This Week in the ITC 11-1-18: Return to Pre-Knights Meta.

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.

Well, here we are nearing the close out of the ITC season heading into the Holidays with a good head of steam and the Las Vegas Open looming ever closer. The SoCal Open was a huge event this past weekend with 172 players for Warhammer 40k showing up out of the almost 200 registered for the event! 172 is a big number like I said last week I hope the ITC takes some time to reevaluate the criteria and break down for event sizes and point bonuses attached to them. Personally, I would like to see a GT defined as a 2 day 5 round event with 50 players minimum, Major a 2 day 6 round 100 player minimum, a Super being a 2+ day 6+ round 150+ event. I have no idea if that’s in the works but it seems odd to me that an event like, say, the Barnyard Brawl with 60 players is scored similarly to the So Cal Open with 172 players. Moving on, the SoCal Open was a great event from most reports, and it’s a good indicator of the post-September FAQ meta, now that FAQ has time to really sink in. So I want to run through some of the results and other items from the event for people to chew on until Chapter Approved. There’s definitely a few things to note if you plan to attend the LVO this year as well.

First, let’s take a look at the results.

So what exactly do I mean by the title “return to the Pre-Knight Meta”? It’s rather simple. Prior to the Imperial Knight codex, the dominant faction(s) were Aeldari, and believe it or not Tyranids. Tyranids are by and large a deeply misunderstood codex in terms of efficacy. Aeldari, of their different stripes, usually include Aeldari proper. Dhrukhari lists normally include some Aeldari, same with Harlequins. Not always, but usually, and Ynnari was an extremely popular faction prior to the IK codex. After the release of Imperial Knights Aeldari, of all stripes, took a big hit in performance at tournaments because Knights were really good against them. The September FAQ hit Knights the hardest and as a result, they dropped significantly in popularity at events, especially among players who stand a chance to do well at events. With Knights taking a hit, and most other factions surviving pretty much intact the meta has shifted back to the Pre-Knight meta in most respects. With 5 of the top 10 at SoCal Open being Aeldari of some type, 7 of the top 20 being a type of Aeldari and not a single Imperial Knight primary in the top 10 we can see the top ITC players meta fully shifted to account for the September FAQ. If you’re planning to go to the LVO it’s important to know that while planning, it’s also important to pay special attention to what Chapter Approved has to say about the Aeldari factions of all stripes, as it will more than likely be in play at the LVO.

Chapter Approved and Orks represent the next big game changers, the ITC meta will need to react to both those items for LVO. So if you’re planning to travel to the Las Vegas Open with the hopes of performing well, pay special attention to the effects Orks and CA have on the most dominant factions currently in the ITC. Chapter Approved could be game-changing for a few of the factions really hurting right now like Necrons, I doubt we will see meta busting changes from Chapter Approved in terms of faction rules or points. The only real potential in my opinion for meta shifting influence in Chapter Approved comes from potential changes to core game mechanics and the Sisters Beta Codex. The former definitely seems more likely to influence the ITC meta heading into LVO than the latter. I just don’t see a beta codex being released that is a true departure into a new faction shifting the meta away from the trajectory it will be on after Orks are released. I could be wrong, and Sisters are the perfect counter to Orks and then where will we be? I don’t think that’s likely so Orks will be particularly important to track until we see Chapter Approved. It is unlikely that Orks will change much, if at all, from release to the Las Vegas Open. Chapter Approved will come hot on its heels and it would be irregular for either CA or a codex specific FAQ release to drastically change a codex released that close to Chapter Approved, and far from the next big FAQ. So pay attention to those pesky Greenskins. They could prove to be to Aeldari what Knights were but could continue to be that all the way until LVO. Why harp on this so much? Because Aeldari is a popular faction among the best players again, if that changes before LVO then you know the new big boy on the codex block is probably Orks so change your lists and game plans accordingly!

