This week in my review of the week in the ITC we will do a mix of overall standings reviews, factions, and teams. There weren’t too many big shakeups this week, with only a handful of bigger events going down and a general lull in the ITC as the Adepticon hangover wears off. Here and there I will discuss what changes I think may come from the new FAQ that dropped on Monday. If you want to listen to a few of the LVO head judges discuss the new FAQ check out the YouTube version of the TFG Radio Twitch cast from Monday night. If you prefer audio only the podcast version can be found here.
The overall standings in the ITC haven’t changed a whole lot. The top spots are still held by Josh Death and Matt Root respectively and they look to stay on course up at the top for a while as the two continue to play in larger events and perform well.
There was some movement on the overall board as a lot of events that had broken keys and needed manual submissions got put through by the Best Coast Pairings crew. Those guys deserve a big shout out, while not perfect, the BCP app continues to improve on a weekly basis and they are truly committed to giving us an amazing product and tool. Nick Rose notably jumped into the top 10, at number 8. Nick is a great player who became 40k “famous” in 5th edition for the much-maligned Leaf Blower IG list. He’s a great player and a good guy to hang out with and talk 40k, or just about anything else. He is sitting on 3 events logged in with his Tyranids, with two third-place finishes, one at Adepticon, and a 1st place in an RTT. Giving him a solid 396.11 points.
This still does not put him into the top 3 of Tyranid players though as the top 3 Tyranid players are all in the top 7 of the ITC total. Nids are strong people. Matt Root, Gary Frank, and Shawn Prosser all still sit atop Tyranid Hivemind Mountain. The new FAQs did hurt the most popular Nid build to a certain extent. Flying Hive Tyrants took a small nerf. The power of Tyranids in my opinion though going forward is their shooting lists. I would look for a lot more double shooting Hive Guard thanks to the CP boos to taking Battalions. Nids can get 3 Battalions easily at 2k points and those Hive Guard units shooting twice do some serious work.
On a tangentially related note, Genestealer Cults are still being dominated by Idahoan Michael Snider. I reached out to Michael for his perspective on GSC and the latest FAQs. Seeing as he is likely to give best GSC player a run this year I thought I would discuss with him how GSC seems to have benefited from this latest FAQ in that they are one of the few factions to have an exemption to the new Tactical Reserves beta rule.
“I generally think the faq has been a positive change for the game, while it was certainly not perfect, I think it will result in more tactical games and fewer that are won due to a deployment error. I’m also really happy to see GW staying involved with the meta, but there are some glaring omissions and a lack of thought about implications of rules changes that they can continue to work on.
- Reserves changes – two big changes here, and likely one would have been sufficient, but this will keep games going longer, rather than a turn 1 bloodbath
- Point changes – some units clearly were underpriced. I don’t think they hit every unit that needed point adjustments, but at least they got the big ones
- Soup detachment removal – enough said
- Terrain rules need a complete overhaul – especially multi-floor ruins
- How does the black heart stratagem agents of Vect work? Can anyone use it? Do you need a specific detachment? Does needing a specific detachment mean we’ve been playing the sub faction specific stratagems wrong this whole time?
- Genestealer cult ambush doesn’t work RAW because two results should let you move after arriving, but you can’t move after arriving anymore.”
Michael enjoys picking apart the nuances of the rules, a true rules lawyer but not an abuser if you’ve read my article on that, which means he prefers air tight rules. I think Michael would admit that perfect rules aren’t possible but having players who analyze the rules to this level does actually benefit the community, particularly the judges, as we are made aware of these issues before having to rule on them at a big event with a lot on the line. Hopefully, GW addresses Michael’s last concern in particular as the beta rules and FAQs as written does seem to invalidate two results for Cult Ambush.
Anthony, Tony, Bellm still sits upon the throne of the Greater Good’s ITC standings with 326.94 points. Tau are still in what I consider the transition period of a new codex where players are trying to break old habits in terms of list construction and play style and adapt to the new, and much improved in this case, codex. The Tau community seems to be having some difficulty with this adjustment. I reached out to Tony to get his opinion on things in Tau land.
“Big FAQ Tau notes: The tactical reserves changes seem like the biggest impact at first glance. Other than the obvious impacts of crisis suits, drones, and vespids getting a straight nerf. It does however provide an indirect buff of sorts to units that have the capability to infiltrate such as stealth suits or Ghostkeels. Coldstar commanders also benefit from this indirect buff, because their 40″ movement may as well be deep strike. I predict a shift back towards gun line type armies so the ability to be in my opponents face turn one tying up their heavy hitters with durable units is going to be quite strong.”
“Tau Codex Notes: Quad Fusion Coldstars are nuts, mobility and damage on these guys are off the charts Ethereals and Cadre Fireblades are solid and are going to make up a lot of your HQs given the rule of 3 and commander specific restrictions. Longstrike is required if you want to make a hammerhead list Troops: Strike teams with DS8s armed with smart missiles are really good bread and butter units, lots of S5 shots some of which LOS and cover Elites: Stealth suits can infiltrate, are very durable and put out enough damage that they can’t be ignored Firesight marksmen are consistent sources of markerlights and are protected because they’re characters Ghostkeels are awesome for the same reason stealth suits are Riptides are very competent damage dealers that are also durable and mobile, good source of anti horde with their heavy burst cannon, their smart missiles are also not to be underestimated.”
