9th Edition Tier List: Expectations vs. Reality

An article by    Competitive Play Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

Yeah OK, we’re doing this.

Time is currently a flat circle with no meaning, but as measured by the mechanisms set down in the Before Time we’re nearly 2 months into 9th Edition. While COVID has forced the competitive scene to take things a bit slower than would otherwise have been the case, enough small to medium events have been firing around the world (especially in places less affected by the virus) for us to start getting a real picture of what does and doesn’t work in 9th Edition. I’ve been taking weekly looks at some of the best performing lists in my Competitive Innovations series (of which you can find this week’s here) and the good news is that on the top tables we’re seeing a decent variety of factions performing well. Not all factions, sadly (as we’ll get to, some are in a rough spot) but there’s enough diversity both of armies and units being used within them to make the game feel fresh and exciting. It’s also a tremendously enjoyable time to be writing about the game, as people are experimenting with new builds weekly and old favourite units are emerging from whatever 8th Edition balance hell they’ve been languishing in to blink, wide eyed at the new dawn, then start brutally murdering whatever is near them. This is still 40K after all.

While we continue to see spicy new builds every week, two months is a pretty long time in Competitive 40K terms. In fact, the position we’re currently in is relatively unique, and something that rarely came up in 8th Edition. Right now, the following is all true:

  • We’ve had a complete balance reset a couple of months ago
  • Competitive play has been proceeding without major changes for that whole period.
  • All factions have a “complete” ruleset.
  • The quantity of results we have to analyse is decent but not overwhelming.
  • All of that’s about to go to hell get shaken up by new Codex releases starting up again.

As I pondered these truths, it became clear to me that it was time. Time for the post that I somehow managed to go the whole of 8th Edition without making. Time for the post I swore I’d never get sucked into making. (Rob’s Note: God dammit, James)

It’s time for the Tier List post.

 

My Predicted Tier List for 9th Edition

So, the other reason I’m finally giving in and doing this is that unlike some of the points in 8th where the game was stable for a prolonged period, I actually have a baseline to compare to, which makes talking about how things have actually played out much more interesting. I’ve talked before about how some of my favourite gaming videos are the ones by Hearthstone streamer Trump where he looks back at his set reviews and analyses what he got right and wrong (the most recent example is here). Revisiting your past predictions is great fun for a number of reasons. Quite apart from keeping you honest and letting the peanut gallery mock you for your foolishness (both very important) looking at what facets of the game played out differently than you predicted can help piece together larger truths about how the game works and what matters in the current environment. Any such insights will be hugely valuable as we start reviewing the first wave of 9th Edition releases – so let’s see what we can figure out.

Obviously for this to work, we need a baseline for comparisons. In our Chapter Approved review we identified who the winners and losers from the point changes specifically were, but that’s not quite the same thing. Luckily, I can do one better than that. In the frantic, hazy weeks of mid July, shortly after I’d spend my whole entire weekend immersed in the point changes to put together the numbers for that article, and the first set of FAQs had landed I put together a hot take tier list to bounce off our very own Gunum while he was preparing to go and talk about 9th Edition on Chapter Tactics. I have retrieved this valuable relic from my chat logs and present it for your viewing pleasure below

 

The Wings Pre-Launch Tier List

  • Tier 1 – The Good Stuff
    • Death Guard
    • Thousand Sons
    • Harlequins
    • Space Marines
    • Grey Knights
    • AdMech
    • Custodes
  • Tier 2 – The Borderline Good/OK Cases
    • Sisters
    • Tau
  • Tier 3 – OK
    • Optimistic
      • Imperial Knights
      • Craftworlds
      • Astra Militarum
      • Blood Angels
      • Space Wolves
    • Pessimistic
      • Chaos Space Marines
      • Dark Angels
      • Chaos Knights
      • Daemons
      • Orks
  • Trash Tier
    • Drukhari
    • Deathwatch
    • Tyranids
    • Necrons
    • GSC

Honestly…not the worst attempt, with the benefit of hindsight? I’ve split the tier 3 calls into the ones where I thought the rating was more likely to go up or down – it’s a pretty broad category, and as we’ll see in a sec, one of the things having more data does is give us a bit more granularity at that end of the chart, so splitting the tier in half will help us with the comparisons.

I should state now as ground rules – both the above and the updated one that follow are my tier lists rather than an “Official Goonhammer” one. Obviously we discuss this sort of stuff all the time backstage, but we rarely totally agree on the rankings. While (as we’ll see) I think I did a decent job at placing a number of factions, there are a few big misses on there, and that’s on me – so don’t go chewing out anyone else on the team for them!

Anyway – that’s out baseline, so with two months of data under our belts, where are we now?

 

The Updated Wings Mid-September Tier List for 9th Edition

  • Tier 1 – Premium Factions
    These are the factions that I’m not the least bit surprised to see in top fours, and expect to see some presence from most weeks.

    • Death Guard =
    • Harlequins =
    • Space Marines =
    • Custodes =
    • (Chaos Soup)
  • Tier 2 – Serious Contenders
    These are the factions that are entirely capable of knocking out a winning finish, and will be present in many top fours, but that I expect to see slightly less commonly.

    • Daemons ⇑⇑
    • Orks ⇑⇑
    • AdMech
    • Sisters =
  • Tier 2.5 – Hanging On
    These are the factions where winning finishes start to look pretty impressive, but I can just about see a fairly “normal” list pulling it off. Mostly, these factions have the oomph to get stuff done, but are largely just inferior options to similar ones up the list.

    • Grey Knights ⇓⇓
    • Blood Angels =
    • Space Wolves =
    • Drukhari ⇑⇑
    • Craftworlds =
  • Tier 3 – Hard Mode Zone
    A winning finish from one of these factions is seriously impressive, and I’ll want to deep dive on the list that managed to do it.

    • Imperial Knights
    • Astra Militarum
    • Chaos Space Marines
    • Thousand Sons ⇓⇓⇓
    • Dark Angels =
    • Chaos Knights =
    • Deathwatch
  • Trash Tier
    I will be surprised and impressed when these factions break into a top four at a reasonably sized event.

