Welcome back, dear reader, to another State of the Meta analysis. December was a busy month for Warhammer 40,000! Psychic Awakening has already given us three supplements (with a fourth on the way), plus Chapter Approved 2019 and the new Sisters of Battle Codex released the week of Thanksgiving. It was a massive influx of new rules, immediately followed by… everyone taking time off to spend with their families and loved ones instead of playing at large events to give us data. Damn selfish of them, really. As a result, we’re only just now starting to see the new lists coming out of those books, as January’s events have brought us a slew of new armies and concepts, all aimed at taking down the Iron Hands bogeyman. We skipped our meta review in December because there wasn’t much to say; marines were still stiflingly dominant. But with an extra month of releases and time to plan, has anything changed?

 

Faction Breakdown

Boon analyzed a vast amount of information and look at the various faction win rates across major tournaments between November of 2019 and last week. The data set is from 31 qualifying events (7 Majors, 24 GTs) totaling nearly 6000 games played by 1220 competitors in the US, UK, and Australia. To start let’s examine the overall winners of the events we looked at. These resulting winners are as follows:

  • Adeptus Astartes: 12
  • Raven Guard: 4
  • Asuryani: 3 (Two wins for Colin Sherman)
  • Iron Hands: 3
  • Tau: 2
  • Forces of the Hive Mind: 1
  • Daemons: 1
  • Drukhari: 1
  • Chaos: 1
  • Imperium: 1
  • Necrons: 1
  • Harlequins: 1

Right off the bat it’s worth noting that new Space Marines account for 19 of the 31 (61%) victories. If we dial it back to the top 3 or 4 we see an even higher rate of top placement. Curiously, Asuryani have also performed very well (though two wins are by the same Colin Sherman). So let’s take a look at the win rates over the past few months and speculate wildly about what it could all mean! The table below summarizes the results, and the reader is invited to use the arrows on the top of each column to sort the information as needed.

FactionPlayersTotal WinsTotal GamesWin Percentage
Adeptus Astartes10330952159.31%
Adeptus Custodes19409243.48%
Adeptus Mechanicus359418052.22%
Aeldari6817233751.04%
Asuryani4512822457.14%
Blood Angels253811034.55%
Chaos11726757446.52%
Chaos Space Marines325915637.82%
Daemons316614645.21%
Dark Angels15267236.11%
Death Guard15297439.19%
Deathwatch351631.25%
Drukhari317915451.30%
Forces of the Hive Mind214410840.74%
Genestealer Cult12336055.00%
Grey Knights14266142.62%
Harlequins5132356.52%
Imperial Fists4311421154.03%
Imperial Guard4810221946.58%
Imperial Knights234510941.28%
Imperium9923049446.56%
Iron Hands8627542964.10%
Knight Renegades20419443.62%
Necrons368317048.82%
Orks489724240.08%
Raven Guard328215652.56%
Salamanders9163941.03%
Sisters of Battle15347247.22%
Space Wolves10195038.00%
Tau7616936746.05%
Thousand Sons883423.53%
Tyranids244411737.61%
Ultramarines399619648.98%
White Scars12265844.83%
Ynnari12366.67%

Unsurprisingly Iron Hands remain the top faction, with a win rate of 64% sustained over a very large sample size that includes players at all levels of skill. This result is separate from Adeptus Astartes, which refers to the collection of all forces which utilize multiple Chapters or the Chapter Successor rules. Fully 27% of the armies were entirely from the Space Marine codex and the respective Supplements, with a cumulative win rate of 57%. Several xenos factions also fare well including Ynnari (67% but only 3 games played), Asuryani (57%), Harlequins (57%), Genestealer Cults (55%), Drukhari (51%), and Aeldari (51%). Adeptus Mechanicus also had a strong showing with a 52% win percentage. All of the other factions had win rates below 50%, with the bottom factions generally being armies that either haven’t gotten any attention in Psychic Awakening yet (Deathwatch, Space Wolves, Thousand Sons, Dark Angels) or whose update may not have been fully realized (Tyranids, Blood Angels, Chaos Space Marines).

