Thursday, 2 June 2016

Death From the Skies Supplement Review- Part 3: New Flyers and Formations

The third part of my review will look at the rules for the new flyers and their formations that have been introduced in Death from the Skies.
New Flyers
Stormhawk Interceptors
Space Marine armies have a new flyer of the Fighter type to take on their foes. The flyer is based on the Stormtalon chassis and I really like the look of the new model (I may even consider picking one up in time).

The Stormhawk has a higher front armour of 12 compared to the Stormtalon, but the rest of the stats remain the same. This gives the Stormhawk a bit more durability compared to the Stormtalon. It is also a fighter, giving it some great bonuses in the Dogfight phase (it even gets a bonus to its Pursuit and Agility values in the Dogfight phase).
The flyer comes armed with a twin-linked assault cannon, Las-talon and twin-linked heavy bolter, so has a decent amount of firepower. The Las-talon is a shorter ranged Lascannon with an extra shot, so pretty good for taking on other flyers or ground tanks (albeit hitting on 4's thanks to being a Fighter). The Las-talon can be upgraded to an Icarus Stormcannon, which has the Interceptor and Skyfire, making it very useful in the Dogfight phase. The heavy bolters can be upgraded to either a Skyhammer missile launcher or Typhoon missile launcher. The options for the Stormhawk's weapons allow you to either target armour or infantry as you choose. The only downside is that the Stormhawk suffers a -1 BS penalty to shooting a ground targets, so may diminish its firepower slightly.
The Stormhawk also comes armed with an Infernum Halo-Launcher, giving it re-rollable Jink saves to get in on some of that sweet Ravenwing action.
I like the Stormhawk Interceptor. It is a great looking model and comes with a lot of firepower for such a cheap flyer. It does suffer a bit against ground targets, but should perform very well in any dogfights.

Wazbom Blastajets
This new Ork flyer is based on the chassis of the Dakkajet (and its varients) and shares the same profile, so armour 10 all round and 3 hull points. As such, it is not the toughest of flyers available.

It comes armed with a twin-linked Kustom mega kannon, smasha gun and stickbomb flinga. The Kustom mega cannon is essentially a strength 8 plasma cannon so will be great for taking on normal marines or terminators. The blast helps mitigate the Orks' poor ballistic skill, but gets hot is risky for damaging your own vehicle. The smash gun is strength 5-10 and AP1, so potentially great for taking out vehicles if you can roll high enough. The stickbomb flinga provides you with a 5+ invulnerable save against one glancing or penetrating hit each enemy shooting phase. A decent save if you take the risk of not jinking against non-skyfire weapons in case your opponent gets a lucky hit. Though with its poor armour of 10, many weapons in the game potentially pose a threat to the blastajet.

The Kustom mega cannon can be replaced with a Tellyporta mega blast, which has essentially the same profile, but has a lower range and any rolls of a 6 to wound inflict instant death or an auto penetrating hit. The Stickbomb flinga can be replaced with a Kustom force field, giving the plane a 5+ invulnerable save against all shooting attacks. You can also give it a turret supa shoota that gains the Interceptor rule. All these upgrades can get expensive, taking them all makes the flyer cost almost 200 points, which I think is pretty expensive for the damage output it can provide.

It also has rokkit boostas. A once per game bonus that boosts its pursuit value at the expense of its agility, helping it out in Dogfights.

I'm not wild about the Wazbom Blastajet. The Kustom mega kannon is decent enough but is not going to do a huge amount of damage with the small blast. The smash gun could be a useful anti-tank or monstrous creature weapon, but if you want this I think you would be better served taking a unit of Mek guns. For 50 pts less than the flyer, you could get 3 mek guns with the added bonus of not only 3 shots, but increased ballistic skill, toughness 7 and a 3+ armour save, as well as additional ablative wounds in the form of extra crew. For me, the Blastajet simply does not bring enough to the table to justify its points cost.

New Formations
Strike Wing
This new formation for Space Marine flyers consists of two Stormtalons and two Stormhawk Interceptors.
The only special rule for this flyer wing is that it has two Wing Leaders, so two rolls on the bonus table. The formation can also form two Vigilance patterns made up of the Stormtalons and Stormhawks. The special rules state that as long as both pairs of flyers are in the attack pattern, then they gain the vigilance attack pattern rules no matter how far apart the pairs of flyers are. I'm not sure I understand what the bonus is for this. Does it mean that you can form two separate vigilance patterns or that you would gain the Vigilance rules if you were in, for example, the Indomitable attack pattern? To me, the wording is not too clear and I am not sure what the bonus for this formation is. If anyone out there understands the wording, please let me know.