    • Tau ⇓⇓⇓ 
    • Tyranids =
    • Necrons =
    • GSC =

Notes

  • I’ve put an indicator against the factions to indicate how much they’ve changed, more arrows meaning a bigger one. For the purposes of comparison, I’ve equated the “Tier 3 – Optimistic” category from the original rankings with Tier 2.5.
  • For my purposes, I’m mostly considering top table and top four performance rather than win rates throughout. We’ve seen a reasonable amount of win rate data, and it’s guided some micro-tuning of the list, but as we know from historical trends, win rates calculated across the entire field aren’t always representative of a faction’s ability to succeed at the highest level. Very high or very low win rates usually do mean something’s up, but the opposite isn’t true – during their respective 8th Edition top-table reigns of terror, neither OG Ynnari or Genestealer Cults had abnormally high win rates overall, because they were high skill ceiling and only tended to be at their best when played by top competitors.
    Edit: Our friends at 40kstats have pointed out that I’m misremembering on these a bit, most notably Ynnari, who reached a 60% win rate at their peak. Other examples however, such as Orks, more clearly show the pattern of top performances bucking the win rate trend.
  • Chaos Soup’s extreme popularity is somewhat confounding to trying to rate the individual factions. For my purposes, I’ve stuck Chaos Soup in tier 1 (where it absolutely belongs), and for all the individual chaos factions assume their rating represents where I think an army that’s 75%+ drawn from that Codex sits.

 

Implications

Before we start talking about individual factions, the big conclusion I did come to about how 9th’s design and missions are impacting the metagame on the top tables is that the downward jump in likeliness to outright win an event once you reach tier 3 feels steep. That’s why I ended up adding a tier 2.5, because I felt I needed somewhere to stick the factions that are identifiably weaker than tiers 1 and 2, but sit before that cliff-edge drop off. While I’ve left Trash Tier in at the bottom, I actually think the difference in chances to win a GT between Tier 3 and the Trash may well be smaller than between Tier 2.5 and Tier 3.

My theory about why the divide feels so steep is that if your faction suffers from multiple key flaws in its suite of viable options, it becomes extremely vulnerable to getting bowled over by a single bad turn in 9th Edition’s missions – meaning that getting through five rounds without dropping a game starts looking real unlikely. All the factions at tier 3 below have two or more of the three problems below:

  • They cannot construct a good list that isn’t extremely vulnerable on one or more of the kill secondaries.
  • They don’t have the mobile push threats to credibly attempt to flip multiple objectives to their control on a single turn.
  • They don’t have anything that can tarpit on an objective, or doing so ties up lots of their resources.

You can still win games of 9th Edition when your army has these problems – you can even still win five of them in a row if you know what you’re doing. However, with these flaws present in your list you’re very vulnerable to getting locked into a position where you simply can’t pull back into the game.

If I had to try and distill a huge number of thoughts about the facets of 9th’s mission design that are causing this compared to previous formats it would be this – when you have a bad turn in 9th, you must either recover on your next turn or have a substantial secondary advantage to have any chance of winning, whereas in (for example) ITC 8th, you were much more at liberty to spend two turns pulling back into it. The factions that are consistently winning in 9th generally don’t leak many secondary points, can lock in one or more objectives as “theirs” or can launch devastating mutli-pronged assaults to totally swing control of the board on a key turn. The more of these things you struggle with, the more likely a game is going to be to just get away from you at some point in the course of a GT.

 

Why Faction Ratings Changed

Anyway, that’s enough pre-amble – for the rest of the article we’re going to go through the factions that have gone up or down in rating and take a look at why. We’ll obviously spend the most time on the factions with the biggest changes, but even small shuffles merit a quick look. At the end of the losers section, we’ll also have a quick look at the three factions that have stayed firmly in their original Trash Tier position and consider what’s holding them back, and if there’s any way out for them.

Winners

Orks

Rating

  • Original: Tier 3 (Pessimistic)
  • Current: Tier 2
  • Change: ⇑⇑

Sample Top List(s)

Shane Watts' Goffs - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Orks) [92 PL, 2,000pts, 7CP] ++

Clan Kultur / Specialist Mobs: Goffs

+ HQ +

Big Mek in Mega Armour [6 PL, 130pts]: Da Killa Klaw, Da Kleverest Boss, Follow Me, Ladz!, Grot Oiler, Kustom Force Field, Kustom Mega-blasta, Power Klaw, Warlord

Ghazghkull Thraka [14 PL, 300pts]

Weirdboy [3 PL, 75pts, -1CP]: 2. Warpath, 3. Da Jump, Warphead

+ Troops +

Boyz [11 PL, 247pts, -1CP]: Skarboyz, Tankbusta Bombs
. Boss Nob: Killsaw, Killsaw
. 28x Ork Boy W/ Slugga & Choppa: 28x Choppa, 28x Slugga, 28x Stikkbombs

Boyz [11 PL, 247pts, -1CP]: Skarboyz, Tankbusta Bombs
. Boss Nob: Killsaw, Killsaw
. 28x Ork Boy W/ Slugga & Choppa: 28x Choppa, 28x Slugga, 28x Stikkbombs

Boyz [11 PL, 247pts, -1CP]: Skarboyz, Tankbusta Bombs
. Boss Nob: Killsaw, Killsaw
. 28x Ork Boy W/ Slugga & Choppa: 28x Choppa, 28x Slugga, 28x Stikkbombs

Boyz [11 PL, 229pts, -1CP]: Skarboyz, Tankbusta Bombs
. Boss Nob: Big Choppa, Choppa
. 27x Ork Boy W/ Slugga & Choppa: 27x Choppa, 27x Slugga, 27x Stikkbombs

+ Elites +

Kommandos [2 PL, 45pts]: Tankbusta Bombs
. 5x Kommando: 5x Choppa, 5x Slugga, 5x Stikkbombs

Kommandos [2 PL, 45pts]: Tankbusta Bombs
. 5x Kommando: 5x Choppa, 5x Slugga, 5x Stikkbombs

Meganobz [6 PL, 120pts] . Boss Meganob w/ Saws: Killsaws (Pair)
. Meganob w/ Saws: Killsaws (Pair)
. Meganob w/ Saws: Killsaws (Pair)

Meganobz [6 PL, 120pts] . Boss Meganob w/ Saws: Killsaws (Pair)
. Meganob w/ Saws: Killsaws (Pair)
. Meganob w/ Saws: Killsaws (Pair)

Painboy [3 PL, 65pts]: Power Klaw

+ Dedicated Transport +

Trukk [3 PL, 65pts]: Big Shoota

Trukk [3 PL, 65pts]: Big Shoota

++ Total: [92 PL, 7CP, 2,000pts] ++

Bjorn Olsen's Deathskulls - Click to Expand

++ Outrider Detachment -3CP (Orks) [97 PL, 3CP, 1,998pts] ++

Clan Kultur / Specialist Mobs: Deathskulls

+ Stratagems +

Extra Gubbins (1/3 CP) [-1CP]: 1 Extra Shiny Gubbins

+ HQ +

Deffkilla Wartrike [7 PL, 125pts]: Da Fixer Upperz

Warboss [4 PL, -1CP, 83pts]: Attack Squig, Da Biggest Boss, Da Killa Klaw, Kustom Shoota, Power Klaw, Warlord

