With LVO fresh on our minds my Brooklyn Rats teammate Leila gave our team a run down of the weekend. And so now I’m transferring that knowledge to you with a rundown of the factions that showed, how they did, and what the performance looked like.
In addition to this we’ll have interviews with some of the top players from the event, so check back tomorrow.
Veteran Guard had the most representation at LVO of any faction, with 10 players taking guardsmen to the Championships. In a sense this is unsurprising; Veteran Guardsmen have always made up a significant portion the meta, owing to their popularity and starter box pack-in. As a day 1 faction, many players have consistently stuck with them, and having received no massive changes, they still operate as effectively on Open boards as they did at the game launch. Their wealth of special AP weapons also makes them a significant threat to the numerous power armor teams present, while their blast threats and horde of bodies let them compete with shooty teams. In all eras of the game, Vet Guard have been able to make their toolset work, and players who enjoy their consistency still bring them out to large tournaments frequently.
Just behind Vet Guard are the Legions of Chaos. Ever since the mono-Nurgle team format was solidified, this faction has been a constant presence in the tournament scene. Un-injurable, un-stunnable, double-shooting marines with a few extra wounds granted by the Mutagenic Flesh ploy make for a dense team of hard-to-shift durable threats, who can rapidly overtake other factions while running way less complicated plans than the higher model count teams. Newer iterations of this team have also been showing up with marks of Tzeentch to take advantage of Invulnerable saves when every other team seems to have a plasma gun, but Khorne, Slaanesh, and Undivided marks have seen less competitive play.
Imperial Navy Breachers
Escaping unscathed from the December dataslate, Breachers are posed to make a big splash this quarter. 7 players brought Navy, even though LVO was on Open boards. The massive wound pool granted by Brace for Counterattack ploy, combined with strong offensive tools gives the Navy some great tools to play into a variety of factions, and with up to 12 bodies on the more spaced-out board, a number of players saw that they could still have a strong showing outside of the Gallowdark terrain sets.
The dataslate’s light touch on the Gellerpox team seems to have not deterred fans of Nurgle’s current specialist bespoke team. The wealth of bodies and activations, lack of mission action doors, and ability to keep plenty of space between operatives while still getting heavy cover meant that Gellerpox had some great opportunities on these map packs. While the lack of shooting can sometimes be tricky on Open boards, these map packs featured plenty of heavy terrain around objectives, meaning the 7 melee-oriented Gellerpox players had plenty of opportunities to bestow Nurgle’s blessing on unfortunate opponents.
Another bulky team, Intercessor’s simple ruleset and sheer power provide a great opportunity for players who are looking to play a strong game without developing a migraine, and have the toolkit to reward high level play with every operative more than making up for the low body count by being able to easily eat up most teams that don’t respect the bolters and chainswords. If you’re able to keep your Intercessors out of the sights of a melta gun (or get a decisive revenge shot to keep that pesky AP away from your battle brothers) this team can shine without the complications of running the other factions. Also notable is that among the most picked factions, Intercession are the only team that have a tool to handle Obscurity shenanigans that show up more often in dense maps like these.
The twink marines were the only bespoke faction to not get a single player at LVO. Phobos had a plummeting winrate following their release last year, as their guns just couldn’t seem to puncture increasingly power-armored teams, and they lack the blast and multikill threats necessary to trade up into the softer horde teams.The last few errata and dataslates have tried to remedy this, giving Phobos the Deadly Shots ploy to puncture power armor, free Terror on Reivers to more effectively sabotage objective control, and letting Incursors fully ignore Obscurity while shooting, along with some other tools that would hopefully give them stronger play in Open maps. Players didn’t bite quite yet though for one of the largest Open tournaments to date, and the team may continue to struggle in Gallowdark settings where they have fewer tools.
In December, Farstalker Kinband saw a big buff to their ploys, melee and shooting capabilities, and a fix to their core ability, Rogue, which should give them a stronger edge on Open maps with more cover. With the updates, the kroot were expected to much more effectively execute their gameplan of picking off opportunistic targets while being surprisingly hard to target with their excellent defensive saves. Still, Farstalker were only taken by 2 players at LVO, only 1 more than players taking Kroot’s compendium counterpart. It’s still uncertain whether this is because players were unsure about the viability of the improved Kinband, or if there wasn’t enough time between the dataslate and LVO for players to pick up the bird-cenaries, so their fate for the season remains unclear.
