Loopy and Toranaga’s Death From the Skies Perspectives


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:

~ * ~

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”

~ * ~


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.

another view

Toranaga’s Perspective:

A buddy and I tried out the DftS rules this past weekend. Here’s the lists we ran, and some thoughts afterwards:


Eldar Cad:

Farseer, Jetbike, spirit stones
3 x 5 Windriders with scatter lasers
1 x 4 windriders with scatter lasers

Corpsethief Claw
5 Talos

Black Heart Talon:
2 Razorwings with dark lances
2 Voidravens

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…

He ran:

Daemonic Incursion Detachment

Lord: Fateweaver

Warpflame Host:

Herald of Tzeentch with Disc and grimoire
1 x 20 pink horrors
5 exalted flamers
3 x 3 flamers

Forge Host:
3 Soul Grinders of Tzeentch

Attack Wing:
2 Heldrakes

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.


The Game:

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.

Lord AK's Razorwing

The fliers:

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.


About adam Fasoldt

Loopy (Adam) has only been playing 40k since 2010, but is an active member of the community. He is a host of the Masters of the Forge podcast and also a moderator of the Independent Characters forums. He also belongs to gaming clubs at Grimfoe Games in East Greenbush, NY and Dirty Goblin Games in Queensbury, NY.

26 Responses to “Loopy and Toranaga’s Death From the Skies Perspectives”

  1. Nightman June 2, 2016 10:26 am

    Most people want to skip the dogfight, not ban it altogether? Very early to start changing the rules on the book itself, let people try it for a month or two.

  2. Lord Krungharr June 2, 2016 10:50 am

    I think the new flier rules sounds pretty cool and fun though I only have one storm talon so far. I will say that formation bonus rules are awesome except that on many formations they are just too awesome and IMHO are the single biggest thing making the game too crazy. But they do help to sell models!

  3. Threllen June 2, 2016 11:10 am

    Don’t know that I agree with adding FMCs into the shenanigans. They’re powerful enough already. Simply taking one FMC as Tyranids or Daemons would result in getting reserves in on 2+ against many armies. It would be one thing if GW wrote the change in themselves, but not sure it warrants a houserule causing that much of a meta shift.

  4. Drachnyen June 2, 2016 12:35 pm

    I like the default values for flyers that have no stats yet.

    Since the DftS rules are now the official flyer rules and replaces the ones in the BRB, we should probably just accept them and move on. I dont think its very productive to come up with new rules to keep it closer to how it was before DftS. (Just shows how resistant to change we all are)

    It WILL shift the Meta…

    This is probably part of a greater scheme where FMC will get an update too.

    Heck the new ARMORED crates have a toughness value!!!! (yup, no AV)
    Is this the first step before a mass conversion of AV towards toughness values?

    GW is shifting the game and will continue to change it.

    • Threllen June 2, 2016 1:12 pm

      Emplaced weapons already have had toughness values forever (like those bought with ADL or bastion). It’s an easy way for them to proxy an “armoured” item that doesn’t need F/S/R armor nor does it need to be affected by the vehicle damage chart. I wouldn’t read too much into the container having toughness instead of armor…

    • westrider June 2, 2016 1:14 pm

      The crates may be another step in that direction, but they’re certainly not the first. That would have been the DreadKnight, probably. At the very latest, the Gun Emplacements introduced at the start of 6th.

      • westrider June 2, 2016 1:50 pm

        Actually, the very first would have been the WraithLord. That switched from AV to Toughness value back in the transition from 2nd to 3rd.

      • AbusePuppy June 2, 2016 8:15 pm

        It’s worth noting that the Gun Emplacement-style rules had existed prior to 6E, although they were more of unique inclusions and less of a standardized thing.

  5. tag8833 June 2, 2016 2:20 pm

    I wouldn’t say you should use the book as a doorstop. I’d say return it. Let them know that you don’t appreciate it when they publish garbage. Also quit buying everything GW puts out,. Be an informed consumer. Friends don’t let friends spend money on Death from the Skies.