+ Elites +

Kommandos [3 PL, 55pts]: Tankbusta Bombs
. Boss Nob: Power Klaw
. 4x Kommando: 4x Choppa, 4x Slugga, 4x Stikkbombs

Kommandos [3 PL, 55pts]: Tankbusta Bombs
. Boss Nob: Power Klaw
. 4x Kommando: 4x Choppa, 4x Slugga, 4x Stikkbombs

+ Fast Attack +

Kustom Boosta Blastas [15 PL, -1CP, 270pts] . Kustom Boosta Blastas
. Kustom Boosta Blastas
. Kustom Boosta Blastas
. Kustom Job: Sizzly Rivets

Megatrakk Scrapjet [10 PL, 220pts] . Megatrakk Scrapjet: 2x Twin Big Shoota
. Megatrakk Scrapjet: 2x Twin Big Shoota

Megatrakk Scrapjet [15 PL, 330pts] . Megatrakk Scrapjet: 2x Twin Big Shoota
. Megatrakk Scrapjet: 2x Twin Big Shoota
. Megatrakk Scrapjet: 2x Twin Big Shoota

Megatrakk Scrapjet [15 PL, -1CP, 330pts] . Kustom Job: Korkscrew
. Megatrakk Scrapjet: 2x Twin Big Shoota
. Megatrakk Scrapjet: 2x Twin Big Shoota
. Megatrakk Scrapjet: 2x Twin Big Shoota

Shokkjump Dragstas [15 PL, -1CP, 330pts] . Kustom Job: Gyroscopic Whirligig
. Shokkjump Dragstas: Rokkit Launcha
. Shokkjump Dragstas: Rokkit Launcha
. Shokkjump Dragstas: Rokkit Launcha

+ Heavy Support +

Gunwagon [10 PL, -1CP, 200pts]: 4x Big Shoota, Grot Rigger, Kannon
. Kustom Job: Da Boomer

++ Total: [97 PL, 3CP, 1,998pts] ++

Why They Overperformed

Credit: John “JackMann” Beattie

The success of Orks is one of the most pleasant surprises of 9th Edition, because it looked like Chapter Approved had trashed them. A huge number of tools their 8th Edition builds tended to rely on either caught massive point hikes or got substantially de-powered by army construction changes. Shokk Attack Guns and Grots both caught big increases, with the latter having the knock-on effect of making Lootas, previously a popular option, a huge liability. Mek Gunz didn’t fare as badly point wise, but struggle more with Obscuring terrain than a lot of shooting options, and cause a list to leak Bring It Down when added in numbers. Finally, the Warboss on Warbike, a long-time staple, finally rode off into the Legends sunset (though is apparently coming back, because GW cannot make up their minds on this model).

All Orks seemed to be left with were going all-in on Boyz hordes or leaning-in hard on Bring It Down with a go-wide Deathskulls list. Both of these had seen fringe success in 8th Edition, both got treated pretty lightly by the point changes, and both gained a reasonable amount from Saga of the Beast (Ghaz for the former, Kustom Jobs for the latter). Amidst all the goodies other factions got though, would that be enough?

The answer would be an emphatic yes – so emphatic, in fact, that I put some serious thought into whether bumping them to tier 1 was a hot take too far. My cold-eyed feeling is that they’re just short of those lofty heights, in part because if their success continues I think they’re just a little bit easier for the metagame to adjust to. Still, sitting squarely at the top of tier 2 is a far cry from where I saw them ending up.

The reason they’re doing so well is that both builds can muster that most crucial of 9th Edition combinations – pressure, mobility and redundancy. Both can flood the board with their favoured units, crowding opponents out on the smaller boards, both (thanks to Korkscrew Scrapjets in Deathskulls) have units that can rock into combat and do some damage, and both have multiple, mobile units that can quickly get themselves where they need to be to adapt to changing circumstances, making it hard to ever truly take them out of the game. Because both builds are powerful pressure lists, they’re also quite a bit more likely to rack up the odd easy win over the course of an event, steamrolling an opponent who just doesn’t have the tools to get a foothold in the game, reducing the number of chances for things to go wrong and miss out on the crown due to a variance-based loss.

Finally, of course, the success of Orks highlights the fact that, about a million miles from where the doomsayers predicted, 9th is an edition where melee matters a lot and playing a faction that’s by default happy to get into it in the fight phase is a real upside.

Ork players should be very happy with how things are going in 9th Edition – especially as quite apart from anything else, the lists that are winning feel Orky. Powerful and flavourful – what else can you ask for?

 

Daemons

Credit: Charlie A

Rating

  • Original: Tier 3 (Pessimistic)
  • Current: Tier 2
  • Change: ⇑⇑

Sample Top List(s)

We talked about Are Verlo’s list in my most recent Competitive Innovations in 9th article; the list was a welcome surprise and is cut from a similar cloth to Asa Carlson’s list from late 2019.

Are Verlo's Slaanesh- Click to Expand

Patrol Detachment | Slaanesh Daemons | -2CP

HQ

Syll’Eske, Symphony of Pain, Delightful Agonies – 230

Contorted Epitome, Phantasmagoria, Hysterical Frenzy, The Forbidden Gem – 210

Troops

24 Daemonettes, Daemonic Icon, Instrument of Chaos – 193

Elites

Fiend of Slaanesh – 40

Fiend of Slaanesh – 40

Patrol Detachment | Slaanesh Daemons | -3CP

Extra Relic -1CP

Exaltation x2 -2CP

HQ

Exalted Keeper of Secrets with Sinistrous Hand, Hysterical Frenzy, Delightful Agonies, Soulstealer, Warlord, Bewitching Aura, Random Exaltation – 230

Exalted Keeper of Secrets with Sinistrous Hand, Hysterical Frenzy, Delightful Agonies – 230

Troops

24 Daemonettes, Daemonic Icon, Instrument of Chaos – 193

Elites

4 Fiends of Slaanesh -160

Fast Attack

20 Seekers of Slaanesh, Daemonic Icon, Instrument of Chaos – 385

Total – 1911pts, 89 Reinforcement Points, 7CP

On the other hand, more Nurgle-heavy lists have been less of a surprise, given that almost everyone was pretty high on Nurglings immediately coming into 9th edition.

