Competitive Innovations in 9th: Talavera Team Special

For the first time in recent memory we had an actual quiet weekend on the competitive front across most of the world, with only a single GT sized event firing (our friends at FactoruM running their latest monthly event). As we covered last week, the metagame isn’t in the most edifying of states right now, and Freebooterz cheerfully ran wild over this sole singles event, so while we will do the normal rundown of it later in the article, it’s time once more for a team week, because Spain made up for how quiet everywhere else with a spectacularly huge team tournament featuring just under 700 players. That’s some exciting stuff, so lets dive in and take a look!

Editor’s Note: After publishing this article we have received multiple comments to the effect that a player wearing clearly identifiable neo-nazi iconography participated in the Talavera event, and was not removed despite complaints from other players. We would like to unequivocally state that turning up to an event wearing such iconography should be grounds for immediate disqualification, and the TOs should have taken action in this case. This does not affect any of the players covered in this article, but we would not have covered this event had we known about this ahead of time.

We would like to emphasise that nazis of any stripe are not welcome in the hobby or on this website, and can fuck off.

GT Talavera: El Regreso

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

As we’ve done before for team events, rather than looking at each list in isolation I’m going to run through the compositions of the top two teams and talk about what role they’re likely intended to play, and to highlight choices that differ from what you’d expect in singles play.

That’s because the nature of team events creates some quite different motivations on listbuilding to your standard GT. I did a full dive into this the first time I covered teams, but the important highlights are as follows:

  1. Teams events usually score their games differentially on a 20-0 system, and which team triumphs in a match is determined by the total score on each side. That means that two things become more important – winning games you’re at an advantage in overwhelmingly to get maximum points, and grinding games you’re at a disadvantage in to a narrow defeat to salvage some points. This tends to reward lists that can kerb stomp their opponents straight out of the game at one end, and lists that have very reliable plans to achieve a middling score in tough matchups at the other (“Defender” lists).
  2. At the start of each round, players from the two teams get matched up via a pairings process that both sides have some control over. This gives them a chance to try and put their kerb stomp lists into favourable matchups, and to put obstacles in the way of the opposing team doing the same. As well as rewarding judicious use of defender lists, this also means that having a stash of lists that counters specific matchups can be very valuable. GT Talavera was using the standard WTC pairings method with 8 player teams (you can find details here).
  3. As well as matching up players from the teams, the pairings process includes selecting tables for each game, and there tends to be a variety of terrain density. This can mean it’s more viable to run list that perform particularly well on some kinds of terrain.
  4. Each team can only use each codex once. Given there are eight players in each team, this ensures that a pretty healthy spread of books get used. GT Talavera was diverging very slightly from the WTC here by allowing two players on each team to bring Marines as long as they used different supplements.

Keep all that in mind as we go through the choices made by each team (though I will still be referring to quite a few armies based on the list of archetypes).

All the lists for this event can be found in Best Coast Pairings.

Note: I have heard that there was very strict enforcement of rules on legacy models and proxies that may have impacted some high performing teams. I am not going to try and reconstruct any hypothetical results beyond what’s in BCP, but please don’t feel you have to flood the comments telling me about this!

