40K Editorial: In Defense of Death from the Skies



Restore your seats to their upright position – I’m clearing the runway for Death from the Skies. Here’s why the new rules deserve a fair shake.

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 and this 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 bullpoop to find out about it. So I’m going to write a ton more bullpoop 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 Frontline Gaming 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

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…


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


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.


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.


terrain Slider AD
  • Dorian Key

    I completely agree with this article, people that are complaining about the rules either hate fliers, want the game to be something they want, or haven’t read the book. The new rules make the game more dynamic and I can finally get my fliers out of the closet.

    • generalchaos34

      I think all adds some fun things, my only real complaint is the formations are hard to maintain and also be able to hit things.

    • Zingbaby

      The main picture has Thunderhawks, which are oddly missing from DFS.

      But yeah the DFS looks really cool, I also love flyers. I haven’t tried any of these rules yet though and if it does actually make the game longer I’m not a fan of that aspect.

      I’m not surprised by Nerd-Panic anymore though I think I’d probably generally not use these rules.

      • Javeed Hussain

        Like thd cover of KDK sponsored by Kharn… without Kharn. 😂

    • Shiwan8

      Do you want the game to be even more unbalanced mess? I mean, as much as I enjoy the slight amount of help my faction gets from it I’m not too glad about the broken stuff that adds to more broken stuff that the factions that gain most from this book get.

      • Shawn

        I have a copy of DftS Shiwan, and I don’t think it’s broken at all. It just makes flyers more relevant and recaptures that WWII dogfight vibe from all those old movies.

        • Shiwan8

          Compare vendetta (essentially same as 170p valkyrie) to crimson hunter. That’s how balanced the book is. I’d like to love it, but I can not.

          • CMAngelos

            Kay? Compare the F-22 to the A-10, clearly the F-22 is faster, more advanced, and clearly a better fighter than the A-10, but can it do the A-10s job on the battlefield? Not a chance. So it’s the same thing for Attack flyers vs Fighter classes.

            This mentality that “My favorite thing has to do the same thing theirs could do only probably better cus reasons!” Is not a good idea at all, and is not even a good way to balance a game. And if you’re really worried about anti air? Get or Scratch Build a firestorm redoubt, the thing mulches flyers like crazy.

            Also for all the ForgeWorld flyer users like myself, I see this causing a pretty quick update to the Imperial Armor: Aeronautica book.

          • Shiwan8

            Wow, ok, um….you know this is a game and rules of any game gain or lose roughly half of their worth depending on the balance situation, right?
            It would be perfectly fine if fighters could only shoot flying/swooping targets normally and snapshoot everything else. Fighters make poor bombers and ground attack planes just and vice versa in real life. In 40k fighters are as good or better at anti ground units and immeasurably better anti air than the 2 other types. It is f’d up because there is no balance botween these 3. Attack planes and bombers are roughly balanced but fighters are broken.

            You do not have to believe me. Do the math and you’ll see that I’m right on this one.

          • CMAngelos

            Uhm, have you read the rules for any of the combat roles?
            Fighters are not as good at ground attack as attack fighters are, you either fire Snapshots or -1 BS, so how exactly is that better at attacking ground targets than a full BS attack flyer? It’s not.

            And none of the attack patterns, or formations boost the abilities of fighters against ground targets with the exception of 1 that grants preferred enemy to a specific target.

            If you wanna not like it, fine but don’t make things up about it, that’s incredibly silly.

          • Shiwan8

            Yeah yeah yeah. Look at the actual units, fighters and their rules, the -1 bs does pretty much nothing. Crimson hunter is still better at ground combat than more expensive heldrake.

            Mathhammer is your friend here. Use it.

          • CMAngelos

            There is a single Fighter unit in the entire book that would have a BS greater than 3 when shooting at ground targets, and it’s a paid Upgrade on top of that.

            And your oh so precious Helldrskes if run together get a bonus to BS, so yeah.. math hammer works out in their favor. Even though the Baelflamer doesn’t Use BS. So.. where’s the disparity?

          • Bhazakhain

            Helldrakes are really good. If we’re comparing them to Eldar, which it looks like we are, they are tougher, great at ground attack, have a bunch of special rules to make them even tougher and even something to help them out in a dogfight, plus vector strike. Not sure where the disparity coming from Shiwan8 is coming from. Maybe someone just needs to play more games and math hammer a dice game less?

          • Shiwan8

            Out of curiosity, what are these things that makes the drake great compared to crimson hunter…other than marginally better ability to take hits?

            I mean, the field of battle is full of deathstars that the drake can not hurt, warp spiders that the drake can not hurt and SH/GC units that the drake can not hurt. It has one weapon that has no targets mostly thanks to the next to nonexistent firing arc. That leaves marginally tougher hide and vector strike. Compared to crimson hunter that has a chance to kill literally anything the game has to offer…yeah, I just do not see these things you talk about.

            Please do enlighten me.

