Competitive Innovations in 9th: Lightning Round 29/04

As we covered yesterday, the weekend just past was one of the largest for 40k that we’ve seen in ages, so much so that it far exceeds my capacity to get full writeups done for every single event. While not every weekend is going to be quite so extravagent, it looks like a year locked indoors has only increased the hunger of the playerbase, and blockbuster weekends are going to come round far more often than they used to. However, to keep track of what’s going on across the metagame it’s important to take in the results from as many tournaments as possible, and make sure any trends aren’t missed because we were looking at the wrong events!

Welcome, therefore, to the first Competitive Innovations Lightning Round. From now on, whenever we hit a week where there are just Too Dang Many GT+ events, we’ll focus in on a few of them for the regular writeups on Wednesday, then cover the rest in the style of the “Rest of the Best” writeups from the main pieces, taking a whistlestop tour through all lists that hit X-1 or better (or X-2 in 7+ round events). I’ll also throw in any takeaway thoughts at the start for those who don’t want to trawl through the full list to find the key messages. Let us know in the comments if this new format is helpful, and as ever hit us up at if you’ve got event tips or something you want us to know.

Overall Thoughts

  • Drukhari had a jaw-droppingly fantastic weekend. We’ve covered that extensively already. There’s a pretty high degree of consistency in the tools being used, but also enough flexing between different armies to suggest that there’s quite a few ways armies could pivot as the meta tries to adjust and/or nerfs hit. Expect them to be a staple going forward, and they are immediately the army to beat.
  • Necrons, Custodes and AdMech had great weekends. AdMech and Custodes put up some very strong performances, cementing already strong positions (though it could be all change for AdMech in a few weeks), while Necrons put up a vastly larger array of decent finishes than we’ve seen for a while. They seem to be very dependent on the Silent King, but if these revitalised builds manage to stabilise the faction back intoTer 2 I’ll be delighted to have been proven wrong about their apparent decline.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

  • Sisters and Harlequins are still stably strong. While Sisters have lost their crown as the game’s best faction, successful builds are still everywhere, and Harlequins still put up some good results despite many Aeldari fans pivoting to Drukhari.
  • Death Guard are creaking a little. Still plenty of respectable results, but not tier one material either. They’d only drop to a comfortable Tier 2 if these trends continued, and we’ll see how players adapt to the new meta over the next few weeks.
  • Dark Angels had a disastrous weekend, with nowhere near the performance one would have expected. Some elements of their book clearly do not adapt well to the mostly-mounted Drukhari builds we’re seeing, and they’ve tanked hard as a result. It’s probably also a factor that anyone playing them as “flavour of the month” will have jumped straight to Drukhari. The book still has a tonne of power in it, as seen by it showing up in some soup lists, but it suddently finds itself needing to adapt hard just as people had settled on strong builds.
  • On the flipside for Marines, the weekend was the best showing White Scars have had for a while. Perhaps the fact that they too like to go fast and break things will carry them back into Tier 1.
  • People are still trying lots of new stuff, and that’s great! This list saw TiWP placings for a pure World Eaters list and multiple incredibly wacky Ork builds alongside event wins for pure Knights and a Tyranid list packing a Harridan. Drukhari may be dominant, but they’re also a relatively small part of the field, and there’s still plenty of fun to be had out there for players who’ve got some kind of diabolical master plan.

The Events

Motor City Mayhem (Major)

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

You can find the lists for this event in Best Coast Pairings.

