And now, the Meta!

Hey everyone, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming after recovering from Duel Con to talk about the results and the current meta of 40K.

Yoooo, so, besides being tired from that crazy long drive coming back to Northern California from Mesa, Arizona, we’re getting back into the swing of things over here at Frontline. Duel Con was a lot of fun as usual, a very laid back, fun event in a nice hotel (Hilton, in Mesa).

Duel Con was not just a fun GT though, it was a good litmus test of a few things I was very curious to see in a GT as an observer.

  1. The effect of lots of LoS blocking terrain in what most consider a shooty meta.
  2. How assault armies behave in those conditions.
  3. How it impacted Tau and Eldar specifically.
  4. New Space Marines in action.
We had 32 GT players and 30 Narrative event players at the event. Not a giant sample size, but still some nice data to look at. So, first, here are the results:
Player Name Army Round One Round Two Round Three Round 4 Round 5 Total
Gareth Hunt Deamon 1010 1010 1010 1009 1002 5041
Johnathan Grasser Deamon 1010 1010 1010 1010 1 4041
Ryan Mead Tyranids 1009 1006 0 1010 1010 4035
Jason Hickle Eldar 0 1010 1007 1006 1006 4029
Shane Irons Necrons 1006 1007 0 1010 1006 4029
Jay Gardener CSM/Deamons 1 505 1010 1010 1009 3535
Benjamin Nicholls Dark Eldar 1010 1006 1010 1 1 3028
Alan Dehesa Chaos Space Marines 1009 0 1008 1010 0 3027
Josh Chopek Space Marines 2 1010 1 1005 1009 3027
Travis Finell Tau/ Eldar 1010 1006 0 1009 2 3027
Mark Hayes Eldar 1 1010 1004 1 1010 3026
Alfred Drake Grey Knights/Tau 1006 1008 1005 0 2 3021
Obadiah Hampton Sister of Battle 1003 5 505 1002 505 3020
Christopher Brown Dark Angels 1 1009 1002 1 1006 3019
Sean McNamara Tau 1005 0 1004 4 1006 3019
Fabio Fiorentino Eldar 1010 0 505 2 1010 2527
Eric Cacace Tau/Chaos Space Marines 1002 5 2 1009 505 2523
Tyler Jones Dark Eldar 1 0 1005 1009 505 2520
Jason Peck Deamon 4 1009 1006 1 1 2021
Steven Ayres Blood Angels/ Farsight 0 1005 5 2 1009 2021
Jeremy Sergent Eldar/Dark Eldar 1009 1 2 2 1006 2020
Paul Cornelius Space Marines 0 1005 5 1009 0 2019
Ben Mcculloch Necrons 501 1 3 1008 505 2018
Bryan Gordon Eldar 1 0 1007 4 1006 2018
Noah Domingez Orks 1002 1006 4 1 0 2013
Stave Stiff Space Marines/ IG 501 4 0 1009 0 1514
Robert Stadler Deamon 0 505 1004 1 0 1510
Jason McCormack Space Marine 1007 5 3 2 0 1017
Mike Jackson Blood Angels 1 1 3 1010 2 1017
Saraly Trottier Chaos Space Marines 2 2 1 1 1010 1016
Josh Hearon Gret Knight 3 0 1010 1 0 1014
Remon Martinez Tau/ Space Wolves 1 2 1 0 1 5
In regards to the first point, I think it was a big success. As we’ve been seeing in our test games in the shop, the game absolutely should be played with several, large LoS blocking pieces of terrain. It makes the game so, so much more interesting, tactical and fair. Here are a few pics of tables.
So as you can see, good coverage. Not as much as some of the tables casual gamers play on, (and which will pipe up in the comments section, no doubt) but please bear in mind, there is a world of difference between making 1 or 2 cool, terrain filled tables for your garage and 100+ for a large tournament. It’s a constant struggle we face as TO’s to stay on budget, keep tables covered with enough terrain to make the game as fun as possible, and to find the time to build and paint it all, plus storage. Yikes, terrain is a big task.
However, at Duel Con, we had a Taudar player come up to the front desk and complain that he couldn’t see the whole table….success! Haha, that was sweet music to my ears! Yes my good man, you SHOULDN’T be able to see the entire table.
That helps a lot and, Daemons went 1 and 2, and Nids 3, and assault Necrons in 5th. Now, of course that is not JUST because of the LoS blocking terrain of course (that would be an insult to the skill of the top finishers, all of whom were very good players), but it helps a lot. It means maneuver matters a lot more, deployment, etc. Basically you aren’t playing a game in a shooting gallery.
That leads me to my next point. Taudar, or any shooting army, don’t dominate when they can’t see the whole dang board….obviously. It was the same in 5th with Missile Wolves and IG. Cut fire lanes, give places to hide and all of a sudden, the game is infinitely more enjoyable and allows for a more diverse field to thrive.
It’s not simply a case of who builds the most efficient shooting list and gets first turn. Tau I think were hit harder in general terms as the common Tau builds aren’t as mobile with Fire Warriors and Broadisdes. However, Riptides were able to hide and JSJ behind the giant pieces of terrain which was a benefit. Assault units had an easier time getting to grips with them though, which made it a wash, IMO. Eldar couldn’t shoot across the entire table with Serpent Shields but their general mobility made it not so hard on them and they still did quite well. Again though, it was easier for assault units to close the distance and assault is where you drop Wave Serpents.
