Death From the Skies

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Today I’m going to talk a little bit about the Death from the Skies expansion that just came out. Now you’ve probably read all about it on different sites so I’m not going into too much depth of the book. This will just be my opinion so it’ll probably be pretty short and kind of a rant. Also please note that these are my personal opinions and don’t reflect the opinions of the organizations that I volunteer for.

A quick run down of the expansion is that Games Workshop updated the rules for flyers. Giving new stats and created a new phase of the game. There’s been a lot of grumbling out there about how this is bad for the game and will slow it down. And granted adding an entire new phase of the game will add more time. That is if both players have a flyer and if they either agree to a dog fight phase or if the winner of a roll off wants one. Either way its not, in my opinion, a big deal. My friend Evan from Facing the Grey Tide did a quick YouTube video of a proposed dog fighting phase. You can see that here. If you watched the video it was a total of 8 mins, that was 2 dog fighting phases and one had a break down of what Evan was doing. Yes it added time, but not enough time to cause me major concern. A lot of the people upset about the time adding run/participate in events that have shorter rounds. When I was at LVO the round times were 2 hours 45 mins. That’s the same amount of time for rounds in the RTTs that I run at Huzzah. I’m used to NOVA giving 3 hours for a round, so it was a little bit of a shock to see a major GT with shorter rounds. With that being said this was the same argument for the psychic phase, it takes too long! Well we’re all now content with it. When I played my Seer Council at Adepticon, which had 2 hour 45 min rounds, in every round but 1 I had a full game with dice ending it. The only game that went to time was against a Gladius with all drop pods and even then we got to turn 5. And in all my recent games I can count on one hand how many flyers I’ve seen. Which leads us to. . .

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Skyfire is removed from all but Fighters! Yep, its true. I understand why GW did it. Attack Flyers and Bombers are the guys that should be concentrating on the ground and Fighters are the ones that should be concentrating on other aircraft. I totally get their fluff reasons for this. Does it change the game for a lot of flyers? Yes. But Flyers still suffer from what 90% of flyers have always suffered from. Being over costed for what they do. And to complain about this is just like complaining about an update to your codex. I guess we can go back to the old way where all flyers get Skyfire, but while we’re on this subject, can I have 6th edition wave serpents back? How about the 3.5 CSM codex? Also before Death from the Skies a lot of flyers were taking for an answer to FMC spam. But FMC spam lists don’t do that well honestly. And the loss of Skyfire on all flyers but fighters results in the same thing as you had to do before, since no one really took flyers to begin with. Wait till the FMCs have to come down and claim the objectives and then kill them, or take pot shots and hope to get lucky, or play with mysterious objectives. I’ve known a lot of people to roll that lucky skyfire nexus and take down a FMC that way.

Forge World Flyers is another complaint about the expansion. This one has more substance than the other reasons in my opinion. But it also lends credence to my opinion that Forge World shouldn’t be part of tournaments. Don’t get me wrong, I think the majority of Forge World is fine. Its that minority that makes me scream internally. There are just some over the top stuff that shouldn’t be allowed but is because people want to play with their toys. I totally get that, for the longest time I just wanted to play with a Contemptor Dreadnought in my Dark Angels army. But the fact that Forge World is slower to put out FAQs than Games Workshop is just makes it that much harder for Tournament Organizers. But regardless, Forge World is here and its here to stay. Though an expansion from Games Workshop updating their flyer rules is being considered to be pushed out because of Forge World not updating their rules. That just seems wrong to me. Its going to be a pain the butt for NOVA I admit. I don’t know how we’re going to handle that one, I’m just hoping Forge World updates their flyers. Else the FAQ council is going to have to come up with baseline stats, and that’s just a whole other Pandora’s box situation.

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Air Superiority. Now this, I think is really good for the game and actually makes me consider jamming in a Crimson Hunter into my Seer Council list. If you don’t know what this rule is its pretty much if you have a flyer in reserves and your opponent doesn’t, you get a +1/-1 to reserves and your opponent gets a -1 to reserves. If you have the Air Superiority Detachment and your wing leader that you’ve chosen to be your commander is in reserve its a -2 for your opponent and a +2/-2 for you. Now this is harsh, super harsh. But super awesome. Right now Reserve lists are really popular and this is a way to help deal with them. Yes it’ll screw up that Gladius Drop Pod list, but now they’ll have to consider something other than 3xScout squads as their Auxiliary. And when you play against that Eldar MSU spam and they don’t have a flyer and you do, they really don’t want to “null deploy” with everything in reserves except for Warp Spiders. I think this is really good for the game. Reserve/Beta Strike armies are really powerful right now, and this helps fight them. Its also why I’m considering a Crimson Hunter for my Seer Council list. Because sometimes I really need to reserve the council and having the flyer will help that.

Another thing that was add is break turns. Now these I really like. It helps with the positioning of flyers. The few times I’ve played them I’ve wished I could have positioned them better and this will help that. It also makes it so that its not a guaranteed thing and I like that as well. You can plan for it to be facing a certain direction but sometimes you just don’t get that roll you needed.

Flyer Wings and Attack Patterns. I like the fluff of the Flyer Wings, I think its cool that you have a leader for the flyers in your army as it makes sense. I don’t think they needed special abilities to roll up on and I don’t think any tournament accepting Death from the Skies will accept the Flyer Aces section as its too easy to abuse it. Though, once again, I’m still not too concerned with it. Since I don’t think flyers will become more common. But I still think the Wing Leaders are cool and their abilities aren’t over the top to cause concern. On the same note I feel the same way of Attack Patterns. The “good” patterns still cost way to much of your army to be considered. And the detachment that makes your flying transports ObSec in hover mode still isn’t game breaking because the only flyers that can transport AND hover are still over costed. I think these are a nod to the fluffier players and that’s great. These aren’t so bad that you wouldn’t consider taking them to a tournament, but most people will still not take them as its just too many points.

In the end I don’t think Death from the Skies is going to shake up the meta too much. Yes some models will go on the shelf collecting dust, but its like that for every expansion. My Deathwing Terminators have a good 3″ layer of dust on them. And so do all the rest of my flyers, I currently own 1 of each Dark Angels flyers, 2 Storm Ravens, 2 Storm Talons and a Crimson Hunter. The ONLY one I’m considering is the Crimson Hunter and even then I probably won’t because I don’t know if cutting Bikes or the VSG is worth it for the handful of times I reserve my council. But since this is a new 40k release the sky is some how falling. Its going to be fine guys. Lets just give this some time to breath and hopefully Forge World will come out with an FAQ. Until then. . . .

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  • Commissar Ahmad

    Thank you for your non-ranting, level-headed assessment. I have yet to actually get my hands on the book, but based on what I’ve heard so far, it won’t change the game very much unless you happen to use a lot of flyers.

    I’m a little miffed that they got rid of the Vendetta, though. The dang Space Marines get a new fighter, and the Guard… lose one of theirs. +(

    Ah, well. I guess I’ll turn my Vendettas back into Valkyries and start grav-chuting Vets out the back again.

    • Thanks! After reading the book I wasn’t impressed and still felt that flyers will be a niche thing.

      I think the Vendetta might come out with the FW FAQ that needs to happen. Though I’m sure in most settings if you just used the same Pursuit/Agility stat as the Valk it should be fine!

  • I really just want to see someone show up to a tournament with a massive flyer formation. It’ll be fun to see instantly killed when he rolls vs tau 🙁