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Flyers in 6th edition Warhammer 40k

Updated on January 20, 2013


6th edition Warhammer 40k introduced a new unit type: Flyers. We've had models for many years that seemed like Flyers, but never quite felt right. Now, thanks to 6th edition, these rules have been rewritten with a more cinematic approach, and are codified so that all of our cool jets and bombers work the same.

We can also tell that 6th edition has been in the works for some time because the newer 40k codexes all had "flyer-like" units it them (Dark Eldar Razorwing Jetfighter or the Necron Doom Scythe, etc), and they've also released new Flyer units in the White Dwarf magazine.

In this article, I'm going to give a rundown of the new rules for Flyers in 6th edition Warhammer 40k, and give some insight into potential strategies and pitfalls.

Moving Flyers

Flyers always enter the battlefield as Reserves, meaning that they wont be available on Turn 1. Of course, the advantage of this is that they cannot be shot at by your opponent on Turn 1, and that you can place the unit where you need it to be when it does arrive. Flyers can also voluntarily leave that battlefield off any table edge, becoming Ongoing Reserves. When this happens, they can automatically reenter the battle next turn from your table edge.

Many Flyers have two different modes of movement and can switch between them every round. It is clear in each Flyer's profile which options are available.

  • Hover - The model becomes type Fast Skimmer and follows all rules as such.
  • Zooming - Incredibly fast movement, but at reduced maneuverability.

The advantage of Hovering is that you can move your model as you normally would a Fast Skimmer. You literally "hop" around the battlefield, moving any direction you like, and skipping over both models and terrain. At Cruising Speed, Fast Skimmers can shoot up to two weapons at their normal BS (the rest are Snap Fire) and get a 5+ cover save as long as they moved in their movement phase. They may also embark and disembark troops. Fast Skimmers that don't shoot may move 18" Flat Out during the Shooting Phase.

Zooming is a whole new game! Let's get a rundown of the rules for Zooming

  • Combat Speed of 18" (can never move slower than 18" total).
  • Cruising Speed of 36".
  • Can only make up to a 90-degree pivot before it moves that turn.
  • All movement after the pivot must be in a straight line.
  • Ignores Difficult or Dangerous Terrain if it stops on top of it (it's actually high above!).
  • Units cannot embark or disembark from a Zooming Flyer.

So think about this . . . You get a lot of speed by Zooming, but you can only pivot once at the beginning (90-degrees) and you have to move in a straight line. The key to using this is to plan your moves for at least a turn ahead. If you start by heading straight towards the enemy line, you are eventually going to pass over your targets unless you turn. Now, you can only turn 90-degrees to either side, so you need to make sure you'll have targets in that direction.

Since you have a minimum move of 18", you might consider that the smallest movement "radius" Flyers have is an 18" box: four 90-degree turns with 18" sides. If you move past a target, it will likely take you three turns to get it back in your firing arc, so make sure you have secondary targets lined up.

More than likely, your are going to eventually move off a table edge and come back the next turn on your own. This isn't terrible, except that the turn you leave the tabletop, you miss your Shooting Phase. Say that an average game is 6 turns long and that you leave the tabletop just once. This means you've spent 1/3 of the game not shooting with your Flyer (1 turn in reserve + 1 Shooting phase off the table). As we'll see in our next section, Flyers can have great offensive potential, so you want to plan your moves wisely to keep targets in sight.

Shooting with Flyers

While Flyers may be fast, the point of fielding them is to destroy enemy models. For this purpose, Flyers can definitely bring the heat! First of all, every Flyer mount some sort of heavy weapon, and typically more than one. Some of these weapons are designed to kill infantry or light vehicles, while other weapons are pure tank killers. Know your role! Secondly, many Flyers also mount missiles or bombs, which again may be designed to kill troops or tanks. Let's look at the Shooting rules for Flyers in a little more depth.

  • Zooming Flyers may fire up to four weapons at normal BS, no matter how fast they moved in the movement phase (combat or cruising speed).
  • Flyers can elect to use the Skyfire rule a the start of any shooting phase, meaning that they can shoot at other Flyers, Flying Monstrous Creatures, or Skimmers with their normal BS. If they do so, all weapons must use the Skyfire rule that turn (no mixing air and ground targets, not that you could anyway with normal shooting rules).
  • Flyers can shoot a maximum of two missiles in a single turn (and they counts against the number of weapons you've fired).
  • Bombs are "dropped" during your movement phase, but only if you are Zooming. Place the blast marker under any model you moved over and then roll d6" scatter (not reduced by BS). Remember that in 6th edition, the entire blast marker is at full strength, not just the center hole! Bombs do count against the number of weapons fired, but you can fire weapons in the shooting phase at a different target than the bomb target.
  • If you don't shoot, you may move Flat Out between 12-24 inches. That's 60" total movement possible in one turn, for those keeping track at home!

Remember to plan your movements at least a turn ahead so that you can keep enemies in your firing arc. If you move straight towards a tank on turn 2, you will likely move past it on turn 3 before you can shoot at it again (remember 18" minimum movement). I suggest entering the battlefield close to one flank, shooting at something, and then on your next turn, pivoting 90-degrees to fly down the length of the table, keeping enemies in view for a couple of turns.

Flyers on Defense

It would be a shame if our brand new models got shot down the first turn they arrived. After all, most Flyers have thin armor compared to the battle tanks that dominate the ground. Fortunately there are a few things that Flyers have going for them defensively.

