Death of the Skies: How Will the New Update Effect Competitive 40k

Death from the Skies is here and with it comes some pretty interesting rules changes for flyers.  As discussed in my previous post, the changes are not minor and officially replace those in the 40k Rulebook for flyers.  So, should you run out and buy this?  I don't think so. At least not right away.

Here's what we know about the new book:

- It changes the rules for flyers and includes some new rules predicated on using dogfighting
- Dogfighting is optional
- ITC has yet to really address how they are going to implement the changes, or if they even will.

This is really the first time the ITC has really had a way to significantly impact GWs bottom line.  If they choose to ignore the new book and just continue using the rulebook for flyers, then GW stands to lose a lot of money both on new flyer models and on sales of the book itself.  Is it enough to really matter in the grand scheme of things for GW? I think so yes.  Thousands of players across the United States and beyond use ITC rules.  If they were to say "we won't be implementing this expansion into our events" then that can hold some significant weight.

Right now we're playing the "wait and see" game as Reece and the gang over at Frontline review this new supplement. The recent FAQ and release of this book certainly has them pulling their hair out I'm sure. 

So, why is the new book important particularly in competitive play?  While most of the changes could easily be incorporated into competitive play with probably minimal impact, the one thing that can really shake things up for tournaments is the new rule for Air Superiority.

This rule is huge as these reserve modifiers don't simply apply to other flyers, but to any reserves.  If run in a detachment (we'll get into that below) you can essentially force your opponent's reserves to come in on a 5+.  That is a huge drawback and a big game changer for competitive 40k (or even casual play truth be told).

So, what do we do about it?  The rule for air superiority specifically mentions that it is determined after the much maligned dogfight phase (which is optional).  So, players can opt to have a dogfight phase or not, per the book.  Regardless the dogfight phase "happens" just nothing effects it if you choose not to use it.  But not using it can have a significant impact on the game as the player with air superiority is determined based largely off the results of said dogfight phase. 

No one wants to play a cumbersome mini-game within a game of 40k.  It's a waste of time, which in tournaments is valuable.  What is the solution then? Well, if you brought no flyers and your opponent did, then it's easy; he has air superiority.  If both have flyers, it becomes more complicated.  Because in dogfighting a flyer wing of 2 crimson hunters is much different than a flyer wing of 2 storm talons.  And the outcome of a separate dogfight could determine largely how the game goes on the table due to air superiority. 

The solution of "ignore the dogfight phase" seems like a simple one, yes, but it's effectively shortchanging players by doing that. Because, as stated, a flyer wing of 2 crimson hunters is not the same as a wing of 2 storm talons. In dogfighting, the hunters have a far superior advantage which could help them retain air superiority.  2 Talons could be potentially more effective on the actual table, especially in an air detachment, because they gain objective secured.  So, it benefits the Hunter player to HAVE a dogfight phase thus he doesn't get shafted in the actual game.  Because once his birds enter the battle his targets will essentially be limited after that and the Hunters cannot score objective points (unlike the talons that can drop to hover). 

Confused yet? Join the club.  Death from the Skies presents a complicated extra set of rules on top of a game that already has a convoluted and complex rule set.  We all forget rules in games, or get rules wrong. It happens.  Having to carry around 5 rulebooks to play the game isn't helping matters.

So, what is a mechanic that can be used to help mitigate air superiority?  I recommend a simple solution that could help simplify the dogfighting phase without being too damaging to the game.

- At the start of the turn, if both players have flyers in reserve, roll a d6 and add the highest pursuit value of any flyer in reserve. The winner has air superiority for the turn. 

- If one player has a flyer in reserve and the other doesn't, he gains air superiority.
It's simple, not too damaging to either side, yet gives players who might have flyers better equipped to handle gaining air superiority a chance rather than simply ignoring the phase entirely. 

That is just one idea.  We'll wait and see what ITC says about it in the coming days. One thing is certain.  They can't simply ignore this update.
Death of the Skies: How Will the New Update Effect Competitive 40k Death of the Skies: How Will the New Update Effect Competitive 40k Reviewed by Robert Chandler on 8:08:00 AM Rating: 5

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