Another big thing to come out of the SoCal Open, pun intended here, is the new Hangar terrain piece from Frontline Gaming. This terrain piece is huge and if placed in the center of the mat and utilized well by your opponent can be truly game-changing or game-winning. This terrain piece will probably be on many of the tables at the LVO and you need to be fully prepared for how to play it, how to use it, and how to deal with it. I strongly suggest getting one, or two, for you gaming club, team, or store so you can properly prepare for it, I also suggest you read through some of the reports from players who played with it at So Cal Open or listen to some podcasts from players who were there who played on tables with it. Don’t go into the LVO blind, and unprepared for big Line of Sight blocking pieces of terrain, and this new piece of terrain in particular.

The best players adapt to the changes in the meta on every level. The top players in the ITC consistently play games against varied opponents, lists, terrain types, etc. The best performing teams have successful local league/40k nights, chats or groups to talk shop, a plethora of armies, and probably terrain that’s just for their use. If you hope to do well at the LVO this year tracking the meta post Orks, Hangar Terrain, and Chapter Approved will be critical, just like tracking the meta post September FAQ was critical to success at the So Cal Open last weekend.

Next week I hope to begin wrapping up this series on the ITC by beginning some interviews with the top players from the ITC who also plan to go to the LVO this year. As always let me know what you thought of the article in comments.

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.

41 Responses to “This Week in the ITC 11-1-18: Return to Pre-Knights Meta.”

  1. Avatar
    Dakkath November 1, 2018 2:03 am #

    Does anyone know if I can just buy Chapter Approved 2018 or will I need to pick up both the 2018 and 2017 books to have all the relevant rules updates?

    • Avatar
      Blight1 November 1, 2018 3:18 am #

      If it’s anything like the general’s handbook from AoS then you’ll only need the newest book for matched play. Old book will have some unique open or narrative scenarios but all the matched play stuff will be updated.

  2. Avatar
    AllHail November 1, 2018 4:02 am #

    It’s kind of misleading to say we have returned to the “Pre-Knight” meta when a list with a Castellan took first place. You didn’t even mention Brandon Grant and his Castellan in the article. I’m glad there is some more variety among the top lists, but the Castellan is still very strong. In Brandon’s last game it was shot off the table turn 1 by Ynnari, but required pretty much the entire armies shooting and cost the Aeldari player his Farseer and Warlock (by moving forward out of character protections to cast) if I remember right. Even without a single shot from the Castellan, Brandon was still able to win.

    No doubt Brandon is an incredible player, but that is still kind of silly. I don’t think GW understands that a warlord trait and relic on a 600pt heavy shooting unit is a lot different than one on a 100pt character who has mostly auras to contribute. I hope they adjust its points or make it cost points to give them WL traits/relics in the CA.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn November 1, 2018 6:57 am #

      You’re proving my point for me, you point out that the Castellan was wiped from the board top of 1 in his final game, the one that mattered most, and he still won so how important is it really? With a player like Brandon, he could have just as easily subbed his Shadowsword back into the list rather than the Castellan and still probably won So Cal Open. The single Knight, doesn’t make for a Knight meta, prior to the FAQ lists with Knight Primary factions were not only common they were pretty dominant in the meta and were a strong counter to Aeldari, one Castellan being in a single list doesn’t disprove what I am saying, rather it’s the exception that proves the rule in this case.

      • Avatar
        AllHail November 1, 2018 7:59 am #

        The value of the Castellan is the amount of firepower it absorbed. That alone was enough to warrant its points cost, even without shooting. A Shadowsword would have died to less than 1/2 the damage (28 wounds with a 3+ invuln > 26 wounds with 3+ armor vs -2 AP Dark Reapers). A single Knight Castellan is 600 points, not a small portion of an army and maybe too small at that. The most successful lists of the “Knight Meta” just had one Knight, a Castellan. Just look at Brandon’s list and the NOVA winning list….

      • Avatar
        abusepuppy November 1, 2018 3:42 pm #

        Are you saying that the list- typically called “the Castellan list”- which is almost entirely centered around enabling the Knight Castellan and that has been dominating tournaments for several months now and been the center of the complaints about Knights… doesn’t really count as Knights being relevant to the meta? Because someone killed the Knight?