          • Shiwan8

            Last time I checked there were more units in that book than baledrake and crimson hunter. Stop taking facts as insults and go back mathhammering.

          • CMAngelos

            You’re right, and I looked over the profiles of every one of them before I made my comment so I could do so without error.

            Every unit in the book has a BS of 3 or 4, with the exception of 1 Upgrade wingleader. So again I stand by my statement.

          • Shiwan8

            You looked it over, missed the obvious over power of fighters and the fact that both marine and eldar fighters are far superior to other planes even before you count the obvious cost issues others have compared to them and claim that you made no error.

            Do me a favor will ya. In the future try not to lie at all and if you do lie anyway try to do it in such a fashion that lets you have at least a slight chance to not get caught. That ballistic skill statement of yours proves that you did not look it over.

          • CMAngelos

            First of all Cut the hateful attitude, It’s not necessary. Secondly, If i have missed anything in the Stats i have said, Do please, Correct me in what I’ve stated is wrong? If you cant or won’t, Then Kindly refrain from calling me a liar as at this moment burden of proof is on you.

            And i mean actual proof not “its this way cus i think it is”.

            There is No flyer with base stats that has higher than a ballistic Skill of 4, With the Exception of -1- Crimson Hunter upgrade.

            And unless you can state otherwise, your entire argument is reduced to “I think everyone elses stuff is better than mine, So it is!”

          • Shiwan8

            Like I said, stop taking facts personally. It’s not hateful to call things what they are.

            At least orcs and Tau drones in that book are bs2, you claimed that everything other than crimson hunter exarch there is bs3 or bs4. Either you did not look it over like you claimed or you knew those were bs2. Either way it’s a lie you put out there. You show more than enough intelligence for this all to be accounted for plain old stupidity.

            Now, please both do the math and stop lying. It’s hard to see a point in continuing this when you insist on being hooked to an opinion not based on facts or any kind of evidence even when you pretty much have to know you are wrong unless you believed your lies despite knowing what they are.

          • CMAngelos

            Mkay, So I made a Slip up in 1 out of 3 statements, I will admit that and have no problem admitting that, however that does invalidate Either of my other two statements on the matter.

            “There is a single Fighter unit in the entire book that would have a BS greater than 3 when shooting at ground targets, and it’s a paid Upgrade on top of that.”

            A true Statement, and the one i made while reading DFTS. There -is- no fighter with more than 3BS when firing at ground targets base stats without the Crimson Hunter upgrade.

            And my second statement which again you chose to overlook.

            “There is No flyer with base stats that has higher than a ballistic Skill of 4, With the Exception of -1- Crimson Hunter upgrade.”

            Again, 100% true, While there are a few at bs2 (That have -always- been BS2 anyway) Nothing Exceeds BS4 save for that One Lone Upgrade to base stats.

            So now that that is sorted out, Care to actually go back to the original Topic where, Fighters have a Disadvantage over Attack Aircraft, based on pure numbers. Or do you wanna keep ranting about Nothing? 🙂

          • Shiwan8

            Other than me overlooking things and you just “slipping” everything you said there is true.

            Fighters do not have a disadvantage over attack planes or bombers. A mathematical fact. You are free to continue to disagree but you will keep being wrong. Yet again, do the math.

          • CMAngelos

            Simple rule is you cant kill what you can’t hit and everything hitting at 4s or worse for fighters vs 2s and 3s (or in the event of the necron deathray and csm baelflamer not needing a to hit at all) for attack aircraft, Does in fact speak for itself. and it speaks very much in favor of the attack aircraft vs ground units.

          • Shiwan8

            True, if you assume that they have equal weapons, which they do not, which is one of the reasons your logic fails you.

          • Andrew Thomas

            Nephilims are BS 4 versus ground targets, b/c Strafing Run. No extra cost.

          • Muninwing

            though to be fair, they’ve been a lemon unit since their inception — overpriced and ineffective. so perhaps not a good example of OP

          • Andrew Thomas

            IDK, the nerfs to other Flyer types do make it more viable, IMHO, but yeah, good enough isn’t the same as OP.

          • Muninwing

            “good enough isn’t the same as OP”

            someone please tell GW this…

          • Muninwing

            sounds like you issue is (yet again) related to bad points-costs by GW, not rules.

            almost like that’s a valid and consistent fault…

          • Shiwan8

            Is it not always the case? I mean that everything is valid if it’s cheap enough.

          • Muninwing

            valid? or viable?

            what if Mutilators were 10 points each?

            how many Chaos lists would start throwing them at the enemy like burritos at a rampaging stoner?

            in a 1500 points list, with other options, i could justify fielding 10×5 squads, deepstriking them directly into the enemy, and sowing panic. if only 3-4 squads get into cc, they’ll still earn their points back, and they’ll steal the momentum of the game.

            points — fair and reasonable — are necessary for the game to be playable. if not that, then some other system… but GW decided on points, and honestly every time i hear someone call out the faults of a point-based system, they are negligent about supplying a better option that accounts for their concerns.

            if GW wanted to reclaim their share of the market, they would do a ground-up rebalancing of points, in order to make their current imbalances a bit less egregious.

            and for anyone who says it cannot be done, i want to direct their attention to AzyrComp — perhaps one of the more balanced systems i’ve seen, because it establishes a well-considered algorithm in order to create the points-costs. if fans could do this on their own time, the supposed professionals could make something at least as good AND have the resources to playtest it thoroughly.

            but they won’t.

