Hey guys I’m Nick Nanavati from Art of War and I’m here to talk to you about the new ITC 2020 beta test missions.
As the 2019 ITC season comes to an end competitive 40k players around the world have been experiencing a bit of an “off season.” With no looming major events and rumors of an updated ITC missions set on the horizon many tournament focused players have been in a bit of a holding pattern for the past few weeks. Until today that is! That’s right, just when you thought you might actually make your significant other happy with your lack of time dedicated to gaming, BOOM! Frontline Gaming released the new 40k 2020 ITC mission set on Valentines day. I’m sure your significant other will understand. Nonetheless, we here at Art of War are 110% dedicated to making sure you guys have the most up to date information and analysis possible, so date night be damned. Let’s break down a new mission set!
The new mission set shares the same core concepts as its 2019 predecessor, in that they are still based on hold/hold more, kill/kill more and choosing multiple secondaries. However, there are MANY subtle changes which when added together may end up completely changing the metagame entirely.
Attackers and Defenders
The first and potentially most significant change is the introduction of attackers and defenders. While these are just terms, they carry significant meaning for who does what within the game. The first thing you do when you get to the table with your opponent (aside from exchanging pleasantries and awkward small talk) is roll off. The winner of that roll off then chooses to be attacker or defender. The Defender then determines the deployment style (rerolling the result if they desire) and chooses his side. The attacker then deploys his entire army and goes first (with no fear of seizing). This is absolutely monumental. Gone are the days of alternating deployments (this will help speed up the game so I’m all for it). Additionally the power of going second in ITC is huge from a mission standpoint, as it allows you to have the last say on who’s held more or killed more for the battle round primary points, and has the added bonus of allowing you to more safely take secondaries like Ground Control or King of the Hill (which I’ll cover later). Not only that, but now you get further rewarded because you as the Defender have the ability to reroll your deployment style and choose which one you are in. While many competitive formats try to make sides symmetrical to mitigate the relevance of choosing sides, being able to reroll the deployment roll is enormous. Since you know you’re going second and you will likely have to survive your opponent’s alpha strike you can try and reroll the deployment style to get a longer deployment style (2/3 of the deployment options). This will largely mitigate your opponents advantage of going first while offering a significant advantage for going second. Being an attacker is just a part of life though, and competitive lists will have to be able to play both roles. Making a list that has capability of establishing overwhelming board presence or dealing an insanely powerful alpha strike against an opponent who essentially gets to reactively deploy in a deep deployment zone will be key. Armies with heavy indirect alpha strikes, or highly mobile options with redeploy like Eldar with phantasm will be the most useful here. At least with no seize option you don’t have to deploy conservatively at all as the attacker, but I do worry that these missions will cause the game to be decided prematurely, as the Defender has such an advantage over the attacker going into the game that if the attacker doesn’t essentially win the game turn 1, or at least out himself in a commanding spot via board control he will lose.
Timing of Secondary Choices
This is another subtle yet hugely important change. Players now elect secondaries after they know who is attacker and defender. This matters specifically for ground control and king of the hill which are hugely in favor of the person going second. Ground Control obviously scores at the end of the game immediately after the Defender’s last turn, and King of the Hill scores at the end of each battle round, immediately after each of the Defender’s turns. At least this makes these not so commonly taken secondaries more viable, but doubling down as a further advantage to going second is not something that I deem a good thing.
Secondaries are now organized into two categories, one based on killing your opponent and the other based on board control. Players must now pick one secondary from each category, and then they may choose their last. I think overall this is a very positive change since it forces some interaction whereas armies like 300 gaunts would simply take three board control based secondaries and attempt to ignore their opponent, and that’s not fun for anyone.
Born For Greatness- The first of many new or updated secondaries. This is essentially a secondary that rewards you for taking a very useful and active character. It’s going to be niche in its viability, but it makes a lot of sense for a more active, integral character. Coldstar commanders, the Yncarne, Knights, Magnus, and Morty all come to mind as the types of characters that appreciate this secondary. This secondary will be an immensely powerful tool in the hands of T’au players like Art of War’s Richard Siegler who emphasize mobile board control lists, but overall I think this secondary is fine.
Marked for Death-Marked for death changed to so that you can now select units that cost 100 or more points versus units that are 7 power level. Loosely speaking 1 power level roughly equates to about 20 points, so being able to mark things at 7 power level would have been 140 points. This is a pretty significant buff to Marked for Death allowing you to mark things like larger Drone units and 6 man nurgling units, but it can also be a detriment since it won’t allow you to mark a 5 man grey knight strike unit.
Gang Busters– Not a big change here but it no longer works on troop units, so things like Tyranid warriors and Ad Mech breachers/kataphrons get a nice little buff.
Reaper- Reaper has changed to 1 point for every 20 wounds dealt to infantry rather than 20 models killed. This is hugely important with the respect to the current meta, as you will now be able to get massive points off of intercessors, and armies that try to tow the line around gang busters by only taking a single 5 man Centurion unit.
Recon– This secondary largely remained the same but now you can double up in a turn by having 2 units in every quarter for 2 points in any one turn. This is actually nice buff for the attacker who’s trying to establish mid field dominance early to try and offset the defender advantage. It’s very possible for that attacker to be maxed out on Recon by turn 2.