  • 1st – Brad Chester – Drukhari: Poisoned Tongue’s sneaky tricks headline another winning Drukhari build, with Cult of Strife and Technomancers backup as usual. Two 10-model Hellion units fill the flex slots. You know why this stuff is good if you read yesterday’s writeup. Only remaining thing to call out is the use of currently legal but probably not long for this world ability to sneak Wych Cult units into Kabal detachments because of the wonky way the limitations are worded, allowing the use of an extra Succubus instead of a less useful Archon.
  • 2nd  – Daniel Kennedy – AdMech: Mostly a fairly classic Mars build, but the inclusion of two of the increasingly popular Archeopter Stratoraptors stands out. Fliers are one of the things Drukhari are a bit weaker against and the guns on the Raptor are pretty good, so definitely a unit to watch whenever the new codex finally appears.
  • 3rd – Colin McDade – Harlequins: Colin is an enormously experienced player of the down-the-line Bikes and Boats Soaring Spite build, and sure enough he’s piloted it to a 5-0 finish at another major here.
  • 4th – Rex Buckingham – Chaos: A very innovative build here. Rex used the Emperor’s Children Terminator/Noise Marine core, but rather than backing it up with Slaanesh Daemons for early pressure, brings in a Thousand Sons detachment with a large Rubric unit and a World Eaters contingent with a big unit of Raptors. Both of these can start up the board via various tricks, allowing this army to put the enemy under the guns straight away, ensuring they’re in disarray when the Emperor’s Children show up. Very cool stuff.
  • 5th Kyle Parry – Aeldari: Mostly a Harlequins list, taking Dreaming Shadow with a mix of airborne forces and foot Troupes, but sneaking in an Asuryani detachment for objective utility from Warp Spiders and an answer to hidden enemies and Drukhari stragglers in the form of some shadow weaver platforms.
  • 6th – Jason Sniegowski – Deathwatch: A fairly nifty Deathwatch build with flexible Proteus and Spectrus Kill teams running defence for an Indomitor brick with five Eradicators, and a pair of volkite contemptors (which we’re calling VolCons from here on out, deal with it) in tow to take advantage of an on-demand Devastator Doctrine turn.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

  • 7th – Kevin Leonard – Chaos: Gigantic monsters on parade, as two Keepers of Secrets join the Mortarion/Magnus/LoC trio.
  • 8th – Scott Seeke – Drukhari: Some breaks from what’s rapidly bcoming  the norm here as this list doesn’t use Technomancers, instead taking some Dark Creed Haemoxcytes and investing the points elsewhere, including picking up a unit of Reavers and Hellions to unlock Deadly Rivals.
  • 9th – Sam Dayton – Space Wolves: Bjorn, Redemptors and lots of ThunderCav show off a whole bunch of Space Wolves current strengths in a single list. Also featuring the first time I’ve seen Hounds of Morkai out in the wild.
  • 10th – Michelle Mack – Adepta Sororitas: A rare three Order list here, with all of the Martyred Lady (bringing Junith and some Retributors), Valorous Heart (Palatine and an Exorcist) and Bloody Rose (Zephyrim and Repentia) on show. Playing all the hits at once.
  • 11th – Timothy Bouta – Adepta Sororitas: A more conventional mix of Bloody Rose and Valorous Heart, but packing the powerful flex choice of a whole bunch of Mortifiers.
  • 12th – Michaos Sarapata – AdMech: One of the much-theorycrafted plane heavy builds on show here putting in a decent showing, combining five planes and a whole swathe of different forge worlds for a potent toolbox.
  • 13th – Michael Fox – Death Guard: Mortarion, Blightlords and Plague Marines lumber ominously to war, backed by some of the usual additional flavouring plus a Biologis Putrifier to amp up grenades.

Szarekh, The Silent King. Credit: Rockfish
Szarekh, The Silent King. Credit: Rockfish

  • 14th – Shawn Fleming – Necrons: Some highly techy nonsense going on in here, with practically every Necron with a nasty trick up its sleeve crammed together into a single list, all overseen by the raw power of the Silent King. Probably vulnerable to a bad start against some opponents, but a formidible toolbox in the hands of someone who knows what it can do.
  • 15th – Brandon White – Salamanders: Fairly standard Salamander goodstuff – one unit each of many of the heavier Marine nasties, with Attack Bikes and a VolCon backing them up.
  • 16th – Kramer Doyle – Drukhari: Near identical to the first place build, another PT/SoC/DT combo with two Hellion units as the flex option.
  • 17th – Shadrach Feenstra – AdMech: A fairly vicious Mars list that goes all-in on Kastelan robots, packing a unit of four and seasoning with Fusilaves and Ironstriders.
  • 18th – Mike Walker – White Scars: Another fairly standard example of its particular Marine flavour, but no less effective for it – lots of Bladeguard, some VanVets and mobile shooting backup.
  • 19th – Brian Durocher – Chaos: Magnus and a Lord of Change team up, but they’re backed by more Thousand Sons characters and a whole bunch of smaller Daemons instead of Mortarion, trading raw oopmh for more trickery and board control.