          • Shiwan8

            Viable units are valid picks for the list…so both?

            I do not support any spamming no matter the faction. Deathstars and spams are the biggest problems in the game at the moment.

          • Muninwing

            i’m OK with theme-spam. i like my Deathwing, and i play them 3rd ed pure (LR, Dread, Terminator only) when i can given the environment.

            but it’s got to be for a reason, not just to min/max

          • Shiwan8

            Yeah. Not really the same thing that is ruining the game at the moment. Bike scars is fine. Grav spam bike scars are not. Kinda like that.

    • Malisteen

      Without DftS, I run maybe one flier. With it? I run none – since my FW flier isn’t compatible, but even if it WAS compatible, the rules would make my flier worse unless I forked out the money for 2 or 3 more of them, when it’s easier to just drop it altogether and forget about it.

      I don’t hate fliers, I hate rules that make it more of an obnoxious bother to run them.

      • CatachanCommissar

        This: “I don’t hate fliers, I hate rules that make it more of an obnoxious bother to run them.”

      • Koonitz

        How is it “more of an obnoxious bother to run them”? You can still take one exactly the same way you normally do, in your Force Org slot in your Combined Arms Detachment/formation of choice. Only difference now is that they have a few different rules once they hit the table (or engage an opposing flyer above the table).

        Though it does give you MORE options on how to take your flyers, if you so choose to bring more than one.

        I’m going to run on the assumption you have an Avenger Strike Fighter. Not because I believe that’s what you have, but because it fits my following argument better:

        I have a friend who has 3 Avenger Strike Fighters to support his SIsters of Battle army. I’m willing to bet he’s going to enjoy some of the benefits in the Death from the Skies book once Forge World updates the rules for them. Until then, I’ll be more than happy to house rule some generic rules for it so it fits in (Attack Craft, A3/P3).

        Man, made up those generic rules there, on the spot, in 10 seconds. That was pretty tough. But hey, you can feel free to use the rules I made up for free, without compensation towards me for doing so.

    • Der T

      I read the book and neither do I hate fliers nor do I want the game to be how I want it, unless you count that I want the rules to reflect the background at least a little bit. And I honestly don’t understand how a flier would stop a mawloc from appearing. Would they crash right into them as soon as they show their nose? Same thing with daemons, does air superiority open warp portals now that allow you to shoot at the demons waiting to jump into the real world? Tyranids and Chaos Daemons, both armies that rely heaviliy on reserves, are totally bummed by this release without any real justification for the rules beyond “buy moar fliers!”. I play neither army, but this still pi**es me off.
      To be fair, I like other changes the book made, mainly the new stats of the fliers and how they affect the game, even if Eldar have even better
      fliers now because of that 🙂

    • CatachanCommissar

      Doesn’t everyone “want the game to be something they want”???? Also I have had no problem playing fliers without these new rules.

    • aargh

      I like flyers and have read the book and still don’t like it. Overall it seems fairly clunky as a mechanic. It also seems pretty biased towards fighters. Attack and bombers lose skyfire, but fighters only have -1 BS to shoot ground? Seems silly to me.

      Also, sucks for basically everybody who doesn’t get flyers in their army (daemons, sisters, mechanicum, nids) to have to take an allied wing of at least two to get any benefits and offset the Air Superiority rule, which somehow allows fighter planes to stop daemons teleporting from the warp, or Mawlocs from burrowing under the ground, or drop pods from leaving their launch tubes. Plus, Tyranids once again get the shaft, because despite their many flying creatures and skies full of floating death bombs they can’t engage in the dogfight phase.

      To me it seems obviously imbalanced and illogical.

      • Shawn

        It doesn’t stop them. All air superiority does is allow them to enter the ground battle sooner. Why? Because there are no other fighters/bombers.attack craft to interfere with them. These aircraft are hundreds, if not thousands of feet in the air before they reach the ground battle. Demons and Mawlocks don’t have to bother with entering orbit, and flying around to reach the battle. They just port in, or dig up, therefore aren’t interfering with flyers or worrying about them.

        • Javeed Hussain

          the thing is, that they still have to do reserve rolls. Which are then – 1 or – 2 because flyers… I get why it pisses some players off. I love the formations and just got 2 additional heldrakes for my deamons! Now I can field them without a kdk tax which I find wonderful!

  • ChubToad

    Really I haven’t considered DFS yet, but I will play it and then write my opinion. In the meantime, as this article states DFS is not the end of it all as the Internet always says about new things. Not a surprise of course but a statement that mass rage is always not a good thing.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    The rules as they were were fine.

