Meta Analysis: The LVO 40k Championship

Last week, we took a deep look at the meta prior to LVO, analyzing the faction breakdowns so far, looking at key lists, and making predictions about how the event would shake out. Now that the games have been played and the dust has settled, it’s time to see where things sit prior to the incorporation of the rules from the new Ritual of the Damned supplement.

First off, if you missed our prior analyses, you can find them here:

The Results

Let’s start with the results. After all the no-shows were taken out and the final results were tallied, here’s the faction breakdown:

As before, Space Marines dominated the format as a whole, making up more than one in four armies. Coupled with what we’ll see was a tournament-high 61% win rate, this means that your chances of playing a Space Marines player in the tournament each round increased significantly as you won more games. A player who won their first three games had roughly an 80% chance of playing Marines in round 4, and a given player had only a 6% chance to make it through round 4 without playing any Marines after starting 3-0. 


By Subfaction, Iron Hands were the most dominant once you take out the Red Scorpions and Raptors, which are both run as Raven Guard Successors. 63 players played Iron Hands, with the average Iron Hands player walking away with 3.5 wins. Raven Guard and Adeptus Astartes (read as IH/RG successors) were close behind. Imperial Fists fared a bit worse, making up the 3rd largest cohort of Marine lists and averaging 3.3 wins. After that it was a significant (0.5 wins) drop-off to Salamanders.

The Adeptus Astartes Subfactions

Astartes Sub-FactionAvg. Wins @ LVOPlayers
Red Scorpions*4.54
Iron Hands3.5463
Raven Guard3.516
Adeptus Astartes/Mixed3.4557
Imperial Fists3.3324
White Scars2.676
Dark Angels2.55
Blood Angels2.2816
Space Wolves2.138

*Run as an Iron Hands Successor
**Raven Guard Successor

Based on this, we can develop official, IRON-CLAD MARINE TIERS. Note that these do not take into account new Dark Angels rules from Ritual of the Damned.


  1. Iron Hands
  2. Raven Guard


  1. Imperial Fists
  2. Mixed Astartes/Successors


  1. Salamanders
  2. White Scars
  3. Ultramarines


  1. Dark Angels
  2. Blood Angels
  3. Space Wolves

Of these, Blood Angels are the most surprising, owing to their just having received a powerful new codex. Though given that some Blood Angels lists fell within the “Adeptus Astartes” category thanks to being a mix of multiple chapters, it’s not quite as dire. This does suggest that monofaction Blood Angels may struggle, though.

Winning Games

By faction overall, Marines posted the highest win percentage at 61%, matched only by Forces of the Hive Mind, who had a much smaller sample but still performed admirably across their 52 games.


This isn’t far off of what we’ve seen in our recent analyses and of course, this led to a disproportionate number of Marine armies in the top lists. If we refine our sample to just the lists that went 5-1 or better through the event’s first two days, we can see this impact immediately, where Adeptus Astartes armies make up a whopping 46 percent of the 5+ win factions. And true to form, they’d eventually account for five of the top 8 lists on the final day.

Breaking this down further, our results basically line up with our Tier rankings above, with Iron Hands and their successors showing the strongest results, followed by Raven Guard Successors and then Imperial Fists. Always good to confirm your priors, I guess.


One more useful thing we can look at is how factions scored, which can help us understand the differences between faction records (Note: We currently don’t have the points allowed, but we have points scored in wins vs. losses to look at). Along with their winning records, Iron Hands armies also excel at scoring points broadly, something that we saw when we did our initial meta analysis for them back in November. Of note here are the Forces of the Hive Mind, who score very well, and tend to do so consistently as we’ll see when we look at win/loss spreads.