War in the Burg GT

You can find the lists for this event in Best Coast Pairings.

  • 1st – Paul McArthur – Imperial Knights: Hell yeah! The combo of Magaeras, a warden and four Armigers, all locked and loaded as Krast, proves the recipe that finally takes pure Knights to a GT top sport for this edition. Cracking good show.
  • 2nd – Mark Hertel – AdMech: Classic AdMech yacht club on show here, with three Duneriders full of Fulgurites backing up some more conventional shooting options, all as Stygies and with the current hotness of a Fusilave as a utility piece.

Custodes Telemon Dreadnought
Custodes Telemon Dreadnought. Credit: CrabStuffedMushrooms

  • 3rd – Stephen Henry – Custodes: A golden robot bonanza, as no less than seven Dreadnoughts march to war under Trajann’s watchful eye, with just a few Prosecutors and Sagittarum to hold home objectives alongside the shootier of the top. A hilariously over the top pressure build that’s going to completely overwhelm many opponents.
  • 4th – Jonas Beardsley – Drukhari: Black Heart, Cult of Strife and Technomancers on show here, with a couple of Ravagers to amp up the anti-tank the main flex pick.
  • 5th – Jeremy Knox – Drukhari: A first apperance for the Ssylth/Ur-Ghul tarpit Court of the Archon that’s been generating a lot of buzz, teaming up with a four-model Grotesque squad to provide two somewhat heftier units than most Drukhari builds.
  • 6th – Jason Smith – Drukhari: Another BH/CoS/DT build, here packing two Grotesque units and a Voidraven to give an excellent WWSWF angle.
  • 7th – Anthony Birdsong – Orks: The dreaded Kustom Stompa rides to war, with pretty much the only appropriate accompaniment of lots of Evil Sunz boyz to try and lock in Visions in the Smoke. The sheer monstrosity of the shooting a buffed Kustom Stompa can be easily underestimated, and it’s going to throw a real curveball at a lot of players (though it may struggle with open-topped heavy lists).

W4 Gaming GT

You can find the lists for this event in Best Coast Pairings.

  • 1st – Oliver Smith – White Scars: Three massive bricks of VanVets team up with three of the new hotness that is VolCons for a fresh spin on White Scars that puts some pretty scary pressure on opponents, and seems pretty neat into a lot of the metagame. Good stuff.
  • 2nd – Eric Forsman – Adepta Sororitas: Pure Bloody Rose racks up yet another strong performance, here flexing to include the Triumph and some Mortifiers.
  • 3rd – Robert Thoen – Orks: The Kustom Stompa makes it to a podium placing here, with pretty much the same set of support around it (again, there’s really only one way to build this list).

Plagueburst Crawler – Credit Beanith

  • 4th – Lord Fick – Death Guard: No huge surprises here, just a healthy serving of Death Guard’s best units as the Inexorable with Mortarion lording over it. Most notable for eschewing Deathshrounds in favour of packing a due of small Blightlord units.
  • 5th – Tyler Johnson – Drukhari: Another BH/CoS/DT list, with a Ravager, small Hellion unit and Court of the Archon in the flex slots.
  • 6th – Samwise Gamgee – Imperium: The Bloody Rose team up with the Adeptus Custodes for a list with a nice mix of shock troops and durable tools.
  • 7th – Dylan Matousek – Chaos Space Marines: Frankly a hugely impressive achievement here – Dylan’s only loss came on table 1 in the finals, and he was playing pure World Eaters. The list teamed the Red Butchers Terminator Deathball up with a Leviathan, Kharn and a whole bunch of smaller melee units, looks like a blast to play and is another army that needs a full throated “hell yeah”.