        I mean, hell, someone killed Yvraine in one of my games and I still managed to win. Does that mean my army wasn’t actually Ynnari?

  3. Avatar
    Brakhal November 1, 2018 4:03 am #

    So, when there’s only one tyranid in the top 20, tyranids are dominating the meta, but when there are at least 4 iks in the top 20, iks took the biggest hit…

    Don’t get me wrong, Tyranids can be good in the right hands, but they’re the hardest faction to play with, and their win-rate is in red numbers. Meanwhile, iks are still over-represented, the easiest to play with, and I’m sure they have a pretty strong win-rate.

    • Avatar
      N.I.B. November 1, 2018 6:32 am #

      +1 Brakhal. Strange conclusions drawn in this article.

      Btw, the Ynnari mechanism need to be put down. It’s an abomination not written for 8th edition.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn November 1, 2018 6:59 am #

      That was my point, that when played by a player who knows what they’re doing Tyranids are a really scary army. Much harder to crack than Aeldari. Dominant isn’t necessarily being used in terms of the number of players, rather performance when they make it to the top tables in the hands of a great player. You can also reference Matt Root here.

    • Avatar
      Aurelio Correa November 1, 2018 8:14 am #

      I think its completely feasible to say that Imperial Knights took a massive hit in the last FAQ and the event results are completely indicative. A majority of knight players were of the bandwagon variety and once they took a hit most of them disappeared.

      A single castellan in Brandon’s list does not display how over powered they are or aren’t. At that point in the game he was playing with less than 1400pts vs ynnari and still won. That’s player skill.

      In the rest of the top 20, Alan Dehesa, Derek Page, Aurelio Correa (myself) and Ryan Mead were the only ones to use knights. Most of which I can tell were Helverins paired with something else. If you know any of these players we aren’t exactly easy prey across the table so I’d like to think a level of player skill comes into effect using a large portion of knights in your list, especially renegade knights or a melee centric knight list.

      Knights are not dominating post FAQ in my opinion. Good players using knights is what yields positive results, especially after bandwagon players stopped flooding the field.

      • SaltyJohn
        SaltyJohn November 1, 2018 8:44 am #

        This sums it up nicely Aurelio.

      • Avatar
        Ujayim November 1, 2018 9:20 am #

        On a side note, buff my precious baby warglaives or make them cost a little less, along with my Preceptor. It’s a shame it’s basically, even post-FAQ, just Gallants/Castellans/Helverins – The Codex.

        • Reecius
          Reecius November 1, 2018 9:36 am #

          I am a huge fan of the Valiant personally, but I know I am in the minority on that opinion.

          The Crusader still sees a lot of play, too. Mine has never let me down.

          • SaltyJohn
            SaltyJohn November 1, 2018 9:49 am

            The Crusader is good. I ran one in my Knight primary list at BAO, it does a lot of work and puts out a ton of firepower, while attracting less attention than Castellans and Gallants.

          • Reecius
            Reecius November 1, 2018 9:59 am

            Yeah, he works best in a multi-Knight list for that exact reason. He just doesn’t get targeted.

          • Avatar
            Ujayim November 1, 2018 10:58 am

            I’m a huge fan of the Preceptor, which is exactly why I’d love for it to be more efficient than just taking Bobby G as an Ally, who does the same buff for a larger range and less points, lol

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy November 1, 2018 3:43 pm

            The Valiant’s problem is that it’s essentially inactive on turn 1, and for a unit that expensive that’s a problem.

      • Avatar
        Brakhal November 1, 2018 7:42 pm #

        While I don’t doubt on your skill, or any other specific knight player, I disagree on them requiring a good player to have positive results.