Top 5 Scoring Factions at LVO, Minimum 50 games

FactionAverage Game Score
Forces of the Hive Mind26.9
Imperial Fists26.7
Adeptus Astartes26.3
Iron Hands26.2
Raven Guard26.1

Bottom 5 Scoring Factions at LVO, Minimum 50 games

FactionAverage Score
Death Guard21.3
Astra Militarum20.9
Adeptus Custodes20.6
Imperial Knights20.5
Grey Knights19.6

We can also look at the difference between a faction’s score when it wins versus when it loses to identify if certain factions win big or lose big, or if they’re able to consistently score the same amount of points each time. A faction that has a large spread potentially has a better chance of pulling an upset, but if its average score is low, then it’s unlikely to perform well enough across several games to actually squeeze out a win in a 5+ round event.

Top 5 Factions by Points Score Differential, Wins vs. Losses at LVO, Minimum 50 games

FactionAvg. Diff
Imperial Knights15.6
Chaos Knights15.2
Adeptus Mechanicus14.4
Chaos Space Marines13.9

Bottom 5 Factions by Points Score Differential, Wins vs. Losses at LVO, Minimum 50 games

FactionAvg. Spread
Forces of the Hive Mind10.4
Adepta Sororitas10.7
Imperial Fists11.4

A few interesting things to note here:

  • The spreads aren’t that large.The difference between the biggest and smallest spreads on average is about 5 points. This is a significant amount, but it shows that even for the most volatile armies, the average difference between a win and a loss is 5 points, or potentially 1-2 good turns.
  • Imperial Knights and Chaos Knights both came in tops here, suggesting that they tend to win big or lose big. This makes sense given how few units they have to work with.
  • The Forces of the Hive Mind and Tyranids look like they’re remarkably consistent in how many points they score, regardless of whether they win or lose. Given that Forces of the Hive Mind also had a high average score, that might bode well for them moving forward. Then again, it’s also a small sample size so this might be one of the more volatile results. Worth tracking.
  • Armies more dependent on the first turn seem to have a higher win/loss points spread, while it looks like more horde-based armies have a lower spread. This would make sense if they have an easier time holding objectives throughout a game.


The Units

Using list data from the 5+ win lists, we can get a strong picture of the units used and their frequencies. We’ve mapped this in the table below, with both the raw number of units in the 5+ win armies, and also the number of armies with each unit, so you can get a picture of both how often you’d see a unit, and the sheer number that you’ll run into.