    The game is overlong and overcomplex already.

    The game already costs enough for the basic rules.

    No-one wants to lose their painted model before it even hits the table.

    The nerfs to reserves are seriously unblancing.

    • Shawn

      I happen to like them Knight, especially the Air Superiority. I use flyers all the time and I hate having to have several hundred points sit around for 3 turns. I don’t think they’re OP, they just make flyers more relevant. I don’t know why everyone is so up in arms about new rules additions. The only things really OP are some of the faction codices.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        well I’m happy for you if you think they are fun. Luckily for me no-one seems to want to use them round here so life is carrying on as usual.

        • Shawn

          Oh well.

    • Arcangelo Daniaux

      Never seen a flyer get blown by an interception+skyfire weapon as soon as it enter the board ?

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        not very often to be honest.

        • Shawn

          Do you face Tau at all Knight? In my area they’re quite prevelant and always loaded to the gills with interceptor and skyfire.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            there are only one or two Tau players at the club where I play. Facing them I’ve brought flyers on in hover mode and put them behind a building out of sight, started a single flyer on a Skyshield, locked Interceptor equipped troops in combat or tried to kill them before the flyer came on.

          • Shawn

            Okay. Its’s cool that they let you bring flyers on in hover mode, that helps mitigate interceptor. However, I’m pretty sure flyers have to come in zooming and must travel at least 18″.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            BRB says:

            A Flyer with the Hover type must declare whether it is going to Zoom or Hover before it moves, and before any embarked models disembark, each Movement phase. This means that, if the Flyer arrives from Reserve, you must declare which type of movement it is using before placing it on the board.

            This seems pretty cut and dried. I think people get confused with deep striking FMC who must swoop on the turn they arrive.

            There are even a couple of FW flyers that can deepstrike in hover mode, such as the Dreadclaw.

          • Shawn

            Interesting. I’ll have to double check that then, just so I can reference it against some of the other players. You know how it is. You’re in the middle of the game and then your opponent suddenly blurts out “you can’t do that.” I’ve never known that was option because I was always told by other players you couldn’t. And yes I’ve read the rule book, but I don’t remember everything. And I would like to give the veteran player the benefit of the doubt, but it’s getting to look like you can’t trust everyone with knowing the rules. Not anymore. Thanks Knight.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            I think its easy to get confused because a flyer that leaves the board must return in zoom mode, and a deep striking FMC arrives in Swoop mode, so it would be logical to assume Flyers must arrive in zoom mode, but actually you have the choice, according to the BRB.

            I think there are far too many rules to remmber all of them, and veteran players often get rules from different editions mixed up. I know I do!

          • Muninwing

            didn’t they have to in 6th? that might be the confusion…

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            maybe thats it.

          • Shawn

            That could be it.

    • Muninwing

      The rules as they were — and are — have huge holes in them… adding one more kludge n top without figuring how to meld it with the game is a problem, but no more than any of about ten other changes they’ve made

      The game is neither overcomplex (if it’s what you are looking for) nor overlong (if you play it at low points, or after you learn the game, or if you like long games).

      The game costs less than most other hobbies. even other games — my brother’s 90s GURPS collection is far more expensive than my GW book stash

      No-one wants to lose their painted model before it even hits the table — but Mortis Dreads or skyfire Broadsides have been allowing them mere seconds on the board since the start of 6th…

      The nerfs to reserves are probably (if integrated better) a good idea.

      These rules are optional, and if you didn’t buy flyers at the start of 6th when they were dominating the game, you probably never will.

      Blight Drones? they can join my DE Wych-Cult army in a glass case…

  • MPSwift

    Good article laying out the benefits, I’ve not had a chance to look through DFS yet but it’s good to see a positive take on it for a change!

    • I will agree it’s good to see a positive article for it, since it encourages me to try to look at DFS from a different point of view.

  • I see nothing here debunking that a player is forced to play a flyer or suffer a significant handicap. I see nothing here debunking that if that flyer isn’t a dogfighter and your opponent’s is, you’re going to suffer a significant handicap. I see nothing in this article, at all, that addresses the concerns with DFS. “It doesn’t slow the game down as much as you think it does” is not “It doesn’t slow the game down.”

  • generalchaos34

    According to the GW facebook page they actively tell you to use the Valkyrie stats for your vendettas

  • Shiwan8

    If factions were on relatively even ground on flyer quality then sure, this could be a positive thing in it’s entirety. They are not though.

    I play CSM so this thing literally only helps me 2/3 turns when the drake is in the actual game. Orc flyers are now useless and Eldar flyers are even more powerful and broken than before when compared to other flyers. On top of that they are cheaper than many of their lesser brethren and by far the best flying things in the entire game if we look at points vs. efficiency.

