Good Afternoon Everyone.
As the dust from the LVO continues to settle over the meta I am sure many of you are trying to anticipate what the next trend will be. For those of you with the forethought to save your pocket money from the holidays, I am sure you are wondering whether it is worth chasing the meta with your next purchase or pursuing a different route. A few writers and I have teamed up to bring you a short debate on this subject, so before you buy that Leviathan Pattern Siege Dreadnought take a quick gander at our discussion:
Proposed: It is a good idea to prioritize purchasing models that are currently viable in the competitive meta.
Tactical Terrain Eric: For
Evolve or die. It is a motto that applies not only to creatures of the wild, but also modern business, and our humble hobby of Warhammer 40,000. Back in what some call the “Golden Years of Competitive play” (also known as 5th edition) the scourge of the Grey Knights ruled the tables. Back then I subscribed to the common rational that you don’t need to chase that meta, that a balanced list to deal with MEQ’s would win over the long haul.
Times have changed, and for the better. I laughed when I read the latest Psychic Awakening release, as my anti-meta list has come back around in style much like my wardrobe from 5th edition. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. So, it is time to evolve or die. As a player the biggest change is not the rules or a codex, it is Games Workshop.
The might of Nottingham did evolve, become much more reactive with frequent updates and fast paced new releases in the form of either a codex, campaign, or even a White Dwarf article. This means the reign of the top net list is always looking over their shoulder. The subtle change of one faction can change any boring soup list into a fiery chowder of power.
You may disagree with me. That’s okay. Let me ask you this: why did a third of the ITC 25 change to Space Marines when the new codex dropped?
I come from a hobbyist background, but for the past year I have put most of my energy and “40K time,” into the competitive side of Warhammer. You can totally chase the meta and have a damn good time doing so, but diversifying your army is the way to go if you ask me. I am in this hobby for the long haul and don’t want to suffer burnout or go bankrupt.
By focusing on collecting staple units for your army, you will be set to deal with the shifting trends and always have a list that is at least able to hold its own at the end of the day. Metas are always changing, but many units are key building blocks that will forever be valuable. Troop units to earn you those CP, highly mobile units for objective grabbing, and a durable squad or two that can take a punch, will usually have a useful slot to fill in any army and in any meta.
The hobby-fanatic or artiest inside of you, will thank you for taking time to field units you are actually proud of. If you choose to ignore the meta and buy stuff you not only are willing to paint, but want to paint, then the time spent at your hobby desk will be enjoyable and not feel like a chore. This will result in a far better looking army. We play a visual game where a fully painted army enhances the entire experience regardless of if you are playing matched, open, or narrative games. (Note: you can always just get professional painters to do this for you though www.flgpaintstudio.com).
By opting out of meta chasing, you suddenly get to buy models you genuinely love. This could be for the model’s athletics, their unique rules, or even their fluffy lore. Even if the model sucks in competitive play currently, one day their time to shine will come as things are constantly shifting thanks to the steady release of new books, FAQs and Chapter Approved. Mortars had their moment. Knights kicked ass for a while. Now new, things like Centurions are what all the cool kids bring to the Majors. Maybe. Just maybe. Kroot will be worthwhile in the future!
Lord Paddington: For
I believe it is helpful to start this discussion by considering the reasons people buy models. Some are looking for a unit that looks cool, others are after something that will be fun to build and paint, and others want a unit with a unique ability or trait that makes them effective on the tabletop. An important thing to note is that a model can fill several of these roles. Someone could buy a sentinel because they think it looks neat and want more mobile heavy weapons for their army. In fact if we didn’t accept this premise we must assume every Iron Hands player to be “chasing the meta” regardless of the reasons for their purchases.
Given this premise, I think it is as unfair to criticize someone for purchasing a unit merely because of its effectiveness as it would be to criticize them for buying a unit that is merely fun to paint. There are certainly units that have enjoyed only brief moments of usefulness (*gazes wistfully at shelf full of hydra flak tanks*) but others have proven remarkably durable in the face of meta changes. For example if you went back in time it would be hard to think of a better model to invest in then a XV104 Riptide Battlesuit which has seen competitive use through three editions. While past success is not proof of future usefulness it is also not a given that a model once nerfed will never again be viable. So feel free to chase the meta but be aware that you may end up with more hydras then riptides on your shelf.
Hey, Dolch here.
So you’ve got a couple hundred dollars of gift money burning a hole in your pocket. Congrats!
Now, the question is should you buy a new army or flesh out the stalwart defenders already lining your gaming shelves. I have some advice, but first I have a question: Is your name Jim Vesal, Richard Siegler, or Nic Rose? Because if you are, or any of the other players on the ITC top 100 then you don’t need any advice from me. However, if you are in the following 99.8% of ITC players, then don’t chase the meta. That way leads madness!
Not that you shouldn’t play in tournaments (or however else you get your games in)… it’s just that whatever passes for the meta will be in constant flux for the foreseeable future. Besides, it isn’t the army, but the general that takes tournaments. Without dedicated practice, the best you can hope for with a meta army is mid tables. Wouldn’t you rather be at the mid tables with an army that you love and play well?
Instead of buying an army because it is good, buy what will give you joy! Buy that thing that will give you joy to paint as well as play. Buy that which will give you joy of ownership.
Besides… aren’t we really here because we love the game?
Thank you all for your time. I hope you enjoyed our discussion and that it proved helpful. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!