The last “This Week in the ITC” article was posted on June 20th of 2020. Back when people were becoming hopeful that the summer was going to see a return to more normalcy in terms of COVID protocols and gaming. That didn’t end up panning out entirely and the column went dark again for a while. Now I have come back to you at, hopefully, the turning of the tide to resurrect the column for the 2021 ITC Season, and is it ever the season to return to!
While the 2020 season was a wash with no Las Vegas Open, Bay Area Open, Adepticon, NOVA, London GT, So Cal Open, and practically no Super Major events of note taking place it is awesome that the 2021 season is seeing some major changes! Frontline Gaming announcing their new slate of events is great news for the competitive community, and partnering with local TOs gives the events a connection to the local scene.
The best part of a new edition is always the beginning when it’s like the wild west competitively. No one truly knows what is good and we’re all trying to figure things out. If there’s a silver lining to COVID shutting everything down it’s that it has extended this wild west period for 9th edition, in more ways than one. Because so few events are able to happen the “meta” is undefined and not even close to mature. Yes, we understand the broad strokes of 9ths changes. The less interactive mission archetype with an emphasis on sitting in place and not dying over interacting with the opponent’s army is a major change, but is that actually how you play to win these missions? Perhaps.
With some events starting to happen again based upon local safety guidelines, we are seeing some of the initial math hammer theories and knee-jerk reactionaries coming up as a lot of hand-wringing over nothing. While Death Guard and Deathwing might seem extraordinarily strong on paper, they have yet to show themselves as the main OP threat the internet complained they would be, seating themselves instead as very annoying, but ultimately beatable factions. Space Marines are almost ubiquitously panned online as being an Over Powered (OP) faction and yet their win rate isn’t that staggering. Not even approaching the numbers we saw for armies with a single Castellan prior to the 8th ed nerfs.
Another factor for the extended wild west period due to COVID is the releases. While releases have continued at a consistently rapid pace because games of 40k are more difficult to play, and tournaments harder to come by the influx of new rules constantly through codices and FAQs creates a more fluid environment allowing for more variety and less certainty within the competitive meta. This also provides quite a bit of space for armies that are overlooked to come roaring back, take Orks for example. In two of the bigger events that have taken place so far, this season Orks took first place and second place respectively.
The absence of a large number of Space Marine armies from the top 5 at these two events also points to a meta that is either undefined or poorly defined at this point. Clifton Russell and Dan Sammons took armies that few people were really discussing as being competitive prior to these two events and absolutely crushed some people. Those are some high scores in there for them with Cliff even getting a 76 point loss! Another story is Tyranids. The Dimacheron has created quite a stir within the Tyranid groups, and the competitive community, with John Lennon having taken a double Dima list and winning with it. FLG writer, and TFG Radio, contributor Daniel Ruiz who writes more about Tyranids for FLG than anyone else has been absolutely eviscerating us locally with his triple Dima list. If you’re interested in seeing them in action follow the TFG Radio YouTube page where we post short-form battle reports that often feature his triple Dima list.
Hopefully, this season is able to progress in a more normal manner than the 2020 season. Really I think we all hope the year as a whole can progress more normally. If so you can expect a return to a normal schedule for these articles, and I will start to do some of the more popular segments like interviews with faction leaders, tournament winners, and recaps of what lists and players are at the top of the rankings. Stay tuned to FLG for more “This Week in the ITC”