Monday 3 June 2013

Imperial Guard Flyers - Why they're still AWESOME even after Crazy424 tried to ruin our fun!

Hello again, tonight I'm going to quickly run over a few things I've learned about the range of Imperial Guard flyers, both Codex and Imperial Armour, and reassure you that they're still alright even in the face of Crazy424 spreading his damn Tau anti-air ideas to the world.

When you include Forgeworld the Imperial Guard has a hilarious range of flyers, probably the most diverse of any of the races in 40k, however it is the stock Codex flyers that have for so long been the centrepiece of so many competetive lists. Enthusiasm for these must be tempered by the fact that one of these flyers is near useless when you consider them both side by side. However I digress.

The first available Codex flyer is the Valkyrie. A flyer with hover, bs3, av12 12 10 3HP, a multi-laser, 2 hellstrike missiles (s8 ap3 ordnance 1, one use only), available in squadrons of up to THREE and a carrying capacity of 12 models (no Ogryns allowed) this little critter seems to be a bargain at just 100 points. You can replace the hellstrikes with multiple rocket pods (s4 ap5 large blast) for 30 points and replace the multi-laser with a lascannon for 15. Throw in the option to mount 2 heavy bolters as side sponsons (possibly the most AWESOME side sponsons of all time - Vietnam style door gunners... queue the Rolling Stones) for just 10 points and you might be alt-tabbing off to get yourself one right now. Before you do that however, consider it's sister craft.

The Vendetta is only 130 points for the same profile as above and three, thats THREE, twin-linked lascannons. Honestly I haven't met a single person who has taken a Valkyrie intentionally in any tournament or casual game I've played. For 130 points you gain enough anti-vehicle firepower to annihilate about 80% of the most used heavy support and fast attack choices in 40k. And when you take 2 or more of these things the odds just tilt further in your favor. One-on-one they only flyer that I'm consistantly worried about is the Space Marine Stormraven and then only because of the efficacy of the multi-melta. However the Vendetta has one over on the Stormraven because you can take 2 Vendettas for around the same price as a single Stomraven and the Vendettas have access to the squadron rule, with a possible 3 Vendettas able to be taken as a single fast attack choice. The most ridiculous and hilarious abuse of the squadron rule I've seen with these flyers is 9 Vendettas in 3 squadrons in 1850 points. 27 twin-linked lascannons firing a turn. Ouch.

My current tactic with these - when not trying to conceive how I could carry 9 flyers to a tournament - is to take 2 Vendettas, each carrying a Platoon Command Squad stacked up with 4 flamers. As a late game objective clearing system they work very well, the option to have them popping up whereever they're most needed is invaluable and the fact that they're a troops choice means that if you can completely clear an objective you can score on it rather than just simply denying it. I'd highly recommend it. Couple your flyers with an astropath (meaning almost every game you'll have reserves arriving on a 2+ rather than a 3+) for extra security and you'll soon be confident of air-superiority in most games you play.

Once we bring Forgeworld into the equation though - and it appears as though more tournaments are becoming comfortable allowing it - you have access to about 8 additional flyers. Now admittedly most of them are shit, but the two that stand out are the Vulture Gunship and the Valkyrie Sky Talon.

I'll start with the Sky Talon because it's often overlooked in favour of the Vulture or Vendetta and it actually genuinely does deserve some attention. The intent of the Sky Talon is to carry Elysian Drop Sentinels, or Taurus vehicles into battle, however in making it available in games of 40k Forgeworld as unwittingly given Imperial Guard players access to a flyer with a heavy bolter and, with a 30 point upgrade, 2 multiple rocket pods with Deep Strike and Vector Dancer at just 100 points. And that's not even the best bit. The best bit is while it counts as a heavy support choice it DOES NOT OCCUPY SLOTS IN THE FOC. So you can take as many of the damn things as you like.

The Vulture has the same armour profile as the Vendetta however it has a tonne of armament options available making it absurdly diverse in it's potential role fulfilment. Further differences can be found in special rules, as the Vultures have both the Strafing Run (1+ to bs when shooting ground targets, all weapons become pinning) and Vector Dancer (the flyer may make an additional 90 degree pivot at the end of it's zoom move). One of the trade-offs with having access to so many weapon choices though is it has no carry capacity. When possible I run two of these guys, with a set of weapons designed to wipe infantry off objectives and utterly destroy light vehicles.

The first Vulture is armed with a twin-linked Punisher Gatling Cannon. You may recognise this from the Leman Russ Punisher, where the addition of this 24" s5 ap- heavy 20 weapon has made countless new Guard players (including myself) buy a model and assemble it because it looks so damn cool only to end up with a useless vehicle that scores MAYBE 3 wounds a turn. If it's not blown up first. On the Vulture however, as it's twin-linked and firing at bs4 because of Strafing Run, this weapon really comes into it's own. An average turn of shooting leaves you with between 15-18 hits, and at s5 you stand a good chance of getting about 12-14 of those wounding against t4 targets and below. Vehicles with armour 11 or below just simply die. Needless to say this Vulture becomes a prime target to anyone who knows what it does, and anyone who has a unit cleared from the table after a single round of shooting.

The other Vulture seems a little less daunting as it's armed with four multiple rocket pods and a heavy bolter, so 4 s4 ap5 large blast weapons with pinning direct firing within 24" at bs4. It really may not appear that threatening but the first time I used this Vulture I scored 40 hits and about 32 wounds against a group of Crazy's Dire Avengers. It has continued to perform in this manner ever since. This particular instance however led Crazy to start thinking about how to make me very sad, and he's successfully done that with the introduction of the new Tau.

This leads me to why these flyers remain good options for a competetive Imperial Guard list in the face of intercepting Broadsides and tank-hunting commanders with quad-guns. The Vendetta remains the most reliable and best value for points anti-vehicle unit available to Guard, and quite simply available in the game. Considering your other options tend to cost 30-60 points more or need to get stupidly close to be effective, this flyer is almost too good not to take. The ability to load one with a squad of cheap troops to be effective denial or late-game scoring makes them an invaluable objective play asset. And though you might have a REALLY bad time against specifically tailored anti-flyer lists (like some new Tau) you'll also have a really GOOD time against lists with little or no ability to take down an AV12 flyer. Even against such lists that are loaded with weapons dangerous to flyers the fact that you may have a multiple number of these flyers for a VERY low points cost means that should you lose one then your opponent will still have to deal with the rest of your army, that will hopefully be one step closer to wiping him or her out.

When it comes to the Forgeworld flyers my advice is simply take them whenever you can. Believe me if you've made the decision to buy or convert a Vulture and get the chance to field one you'll never look back. Though they take up a valuable fast attack slot each, they can turn a mundane grind of a game into an unpredictable eclectic one as your gunship wipes out whole infantry units each shooting phase and your enemy scrambles to bring it down. The Sky Talon on the other hand can be there for when you just HAVE to be a douche and bring 6 uniquely operating flyers to a game, and back it up with artillery support. Nobody may like you afterward, but then that's the idea.

Anyway I hope this has been somewhat helpful if you're considering flyers for your Guard, or if you had any worries now that we're being faced with lists well capable of denying you the skies. Rest assured they still work very well in most games, and will hopefully continue to do so until the next Guard Codex.

1 comment:

  1. I still think you should seriously consider the Arvus Lighter spam.


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