This Week in the ITC 6-28-18 Meta Shifts?

Hello, fellow Warhammer 40k fans! SaltyJohn from TFG Radio, and one of the Las Vegas Open Head Judges, here to bring you a wrap up of this week in the ITC!

This week in the 40k ITC has been very interesting. There’s a lot that’s gone on in competitive 40k the last two weeks and we are seeing the beginning of a meta shift, and the rumblings of the mid-season/summer season leaderboard shake-ups too. This is going to be a bit of a more lengthy article this week. I have written up a couple long ITC re-caps in the past and included an audio version of them as TFG Radio Podcast episodes for those who prefer to digest my more exhaustive articles in an oral format, this is one of those times. There’s a very interesting trend in 40k and the ITC right now that is going to unfold over the course of the summer months. The first is the advent of the Imperial Knights, and Renegade Knights (honestly who saw that update coming, I know I certainly did not), these two factions are going to come into the meta with all the grace and elegance of the proverbial bull in a china closet. This past weekend we’ve already started to see evidence of it. The next part of the great summer shake-up of 2018 is going to be the sleeper. There are a few prominent 40k players who have just begun to make their presence felt in the ITC rankings in a big way. The summer marks a few big events that normally see some of these “sleepers” perform very well.

Click the logo for the audio version of this article!

Before we go too much further I want to be sure and thank the people over at Best Coast Pairings for providing us with the awesome app that makes all this possible. If you don’t follow the BCP facebook page you should. They just posted this last night and I must say I am super excited to see what they are bringing us in the next update!

Let’s jump right into some of the rankings so we can start looking at how the changes I was discussing earlier are beginning to manifest themselves in the ITC. First the current top 10.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking if you read my articles each week. That is relatively the same list of people in the top 10 of the ITC that’s been there the last 3 or so weeks. You’re correct of course, the real shake-ups on the board are just starting to brew below the surface. If we look at the top 30 you’ll see a few very notable names popping up on there and beginning their run at the top spot with some recent GT wins. Most notably Gentleman’s GT winner Aurelio Correa, and perennial favorite of whatever tournament he enters Brandon Grant who just won the Boise Cup GT in Idaho last weekend.

Looking at the top 30 is quite literally a who’s who of players I have featured in this article series for this season. There are a few notable people missing from the top 30, like Nick “the Brown magic” Nanavati, Sean Nayden, Allan Hernandez, Mike Brandt, Nick Rose, Aaron Aelong, Alex Gonzalez, and Carlos Kaiser who have yet to really begin their run at the title and their respective faction titles. With ATC, NOVA (invitational and Open), the Bay Area Open, the So Cal Open, and many other GT and major level events still to come I am sure it’s only a matter of time the next few months before several, if not all, of these heavyweight sleepers, begin to rise to the top spots. Brandon Grant is without a doubt one of the most talented 40k players I have ever had the pleasure of being trounced by. He is relatively local to my area in So Cal, Southern California being already a large region, and I have played him several times. I’ve never beaten him, I am not even sure it’s been close. A two time Bay Area Open Champion, the last two years running and I am sure he’s looking to make it 3 in a row this year, Brandon is just getting going. It looks like he’s taken it easy and worked on really getting his list finely honed for the foreseeable future. Here is his list from the Boise Cup last weekend.

Brandon’s list is a blend of the most commonly seen elements from the faction he is playing combined with just enough unique flavor sprinkled in to make it a unique tool in his hands. This is something we’ve seen from him tournament after tournament, season after season. He is also eschewing the soup lists, or even allies really of any kind, in favor of a more “pure” approach in terms of faction. This list has propelled him, with his Boise Cup GT win this past weekend, into the top Astra Militarum spot, ousting Mitch Pelham who rose to prominence in that faction on the back of the Forgeworld Artemia Hellhound list.

With Brandon Grant beginning his run at the ITC and, it looks like, a run at top Astra Militarum player it’s up to the other events coming up to show us how the other sleepers plan to start their attack runs. More importantly though the next few events, particularly ATC, NOVA, BAO, and So Cal Open will show us just how impactful the Imperial Knights, and to a lesser extent the Renegade Knights, are going to be. Why am I making such a big fuss about Knights effecting the meta? Because they really will. Brandon Grant’s list has a tool in his toolbox for them, the Shadowsword. If you don’t think they’ll be a big deal look at three lists that all came in just one win shy of winning the Boise Cup GT.

Keaton Marsh 1

Keaton Marsh 2

Keaton Marshman ran Imperial Knights primary to great effect with the help of a Skitarri battalion. The Castellan is a beast of a unit and having room for more Knights while also picking up the 5 CP from the Skitarri battalion is insanely powerful and efficient. William Farley also piloted a Knight primary list, only losing in the final round at Boise Cup. He ran an AM battalion as a 5CP battery to support 3 Knights and Shadowsword! William only lost to Josh Strole, and his Dhrukhari, Josh ended up taking 2nd place overall. Another Knight primary player, Christopher Davis, also went 4-1 at the Boise Cup.