UnitTotal Units in 5+ Win TeamsArmies with UnitPercentage of Armies with Unit
Acolyte Hybrids1134.00%
Aggressor Squad222.67%
Ahriman on Disc of Tzeentch111.33%
Astraeus Super-heavy Tank111.33%
Atalan Jackals111.33%
Attack Bike Squad111.33%
Autarch Skyrunner222.67%
Battle Sister Squad611.33%
Belisarius Cawl222.67%
Big Mek111.33%
Big Mek in Mega Armour111.33%
Big Mek W/ Kustom Force Field322.67%
Big Mek W/ Shokk Attack Gun945.33%
Brood Brothers Infantry Squad422.67%
C'tan Shard of the Deceiver111.33%
Cadre Fireblade111.33%
Captain in Phobos Armour222.67%
Captain on Bike111.33%
Captain-General Trajann Valoris111.33%
Centurion Assault Squad271621.33%
Centurion Devastator Squad556.67%
Chaos Cultists28810.67%
Chaos Lord with Jump Pack634.00%
Chaos Space Marines734.00%
Chaos Terminators111.33%
Chaplain Cassius111.33%
Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought331520.00%
Chapter Master111.33%
Chapter Master in Cataphractii Armor111.33%
Chapter Master in Gravis Armor111.33%
Chapter Master in Phobos Armor111.33%
Chief Librarian Mephiston (Primaris)111.33%
Chief Librarian Tigurius111.33%
Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit211.33%
Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit322.67%
Commander Shadowsun111.33%
Company Commander311.33%
Company Veterans111.33%
Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought211.33%
Corpuscarii Electro-Priests111.33%
Crimson Hunter211.33%
Crimson Hunter Exarch622.67%
Custodian Guard Squad611.33%
Daemon Prince211.33%
Daemon Prince of Tzeentch734.00%
Daemon Prince with Wings422.67%
Dahyak Grekh111.33%
Dark Apostle656.67%
Dark Disciples556.67%
Dark Reapers334.00%
Death Company111.33%
Death Jester111.33%
Deff Dread111.33%
Devastator Squad111013.33%
Dire Avengers411.33%
Doom Scythe311.33%
Doomsday Ark311.33%
Drop Pod101013.33%
Eldrad Ulthran222.67%
Eliminator Squad271114.67%
Farseer Skyrunner879.33%
Fire Prism211.33%
Firesight Marksman111.33%
Flash Gitz222.67%
Fulgurite Electro-Priests211.33%
Greater Possessed111.33%
Heavy Destroyers111.33%
Heavy Support222.67%
Hector Rex111.33%
Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnought111.33%
Hellforged Scorpius322.67%
Hemlock Wraithfighter311.33%
Herald of Slaanesh434.00%
Hive Guard111.33%
Hive Tyrant211.33%
Imotekh the Stormlord111.33%
Incursor Squad211.33%
Infantry Squad911.33%
Infiltrator Squad1079.33%
Intercessor Squad1062938.67%
Invictor Tactical Warsuit1479.33%
Iron Father Feirros121216.00%
Jackal Alphus111.33%
Jain Zar111.33%
Kabalite Warriors622.67%
Kaptin Badrukk111.33%
Kastelan Robots111.33%
Kataphron Breachers211.33%
Khorne Lord of Skulls622.67%
Knight Despoiler311.33%
Land Raider Achilles111.33%
Leman Russ Battle Tanks211.33%
Lias Issodon445.33%
Librarian in Phobos Armour222.67%
Lord Asterion Moloc111.33%
Lord Discordant111.33%
Lord Discordant on Helstalker334.00%
Mad Dok Grotsnik334.00%
Marneus Calgar111.33%
Master of Executions222.67%
Master of Possession668.00%
Mek Gunz534.00%
Ministorum Priest111.33%
Mortis Dreadnought668.00%
Night Spinner1556.67%
Nob with Waaagh! Banner111.33%
Onager Dunecrawler522.67%
Plagueburst Crawler522.67%
Primaris Ancient222.67%
Primaris Apothecary121216.00%
Primaris Chaplain445.33%
Primaris Chapter Master111.33%
Primaris Librarian556.67%
Primaris Lieutenant434.00%
Primaris Lieutenants181824.00%
Primaris Psyker111.33%
Rapier Carrier734.00%
Razorwing Jetfighter422.67%
Redemptor Dreadnought434.00%
Reiver Squad211.33%
Relic Contemptor Dreadnought768.00%
Relic Deredeo Dreadnought222.67%
Relic Leviathan Dreadnought141317.33%
Relic Whirlwind Scorpius1079.33%
Relics of the Chapter111.33%
Repulsor Executioner645.33%
Ripper Swarms634.00%
Rubric Marines511.33%
Sanguinary Guard111.33%
Scout Bike Squad111.33%
Scout Squad532634.67%
Seraphim Squad311.33%
Shield Captain in Allarus Terminator Armor111.33%
Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike211.33%
Shining Spears634.00%
Shokkjump Dragstas111.33%
Sicarian Infiltrators111.33%
Skitarii Rangers934.00%
Skitarii Vanguards411.33%
Skorpius Disintegrator834.00%
Skorpius Dunerider511.33%
Sorcerer in Terminator Armour311.33%
Sorcerer with Jump Pack111.33%
Storm Guardians534.00%
Stormhawk Interceptor934.00%
Stormtalon Gunship734.00%
Strike Team311.33%
Support Weapons622.67%
Suppressor Squad25912.00%
Swooping Hawks111.33%
Tactical Drones622.67%
Tank Commander311.33%
Tech marine111.33%
Tech-Priest Enginseer634.00%
Tech-Priest Manipulus111.33%
Techmarine Gunner211.33%
Terrax Pattern Termite Assault Drill111.33%
Terrax-Pattern Termite Assault Drill111.33%
Tesseract Ark211.33%
The Contorted Epitome222.67%
The Swarmlord334.00%
The Yncarne222.67%
Thunderfire cannon552837.33%
Troupe Master334.00%
Tyranid Prime111.33%
Tyranid Warriors111.33%
Tyrant Guard111.33%
Urien Rakarth222.67%
Vexillus Praetor111.33%
War Dogs Moirax311.33%
Warboss on Warbike334.00%
Warlock Skyrunner445.33%
Warlock Skyrunner Conclave222.67%
Warp Talons322.67%
Wave Serpent211.33%
Whirlwind Hyperios211.33%
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit622.67%
XV25 Stealth Battlesuits211.33%
XV88 Broadside Battlesuits111.33%
Zephyrim Squad311.33%