    So, yeah, it’s not all bad. It just made the 2 most powerful factions (marines and eldar) even more powerful compared to others thanks to cheap and good flyers…which is something no other faction can claim. I’m not saying that flyers should be worse. I’m saying that the p*ss poor quality vs. cost ratio needs adjusting. Orc flyers would be ok on 50p each. Drake at 100p. For example, assuming eldar and marine planes would maintain their cost.

    • “Dude you’re just not trying it right.”

      • ZeeLobby

        haha, that is the response i’d expect at some point.

    • ZeeLobby

      Sadly this is, has been, and will continue being the case. Until GW Age of Emeperors 40K and we all move on to something else.

    • Balder

      It totally agree with the idea. I really like the new rules, but I just wish the stats and point costs were better represented throughout multiple teams. As it stands, elder and vanilla marines rock and most others suck. A bit of balancing could be done to make it work really well.

    • Shawn

      How many Hell turkeys do you have Shiwan? The new rule book actually improves them. They have an agility of 4, so you roll a 4 or less on a d6 and you can make an extra 90 degree turn, any time during your movement. It’s called a break turn. Pursuit is only 2, as it’s not intended for dog fights but blasting infantry. For some reason they didn’t get a formation, but they can still get the bonuses from attack wing patterns and having a wing leader, or ace.

      • Shiwan8

        2, which I will not play because of how much they suck even now and how bad they really are combined. Even with the new chance for extra turn it’s far and few between times they have targets. One must remember that most enemies are either invisible or warp spiders.

        • Shawn

          I’m sorry that’s how your meta is. There is only one dedicated Eldar player, and no hardly ever use invisibility. They’d much rather have prescience. I never use it because I play Iron Hands and would rather have biomancy and now technomancy.

          • Shiwan8

            I’m looking at meta in general. Local metas mean pretty much nothing to me. They are not objective because they tend to miss elements of the game due to player preference.

    • PHlevels

      Ork flyers can get a 3+ invulnerable save with this. They aren’t that useless.

      • Shiwan8

        Through formation or flight pattern?

        • PHlevels

          Through a formation that flys a specific flight pattern.

          • Shiwan8

            So….it pretty much never happens. Awesome. Meanwhile a single crimson hunter will eat them all alive on its bad day.

          • Zack Seiders

            Dumb question. Anyone know what type of plane the ork mek plane is?(fighter, attack or bomber). All I know is the death from the skies shenanigans is bringing as much internet strife as aos (more or less)

          • Shiwan8

            Well, it takes the game further away from reasonable balance and people are getting tired of broken eldar and marines.

          • Zack Seiders

            Part of the reason why I am contemplating taking a break building up my khorne daemonkin (got enough for some flavors of slaughter cult, a healthy gorepack, warmachines and a prince) and going to hide with my orcs and goblins (the new ironjaws) in aos… least over there the flame war seems to be dying down a little bit (yes I KNOW aos is more built towards casuals with the official point system only being recent)

          • Shiwan8

            Sre tou raking a break because people want balance of because there is no balance?

          • Zack Seiders

            More that their is no balance and people are throwing a stink. That and their is a huge gap between what is competitive (some competitive list are in the fun category but most of them are flavorless to say the least), what YOU THE PLAYER want to bring as an army (fluffy and fun) and what is considered to be dick moves to bring in said game (3 imperial knights in a 1000 point game “or 1 imperial knight in any game bellow 2000 points”)

          • Shiwan8

            Roger that. Can’t really blame you or anything.

          • Zack Seiders

            not leaving 40k. Just cooling down from all the bs. (while stormcast are filled with powerful units, their main flaw is that their is fewer models and majority forces wounds than anything certain, while with the undead all the op units are special characters “neferata and Nagash particular” simple issue to avoid if you make sure they do not use special characters “I like making my own characters fluff wise”.

          • Shiwan8

            I’m not too familiar with AoS. I’ve read the rules and after that I came to the conclusion that I have no interest in competing with my wallet and other than that there is no real cap for how much stuff you can field…yet.

          • Zack Seiders

            Like I said it is more for casual play (regardless of if the point system for tournaments is recent or not). It pretty much boils down to don’t be an a hole in regards to units, making it all wys/wyg and in terms to actually winning, focus on units that synergize with specific units in said army (look at khorne blood bound and the orcs/goblins for how this can mean the difference between being on the delivering side of a curb stomp or the receiving end of one) also you roll to see who goes first each turn “this can either screw you over or make you fight back after taking some heavy losses.” Also any unit that is in said grand alliance is for lack of better term battle brothers.

          • Zack Seiders

            Also in regards to wallet. It is understandable reasons.

  • Malisteen

    Taking an already weak unit type, and making it weaker unless you field a bunch of them, was a terrible move off the top. Not putting any effort into fixing problems with individual flier unit entries – they tacked on extra junk, but didn’t address any of the many existing problems with existing flier unit entries, weapons, or point costs while they were at it – is an extra insult on top of, apparently, not telling the FW people about it, leaving many of the fliers in the game incompatible with these rules, is just piling failure on failure.