William Farley

Even without winning events these past weekend Knights have already begun to cement themselves as not only something you have to plan for when designing a competitive list but something you have to design for keeping in mind you have a decent chance of meeting one at the final table. Back in 6th and most of 7th Knights were one of the benchmarks you had to use when creating a list for a tournament. Now in 8th, we have to add in Knights to our list benchmark. Besides a horde, Shadowsword, Magnus, flyer spam, and Aeldari/Ynnari we now add 3 Knights to the list of things we need to prepare to face. Knights are significantly different from the other items on that list, meaning they represent the first true meta shifting faction in 40k 8th edition since the release of the first 4-5 codices sank in. It’s completely plausible that the meta shifts to counteract them enough that they become less prevalent over time due to not having the ability to win a GT over 5 games, it’s also plausible that as it all shakes out they become a dominating factor. It’s going to be really interesting to see how they pan out and what their effect on the overall competitive meta is. Speed bump, or 90-degree course correction? We’ll see. Before moving on let’s look at who currently leads the Imperial Knight and Renegade Knight factions.

I am definitely interested in seeing how these leaderboards change now that both Imperial Knights and Renegade Knights are set to become even more popular factions for the foreseeable future this ITC season. There are a lot of possibilities that the new Imperial Knights opens up to players beyond just running Knights as a Primary Faction. The list below has been making the rounds online, and I have seen reports of different players playing different iterations of it, but roughly the same as this, with great results against some good lists and players.

  • Super Heavy Aux: Castellan
  • BA Battalion
    • Mephiston
    • 2x smash captains
    • 3x 5 scouts
    • Aggressors
  • AM Battalion
    • Company Commander (the CP Battery load out)
    • Psyker
    • Ogryn
    • 3x Infantry Squads
    • 3x 2 Artemia Hellhounds

Beyond just the idea of running a quote-unquote Knight list, being able to have a single Castellan in a Super Heavy Auxiliary detachment accompanied by 1400ish points of whatever else you want is incredibly powerful. Especially if you’re giving yourself the CP to do what you need with the Castellan and even more important if you’re playing the Castellan with the House Hawkshroud rules. For something to be truly meta changing in the 40k world, it has to shake the current meta, and “metalists”, to their core. The true test of a book being meta shifting is if it affects the top army, and that armies spoilers, enough to shift their lists in a big way. The true test will be if Aeldari/Ynnair/Dhrukhari, Chaos, and Astra Militarum players have to adjust their lists significantly due to the imminent proliferation of Knights into the tournament meta.

Continuing with what I started a few weeks ago I would like to continue my series of interviews with the best players currently in the ITC. First up is Mitch Pelham, a legitimate paragon of the Astra Militarum faction this season in the ITC.

Question 1: How long have you been playing 40k? How long have you been playing it competitively? just under 2 years now

Question 2: What got you into the hobby originally? I found the books in second and loved the aesthetic, I couldn’t afford the miniatures so my friends and I played with legos

Question 3: What is your favorite part about playing 40k competitively? example: do you enjoy list theory, math hammer, the competition, the camaraderie, your team etc It started with competing but now I would have to say the community and friends and seeing the hobby and scene grow.

Question 4: If you’re on a team, what role does your team play in your competitive 40k life? Is it a support mechanism, sounding board, just a group of friends? etc. The Mugu Legion is both a competitive team and a gaming group of friends, we help each other out with the game as well as in real life occasionally, I think the latest thing is a bunch of members getting motorcycles lol.

Question 5: What is your take so far on the ITC and BCP now that it’s several seasons in? I think its great, Reece and Frankie have found the marketing secret for getting the competitive scene to grow. BCP is a great tool that’s growing in features all the time, I look forward to when I will be able to search events more easily but Paul and all of the other guys are doing a bang-up job.

Question 6: What do you attribute your success so far this season to the most? would say willingness to listen to outside advice, playtesting and just volume of events.

Question 7: How do you prepare for events, big and small? Do you have a routine or regimen? I am usually changing things until the last minute and painting whatever late addition I have made to my list, it’s mostly by the seat of my pants for what feels right for the event and local meta.

Question 8: What faction do you play? Why? My 2 favorite factions are Imperial Guard and Space Wolves, I took first in both last year (just barely) this year my wolves are suffering while IG still thrives, both armies tend towards board control and I love the combination of lots of bodies as well as lots of vehicles. Hopefully, the Wolves Dex will breathe new life into them (Fingers crossed for Wulfen Russ)

Fresh off a GT win at the Gentleman’s GT in Las Vegas two weekends ago, I interviewed Aurelio Correa about his 40k life, his win, and where he thinks the meta is going in the future. Below you’ll find a really great video produced by War Room Games recapping the Gentleman’s GT. It is definitely worth a watch, it’s quite well done.