1st Place – FNP7+

Team Composition

Credit: Wings
  • Oscar Sorak – Drukhari: Pretty standard Drukhari goodstuff with a light Cronos contingent (2×2). Drukhari are good enough all-rounders that they don’t need to skew that much in teams, but the 2×2 Cronos does happen to be a particularly good number as it means they can be put into Strategic Reserves for 2CP, helpful both in matchups where the opponent has the reach to take them off the table at range, and as an offensive tools against armies reliant on 2W models like Grey knights.
  • Vidente Elthar – Death Guard: Inexorable with a slight skew towards board control with three Foetid Bloat Drones and a decent number of Poxwalkers. Presumably intended as something of a defender list – the extra mobile units means that it’s better placed to leverage its durability to ensure it has a decent score, and it’s close enough to lists that are doing well at Singles events that it’s definitely able to take some wins too.
  • Roger Boira – Grey Knights: Swordbearers/Blades of Victory Dreadknights and Interceptors. I like this Brotherhood combo for teams because it gives the list two angles on picking up blowouts – the early mobility on Interceptors and a damage-dealing Librarian from the Blades with Vanguard Aggression and the amped up shooting of the Dreadknights that Swordbearers get.
  • Enrique “Disaster” Plasencia – Deathwatch Kill Teams and Dreadnoughts, with a major change from the norm in the Kill Teams. These are still running with one half as hyper mobile ObSec bricks (four Bikers and a VanVet) for combat squad purposes, but rather than going cheap on the other half the regular Vets are loaded with claws and shields. That sums up to an army that (fittingly for Deathwatch) can act as a strong counter in quite a few matchups – the damage dealers here are great into Drukhari, while against any defender list with a very linear ObSec plan (e.g. Eternal Expansionists Necrons) the three Kill Teams will throw a massive spanner into the works. Having shields on the Vets also helps this operate on tables with light terrain, allowing it to potentially take advantage of the fact that it can blow plenty of lists straight off the table in that environment.
Credit: Evan “Felime” Siefring
  • Luis Fernando Barrios Faramin – Adepta Sororitas: Bloody Rose/Ebon Chalice with the standard Named Characters heading it up. This list would be utterly unsurprising in singles play, but I think it gets the nod over other Sororitas builds here becuase of how versatile it is at dealing damage. Having the Ebon Chalice around means it’s got multiple powerful MW tricks to call upon, while a big unit of each kind of Sacresant and lots of Repentia with Vahl able to buff as needed gives it weapons that can smash through almost anything in a fight. This can act as a spoiler against any armies planning to ride their durability to victory – if you don’t degrade this army’s capabilities rapidly, it’s going to do some brutal stuff.
  • Nelson Rodríguez – Thousand Sons: Pressure heavy Cult of Duplicity, with spawn and some Warpflamer Rubricae alongside the expected characters and Terminators. Not a surprising thing to see here – Sorcerous Facade Terminators are an utter nightmare for lists that don’t have scout screening to deal with, and a mixture of psychic firepower and high-quality D1 shooting cracks through some flavours of defence.
  • Eduardo Cortell – Adeptus Mechanicus: You knew it was going to be in here somewhere. Lucius/Mars with lots of Skitarii in the Lucius half and lots of Ironstriders in the other, though only Fusilaves rather than Stratoraptors. From the choice to put the Fusilaves in the Mars detachment (letting them double up on durability buffs) my best read on why no Stratos is that it makes it harder to spike the list with a heavy alpha strike build, as more of its threats can be hidden.
  • Paco Chamorro – Orks: Freebooterz buggies and planes. Any list that can end games in a single turn is pretty much a lock for team formats.

Thoughts

So this was meant to be a bit of a palate cleanser/shelter from the hellish metagame and that doesn’t seem to be going to well because while I think there are good reasons driving the choices made here, fundamentally what we’re looking at is eight of the best singles lists given some minor tuning for the format rather than anything wildly out there. Teams as a format lends itself to doing some weird experimental stuff, but right now the divide between the haves and have nots in the metagame is stark enough that it looks like trying to be too clever wasn’t the right play. Instead, FNP7+ have taken a bunch of the metagame’s best singles lists, picked the variants that give them the most angles to blow some matchups wide open and won the whole thing.

Of the lists they’ve picked, I think the use of the Deathwatch army is the standout smart decision, because its extremely likely to find good matchups. It’s excellent into Drukhari (which you can rely on pretty much every team having in their roster), has the raw killing power from the Dreadnought castle to flatten some lists out of the game, and is uniquely good at pressuring objectives against defensive armies. Teams is about finding ways to leverage extremes, and this build does better at that than the vast majority of Marine options (though having said that, on scores it somewhat underperformed the rest of the team). The Grey Knights and Thousand Sons build has some similar energy to a lesser extent – of the selections available to each, the ones used here are most likely to lead to extreme success in the right situation.

That seems to have been the factor that really carried this team – both these lists won all their games (with the Freebooterz also getting all wins and draws), and that would suggest a strategy of pairing these two psychic powerhouses into opponents that just can’t deal with them, and having the remaining lists be versatile enough that they’ll pick up sufficient points in each round to get the team over the line. Having two strong psychic lists works particularly well in the pairing system, and the overall quality here is very high, so congratulations to FNP7+ for winning one of 9th’s biggest events!