    And, yes, 40k is too complicated, so these rules adding a whole bunch of extra complication on top – not just the dogfight phase, but extra rolls for extra pivots, different rules depending on how your units are aligned, etc – is just not what was needed here. Fliers needed to be better and simpler. Instead they’re worse (unless you take a bunch, and even then only if your particular flier actually benefits from any of the rules the attack patterns grant) and more complicated.

    DftS is bald-facedly the opposite of what the game, and fliers in particular, needed.

  • Josh

    I only have two points of contention to this article. One is admittedly small, but the Vendetta can never get into the rear arch on a crimson hunter, even if the Astra Militarum wins all three rolls he will be snap shooting. And two, there are two factions who lost their only access to skyfire with the release of this book, Blood Angels and Grey Knights. We have no option to stop flyers on our own now… 🙁

    • Shawn

      Perhaps out of the gate Josh, but used in formations and detachments, and some of the wing leader abilities make up for that. It being a d6 game they couldn’t justify giving a flyer a +1BS, if it’s already shooting at full BS. That would be insane. Of course, you could house rule it simple enough. One flyer with an ace pilot or veteran wing leader -gain skyfire. Boom. Done.

    • Arcangelo Daniaux

      Actually, I’m a Blood Angels player, and I was less and less a fan of the stormraven, as it was a lot of point for not so much. I was already using alies to play a stormtalon instead, but I had to have some space marines units (painted as Blood Swords).

      Now, I can get my stormtalon with the Air Superiority Detachement instead, playing two of them, or two of the new Stormhawk Interceptor. For a little more point than the raven, I get 4 las-canon shot, 2 twin linked assault canon and 2 missile skyhammer missile launcher. Plus even as a wing, they doesn’t count as a squadron, so the other player have to shoot them one by one. I was already planning of replacing it with a Forge World Xiphon Interceptor anyway… And getting two stormhawk is cheaper.

      Yes, I’m alright with you, why didn’t we get those two astartes flyers too as the Vanilla Marines and co stealed our flying land raider ? It’s a total nonsens that the Blood Angels only have one type of flyer. Plus I want them painted red too. Maybe GW will make it happen if the right amount of B.A. player ask.

    • Christopher Saldaña

      I don’t care for the new rules either, but you can actually paint up the Stormhawk Inteceptor as Grey Knights or Blood Angels and run them as allies in an Air Superiority Detachment.

  • Shawn

    Great article. I use flyers all the time. The’re versatile tools that allow me to do stuff without them. Now, I don’t have to have several hundred points waiting on the table to come in for a possible four turns.

  • Paul Sr.

    Vendetta isn’t really forgeworld, its a codex entry that GW is too cheap to toss a lascannon sprue in a box for. And many times over they have cleared it up that it is now a valkyrie with the points cost listed in the codex for the weapons loadout of a vendetta.

    Side note, first half decent article in a while and it’s a guest editorial lol.

  • Christopher Szynkowski

    Very well put and thought out. I’m still wondering if the DF phase should be omitted due to time constraints at tournaments, but the point about space is valid.

    • generalchaos34

      it looks like the dogfighting phase is entirely optional based on how it is written, although many of the wing leaders bonuses to revolve around it and you would be boned not playing it.

      • Christopher Szynkowski

        It is and the wing leader bonuses, while nice, aren’t game changers. The real advantages you get are the formation bonuses. The wing leader is just a little extra on top of everything else.

  • Andrew Thomas

    <reads reasonable article
    <scrolls down to comments
    <forgets goggles, face-mask, and rain-slicker
    <gets covered in raw sewage because everyone's hair's on fire

    • Shiwan8

      What was the article about? We all know it was not this one.

      • Andrew Thomas

        You wouldn’t understand, because you don’t know how, and refuse to allow yourself, to have fun. The advantage of being a casual gamer is that I don’t have to get into “barrel” measuring contests every time a new book hits the shelves, if I don’t want to, and I don’t get bitter when my “barrels” don’t quite measure up. I play my game, and I have fun, and occasionally, I win.

        • Shiwan8

          So, you do not care if the game is fair. Roger that. I do even though I do not go to competitions. I think it’s fun to win or lose mainly because of my skill vs. my opponents skill instead of skill being the least defining factor like it is now. At the moment you could just make 6 tiers of codices, give +1 for each tier above the lowest and just roll d6. Whoever wins the roll wins the game. Actually, maybe someone should make a business out of this. “40k dice, exactly the same total experience but the whole game last 5 secs! Play dozens of games during your coffee break! Have a hundred round tournament in just few hours!”

          Anyway, my fun depends on tight, barely won/lost games. Now it’s just “oh, you play marines/eldar/tau/deathstars. You won, no point in deploying.”

          • Andrew Thomas

            No, we just differ in how we define fairness. I can’t help it if your incessant whining about marines/eldar/tau/deathstars remains as tedious as ever. Why don’t you figure out how to win against them with your suboptimal faction instead of belly-aching all the time. And while you’re at it, get in some games with DftS.