Thank you to all that came out and supported us. We plan on continuing to grow our local community and we would love your help. Please watch until the end and please SHARE this post.

Posted by War Room Games on Thursday, June 21, 2018

Question 1: How long have you been playing 40k? How long have you been playing it competitively? I started playing 40k when I was around 10 years old way back in 3rd edition. This is my 3rd season playing competitively. So the game has come a long way from the tail end of 7th edition to what it is now.

Question 2: What got you into the hobby originally? A friend of the family got me into it after he watched me playing Halo. We hopped in the car and drove down to the local game store where he let me watch a game between his Space Marines and another players Blood Angles. I was instantly hooked.

Question 3: What is your favorite part about playing 40k competitively? example: do you enjoy list theory, math hammer, the competition, the camaraderie, your team etc I enjoy the travel aspect of it and how diverse the metas are from area to area. Starting my comp 40k journey in the NOVA area, then moving to SoCal, traveling all the way up to the PNW, settling in Las Vegas for a while and now being in Florida has really opened my eyes to just how differently everyone plays this game and how they view what a competitive list is and what one can be. Branching out, having ties and insight into these different metas has given me a nice collection of experiences to draw from. 

Question 4: If you’re on a team, what role does your team play in your competitive 40k life? Is it a support mechanism, sounding board, just a group of friends? etc. I’m on the War Room Gladiators team based out of the Las Vegas area. When I originally moved from SoCal to Vegas, the competitive scene was pretty dead and with the help of Robert Woods and a few other locals we managed to breathe life into competitive 40k. For all of the previous season, I was out on my own and never got officially picked up by a team so after this past LVO Rob and I figured we’d form a team of the most competitive guys out of Vegas. A majority of them were brand new players with a hunger to win and desire to play better. The team took on the visage of representing the store it played in, War Room Games, owned by Ray Prado and Adam Bishop, which if you’re in Las Vegas check out their shop. As a whole, we bounce around list ideas and discuss the ever-evolving game and even before the Gentleman’s GT, Josh put together a roster of known participants and what army we expected them to bring as well as a strength/weakness analysis to try and figure out the best way to take them on. So as a team we just help one another with list construction and with what I consider high level tactical analysis.

Question 5: What is your take so far on the ITC and BCP now that it’s several seasons in? I really enjoy the ITC and everything they have given to the community. The ranking system and general outline on what they have seen to be the best way to run a successful and fun event is amazing to me. If anything, roaming the internet annoys me with the lack of knowledge people have about the ITC and how they blame them for certain things or how they “change the game” when in reality they don’t tell anyone how to run anything. They just give suggestions and a ranking track. Use whatever house rules, or lack of, you see fit. Have fun your way and submit the scores. As for BCP, they make tournament organization so smooth and pairings fast and simple. If you’re a TO doing manual submission or hand pairings I strongly suggest using BCP to make your life easier and if you go about it the right way it will get people off your back about missing scores. *searches for missing RTT score and stares at my watch waiting for manual submission to be added*

Question 6: What do you attribute your success so far this season to the most? I attribute my success to my team, a few close private chats I bounce ideas around in and my local meta in Florida. Constantly going toe to toe with some of the best players in their faction, and in the southern region, I really feel has stepped up my game.

Question 7: How do you prepare for events, big and small? Do you have a routine or regimen? In order to prepare for any event, I will start by thinking about who might be there and what my list might need to be effective when playing against that type of thing. I’m a firm believer in a TAC style list instead of one built around a gimmick or full-blown spam type of list. I’ll bounce the list idea around my team and friends and make any last minute changes and take any criticism under consideration. From that point, I just head to the tournament with, hopefully, a good nights sleep and play the best game I can.

Question 8: What faction do you play? Why? I currently play Astra Militarum (Catachan) primary with some Adeptus Custodes and assassin support. I play AM for the tactical flexibility they offer as well as fluff reasons. The Custodes offer a level of mobility and durability that AM tend to lack and the assassin because I was tired of my Custodes getting torn apart by psychic mortal wound spam. Overall, these armies combined fit my personal preferred play style and allow me to play to the mission. I also personally feel a lot of players fall into the trap of not utilizing the strong ranged artillery the AM has to offer and they try and min/max with supreme command detachments of shield captains, so I’d suggest shaking up your list some if that’s something you’re currently doing.

