Has Games Workshop finally fixed Supersonic Flyers in Warhammer 40,000?
In the previous two editions of Warhammer 40k, Flyers were a mixed bag. On one hand, you had an incredibly difficult to hit and sometimes game-winning unit that could table an opponent by itself. If you played during the “Reign of the Heldrake (pre-nerfs)” or the “Necron Croissant of Doom” Era then you know what I’m talking about. On the flip side, because they were still a vehicle, one lucky shot could ruin your plans for air superiority.
After a few rules changes and an increase in access to AA weapons flyers seemed to take a back seat almost entirely. But then a new Flyer issue popped-up involving FMCs…that’s something we won’t get into with this article however. No, I want to focus strictly on those old school flyers – the ones that got fancy kits and then suddenly disappeared from most tabletops. Let’s talk about the “Supersonic” flyers and how Games Workshop may have finally found a solid middle ground for them in Warhammer 40k 8th.
The Mechanics of Flight
We touched on the rules of flyers in a previous article. But I wanted to revisit one particular “cut out” of those rules:
When I’m talking about “Supersonic” Flyers, I’m referring specifically to flyers with these 3 rules. Now, not all Flyers have these rules – check your Datasheets! But the addition of these 3 rules helps to make Supersonic Flyers viable AND they helped to curb the issues with FMCs at the same time (again, something I’m not going to explore in this article).
Airborne has a few big rules to go through:
- This model cannot charge,
- can only be charged by units that can FLY,
- and can only attack or be attacked in the Fight phase by units that can FLY.
I wrote the rule out that way in particular. I know there are folks that are going to want to argue about comma placement, British English vs American English, or perhaps even the Oxford comma. But by my interpretation, it really just means that unless a unit has FLY it can’t really interact with this unit in the Fight phase. After-all, Flyers shouldn’t be charging into close combat to begin with – there attack stats are generally terrible (there are always exceptions however).
Supersonic dictates the way a model with this rule moves. When this model moves:
- First pivot it on the spot UP TO 90°
- Then move the model straight forwards.
- When this model Advances, increase the Move by characteristic 20″ – note: check your datasheet for the exact distance.
I feel like this one is pretty self explanatory. Keep in mind most of these Supersonic Flyers DO have a minimum move distance. We talked about that before, but I wanted to bring this up because I really like this rule for a few reasons. If a Supersonic Flyer can’t meet those restrictions then it leaves combat airspace. It translates from the lore to the tabletop fairly well.
Now, I still think it’s a little silly to have these aircraft in a battlezone that is relatively tiny to their range – but I can suspend my disbelief because of the extra movement restrictions. These restrictions also account for the flyer’s need to leave the combat airspace due to positioning – perhaps it was low on fuel. Or maybe it stalled out or was recalled from the airfield. What ever reason you come up with narrative-wise, in game it’s gone from the fight.
Hard to Hit is a MUCH better version of the rule in the previous edition where attackers shooting only hit on 6’s. This negative modifier to the attackers shooting is a deterrent to even shoot at the Supersonic Flyer. At the same time, it’s not so much of a penalty that units won’t even bother to do it. This dilemma causes both players to make tough tactical choices in the game. “Do I risk my flyer and just go in for the kill shot?” “Do I want to dedicate my shooting at the Supersonic Flyer because it’s fast this turn or do I need to stop that other unit?”
It’s those types of decisions that make the game interesting and Hard to Hit really works well for that.
The last thing I want to talk about briefly is how the new changes to vehicles also help with Supersonic Flyers.
First off, there are no more firing arcs to deal with. If a vehicle can draw line of sight to a model, it can shoot at it and vice-versa! I’m totally fine with this change.
Secondly, no longer will a single lucky shot down your flyer (in most cases). On the flip side, just putting wounds on Supersonic Flyers is a lot more consistent. Anything can do damage on a 6, combine that with the removal of Jink and flyers feel like they are in a good spot. They aren’t impossible to deal with but they aren’t super fragile either. It’s that more balanced position combined with the benefits and restrictions above that really make Supersonic Flyers in 8th work well.
So if you swore off flyers or if you just haven’t used your models in a while, pull them out and give Supersonic Flyers a shot – you might enjoy the new changes to them from BOTH sides of the table!
What do you think about the state of Supersonic Flyers in 8th? Are you happy with where they are at or would you like them to swing one way or the other?