Looking at the win percentages by month shows clear improvement for the Astartes and Iron Hands in January, while White Scars have been in decline. Blood Angels as well, hinting at the notion that shooting-first strategies for marines are on the rise.

Boon: Unsurprisingly, Marines remain at the top of the pile – Adeptus Astartes generally holds a 59% win rate and Iron Hands still in their commanding (and unprecedented) 64% overall win rate. Meanwile, Imperial Fists and White Scars have fallen off a bit at 54% and 45% overall – down from ~56% rates in November to 51% in January for Fists and 53% to 35% for Scars, albeit at small sample sizes.  Salamanders have never quite taken off and Ultramarines have held pretty steady at ~49%. I think there’s a couple of things at play here with regard to the Fists/Scars:

  1. Imperial Fists and White Scars likely form a much better mixed Adeptus Astartes detachment as they can complement a more complete force vice a mono-faction marine army.
  2. There are likely better options for either selections in either Iron Hands/Successors or Raven Guard/Successors for what you want to realistically achieve.

Interestingly, in the month of January, Adeptus Astartes have pulled an astounding 69% win rate across 7 events through the 13th. It’s a 13-15% jump over prior months and is near pre-nerf Iron Hands levels. It’s difficult to explain, but I suspect it may be partially due to a migration of top players from other factions in advance of LVO. For instance, Tau players have seen a declining win percentage of 49% in November to 43% in January – this may be partially explained by post-Psychic Awakening/CA changes but can also in part be explained by the migration of its top players such as Richard Siegler and Richard Martin to Marine factions. This may be evidenced by the differential between average event placing and median event placing narrowing to nearly exactly even at 57.8% from a ~5-point gap in the months prior that saw the average placing percentile lower than the median (meaning a few very high scoring players dragged the average towards a better placing).

Finally, we must discuss the other major trend heading into LVO. The emergence of Asuryani as a top army again. While down so far in January at 48%, the overall faction performance from November through January is a startling 57% – a full 5% jump from the months prior. December saw Asuryani with a 60%-win rate, a historical high-water mark for pure Craftworld. This is difficult to explain but I do have a theory as to what is happening here:

  1. Psychic Awakening gave Asuryani specifically a boost (even if it gave next to nothing to Drukhari/Ynarri). Most significant is the flat upgrade to CHE with the Hawkeye trait and the Expert Crafters craftworld trait. Eldar are historically an army of small units and high powered weaponry with low numbers of shots – Expert Crafters is a trait that benefits that style immensely as it makes each high-value shot that much more devastating.
  2. Chapter Approved changes have lowered the points cost on some of the most significant units that might benefit from the Expert Crafters trait. Units that were already good in the army before PA and CA got even better (while the rest of the codex was left behind). Things like Reapers and especially Spears have also been appropriately recosted – recovering from their Ynnari nerfs – both big in Marine meta games.
  3. The emergence of the Space Marine meta has given a sort of hidden boost to Eldar. Historically, the army has always been a counter to Marines due to the anti-elite nature of Eldar weapons and their mobility. While Marines have become overpowering in the current meta, the result is that Eldar retain an edge over other armies when facing off against SM and thus gain a natural boost boost due to winning at higher rates compared to other factions against the most prominent faction in the meta. Note that I do need to examine this further in depth which will take some time, but it is the theory I’m going with for now.

I do take a moment to note that despite the high win rates, and except for Colin Sherman, Asuryani have not proven to place as highly as Marines generally – this may indicate a true gatekeeper status and I suspect it’s likely the result of a go-first and win type of dynamic at the top tables between Eldar lists and Space Marine lists. If true, in a game where marine lists outnumber Asuryani lists 5 or 6:1, attrition will result in fewer champions and top placings.