          • Shiwan8

            Oh, so since I think that a tac marine vs. a rac marine is fair you must not…then…or something. Or is it that you play the FotM and thus think the game is just fine while everyone who does not play that is either lying to themselves or understands that the game is not anywhere near fine? 😀

            Well now, the thing is that I’m not anywhere near narcissistic enough to think that I’m such a special snowflake that I could figure out how to do something no-one else has been able to figure out during the past 4 years given the tools that I’m supposed to use. But hey, since you obviously do, please, figure out how to beat the top tier tournament lists consistently. The tools you have are what follows: codex CSM.

            Naturally, failing to create such a list you end up indirectly admitting that you have no arguments going for you and that you attempted to hide that behind attempted insults and redirections.

            Happy number crunching! 🙂

          • Andrew Thomas

            Playing from a single, sub-par codex, without allies or supplements, is masochism. And while I own some Marines, I don’t actually play them, because they’re boring, and I prefer playing the game to people rage-quitting because of the faction I brought.

          • Shiwan8

            So, actually you had nothing, just wanted to try to shame me to silence. Well, you failed.

            You are right, it’s fair if we all play those warp spider spams. Really, really boring but it is fair.

            Anyway, have good games.

          • Andrew Thomas

            You’re the one saying that this article isn’t reasonable, which isn’t the case, given the level of butthurt over this one supplement.

          • Shiwan8

            Well, it is not reasonable. It’s biased so badly that it’s pretty much void of truth.

          • Andrew Thomas

            Groupthink is a bias all its own.

          • Shiwan8

            True. Then again, this is not about that. It’s a great idea with poor execution. Basic GW.

          • Andrew Thomas

            What’s so poor about it, apart from the high end getting better and the low end stagnating?

          • Shiwan8

            It divides planes in to 3 categories while defining 2 of those categories useless. The book is designed so that only fighters are viable. Fighters function like old flyers, being good to ok at everything, while attack planes and bombers have their threat level halved. On top of that the player with more fighters than other planes gets bonus for it and bombers get a smacked in the face for being useless.

            In the book 3 factions have no access to fighters, one of the factions that does has a useless design for that role and the remaining 3 dominate the skies. It’s not that 2 out of these 3 are already “teh brokken” but rather that air superiority has been given to couple of factions and the rest have no say in it. They can not compensate, not even with numbers. Any of these 3 factions taking one fighter means that the rest should not take any planes at all and because of that can not leave things in the reserves.

            If this was done properly attack planes would have remained like they were, bombers would be awesome against ground targets while sucking at aerial combat and fighters would be the opposite of bombers. Now fighters are just as good against ground targets and better at everything else than the rest of the planes.

          • Andrew Thomas

            IRL attack craft do very little against superiority fighters, AA missiles notwithstanding, so again, you are asking for the game average and tournament average to be the same thing, which just doesn’t reflect the fluff. I don’t see how anything in the game is “useless,” especially attack flyers or bombers (and no, it’s not your job to educate me on how they are). Bombers are only really problematic in the Dogfight phase, which I point out to you only is an issue for 3 Factions, 2 of which have options to mitigate or even ignore those issues. The fighter advantage disappears the moment it hits the board, and is negated by their opponent having any flyers left in Reserves at the end of the Dogfight phase, which if they brought more than 1, they will. You’re just being overly maudlin about the game, as usual.

          • Shiwan8

            It’s a game in a fictional setting. IRL means nothing. Other thing you said there simply are not true. I’ve explained that to you before and am not about to repeat the process of explaining self explanatory things to you. Facts are facts and they prove you wrong.

          • Andrew Thomas

            Also, your no access argument is ridiculous, because of Allies. Kinda sucks for Chaos, seeing that the best Fighters are Desperate Allies or worse, but it’s not so much an issue because of how fast Flyers can move.

          • Shiwan8

            Technically I could just take eldar flyers, true. Then again I’m not one of the lowest cast of gamers, the ones that will turn coat whenever something else is more powerful. If I wanted to play eldar I would do it already.

            Why should a necron player be forced to take eldar flyers?

  • Alpharius


  • Secundum

    You suggest don’t use DFS for XYZ….That’s not an option-these rules are not optional, they’re mandatory.

    • CatachanCommissar

      I feel/believe it’s more of a supplement, like cities of death was. I like the article, like flyers, and still have no interest in using these rules.

      Thankfully it’s very easy before a game to say: hey I don’t want to use this supplement I didn’t buy and have no interest in, cool?

      • Stormandreas

        The issue with DFS, is it does say in the book “This first section of the Burning Skies rules presents the expanded rules for Flyers, which replace those from Warhammer 40,000: The Rules.”

        So unfortunately, It is something that’s supposed to be used, and if someone pulls the book out and demands it’s use, its hard to argue against it, outside of just not having your game.