Pär Hylander's Mixed Daemons - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Chaos – Daemons) ++

Chaos Allegiance: Chaos Undivided

+ Stratagems +

Rewards of Chaos (1 Relic)

+ HQ +

Fluxmaster: Gaze of Fate, Staff of Change

Lord of Change: Bolt of Change, Incorporeal Form, Infernal Gateway, Rod of Sorcery, The Impossible Robe, Treason of Tzeentch, Warlord
. Exalted Lord of Change: 5. Aura of Mutability

Poxbringer: Miasma of Pestilence

+ Troops +

Nurglings
. 3x Nurgling Swarms: 3x Diseased claws and teeth

Nurglings
. 3x Nurgling Swarms: 3x Diseased claws and teeth

Plaguebearers: Plagueridden
. 9x Plaguebearer: 9x Plaguesword

Plaguebearers: Plagueridden
. 9x Plaguebearer: 9x Plaguesword

Plaguebearers: Plagueridden
. 9x Plaguebearer: 9x Plaguesword

+ Elites +

Beasts of Nurgle
. 9x Beast of Nurgle: 9x Putrid appendages

Beasts of Nurgle
. 9x Beast of Nurgle: 9x Putrid appendages

Exalted Flamer

+ Fast Attack +

Furies: Mark of Nurgle
. 5x Fury: 5x Daemonic claws

Screamers
. 3x Screamer: 3x Lamprey bite

Screamers
. 3x Screamer: 3x lamprey bite

266 Reinforcement Points

Why They Overperformed

Like with Orks, Daemons have massively overperformed against expectations, and again like Orks there are two routes you can go with building powerful Daemon or Daemon-centric lists in 9th, though here there’s a bit more of a difference in why they’re so good.

The recently emerging Slaanesh lists, as exemplified by Are’s above, sit very much in the same bucket as the Ork horde ones – it’s a highly mobile, highly redundant pressure list that sacrifices raw body count in favour of more nasty tricks it can whip out to surprises and destroy unwary opponents. The list of things your opponent has to plan around when playing against this list is prodigious, and in the medium term that might see it outperform the Ork lists, simply because it has more options to adapt and work around counterplay. Equally, a no-holds barred Ork horde might potentially be able to bowl the Slaanesh Horde off the table – so it’ll be interesting to see what happens if they both stay popular and meet on a high table somewhere.

The other angle of attack for Daemons revolves much more closely around some specific units that combine to anchor a list in 9th. These are:

  • The tooled up Exalted Lord of Change (or Big Bird to his friends). Almost indestructible and guarantees you psychic dominance for most of the game, allowing you to cause tonnes of damage and lock some opponents out of key secondary options.
  • Nurglings. Scout deploying, cost effective, durable ObSec units are really, really good in 9th Edition.
  • Beasts of Nurgle. For when your Nurglings start to run thin, Beasts provide an exceptional second wave of objective holding goodness, and are particularly good at it thanks to being able to heroic and pile on mortal wounds with Acidic Slobber.

Other elements see use too, but these are the building blocks you want to work with, seeing use both as the core of the list, as in Pär’s above, or as a powerful soup ingredient alongside other Chaos factions. Your goal is to basically drown your opponent in a seething tide of wounds that doesn’t really give up secondaries and is incredibly difficult to shift off the mid-board objectives, with Big Bird or whatever other precision units you’ve brought along neutralising threats. As game plans go, it’s a pretty good one for the edition.

The only chaos god we haven’t really seen doing the business is Khorne. While I suspect there are probably ways to make Bloodletters OK, their particular schtick is very CP intensive and almost always something you want to take in a separate detachment, making it a heavy drain on resources. In addition, the global normalisation of Daemon Prince costs sucks for Khorne, because their small stat boost is absurdly less good than either having DR or the Tzeentch nonsense, and they don’t have good alternatives in the weight class like Slaanesh does.

Still, I think we can be pretty happy with major elements from 3/4 gods seeing top tier play, and I only expect the numbers to increase now that Slaanesh has joined the winner’s circle.

Remember when most of the Daemon community erupted like a salt volcano after Engine War released? Fun times.

 

Drukhari

Drazhar, the Master of Blades

Drazhar, the Master of Blades. Credit: Corrode

Rating

  • Original: Trash
  • Current: Tier 2.5
  • Change: ⇑⇑

Sample Top List(s)

Gabe Del Olio's Drukhari- Click to Expand


++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [12 PL, 14CP, 235pts] ++

Detachment Type: Kabal of the Black Heart Raiding Force [4CP]

+ Stratagems + Alliance of Agony [-1CP] Prizes from the Dark City (1 Relic) [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Archon [4 PL, 85pts]: Hatred Eternal, Huskblade, Phantasm Grenade Launcher, Blaster, The Djin Blade, Warlord (note: the blaster needs to be a blast pistol, but no I don’t think this really makes much difference)
Drazhar [6 PL, 105pts]

+ Troops +
Kabalite Warriors [2 PL, 45pts] . 4x Kabalite Warrior: 4x Splinter Rifle . Sybarite: Splinter Rifle

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [53 PL, 985pts] ++
Detachment Type . *Custom Coven*: Dark Technomancers, Masters of Mutagens
+ HQ +
Haemonculus [5 PL, 85pts]: Electrocorrosive whip, Hexrifle, Master Regenerist, The Nightmare Doll, Warlord
Haemonculus [5 PL, 85pts]: Electrocorrosive whip, Hexrifle

+ Troops +

Wracks [3 PL, 75pts] . Acothyst: Electrocorrosive whip, Hexrifle . Wrack with special weapon (up to 1 for 5 models): Ossefactor . 3x Wracks: 3x Haemonculus Tools
Wracks [3 PL, 70pts] . Acothyst: Electrocorrosive whip, Hexrifle . 4x Wracks: 4x Haemonculus Tools Wracks [3 PL, 70pts] . Acothyst: Electrocorrosive whip, Hexrifle . 4x Wracks: 4x Haemonculus Tools

+ Heavy Support +
Reaper [9 PL, 150pts] Reaper [9 PL, 150pts]

+ Dedicated Transport +
Venom [4 PL, 75pts]: Splinter Cannon, Twin splinter rifle
Venom [4 PL, 75pts]: Splinter Cannon, Twin splinter rifle
Venom [4 PL, 75pts]: Splinter Cannon, Twin splinter rifle
Venom [4 PL, 75pts]: Splinter Cannon, Twin splinter rifle

++ Patrol Detachment -2CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [41 PL, -2CP, 780pts] ++
Detachment Type . *Custom Coven*: Dark Technomancers, Masters of Mutagens
+ HQ +
Haemonculus [5 PL, 80pts]: Haemonculus tools, Hexrifle

