Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Death From The Skies Supplement Review- Part 2: The Dogfight Phase

Welcome to the second part of my review of the new Death from the Skies supplement review, looking on the new Dogfight phase for flyers. The first part of the review looked at some of the additional rules for flyers and the new rules for the Flyer Wings in 40k.

The Dogfight phase occurs at the start of a player turn before reserve rolls if each player has one or more flyers in reserves. This is not compulsory though and if one player wants a Dogfight and the other does not, they can roll off to decide if it occurs.

If the Dogfight phase does occur, there are 4 different phases that occur.

1. Interception Phase
This phase basically decides who is the Attacker and who is the Defender. This is a simple roll off, with bonuses for having more Fighters in reserve and penalties for having more Bombers in reserve.

The Attacker gets to pick one of his flyers and one of his opponent's flyers to take part in the Dogfight, meaning the Attacker can single out an enemy craft rather than having to go up against the Defender's choice.

2. Engage Phase
This phase basically decides whether the flyers move closer to one another or a player can end the Dogfight phase.
Both players secretly select a value between 1 and 3 to represent different engagement tactics and cross reference the results on the Engagement tactics table. The action that each player picks decides whether the Attacker or Defender wins this phase. Depending on the players' choices, there is a 1 in 3 chance the Defender wins, a 1 in 3 chance the Attacker wins or a roll off between the players to see who wins.

The Pursuit value of a flyer is important in the roll off, so flyers with a higher pursuit value are more likely to win this phase.

The winner of the phase can choose to decrease the range between the flyers (who start off 3 feet apart) by set values or can choose to disengage and end the dogfight. This means that players that don't want to be involved in the dogfight have a second chance to end the phase now.

3. Manoeuvre Phase.
Again, the players pick a secret option on the Manoeuvre tactics table and cross reference their choices to see if the Attacker or Defender wins this phase. The table is similar to the Engage phase, but this time the Agility value of the flyer is important for the roll off.

The winner of this phase can force their opponent's flyer to turn up to 180 degrees based on their Agility values. This makes it more or less difficult to hit the enemy flyer. Alternatively, the winner can choose to Jink. This is an important phase to win as this is generally the only way a player is allowed to Jink and therefore gain a cover save against the enemy guns.

4. Attack Phase
Again, the players pick a secret option from the Attack Tactics table and cross-reference the results to see whether the Attacker or Defender gets to fire first.

The type of flyer and angle of attack are important in this phase, determining which flyer will shoot first in some cases and whether or not they have to snap fire.

Skyfire weapons always get to fire with their full ballistic skill, making them very powerful in Dogfights. I'm not sure if Fighters get to use Skyfire in a Dogfight. The special rules state that Fighters can enter skyfire at the start of the shooting phase, does this apply to Dogfights too? I would think not, meaning that Fighters will be snap firing this phase in some instances.

In any case, the Dogfight phase gives you a chance to possibly take out your opponent's flyers before they have a chance to arrive from reserve. This phase will be better suited for flyers with the Fighter type as they have more advantages in a dogfight over attack flyers and bombers.

An Example
I decided to have a go at a Dogfight phase using a couple of my own flyers. It was a lovely day at the weekend, so I decided to go to the spare room, put on some music and have a little play with myself....... Now you have that image firmly entrenched in your mind, the set up was this:

I took a Dakkajet from my Ork army and a Stormtalon from my White Scars army. These were armed and upgraded how I would normally play them in a game of 40k; the Dakkajet had three twin-linked Supashootas, while the Stormtalon had a twin-linked assault cannon and a skyhammer missile launcher.

The Dakkajet is a Fighter with Pursuit 4 and Agility 2. The Stormtalon is an Attack flyer with Pursuit 3 and Agility 3. For each tactics choice, I would roll a D3 separately for each flyer and apply the random result for their tactic on the table.

So on to my fictitious dogfight.

1. Interception Phase
Both flyers had to roll off for this phase. I assumed that each flyer was the only one in each army, so the Ork player would get a +1 to the roll off for having more Fighters.

I rolled a 1 for the Ork player and 6 for the White Scars player, meaning the Stormtalon was the Attacker.
A bit far apart.

Normally, both flyers would be set up 36" apart, but the rules suggest that you can double up ranges for distances and weapons and set up the flyers 18" apart. This is probably the best way to do it as I doubt most players will have a spare table at least 4 feet long simply for the Dogfight phase in addition to their regular table for a standard 40k game.

