken by some calling for ignoring the book altogether, I’m not sure if it’s a tactical move to shift the eventual compromise closer to the status quo or if they are legitimately telling people to use their $50 book as a door-stop. In either case, I must say that ignoring the release in its entirety is too knee-jerk a reaction to be considered in any serious decision process. Many players are bound by the ITC style of play and telling that group of people they bought a $50 block of kindling is just plain wrong.
Of course, many will claim that Compromise is pointless because my argument is based on a false premise. I hold that it is not. Meta shifts happen in the game all the time and we can’t simply ignore rules to preserve the status quo. This isn’t Cities of Death. Equating the two is, one must admit, quite fallacious indeed.
Please consider the following compromise:
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Combat Role (Page 58)
Add: Some models do not have updated rules to include a Combat Role. Although this means that they will suffer no penalty to Ballistic Skill versus different targets, it also means that they will also not benefit from most Attack Patterns.
Pursuit (Page 58):
Add: Some models do not have updated rules to include Pursuit. Models with no Pursuit listed have a Pursuit of 3 until a new version of their rules is published.
Agility (Page 58):
Add: Some models do not have updated rules to include Agility. Models with no Agility listed have an Agility of 3 until a new version of their rules is published.
Fighter Skyfire Mode (Page 59)
Replace first sentence with: Zooming Flyers can choose whether or not to enter Skyfire Mode at the start of each Shooting phase.
Add: Zooming Flyers with the Bomber or Attack Fighter Combat Role have a -1 BS versus other Zooming Flyers or Soaring Monstrous Creatures.
The Dogfight Phase (Pages 68-74)
Replace with: The Dogfight Phase occurs before the start of each Game Turn in which both players have Flyers or Flying Monstrous Creatures in Reserve. Each player rolls a die for each Flyer or Flying Monstrous Creature they have in reserve, adding all their Pursuit Values. Flyers with the Fighter Combat Role each add +1 to this roll. Flying Monstrous Creatures have a Pursuit Value of 2 for the purpose of this roll. The player who scores the highest sum of all dice and modifiers wins Air Superiority for that Game Turn. If only one player has Flyers or Flying Monstrous Creatures in Reserve, then they automatically enjoy Air Superiority for that Game Turn.
Air Superiority Detachment (Page 104)
Remove: “, and your opponent must subtract 2 from their Reserve Rolls”
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Thanks for your consideration. Again, I don’t really see the need for the nerf to the Air Superiority Detachment simply to quell the shock to the Meta, but I think many people would demand it. The Dogfight Phase is the most houserule-y thing in here, but I think it’s a much quicker and easier methodology while simultaneously giving it meaning in the game without wantonly destroying your flyers.
The set values for Pursuit and Agility are probably the easiest to implement for T.O.s even if they are inelegant. The rest of the changes seem to address many of the problems a large portion of the player base seem to have with the rules.
At any rate, I hope that compromise can be reached in regards to these new rules. An all or nothing approach is a poor step forward. We must also be careful of diluting the responses by an overabundance of choice. If the majority of the community wants some kind of compromise, then an equitable compromise should be reached even if a larger number of people want no compromise than any single specific compromise.
Thanks again for reading. How would you alter this compromise? Let me know in the comments below.
A buddy and I tried out the DftS rules this past weekend. Here’s the lists we ran, and some thoughts afterwards:
Farseer, Jetbike, spirit stones
3 x 5 Windriders with scatter lasers
1 x 4 windriders with scatter lasers
Black Heart Talon:
2 Razorwings with dark lances
I’d say it’s a standard kickass Eldar alliance list, subbing out a wraithknight and some warp spiders for the fliers, plus a Corpsethief Claw. You can’t go wrong with a Corpsetheif Claw… I also realize that this is very close to Frankie’s list! Great mind’s think alike…
Daemonic Incursion Detachment
Herald of Tzeentch with Disc and grimoire
1 x 20 pink horrors
5 exalted flamers
3 x 3 flamers
3 Soul Grinders of Tzeentch
I’d say his list was a bit experimental for him – it was his first time trying out the Daemonic Incursion, and we agreed afterwards that the exalted flamers were a bit of wasted potential. They deployed all together with the horrors as a kind of invincible grimoired/cursed earth warpflame blob near the centre of the board and just sat there, flaming things and daring my corpsetheif to charge them.