        Knight centric armies require less decissions to be made than non-LoW based armies. That means more time to think a good play (assuming theres no timming), less practice to learn those plays, and less fatigue for the final rounds. Also, as most knights are vulnerable to just a few specific weaponry, picking targets is extremely easy: just shoot and kick the stuff that can hurt you. Add a whole set of rules and stratagems to minimize their weak points (“free” disengages, invulnerable defense against ranged antitank, they can even attack hight floors, and if you need to take them down in cc their explosions are horrifying).

        Knights are Abusing (I remark that word) at low levels of play, and that’s a problem by itself, as I don’t think new players will like to choose beetween play knights or loose against their friends. In my local meta, I see a lot of them reaching high scores at tournaments I attend (lets say mid-low level of gaming). To also see them in such quantity at top tables of a great event, it’s even worst.

        In general, I don’t think LoWs, the way they work right now, to be good for the game experience. In the iks case, they’re LoWs, but with the addition of relics, traits, stratagems, low costs (in comparission to other LoWs) and a solid defense against dedicated weaponry.

        • Avatar
          Aurelio Correa November 2, 2018 7:26 am #

          At higher levels of play I think it completely comes down to player skill vs list composition in most cases. In smaller events, such as RTTs, you have a smaller risk of finding a match that would counter mass amounts of T8 and 24+W models. A player there will have the tools to dunk it (10+ haywire harlequin bikes, 2 large units of shinning spears, double shooting dark reapers or even certain types of gunlines) or it wont.

          If you can bait out a rotate shield early in the shooting phase just change priority to a different knight. Nothing says you have to try and blast through that 3++ with everything you have all at the same time. And because you have less models it actually means you need to make more decisions vs a saavy opponent. With 3 big models there is only so much that can be killed in a turn. So not only do you have to try and kill those things, you have to try and get into line of sight, stay protected from devastating counter charges and focus on other aspects of the mission. If your opponent also has clever deployment tricks they can easily move block you from being able to get to advantageous positioning.

          In larger events those counter lists are going to be prevalent towards the top tables because all colors of Aeldari are strong, especially when you start mixing them together.

          I don’t think it’s a knight armies problem that some metas haven’t adapted to beating them or a players personal playstyle won’t let them overcome challenges that evolve. When knights came out I thought they would shake things up for a while, metas would adapt and then they would largely be considered gate keepers. The SoCal Open shows that, in my opinion.

          My only concern is that GW came down very heavy handed because players weren’t adapting fast enough and got hit with CP farming (needed to be addressed), CP increases on popular strats (valid solution, but could have possibly waited longer to see if one fix addressed it altogether) and a rumored Chapter Approved point increase on top of that. Those are massive overhauls all without seeing if an individual change fixes the issue. Shotgun troubleshooting is horrible and this all might be the equivalent of replacing an entire engine, battery and tires on a vehicle when you only need to replace the battery. Especially since nothing is stopping GW from issuing hot patches in between FAQs and CA if something is very very wrong with something’s point value or overall functionality.

          • Avatar
            Brakhal November 2, 2018 8:21 am

            Less models always means less decisions. You can say those decisions are more important, but then, you also have more time to think before the final call. A swarm can’t take 1 minute looking the perfect move for every gant, but a low model count army can take 4-5 minutes before every knight move, and the game will still end in time with no problem.

            I’m sorry, but I can’t see any merit on playing a bunch of knights. Powerfull or not, is the army composition that requires less effort to achieve their maximum potential. Again, that’s not to say nothing on any particular knight player, is something that happens with LoW focused armies.

  4. Avatar
    PandaSaurusRex November 1, 2018 4:59 am #

    Are there any plans to address events ‘boosting’ their numbers? Both Summer & Fall Barnyard events seem to have a lot of suspicious drops in rounds 1 & 2….

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy November 1, 2018 6:33 am #

      It’s… possible that is occurring, but it seems a bit unlikely. Events pretty commonly _do_ have a lot of drops, and three out of 59 is not particularly improbable as an actual occurrence. Unless you have some reason other than just suspicion to call the things out as falsified, it seems like a somewhat outlandish claim.