I will note that as of January, the meta currently sits at it’s most unbalanced position in some time, possibly all of 8th. Most factions are either sub 45% or over 55% in win rates with few falling close to the equilibrium at 50%

TheChirurgeon: This isn’t a huge shock to anyone who’s been following along with the top 4 lists on 40kstats; marines have always made up a disproportionate chunk of the meta and now that they’re also the strongest faction the net effect is oppressive. Despite nerfs in the FAQ back in October, Iron Hands are still incredibly dominant – 64% win percentage is incredibly good, and I’m sad to see that it has only been topped by Astartes soup lists that combine multiple marine chapters to produce even better results on a per-unit basis. Our long marine winter continues, and isn’t likely to let up as Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Grey Knights and soon, Space Wolves are added to the mix. What we can potentially hope for at this point is that Genestealer Cults and Tau get some solid new options with the next Psychic Awakening book that allows them to compete more readily, without needing to be piloted by the best players in the world.

“Primaris” Kevin: I’m not convinced that anything is going to change in the foreseeable future. GW’s release schedule is dictated by the rate at which they produce, print, and publish their physical books which means the content we’re seeing now is still likely from around the time the original Adeptus Astartes book was published. With several factions still awaiting some Psychic Awakening love (including two Space Marine chapters with Space Wolves and Deathwatch) I wouldn’t expect anything significant to occur before the April FAQ, and even then there’s no guarantee. Notably Genestealer Cults and Adeptus Mechanicus have managed to achieve good win rates under their current rules. If the trend from other Psychic Awakening books continues don’t be surprised if they become even more competitive.

 

Lists to Look Out For

As we mentioned above, the current meta is still in a state of relative flux, though it doesn’t appear that any of the developments from November or December have done much to dethrone marines – marines are still likely to represent at least half of the lists in the top 8 at any given event, and it’s not uncommon to see four marine lists in the top four, with Iron Hands, Imperial Fists, and Raven Guard (and their successors) being the most common chapters. Still, non-marine armies have seen some positive changes over the last two months as well, and players are adapting to the need to play at least one top marines list at every event.

Sisters of Battle

Battle Sisters

Battle Sisters. Credit: RichyP

Andrew Gonyo’s Sisters of Battle

Huzzah Hobbies Hammer in the New Year, 5-0

Valorous Heart Battalion

HQ: Canoness w/Blessed Blade
HQ: Celestine

Troops: Sisters x10 w/2x Storm Bolter
Troops: Sisters x10 w/2x Storm Bolter
Troops: Sisters x12 w/1x Storm Bolter

Elites: Imagifier w/Tale of the Warrior

FA: Seraphim x10 w/2x Inferno Pistols
FA: Seraphim x10 w/2x Inferno Pistols
FA: Seraphim x10 w/2x Inferno Pistols

Bloody Rose Vanguard Detachment

HQ: Missionary

Elites: Hospitaller
Elites: Hospitaller
Elites: Zephyrim x10 w/Power Swords

Iron Hands Successor Spearhead

Master Artisans, Warded

HQ: Chaplain Dread w/Twin Lascannon
HQ: Chaplain Dread w/Twin Lascannon

HS: Mortis Dread w/2x Twin Lascannon
HS: Thunderfire Cannon
HS: Thunderfire Cannon
HS: Thunderfire Cannon

 

TheChirurgeon: This isn’t too far off from the Storm Bolter-heavy lists we saw pre-Codex, which uses Blessed Bolts to fire off lots of AP-2 bolter shots. The big surprise here for me is the Zephyrim, which take advantage of the Bloody Rose Order trait and the Tear Them Down Stratagem to be able to take out targets in melee. The addition of Space Marines for Thunderfire Cannons to shore up the ranged damage issue is a nice touch.

Shane: The combination of mass extremely hard to kill sisters (that are getting back up), drop melta, and untargetable dreadnought lascannons in this list, is hilarious. It is able to push up for board control and deal with “hard targets” (vehicles, knights, etc) at range with impunity.

Wings: Valourous Heart bodies as board control proves to be as strong in practice as it looked on paper, which is great news as it should up the diversity of the armies we see on the table. I assume in relevant matchups the Imagifier swaps over to the Tale of the Stoic, and not having to pick until you deploy is one of the upsides there. I’m also pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong on Zephyrim – the force multiplication of the Bloody Rose trait and stratagem being enough to get a full unit over the line. Being able to use “wildcard” units to fill out detachments is another neat Sisters trick.