        • CatachanCommissar

          Yeah but I could see a lot of supplements saying that, like planetstrike rules that could easily “this replaces the rules found in wh40k”. I mean don’t all supplements do that? I think a lot of tournaments will not use it and I know a lot of casual players won;t use it. I just think this is a bad direction to go in. Personal preference and all.

          • Stormandreas

            Yea, I agree completely.
            All the supplements so far, have just stated they add these rules for specialist games. The new DFS book however is the only one stating that it flat out replaces the rules.
            Personally, I don’t want to use it either. My local store forces us to use it if we want to play in a tourney, which I don’t see many people wanting to do now, given time constraints.

      • Secundum

        Except Games Workshop have flat-out said these are the new rules. They aren’t optional-they replace the existing ones (which is the most stupid thing ever but hey – it’s geedubs!).

        • CatachanCommissar

          Yeah that’s a bummer, I didn’t know that. it’s like forcing someone to buy an expansion to keep playing the base game. No thanks. I’ll avoid it in the future no matter what GW says haha.

        • Michael Campbell

          Except GW don’t run the tourneys, TOs do. Lots of tourneys already make changes from the official rules. Case in point: Invisibility.

          • Secundum

            There’s a BIG difference between minor tweaks and ‘we’re going to ignore an entire phase’.

  • Randy Randalman

    This is easily the best written review of a 40k product we’ve had in a long time. Honest, thorough, and objective.
    Most complainers have made up their minds ahead of time. They are going to hate things no matter what.

    Side note: While Flyrants are hard to kill, they are literally the ONLY thing the Tyranids can play to be even slightly competitive. They lose objective games hands down, and most top tier armies can throw enough bullets in the air to knock a Flyrant down anyway.

    • benn grimm

      Its not a review, its an ‘in defense of’ article, he’s trying to be positive about something which is already widely reviled, which I applaud him for, despite the futility. You just like it because it chimes with your view.

      Here’s a crazy thought; maybe the people who don’t like it are just as honest and capable of writing well; they just don’t think its very good. Not hate, just mild disdain, coupled with a vague feeling of disappointment.

  • pokemastercube .

    i asked FW about the flyers at warhammer fest. their reply was “we were not allowed to see in the book untill it was released as they were afraid we would leak something from it.” update work is underway, no eta for when it will be released tho

    • Christopher Saldaña

      So they’re not REALLY a part of GW? What’s the point of that? Wouldn’t things go more smoothly if they collaborated on these types of things?

      • pokemastercube .

        oh it would go better if they did. but so long as the stupid silence pollicy is there it probably is not going to happen much given FW are fairly open about what is comming

  • mugginns

    If its in the 8th edition rulebook I’ll consider it, but not paying $57 for add-on rules. Not interested in ANOTHER phase of random dice rolling and stuff blowing up before it even hits the table, lol.

    • Shiwan8

      I bought the digital version. Now I’m not sure it was worth it.

  • Drpx

    They could have just made it a separate game to use flyer models for instead of cramming it in to another one.

  • Bugsculptor

    My favorite thing about DFS is the way they’ve totally forgotten tyranids and flying monstrous creatures in the rules. The crone is an an air superiority MC that can’t dogfight. Whoop!

  • Bhazakhain

    Here here! Well said. Totally agree with this article. Going to get another Crimson Hunter to be able to field a Shroud of Kurnous formation. I think the DftS book if great and will add a lot of fun to the game. Can’t wait to give it a go! Just a shame I’ll have to put my Harlequin Heroe’s Path formation back in the box to make way for this in my Warhost!

    • Shiwan8

      You play eldar. Naturally you think it’s fun addition to the rules. It makes your faction even stronger than before.

  • Stormandreas

    “Air Superiority is such a significant mechanic that it will, more than anything, force players to consider flyers during list construction”
    Yes, because I totally LOVE to be FORCED to take something in my drop pod orientated list that I DON’T WANT TO USE!

    This is what’s wrong with DFS. Being FORCED to take a flier to make your list strategy work, and a lot of lists use deep striking as a strategy, and many of them don’t use fliers, simply because most fliers really aren’t very good regardless, so being FORCED to take a 140+ point model just to make sure you don’t get punished by the rules isn’t entirely acceptable.

    Are you seeing the key word here?

    • Shiwan8

      To be fair 140p is not much considering that most armies have literally useless tax unit that cost more.

      • Stormandreas

        True, though most tax units are either Troops to fill a Force org, or to fill a formations requirements.

        Personally, my Space Marine army has, over the years, been micro managed to perfection, and I refuse to use fliers in it as it doesn’t suit the playstyle at all (basiclly the whole army auto-hits with blasts and templates, with nearly every unit re-rolling wounds/armour pens. its hard)

  • Thomas Gardiner

    DFS is just yet more bloat to add to an already corpulent game. It’s unnecessary, slows down the game and simply adds more unneeded complexity.

    Remember, convolution is not the same as depth in gameplay.

  • Painjunky

    “Draw straws 3 times”

    Facepalm… Ok just… Facepalm.