    It is a bad product. Unplayable without houseruling (Look at how much rewriting you had to do to make it quasi usable). It is woefully Incomplete, lacking support for FMC’s and even the Vendetta. It adds excessive rules bloat to a game that already suffers hilariously excessive rules bloat. It adds length to a game that already takes too long to play. It is a poorly thought out rough-draft in desperate need of a back to the drawing board revision before it sees any table time.

    I appreciate your desire to put a shine on this turd, but I don’t see the reason to even attempt it. Better to just ignore it as we did escalation when it came out.

    Here is my proposed compromise. If you and your opponent both own death from the skies, you can leave you models in the box and play Rock Paper Scissors (best of 5, Eldar win ties) to see who wins the game. Alternatively, you can try the alphabet game where you take turns naming special rules for each letter in the alphabet until someone can’t think of one. (Adamantium Will, Barrage, Crusader, Deep Strike…). The rest of us can keep our $50 and play 40K instead.

    • tag8833 June 2, 2016 2:21 pm

      I know that last line will spark something of a Semantic argument. What is and isn’t 40K. I propose that your combo of RPS + Alphabet game take the name of “41K”. If that doesn’t work, you can have 40K and I’ll play 39K. I’m not really concerned with the Semantics of it, just the gameplay experience.

      • Loopy June 2, 2016 2:38 pm

        I wouldn’t say semantic. I would say snarky and unhelpful.

        • tag8833 June 2, 2016 7:10 pm

          Here is something helpful. Your nerf to the Air Superiority Detachment is good. I’d be fine with that version of Air Superiority.

          I’d like to apply a similar nerf to Gladius (No free transports), and one to Aspect Host (No Warp Spiders allowed), and one to War Convocation (No Free Wargear), and one to Skyhammer (no relentless), and one to Riptide Wing (No Double Shooting), and one to…..

          If we are willing to go down the road of nerfing formations to improve the game, sign me up. I am all in. I think it has been incredibly demoralizing to see the community afraid to make obvious improvements to the game by either banning or nerfing formations that are clearly bad for the game.

          You have the courage to step up and suggest a reasonable nerf to a formation, and for that I salute you.

          • Drachnyen June 2, 2016 7:44 pm

            Nailed it!

            I agree 100% with you on this.

            If “game balance” is the primary focus of ITC, then there is a lot to do with the above list.

          • Drachnyen June 2, 2016 7:49 pm

            Oh and just to add my 2 cents :

            Also the problem is how community votes are being used to modify the game…

            The 2 most OP armies today are space marines and eldar. Which coincides also with the highest number of players. (See LVO stats)

            It’s perfectly normal that the majority of the players will not vote to nerf themselves.

            I would rather have a council of the wise that’s takes decision than a player base that votes to favor his own army.

          • AbusePuppy June 2, 2016 8:17 pm

            >It’s perfectly normal that the majority of the players will not vote to nerf themselves.

            Except that the way the votes have gone have not followed this presumption at all. By your logic, Eldar players should not have voted to nerf GCs in cover (but at least some percentage of them did) and every vote against a “minor” army (such as Tau, Daemons, etc) should have gone against it.

          • Drachnyen June 3, 2016 3:16 am

            Eldar probably didn’t vote massively for the removal of toe in cover.

            But I can bet my shirt that ALL the other factions voted for the removal with the wraith knight in mind 😉

          • AbusePuppy June 3, 2016 7:57 am

            Or maybe some people actually vote on rules based on what they think the correct interpretation is, as opposed to whatever version personally benefits them most.

  6. donthemagnificent June 2, 2016 6:38 pm

    Please hear me out before you get angry at what I am about to say. I believe flying monstrous creatures should lose skyfire. Primary reason, they have vector strike. Vector strike is exceptional a hitting and causing damage to flyers and flying monstrous creatures. This could buff flyers and tone down where FMCs have been put, as far as power goes. Tyranids have an exceptional anti-flyer called a Hive Crone. Daemons have soul grinders for skyfire on planes and str 6 spam vector strikes. Everyone else has a vector strike or fighter option, available to them in a tournament setting. I am sure that some people will not agree, but how do you feel about the haywire spam templates with the FAQ saying that they can hit zooming/swooping targets, so long as it has skyfire?