Unfortunately for him, my opponent made a mistake upon deployment, exposing Fateweaver to my jetbikes and underestimating their first turn reach. I had first turn, he failed to seize, and poor Fatey got vaped back into the warp in a hail of scatter lasers before he could do anything. My opponent debated whether to put him in reserve, but felt the potential of my flier wing to gain the upper hand and impose a harsh penalty on his reserves outweighed the risk of deploying him. Had he survived, the ensuing battle would have been much different…
The corspetheif claw spent most of the battle slogging it out with the soul grinders, eventually smashing them down while suffering a few casualties.
As stated above the warpflame blob took up space in the center of the board and didn’t do much. The MSU flamer squads hopped around, corrupting objectives and flaming jetbikes, which was fun for them, but then I charged the flamers with my jetbikes in order to avoid getting burned by helldrakes, and that put a stop to their philandering around as the units got locked in a slap fest for a few turns, and bad rolls on Daemonic instability got them sent back to the warp after my Farseer joined the fray.
Predictably the Eldar eked out a win at the end, grabbing the most crusade objectives with what jetbikes survived the heldrake bbq’s. Eldar win 10-9. However if the game ended on 5 instead of 6, he would have won through objectives 10-9.
We had two dogfight phases – none of which actually did anything! I won attacker first, matching one of my razorwings with his lead heldrake. I won the engagement, but he won maneuvers. My guns were out of arc, and his were out of range, so we just flew off.
The second opportunity for a dogfight: he won the roll off and sensibly chose not to engage.
On the board: the fliers were more effective. His heldrakes came on first (I failed my reserve roll), and killed lots of jetbikes. Nothing has really changed about heldrakes, except that he was able to fit them into his list without any Chaos Space Marine (ie cultist) tax. I think that’s great.
My Black Heart Talon formation largely chose the Indomitable attack pattern for tank hunter and ignores cover. Hot dang that made them good! The razorwings were able to much more efficiently deal with the helldrakes, shooting one down the turn they came on, and reducing the other on other turns to 1 HP. The voidravens were able to blast some HP off the soul grinders and kill a bunch of flamers/horrors with their ignores cover bombs, and later dark scythes. I didn’t get a chance to use their other special rules, such as interceptor, but I could imagine it coming in handy had the reserves order been different (he came on first because I failed my roll, whereas if I came on first, I would have intercepted the hell out of his drakes or deep striking daemons). The attack wing formation bonus was actually very easy to achieve, especially with my army. The jetbikes are very mobile and have a small footprint, so it was easy to make space on the board for my flyers to come on in formation, and in terms of terrain there is always the ‘wobbly model syndrome.’ I appreciate the attack wing formation rules because they actually reward you for being tactical and smart in the way you position your models. Though there are a few formations that depend on model placement, most formations give you bonuses purely based on the models you buy – whereas these flier ones incentivize you to really move wisely on the tabletop. Why don’t all formations have these kind of rules?
All in all, our verdict and judgement is that the DftS is a benign rule set, and a welcome addition to the game. On the whole, some things got better, other things got worse, but it sincerely adds more depth and FUN to the experience. The dogfights were cute and quick, and the fact that we had more points invested on models that weren’t always on the board actually made our game go faster. I appreciate that this is anecdotal evidence, a drop of water in an ocean of various experiences, so to speak, and we weren’t playing in a tournament setting – though both of us are top dogs in our meta over here in NYC – but having tried it, I would definitely do it again, and I encourage others to do so. For better or for worse, this is 40k now anyways, and in my opinion and experience, this does nothing to imbalance the game, while providing a much needed shake-up to the meta and a more in depth immersion for those that choose to ENGAGE.