The Drukhari is a problem right now. Everyone who plays 40k knows this. Hell, even if you don’t know a Space Marine from a Squig, you’ve probably heard your 40k-playing mates talk about the Drukhari.
But let’s all just take a breath.
The Drukhari is a very, very good faction at the moment. In fact, the Drukhari is the best faction at the moment. It’s not close. In 9th edition, the Drukhari has the all the tools to do the business.
Can the Drukhari take and hold an objective? Yes.
Does the Drukhari have effective, reliable anti-tank firepower? Yes.
Can the Drukhari reliably trade objectives? Yes.
Does the Drukhari have effective, reliable melee threats? Yes.
Can a Drukhari player deploy powerful assets virtually anywhere on the board? Yes.
All right. That’s enough of that. You get the idea. The Drukhari can play.
But we’ve been here before. Back in 8th edition, the Iron Hands was absolutely supreme for a few months. Again, this faction had all of the tools to win in the 8th edition meta.
And, to be fair, while the Drukhari’s win-rate of over 70 percent — stats courtesy of the excellent 40kstats.com — is higher than the Iron Hands at its peak, that doesn’t change the fact of the matter: the game will change.
As 9th edition has grown, we’ve seen armies with new codex books become very powerful, but, crucially, these armies are usually bested by the following codex. We’ve seen this, to one extent or another, with many of the factions that already have 9th edition codex books.
Granted, it’s not a hard and fast rule. Deathwatch and Space Wolves players can attest to that, but it’s a decent rule of thumb.
We know that the Admech is next in line, and I think that there’s a pretty good chance that this upcoming Admech codex will have some very effective tools to deal with the Drukhari.
Why do I say this? Let’s put aside the idea that the next codex that GW releases will be more powerful than the last. While, as I said, I would argue that that is true, I think that a faction like Admech, when tooled up for 9th edition, will have what it takes to mix it up with the murder elves.
For example, I would hazard a guess that Kastelan Robots will still be able to throw some powerful dakka downfield. The Robots are probably going to take a little bit of a hit — they’ve been good for a decent while now — but I can still them being effective tools.
What’s more, Admech players can put down some excellent combat threats. Those Fulgurite Electro-Priests can absolutely do the business in combat at the moment, and with means to get these boys up the board, Admech players have access to some choice 9th edition units. Will they change in the upcoming book? It’s certainly possible, but I could see them still packing a punch.
This is all speculation, of course. Games Workshop might have completely rewritten the codex — but it’s unlikely. After all, the Admech works at the moment. It needs a bit of a polish, sure, but the army plays reasonably well in 9th edition. And good players can really make the faction sing.
And can we presume that whatever follows the Admech will have tools to deal with them? Indeed, will the Admech be top of the pile for a couple of months or so until the next book is released? Again, it’s possible. I do think, however, that this trend won’t continue throughout the edition. GW will release a codex that is strong, that can play in 9th, but that isn’t a world-beater all on it’s own. And this is a good thing.
GW should keep an eye on power creep. Indeed, I think that GW does keep an eye on power creep. We don’t want each codex to be better than the last. We want each codex to be a contender in 9th edition. This is, broadly speaking, the aim of the designers. No codex is too good; no codex is too bad.
Of course, this will never happen. But that’s the thing about ideals: they aren’t meant to be attained. To strive towards something is to continually improve oneself or something that one is working on, and I think that this mindset handily sums up GW’s attempts at game balance.
As we all know, 40k will never be a balanced game. This is an impossible goal. To be balanced, 40k would have to resemble chess, a game in which both players have exactly the same pieces.
40k isn’t chess. 40k will never be balanced. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive towards it.
And that’s the thing. The Drukhari is absolutely wrecking face right now. Drukhari players are having their day in the sun. Good for them.
But it won’t last. Sic transit gloria mundi.
Or, to put it another way, this too shall pass.
Look, I know that the advice of “just wait it out” isn’t particularly comforting to a lot of people. And I get it. I play T’au. I know how you feel.
What’s more, I recently had the pleasure of playing my T’au against the Drukhari. This will surprise absolutely nobody: the game was over by turn two.
And I know how to play 40k. I’m not saying that I’m particularly good at the game or anything like that, but I will say that I’m not terrible. I had something like a game plan. But the Drukhari didn’t care. The murder elves charged everything they needed to charge in turn two and that was that.
So I get it. But the meta will change. That is what metas do. GW will bring in a FAQ or an errata or a points update — or all three — and the faction will be toned down a little bit. It’s going to happen; it’s simply a matter of when it’s going to happen.
And yet, even after GW updates the faction, it will still be a strong faction. The Drukhari isn’t going anywhere for a good while. The core of the codex is very strong and it plays 9th edition very well. As I mention above, this is where we want all the codex books to be. It’ll never happen, but this is the ideal.
I would argue, then, that we wait and see. If we give it a couple of months, the meta will have shifted yet again, and we will see fresh lists and fresh builds come to the fore in both competitive and casual play. Just wait it out.
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