Fast Movers in 40k

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Last Thursday I got a game of 40k in using my new Ork army. As it was their second outing I thought I’d mix it up a bit and give the Dakkajet a try because, well it’s freaking cool. For reasons passing my understanding, I told Lee I’d be taking a flyer which prompted him to tweak his army list to cram in a Strom Raven. I can’t blame him, I just wanted to be a sod and spend all game strafing him with impunity.

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I was my usual jammy self and managed to get my Dakkajet on the board at the start of turn 2 and immediately set about hosing down an Imperial Guard squad. The Storm Raven came on the following turn and turned the sky around my Dakkajet into a swirling storm of explosions and hot lead in an attempt to turn the Howlin Git into a big cloud of tin foil and fire. But as I mentioned, I was jammy. Passing 6 out of the 7 Jink saves forced upon me resulted in me breaking off and attacking a second Guard section with the Raven in hot pursuit. The Dakkajet’s number as inevitably up but it struck me how (a) cinematic it all looked (b) how flyers didn’t break the game as I feared and (c) how introducing flyers is a natural evolution in army selection and encourages gamers to take ‘all comers’ lists rather than tailoring them to suit a specific force or army composition.

Lee had a tactical advantage in so much as I’d told him I was taking a flyer. However ‘best practice’ as it were suggests that he should allow for that likelihood anyway. With pretty much every army having a flyer of some sort it’s reasonable for us as gamers to have a contingency to deal with them should we find the sky filling up with fast movers. Units with skyfire rules or an upgrade or ammo type. A flyer of your own is not unreasonable and if it turns out your opponent hasn’t taken one then you get to dominate the skies. It’s not exactly a lose lose situation other than the often heavy point investment required. Or you make the decision to ignore it and hope for the best. Having witnessed what my piddly Ork flyer can do I don’t necessarily recommend that option. A flyer will rarely win you the game, but it will give your opponent a headache whilst the rest of your army does the business.

But the point is this: Flyers were an important missing piece of the 40k puzzle. I was quite possibly the biggest sceptic (well joint first with Lee) when they first started to appear in 40k. It was a combination of things as to why. Firstly it was how simply flyers worked in Space Marine – that was never going to translate well in the creaking behemoth that is the 40k rule book. Secondly, the rules seemed reminiscent of Epic 40k. Which was such a wallowing turd of a game I was immediately concerned. And finally my feeling was that they would unbalance the game and give Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines and Necrons an insurmountable edge.

Whilst the latter is partially true it re-emphasises the point that 40k is at its best when armies are interesting. Built around combined arms rather than designing a power list to spank the living shit out of your opponent in three turns or less. And then hit on their momma. Solid cores of troops, elite units, assault elements, armour, artillery. All working together to the greatest effect. Add in aircraft and it all suddenly makes sense. It adds an extra layer to the combat, adds a new threat to the previously tame skies. It forces gamers to think in three dimensions beyond vantage points in buildings.

Plus it’s outrageous amounts of fun. Building the kits is awesome. It takes those early days of building Airfix F14 super Tomcats to a whole new (and way cooler) level. And using them is ace. They look great on the board, the rules make for new and interesting tactical decisions for both players. And board set up too has never been more important. Playing hideously open boards that have no place being anywhere other than Warhammer Fantasy or Lord of the Rings will spell doom and misery for any units that fall under the guns of a flyer. But I suppose that could make for interesting scenarios too and allow you to recreate the odd scene from the Gaunt’s Ghosts series. No bad thing there.

In short – flyers have changed the game of 40k far more than I ever realised, and for the better. The potential for aerial shenanigans encourages gamers to write more flexible army lists. Tactics have to be rethought and adapted. The space has never been more three-dimensional and board layout is vital to affording your troops the protection they’ll need. It doesn’t mean flyers are overpowered because they’re not. They’ll still get shot to bits by one another and even without skyfire, it’s not as hard as you’d think to shoot something down, because I’ve done it. Of course there’s a commercial argument. If you have a flyer I have to buy one too. Little bit of yes, little bit of no. No one forces you to do anything and there are alternatives. But I struggle to entertain the financial point of view because chances are we’ve already spent a couple of hundred pounds on our armies already. What’s another thirty? Flyers represent an opportunity to bring some of the excitement, dynamism and scale from the artwork to the board. And that cannot be a bad thing.

-Phil

Ork Bommer – A Review

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The Codex was largely responsible for me finally starting an Ork army but as I’ve always said time and again, you have to love the models you’re collecting or the project will simply never get finished. This is true or all armies in every game ever written. And it was true all those years ago when the Ork Bommer made its first appearance in Epic 40,000 16(ish) years ago. It was those models, along with the Thunderhawk gunship that sold me on that game. I loved the design, the haphazard nature of the construction and the ludicrously big bombs under the wings.

