Friday, 1 September 2017

Space Marine Codex Review: Part 9- Flyers

The final part of my Space Marine Codex review for 8th edition will take a look at the three flyers available to the forces of the Adeptus Astartes.

Stormhawk Interceptor
The latest addition to the Space Marine airborne arsenal, it packs some impressive firepower, somewhat hampered by having to be on the move every turn. 

The Stormhawk Interceptor is comparable to a flying Rhino. You get T7, 10 wounds and a 3+ armour save. Added to the -1 to hit that enemy units suffer thanks to be being hard to hit, as well as re-rolls of saving throws of a 1 (thanks to the Infernum halo launcher) and you have a pretty durable vehicle that is going to take a fair amount of decent firepower to take out. Small arms fire shouldn't worry the Interceptor too much. 

The Stormhawk can also move, with a movement of 20-50" at full strength, making it very fast and almost certain to get where you want it to go. It can't hover though, but this will be of less influence when flyers are no longer able to score objectives. 

The Stormhawk comes with two assault cannons, two heavy Bolters and an Icarus Stormcannon (48", heavy 3, S7 AP-1 2 damage). The two assault cannons and two heavy bolters give you 18 medium strength shots at -1AP. It should be useful for tearing through lightly armoured infantry and should even cause small elite units some damage. The downside is that the Stormhawk Interceptor will be hitting ground targets on a 4+ at best, as it still suffers the -1 to hit for moving and firing heavy weapons. It gets even worse for the Icarus Stormcannon, as it sufferes an additional -1 to hit for firing at units without the Fly keyword (though it does get +1 to hit against units with fly). 

The Stormhawk gets the Interceptor special rule, meaning +1 to hit against enemy units with the fly keyword. This means that it is still hitting fly units on a 3+ with most weapons and on a 2+ with the Icarus Stormcannon. 

The base cost of the Stormhawk is 164 points, which is not too expensive for the firepower it can put out. It is definitely a better option if you know you will be facing a lot of fly units, though few infantry units have this keyword and the basic armament is not ideally suited for going up against vehicles (such as flyers). 

Fortunately, you have some weapons options to choose from. You can upgrade to take a Las-talon (a short-range, two shot Lascannon), a Skyhammer Missile Launcher (similar to the Icarus, but with D3 damage) or a typhoon missile launcher. Taking the Las-talon, Icarus Stormcannon and Skyhammer Missile Launcher will set you back only 166 points, but will give you two S9 shots and six S7 shots, each doing multiple damage. Against vehicles with the fly keyword, two of those weapons will hit on a 2+ (unless you are targeting a flyer, in which case you are probably hitting on 3's). This actually makes the Interceptor a great flyer to use against certain armies such as Eldar, Harlequins or Dark Eldar, who feature a lot of weaker vehicle with Fly. It will be less useful against other armies, as you will be hitting most ground targets on a 5+ with this load out. 

If you know you are likely to be facing a lot of flyers or fly units, I would say that the Stormhawk Interceptor is a solid choice and could do a lot of damage for a very reasonable cost. However, against most other armies, it may suffer due the reduced accuracy of its firepower (though that is still pretty impressive for the cost). 

Stormtalon Gunship
Another awesome flyer model for the Space Marine army, it was actually the model that convinced me to start a White Scars army. Let's see if it is worth taking in 8th edition. 

The Stormtalon Gunship shares a few similarities with the Stormhawk Interceptor, but has a very different battlefield role. 
One big difference is that the Stormtalon gunship is only T6. It still has 10 wounds and a 3+ save, but it is now more vulnerable to the abundant S6 weaponry that is now in the game (particularly other Marine armies with access to lots of Assault Cannons). This makes it a bit less durable than the Stormhawk Interceptor, though it is just as mobile. 

However, the Stormtalon makes up for this with increased firepower over ground units compared to the Stormhawk. The Stormtalon comes with a twin assault cannon and twin heavy bolter as standard. In addition, it gets +1 to hit against units without the Fly keyword. This means it will be hitting on a 3+ against these units in general, or even on a 2+ if it goes into hover mode and does not move. This gives it a good range of anti-infantry firepower. 

You can chose to replace the Heavy Bolters with two Lascannons, a skyhammer missile launcher or a typhoon missile launcher, but this makes it more expensive and doesn't compliment the assault cannons as much as the heavy bolters. I would be inclined to stick with the standard set up and go after infantry or weaker vehicles. 

The basic Stormtalon only costs 162 points, so is comparable to the Stormhawk Interceptor, but obviously has a different battlefield role. Of the two, I probably prefer the Stormtalon Gunship, as it will probably perform better against a wider range of opponents than the Stormhawk. It is a decent flyer, and I look forward to trying it in some of my games. 

Stormraven Gunship
Previously, the Stormraven was easily the worst of the Space Marine flyers in the codex. Oh, how things have changed. 

The Stormraven Gunship is a fantastic flyer, able to put out a high volume of accurate firepower, as well as great transport capacity. 

The Stormtalon is a highly durable vehicle. It has T7, 14 wounds and a 3+ save, as well as the -1 to hit from being a flyer. It will take a fair amount of firepower to take one of these down. 

