Hammer of Math: Index Aeldari is Historically Pushed – We Should Take Note

This week we’ve handed over the reigns of Hammer of Math to Stat Check’s “Custode” Cliff Thomas, who is here to talk about the current reign of Aeldari dominance and just how historic the period has been.

At this point, overpowered factions have become a time-honored Warhammer 40,000 tradition. We see the games, we play against it, we pack our delicate plastic soldiers back in their boxes as our opponent, a life-long player of (insert most broken faction at the current time) tables us in record time. Every now and then though, we get to witness something historic. A moment in time that introduces a faction that somehow combines low points costs, breathtaking output, excellent mission play, and a required skill-floor that is low enough to allow just about anyone to dominate.

We are in the middle of one such moment. Index: Aeldari is neither good, nor dominant. It is historically great, joining the pantheon of other “how could they think this was ok?” releases like late 8th Edition’s Iron Hands and 9th Edition’s Harlequins. Given the magnitude of Index: Aeldari’s greatness, we thought it was worth analyzing where exactly this most recent iteration of broken Space Elf rules sits relative to the last few years’ releases.

(Rob: For more on this, you can also read the analysis Falcon and I did shortly after Codex: Drukhari dropped early in 9th edition, where we talked about the concept of “The Meta adapting,” how it’s largely wrong, and what it actually means).

A couple of notes before we get started:

  1. Index: Aeldari is quite busted right now, but it could have been worse. If you watch the 10th Edition preview game featuring Nick Nanavati playing Eldar, you’ll notice that support weapons once came in units of up to 3, at ~55 points each. In an alternate timeline, we’d all be playing at against one Aeldari player using 9 indirect D-Cannons. Thank you, whoever you are, for changing that datasheet. (Rob: Don’t forget that in its original incarnation, the Index gave Aeldari 20 Fate dice per game, not 12).
  2. Index: Genestealer Cults is also busted, though they’re not as big a problem as Aeldari. There are a few reasons for that, but the most glaring is the sheer popularity of the Aeldari Index – 11% of the current GT+ Player Population is bringing an Aeldari list to their games. Only 5% of those same players use GSC. There are counters to GSC that are becoming more evident, and knowledge of the matchup is spreading.
  3. Un-nerfed 9th edition Leagues of Votann would have been worse.

If we want to properly note precisely how broken this version of Aeldari is, we’re going to need to take a look at the data. Win Rates initially draw our attention but, as we’ve previously described, it can’t be relied on for everything (keep that in mind when tuning into the Games Workshop’s Metawatch series, or reddit’s Meta Monday!). That’s why we track several other data points to produce a more accurate picture of the meta than could be gleaned from Win Rates alone. Beside Win Rates, we also track the following among our larger sets of analysis:

  • OverRep (Over Representation) is the degree to which a given faction is over-represented in the population of top 4 finishers at GT+ events, relative to their population among all players. For example: as of September 1st, Index: Aledari has an OverRep of 3.24. This means that while they are played by 11% of the all players, they make up 36% of all players in the top 4 of GT+ events.
  • 4-0 Event Starts: This is the percentage of players that win their first four consecutive games at GT+ events.
  • Event Wins: This is the number of GT+ event wins for a given faction.
  • Player Population: This is the percentage of the overall GT+ player population that has played a given faction. This is a great stat for providing context to our data, as generally, the larger the pool of players running a faction, the more likely its performance will trend toward the mean.
  • Positive Records: This is the percentage of players that win more games than they lose. Note: Games ending in a draw are considered 0.5 Wins.

While we track additional performance data in our dashboard and Faction Elo scores – for now, I’ll keep our comparative analysis straightforward.

In the table below, I’ve listed the data for each of these performance figures for the most overpowered releases in our dataset, each shown at the un-nerfed height of their power. We acknowledge that there are instances of similarly imbalanced factions in the past (Leafblower Guard, whatever nonsense was played at events in 7th edition, early 9th Orks and AdMech, etc). For the sake of this analysis, we’re only referring to our dataset, as of September 1st 2023 – this includes every game played in an event of at least five rounds with at least 25 players since 9th Edition’s release of Nachmund. This means that we we’ll be using the results of the nearly 220,000+ manually verified games – subscribe to our Patreon to join us on discord so you can thank Jeremy Atkinson for his heroic data collection and cleaning efforts!

FactionWin RateOverRep4-0 Event StartsEvent WinsPlayer PopulationPositive Records
Index: Aeldari (10th)69%3.2417%39/7911%74%
Codex; Tyranids (9th)65%3.4519%11/3110%74%
Codex; Harlequins (9th)73%4.6928%13/365%86%
Codex; T'au Empire (9th)65%2.6815%6/359%78%
Codex: Adeptus Custodes (9th)65%2.0119%13/3513%76%
Codex Supplement: Iron Hands (8th, Post-nerf)64%n/a32%19/317%n/a

(Robnote: I’ve added some stats from January 2020 on the Iron Hands Supplement as well, just for context. Note that before its first nerf it had something like a 71% win rate at GT events over the first seven events it was legal for and adoption of the faction climbed as high as 12% heading into LVO. The Castellan Meta in 8th is harder to define but they showed up in nearly 13% of lists at one point and lists running them had more than an 80% win rate over its first month of existence before settling down to something just above 60% before the April 2019 nerfs). 

Impressive results, and a reminder of the power of last edition’s codexes. Given these results, 10th Edition’s Index: Aeldari ranks:

  • Second all-time in Win Rate
  • Third all-time in OverRep
  • Fifth all-time in 4-0 Event Starts
  • First all-time in Event Wins (by proportion)
  • Second all-time in Player Population
  • Fourth all-time in Positive Records

Clearly this Index belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of broken rules, especially when you consider the following – these are the results from an Index that was nerfed immediately before its release (War Walkers, Support Platforms), and nerfed again in July a few weeks after the original 10th rules publication (Fate Dice, Towering). This twice-nerfed faction’s results are being compared to those of untouched releases – and is still outperforming them across multiple axes.

Of particular note is the rate at which Index: Aeldari win events. At 49% , Index Aeldari’s Event Win Rate is better than 16 of 40k’s factions Game Win Rate. As far as we know, this degree of event dominance is a first (though 8th Edition’s Iron Hands release may have matched or exceeded it).

Let’s turn to a few visual aids to finalize our understanding of Index:Aeldari’s competitive power.

First, the Event Record Distribution. Two and Three win records should be most common in the aggregate and for balanced factions. As seen here:

Compare this with the results for Index: Aeldari’s players – 3 and 4 win records are the most common, with 4 wins being the modal record across the player population.

Last, we can take a look at the longevity of Index: Aeldari’s place astride the meta. Going to the Win Rate Trends tab of the Meta Data Dashboard…

…we can see that Aeldari took the Win Rate lead on Week 2 of 10th Edition’s release, and have held on to the top spot ever since. It’s safe to say that they’ll maintain the lead over Labor Day weekend. making them second only to the 9th Edtion’s Tyranids release 12 straight weeks atop the Nachmund meta.

Given the evidence available, there’s an argument to be made that the current Aeldari ruleset may be the most powerful faction release in Warhammer 40k history. As an enthusiastic participant in basketball’s GOAT debate (it’s Lebron, if you think its anyone else that’s nostalgia talking), I’m excited to have that discussion across the Goonhammer and Stat Check discords.

As impressive as this historic run has been, here’s to hoping that the steps GW takes with the next balance update address this adequately. Hope your hobby’s going well, and may the Crusher detachment bring us big bug lovers joy.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.