Ravenwing Abductor Squadron
This flyer wing consists of a Dark Talon and two Nephilim Jetfighters. This flyer wing gives the Dark Talon the Vigilance attack pattern rules when the flyers are in any formation.
I'm not sure what the bonus for this formation is. The Dark Talon already has strafing run and will hit ground targets on a 2+, so the +1 BS bonus of the Vigilance wing is useless. The +1 to jink save is useful (especially with Ravenwing re-rolls), but the Jinking Dark Talon will be unable to fire its rift cannon or drop the stasis bomb, so will be snap firing two hurricane bolters. I think the Ravenwing Silence squadron formation grants more of a bonus, and even then, it is still not a great bonus for taking three quite expensive flyers.

Ice Storm Assault Pack
This formation for the Space Wolves consists of two Stormwolves and 2 Stormfangs. The flyer wing gives units that disembard from the Stormwolves Fleet the turn they disembark and has the option to freeze enemy units that suffer unsaved wounds from helfrost attacks, making them stationary and WS1.
This flyer wing is obviously geared towards getting units into combat, of which the Space Wolves have a wide variety of units that could take advantage of this. Getting fleet on the turn they deploy is great for ensuring that your units get into combat and ensuring that the unit(s) they are fighting are WS1 will also significantly help with their damage output (the helfrost attacks are either S6 AP3 or S8 AP1, so you should cause wounds unless your opponent is very lucky with their cover or invulnerable saves).
When going into Hover to allow the units to deploy and assault, the Fortitude attack pattern would be great, providing a 4+ invulnerable for your flyers against enemy shooting and combat counterattacks in the following turn.

My only concern with this formation is that it costs 870 pts base before any upgrades or unit to put in it are taken into account. This would only likely be used in massive games or where you want to make it the main focus of your army. As such, I'm not sure how often it would be used or be seen on the tabletop. Saying that though, there are likely some crazy Space Wolves players out there ready to give it a go (all Space Wolves players are close to frothing maniacs anyway, not refined and elegant like us Dark Angels players in our fabulous robes........)

Blackheart Talon
This Dark Eldar formation consists of two Razorwing Jetfighters and two Voidraven Bombers.
This formation provides the Razorwing Jetfighters' weapons with the Interceptor rule and prevents the bombers from being targeted in a dogfight if their are Razorwings in reserve. In addition, the flyers get to pick a priority target in the enemy army and gain Preferred Enemy against the unit.

A pretty decent bonus for the flyers in the formation, but again, pretty expensive to buy the four units for flyer wing.

Shroud of Kurnous
The Eldar also get their own flyer formation consisting of one Hemlock Wraithfighter and 2-3 Crimson Hunters.
The formation's special rules boost the psychic defence of the formation. Any Crimson Hunter within range of a Wraithfighter gets +2 to Deny the Witch rolls. I assume this is only against attacks targeting the Crimson Hunter, but the rules do not specify this. I'm not sure how useful this would be, how often are flyers targeted by psychic powers? In addition the Hemlock Wraithfighter gets the Shrouding power in addition to any other psychic power.

Opressor Flight
This Necron formation consists of a Night Scythe and 2-3 Doom Scythes.
The formation gets a pseudo-preferred enemy against enemy HQ units and allows a single friendly Necron vehicle to deep strike without scatter close to the flyer wing if they are in a formation. This provides a nice bonus for ensuring that other Necron vehicles arrive when and where you want them to, given the large range that flyers have in the game.

Ork Skwadron
This huge formation consists of 3 flyer wings consisting of either a Blitz-bommer wing, burna-bomber wing or dakkajet wing, so at least 6 flyers in the army.
The Best of Da Best rule allows you to pick one flyer wing to get some bonuses, including +1 BS and the skilled rider rule. This could potentially give the flyer wing a 2+ Jink save if the appropriate attack formation is chosen and give you BS4 Orks with the correct formation!
Da Big Wing allows you to use all the flyer wings in an attack formation, granting them the ability to move flat out and shoot.

I think the first bonus is more useful than the second, as flyers can generally cover much of the board in their movement phase, but could come in handy in certain situations.

Kustom Wazmob
This formation consists of a Wazbom Blastajet (which must take a kustom force field) and any three other Ork flyers. This formation only gives one special rules, but its a pretty good one. While in the Fortitude attack pattern, all flyers in the wing gain a 3+ invulnerable save.
This is a pretty good bonus for the Ork flyers, giving them a better than Jink save and lots of firepower for the four flyers. You could build this formation for just below 500 pts, giving you a lot of firepower and a seriously durable flyer wing in the absence of any significant skyfire weaponry.