      • Avatar
        PandaSaurusRex November 1, 2018 6:47 am #

        9 drops in seed ‘0’ for the fall event all on team Red Barn; which is the store that puts on the event. One or two ringers seems reasonable…but 9?

        • John Lennon
          jifel November 1, 2018 7:23 am #

          3 out of 59 drops is not outlandish at all. But, lets dive deeper. There were 58 players who played at least one game at the event in question. 8 players dropped after round 1, including three who won their game. Who drops after winning their first game? All of the people who dropped after winning were paired round 1 against other people who then dropped, which heavily implies that these players intended to drop anyways after round 1, and since they played eachother there had to be a winner before they all dropped. The event also used a bracket system which started with the third round, which provides a strong incentive to keep playing even if you do poorly in your first two games as you can still compete. Despite this, 6 more people dropped before round 3, bringing it up to 14 people who dropped by the end of round 2. Dropping after the first day is complete is not uncommon, but before round 3 is very rare. Luckily only 3 more people dropped out after that point, bringing the total to 17 drops. But, of the 15 people who dropped before day 2 began, TEN had the team “Red Barn” listed, which is the name of the TO’s club and where the event was held, which strongly implies an association with the TO.

          It just seems incredibly suspicious to me that the event managed to hit exactly 58 people playing, the Major threshold, before having 17 drops. Most of those drops were suspiciously early, and 66% of them are directly associated with the TO. From an outside view, it really appears that the TO had a group of players lined up to fill in slots until 58 was hit, who would then immediately drop.

          All of the above information can be found and confirmed via the BCP app, which you should totally subscribe to.

      • SaltyJohn
        SaltyJohn November 1, 2018 7:03 am #

        If you look at the BCP app it’s pretty obvious something is awry. I didn’t realize this when I brought it up in the article, but I have looked into it on the App since hearing what PandaSaurusRex said and it looks bad for those events. Both Summer and Fall have a large number of drops, many of whom are the same players in both events, round 1 even a few are players who won their games. It looks like they pad the roster to reach Major status with either members of the store’s team or employees. It’s definitely not above board.

        • Avatar
          Ujayim November 1, 2018 8:21 am #

          I mean they’ve been publically stating they have “store champion slots” they use for one reason or another, which is literally just number fluffing, but they don’t seem to understand that’s what they’ve done.

      • Avatar
        Kevin Lantz November 1, 2018 11:19 pm #

        Talk to wedding coordinators, you have people RSVP in advance, and yet still 10% will not show up. This is a sort of thing is common with all events, and the larger the event, the larger the number.

        • Reecius
          Reecius November 2, 2018 8:04 am #

          Yeah, the last two LVOs had roughly 20% no shows. Typically we average 10% but as we saw with SoCal, it was closer to 20%. We had 212 tickets sold after refunds, and only 172 showed up.

    • Reecius
      Reecius November 1, 2018 9:09 am #

      We’re currently looking into it.

  5. Avatar
    Jeff Poole November 1, 2018 8:15 am #

    So GT/Major status does not have any impact on the points scored for an event. The only thing GT/Major status counts for is that a player needs to include 1 GT and 1 Major to reach his full 5 scores (max 3 RTTs).

    So an event with 180 players generates substantially more points than one with 60 because of the multiplier is based on the number of attendees.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn November 1, 2018 8:43 am #

      Yes, of course, there needs to be a reason to delineate between them and a reward for it. It’s about the growth of the events and recognition for the winners. Recognition both in terms of points but also in terms of knowing easily the size field they beat to win.

      • Avatar
        Jeff Poole November 1, 2018 1:21 pm #

        IMHO; raising the numbers on GT and Majors would just mean that some two day events would only count as an RTT score, which would make it harder for players to get their 5 total scores, and would decrease attendance at those events that are hovering around 30 or 60 player marks respectively.

        For example, Hammer of Wrath had like 48ish players, which would mean it wouldn’t qualify as a GT and the score would be lumped in with a player’s RTT scores.