Other Notable Low Picks: Elucidian Starstriders were only taken by a few players, which is surprising given that based on winrate, the dataslate seems to have given the Rogue Traders an enormous boost. Kommandos only had two players as well, which is shockingly low for a Day 1 faction that shows up in most metas. The increasing growth of high wound teams with 5 attacks might explain their diminishing selection. Novitiate have never had the highest pickrate, their relative complexity made picking them up tricky even when they were one of the strongest teams in the game, but their pick rate seems to have absolutely plummeted following some slight nerfs last quarter. Hierotek Circle have the lowest winrate in Kill Team, and have had that very publicly hanging over their ancient metal heads since launch. Even the buffs from December do not seem to have convinced players that the Necrons are ready to be competitively viable. Hunter Clade have fallen from grace hard, with all but the most faction-dedicated seeming to have dropped the team since the nerf of their frankly broken number of Sicarians last quarter.
The Trends to the Top
Durability. Durability. Durability. Four of the five most-picked factions are almost defined by how much damage they tank, and the 5th faction might be fragile, but has 14 of those bodies to take points with. Players seemed to heavily gravitate towards teams that can take a punch, likely as these teams just give a bit more margin of error to have a bad roll or two without the entire team folding in. While these teams all have fairly significant firepower, more aggressive glass cannon teams like Corsairs, Harlequins, Starstriders, and Pathfinders are all seeing lower play.
Podium and Top 16
Gellerpox took the top spot at LVO after 7 rounds, and saw a ton of representation in the Top 16, with almost half the faction’s players making it into this top cut. The nerfs to the Techno-Curse ability and Glitchling and Mutant feel-no-pains doesn’t seem to have taken much of the wind out of their sails, and the unmatched activation advantage combined with the impending threat of the hulks allowed top players of this faction to rack up extremely high scores while also massacring opponents who didn’t have a clear plan for them.
The former unquestioned rulers of Open terrain seem to be in a much healthier balance after December. While Pathfinders did take 2nd place, this is the only player who made it into the higher placements, with the other players spaced fairly evenly among the middle-high placements. The faction still has a relatively high skill floor, but the days of seeing 5 pathfinder teams at a tournament with 4 in the top cut seem to be over, while still allowing them to shine in the right player’s hands.
The Emperor’s Finest take 3rd, proving 6 bodies can be plenty enough with enough precision. One other Intercession player makes the top placements, with the remainder scattered pretty evenly through the rest of the rankings. Given their high playrate, the Intercession faction has taken on a role of a constant hammer in the meta, fairly blunt but plenty strong enough to win if you don’t have a clear plan on how to remove the tough marines before they make it into your lines.
While the Navy didn’t end up taking a medal, 3 players did make it into this higher bracket. The fears that they may be a little overtuned seem to be becoming reality, with their massive effective wound count with Stimms and Brace for Counterattack and reliable aggressive pieces meaning they skewed quite high in placements.
Vet Guard only took a single spot in the higher bracket, despite having more players than any other faction. We can only speculate on the exact causes, but their previous strength at higher levels of play seems to have diminished significantly. The high amounts of obscurity on the map pack might have meant that previous staples of the team like the Sniper/Spotter bunker are just less effective, or the team’s omnipresence has caused other players to just have better answers for how to handle the Kriegsman.
With LVO wrapped, the 2023 ITC season will kick off shortly, and Kill Team’s balance is in an interesting spot. Players have been gravitating towards durable teams that have more forgiveness for small errors, but placings show that glass cannons can still come to the top, if far less reliably. The big bads for the foreseeable future definitely seem to be the Gellerpox Infected and Imperial Navy Breachers, both presumed to still be in strong positions after the dataslate and both proving it with strong showings. The newly buffed Farstalker Kinband and Elucidian Starstriders still haven’t quite made their splash in the scene, but might make strong showings at tournaments in February. Vet Guard, Wyrmblade, and Pathfinders all still have their spot in the meta, but don’t seem to be carrying quite as much of an advantage into newer teams or after nerfs. Phobos found dead in a gutter due to neglect. Someone, anyone, please go play a tournament with those stealthy bois.
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