Air Caste Support Cadre
A Tau formation consisting of 2 Razorshark Strike Fighters and two Sun Shark Bombers. This formation gives you a slightly worse It Will Not Die and a special rule giving them the potential to ignore Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned rolls. Pretty good for keeping your shooty Tau flyers firing each turn and taking on enemy threats.

Air Superiority Detachment
This detachment consists of one compulsory flyer wing, with two optional additional flyer wings.

For taking the flyer wing, you receive a number of bonuses.

AIR COMMANDER- This ability gives you some nice bonuses in the Dogfight phase and some great reserves manipulation. If you have Air Superiority and the Wing Leader is in reserve, you get to add or subtract 2 from your reserve rolls. This practically guarantees your reserves will arrive or give you a good chance of delaying them. In addition, your opponent subtracts 2 from their reserve rolls, meaning reserves only arrive on a 5+, quite a significant hindrance if your opponent has a reserves heavy force.

COMBINED FORMATION- All wings from the formation can roll a single reserves roll if you wish.

OBJECTIVE SECURED- All transports that can hover gain the objective secured rule. In order to benefit from this rule, you would probably need to place the flyer on the board without its base, as most flyer bases will force the flyer to be outside the range to claim any objectives.

I like the new Stormhawk, it is a great looking model and brings some decent weaponry to the table for Space Marine players. It will also do very well in the Dogfight phase.

I'm not so wild about the new Ork flyer. The model looks nice enough, but the rules just don't jump out at me as being particularly impressive. It is, however, necessary for one of the better formations in the book.

The new flyer formations give you a nice way to field your flyers and gain some nice bonuses to the army. The one that stands out to me is the Air Superiority detachment. You can take this with only two flyers and if your opponent has no flyers, will give you some massive reserve advantages. For a space marine player, you could significantly hinder your opponent's reserves and boost your own for as little as 220 pts. A pretty good bargain in my opinion.

So that is some of the new formations available to flyers from the new Death from the Skies book. Any that stand out for you? Are you rushing out to buy any new flyers in order to take advantage of the new formations?

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


  1. Well if the sale of my DE comes off as I hope then I'll definitely be adding some flyers to my Dusk Knights list, possibly even the Strike Wing formation (if only because I've seen what putting 4+ flyers on the table can do to people's strategy, even if they are only effectively BS3).

    I'm not sure -1BS actually affects the stormhawk too much, twin linked assault cannons plus 3-shot autocannon and 3 skyhammer missiles still averages 3S7 and 3S6 Rending hits each turn, which is gonna upset most units.

    Plus they'd look great in dark blue...

    1. I figured you would enjoy some of the new rules and flyers Nick, given your love of Stormtalons.
      What do you think your preference will be now for two Stormtalons? A Raptor Wing or an Air Superiority detachment?

    2. Interesting question, on occasions I think I may just be tempted to take a stormhawk and a storm talon (assume that possible?) to cover any flyers that may be around, but I do still like the benefits of the Raptor Wing, especially as the talons will still only be hit on 6's.

      Tricky one, and it'll probably vary game by game!

      Seriously considering building a list around the 4 flyers though.

    3. Yeah, you can take a Stormtalon and Stormhawk as part of the same flyer wing.

    4. You're selling your Dark Eldar??!!! :_(

    5. I'm afraid so - the combination of only having played them once since last year's summer Blogwars and the desire to really build a big (very big) and flexible marine collection that I can transport properly in KR cases meant I decided to take the plunge. I'm taking offers until the weekend if you're interested, £550 is the current high bid!

    6. I was sorry to hear you are selling your army, it's a big decision to make. I've often considered getting rid of my Orks, but haven't been able to pull the trigger yet. I keep thinking, next Codex, maybe things will improve.....

    7. It certainly was a big decision yes, I do seriously love the models, but with my limited hobby funds I just couldn't justify leaving an army on the shelf. I'm sure in the future when things ease off a bit I'll consider re-starting them, the benefit of that being I can then do a whole new colour scheme, and I do love painting! (I'm thinking maybe like venom from the spiderman comics, they'd look so good in shadowy shades of black with pale silvery grey webs all over them)

    8. "Yeah, you can take a Stormtalon and Stormhawk as part of the same flyer wing."

      Only if you're taking two of each, in the Strike Wing. No way to take a Wing that's just one of each. Of course, it is still possible to just take one of each by using a couple of FA slots in a CAD.

    9. Yeah, I meant to say that you can take them both, but only as part of the Strike Wing. You can take a flyer wing of only two models, but they must be taken from the same datasheet, so no Stormhawk and Stormtalon.

