This Week in the ITC 10-16-19: The Iron Hands Arrive and Nobodies Retire! News at 11

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!



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.

15 Responses to “This Week in the ITC 10-16-19: The Iron Hands Arrive and Nobodies Retire! News at 11”

  1. Shad October 17, 2019 1:51 am #

    The article was already Spikey Bits sorta clickbait and trolling without dragging a random dakkanaut into it and attacking him from a platform in a personal way I think.

    • Nick Wenker October 17, 2019 9:17 am #

      “Spikey Bits sorta clickbait”


      “attacking him from a platform in a personal way”

      So just your standard John article and comments?

    • David October 17, 2019 10:36 am #

      Peregrine is not just a random dakkanaught but Dakka’s most successful troll. Riding the line of behavior the Mods won’t punish. Tricking the less savvy into getting themselves into trouble. She has been doing it for many years now.

  2. Zweischneid October 17, 2019 2:01 am #

    So we shouldn’t ask for GW to balance things (ideally a lot faster than the Castellan quagmire, which should have been nerfed in the 2 week Knights FAQ, not the April FAQ a year later to begin with) or hold them to the ideal of providing a better game (as well as learning from their mistakes of the past such as the Castellan) because Salty John once got triggered by a Dakkadakka guy?


  3. Ohlmann October 17, 2019 2:02 am #

    People who say the Marines are overpowered : make polite posts with caveat and arguments for and against.

    People who say the Marines are fine : incoherently rant about unfairness and hypocrisy and make ad persona attacks left and right.

    I know which side seem most credible.

    • Nightman October 17, 2019 2:43 am #

      In long winded arguments usually both sides are wrong! <3 IH faq is way delayed now. GW still has a card left up their sleeve

  4. Zweischneid October 17, 2019 2:20 am #

    There are two fundamental problems here.

    A) You shouldn’t judge or dismiss entire groups of people on the basis of one individual. The Chapter Tactics podcast literally makes the point every second episode that tournament/competitive players aren’t as a whole cheaters/sociopaths/incapable of personal hygiene/whatever, just because maybe there are rare individuals that are.

    Same goes the other way. People criticizing or defending X or Y cannot be dismissed as a whole because there may rare individuals who also happen to criticize or defend X or Y with dumb arguments or with misplaced emotions.

    B) People are perfectly capable of discussing, even critically, a thing they have not personally been involved in.
    – A people who never had a management position at Games Workshop can speak about and even criticize GW business decisions, possibly even with sound logic.
    – A people who was never elected to public office in the United States can speak about and even criticize American politics, possibly even with sound logic.
    – A person who has never attended a 40K tournament can speak about and even criticize competitive 40K, possibly even with sound logic.

    Combining A & B: If you run into case B, where a person speaks X (say, competitive 40K) without ever having experienced it and as a response, you cannot engage with his reasoning but have to resort to A, attacking the person rather than the argument by defaulting to some dumb group-stereotyping, I believe you lost the argument right than and there, Mr. SaltyJohn, and whoever this Dakka-user is has proven to be the more mature and more intelligent side of that particular online conversation by your intellectually childish response alone.

  5. Yarium October 17, 2019 7:04 am #

    SaltyJohn isn’t criticizing one player here; he’s using that person as an example of a selected demographic. He’s say “Hey, don’t be like this guy, criticizing tournaments left and right when you don’t even try to go to tournaments,” which makes total sense. If you don’t even TRY, you really don’t know the experience. An analogy would be a blind person trying to explain colour to another blind person; they can read all they want on it and hear other people describe it, and that doesn’t make their opinions on colour invalid, but certainly it’d be strange for them to tell people that actually see colours that they’re wrong on certain mixes.

    SaltyJohn seems to be saying that unless you’re fighting Iron Hands constantly at tournaments, don’t be up in arms on this. Me, I am concerned because I help run a yearly tournament in my area that will be coming up soon, and it’s meant to be a for-fun tourney, and I really don’t want some folks being scared to show up because they feel they just won’t have fun against something so disproportionately powerful. However, in my personal circle of friends, we’re embarking on a new campaign, and I don’t see any OP releases changing my opinion of that any time soon.

    • Zweischneid October 18, 2019 9:06 am #

      Why not?

      I can have a perfectly valid opinion about music, without being a musician.
      I can perfectly distinguish good and bad performances and/or problematic institutional developments (hello FIFA) in pro sports, without being a pro athlete myself.
      I can be highly informed about politics, without being in politics.
      I can identify bad business decisions without being a CEO myself.

      Outside opinion can often even be more perceptive because it comes from the outside.

      How about “Hey, don’t be like these guys who, being incapable of actually making or engaging with logical (counter-)arguments, instead go for the personal level”?

  6. Thomas the Tank October 17, 2019 8:24 am #

    Iron Hands FAQ is out. All the ITC folks from their podcasts and what not got their complaints heard. Good Game ITC folks! You got the nerfs you wanted. Thanks for taking the fun right out of dreadnoughts actually being on the table again.

    • Reecius October 17, 2019 8:55 am #

      The guys on the other podcasts don’t have any input on the rules, and on Signals, the only podcast on the network with a playtester, we were giving people ways to try and counter IH. So, you’re hypothesis is not accurate, I am afraid.

      • AlamoMelt October 17, 2019 12:00 pm #

        Darn, Reecio has moved from Tau to Space Marine Dreadnoughts and Harlequin Haywire Bikes (by mentioning them last week).


    • ghostvalley October 17, 2019 12:09 pm #

      This is a bit of an odd flex.

      Iron Hands are still very strong just by all they get from the Devastator doctrine alone. This FAQ does not change that.

      I played against an all infantry Iron Hands army last night – no Feirros, no iron stone, no vehicles – and I found them very very impressive. Even a laughingstock unit like Suppressors had play – moving 12″ no penalty to hit, re rolling ones, Ap3 2dmg.

      Iron Hands are fine.

  7. R3v0lv3r October 18, 2019 2:34 am #

    This is the Salty John we know and love.

  8. Kristjan Blondal October 18, 2019 3:32 am #

    Now that was good write up!

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