        As I see it, there is no downside to the current player minimums. An event’s ranking (RTT/GT/Major) does not affect players’ scores, so it only matters for purposes of getting you to your 5 scores (which should be easier for players to do, not harder).

        • Avatar
          Ujayim November 1, 2018 1:54 pm #

          Mm, I can see this. Locally we have 2-3 Shops, but our events typically don’t go beyond 30-50 people, and we don’t ever have majors. If suddenly we had to drive 3+ Hours to even qualify as a GT, that’d be a bit of a kick in the dick.

          It’s a nuanced issue, for sure.

          • Reecius
            Reecius November 1, 2018 2:14 pm

            Yeah, the goal is to give people a realistic gauge for what type of event to expect and defined goals for event organizers to strive towards. We want it to be easy for players to get their points as that is fun!

            We can look at a new category of event for the really big events out there, a Super Major, or a National event, something like that. The other idea we’ve had for ages and are starting to roll out is regional championships. We need to figure out how to make them work and to be fair and function as a cool reward but we haven’t quite sorted it out just yet in general. For Australia, their ITC National Championship event, we will foot part of the bill to fly the winner to the LVO for the next year! Things like that which are fun, cool and exciting I think will help to get the incentive to make that push.

          • John Lennon
            jifel November 1, 2018 7:20 pm

            If that led to a South regional Open in New Orleans I could get behind it…

        • SaltyJohn
          SaltyJohn November 2, 2018 8:07 am #

          Yes, that’s exactly correct Jeff. The line for events should increase to increase the difficulty of maxing out scores, increase the incentive to grow events, and further delineate the achievements of those who do well at the largest events. It should absolutely become harder over time for players to achieve high ITC scores, it’s a competition. Is there a point at which it should stop and become more or less settled, absolutely, but we’re not there yet.

          • Avatar
            Jeff Poole November 2, 2018 1:26 pm

            Increasing the size of events leads to higher ITC scores for everyone involved. The label of GT, Major, or any new category does not affect a player’s ITC score except to the extent they need to attend 1 GT and 1 Major to get all 5 scores.

            I don’t agree that it should be difficult to max out your scores. It should be easy otherwise only a select few people could do it. Right now, you can get all 5 of your scores by attending local events and a few larger ones in your region. You don’t need to travel to NOVA, LVO, Adepticon to max out. Requiring people to travel to larger events just to max out their ITC score is not a good idea IMHO. However, if you want to place high in the ITC, you need to attend the larger events and do well in order to get more points.

            Furthermore, there is an incentive for TOs to grow their events as the larger an event is the more ITC points it generates for its attendees, meaning more people will want to go to an event the bigger it gets, which will increase attendance exponentially. I don’t think TOs are hitting 60 players and saying, well we’re technically a major so let’s stop promoting and growing.

            Finally, delineating achievements is already happening regardless of a title. Winning a Major with 65 players is less of an achievement than winning (or getting 2nd place) at the BAO. They both are majors, but the 40k media and players know that one is more prestigious than the other. Similarly, winning an event with heavy comp (like No Retreat) is less prestigious than winning a similar size event that is pure matched play rules.

          • Reecius
            Reecius November 2, 2018 2:44 pm

            Slight correction:

            You can log up to 5 Majors for a full overall score
            You can log up to 4 GTs in a full overall score (but need a Major for a full score)
            You can log up to 3 RTTs in a full overall score (but need either 2 Majors or a Major and a GT for a full score)

            So you don’t have to go to a GT for a full score but you do have to go to at least 1 Major. You could just go to 5 Majors if you wanted.

            We then take the 5 highest scores with those stipulations in place.

            TO your point though, I think it may make sense to come up with a new designation like National event, etc. if only for the prestige it provides to recognize the organizers’ efforts and success.

  6. Avatar
    Soil50 November 2, 2018 2:11 am #

    I dont know if it has to do with the south but I didn’t attend the BYB cause I knew I wouldn’t make day two cause of church. I do not believe malicious intent in a drive to inflate numbers was done.

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