A bit more like it.

2. Engage Phase
Based on the random roll, the Stormtalon chose to Pursue while the Dakkajet chose to Head for the Clouds. Cross referencing this on the table meant a roll off for the two players, adding their Pursuit value.

The roll off gave both players a 3, meaning the Dakkajet with the higher Pursuit roll was the winner of this phase. I chose to keep the two flyers 36" apart. This would mean the Dakkajet's supashootas were in range, but the Stormtalon's assault cannons would not be.

Had the White Scars player won the roll off, I would probably have opted to end the Dogfight there. The Fighter Dakkajet has the advantage in a dogfight and the Stormtalon would likely be snap firing at his opponent and unlikely to cause too much damage.

3. Manoeuvre Phase
Again, the random roll mean the Stormtalon performed a Wingover, while the Ork Stalled. Cross referencing on the table meant that the Dakkajet had once again won the phase.

The Dakkajet forced the Stormtalon to turn 90 degrees to one side. As a Fighter, this gives the Dakkajet an advantage if the angle of attack is not head on. (In the picture I have turned the Stormtalon 180 degrees. This looks better, but the Dakkajet's Agility is not high enough to force a turn of more than 90 degrees).
I can't shake him!

4. Attack Phase
The Stormtalon chose to Tail, while the Dakkajet Broke Right. The table gives the order of attack to be based on the Flyer's type. As a Fighter, the Dakkajet gets to attack first. Normally, the angle of attack would force both flyers to snap fire, but as a Fighter, the Dakkajet once again has an advantage and gets to fire at full ballistic skill.

The Ork pilot cackles with glee as he unloads the Supashootas on the retreating Stormtalon. Some amazing rolls sees all but one of the nine shots hit (I never roll this good in a normal game!). The AP rolls sees two penetrating hits and two glancing hits on the Stormtalon.
Some dead eye shooting from the Dakkajet pilot. Guess he is just excited to be in his first Dogfight!

As the White Scars player did not win the Manoeuvre phase, the Stormtalon cannot Jink, meaning the Space Marine flyer is blown out of the sky!

The Ork player has taken out the enemy flyer without having set base on the board. He will now have Air Superiority, giving him a bonus to reserve rolls and hindering the reserve rolls of the Space Marine player.

As you can see, the Dogfight phase can be a powerful tool for taking out enemy flyers, especially if you have a Fighter plane in reserve. This phase should be quite useful for my Dakkajet and Nephilim fighters in regular games, though I would probably try and avoid it for my other flyers. In all honesty, I can see myself using the Dogfight rules too often, I frequently forget the psychic phase as it is when my army includes psykers, I can't see me remembering this too much unless my opponent is quite keen about it.

I hope you have enjoyed my review of the Dogfight phase and my mock fight between the two flyers. The next part of the review will look at some of the new Flyers and formations available in the book.

Part 1- Flyer Rules and Flyer Wings
Part 2- The Dogfight Phase
Part 3- New Flyers and Formations
Part 4- Air War Missions


  1. Cheers for the walk through. Good stuff

  2. I read it as requiring the Weapon itself to actually have the Skyfire Rule. Otherwise, the bit in the Angle of Attack Rule where Fighters get to use their full BS and others don't doesn't make sense, because they would always be able to do that anyhow. It also makes the Icarus Stormcannon more worthwhile as a swap for the LasTalon on the StormHawk, while otherwise the Talon is the obvious choice. I think there might be a couple of FW Flyers with defensive Turrets that have Skyfire, too, and then there are the Drones on the Tau Bomber.

    One of the issues I have with it is that there are very few situations where it's possible to end up tailing people, since you have to win the Sub-Phase and have an Agility Value 2 higher than your Opponent, which is the case in very few matchups. And non-Fighters pretty much have to get into Tailing position to have much chance, unless they have truly ludicrous amounts of Twin-Linked Firepower.

    The one that particularly bugs me is the Helldrake, which has a special Rule that lets it basically use its Vector Strike in a Dogfight if it's both at an engagement range of 12" and Tailing the opposing Flyer, but with a Pursuit value of 2, it's impossible for it to close the distance that far unless your Opponent has no idea what they're doing.