Question 9: Tell me a little bit about your experience at the Gentleman’s GT in Vegas. This was the second year that the Gentleman’s GT was hosted by War Room Games and this was the second time I’ve attended. In my opinion, the tables looked fantastic and the venue was extremely unique, it was held in a restaurant. Lunch was catered for the attendees and we had a 2 hour long happy hour with a private bartender day 1 of the event. The swag bag for attending was also pretty sweet, having several dial style wound counters, a token with the game store emblem and a command point/score/turn tracker. So a huge shout-out to Hammerhead Games for supporting the swag and all the other stores that helped out in any way that they did. Prize support was also some of the best I’ve seen in a lot of events. The theme was items from the brand new Imperial Knights release so I hope no one felt shortchanged from winning anything since at least 2 winners walked away with the new Knights Renegades box. An additional theme to the event was a sort of best-dressed award. Dressing “dapper” awarded you some sportsmanship points as well as gave back something to the classy establishment we were in. By no means was it enforced, but man there were some very dapper ladies and gentlemen. 

Question 10: Tell me a little bit about your games, and ultimately winning it all, at the Gentleman’s GT in Vegas. While it seems a big focus from the event has been problems of slow play, I feel like this is a problem that plagues most events at some point in time. I am a big supporter of chess clocks and look forward to seeing how and if they get implemented circuit wide. As for my games, I don’t feel like anyone intentionally slow played me or really felt pressured on time. Glen Mead (Death Guard) was my first opponent and as soon as we started he admitted this was his first tournament in years and that he and his buddy just figured it sounded like a good weekend away from LA. So we both played a very courteous and all around fun game, so if your reading this, thanks, Glen. Round 2 was against Andrew Armstrong (various forms of Eldar) and the dice just seemed to be very unkind to him and the game became very one sided but he played it out like a gentleman for as long as he could. Round 3 was against a teammate, Marc Torres (Astra Militarum). This game completely came down to who went first and I was lucky enough to win the roll off. Heading into day 2, and round 4, I played Herb Shaffer (Drukhari and Ynnari). Going against one of the more well-known names out of AZ was a bit worrisome, especially knowing my personal win record against Drukhari, but I used a lifeline and called some friends for some advice on how to take down his list. I made a plan and executed it in such a way that it eliminated almost all of his alpha units turn 1 and the game quickly wrapped up from there. The last and final game was against Daniel Olivas (Drukhari and Ynnari) currently in 5th place overall in the ITC. Dan was absolutely killing it the whole event so I’d be a liar if I said my odds looked great. After the back and forth of having a good or bad turn I snuck out a 2 point win by focussing on the mission and not going on tilt when things looked bleak. So after playing 5 great opponents I won the event with a 5-0 record and walked away with the championship belt (yes I was awarded a real WWE style belt). 

Question 11: What other events do you plan on attending this ITC season? Outside of local RTTs, I’ll be hitting up ATC, the SoCal Open, and Las Vegas Open. If I can squeeze in a few other large ones I’ll try for sure. If you are going to any of those events too come find me and say hello!

Question 12: How do you foresee having to change your list from the Gentleman’s GT in Vegas to cope with new codices? As of right now, I feel like the Imperial Knights release is going to breathe some new life into an army that, for the most part, has not been competitive in a very long time. I honestly don’t think they are extremely competitive still, but they will be pulled off the shelf for sure and see some table time. That alone, while not rocketing them to top tables in my opinion, can land them as solid mid-table/gatekeepers like they used to be. As it stands I feel like my current list struggles with T8 units, especially with invulnerable saves, so I’m basically figuring a list rework from the ground up.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s rather long rundown of the ITC. As always let me know in the comments what you thought and what you’d like me to cover in the future. I am hoping that next week I can feature questions and answers from the two players at the top of the ITC, Josh Death and Matt Root!

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

10 Responses to “This Week in the ITC 6-28-18 Meta Shifts?”

  1. Donthemagnificent June 28, 2018 6:38 am #

    Awesome job John! Keep up the good work!

    • SaltyJohn June 28, 2018 6:43 am #

      Thanks! I will try to keep the quality up on these.

  2. Reecius June 28, 2018 7:15 am #

    John, you’re really hitting you’re stride with these, buddy. Great article and I really enjoyed reading Mitch and Aurelio’s points of view.

    • SaltyJohn June 28, 2018 7:16 am #

      Thanks Reece! They sort of write themselves each week.

  3. CaptainA June 28, 2018 6:29 pm #

    Ahem, Mr. Salty, that is the Boise Cup, a MAJOR ITC event….MAAAAJORRRR! 🙂

    • SaltyJohn June 28, 2018 6:37 pm #

      Say Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!? My bad!

    • Reecius June 29, 2018 7:34 am #

      MAJOR, son! MAJOR!!!

      Nicely done, buddy. I need to come to that event next year and I can visit my parents, too. Two birds, one stone!

  4. CaptainA July 1, 2018 5:41 pm #

    I know! Shooting for 80 next year!

    • Reecius July 2, 2018 7:51 am #

      WOW. Nicely done! That’s awesome.

Leave a Reply to Donthemagnificent