Spring Barnyard Brawl

You can find the lists for this event in Best Coast Pairings.

  • 1st – Seth Piper – Necrons: Waving the banner for Necrons having a strong weekend here, this unusual build packs lots of small squads of Mephrit Warriors with Szeras to back them up, then heavier bricks of Triarch Praetorians and Lychguard rolling with Szarekh. It’s all good stuff, and the upside it takes from cutting the more conventional large warrior blobs is that it saves points on Chronomancers, letting it go a little wider than you might expect given how crunchy some of the units are. The solid core of Szarekh and the two power units is certainly going to dominate the game if the opponent lets it roll into position, and there’s some real food for thought here.
  • 2nd – Alan Blakeborough – Astra Militarum: Honest to goodness Catachan Infantry spam comes back from who knows where, with a full on Brigade that features 10 Infantry squads and a bunch of Manticores, backed up by some large Scion squads that can also drop in to gum up the board. Like – I can say with confidence that no one’s going to be ready for this, and the sheer volume of units can overwhelm the killing power of some popular forces, though I have to imagine morale will be a nightmare into Poisoned Tongue builds. Still, second place with Guard is a very impressive achievement – nice work here.

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard
Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard. Credit: Jack Hunter

  • 3rd – John Karuza – Blood Angels: Another Marine list packing some heavy melee threats, with two big VanVet bricks and a large Sanguinary Guard squad flying to war with spicy character backup and shooting from some melta ATVs. Two units of outriders complete the picture by providing some rapid response units to cleave through stragglers and take objectives.
  • 4th – Scott Byam – Craftworlds: Shooty eldar hull skew, with a whole bunch of different Forge World units, a couple of Night Spinners and some Characters/INFANTRY to finish things off, including some Howling Banshees to harass enemy hulls.
  • 5th – Derek Byam – Death Guard: Mortarion, Typhus and a bunch of Bubonic Astartes put in another solid Death Guard performance.

#Dead Primarch GT

You can find the lists for this event in Best Coast Pairings.

  • 1st – Jeremiah Bergdale – Drukhari: Stop me if you’ve heard this before – Black Heart, Cult of Strife, Technomancers, Raiders. Fair’s fair – there’s some unique choices here too, with this army taking two Archons so it can double up on tarpit Courts, and bringing Scourges with shredders to kick in any hordes that get in the way.
  • 2nd – David Robson – Necrons: A Necron hull skew list of a flavour that’s seen quite a bit of online theorycrafting – three each of Doomsday and Tesseract Arks all as Eternal Conquerors for ObSec, with a Triarch Stalker to tee up re-rolls and various small units of objective grabbers around the edges.

White Scars Infiltrators Credit: Alfredo Ramirez
White Scars Infiltrators Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

  • 3rd – Zachery Nelson – White Scars: The pure, concentrated form of White Scars nonsense, packing all the favourites to remind everyone that the raw power of this Supplement is still pretty high in the right hands.
  • 4th – Kolby Hopkins – Chaos: Another round of the Moirax/Mortarion list similar to what we saw yesterday, this time packing a small Thousand Sons detachment for Ahriman and a teleporting Rubric unit instead of Word Bearers.
  • 5th – William Gil – Custodes: Sagitarrum units hold the line while a big unit of Aquions, two Telemons and some nasty characters get stuck in for massive damage.
  • 6th – Lukas Troller – Orks: Evil Sunz Boyz horde backed by a Grot Mob full of Mek Gunz. Both units are very efficient at what they do, and the list also sneakily keeps all but one Boyz squad just under the cost of the Mek Gun units, which makes denying this army at least 10pts on WWSWF an enormously tall order, which lines up will with how strong it is on the primary.

Olympus Games GT

You can find the lists for this event in Best Coast Pairings.

Note: This event ruled that large Flyers like the Harridan didn’t have to skip their first turn if part of the model overhang the deployment zone in Dawn of War, as long as the base fit. Not an uncommon ruling but also not totally consistenly agreed on, so double check before you plan to chase the resin dragon.