  • Normal ground troops can only Snap Fire at your Flyers, meaning that they need a 6 to hit you. Consider a Space Marine Tactical Squad: bolters will either be unable to penetrate, be out of range, or will need to glance on 6's. . . IF they hit. So it's going to be up to that krak missle or lascannon to knock your Flyer down, and that lonely marine is going to need a 6 to even hit you.
  • The Skyfire rule allows a unit to shoot at Flyers with their normal BS. What has the Skyfire rule? The Quad Gun and Icarus lascannons that can be bought with Fortifications. Other Flyers. The Hydra Flak tank (Imperial Guard). There is also a Flak Missile available to Imperial troops, but no work yet on who can purchase this upgrade to missile launchers (new codexes probably).
  • If hovering, you have the Jink special rule (5+ cover save, 4+ if Flat Out). If you are Zooming, you can elect to Evade, which gives you the Jink rule until the end of your next turn, but ALSO forces your own Flyer to only Snap Fire in the next shooting phase.

What happens if your Flyer gets destroyed? Well, they go out in spectacular fashion! If a Flyer is wrecked or destroyed, you have to roll 2d6" scatter and then place a Str 6 large blast where it lands. Kaboom! I suspect that some Ork players will get their Flyers into the center of enemy armies and hope to get shot down (after killing a few units first, hopefully).

Flyers Poll

How do you plan on spending points on Flyers?

See results


So there you have it! Flyers in the new 6th edition Warhammer 40k are going to be an interesting addition that I think will make an appearance in many armies. They can bring with them some powerful offense, but maneuvering these fast units effectively will take some practice. I bet opponents of Flyers will learn quickly how to position their units to minimize exposure. Also, 100 points will get you an Aegis Defense Line with some anti-aircraft firepower. I think Games Workshop has done a fair job of balancing the impact of Flying units, making them fun and powerful, but not overwhelming.

Why not take the poll to the right and let the world know how you will be using Flyers in the new 6th edition!

I hope this article was helpful. I plan on breaking down some of the new rules in future articles, as well as going into some army analysis once I've had a chance to play more games. If you haven't read them yet, please check out my other 6th edition 40k articles. You can also bookmark my Hub profile and check back at future dates.

Please post comments below and I will reply as soon as I see them! Happy gaming and good luck!


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      Alakazam 40k 4 years ago

      I love the whole flyers idea! I'm a space marine player, and I'm hoping over the next year or so there'll be a LOT more of these things around (hopefully something for SM players too - a mini gunship, like the Stormraven?). Ork players can really take advantage of this, sticking there mobz inside, dropping them off, then blowing themselves up on top of the enemy!!

    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Alakazam, I was playing my Dark Eldar with Ork allies yesterday and I was on the receiving end of a Space Marine Stormtalon. It was the first time my opponent had brought a Flyer, but he managed to maneuver it fine and used it to win the game! I had a unit of troops sitting on an objective deep in my side of the board, so far away from his other troops that they were basically safe from destruction. Until his Stormtalon came in from reserves! He tore apart my unit of Wracks in two turns of shooting, costing me the objective and winning him the game.

      It sucked for me, but it was awesome to see!

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      Alakazam 40k 4 years ago

      I've heard a lot about the newly released flyers too, and they are AWESOME!!! Stormtalons are epic and popping out of nowhere, to back up troops. Ork Bommers just chuck themselves above the enemy, annoying the force before the horde charges, and (in my opinion) the Night/Doom scythes for Necrons are the best. They can zip across the battlefield, with the huge guns blazing , drop off the troops, then incinerate everything in sight. I think they've got the only troop carrying capacity (correct me if I'm wrong) as well.

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      Hazal 4 years ago

      Storm Ravens (BA and GK) have a 12 man capacity + a dread in the back:)

    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Nice! If I played Space Marines then I think I'd field one. I've been killed by the new, smaller SM flyer and its nasty enough!

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      Robin de Oliveira 4 years ago

      I take six storm talons, just saying...

    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Overkill? Even three of them would be a nightmare to deal with.

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      jamie 4 years ago

      Good for you ? Its all a ploy to sell models. All the rules these days are.

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      Pt 4 years ago

      Heldrake with baleflamer is fricken epic. Awesome anti infantry and with meteoric descent is badass. Not to mention the 5+ invulnerable save and able to regen hull points at end of every round. Death from above!!

    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Pt, I have a whole article about the Heldrake because it is so awesome! I've converting one right now and will have a How To article up soon. Thanks for stopping by!

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      Juan 4 years ago

      Hello, i have a question. If my flyer comes in turn 2 and after it gets shot at from an enemy quad gun using intercept i choose to evade, ehen go i get to shoot normal again? Turn 3 or turn 4???

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      Ray 4 years ago

      Since the new Eldar came out and they have a set of flyers now are you going to do anything on them because they seem way cool and I want to know if they are worth getting in numbers

    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Ray, thanks for asking! I'm actually writing some Eldar articles right now! I will certainly link to the new Eldar flyer info as soon as its up (this weekend!). Stop by and check it out by Sunday.

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      mark 3 years ago

      I have a friend that uses the helldrake formation in apocolypse, he gets a 60" move before anything is don by either side. My question is, can this still b intercepted by AA weapons such as the hydra? As he claims it can't do to being an out of sequence mve

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      mark 3 years ago

      I also use 4 stormtalons and a stormraven to control the skies in his games

    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      I think your friend is correct that the Interceptor rule will not apply in this case. Interceptor lets you shoot and enemy units as they arrive from Reserve. These Heldrakes are starting on the table and make a free move before the game starts, much like the Scout rule. Since they are not arriving from Reserve, the Interceptors can't fire :( Sorry! I played against a Heldrake last week and it was wrecking my Eldar. I feel your pain now!

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