Hello, fellow Warhammer 40k fans! SaltyJohn from TFG Radio, and one of the Las Vegas Open Head Judges, here to bring you my weekly article on the ITC. This week let’s look at the coming of Iron Hands and the numerous “retirements”.
So Cal Open is right around the corner and oh boy does it seem to be ramping up into an all-out Space Marine slugfest. This past weekend saw Space Marines win 7 of 8 GT or larger events with 6 of those going to Iron Hands. The 7th was White Scars, with Iron Hands successors. The initial reaction of the internet was predictable of course. The wailing and gnashing of teeth was audible and the ululating and rubbing of dirt in the hair could be felt through the fiber optic cabling. Before we get too deep into that though let’s take a look at the current top 10 in the ITC and current leaders in the newest hottest faction, Adeptus Astartes!
So Nick Rose is solidly ensconced into the top 10 with his win over the weekend with Iron Hands. John Lennon also won an event over the weekend playing as Adeptus Astartes. Jim Vesal has been seen on Instagram painting Soul Drinkers. Which I can only imagine will be Iron Hands too. Plenty of the top players are jumping onto the Astartes bandwagon with their rainbow marines in tow. I am still shocked to find that the call for the Space Marine chapters to be representative of the correct chapter is so non-existent. You would think that with how much crying occurred over Knight players trying to play their Imperial Knights as Chaos occurred and some events literally told players their knights had to look Chaos and not Imperial we would have a similar reaction to such an “overpowered” book! Alas, hypocrisy knows no bounds it would seem and the 40k online community has once again shown an abundance of integrity and consistency. Don’t worry though, all those whiners have Space Marine armies and this image illustrates fairly well what it will look like.
Hypocrisy over painting and modeling aside, is this really as bad as it seems? Must we scream, and in the case of some overtaken by hubris, quit 40k? No. We’ve been here before. The Knight/AM/Blood Angel list had a massive win percentage too. Somewhere a little above 70% for a while. So we know Games Workshop can adjust the game well enough to mitigate mistakes they make in terms of power creep, or just plain OP units, detachments, or combos. So why is there, a perceptible worse reaction with Iron Hands? Well, two things. First, everyone and their mother who has ever played 40k has Space Marine models, and Iron Hands are good enough that it would seem, for the moment, you can kind of throw together whatever you want and win games. While this may be an unfair characterization of the reality it has enough truth to it that it is maddening to the masses. Second, they’re winning events. Even at it’s most powerful the dreaded Knight/AM/BA CP Battery list wasn’t winning events left and right, it was merely a very strong list that had a high win percentage. The list that did win events was the AM with Castellan in a Super Heavy Aux and that had a lower win percentage, but it won events. The fact Iron Hands are perceived as being overly OP and are winning events reinforces that. GW will adjust things, and I feel they will quickly.
That said I would no expect Games Workshop to come out with a huge nerf bat and just hammer Iron Hands and the other Space Marine supplements, or even the core codex, back into competitive obscurity. It took close to 5 nerfs to get Ynnari balanced and 3 nerfs to finally put Imperial Knights out to pasture back in their old early 8th edition retirement homes. We cannot expect a fix before So Cal Open, yet that doesn’t mean we should give in to despair and write the ITC season off. There’s still plenty of 40k to be played and by the time the Las Vegas Open rolls around who knows what the meta will actually look like given FAQs/Errata and other releases still to come. Not to mention there’s still plenty to come for many factions with Psychic Awakening if the rumors at true!
Like I said in last week’s article on the ITC, it is completely understandable that people would have drastic, even hysterical, knee jerk overreactions to a supplement like Iron Hands. It’s practically hard-wired into who we are as a species. Without a healthy skepticism of new things and drastic change, we wouldn’t have survived as a species, let alone thrive. So, on the one hand, I get the overreaction but on the other hand. Come on. You know? It’s a game, a hobby, not a profession and I hate to sound like a bit of a broken record here but you aren’t retiring from your hobby if you are deciding to quit 40k. You also haven’t quit 40k if you announce you’re quitting because Iron Hands, or Knights/Ynnari before them, are too OP and it ruins the game but then you spend all sorts of time online continuing to post about how much you hate 40k and how much you won’t play it until you get your way. In the days of 3rd through 6th edition, there was a place called DakkaDakka which once held relevance (It’s still there but the relevance is gone). On this site, during the dark times of 6th, there was a person named Peregrine, whose avatar was a peregrine falcon shockingly enough, who spammed the threads about 40k tournaments. He would go on multi comment tantrums about how tournaments should be run, how he knew best, how everyone else was wrong. Yet, he refused to play in tournaments. He didn’t play in any. When confronted about this he simply said he wouldn’t play in tournaments that didn’t live up to his standards. When confronted further the Dakka mods would dole out suspensions to those who questioned his motives. If you want to be a peregrine then by all means. Post about how you don’t play 40k anymore because you don’t approve of how it works currently and then insist you won’t play until it is done your way. It’s quite mature.
While the memes that have come out of this are hilarious, the reality is the situation is not as dire as they make it seem. 40k is the healthiest it’s ever been. The ITC is a juggernaut of an organization and Frontline Gaming events will continue to be the gold standard of what 40k tournaments can aspire to be. Games Workshop will fix their mistakes with Iron Hands, the same as they did with Imperial Knights and Ynnair before that. Until then, relax, play some great games of 40k, drink a beer with your friends, hang out and a tournament, and most of all, enjoy the memes.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!