So when the Ork Bommer kit was released for Warhammer 40,000 I was delighted for Ork players the world over because they would know the same joy I did. Little did I realise that I would be in possession of one a year or two later.

When I decided to collect a Freebooter army I made the decision along with it that they needed to be the flashiest, wealthiest, gitiest Orks around and that meant more toys than anyone else and that means jets. It’s entirely possible I’m collecting a near useless army but it’ll look cool as it gets torn to pieces.

But on to the Bommer, or specifically the Dakkajet. I opted for the fighter over the bommer options because I like the idea of the Orks being flyboyz rather than psychopaths. They want to dominate the air and sow fear on the ground rather than fling themselves at it with far more ordnance than is sensible. It fits with my army theme that the pilots are Aces by Ork standards – aloof and skilled rather than kill junkies.OrkBommerNEW01

The kit is awesome. Providing you follow the instructions it goes together very easily. If you don’t then it’s a sodding pain as it goes together much like an Airfix kit so the fuselage is in two halves. This means if you don’t stick things in the right order you’ll be prising things apart. And much like an Airfix kit (other scale models are available) the fuselage will need to be to make sure all the joins take. Some parts a little thin so a prone to warping. It’s not a criticism as it’s a common enough problem with thin plastic, it’s just a word of warning when building the thing. Take the extra couple of minutes and make sure the joins have all taken.

Other than that it’s a pretty straight forward build with enough bits and bobs on the sprues that allow you to make some pretty distinctive planes should you choose to have more than one. Which of course you would. There’s a little bit of flexibility in the weapon load outs so you can move things around a bit but truth be told, without some snipping and clipping one Dakkajet will look much like any other which is kind of a shame, but something has to give considering the variety within the kit as a whole. And there’s nothing stopping you mixing it up with the parts available for a bit of variety. It’s more that the guns will be pretty much in the same place whether you like it or not.

What’s really awesome about the Bommer kit is that it speaks volumes about the Orks. Or specifically the knowledge hard-coded into the minds of Meks and the pilots. Its design is a lot like the MiG 19 with the intake in the nose and the swept back wings. It’s aerodynamic and features all the various bits and bobs a plane needs to fly. Granted the sophistication stops there as the intakes have spiky bits on them and the landing gear consists of a ski and a hook to bury in the ground. But hey, if it works… But it’s more like the Meks get bored or make do rather than don’t care about what they’re doing.

Basically it just builds and looks awesome.

In game terms there’s always going to be a divide when it comes to flyers. There are many who feel the rules are either vague or overpowered. Others – mainly the people who own flyers – like them just fine. Whilst I do think flyers can potentially dominate a game I have given the rules enough consideration because I never thought I’d take flyers so until I give the Dakkajet a shakedown I’m reserving judgement.

But there’s no getting round the fact that the between the special rules, armament and upgrades the Dakkajet – all the variants in fact – is a bit of a monster. You don’t get loads for you basic 110 points but the 3 upgrades – bringing to a still fair reasonable 150 points – gives you a base Ballistic Skill 3, an extra set of twin-linked super-shootas (making it 6, strength 6, AP 4 shots, re-rolling misses) and an extra roll to movement. Add in the Strafing Run special rule and you have a fast-moving Space Marine firing an assault cannon, minus the rending. That’s not bad. And if a Waaagh gets called that 6 shots goes up to 8 just to add insult to injury.

But for all that they’re still only armour 10 all round and Strength 6 isn’t going to do much against the majority of vehicles. That all changes with the other flyer variants equipped, as they are, with very large bombs. The Blitz Bommer is arguable better value being armed with two boom bombs. Whilst Strength 7 isn’t going to be blowing holes in Land Raiders, the AP 2 (and the large blast) will help to blow holes in terminators.

Although the fact that the pilot could be enjoying the diving part of his attack run so much that he’ll forget to do everything else (including pull up) is slightly off-putting. 135 points basic is a lot for what potentially could be a one use weapon. It’s very Orky and everything but I like my army to krump things rather than krump themselves.

The Burna Bommer is, of course, the middle ground for points but as you only get two missiles you’ll be buying another 4 jacking the price up massively. And they’re essentially heavy flamers you have to scatter. And as both bommer variants lose the strafing run rule their shooting will be far less effective as well. And overall the Dakkajet comes in about 10 points cheaper. And you’re probably better off taking a unit of burna boyz in a trukk for the good it’ll do you.

The point is this – the Dakkajet is weirdly the safe bet because it fires the most shots, for the least points and risk, with the greatest accuracy. Whilst it lacks the pyrotechnics of the other two it also doesn’t have the unpredictability of crashing into the ground or the bombs missing the targets altogether which would be the real kicker. It’s a great interference unit and will draw focus. If it eventually gets shot down it represents a fairly low outlay and will in most cases make its points back. Although if you’re using them right, the other two planes will as well.