Behind Enemy Lines– This secondary got a massive improvement over its predecessor. Now it is scored at the end of the player turn, meaning it’s viable to sacrifice units to get this secondary. Similarly to Recon you can score 2 points in one turn for having 3 units in the opponents deployment zone. This is fantastic for armies like GSC.
Ground Control – Slight buff here so that if you hold every objective at the end of the game you get all four points, which makes it viable in mission two: Cut to the Heart.
King of the Hill- This secondary became a lot more viable now that its a 9” aura and that you can double down and score 2 points in the same turn for having 4 units in the center. This coupled with the fact that you know if you are going second makes it a much more viable choice than in its previous rendition.
Engineers- Engineers got a small buff for mobility and board control based armies due to the fact that you can now score two points in one turn for holding an objective outside your deployment zone.
Sappers- This is in my opinion the most abstract, and therefore controversial secondary. It functions unlike any other secondary we’ve seen before, which makes breaking it down a bit more challenging. While it may seem very powerful to deny your opponents objectives, I think it’ actually not as great as it seems. To actively deny your opponent primary points here you’ll want to make your Sappers large, fast units that are moderately tough and that you don’t care if they do nothing, this is very limiting to things like 30 man gaunt/grot units, brood brothers, and splitting horrors. The thing with these units is that they aren’t hard to kill if they throw themselves forward at the enemy . Their durability mostly comes into account through the “Tentacle Tactic”. This is a tactic of stringing large units out incredibly far in single file lines off to contest or hold objectives. When your opponent goes to start shooting or charging these units you start removing models from the tentacle to pull him out of range of future attacks. This is similar to pulling casualties incurred in the shooting phase so as to prevent your opponent from charging in the charge phase on a much larger scale. The thing here, is if you can’t pull the end of the tentacle as a casualty because you’re actively trying to Sap an objective your opponent can just keep allocating shots onto you until you either give up and pull yourself off the objective or he wipes the entire unit anyway. The other aspect to it is that your opponent can simply charge your sapper unit. This will force you to make attacks with your sappers which then unsaps the objective, just in time for the end of your opponents turn / battle round so that he can score the objective as normal.
This is not to say that Sappers is useless however. It’s a relatively easy secondary to score for certain armies as you can use the tentacle tactic to actively keep your opponent from killing you in their turn by cleverly sending out little tentacles to capture objectives just outside your deployment zone, removing those models as they die, and then repeating the process. Long story short, its a good secondary to actually score points if you have the right type of army, but the whole part of denying your opponent primary points is pretty pointless.
The Postman– The Postman is the final secondary, and it really rewards a mobile character in a board control army. If your army is one that sits in midfield very well like Chaos, Raven Guard, Iron Hands, or Tau and has a fast character to hop from objective to objective every turn while being behind the safety of your army you will love this secondary. Cold Stars, and Bike characters strike me as the most viable here, but only if there army lends itself to the strategy. A Cold Star in the context of a mobile Riptide based force that sits in the middle of the board makes an excellent post man, but a Cold Star in the context of a broadside based static gunline would not be a good post man since he wont be able t to stand on multiple objectives with relative impunity.
Mission 1 : Seize Ground- Same as before but you only need to hold or contest 4 objectives for the bonus, so that’s a bit easier for board control armies. It also helps offset the disparity In power between attackers and defender since the attacker can establish early board control potentially.
Mission 2: Cut to the Heart- This bonus is if you control your own objective and the center. This Is horrendously easy, and in my opinion most likely a typo. Assuming it is a typo, and it scores the way it used to this missions is fine, and also rewards the board control based armies, and the attacker role.
Mission 3: Nexus Control- This mission is slightly different from before in that each players place the objectives instead f them being pre placed. The bonus is also about holding both objectives outside of each players deployment zones. I especially like this change as in the old format the objectives were often in the complete open based on where their fixed positions were set. There is a lot more skill involved with player placed objectives rather than with preplaced, so I’m all in favor of a change that extenuates player skill.
Mission 4: What’s Yours is Mine- Did not change at all. This is a great mission and I’m totally fine with it not changing.
Mission 5: Precious Cargo- This was by far my least favorite mission due to the fact that it all but removed the concept of hold more and the bonus. The new change of adding the 5th objective in the middle really help out board control army’s and they will need it considering the huge advantage of being the defender in this format.
Mission 6: Crucible of Champions– This mission also did not change, but I think that’ fine as it was actually pretty balanced. The bonus might be a bit easy for character based lists, but I personally don’t think that’s a big deal.
Five out of six missions have an odd number of objectives or more than 4 objectives, meaning that board control will ultimately be the key to the primary in these missions. Additionally, many of the new board control based secondaries are easier to achieve, really emphasizing the power of board control. I think that these missions overall favor board control based armies enormously, which is great as it encourages interaction with the opponent, however they may have gone too far. My main concern is that the power of being a defender with a board control based army will be an insurmountable hill for most players and armies to climb as the attacker, making it so that too many games are won and lost at the very first die roll of the game. Of course this remains to be seen, and they are just my initial (untested) thoughts. In the War Room we will be extensively play testing these missions on our streams and giving our feedback to Frontline Gaming, as these are still beta missions in the design and testing phase. If you’d like to follow along and learn how multiple previous ITC champions approach breaking down the ITC format come join us!
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