+ Troops +
Wracks [3 PL, 70pts] . Acothyst: Haemonculus tools, Hexrifle . Wrack with special weapon (up to 1 for 5 models): Ossefactor . 3x Wracks: 3x Haemonculus Tools
Wracks [3 PL, 70pts] . Acothyst: Haemonculus tools, Hexrifle . Wrack with special weapon (up to 1 for 5 models): Ossefactor . 3x Wracks: 3x Haemonculus Tools
Wracks [3 PL, 70pts] . Acothyst: Haemonculus tools, Hexrifle . Wrack with special weapon (up to 1 for 5 models): Ossefactor . 3x Wracks: 3x Haemonculus Tools

+ Heavy Support +
Reaper [9 PL, 150pts]

+ Dedicated Transport +
Raider [5 PL, 95pts]: Disintegrator cannon
Raider [5 PL, 95pts]: Disintegrator cannon
Venom [4 PL, 75pts]: Splinter Cannon, Twin splinter rifle
Venom [4 PL, 75pts]: Splinter Cannon, Twin splinter rifle

Why They Overperformed

Drukhari end up as significant winners precisely and only because the Dark Technomancer Reaper and the builds surrounding it salvage them from the scrapheap, and at the point where I cobbled together my original tier list we hadn’t spotted that yet. It was only when Corrode and I were working through list ideas trying to find anything that salvaged the faction from the onslaught of horrific point increases it picked up that we spotted, as happened many times in 8th, that an innocuous Forge World unit with a keyword it probably shouldn’t really have had been left untouched by a balance pass, and was suddenly faction-defining because of it.

Once you stick three Technomancer Reapers in a list, you can suddenly get enough stuff into the army without compromising on firepower to make something that looks like a real threat. Helpfully, the natural supporting elements for the Reaper also play well in 9th. Being able to take a Black Heart patrol on top of two Technomancer ones keeps you at maximum CP and gives you access to Agents of Vect to shut down a lot of big plays. Within the Technomancer detachments themselves, in a metagame where Nurglings and Primaris Marines are premium units a bunch of D2 splinter fire that wounds on 3s is also a really, really good thing to have in the army. By itself, I still don’t think it would get over the line, as it’s extremely cold to, say, Custodes, but with the Reapers to back it up you’ve got just enough to play with that, while you still end up a bit glass jawed, you can play a real game against most armies.

There are some other things you can try out – I’ve seen lists trying six Prophets of Flesh Talos in one detachment and two Techno Reapers in another, Grotesques are pretty fine, and you can also lean all the way in on Technomancers as the sample list above does. My overwhelming impression remains that it’s the Reapers that are making it work – adding in a couple of undercosted, mobile gun platforms is elevating a faction that would otherwise be languishing further down the rankings.

 

Deathwatch

Deathwatch Primaris Watch-Captain. Credit: RichyP

Rating

  • Original: Trash
  • Current: Tier 3
  • Change:

Sample Top List(s)

Nick Counsell's Marines/Deathwatch - Click to Expand

++ Spearhead Detachment -0CP (Imperium – Adeptus Astartes – Salamanders) [43 PL, 828pts, -3CP] ++

+ HQ +

Captain in Phobos Armour [5 PL, 100pts]: Camo cloak, Master-crafted instigator bolt carbine

Captain on Bike [6 PL, 150pts]: Storm shield, Thunder hammer, Forgemaster (-1CP) The Salamanders mantle (-1CP)

+ Elites +

Bladeguard Veteran Squad [5 PL, 105pts]: Bladeguard Veteran Sgt
. 2x Bladeguard Veteran: 2x Frag & Krak grenades, 2x Heavy Bolt Pistol, 2x Master-crafted Power Sword, 2x Storm Shield

Bladeguard Veteran Squad [5 PL, 105pts]: Bladeguard Veteran Sgt
. 2x Bladeguard Veteran: 2x Frag & Krak grenades, 2x Heavy Bolt Pistol, 2x Master-crafted Power Sword, 2x Storm Shield

+ Heavy Support +

Devastator Squad [8 PL, 120pts]: Armorium Cherub
. Space Marine Sergeant
. Space Marine w/Heavy Weapon: Grav-cannon and grav-amp
. Space Marine w/Heavy Weapon: Grav-cannon and grav-amp
. Space Marine w/Heavy Weapon: Grav-cannon and grav-amp
. Space Marine w/Heavy Weapon: Grav-cannon and grav-amp

Eliminator Squad [5 PL, 90pts] . Eliminator Sergeant: Bolt sniper rifle, Camo cloak
. Eliminator with Bolt Sniper: Camo cloak
. Eliminator with Bolt Sniper: Camo cloak

Eliminator Squad [5 PL, 90pts] . Eliminator Sergeant: Bolt sniper rifle, Camo cloak
. Eliminator with Bolt Sniper: Camo cloak
. Eliminator with Bolt Sniper: Camo cloak

+ Dedicated Transport +

Drop Pod [4 PL, 68pts]: Storm bolter

++ Patrol Detachment -0CP (Imperium – Deathwatch) [52 PL, 1,168pts, -0CP] ++

+ HQ +

Watch Captain in Terminator Armor [6 PL, 108pts]: Lord of Hidden Knowledge, Storm Bolter, Storm shield
. The Beacon Angelis
WARLORD

+ Troops +

Intercessors [11 PL, 240pts] . Aggressor
. . Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets/Fragstorm Grenade Launcher: Fragstorm Grenade Launchers
. Intercessor: Stalker Bolt Rifle
. Intercessor: Stalker Bolt Rifle
. Intercessor: Stalker Bolt Rifle
. Intercessor: Stalker Bolt Rifle
. Intercessor: Stalker Bolt Rifle
. Intercessor: Stalker Bolt Rifle
. Intercessor: Stalker Bolt Rifle
. Intercessor: Stalker Bolt Rifle
. Intercessor Sergeant: Stalker Bolt Rifle, Thunder hammer

Intercessors [13 PL, 280pts] . Aggressor
. . Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets/Fragstorm Grenade Launcher: Fragstorm Grenade Launchers
. Aggressor
. . Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets/Fragstorm Grenade Launcher: Fragstorm Grenade Launchers
. Aggressor
. . Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets/Fragstorm Grenade Launcher: Fragstorm Grenade Launchers
. Intercessor: Auto Bolt rifle
. Intercessor: Auto Bolt rifle
. Intercessor: Auto Bolt rifle
. Intercessor: Auto Bolt rifle
. Intercessor: Auto Bolt rifle
. Intercessor: Auto Bolt rifle
. Intercessor Sergeant: Auto Bolt rifle, Power sword

+ Fast Attack +

Inceptor Squad [6 PL, 150pts] . Inceptor
. . Two Plasma Exterminators: 2x Plasma Exterminator
. Inceptor
. . Two Plasma Exterminators: 2x Plasma Exterminator
. Inceptor Sergeant
. . Two Plasma Exterminators: 2x Plasma Exterminator

