Before we get into the how the FAQ is set to change up the competitive meta in the ITC starting this week I wanted to run through a few of the standings, even though they haven’t changed much in the last few weeks. With So Cal Open approaching quickly we will get to see in short order the effect the FAQ will have on the ITC, and we can revisit to see if my predictions here are accurate or not.
The top 30 is currently populated with some amazing 40k players and some really high scores. Outside the top ten, there are a number of players knocking on the door of 40k greatness. Brandon Grant, Mark Crombleholme, John Lennon, TJ Lanigan, Richard Cozart, Mitch Pelham, Steven Pampreen, Andrew Gonyo, and Don Hooson to name a few. In reality, everyone on the list of the top 30 at this point in the season are solid players with a chance of getting into the top 10 by the end of the season. It is great to see diversity in factions in the top 30 as well, it gives a real sense that the game might be more balanced than the FAQ nerfs, raw data, and internet nerd rage machine, suggests. Below are the regional rankings for the US, Canada, and European top 5. Many of the names on those lists, besides being familiar to most players who follow the ITC season, also appear in the top 30 list.
One of my favorite things about the ITC and the way it breaks down everything into regions, particularly for the US, is it allows us to really visualize just how many great players there are in the ITC and get a sense for how equally spread out we are across the Regions. Not a single region’s top 5 at this point in the season has someone who is there via happy accident. They’ve all gotten there through traveling for events and performing well competitively. The strength of having a ubiquitous spread of talent across the Regions in the ITC is every Region has players at the top who can consistently play and challenge the players in the mid to low tiers to improve their game and thereby strengthen the overall competitive community in that area. I can personally attest to the importance of having high caliber players in your meta to play against. There’s no chance I would have been prepared enough for the Bay Area Open this year with my IK/AM list to go 6-0 if I hadn’t had players in our area that could really challenge and dissect my list and play prior to the event.
Ok, so let’s discuss the new September FAQ and the impact it may have on the overall ITC meta. First, though, I would like to point out that the FAQ did indeed come in September and the GW nerf bat did indeed hit the Imperium hard and left Ynnari/Aeldari unscathed. Those were my predictions, so I am glad I made the memes below prior to the FAQ hitting!
Pompous self-stroking of my ego over, let’s talk FAQ. The first thing to note it the biggest loser of the FAQ is easily the current meta-list Imperial Knights, Astra Militarum, and Blood Angels. To fully understand just how hard this combo got whacked by the nerf bat it is best to analyze it in a simple bullet point break down of each FAQ/Eratta that hits this particular list build. Bearing in mind most of it also applies to any of the CP farm builds, of which there were a few variations.
- Changes to Stratagems:
- BA: Upon Wings of fire increased 1 CP to 2 CP total
- IK: Oathbreaker Guidance System increased 1 CP to 3 CP total
- IK: Order of Companions increased 1 CP to 3CP total
- IK: Our Darkest Hour increased 1CP to 3 CP total
- Moving Errata: Change to the FLY keyword makes it so now models/units with FLY cannot move across terrain or models during the Charge phase. Making it more difficult for the Smash captains to assault multiple units in a gun line, or even assault in general depending upon the type of terrain used.
- Tactical Restraint:
The combination of the above nerfs to the IK/BA/AM list represent the single most pointed FAQ/Eratta nerf I can remember GW ever handing down to us, and I have played since 3rd edition. 6 nerfs one of which, Tactical Reserves, is huge particularly when taken in concert with the increase to the cost of the most popular stratagems the list used. The combination of those nerfs effectively makes the list unplayable in a competitive environment. Perhaps that’s exactly what they were going for with this nerf. Regardless of intent, the result is clear. You will see a lot less Imperial Knight/Astramiliwhatsit/Smash Captains plus some wannabe Marines (I mean Blood Angels!) lists in the meta now. I don’t think Imperial Knights themselves have become an unplayable faction, nor Astramilitarum, but I certainly expect to see a pretty massive drop in Blood Angel detachments. Castellans will also become less prevalent as the House Raven strat, Order of Companions, really made them tick and the 3cp cost with no real way to regen CPs is going to make that strat a one turn only strat really fast, and it just isn’t worth the one turn. The other big change in the FAQ/Eratta from my perspective was the change to Agents of Vect and the caveat put on how it works now. A model with the Black Heart keyword must be on the board and the change to 4CP seems really steep, it’s the first 4CP stratagem, for a strat that can potentially fail anyway. Perhaps I just didn’t run into the strat enough, but the few times I did run into it, it seemed strong but not overly so. The change to FLY certainly effects a lot of armies and it will be interesting to see it play out in the long run, short term I see it as a boost to Ynnari, who can get around it with Soulburst, and gun lines like Tau that now have less to fear from FLY keyworded assault units.
To recap post FAQ thoughts on the Meta:
- Less IK/AM/BA lists overall.
- Less IK lists overall.
- A lot fewer BA lists.
- Ynnari got a small bump inadvertently.
- More turn 1 shooting alpha strikes with the new restrictions to reinforcements.
- A lot less turn 1 charges.
- Assault armies become even less prevalent.
- Gunlines increase in popularity.
- Aeldari returns to the position of the chosen faction for the top players.
If you’re interested in hearing more of my, and two other LVO head judges, thoughts on the FAQ you can listen to the latest bonus episode of TFG Radio. Fair warning, there is a rather conspiracy theory-laden rant from me in the episode about the playtesters conspiring against Imperial Knights. It was meant as a highly cynical almost satirical rant, so take it as such. I can only get so much hate mail in a week! As always let me know what you thought in the comments.
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