40K Tactics: Burning Flyers Out of the Skies
8th Edition is teaching old players new tricks – like how “template” weapons are much more useful.
8th Edition is a learning experience for us all. It’s been decades since we’ve seen 40K get an overhaul this big and there is a lot of “unlearning” that existing players have to do. This is one of those interesting eras of the game when it may be easier on newcomers who have no rules-baggage to deal with and can just learn everything correctly right off the bat.
I’ve already hit upon a couple of key elements that are central tenets of the rules that seem totally alien to me – a 30 year player of 40K. My personal cross to bear is forcing myself to fire pistols in the shooting phase for my units that are engaged in combat, then attacking with melee weapons later in the fight phase. It’s totally correct but just feels UTTERLY ALIEN to the GW rules-heritage of the past 30 years.
But onto Flamers/Blasts
Half of mastering a new ruleset isn’t just learning the new rules, but erasing your previous pre-conceived notions and built up prejudices. Flyers have been off limits to incoming fire from blast and template weapons for a while now. It was an absolute rule, so really no one bothered doing “what-if” comparisons of the blast/template weapon stats versus flyers.
But 8th Edition has turned that on its head. Not only have the template and blast weapons been removed from the game, pretty much anything can blaze away at units that can fly. That’s already a funky enough concept to wrap your head around: “I fire the Hellhound at your Dakkajet”. But in many cases the ex-blast/template weapons aren’t only now able to target those pesky fast moving flying units – they are REALLY GOOD at knocking them off the table.
I’ve found that the combination of the multiple shots combined with the automatic hits of the ex-template weapons can really put the hurt on their targets. I will often prefer to hit an opponent with a larger number of lower strength automatic hitting weapons, than a lower number of higher strength weapons. The ex-template weapons are more reliable and the automatic hits removes one step in the process of hurting the bad guys.
Here’s an Example:
You want to knock down some pesky flyers flitting around the table, harassing your Eldar army. So you immediately reach for that top-shelf air-to-air fighter the Crimson Hunter – right?
It’s getting 4 S:8 shots at a range of 36″-48″ hitting on a 3+, with rerolls on failed to-wound rolls versus flyers. Perfect right. PEW PEW PEW and the bad flyer is sent to the ground in flames.
But let’s take a moment to consider the much-maligned in 7th Edition alternative – the Hemlock
Back in 7th, it had weapons that couldn’t target flyers at all and was generally a mess. But in 8th – WATCH OUT! It’s got Assault 2d3 S10 shots at an 18″ range – that automatically hit. That’s CRAZYTOWN! But then you note the Crimson Hunter outranges it by about 2 feet. Remember the Hemlock moves 20-60″ with a 20″ Advance move and all it’s weapons are Assault. It’s going to be in range.
This is only one example of needing to re-examine many units that function totally differently in 8th Edition. The Hellhound’s Inferno cannon is no slouch at knocking down flyers these days and it’s a bad idea to park any model you care about next to a Land Raider Redeemer. Once you add in Forge World units it really gets nutty. We just played a 8th edition mega battle with a Warhound’s Titan Inferno Gun that burned fully intact enemy flyers into molten slag every turn. An 18″ Heavy 4d6 S:7 -3AP D:4 weapon that automatically hits is a true terror of the tabletop now.
~So crack open those datasheet books and look sharp – it’s a whole new world out there and the skies are deadlier than ever.