In addition, it has a lot of firepower. Power of the Machine Spirit allows it to move and fire heavy weapons without the -1 to hit penalty. It comes with a twin Assault Cannon, a twin Heavy Bolter and two Stormstrike missiles as standard. You can add two Hurricane Bolters for only 8 points, which is a bargain and you should always take. This greatly increases its anti-infantry or anti-horde firepower, giving it 24 Bolter shots at rapid fire range, added to 12 S6 shots and six S5 shots, all hitting on a 3+. 

Having been on the receiving end of the firepower of a Stormraven Gunship, I can say it is well worth its quite modest points cost (only 274 pts including the hurricane bolters) and can decimate multiple units in one turn. 

It can also transport one Dreadnought and up to 12 infantry models. One interesting point is that the flyer does not have to be in hover mode for the units in it to disembark. I have made this mistake in multiple games, putting my Corvus Blackstar into hover to disembark the squad inside and losing hte -1 to hit against it (I won't be doing that in the future). 

The Stormraven is a fantastic flyer to have in your army. It was so good that many tournament forces had up to 5 in a single army, actually forcing GW to step in and curtail the abundance of them by making them no longer count when determining if you army has been wiped out (all flyers in general, not just the Stormraven). 

The Space Marines bring three very nice flyers to their army, all of which have their uses and one of which is crazy good. 

I hope you have enjoyed my review of the Space Marine codex, I look forward to getting a lot of games in with my White Scars and testing it out in the future. 

Space Marine Codex Review
Part 3- HQ Units
Part 4- Troops
Part 5- Elites
Part 6- Fast Attack
Part 7- Heavy Support
Part 9- Flyers


  1. Bugger, I've completely missed the -1 to hit for moving and firing heavy weapons on my Corvus... oops... on the flip side, I've forgotten my blackstar cluster launcher most of the time too, so hopefully balanced out and wasn't game changing...

    Your line though about the lack of hover "this will be of less influence when flyers can no longer score objectives"

    An FAQ? A rumour? Hazarding a guess? I've used the Corvus to grab an objective, I don't like to think I've cheated someone...

    1. The Warhammer Community page showed extracts from the upcoming Chapter Approved coming out in Nov or Dec. They say feedback has been that they have not gone far enough with the last FAQ to reduce the dominance of flyers (well really its mainly the stormraven, although others are nasty such as the space wolf stormraven alternative), and as such flyers will not be able to capture objectives (even in hover mode). Here's a link:

      They also previewed the new 1st turn mechanic for missions in the book, which gives the person who sets up first a +1 on a roll off for 1st turn rather than automatically having 1st turn.

    2. Yeah, as said above, flyers will no longer be allowed to capture objectives once Objective Secured is released, so don't worry, you haven't cheated anyone.
      The Blackstar cluster launcher is also a bit poor for me, I've only been able to use it once and it didn't do anything. Certainly works best on larger units.

      The change to the first turn mechanic is an interesting one. It certainly helps out some armies, but will really punish my deathwatch. Another rule I'd like to see implemented is that reserves have to be your last deployment drops. It's a little annoying to have to deploy your entire army before your opponent places a single unit. Even worse, the change to the first turn mechanic means you don't even automatically get the first turn. I played a recent game where a Guard player had so many reserves, I deployed my entire army. In addition, he also won the roll off for first turn, so a double whammy for me.

    3. I agree on the reserves thing. I usually take 2-3 units that arrive from reserve and so I "deploy" them first, and it does feel a bit naughty, because then my opponent has to deploy and I know exactly where to put my heavy weapons.

    4. Well glad to hear I haven't cheated anyone...

      As much as it will penalise my fledgling deathwatch force, I do agree that flyers shouldn't be able to score objectives. If we assume an objective to be holding a key piece of ground, accessing a data terminal, planting an explosive on critical infrastructure or the like, then a flyer zipping by isn't exactly gonna cut the mustard. However, for much the same reason, I'd be in favour of saying super heavies can't claim objectives either. Can you really see a knight crouching down and putting in his google password to activate that terminal uplink?

      I just hope I get to HAVE a first turn before they change the mechanics of that one :P If that's the way it's going fair enough, I can live with it. And I agree that reserves should count for "drops" but should be at the end. On the flip side if you're going to the +1 rather than being automatically first then you could just lump all reserves together at the end, so whoever finishes deploying on the board gets plus one. We'll see how that one pans out.

  2. Excellent set of articles. As a returning player to 40k, they're very helpful references pieces - thanks!

  3. Very thorough reviews Mike. I am looking forward to your dark Eldar and space wolves ones :)

    1. Cheers NafNaf. I'm afraid you may be waiting a long, long time for those reviews ;)

  4. Yeah I'm really enjoying the resurgence of the 'flying brick'. I wish I hadn't sold the other one now.

    1. Yeah, very glad I kept mine and finally got it painted up.

  5. On the StormHawk, you talk about taking one with a Las-Talon, Icarus StormCannon, and SkyHammer. I'm pretty sure you have to choose between the Las-Talon and the Icarus StormCannon. There's certainly no good way to mount them both on the Model, as they take the same spot.

    1. Ah, just glue it on the side ;) No, you're right, the Las-talon does replace the Icarus Stormcannon.

  6. Excellent reviews Mike thank you very much. I'm making a slow come back to 40K after serveral months of hiatus and your blog as always been my go to source for gaming feedback. I look forward to reading more of your Battle Report and articles.