The other thing that was illustrated is something we’ve been saying for a long time: Daemons > Tau. We’ve seen it in the shop repeatedly in our test games and Duel Con’s results bore that out. A good Daemon list should beat a good Tau list the majority of the time so long as they can survive the alpha strike in the case they go second. As they carry their cover with them and it cannot be taken away, plus they are effectively fearless, fast, and very powerful in assault, they have all the tools they need to smash the Tau. Now, I refer here to what I think is the better Daemon list: infantry based, not FMC which I think Tau can beat much easier and which is in general, more luck dependent although can be extremely powerful.
First and Second place were both Screamerstar based Daemon lists with Fateweaver (who is by a mile, the best HQ in that book). I think the Screamerstar shouldn’t be in the game, personally (as I told the winners in friendly conversation after the event), but I never fault someone for taking what is in their book. A unit with a 2+ invulnerable rerollable save is not fun, pure and simple. GW, shame on you for allowing it, it is very poor game design and a simple FAQ could fix it. That said, these types of units are not invincible as some people feel. I will write some tactics articles on how you take them apart using on the table tactics with pretty much any army.
The winner, Gareth, pointed out that in a meta of Riptides being joined by ICs that ignore cover, almost can’t miss, reroll everything, etc. and similar layered combos that produce really bizarre and/or hyper powerful effects, can you blame the Daemon player? No, you can’t, honestly. And again GW, a simple FAQ can fix that, it is silly and sloppy that these things exist in your game.
We had a nice spread of armies too, and coming down to the final 8 we had Daemons x 2, Trukk Orks, Scarab Farm Necrons, Taudar, Nids, Mech Deldar, and Grey Knights/Tau. I always root for the under-dogs by my nature, and I was hoping to see a Nids or Deldar on Ork finals! However, the computer paired the Nids and Orks with their worst match-ups (Deldar and GK/Tau respectively), and they were both eliminated in close games. Ryan’s Nids had the tools to stop either Daemon list, he just didn’t get the pairing. Daemons do not like to tango with Nids, that is a very poor match-up for them.
Going into the Semis, seeing Deldar paired with a Sreamerstar, going first made me think Ben could take that Daemon list down, but he got seized on! Doh! He then got a tad flustered, and where he should have scattered to the winds, hunting Daemon troops, ignoring the Screamerstar and playing to objectives, he tried to fight the Daemons head on and fell short. If you attack the fully buffed Screamerstar, you are playing the Daemons game. Don’t waste your time on them when they’re at full power (although, remeber, the bearer of the Grimoire isn’t affected by it, good tip for fighting them). The GK/Tau player had double Dreadknights who with Dark Excommunication, had everything they needed to take Gareth’s Daemons down, but also made some tactical errors and Gareth’s greater experience allowed him to earn victory.
That lead us to the finals: Screamerstar on Screamerstar! It looked like a route when Gareth got Misfortune on several models and used it to beat Johnathon’s Screamerstar down to a single model in a brutal combat but then Johnathon tossed those bones and up came snake eyes! Haha, crazy luck, and it allowed nearly the entire unit to come back! That made it a game and the two battled it out leaving Gareth the winner, 2-1 in a very close game. Well played.
That leaves the new, old boys on the block: Space Marines. How’d they do? Well, about the same as they usually do: middle of the pack. Not that that says anything definitively about them at all especially so close to the book’s release, just that so far they haven’t hit the tournament meta with a sledge-hammer like some of the other books. They are certainly a finesse army, not a power army which amuses me. They went from the go-to beginner army to one that takes a lot of skill to play well. Even the internet favorite White Scars are not an easy army as all bikers is low model count and looses steam rapidly with each casualty. My prediction is that Marines will be an expert’s army for the most part, and not as popular as Taudar by any means. However, as dedicated Marine players ramp up on experience and learn the feel of the army, they will prove to be formidable opponents.
So, another GT on the books! A great event, everyone had very positive feedback and our BAO tournament format continues to be met with praise which is always nice because we put a lot of effort into making it as good as we can. The only strong critique was about time, a lot of folks felt they needed more of it which is common in 6th. We may need to extend rounds by 15 minutes just to account for all of the pre-game stuff such as powers, warlord traits, etc. We’re even strongly considering introducing Chess Clocks in some fashion, maybe just for top tables, but that is an article for another day =)