Which ever your preference, it Ork flyers are unsubtle, relatively cheap, terrors of the sky and earth. And they look bloody cool whilst they do it. The kit is excellent fun and not overly complicated so it can be built within a couple of hours. Even if you don’t field it, it’s a kit worth owning just to wave it around and make ‘neow’ and ‘dakka dakka dakka’ noises.

The Ork Bommer is available from Firestorm Games priced £24.75 (and worth every zogging toof!)

 

Covenant of Antarctica Flyers – A Review

A few weeks back I wrote an article about my fully painted 5th fleet for the Covenant of Antarctica. In it I made a note about the request made by the fleet’s Commodore for a Daedalus Class large flyer. Well it looks like the Admiralty was feeling generous as they not only assigned the Daedalus, but an Epicurus class sky fortress too.

So let’s kick off with the Daedalus Class.

I looked at the Daedalus when it first came out back in October 2011 and it was this model that convinced me to collect the Covenant in the first place. It’s little wonder, then, that I love this model. I love its elegant galleon-like design and how it clashes with its obviously scientific and industrial construction.

It’s vaguely reminiscent of a paddle steamer with its large, wheel-like, positional thrusters on the sides of what is, ostensibly, a ships hull.

As usual, it’s got lots of lovely detailing, although mine was slightly miss cast so home of the detail around the base of the smoke stack housing is a little vague but once it’s painted black it won’t really matter.

In game terms she’s a bit of a beast. As hard to damage rating as a battleship and a critical rating of an armoured cruiser, she’s a toughie to be sure. Combined with an extra point of speed and the Daedalus is formidable and just fast enough to be a pain in the arse. Armament wise it’s really only at its best once it’s in the thick of the fighting having just forward and aft turrets and broadsides. However 3 shots at range band 4 does mean it can start sniping at smaller vessels right from the word go.

Once it closes to range and gets abeam of something then pain will ensue. At range band 2 it’ll be lobbing 10 dice from the turrets and 6 from the broadsides at you. And then dropping mines on your head. Although I kind of feel this design was intentional by the chaps at Spartan. In my mind’s eye the Daedalus would cut an elegant but threatening shape through the sky, weapons batteries loosing as all around it the sky is filled with flak and exploding shells all the while seafaring vessels below slug it out. Which is all very cool.

In reality you wouldn’t want it to be on its own for long because it would get torn to bits but, hell, it’s certainly make for a dramatic game, the elegant curving hull swooping into view amongst a hail of enemy cannon fire before laying waste to all brave enough to steer too close…

That’s when the Epicurus Class Sky Fortress would rock up and things would get really unpleasant. The Epicurus Class Sky Fortress is an absolute monster of a model. Really huge.

In many ways to relates back to my original review of the Covenant starter fleet when I made the comparison between the energy turrets and the Death Star in Star Wars. Well the Epicurus is the Death Star. It’s big, it’s round, and it has a massive gun bolted to it. Although in the Epicurus’ case it isn’t a planet destroying laser but a launch turret that, if you wonder too close will fire 9 drones at you. Which is just fantastic. It also reminds me of the ‘tripods’ from the 1953 film adaptation of The War of the Worlds. So like other elements of the fleet it’s an homage to science fiction of all stripes.

In the game it is an homage to pain. As tough as a battleship and nearly as well armed, it’s quite the adversary. As with the Daedalus, it’s going to be most effective in a broadside actions but it’s Launch Turret means that if anything strays too close it’s going to get taught a harsh and short lesson. Left to drift alone on in a game I’m sure it’ll make good account of itself but put it at the heart of a flying formation and it all gets a bit unpleasant as it also has 6 tiny flyers too. Throw in your 10 freebies and the fact the drones never run out of fuel and actually you’ve got a pretty horrible formation that has range, lots of guns and enough tiny flyers not keep an exclusion zone around your big stuff. To coin a phrase; I love it when a plan comes together.

Once I’ve got these two monsters painted I shall write an additional fluff post to go with the 5th Fleet explaining their background and how they became attached to the Night Watch.

40k Flyer Images Leaked

A naughty person at GW HQ has snapped the pages of an up coming White Dwarf of the new 40k Flyers.

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The Space Marine Stormtalon. Not sure about this one. Seems, for want of a better phrase, messy. Even more front heavy than the Stormraven, if that’s possible.

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The Ork kit is way cool. And you get parts to make 3 different versions. Depending on how it’s built you may e able to magnetise the weapon systems and swap them out.

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Again, Necron kit is pretty cool. Would have liked it a little more in lone with the Battlefleet Gothic Dirge Escort. Also not sure about the pilot. Feels a bit unnecessary and low tech.