2nd Place – BP0

Team Composition

Be’lakor, The Dark Master. Credit: Skails
  • Manu Vlad – Chaos: Mortarion’s Anvil Contemptors and Plaguebursts team up with Be’lakor and an outrider full of Furies for objective play. Be’lakor is an incredibly durable model in his own right, and Furies provide highly mobile Action performers that Death Guard normally lack, so this ups the army’s reliability as a defender by unlocking extra secondaries without really compromising on the durability.
  • Ricardo Sambruno – Adepta Sororitas: Very different to the previous Sisters list, this one goes pure Argent Shroud with loads of small units armed with a multi-melta each, plus a few big Rhino-bound Repentia squads a shock troops. That creates a list that’s great at counterattacking and great at hunting monster or tank heavy builds on the other side of the table, but with the mobility to still deploy that on heavier terrain setups.
  • Eduardo Muñoz – Adeptus Mechanicus: Mars Veteran Cohort, surprisingly again with no Stratoraptors. What it does have is a whole trio of Onager Dunecrawlers with Icarus Arrays, so it looks like lots of people were expecting to hunt enemy planes and maybe somewhat avoiding them themselves!
  • Jose Piñero – Necrons: Eternal Expansionists heavy on Lychguard and with the Nightbringer as both a shock tool and a third To the Last target alongside the two Lychguard bricks. Eternal Expansionists has been great in team formats pretty much since 9th released, as it’s very difficult to shut down its scoring entirely in most games, and in teams it can dodge the most disastrous matchups.
Dark Angels. Credit: Greg Chiasson
  • Marco Esteban – Dark Angels: Mostly Deathwing, with two massive Terminator blocks, plus just enough Attack Bikes and Speeders from the Ravenwing side to spike out anything that’s too good at scything through the termies. Deathwing are another great foundation for a defender list as there are very few things that can reliably take down a unit that’s having the Pennant of Rememberance waved at it, and the mixture of spike damage and mobility from Ravenwing and janky bodyguard tricks with Deathwing Command Squads give Dark Angels lots of ways to grind out some points if things get close.
  • Alejandro Nuñez – Orks: Freebooterz buggies and planes. There is zero good reason not to have this in a team comp right now – it’s an incredibly brutal one-sided blowout machine, and its main drawback of reliably losing to the other blowout machine in the metagame is mitigaged by the pairing process. This version also has some Deffkoptas, which are a good shout as something you can hold in reserve.
  • Dragolex Alex – Thousand Sons: More Cult of Duplicity as the mainstay, but here splashing in a Cult of Magic sorceror for overwhelming firepower.
  • Julio Piñero – Drukhari: Extra shooty Drukhari, with some Ravagers joining Cronos. That creates something that will utterly dominate slower builds, and maybe has a better shot into some of the lists people will throw out to try and beat Drukhari (extra lances are very welcome into Redemptors, for example).

Thoughts

While there’s quite a lot of overlap in the factions used (not surprising), this team’s choices are a little more out there compared to the singles metagame – nothing totally unrecognisable, but more lists that you’d maybe hesitate to take to a singles GT unchanged.

Headlining that is the Necron list, which is a classic Defender build. People do take Eternal Expansionists out at GT level, but the performance has dropped off substantially since its early edition heights, as there are too many things that just counter it. In teams it’s both much easier to avoid the very worst matchups for it, and much less important that it win all of its games so there’s still some real life in it, and racking up three draws over the course of the event really shows that it was leaning into the Defender role.

Also on that plan, but potentially overperforming expectations was the Dark Angels build. This is heavily focused on the Deathwing/character aspect, where in singles you’d probably want a few more tools to give reach (though admittedly not always, we have seen near pure Deathwing succeed). As it is, this is a Defender build that can also roll through some flavours of opposition, and it did a spectacular job of that, racking up wins in 5/7 games and only dropping to an 8-12 score in its two losses.

Strong performances abounded in this team, honestly, with most lists only dropping a single game and only the Be’lakor army having a rough time of it. For that one, while Be’lakor is extremely tough his defences are different to the rest of the list, and slotting him into a Death Guard army does add a vulnerability to D2 weaponry that isn’t otherwise there. Given that durable armies often get shuffled into a Defender position, I’d guess that while on paper Be’lakor and the Furies add some all-rounder capabilities to the Death Guard setup, for the role it ended up playing they were a hinderance.