Inceptor Squad [6 PL, 150pts] . Inceptor
. . Two Plasma Exterminators: 2x Plasma Exterminator
. Inceptor
. . Two Plasma Exterminators: 2x Plasma Exterminator
. Inceptor Sergeant
. . Two Plasma Exterminators: 2x Plasma Exterminator

+ Heavy Support +

Eradicator Squad [5 PL, 120pts]: Eradicator Sgt
. 2x Eradicator: 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Melta rifle

Eradicator Squad [5 PL, 120pts]: Eradicator Sgt
. 2x Eradicator: 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Melta rifle

++ Total: [95 PL, -5CP, 1,996pts] ++

Why They Overperformed

So up front – yes, obviously, the above is not a pure list, and pure Deathwatch is still extreme hard mode. None of that dissuades me that the 9th switchover was kind enough to Deathwatch to just about drag them up from trash. They can make excellent use of the contents of the Indomitus box and plasma Inceptors, auto bolt rifles becoming a free upgrade is a big deal for them, and the Beacon Angelis is extraordinarily handy for playing the missions. Should you still just play pretty much any other flavour of Marines if you want to win? Absolutely. Is playing Deathwatch a slightly less terrible idea than it looked. Just about.

 

Losers

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

AdMech

Rating

  • Original: Tier 1
  • Current: Tier 2
  • Change:

Why They Underperformed

There’s not a huge amount to say about AdMech’s mild drop from where I expected to see them, because I’m very ready to believe that players are just in the process of reconfiguring their lists before storming back onto the top tables. The CA point changes dealt a huge blow to the Skorpius Disintegrator, long a mainstay of AdMech forces, and their most powerful new option (Serberys Raiders) comes with a hefty real-world price tag and is slow to paint up. Raiders are basically the perfect 9th Edition unit, being durable for the cost, fast, possessing a pre-game move and having an anti-charge stratagem that somehow got even better with the new rules. They still have some powerful firebase choices (Onagers, Kastellans, Mars Ironstriders) and it feels like there’s got to be some combination of these with the pony club that’ll get it done.

The other route you can take, which we saw used to good effect in Eirik Kiil’s list from the Invasion GT, is to go heavy on buffed-up Kataphron Breachers, leveraging all their boosts from Engine War to create brutally cost-efficient all-rounders who are just as happy pushing for the mid-board as blasting tanks to bits. Kataphron Destroyers with grav also did very well out of the point changes, and I wouldn’t rule out there being a place for them also.

Really, I don’t have that much negative to say here – this demotion rests solely on the fact that AdMech just haven’t quite put in the performance to justify a tier 1 placing despite plausibly having the tools to do it.

What Can They Do About It?

Put armies on the table! One possible reason AdMech uptake is slow is that their various shooting options deal with quite different threat profiles most effectively, so having some idea of what the metagame is likely to contain helps them a lot. Now that a clearer picture has emerged, we’ll see what the players can come up with.

 

Grey Knights

Grey Knights

Grey Knights
Credit: Pendulin

Rating

  • Original: Tier 1
  • Current: Tier 2.5
  • Change: ⇓⇓

Why They Underperformed

This one’s definitely on me, and shows the difference between what you see when you eyeball a set of changes and what emerges when you dig deep. On a first look at the Grey Knight point changes, it looked like they were small enough that a double Paladin bomb list was still viable, which felt like it should perform in the 9th Edition missions – general purpose tarpit/push threats is what we want in 9th, right?

Turns out the devil was in the details. When I sat down to do the Grey Knight faction focus, I found that while you technically could still get a double Paladin bomb list to fit, the point increases meant you lost enough support that you were both very thin on the ground and short on casters to provide the redundancy you wanted in your power options. Having to lock in powers/litanies on your roster also really hurts the army, as trying to get both the powers you need and the powes you want for some matchups lined up with fewer slots to work with is a nightmare. Losing the ability to ignore escalating Smite costs also hurts, but honestly you find yourself short enough on units that it isn’t the primary problem.

Basically, while Grey Knights were exceptionally good in late 8th it turns out the template list was poised on much more of a knife edge than it looked, and even some relatively small hits in terms of cost changes have dealt it a disproportionate amount of damage. Finally, while it was clear that the Abhor the Witch secondary was bad for Grey Knights on an early look, it wasn’t clear that it was sufficiently metagame warping that people would actively seek options to pull Psykers from lists that normally ran them, so it turns out to be even more of a problem than it looked.

What Can They Do About It?

Grey Knights haven’t suddenly become totally unplayable, and two different options have emerged for how to adapt. The first represents a pretty huge shakeup from what we saw in 8th, which is to go in on Grand Master Nemesis Dreadknights and swap the Troops slots for Terminators. This gives you a force that’s pretty thin on the board, but has a very flat defensive profile that benefits heavily from Tide of Shadows. Big monster-characters like Dreadknights tend to be just that bit better in 9th than they were in 8th across the board, and given Grey Knights are already leaking Abhor the Witch it doesn’t open up new secondaries. The smaller board plus not taking move/shoot penalties on their guns also make the Dreadknights quite a bit better than they used to be and until Ritual of the Damned brought us the One True Double Paladin list, they tended to be one of the higher performing units in an otherwise weak faction.

The other route we’ve seen perform is the skeleton of the old Double Paladin bomb list, but keeping all the Strike Squads, cutting to a single Paladin unit and adding some Vendreads to be on-board threats/Astral Aim snipers. This mitigates the issue of being short on power or HQ slots, and gives you an option on still going all-in on smite damage for a turn or two when needed – Grey Knights have a reasonable number of ways to rack up some cast bonuses to work round the escalating costs.

Both of these lists can win games, and if you’re a keen Grey Knight player this is where I suggest you look, just don’t expect the level of dominance you saw at the end of the previous edition. Take some solace – at least Daemons being on the rise is probably good news for you!

 

Astra Militarum

Leman Russ, Traitor Guard

Leman Russ, Traitor Guard, Credit: RichyP

Rating

  • Original: Tier 3 (Optimistic)
  • Current: Tier 3
  • Change:

Why They Underperformed

Guard had a pretty good Psychic Awakening, and didn’t look like they’d done atrociously in CA, so calling them as “OK” seemed reasonable. However, Guard end up doing a bit worse than that as they’re pretty much the poster children for the problems you can have with playing the mission up above. It’s almost impossible to build a guard list that isn’t extremely vulnerable to Bring It Down, and the faction has exactly one capable melee option in Bullgryn, who frankly look a bit dated at this point, especially in light of the core rules equating to a nerf of their defences. That leaves the faction in the very challenging spot of being likely to bleed points, not really being able to dictate the pace of the game, and struggling to stay on objectives long enough to score the primary mission. People took an oddly specific exception to us flagging the vanilla Leman Russ as a unit that got unfairly slammed in the point changes, but I really feel like Russes at that aggressive late-8th price point is basically what Guard are missing to have a fairer shake at it – stick Demo cannons of them and put in in a spearhead so they gained ObSec and you’d have at least something that could play a bit more of a muscular objective game. As it is, pickings are slim.