I am sure Tony has already adapted to the new meta of a post Index world for Tau in the competitive scene. His thoughts on the FAQ are not only level-headed they are quite insightful in terms of what is in store for his faction. Few armies do a gun line as well as the Tau, so if that is truly the direction we’re headed in a post FAQ world then players at events in the next few months need to look out for Tau. If you run up against a competent, level-headed, player who has taken the time to really dig into the codex past just first impressions it could mean a really rough game for you! 5 of my last 10 games have been against Tau, all post Codex release, and they are the real deal.
Death Guard and Imperium are two factions that got hit pretty bad by the FAQ in my opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the players are forced to change their lists and strategies drastically as a result. While the top two players in each are great players, Alexander Fennel and Josh Death, and the rest of the field in those two are no slouches; several of them relied on army lists that will no longer be viable. From Poxwalker nerf via costing points to add past original unit size, to no more Soup detachments, and the 0-3 restriction hitting Plagueburst Crawler spam hard. I imagine these two faction rankings could see some big shifts and perhaps even lose some popularity among the tournament elite and tournament regulars.
The Adeptus Astartes are in a weird place so far this edition. When 8th edition hit it seemed like the Bobby G gun line and Storm Raven airforce was going to be a real competitive wrecking ball. Over time, and especially with the release of the codex, we saw that simply wasn’t the case. There are a lot of factors for how and why the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes seem to be languishing competitively. Part of it is certainly the weird transition that seems to be occurring from Space Marines to Primaris Marines. Primaris Marines, on the whole just aren’t good enough at what you want them to do for their points, and the support they need to do what you want is to expensive. They are also just too slow. Regular Space Marines by contrast also perform underwhelmingly. Terminators, Centurions, Bikers, Storm Ravens, Rhinos, and Drop Pods just aren’t what you hope they’d be, or what they used to be. That said the FAQ and new beta rules have breathed life back into the Adeptus Astartes in an odd round about way. The resurgence of the gun line list through the lack of turn one deep strikes into your territory means more time to mow down the enemy. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a Guilliman comeback, even with the point increase. Also good would be Issadon with Devastators. The Landing Pad would make an excellent place to but a fire base, it’s big and tall, and can get you those fields of fire you may otherwise have found lacking relying on just the terrain that was pre-set. I by no means think this is going to make the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes a preeminent tournament force to be reckoned with, but lining up across from them will no longer be seen as a cake walk to many of the more experienced players.
Thousand Sons are in an interesting place right now post FAQ and beta rules. Several things they did well are no longer as viable but their psychic abilities got a huge boost. I reached out to number one 1k Sons player, and fellow #REKT teammate, Allan Hernandez, to get his impressions on the 1k Sons and the new FAQs.
“As far as the TS go, the big losers are those who played with the Tzaangor bombs (Deep striking Tzaangors). Now, having to come in turn #2 is not too bad, but not being able to warp time them into assault means that they are now risky. That is the one unit in the new TS codex that everyone liked. They might be okay if the Dark Matter Crystal relic is FAQ’d so you can cast warp time on them since it is a “Gate type” ability rather than coming in from reserves, but right now you can’t. Two other losers were those who also took rubrics with warpflamers and deep strike them in and warp time them into range (Never seen it done competitively right now only theoretical), and another build that is hurt by the FAQ is the Tzaangor Enlightened spam armies that are making the rounds; they are affected by the rule of three. Other than that, TS improved with the lifting of the smite beta rules, and now they can smite again without losing effectiveness.”
Hopefully even with the hits to 1k Sons via the FAQ Allan can continue his run at winning best 1k Sons player. With any luck, he can help our team get the 3rd best team in the ITC (and best West Coast team) again this year, maybe even first place who knows.
Drukhari have one of the newest codices right now. They have some great players in their top 3 and several very notable players looking into making a run at the title with the new book out. Anthony O’Dell is currently out for this ITC season with his new job overseas but he has been making a name for himself playing Dhrukhari for several seasons now, including being one of the few to take them to this past LVO and doing well with them. Tony Myers is another fantastic player who owns Hammerhead Games, they make those awesome wood carrying trays and various awesome templates, tokens, counters, and markers for use in a lot of games, not just 40k. If you read these articles you will also recognize Aurelio Correa’s name, currently tearing it up in the Florida scene. I asked these three for their thoughts on the Dhrukhari book because Dark Eldar, as I grew up with them, are one of the few armies I have never played.
“I think that the stand out obsessions are Kabal of the Black Heart, cult of red grief and the prophets of flesh coven. They provide added and much-needed durability and an absurd amount of speed that makes up for the inability to deep strike outside of your deployment zone turn 1. This, in turn, will begin to zone out enemy landing zones since you can cover your own deployment area, mid field and easily be in the enemy deployment area turn 1.