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

55 Responses to “And now, the Meta!”

  1. skari October 2, 2013 3:30 am #

    Very good write up. I agree on all points and I am happy that you had a Tau player complain about LOS terrain! Stuff that BLOCKS los is imperative and i could not agree with you or stress this more. Thanks for the pics!

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:09 am #

      No worries and glad you liked it!

  2. Amberclad87 October 2, 2013 3:39 am #

    One of the things that should also be considered is the spread of armies. The field was not dominated by Tau players, so the odds are already stacked against them winning the whole thing. I had thought that we had learned our lesson in 5th edition in regards to terrain. It should be evident that a shooting army is going to thrive when it can see the whole board. I believe terrain affects the meta just as much as the armies and unfortunately is one of those things few people consider in tournaments. Good to see a more even spread of armies though.

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:42 am #

      Good point. We didn’t have a lot of Tau so hey, not a surprise that they didn’t dominate, same with Eldar. However, those there still did quite well.

  3. stewy37 October 2, 2013 6:19 am #

    Love this article, especially the fact that someone complained about all the terrain. It definitely gives me hope after seeing that tournament where the top 15 spots were.taken by Tau, Eldar, or some combination of the two.

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:09 am #

      Yeah, it’s funny how little things change the game. Ruling that Ignores Cover doesn’t work on vehicles is a huge mistake (and an example of why straight RAW isn’t always the right choice) and LoS blocking terrain and all of a sudden, the game is not so out of control.

      Glad you liked the article and welcome to Frontline!

      • stewy37 October 3, 2013 5:52 am #

        Thanks. I’ve been following your blog for a while now. It’s one of the first sites I check each day. This is just the first time use actually posted.

        • Reecius October 3, 2013 9:23 am #

          Ah, cool, well we’re glad to have you voice your opinion! Feel free to contribute any time. Our only rules for posting here are to show one another respect, beyond that it’s open game for expressing opinions.

  4. Bigpig October 2, 2013 6:51 am #

    I would add that ample terrain is necessary not BECAUSE it hinders heavy shooting armies but, rather, because it is the way the game was designed. Failing to play the game as designed gives the shooting army an unbalanced advantage. It’s like putting a boxer and wrestler in a ring and saying, “no takedowns or ground fighting, go!”

    I am glad to see more terrain on tables. We just need to be careful about giving the impression it is being done to intentionally hamstring particular builds.

    Looking forward to lots of terrain at Comicaze and LVO (PBR cans don’t count) You just set the bar

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:07 am #

      That is an excellent point, Bigpig, thanks for pointing that out. I worded it poorly I think and it did come across that way, or may have. The point is always fairness for us, not to inhibit anyone. Shooting is king right now because we play in shooting galleries. Adjusting the terrain slightly mitigates it and makes it a more fair arena, again.

      Looking forward to having you at further events! Some of the crew are going to Brawl in the Fall, so that will be a blast.

      • Bigpig October 2, 2013 4:14 pm #

        So I heard. Always good to bring more competition. Brawl is a great event. Just can’t have you guys come and take all the prizes out of the valley. Glad I get to play this year

  5. Hush October 2, 2013 7:11 am #

    I totally agree with LOS blocking terrain our club plays more terrain heavy than almost anywhere I see, including LOS blocking. Tau still come out competitive but it means they need to think rather than just sit back and roll dice.

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:04 am #

      Exactly. You said it. It means the game is a game, not a shooting gallery.

      • fluger October 2, 2013 10:10 am #

        This was my biggest complaint about 8th edition fantasy (I know I know, switching systems!). By removing the movement limitations of terrain the game came down to just slamming giant units together and rolling dice. It took most of the challenge out of the game.

        The same issues exist in 40k. If you don’t have a good variety and good quality of terrain, then the game becomes just a dice rolling/luck game.

        Movement is the only thing the players are in total control of (most of the time), and terrain plays into that in a big way.

        • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:31 am #

          Totally agree (well, I am still not good enough at Fantasy to add much on that point) but for 40K it is needed.