While Intercessors as troops are now the most common unit in the game, Thunderfire Cannons are the clear #2 when we’re looking at successful armies. 37% of 5+ win lists had at least one, and the total count was 55, meaning that the average list had just under 2. Likewise an average of 2 Scout Squads showed up per list to help fill out detachments.


Notable Lists

Finally, we can also look at the units used in the lists that notched 5+ wins to get an idea of their makeup. We’ve already covered the winning list (the “Brohammer” Iron Hands list) in more detail in our interview with Richard Siegler yesterday, but you can find it again here:

Richard Siegler's LVO List, click to expand

+++ Richard’s Iron Hands List – 10 CP, 2,000 pts +++

Iron Hands Battalion Detachment (598 pts, +5 CP)

HQ: Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin Lascannon, CCW, Storm Bolter
HQ: Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin Lascannon, CCW, Storm Bolter

Troops: Intercessors (x5) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Chainsword
Troops: Intercessors (x5) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Chainsword
Troops: Intercessors (x5) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Power Fist

Iron Hands Battalion Detachment (698 pts, +3 CP)
Specialist Detachment: Indomitus Crusaders

HQ: Iron Father Feirros
HQ: Primaris Lieutenant w/Power Sword

Troops: Intercessors (x10) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Thunder Hammer
Troops: Intercessors (x10) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Power Fist
Troops: Intercessors (x5) w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Sgt. Power Fist

Elites: Primaris Apothecary, Stratagem: Chief Apothecary (-1 CP)

Iron Hands Spearhead Detachment (704 pts, +1 CP)

HQ: Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin Lascannon, CCW, Storm Bolter

HS: Eliminator Squad x3 w/Bolt Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks
HS: Eliminator Squad x3 w/Bolt Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks
HS: Eliminator Squad x3 w/Bolt Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks
HS: Relic Leviathan Dreadnought w/2x Storm cannon Array, 3x Hunter-Killer Missile, 2x Heavy Flamer, WARLORD


This list has a number of particularly nasty tricks. It relies on a series of untargetable double-lascannon Chaplain Venerable Dreadnoughts, who are able to move up the table shooting with impunity. They’re supported by Eliminators who can remove key characters and potentially neuter Possessed Bombs before they can arrive, taking out the Apostles and Masters of Possession buffing them, and a large number of Intercessors, plus a Relic Leviathan Dreadnought.

The Relic Leviathan is particularly nasty here. By making the Relic Leviathan the Warlord, it’s able to gain a Warlord Trait at the start of the game after it becomes a character with the March of the Machines Stratagem (this is thanks to the Iron Hands FAQ). Something that isn’t obvious from the list is that it uses the stratagem to pass off wounds onto the Intercessors or Feirros, and the Leviathan dread already has the Iron Hands’ ability to ignore Wounds on a 5+, so it only suffers damage after failing a 2+/4++/5+++ save structure, after which it can pass damage off to the infantry around it thanks to the Cogitated Martyrdom Stratagem, who also have the ability to ignore wounds on a 5+. Combine this with the Ironstone Relic and the Duty Eternal Stratagem to halve incoming damage and you’ve got something that’s functionally unkillable. In practice, this ends up meaning that the Leviathan is passing wounds to Feirros or the infantry and then using the Apothecary to heal the wounds while Feirros himself can repair any damage the Leviathan takes.

If you’re familiar with T’au drones and Saviour Protocols, it’s not dissimilar, except you can heal the drones.


