I looked at the cost of the AotF in relation to the Chimera and was trying to determine its "value". It is certainly better than the Chimera but is it 110 points better? That question is one I'm still to answer - I suspect in the context of my army, it's not - but I thought I'd first look at it in relation to the other "big" flying monsters in the game.
As a basis for comparison here is a table I constructed:
The rules writers have then varied the big flyers to capture individual/race character. So what jumped out at me:
- In most cases you will get a Ranged Attack (a small minority have potential for more than one). Interestingly, these are all of the 4+ hit variety [I think it might be interesting to see a Flying Monster in future with a traditional shooting attack as a variant - probably not greatly effective though without an Attack multiplier]. The four without any kind of ranged capacity have a blue marked background.
- However the points cost of these Monsters means that you will likely want them in combat - especially Turns 2-5 - rather than taking a less aggressive stance. The really confusing one is the Vampire Dragon Lord with his two ranged attacks plus Lifeleech. He seems a real Swiss Army Knife of a unit. I can help feel that while he has tools for everything there is a real opportunity cost associated with that every game. However, I'm sure there will be times that the Surge(3) will win you a game...however it comes at both a fairly large opportunity cost and a (hopefully) small sunk cost.
- If I was looking for an army with a Ranged Attack threat on a flying monster than my choice would definitely be the Elf Dragon Lord. Not only do you get a very high attack breath weapon but you also get the benefits of Elite. This gives you an 8% higher success rate in achieving hits. The go-to Magic Item for a Shooty Big Flyer should be the Boots of Levitation for 30 points which allows a move of up to 20" then shoot.
- Speaking of Magic Items, all of the Monsters bar the three Living Legends and the Empire of Dust Bone Dragon have access to "Hero" Magical Artefacts. In the past the two "go-to" items were Ensorcelled Armour and Medallion of Life. Thankfully, those are now gone and we may see more variety in choices. I think that the Boots are a good choice but for some that rely on Thunderous Charge - Caterpillar Potion. Other choices I like are Blessing of the Gods/Chant of Hate, Blood of
the Old KingKittens or Healing Brew (if nothing else taken).
- The removal of Ensorcelled Armour and Medallion of Life has probably given the Living Legends a boost relative to their peers. My Ratkin Daemonspawn used to look enviously at 6+ Flyers but now they have been dragged back to the pack. Still the Living Legends lack the ability to customise.....
- All of these Flying Monsters - bar the Bone Dragon and Void Lurker - are Inspiring (Night Stalkers' Mindthirst being a special case). This means that they can act in a largely self-sufficient manner while still providing potential for army support.
Summing them up, I think my top three choices would be the Elf Dragon Lord (with Boots), the Archfiend (with LB) and the Daemonspawn. I think these three provide the best all-round delivery mechanism.
The two cut-price options that stand out are the Orc Krudger on Slasher (it is the Home Brand flyer) and the Salamander Fire Drake (Wal-Mart version of the Elf Dragon Lord).
However I would say that there are no glaring mispricings in my view. The EOD Bone Dragon is really a different class (more comparable to a Chimera, say). Certainly you could use each of them in an army with some tactical modifications. I feel that with say the Vampire Dragon and Basilean Dragon you may have a small sunk cost on abilities that are rarely used e.g. Surge and Heal respectively but that's a small quibble.
Once again the rules writers have got things pretty right. I think if they were to re-price things there would be very few that would change by +/- 20 points in today's meta.
Am I wrong? Have at it!