This Week in the ITC Part Two: the Drukhari come for your Tournaments

Warhammer 40k aficionados! SaltyJohn from TFG Radio here for a second installment of my weekly article because Drukhari have hit the Meta and shattered it!

Normally I only write one article a week and I had planned to do a lot with the Hobby Track people who sent me their photos. Then this weekend’s events occurred and Drukhari took everyone’s lunch money, lists featuring Knights (Imperial and Chaos) did decently not to mention a Tyranid double Dima and Harridan won an event, and suddenly I had too much to write about. So In part 1, I kept to my original plan, and here in part 2, we discuss Drukhari bad touching the meta.

Thanks to the awesome graphic above from Goonhammer we can see the hard spike in Drukhari wins according to the ITC Battles App. That blue line going from lowest and rocketing up past everyone to the highest? Like a cryptocurrency Elon Musk tweeted about? Yeah. That’s Drukhari taking everyone to task. So where exactly are all these wins taking place? Well. At all the big events this weekend!

Even events that weren’t won by Drukhari, like Olympus Games GT, won by Tyranids, still has Drukhari in the top 8! We can add this to the growing tally the new Drukhari book has been quickly building up. Nick De Veaux and Anthony Vanella started the trend at the big events taking 1st and 2nd respectively with Drukhari back on April 10th at the Fabricators Forge event. The codex dropped on March 27th and since then the build-up to domination has been real. The initial knee-jerk of many is that the book is too much, it’s “OP”, while others have advocated for allowing the meta to adjust from the initial impact. It will remain to be seen if the impact was an asteroid to the earth, or a pea into jello. Perhaps somewhere inbetween.

War in the Burg is a notable exception to the Drukhari dominance narrative that became readily apparent this past weekend. It was won by Imperial Knights. Coincidentally War for the Wooden Spoon GT second-place finisher BamBam had some Chaos Knights in that list. But we’ll get back to that. Also notably absent from these top 8s are Dark Angels not to mention the other various stripes of Space Marines.

Sepulchre of Heros strikes again.

Dark Angels, particularly Deathwing had been getting a lot of heat for being OP and an unfun army to play against because it was just an auto-win. Much like their other Space Marine brethren however that simply hasn’t been the reality. Eradicators and Bladeguard Veterans, while points efficient, just aren’t the game-breakingly strong units people were freaking out about. While difficult to shift the Deathwing, or DW/RW combos, aren’t showing massive domination as the army is still sub 50 models usually and therefore not as efficient at scoring large numbers of points. The name of the game in 9th is scoring max points while denying points to your opponent, small model count armies struggle with that, no matter how resilient or efficient at killing models they may be. Drukhari domination on the other hand appears to be all too real and it may stem from the fact they have a decently high model count combined with the speed and deployment tricks needed to steal those points away from an opponent.

Fair to all DE players? No. Funny? Yes.

The top Drukhari lists share some things in common. They pretty much all feature the following units as nearly ubiquitous choices:

  • Raiders
  • Wyches
  • Wracks
  • Kabalite Warriors
  • Mandrakes
  • Succubus
  • Hellions
  • Incubi

At first, I was surprised they could almost all fit every one of those units in some way but they can. All three lists universally took the 3 Patrol build. There isn’t any reason, legitimately for competition, that I can see taking anything but the triple Patrol. As far as the Kabals etc go this was also almost universal among the lists as well. Obviously, each Patrol is a separate Kabal but here is the breakdown.

  • Kabal of the Poison Tongue 1 (Chester was the only one not to take Kabal of the Black Heart)
  • Cult of Strife 3
  • Custom Coven, Dark Technomancers 3
  • Black Heart 2

So pretty clearly the Drukhari builds have a lot in common, and the build is obviously quite strong. If you would like to see the 3 winning Drukhari lists in a single place you can check them out in this Google Doc. I am impressed by the rapid rise to domination we have seen this past weekend from the Drukhari faction, also impressive is the lack of knee-jerk nerf demands and petitions. If this were a Space Marine-centric faction the internet pitchfork brigade would be burning a Primaris Lieutenant in effigy by now! So if we are going to see Drukhari lists like this one in force what are some lists that might be able to take them down? Well, first if you want to know more about the winning Tyranid list, which might have a decent shot at one of these lists, check out this YouTube Video from the guy who won with it.

The lists seem focused around Raiders and some units that could be brought to heel via massed firepower lists. The House Krast Imperial Knights list that Paul McArthur won War in the Burg with is one such list, although he was able to dodge playing Drukhari all weekend. His double Magera and Armiger spam will shred Raiders. He did well against many MEQ lists including Custodes with the high Damage output weapons, which could translate into decent success against the triple Patrol Drukhari. Knowing these lists are out there, and being able to analyze how they perform is an important first step to figuring out how to adjust to this new meta. More importantly, you can now run test games against them and properly prepare to face them. BamBam from Flying Monkey took second place at the Battle for the Wooden Spoon GT with a list featuring Mortarion and Chaos Knights. This is another build that may have the necessary tools for properly taking on Drukhari, I would enjoy seeing that match up.

This was true for a hot minute.
May this one be as short-lived?

There are few times in my long 40k memory that I recall the competitive meta shifting so radically in a single weekend. Congratulations to Brad Chester, Connor Mac Cormick, James Kelling, and Jeremiah Bergdale in so definitively and drastically ushering in an unparalleled paradigm shift in the Competitive Meta. Now, the challenge for the rest of us is adapting to our new norm.

*EDIT* The Drukhari domination over the weekend was even more… dominant… than I first reported in the article! It turns out that the Spring Up GT was won by James Kelling with Drukhari and second place was won by Ben Cherwien who also took Drukhari! Both the lists follow the archetype discussed above with 3 Patrol detachments. They did vary a bit more than the others in terms of Kabals and some of the units. For example, Venoms and Raiders were taken as opposed to only Raiders, and some more liquifiers than in the other lists. I suppose we can just keep adding wins onto the list for Drukhari for the foreseeable future!

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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.
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1 year ago

yes drukhari may have won 70% of games overall but tau finally made a top 4 so looks balanced to me

1 year ago
Reply to  kaixaukyr

A glass half full kind of guy, I like it =P

1 year ago
Reply to  SaltyJohn

not to rain on my own parade but after some reading the list was helped in at least one of its games by a questionable interpretation of Reactive Countermeasures, viz. that it applies to each model equipped with AFPs within a unit, rather than a single model equipped with AFPs within a unit

the list apparently also won a game after the opponent requested the single-model interpretation, so it’s not a crippling limitation, but you can clearly see how the all-models interpretation would put a much thicker tank on the fusion blasters in that huge Veteran Cadre Crisis squad.

regardless of the Reactive Countermeasures ruling i think its a great modern Tau list that accepts 9e and Tau as they are and does its best to win with what we have and I think that should be praised

Rob Butcher
Rob Butcher
1 year ago

at the moment for us BCP = Brits can’t play (legally until at least May 17th and maybe even later than that in England)

quality of the tournaments ?

quantity playing ? I know the televised Gibraltar tournament was only 16 players and isn’t listed above

how many rolled dice behind terrain ? we saw that happening at FF leading to a disqualification

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