Also in the top 4 and not Marines was Sean Nayden’s Aeldari List:

Sean Nayden's Aeldari LVO List, click to expand

+++ Sean’s LVO List – 10 CP, 1,993 pts +++

Harlequins Outrider Detachment (805 pts, +1 CP)
Masque Form: The Frozen Stars

HQ: Shadowseer w/Shuriken Pistol, Warlord

EL: Death Jester
EL: Solitaire w/Cegorach’s Rose, Harlequin’s Caress, Harlequin’s Kiss

FA: Skyweavers x5 w/Haywire Cannon/Glaive
FA: Skyweavers x5 w/Haywire Cannon/Glaive
FA: Skyweavers x2 w/Haywire Cannon/Glaive

Craftworlds Battalion Detachment (798 pts, +5 CP)
Custom Craftworld: Headstrong, Hunters of Ancient Relics

HQ: Farseer Skyrunner w/Witchblade, Ghostwalk
HQ: Warlock Skyrunner w/Witchblade, Focus Will

Troops: Rangers x5
Troops: Rangers x5
Troops: Rangers x5

FA: Shining Spears x7 w/Laser lance, Exarch w/Star Lance, Withdraw
FA: Shining Spears x7 w/Laser lance, Exarch w/Star Lance, Swooping Dive

Craftworlds Battalion Detachment (390 pts, +1 CP)
Custom Craftworld: Headstrong, Hunters of Ancient Relics

HQ: Spiritseer w/Smite, Shuriken Pistol
HQ: Spiritseer w/Smite, Shuriken Pistol
HQ: The Yncarne

Sean’s list packs an insane amount of mobility and essentially takes the best of what’s available to Harlequins with lots of Haywire Skyweavers and adds that to a Craftworlds Battalion filled with Shining Spears to clean things up with charges. The list also takes advantage of the Yncarne’s massive points drop, which finally made it something to consider playing, along with a pair of Spiritseers for cheap smite support.

We may update this space later with thoughts from One_Wing. Stay tuned if that happens.

One_Wing: Sean has always been a big user of the Yncarne, and this list does what his style of lists tend to do best – present the opponent with a completely different target profile than most armies pack, while threatening to brutally punish an opponent that slips up. The entire list is absurdly mobile, and the Spears present a huge threat out of Deep Strike that the opponent will need to deal with. The custom Craftworld basically goes all in on making them good at this, with a boost to their charges and a boost to their deadliness if they can line it up so that a model is holding an objective when they connect (often not hard).

All of this is screened and set up by the swarm of Skyweavers, and with Frozen Stars as their trait it’s clear they’re planning on getting straight up in the opponent’s business right from the start chopping stuff up. The Frozen Stars trait and stratagem combine to give a squad a much better chance of actually landing some real damage on Marine infantry of various flavours, and a good counter to other Biker armies. This applies pressure to allow the Spear units to wave in fully buffed as needed,

Finally, you have two deadly surprise units in the Yncarne and the Solitaire. The Solitaire I packed was one of my MVPs for the event, and with Cegorach’s Rose your opponents can really struggle to keep their characters alive. The Yncarne is just great – they’ll die hard if he ends up out of position, but this list has a lot going on that will make that hard to do. Of particular note, with Frozen Stars the smaller bike squad has a good chance of picking up a straggling Scout Squad, which can be helpful if the Yncarne needs an emergency eject.

This list is (obviously) great, and it’s nice to see some custom Craftworld traits other than Expert/Masterful/Concealment in use!

There was also an Ork list in the top 8, but it’s not particularly different from the Boyz- and Weirdboy-heavy lists that we’ve already seen in the meta.


Marines For the Time Being

That wraps up our nearly two-week look now at the 40k meta. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the process and our analysis through this point. It’s hard to argue that the meta is currently in a great place, with marines – and Iron Hands in particular – dominating the environment. We’ll take another look in late February/early March as Adepticon approaches and we’ve had a chance to see what the impacts of Ritual of the Damned and maybe The Greater Good have been. Until then, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or shoot us an email at