  • 1st – Matt Evans – Tyranids: The mighty Harridan took flight at Olympus Games, replacing the Hive Kronos elements in an iteration on the double Dimachaeron lists that are all the rage for Tyranids right now. The sum total of pressure the army can apply is massive, and it has surprising depth even if it loses a few units, giving a very nasty concoction overall.

Tau Riptide
Tau Riptide. Credit: Jack Hunter

  • 2nd – Ben Neal – Tau: Please do not adjust your monitors – a Tau list legitimately made it into a top four. The army mixes up Farsight and Viorla, and concentrates points in a nightmare deathball of Crisis Bodyguards running alongside an Amplified Ion Riptide that can just sit on a 3++ all the time, with a Commander carefully tuned to narrowly take the last WWSWF slot forcing the opponent to try and deal. Vespid and a large unit of Viorla Breachers provide a few other angles of play, but really this list is asking one big question – can you challenge the big Crisis blob? If not, you’re going to have a bad time.
  • 3rd – Zaak Kerstetter – Imperium: Custodes Dreadnoughts team up with a couple of Full Payload Manticores sitting with Harker to create a really quite scary concocotion that throws big punches and needs a heft amount of anti-tank to deal with. A large unit of Venetari completes the recipe, read to put a nightmare blob down wherever the opponent is weakest and start cleaning up.
  • 4th – Jason Wales – Death Guard: A rather unusual Death Guard list that goes wide with a variety of hulls and lots of psychic firepower to boot, all spread over several Plague Companies, providing quite a different angle to the Terminator tarpits seen elsewhere.
  • 5th – Jake Degenhart – Drukhari: One of the few Drukhari lists from the weekend that passes on the bonus command points of a triple patrol in order to pack a Realspace Raid, featuring Obsidian Rose planes alongside the more common CoS and Dark Technomancer pieces.
  • 6th – Colin Kay – Orks: An Ork-tastically unusual build featuring three of the surprisingly efficient Kill Tanks, run as Blood Axes to give them some extra durability out of the gate. A nice spread of Deathskullz hulls provide some backup and a bit more pinpoint firepower to crack open enemy hulls, and the sum total is a hilarious wall of rusty metal that looks like it’ll be wild on the table. Another one where you shouldn’t let the fact that it landed outside the top four fool you – the only loss this list picked up was table one in the finals, and from the scoreline that appears to have been a super cagey low-scoring game that tanked the overall placing for the loser.
  • 7th – Trent Eastman – Adepta Sororitas: Pure Valorous Heart to close things out here – most of the tools you’d expect including a Triumph-powered Exorcist, though surprisingly no Palatine.

Total War 2021

You can find the lists for this event in Down Under Pairings.

  • 1st – Dan Hayden – Harlequins: Dan strikes again, racking up another fantastic performance with his Frozen Stars build, sporting a nice balance of foot Troups, boat units and Skyweavers, with the latter working a bit better again now there’s real prey for them in the metagame.
  • 2nd – Finn Decker – Death Guard: Another of the usual suspects from New Zealand, Finn was packing a vehicle-heavy Inexporable list, including two of the Ferric Blight loving VolCons.
  • 3rd – Andrew Bartosh – Custodes: A hilariously skewed build featuring two Telemons, Two Calladii, then dumping all the remaining points other than what’s spent on Characters into a massive unit of Allarus Terminators. Love 2 Unleash the Lions.
  • 4th – Sterling Arnet – Drukhari: Black Heart, Cult of Strife, Technomancers. Take a shot (or chug a non-alcoholic beverage of your choosing). Goes for the Reaver/Hellion setup in its flex slots, and packs a few Venoms alongside the ubiquitous Raiders for some easier to hide transports.

Wrap Up

That’s it for this week, for real this time. We’ll be back next week looking at the results from the Dallas Open, going high rather than wide with a single massive major. Will Drukhari take the crown, or will someone find a way to push back against the elf menace? Tune in next week to find out, and in the meantime if you have any comments, questions or suggestions, hit us up at