          • fluger October 2, 2013 10:45 am

            Before I really got into 40k, I was MUCH more of a Fantasy player. Last official GW GT (Las Vegas 2008) I was on table 4 going into the last round and I had Empire during the height of the Daemon/VC power days.

            8th Edition completely sucked the life out of Fantasy to the point that I sold all my armies for a song and haven’t regretted it once.

  6. fluger October 2, 2013 7:37 am #

    I think the key is what was stated by Reece. Building/painting ENOUGH LOS blocking pieces of terrain for GTs is REALLY hard/costly.

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:04 am #

      It really is a challenge. Storage becomes a major issue, too. We are working on some cost effective methods though, and we will be sharing them with the community to help spread the word.

      • fluger October 2, 2013 10:07 am #

        Good point. I’m a GT terrain apologist (meaning, when people bitch about it, I tend to come to the side of organizers) and even I forgot about that. It’s a huge nightmare.

        I’m interested to read what you’d come up with.

        • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:51 am #

          We actually have been working with some boxes from a shipping store for ULTRA cheap, LoS blocking terrain. Now it is just making them look good that’s the trick.

          The other route is using insulation foam as it is very cost effective and works great.

          • jadedknight October 2, 2013 11:33 am

            I’ve had some good luck with used beer boxes, the 24 pack variety or larger. The print on the side absorbs spray paint much better than plain cardboard does.

            Not that you guys would have anything like that around the store 😉

          • Reecius October 2, 2013 12:47 pm

            Hahaha, there is definitely plenty of beer around here =P

    • Hotsauceman1 October 2, 2013 11:37 am #

      Stryfoam and a can of grey spraypaint is your friend. GIANT ROCKS

      • Reecius October 2, 2013 12:46 pm #

        We do that actually, to a certain extent.

  7. bogalubov October 2, 2013 8:45 am #

    If space marines are an expert’s army, what does that make CSM lists that use space marines?

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:03 am #

      That’s playing 40K on insane difficulty setting!

  8. AbaddonAZ October 2, 2013 8:45 am #

    I really enjoyed the event. I was really surprised to see the lists that were there and I think it was great. The terrain was excellent and was really used effectively by most players. Minor hitches always come up with any event but this was a class act and we appreciate you guys coming out to AZ to bring such a great GT.

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:03 am #

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed yourself and we had fun, too.

  9. Adam October 2, 2013 10:25 am #

    What is that factory and ruin terrain that you seem to have? It looks fairly inexpensive and easy to paint with just a few cans of spray paint.

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 10:30 am #

      Amera Terrain, we sell it, actually. It is SUPER cheap, but, it is pretty damn flimsy. You need to reinforce it or it will fall apart.

      That said, it is big, cheap, easy to make and works quite well.

  10. michael October 2, 2013 11:41 am #

    I feel for the lone blood angels player!
    CSM have it on insane difficulty? At least they have an awesome tool:hell turkeys! SQWUAK!
    I don’t know what to do with my poor blood angels.

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 12:30 pm #

      Fully mechanized, my friend. Still gets it done.

      • steven morrow October 3, 2013 5:28 am #

        I would like to see more mech blood angels in action myself. fast rhino hulls is a big advantage for them

        • Reecius October 3, 2013 9:34 am #

          Blood Angels are still very good, but I think their viable lists have been really reduced. A fully mech army is hot sauce, and will do quite well. Back it up with some hard hitting assault, psychic buffs, and you’re got a recipe for success.

  11. Tarrant October 2, 2013 1:18 pm #

    Excellent post! Also agree with Bigpig that ample terrain is part of the official rules. Finding the right balance between some firing lanes and some blocking terrain makes for a more enjoyable game for most people. Besides, I think that terrain should be part of and add to the narrative of the game.


  12. BBF October 2, 2013 1:33 pm #

    I fail to see the point in winning with such a bull shit list. I would be ashamed to be seen playing it .

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 1:46 pm #

      Definitely not to my taste, but some people like those types of armies.

  13. Noah D October 2, 2013 2:07 pm #

    Haha thanks for rooting for my Trukk Orks Reece! Overall another great tournament and I think I am growing as a dedicated Ork player gaining great experience through these tournaments that I cant normally get through my local gaming group. Now its time to start testing a new look for my Orks for the LVO!

    • Reecius October 2, 2013 2:29 pm #

      Nice! That will be awesome to see and when your new book drops, you will be super prepared to smash some face!