The other particularly interesting thing to talk about here is the Drukhari build, because it’s somewhat unusual (packing Ravagers) but performed vastly better than FNP7+’s all-rounder list. Bluntly, I suspect that’s because any team gunning to win this event is going to have brought some answers to the standard Drukhari build, so there’s probably more mileage into leaning into something Drukhari do unusually well. In this case, their fast anti-tank can brutally punish slower Defender lists without reach, and this isn’t the first team event where we’ve seen builds leaning into that style outperform the goodstuff default. You can honestly go even more extreme than this if you want – I think there’s a good case for Voidraven based lists in teams, because they combine the hard-to-stop shooting with an optional hail mary if you find yourself in a tough matchup.

All in all, excellent stuff, and this team took an impressive 6-1 overall, only losing to FNP7+ in round 5 (and putting up what looks like a respectable fight in that).

Top Eight Army Totals

Just before we close for this event, I thought a final interesting thing would be to run down the total army usage across the top eight teams, trying to get some indication of whether there’s any sneaky trends beyond the obvious “good armies still good”, and whether there is more diversity than normal. The answer? Kinda, yeah! Across the 64 total lists in scope, there were:

  • 10 Space Marines (remembering that each team could have two of these)
  • 8 Adepta Sororitas
  • 7 Drukhari
  • 6 Adeptus Mechanicus
  • 6 Death Guard
  • 5 Thousand Sons
  • 4 Grey Knights
  • 4 Orks
  • 3 Necrons
  • 2 Custodes
  • 2 Aeldari (Harlequins/Craftworlds both)
  • 2 Mixed Chaos
  • 2 Tyranids
  • 1 Chaos Knights
  • 1 Imperial Knights
  • 1 Daemons

Obviously there is a heavy density of the metagame’s best on show, but surprisingly only Sisters showed up in every possible slot, with even Drukhari being left on the bench by at least one team. The biggest surprise for me was seeing Orks and Grey Knights only taking half of their possible slots – Grey Knights hit the combo of being both powerful and relatively easy to put on the table, so seeing them this low is odd. Orks is I guess a bit more understandable, as even with a team’s resources to call upon putting the best builds on the table is dauntingly expensive, and you probably do only want either the Freebooterz or Blood Axe buggy builds for teams. On the flip side at the top end, Thousand Sons turning up in more than half the top teams hammers home that there’s something real there being held back from the top end of the meta by a few rough matchups, so they can really flourish in teams.

At the other end, it is pretty encouraging to see a decent scattering of armies getting one or two uses across the top field, suggesting there are still angles of attack for people trying something a little weird, which is always what you want to see. It does feel like there are fewer armies trying that sort of thing than once there were, but if you’ve got One Weird Trick to take a swing at some of the big hitters, teams still looks like the place to try it.

Anyway, that concludes this edition of team week, back to the singles metagame you know and “love”.

FactoruM October GT

All the lists for this event can be found in Best Coast Pairings.

James Pilkington – Orks – 1st Place

Megatrakk Scrapjet. Credit: Rockfish
Megatrakk Scrapjet. Credit: Rockfish

The List

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Outrider Detachment -3CP (Orks) [49 PL, 9CP, 835pts] ++

+ Configuration [9CP] +

Battle Size [12CP]: 3. Strike Force (101-200 Total PL / 1001-2000 Points) [12CP]

Clan Kultur: Freebooterz

Detachment Command Cost [-3CP]

+ HQ [6 PL, 120pts] +

Deffkilla Wartrike [6 PL, 120pts]: 5. Kunnin but Brutal, Da Badskull Banner, Warlord

+ Fast Attack [27 PL, 475pts] +

Rukkatrukk Squigbuggies [10 PL, 180pts] Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy [5 PL, 90pts] Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy [5 PL, 90pts]

Rukkatrukk Squigbuggies [10 PL, 180pts] Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy [5 PL, 90pts] Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy [5 PL, 90pts]

Rukkatrukk Squigbuggies [7 PL, 115pts]: Nitro Squigs [2 PL, 25pts] Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy [5 PL, 90pts]

+ Flyer [16 PL, 240pts] +

Dakkajet [8 PL, 120pts]: 2x Additional Supa Shoota [20pts]