    • westrider June 2, 2016 9:39 pm

      Except that no FMC except the Crone has a Strength high enough to be a serious threat to the Flyers that actually matter, with the reduced number of Hits that Vector Strike causes in 7th. The Soul Grinder’s Skyfire cannon is a joke, too, really.

      • Threllen June 3, 2016 5:44 am

        Not entirely true. First, vector strike still causes additional hits against other flyers. It’s just against ground it only grants one hit. I think 6th edition was D3+1, but the D3 hits with Ignores Cover are still pretty strong.

        Also, the most effective form of daemon anti-air (imo) often comes from FMC shooting. The tzeentch discipline is loaded with witchfires that could take out a flyer pretty easily. Especially for Fatey who gets all the powers automatically The other FMCs can grab some tools themselves via weapons or greater gifts.

        I don’t agree that FMCs should lose skyfire, but they definitely have some tools to deal with air units via shooting. Considering most of them cost upwards of 300 pts or more, I think it’s fine if they’re pretty strong.

      • donthemagnificent June 3, 2016 10:01 am

        Just throwing this out there, but most flyers are AV 10 on the side. Half the imperial ones are 11 and half are 12. These Daemon princes also have access to powers such as Iron Arm, which makes their vector strikes Str 9 or 10 with the tetrad. Str 6 space is more than enough to knock out a flyer. A friend of mine uses 7 flyrants. That is 7d3 Str 6 ap2 auto hits that ignore cover. Tell me, how many flyers will be safe from that? Keep in mind, also, that the majority of flyers have lost skyfire, so you will not be getting hit with as much backlash, at all. Yes the soul grinder’s cannon is a joke, but it does still put hull points on flyers. There are definitely ways to combat flyers as a FMC army. You could also, do what everyone that plays against a flying army does and kill everything that can score and force the flyers to go in to hover mode or auto lose the game. Reduced number of vector strikes is false vs zooming/swooping models. It has always been D3. It is only 1 vs ground targets, which FMCs can maul in melee or with the ridiculous amount of shooting/psychic that they have. There are some FMCs, like the Harpy, that struggle vs flyers due to str 5 and no real AA gun. Honestly, do you think that losing skyfire on FMCs is going to render FMCs useless? They will still destroy flyers and usually outlive them.

    • Blight1 June 3, 2016 2:58 am

      Actually and I know you may think I’m rules lawyering it here, but the FAQ only says you can be targeted by sky fire blasts not hit. In fact even in the DFTS flyer rules they still have the rules that they cannot be hit by blasts. Also in that same FAQ they explicitly state that flying MCs cannot be hurt by blasts at all.
      There are a few tactical reasons to target a flyer but not expect to hit it like firing at it to hit a unit under it you cannot see.

  7. Gman June 2, 2016 11:13 pm

    I really like your take on it.

    Although I would like to see a solution like this:

    -Remove dogfight phase

    -Add attack patterns

    -Keep skyfire on all flyers

    -Add flyer wings

    This would buff flyers a bit while adding a bit of extra complexity and gameplay from the attack patterns.

  8. Gritts June 4, 2016 6:53 am

    I have the I book version and air superiority is listed as a minus one to opponents reserve rolls

    • westrider June 6, 2016 9:53 am

      It’s -2 if you have the Air Superiority Detachment. One of the Detachment Benefits, not a general thing.

  9. Tomguycot June 6, 2016 5:32 am

    Before I get negative in regards to Death from the Skies I just want to say that I’m really impressed with what the ITC is doing with 40k. Honestly, their FAQ is the only thing that makes 40k even playable.

    But with that said, this game is just hideously broken. You absolutely cannot play it as written outside of the most extremely casual games between people who are on the same page about what they want out of their games.

    This stream of half baked rules (like Death from the Skies) has completely killed what was a pretty healthy 40k community at one point. I don’t even remember the last time I saw 40k being played at my LGS but it was definitely some time last year.

    So kudos to all those involved with the ITC and hopefully you can fix this mess of a game that I enjoyed since the mid 90s. But good luck with that because it honestly feels like GW is (possibly unintentionally) working against you.