Wednesday, January 23, 2013
How To Deal with Flyers in 6th Edition 40K - Part 1
This part of the article will talk about the current flyers in the game with an attempt to categorise them and then parts 2 and 3 will be about methods of dealing with them. (I'm not going to talk about flying MCs here because they're a very different prospect. Similarly I'm not going to mention Forge World units as it's a whole other can of worms!)
Currently Available Flyers
Let's begin by looking at the current cohort of planes that 40K generals have access to:
Blood Angels/Grey Knights - Stormraven (AV12) - lots of firepower, strong armour (with ceramite plating), large transport capacity, hover mode. Pretty much the daddy of flyers, especially the BA version. GK version is distinctly weaker. High cost means you won't see many in sub 2K lists.
Chaos Space Marines - Heldrake (AV12) - hades autocannon is pretty weak so most will have a baleflamer. This combined with the vector strike make a real threat to MEQ infantry and even high toughness. AV12 makes it tricky to deal with.
Dark Angels - Nephilim/Dark Talon (AV11) - bit of a letdown in terms of equipment. Nephilim pretty much has to choose whether to take the lascannon and hope to get lucky vs AV12 flyers or the megabolter and be better against infantry. Dark Talon is useless against other flyers and not much better against troops.
Dark Eldar - Razorwing and Voidraven (AV10/AV11) - both are potentially useful against other flyers but low AV so pretty weak. The missiles can be great against infantry in the right situation though.
Imperial Guard - Valkyrie/Vendetta (AV12) - valkyries will get overlooked in favour of vendettas which offer great anti-air with twin-linked lascannons. Transport capacity plus the ability to Outflank and Hover is a great combo. Dirt cheap too!
Necrons - Night Scythe/Doom Scythe (AV11) - disgustingly cheap and those tesla shots make their firepower extremely useful. Essentially flying annihilation barges with invulnerable troops inside! Expect 3+ in most sub 2K lists.
Orks - Dakkajet/Burna Bommer/Blitza Bommer (AV10) - pretty cheap but AV10 makes them the weakest flyers out there. Dakkajet is probably the most useful and for the points it can put out a lot of S6 hurt, especially with a Waaagh!
Space Marines - Stormtalon (AV11) - much maligned both in the looks and performance departments. Personally I disagree on both counts. Relatively low cost and decent weaponry means its a good little anti-air platform. AV11 and 2 HP don't make it the toughest plane out there though.
That's quite a list. Whether you like it or not you're going to have to think about flyers when you're writing a list for 6th edition 40K. When you throw in the MCs that means only Space Wolves, Sisters, Tau and Eldar don't have anything airborne in their codex.
Types of Flyers
Basically, there's 3 types here: a) AV12, b) flyer-spam, c) high surface threat. Obviously there's some cross over within these categories. Let's start by looking at what I mean with these.
a) AV12 - with most of the anti-air weaponry out there being S7 and many of the flyers having limited access to S8+ weaponry, it's flyers with AV12 that are the hardest to deal with. You can hope you get a lucky pen followed by an explosion but that's unlikely. Unless they hover (which all the AV12 ones can choose to do) you're going to have to be lucky to deal with them easily. However, luckily for you most armies will struggle to field more than 1 or 2 of them.
b) Flyer-spam - some armies, like Necrons and Imperial Guard can take multiple flyers without hampering their list. Imperial Guard Valks/Vendettas are strong because they're AV12 too but luckily AV10 on the rear! The Necron Night Scythes are plentiful because, not only are they a troop transport but also they're dirt cheap too. A lot of the top Necron tournament lists at the moment feature 3+ scythes. In both of these cases the flyers will contain scoring units so you're going to have to deal with them at some point in objective games (i.e. most games).
c) High Surface Threat - whilst some flyers are particularly aimed at taking out other flyers or vehicles, some can pose a real threat to your troops too. Good examples of this are the CSM Heldrake, Ork Dakkajet and Dark Eldar Razorwing. Essentially their main purpose is to cut down your troops in large numbers. If you ignore them you're going to have to tolerate losing a lot of infantry in the process.
Whilst all the flyers are reasonable at taking out other flyers (particularly AV10/AV11 ones) there are some that are better than others and this means that you have to look elsewhere for your anti-air firepower. In the next part of this article I'l talk about your anti-air options in more detail.