Dakkajet [8 PL, 120pts]: 2x Additional Supa Shoota [20pts]

++ Outrider Detachment -3CP (Orks) [67 PL, -3CP, 1,165pts] ++

+ Configuration [-3CP] +

Clan Kultur: Freebooterz

Detachment Command Cost [-3CP]

+ HQ [5 PL, 85pts] +

Big Mek w/ Kustom Force Field [5 PL, 85pts]

+ Elites [8 PL, 100pts] +

Kommandos [4 PL, 50pts] Boss Nob [10pts]: Choppa
4x Kommando [40pts]: 4x Choppa, 4x Slugga, 4x Stikkbombs

Kommandos [4 PL, 50pts] Boss Nob [10pts]: Choppa
4x Kommando [40pts]: 4x Choppa, 4x Slugga, 4x Stikkbombs

+ Fast Attack [36 PL, 650pts] +

Megatrakk Scrapjets [10 PL, 180pts] Megatrakk Scrapjet [5 PL, 90pts] Megatrakk Scrapjet [5 PL, 90pts]

Megatrakk Scrapjets [10 PL, 180pts] Megatrakk Scrapjet [5 PL, 90pts] Megatrakk Scrapjet [5 PL, 90pts]

Megatrakk Scrapjets [10 PL, 180pts] Megatrakk Scrapjet [5 PL, 90pts] Megatrakk Scrapjet [5 PL, 90pts]

Stormboyz [3 PL, 55pts] Boss Nob [11pts]: Choppa
4x Stormboy [44pts]: 4x Choppa, 4x Slugga, 4x Stikkbombs

Stormboyz [3 PL, 55pts] Boss Nob [11pts]: Choppa
4x Stormboy [44pts]: 4x Choppa, 4x Slugga, 4x Stikkbombs

+ Flyer [18 PL, 330pts] +

Dakkajet [8 PL, 120pts]: 2x Additional Supa Shoota [20pts]

Wazbom Blastajet [10 PL, 210pts]: 2x Tellyport Mega-Blastas [20pts], Blastajet Force Field [20pts]

Archetype

Freebooterz

Why it’s Interesting in 9th

Our sole singles winner this week is bringing pretty much peak Freebooterz, going all-in on the plan to just erase the opponent off the board, as two units of Kommandos and two Stormboyz makes any Action plan look pretty risky. What those do achieve along with the presence of both flavours of Force Field is maximise this list’s chances of weathering whatever alpha strike planes the opponent has if it goes second, plus taking objectives at a key moment by combining the Badskull Banner and Get Da Loot, all combining to ensure the list has the highest possible chance of chaining five wins. The second place Custodes list put in a heroic attempt to stop this in round three, but James was able to edge that one out by a single point and then cruise onward to victory – congratulations.

The Rest of the Best

Five more players finished on 4-1 records. They were:

  • 2nd – Jack West – Adeptus Custodes: Triple Telemon shadowkeepers that also skews extra shooty by using all Sagittarum as Troops.
  • 3rd – Jack Beauman – World Eaters: Hilarious World Eaters skew here, with a Khorne Lord of Skulls backed up by honest-to-god Vindicators, with a few melee units of various sorts kicking around too.
  • 4th – Sam Nash – Space Wolves: Dreadnought-heavy Space Wolves, with a couple of VolCons and Bjorn, backing up a double Long Fang drop pod, various scout deploy units and a big blob of Wolf Guard.
  • 5th – Robert Sweeney – Death Guard: Shooty Mortarion’s Anvil.
  • 6th ✪ – Aaron Kennedy – Orks: A mixed Ork list featuring Deathskulls, Evil Sunz and Snakebites and packed with vicious characters like Squigosaurs and a Wartrike plus dangerous Forge World choices like Kannonwagons.

Wrap Up

That’s it for this week, and we’ll be back to looking at singles in earnest next week as the Coventry GT provides a massive stage for any potential challengers to take a swing at the metagame’s big shots. Alternatively, Malik might just win it with Stratoraptors again. I’ll be there throwing down with my latest Aeldari concoction, so do feel free to come and say hi, and otherwise I’ll see you next week to pore over the results. Comments, questions and suggestions to contact@goonhammer.com.