What Can They Do About It?

Lean in to the best stuff you’ve got and hope for the best. Demo cannon Tank Commanders remain highly efficient, Full Payload Manticores are well placed in the metagame and look better than ever with one fewer turn on the clock, and Tempestus Scions, probably either in the Lambdan Lions for extra resilience or Kappic Eagles for extra firepower, at least let you play a bit more aggressively. Fill out with Infantry squads and characters to taste and see what you can do. It’ll also be worth having a good review of the range once the promised upcoming weapon changes arrive, as there might well be a few options that jump out in the wake of it.

 

Imperial Knights

Imperial Knights - Knight Gallant

Imperial Knights – Knight Gallant
Credit: Pendulin

Rating

  • Original: Tier 3 (Optimistic)
  • Current: Tier 3
  • Change:

Why They Underperformed

When mathing out Imperial Knights post CA things didn’t look too bad – you could still take your pick of four big knights and an Armiger or three Crusaders and three Armigers, both lists that retain the capability to bowl an unprepared opponent over. They should, in theory, be further helped by being a much smaller part of the metagame than they used to be, meaning many armies are at least somewhat skimping on the tools you need to beat the army.

However, in practice when we’re looking at trying to break through to podium positions, Imperial Knights (and Chaos Knights too) are exceptionally vulnerable to the “one bad game” problem. Pretty much every Knight list is giving up Titanslayers automatically, and they’re also locked out of scoring quite a few secondaries as well by dint of having the wrong keywords, so they’re realistically often going to end up behind on that scoring track. As soon as they start losing models it becomes extremely challenging for them to pull back on the primary, meaning that a game that starts to go wrong is very likely to cascade into a failure. Looking over at soup builds, the kind of small soup contingent Knight players used to bring is a lot less helpful than it was in 8th, as it’s now an active drain on your CP and a few cheap troops are way less good at contributing to your objective game (though they do help unlock secondaries).

To win an event with Knights, you’re basically looking at getting through the whole thing without any game where your end up on a Dawn of War deployment, your opponent goes first, and they immediately pop one big Knight and an Armiger – and that’s a tough route to victory.

What Can They Do About It?

If you want to play pure knights, I’d suggest looking at the triple Crusader triple Armiger lists like Jay Middlecote’s from the Hellstorm RTT, just be very aware that taking it to a podium finish at a two day event is going to need you to run good. Realistically if I wanted to win? Soup. Were I a keen knight player I’d be looking at what paired well with a detachment of two big knights and one armiger. Thanks to the changes to Knight Lances, this setup still gets you the full CP benefits, it avoids opening up full points on Titanslayers in the GT mission pack and it gives you enough points to play with that you can actually bring something meaningful alongside them. I feel like what you need is something that can shore up the ability to get into fights on multiple fronts and seize back ground when something goes wrong.

Having done some fiddling around with points, one option that appeals to me is combining a detachment of a tooled up Crusader, a Warden and a Warglaive with the White Scars Bladeguard Impulsor detachment from Christoph Fiedler’s list at the Varbergs GT (with the points left over to buy a squad of Servitors as a backline unit). That gives you a list that retains the ability to put exceptional amounts of pressure on an opponent, the upside of Knights, but has much more flexibility on the table to react or redeploy in response to adversity, and while it will still give up Bring It Down if your opponent tables it, anything short of that won’t do it. Having a Judiciar around to potentially protect one of your big knights from getting dunked by some sort of horrendous monster is just gravy.

 

Thousand Sons

Thousand Sons Aspiring Sorcerer

Thousand Sons Aspiring Sorcerer. Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Rating

  • Original: Tier 1
  • Current: Tier 3
  • Change: ⇓⇓⇓

Why They Underperformed

We now get to the the first of the two factions that threw the biggest curveball from expectations, dropping precipitously once the cold hard dawn of real play hit. Thousand Sons did well out of Chapter Approved, getting aggressively small point increases on key characters, and small changes on Rubrics (recently pumped up by Ritual of the Damned) and Tzaangors. Overseeing it all, Magnus himself picked up a paltry 20pt increase, and with Supreme Command detachments making him an easy include in lists. Given there had already been some experimentation at the end of 8th, things looked promising – but it just hasn’t really gone anywhere. Small Thousand Sons detachments (either just Magnus or a patrol of some flavour) have been part of successful Chaos Soup lists, so they aren’t completely unseen, but no one’s maining them to a big finish. Why not?

Two reasons. First up, the unit range of Thousand Sons is pretty limited in the roles it can fill. Big Rubricae squads provide decent tarpits (that can now scout deploy), while Tzaangors, as a ObSec melee unit of moderate threat and durability, are at least OK, but you don’t really have anything that can provide hefty fire support, and the changes to character targeting and Smite make back-filling that with Daemon Princes a lot harder than it used to be. Effective use of multiple princes kind of needed you to be able to use their mobility to flit around as needed once battle had been joined, but now they need to hug another unit to stay safe that’s way more challenging to do. Heavy Thousand Sons lists end up feeling a bit one-note because of it.

That sort of leads into the next point – why bother? There just isn’t, bluntly, anything Thousand Sons do for you that Death Guard or Daemons don’t do better as a main faction. Death Guard are fresh off one of the most powerful Psychic Awakening updates and have a range that feels far more “complete”, most notably actually having a ranged unit of substance (Plagueburst Crawlers) and a durable unit that can both dish it out and take it in a fight (Blightlords). Even Mortarion, having played second fiddle to Magnus for most of 8th, feels like he plausibly brings more to the table in the current environment. Over in Daemons, Big Bird does a great Magnus impression at a substantially lower cost, Nurglings and Beasts provide the durable mid-board option, and the wild ride that is the Slaanesh army gives you a list that represents a complete package. Right now, it just feels like the world doesn’t really need Thousand Sons armies, and honestly the only reason I haven’t shuffled them down to trash is because of their soup contributions.

What Can They Do About It?

I think if there’s a place for Thousand Sons it probably involves finding a way to profitably push one of their units to extremes. Putting a huge block of Rubricae in your opponent’s face from the word go is one angle, as would be trying some really big Tzaangor blocks. Big Scarab Occult blocks saw some use at the end of 8th, and their exceptional resilience combined with shooting that can adapt to both hordes and elite infantry is handy. There are good units here – but the problem remains that you have to go deep on whichever ones you pick, and if your opponent has good counters to them then you look kind of stuffed.