    10. I just like to make sure things are really clear in these, because a lot of people who can't afford to keep up with buying all the books get their information from review posts like these, and I don't want to see anyone getting in trouble because of a typo.

    11. Aw, I understand, like you said, it makes little sense having an army just sitting on the shelf. Our hobby isn't cheap to begin with, and I, too try to maximize my hobby dollars, selling stuff I'm not using. My own Dark Eldar army is actually pretty much finished so I'm good, but great to hear you're actually getting some decent money for yours!

    12. Correct away WestRider! Always happy to be picked up on something I missed.

    13. On that basis then to me it looks like the Stormhawk is actually a better buy than the Storm Talon, dealing similar levels of damage to ground targets but being far better in an anti-air role.

      I still want 2 of each.

  2. Strike Wing: Yeah, it basically lets you choose, Turn by Turn, whether you want to treat the Formation as a single Wing of 4 Flyers or two Wings of two each. Also, the combination of Flyers it uses lets you get some really good use out of some of the bigger Attack Patterns without over-focusing too much on Anti-Air or Anti-Ground.

    A couple of them: Don't forget that BS6 gives you a partial re-roll to-Hit (2+/6+), and reduces Scatter for Blasts by an extra inch over BS5 as well. With a Blast Weapon as nasty as the Rift Cannon, that can be a pretty good bonus for the Abductor Squadron.

    I love the benefits for the Space Wolf Formation, but there's no way I'm picking up two StormFangs. They're more expensive than the StormWolf, and worse in most situations.

    BlastaJet: One of the special Mek Gunz is Heavy, the other is Assault. Makes a difference on the Waaagh! Turn. Still kinda overpriced, tho.

    And yeah, the StormHawk is great. Cool kit, very effective Fighter (I took out to Razorwings in Dogfights with it, and then a Void Raven on the table), and Twin-Linking on one gun + high RoF on the others means it's still pretty good at ground attack. I pre-ordered one, and after using it in a Game, ordered a second so I can run a Strike Wing.

    1. I'm getting seriously tempted to pick up a Stormhawk, I like the new kit that much.

    2. I highly recommend it. It's both a good kit and a good Unit on the table.

    3. Thanks for the bit about the Stormhawk! I've only got a Stormraven right now but that's pretty expensive point wise, and with the new rules a fighter might be good to have.

    4. I succumbed last night and picked up a Stormhawk off ebay.

    5. That was quick. When can we expect the batrep? :D ;)

  3. Thanks for the summary! What with the new flyer available, would you replace your Stormtalon with it in your TAC/tourney list?

    Overall I think the formations are alright, but who is seriously going to buy and bring 4 fliers to your standard game. I was into Elysian Drop Troops for a while and did some research, and at some point it simply becomes too crowded in the air.

    1. The flyer wing formation requires a minimum of 2 flyers, so I would need to add a second to my army to use it in the tournament list. I might give it a go, but would need to re-jig the list in order to fit them.

    2. "who is seriously going to buy and bring 4 fliers to your standard game". That would be me!

      That being said, a mate of mine has an Ork list designed around bringing 5 of their flyers, and does pretty well with it cos so few people expect to face that many these days.

    3. Yeah but you can still bring single fliers right? That's what I meant, just one interceptor instead of the talon.

      Really? Hm in my meta most of the time I'm the only one - apart from the odd wraith fighter that I would consider getting an interceptor for. Just because Eldar players deserve to be annoyed :D

    4. I might consider taking it. Even with the -1BS penalty, it still has some serious firepower. Plus, if Death from the Skies is not in use, it suffers no penalty and still has good firepower.

    5. @Chris: Yeah, you can still take single Flyers in a Detachment like a CAD or something. They just all have the option now to add extras to make a Wing without using up more slots. And then some of the Formations and the Air Superiority Detachment do require Wings, but that will be specifically mentioned in the Detachment.

    6. "I was into Elysian Drop Troops for a while and did some research, and at some point it simply becomes too crowded in the air."

      It depends on which Flyers, tho. Valkyries and Vendettas take up more room than just about anything else. I've played a couple of Games now that involved 6-8 Flyers total, and they were fine, because they were smaller ones, like the StormTalon/Hawk or the (Dark) Eldar ones.

  4. When I was photographing the Vendetta next to the Stormtalon and Dark Talon, it really shows you how massive the Guard flyers are next to them. I hadn't used it in a while and was thinking, why does the Valkyrie have such a poor pursuit move? Oh, that's why, its twice the size of a marine flyer.