As a stand-alone codex, they can fill in any gap that other armies might need to outsource for flexibility. But of course, Aeldari allies can make for some powerful combos.
Standout units are Grotesques/Talos and reavers. The amount of punishment that grotesques and Talos can take is frankly bananas while their damage potential might initially go unnoticed with sneaking in mortal wounds and medium ap or doubling the number of attacks they get. Combine that with a stratagem to reroll wounds and they can quickly drag down chaff and heavy infantry or monsters alike. Reavers combine speed and special weapons to hop around from combat to combat with clever model placement and stratagem usage to sneak into position and character sniping and silence enemy guns for a turn or two.
Wracks are good screening and back field objective holders. Just sit back and (w)rack up points. Haha, I’m so punny.”
“I think what stands out most about the Drukhari codex isn’t any single unit per say, although there are lots of good ones, but the fact that very few are bad. The book gives you a ton of choices to the point of where you struggle to make it all work or fit in an army. Do I want to take really durable coven units like wracks with T5 and 4++? Or dish out free hugs with 97 point Talos with haywire blasters and a whole lot of hurt for not a lot of points. Or do I want to take black heart Kabalites for the stratagem that everyone wants and only Vects best buds get…the dreaded counterspell!
That’s all without mentioning hordes of combat drugged up space Wyches with nets to tie you up, or the now amazingly priced reaver jetbikes. Because who doesn’t like a bi… I mean Wych on a bike?!
Finally, Slap as many blasters as you can on practically anything in the army that’s good and gitgud at rolling 6s for that sweet sweet damage roll.
There’s a lot to like in the codex, few things to ignore, and a whole lotta salty tears to flow from your opponent’s eyes when they face the best of what Commoragh has to bring to the table.”
“So obviously Kabal of the Flayed Skulls has my eye. With an army full of Rapid Fire Splinter weapons, it’s hard to pass up. Rerolling 1’s to hit for all rapid fire weapons. I loved playing what I called Gunboat Diplomacy in 6th and early 7th edition. Loads of warriors in raiders and venoms and just lots of dakka. With the Return and betterment of Splinter racks on raiders, this concept for me has returned. Getting an extra hit on a 6 is amazing when your rolling 16 shots of poison from a boat in rapid fire range. My optimal detachment of flayed Skull would be 6 units of 5 man kabalite squads all in 3 raiders. Each squad having a blaster of course for that sweet anti-tank weaponry. In the potentially new meta of nerfed assaults, it’s easy to perch your raider or venom on top of terrain and deny your opponent the ability to assault as you rain down poison. If your facing another gun line and worried about losing your raiders first turn, you can just use the screaming jets stratagems to keep them off the board until the opportune moment. I still think a black heart patrol will be necessary so we have access to Agents of Vect to shut down a lot of stratagem dependent armies and to take that sweet warlord trait, Labrythine Cunning, so we can generate more command points. Kabal of the Poison Tongue is near and dear in my heart because Duke Sliscus use to be my favorite character. Being his Kabal, I love the concept of rerolling failed to wound rolls of 1 on all poison but I think the benefit of getting extra hits with splinter racks and rerolling 1’s to hit gives you better odds of actually removing models off the table. The Obsidian Rose obsession is still a pretty solid obsession for the extra range to rapid fire, assault and heavy weapons. 30” range poison shots (15 inch rapid fire) is solid as well as the extra range on blasters and dark lances, but I still think the help of rerolls and extra hits outweighs the range buff. One Cult Obsession unit sticks out, and that is Red Grief for obvious reasons. We saw that alpha strike for many armies has been lost now with the beta rules but I don’t think that’s so with the dark eldar. The ability to advance and charge is going to keep the dark eldar in the game of alpha striking by getting across the table and tying up those dangerous units. Keeping your gunboats safe from potentially crushing fire power or the overwhelming assaults that may come later on. As Tony had said. This codex suffers from one problem. Lots of toys and not enough points or detachments in an army to bring them all. That’s a pretty good problem in my opinion.”
The testimony of these three players speak for themselves, I for one am not excited to have Dhrukhari across the table top from me in the hands of a competent player!
Last week I reviewed the top teams in the ITC and I wasn’t able to get ahold of all the teams. Well, a representative from Dakkasaurus contacted me to let me know a little about their team.
Dakkasaurus is a brand new team this season. They started out as just a group of 40k players, then became the competitive offshoot off of a slightly larger group based in the greater Boston area, inspired to get better at 40k by all of the big names in the area. Te formed a team to practice against other top meta lists and shoot for placing well in the ITC team rankings. The team leader is Korey McKinney, who is currently ranked second Astra Militarum. Other notable players from Dakkasaurus include: Kyle Miller and Stephen Burris who are ranked 3rd & 4th respectively in Ynnari, and David Pesce ranked 1st in Chaos Demons. Their team goal this year is to finish in the top 10 of the ITC. Their team may have my favorite logo yet! Good luck this year Dakkasaurus.
Let me know what you thought of the article in comments. What did you like, what would you like to see in the future?
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!