Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to discuss some of the challenges facing us with Death from the Skies in tournament play!
Death from the Skies offers us official new rules and a new phase for flyers in Warhammer 40,000. While that unto itself is exciting, it leaves us in a weird position for organized play. Why do I say this? Because it is an incomplete rule-set and a book that not everyone has. There are a TON of Flyers that are not in the book (assuming you use Forgewold units as we do in the ITC and most tournaments these days do) and adds an entirely new phase to an already very long game. What is the overloaded 40k TO to do?
Abuse Puppy already wrote a great review of the book over at Frontline Gaming, which you can read, here, so I won’t go into the nuts and bolts of it. What we’re going to talk about is actually implementing the book.
First off, the biggest issue: where are all the other flyers?
I am sure in time Forgeworld will release an updated Aeronautica Imperialis (or what have you) with updated dataslates, but until then, what do we do? Use the old rules? Make up classifications for the missing Flyers and assign them new stats? Then you would be in a situation with players using different rules for the same types of units or we make up new rules as a community to cover the gap. Neither is very appealing.
What about the Dogfighting phase?
Is it worth it to use in tournament play or no? Do we choose to omit a fairly random phase and the reserves modifications that come with it, or do we try to squeeze another time consuming phase to tournament 40k where games already go right up to the hilt?
Many flyers losing Skyfire is also a bit rough for some armies. That reduces their AA to close to nill, or actually zero in some cases. This makes fighting things like FMCs who are very popular in the meta a bear and really alters some lists. Do you think this is good or bad for the meta?
Or how about Fighters losing BS when firing on ground targets? Some “Fighters” like the poor Razorwing, are just absolutely awful against other flyers and really get hurt badly by this when they are already not so good in an already not so good army. Another victim is the Ork Dakkajet which is so much better against ground units, and now going to BS2 vs ground targets…you’re not going to see them on the table and they just barely usable before. Strength 6 Skyrifre quite simply does not cut the mustard. The Night Scythe also suffers when it was already not an optimal choice losing Skyfire. What we see is that flyers got pretty much worse across the board, but gained the ability to do a few neat tricks when the meta was already experiencing a dearth of flyers apart from a few outstanding choices (many of which, humorously, are not in the book, lol). These rules, while characterful, overall reduce the efficacy of a unit type that was already struggling.
Two Steps forward One Step Back?
Flyer Wings are fun, and certainly mitigate the weaknesses mentioned above. They are quite powerful and as GW has been doing, encourage you to buy LOTS of flyers to gain special rules benefits. These to me are a lot of fun, and the benefits are quite powerful. Ignoring Cover, bonuses to BS and Jinking, etc. are handed out like candy to help make your flyers better on the table. Are you a fan of the Wings? Do you think having to stay in formation to gain the benefits offsets the nerfs to flyers in general? As a player that uses 3 flyers in my Astra Militarum army, I can tell you from experience I almost never have them in “formation” as I am better served having them come in from different attack vectors. I do not know how frequently I would actually gain the benefits. How about you?
Lastly, we have the Air Superiority Detachment. This is cool and provides some powerful benefits, not the least of which is the +2/-2 to reserves. That alone will force a great deal of lists to change as any reserves style army, of which there are a lot, would be nearly obligated to add a flyer to avoid having their entire army strategy shut down. Is that a good thing? I don’t think so, personally. If you build an outflanking or Deep Striking army and have been having fun with it, this one rule almost negates your army unless you shoehorn a flyer into it. Again, not the end of the world, but wow, what a big meta impact. Is it worth it?
What do you think?
Is Death from the Skies something that is usable in a tournament setting at this point in time or no? Is it more suited for casual/narrative play, or can we make it work in an organized setting? Should we require EVERY player at a tournament to have both the BRB and Death from the Skies? That’s getting not only expensive bu cumbersome to lug around.