This Week in the ITC: Orks Win So Cal Open, Calls for Nerf Immediate.

Hello, fellow knee-jerk reacting competitive 40k players! SaltyJohn from TFG Radio here to talk about this week in the ITC.

If you pay attention to Warhammer-based social media then you’ll probably already be aware that the Frontline Gaming So Cal Open was this past weekend and that Logan Heath, piloting an Ork warbuggy and flyer list, took first place! First, let’s look at Logan’s list:

  • Outrider Detachment Freebooterz
    • “Kaptin Gromit” on Deffkilla Wartrike
    • 3x Scrapjets
    • 3x Squigbuggies
    • 2x Mek Gunz
    • 2x Dakkajets
  • Outrider Detachment Freebooterz
    • Big Mek in Mega Armor
    • Kustom Boosta Blasta
    • 2x Shokkjump Dragstas
    • 2×3 Warbikers
    • Mek Gun
    • Dakkajet
    • Blastajet

It is your basic nightmare Ork Freebooterz list. Designed to overwhelm with massive numbers of shots, out of Line of Sight shooting and spam Flyers in numbers that are near to game-breaking. Reportedly Logan played only 25 Battle Rounds out of the 9 Rounds he played, so 25 out of the 45 Battle Rounds he should have played in games going the full 5. Most people probably jump to the conclusion this was due to slow play, or his games not finishing due to time, but in reality, it was because he was able to win the games very quickly. If you watch the finals between Heath and Sean Nayden from the So Cal Open it becomes readily apparent why his games ended so early. Logan’s win at So Cal has catapulted him out of ITC Standing’s obscurity and well into the top 100, putting him at 43rd Overall!

Since picking up the new Ork Codex, and I assume a lot of new models, Logan has done very well locally in So Cal. His second-best placing was at a large RTT held at a store that is geared more toward the casual player than the competitive, that didn’t use player optimized terrain, and the terrain on hand is, again, not geared toward the competitive meta. He succeeded there despite fairly open tables and poor terrain. His success at So Cal Open is even more impressive, congratulations.

Sean Nayden’s second-place finish does move him up in the overall rankings in the ITC!

Sean is now hot on the heels of Brad Chester and will be looking for another big finish, or two, prior to LVO to help keep him solidly in the running to take the crown this year. His loss to Logan Heath in the final round at So Cal Open, basically having lost by the end of turn 1, had the internet immediately clamoring for a nerf to Freebooterz flyer/buggy lists. However, perhaps the knee-jerk should be withheld a few moments to look at this differently.

The Ork Freebooterz buggy/flyer spam list is certainly an oppressive build. It has all the makings for a turn 1 or 2 tabling feels bad game, and if it can do it to one of the greatest 40k players ever, imagine what it does to mid-table players like myself, and be honest, most of you reading this. However, the meta can adjust to these types of lists and perhaps the preeminently powerful books like Ad Mech, Drukhari, and Grey Knights once they’ve adjusted to combat Freebooterz will be forced to adjust in such a way that they bring a more balanced approach to the game overall and lower the bar for everyone. In short, perhaps once the adjustments have been made by the best players a more level meta might emerge. This is definitely a very optimistic view and I readily admit it isn’t likely to happen, but I would like to see what comes from the drawing boards of the world’s best players as they adjust. Will they solve the equation, or pick up the Freebooterz mantle and play the newest broken jank? I sincerely hope for the former but expect the latter.

The top 8 at the So Cal Open definitely wasn’t indicative of a healthy and varied meta among the best players. 3 Drukhari, 2 Admech, Dark Angels, Freebooterz Orks, and a Chaos Daemons as the outlier. It isn’t confidence-boosting that the other new tough nut on the block Grey Knights couldn’t quite hang with the other big boys, but the book is newer and players might still be adjusting to playing it.

With at least one more codex likely to come out before the end of the ITC season it remains to be seen if any meaningful change to the meta will come via a balancing effort on the part of GW through FAQ and Errata. If not it will fall to the players to figure out a way to adjust to account for the more abusive codices and lists. Ultimately this only really matters for perhaps the top 100 players in the ITC. The vast majority of us, and yes I am including myself, are going to these events for a weekend of fun with friends and competition at the mid and lower tables. Perhaps it is important to maintain that perspective. For the vast majority of us the brokenness of a particular codex, or set of codices, will only really matter one or two rounds at a 6 round event. Going into it with the right attitude and a realistic sense of your own personal chances of winning or performing to a high level can go a long way to making events enjoyable when you’re not chasing the meta.

Most of the loud voices online discussing the state of the meta or the brokenness, or not brokenness, of the game have a vested interest in one codex or another being nerfed. Most of them are competing to win the ITC, most of them do attend multiple GTs and Majors a year, most of those voices do travel a lot for events. 90%, actually a bit more than that, of the players in the ITC go to a single GT a year and it’s usually a local one to their region they don’t have to travel far for. Meaning for most of us the discussion of the need to balance the game to make it as competitive as possible doesn’t really matter, we’re just in it to have fun. Fixating on the balance issues with the game when you’re not really competing at a high level is just added stress you don’t really need, right?

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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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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