  14. Fulcrum October 2, 2013 5:00 pm #

    I don’t like that there has become such a divide between the two perceived stereotypes of players. I really miss the days of 2nd when you weren’t allowed to field special characters (but there was tons more wargear), & every army had to have a story & a name. I would love to see true balance back to the force, but there is no luke skywalker to be found & there don’t seem to be any big comp tournaments any more. At least that I am aware of. Don’t get me wrong I like non comp, w allies, 2xFOC, & FW. I just would like to play in comp tournament every few years, lol. Anyway I’ve been told by a lot of my non-PA playing (& PA hating?) buddies that PA armies have gotten too much attention for too long & that GW is purposely trying to “broaden it’s base” so that it’s not so dependent on SM sales. But I look at FW & HH as proof they aren’t, but they are somewhat different entities at this point.

    • Reecius October 3, 2013 9:42 am #

      Yeah, the divide between gamers is so stupid. There aren’t enough of us to in-fight! haha, it is counter productive. We need to cooperate.

      As for SCs, in 2nd they were insane powerful, but now they are intrinsic to the game. The game itself is different. For example, without SCs, you couldn’t play a lot of armies such as Deathwing or Ravenwing, or Zombie Chaos, etc. They are built into the fabric of the game now so comparing that part of it to 2nd really is apples and oranges.

      • fluger October 3, 2013 10:05 am #

        You can also get a game played in less than 6 hours.

        • Reecius October 3, 2013 11:58 am #

          Haha, and it was only a 4 turn game with a quarter of the models we use now! So crazy how long it took. Often it would be 2 days for us to get it done.

  15. Jason Brown October 2, 2013 8:16 pm #

    So I play DEldar/Eldar and actually really like t-rain. First off it looks way cool to have painted armies fight around a little city or ruins. Second, if I just wanted to roll dice I would play craps. Its also alot of fun Battle Focusing my DA around stuff, trying to kill all the crazy nids before they claw my eyes out. Yes I like to win, but not at the cost of fun.

    • Reecius October 3, 2013 9:33 am #

      Exactly, the game is not only aesthetically more pleasing, but more enjoyable as well. The fact that it also makes it more fair is just a nice benefit.

  16. Ugh October 3, 2013 9:00 am #

    40k’s almost been killed for me. I’ve been on a losing streak with few wins for months because I play Mech Marines, Deathwing and Ork hordes, all three of which are trashy play styles now. Every list I write I have to compensate for Riptides and other MC’s.

    The only change that I appreciated in 6th to my Marines is chapter tactics. They haven’t saved my Mech marines though. The ridiculously cheap price of bikers vs Tacticals comes about to about ‘unless you waste points on bolter marines to unlock a useless heavy weapon, Bikes cost the same and are far better.’ 105 for 5 Marines in a Rhino, compared to 5 Bikers. There’s no contest.

  17. Stinkbomba October 3, 2013 11:15 am #

    I like what you are trying to do with the BLOS. It may even change “the meta”.

    It gives people a chanse to dust of some dust from different kind of models.

    • Reecius October 3, 2013 11:57 am #

      Yeah, what we’re aiming for is a level playing field, that’s all. We want people to feel that they can bring an assault army (or any type of army) and have a fair chance of winning.

  18. Stinkbomba October 3, 2013 11:20 am #

    To brush ^%¨¨*#! 😉

  19. Papabear October 4, 2013 8:46 pm #

    The frack type of tables has this Taudar player been playing on? I’m looking at the pictures of the tables and none of them seem that intense with terrain that would give Tau a disadvantage but give assault armies a buff they need.

    “we had a Taudar player come up to the front desk and complain that he couldn’t see the whole table….success! Haha, that was sweet music to my ears! Yes my good man, you SHOULDN’T be able to see the entire table.”

    • Reecius October 5, 2013 9:12 am #

      I’m not trying to vilanize him or anything, he was a nice young man, it was just a funny thing to hear and I was glad to hear it.

  20. Stinkbomba October 7, 2013 9:46 pm #

    I believe it just Points to the lack of cover, and that shooty armys in 6th has an even greater advantage on tables like this.

    I understand that cover for 100 tables can be a hassle, and I Guess frontlinegaming is trying to break some of this advantage.

    Seeing nidz getting tabled turn one, makes me love frontlinegamings idea!

    Keep up the good work!

  21. Cyel October 13, 2013 2:18 am #

    Polystyrene packaging should be loved and widely used by TO’s everywhere – it’s cheap, most of the time has some interesting shape already and only requires a minimum of attention (textured paint, drybrush, some washes/flock , done). Cutting out ‘rocks’ from a huge styrofoam block with a hot wire is also dead easy. A club (5-10 guys) can churn out several dozen such terrain pieces in an evening.

    The tables on your example photos are still veeeery open IMO.

    • Reecius October 13, 2013 8:27 am #

      We also use insulation foam for terrain, a hot wire cutter and you can go to town.

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