 

T’au Empire

Joe Tau Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Joe Tau Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

“That’s so sad – Puretide Engram play Despacito”

Rating

  • Original: Tier 2
  • Current: Trash
  • Change: ⇓⇓⇓

Why They Underperformed

Oh noooo. I was in two minds about Tau when first rating them. On the one hand, the shield drone castle was clearly dead as a doornail, taking a huge point hit and also fostering a style of play that just wasn’t going to be good in the new missions. On the other hand the new Farsight Enclaves hotness from the end of 8th still seemed like it could be very good, cheap gun drones was a nice get, and Devilfish looked reasonably priced in an edition that rewarded cheap transports. Should be Ok, right?

No, no it was not OK. Out of almost any faction, Tau are uniquely ill equipped to seize back objectives in the fight phase, and that means when they go second in 9th Edition, they frequently just lose. They have exactly two units that can interact with what has proven to be one of the most important parts of 9th Edition, being Commander Farsight himself and tooled up Veteran Cadre Crisis Bodyguards, and that just isn’t enough, not even close. Between them, those might be able to kick a moderate threat off an objective, but they’ll bounce off plenty of the tougher tarpits. In addition, getting into a fight means you’re often going to be sacrificing a turn of shooting down the line – and plenty of counter-charge units will also just butcher them in response. To win as Tau, you basically need to ensure you’re never in a position where an opponent has gotten a durable foothold on multiple mid-board objectives, and just like trying to win with pure Knights you simply can’t rely on navigating your way through a tournament with that fail case never coming up.

That gets more and more true as the weeks go by – a few players managed some OK results with Tau very early on, but now the metagame has a better handle on how to build for and play the missions their chances have plunged, because they just don’t really have the tools needed to make those same kinds of changes. The faction is extremely popular and I expect people to keep trying, but I’m pessimistic about their changes.

What Can They Do About It?

If someone’s going to prove me badly wrong here, it will almost certainly be with some sort of Farsight build. Commanders and tooled up Crisis Bodyguard teams are some of the best units the faction has to work with, and the playstyle they encourage is at least better aimed at attacking 9th than old-school Tau tactics. Finding a build that strikes the right balance between shooting and aggression might just pull the faction up to the lofty heights of tier 3 – so get on it Tau players.

 

Trash Tier Corner

Tyranids

Tyranid Hormagaunts

Tyranid Hormagaunts
Credit: Pendulin

Rating

  • Original: Trash
  • Current: Trash
  • Change: Still Trash

Why They Stayed Trash

Brutal point changes, brutal weaknesses on secondaries and serious counters to the few builds they can put together.

What Can They Do About It?

The consensus among people trying to make the army work seems to be to lean on Gaunt hordes and/or Zoanthropes. I can believe that these are the best options available, but we’re yet to see if they can consistently pull the army off the trashheap. The horde lists do a decent job of flooding the board, but have some considerable downsides compared to their 8th Edition iterations, notably no longer being able to daisy chain Gaunt squads back into key, hard to remove buff models. They’re also terrible in a horde vs. horde matchup – Daemonettes or Boyz will absolutely evaporate Gaunt hordes and the reverse isn’t true, making games against these lists an extremely fraught prospect. The flipside is that they probably are well positioned against the rest of the top tier metagame, where quite a lot of armies are skimping a bit on anti-horde, so I won’t be entirely surprised if someone pilots this list to a good finish if they manage to navigate through an event without hitting either of the big counters. Whether having one build that ignores pretty much all of what makes the faction cool in favour of 150+ Gaunts is enough to pull Tyranids out of the trash is an exercise I leave up to the reader. Also, the metagame adjusting to dealing with Ork hordes is going to be bad news for this list.

Zoanthropes are a bit more of a dark horse, and might have more play – they provide decent damage dealers that are hard to remove and are less bad for giving up secondaries than mainline options. They also support a horde strategy very effectively, so maybe there’s some magic combination of the two options that gets a list over the line. We’ll see.

 

Genestealer Cults

Genestealer Cults Patriarch

Genestealer Cults Patriarch. Credits: That Gobbo

Rating

  • Original: Trash
  • Current: Trash
  • Change: Still Trash

Why They Stayed Trash

The 8th Edition Genestealer Cult Codex was both:

  1. One of the most absurdly powerful books printed.
  2. Apparently a huge mistake that needs to be crushed at every turn.

The army was already struggling at the end of 8th in the wake of numerous nerfs, and some of the few units that were still performing got hit pretty hard by the point changes, and army construction changes hurt the faction worse than almost anyone else. What remains is a hollowed out shell of what it once was, with an extremely limited range of effective options to choose from. It can still probably crush the unwary, but the players at the top of the game are going to be ready to swat any version of this that starts popping up in earnest.

What Can They Do About It?

Acolytes and Ridgerunners. That’s the tweet. Seriously though – these are the two units the army has that still look good compared to the wider world, with Acolytes maybe even sneaking into great. Building lists to properly abuse them is way tougher than it used to be, and it’s going to be an uphill struggle pretty much whatever you do – but I guess if you were still playing the army at the end of 8th, you at least probably have the models.

 

Necrons

Skorpekh Lord. Credit: Wings

Rating

  • Original: Trash
  • Current: Trash
  • Change: Still Trash

Why They’re Still Trash

Necrons were one of the weakest factions in the game for most of 8th, only really seeing success on the back of exactly one build that used Doom Scythes and Doomsday Arks to blow an opponent off the table, and even that only looked as good as it did because it happened to be decent at countering Marines specifically.

That build is now garbage at winning the 9th Edition missions, so uh, sorry.

What Can They Do About It?

Honestly, who cares? We’re probably only weeks away from this army getting what’s looking like a ground-up re-write. I am ready to go full OVERLORD WINGS.

Until then, I’d recommend Destroyers of all stripes, Ghost Arks and Wraiths. Skorpheh Destroyers and Wraiths provide something that can push enemies off objectives, regular and Heavy Destroyers provide firepower that doesn’t leak secondaries, and Ghost Arks with warriors in hold objectives in a durable fashion.

 

Coming Soon: More Lists Another Look at Data

There’s nothing like a Tier List to kick off, uh, “healthy discussion” so do drop a comment wherever you find this and let me know what you think, or reach out at contact@goonhammer.com. Join me next week as we look at the top lists from the Brisbane GT and find out just how many of these calls players have immediately proved me wrong on. And if you liked our article on first-turn win rates, stay tuned for a massive update to that analysis in two weeks following the Iron Halo GT.

 

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