I’m less happy about seeing the Spearhead, which continues to demonstrate that the Chaplain and Mortis Dreads are metagame-warping menaces that should have gone to legends. Untargetable lascannon shots buffed by Master Artisans are not something you should be able to get more than a few of, and this list packs four times as many as you can manage without out-of-print Forge World nonsense. Without those around I think there would be a strong argument for a Spearhead of Exorcists here – with them available this kind of detachment is going to take over Imperium lists as fast as people can whip together conversions good enough to avoid being smashed by Salty John’s big hammer (which I assume is what happens to counts-as Chaplain Dreads).

TheChirurgeon: Good point, especially for events that aren’t as strict about conversions and counts-as as the LVO.

 

Adeptus Mechanicus

Credit: Pendulin

Rickard Nilsson’s Adeptus Mechanicus

Defcon, 4-1

Stygies VIII Battalion Detachment

HQ: Tech-Priest Dominus, Warlord: Prime Hermeticon
HQ: Tech-Priest Manipulus

Troops: Kataphron Breacher x12 w/Heavy Arc Rifle
Troops: Kataphron Breacher x12 w/Heavy Arc Rifle
Troops: Kataphron Breacher x6 w/Heavy Arc Rifle

FA: Sydonian Dragoons x6

DT: Skorpius Dunerider

INQ: Inquisitor Coteaz, Malleus: Power Through Knowledge

Stygies VIII Spearhead Detachment

HQ: Daedalosus

HS: Skorpius Disintegrator w/Belleros Energy Cannon
HS: Skorpius Disintegrator w/Belleros Energy Cannon
HS: Skorpius Disintegrator w/Belleros Energy Cannon

 

TheChirurgeon: We’ve covered the transport-heavy “Hillbilly Yacht Club” that Goonhammer’s own Cyle “Naramyth” Thompson runs a few times, and while this shares some elements of that (notably the Disintegrators and Coteaz) it’s much closer to the lists that we’ve seen terrorizing the UK metagame in the hands of Beth Taylor and a few others. If you missed Cyle’s list, he’s been talking about it in his Road to LVO updates.

Wings: This list is just an absolute wall of efficiently costed and hard-to-shift firepower. Breachers pack a lot of anti-tank shots, are also tough enough to weather a lot of popular anti-infantry options and are even pretty deadly in melee, certainly enough to take out any small units going for a bully charge. Being INFANTRY also gives them lots of upsides, and should make them pretty potent on the LVO terrain if anyone has decided to pack them.

 

Chaos

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Menelik Eriksson’s Possessed Bomb Chaos Army

Defcon, 5-1

Alpha Legion Supreme Command 

Specialist Detachment: Daemonkin Ritualists

HQ: Dark Apostle + 2x Disciples
HQ: Dark Apostle + 2x Disciples
HQ: Master of Possession
Elites: Possessed x19 w/Mark of Nurgle

Thousand Sons Supreme Command

HQ: Ahriman
HQ: Daemon Prince of Tzeentch w/Wings, Talons
HQ: Daemon Prince of Tzeentch w/Wings, Talons

Chaos Daemons Battalion

HQ: Poxbringer
HQ: Poxbringer
HQ: The Contorted Epitome, Warlord

Troops: Nurglings x3
Troops: Nurglings x3
Troops: Nurglings x3
Troops: Nurglings x3
Troops: Nurglings x3

 

TheChirurgeon: This is a different direction from where we saw Chaos going at the end of the year, and there are a few variations of this list. TJ Lannigan’s version runs Plagueburst Crawlers, and some variants use Word Bearers to make the Possessed into more glass cannons.

Shane: The jank of this list is awesome. The possessed bomb will be protected by forward deployed nurglings, which gives it time to move up and get swole from all the psychic powers. The contorted epitome is an interesting choice, if the bomb is able to walk from unit to unit via pile in/consolidate, the epitome will help prevent enemies from falling back (assuming they weren’t already wrapped).

TheChirurgeon: The one thing that gives me pause with a list like this is that you’re relying heavily on the possessed to make things work. I think I’m a bigger fan of the Crawler variant, where having those sit on objectives gives you more board control than Nurglings, and more resistance to Thunderfire Cannons. 

One thing this list does is protect its Possessed well – You can either use the Conceal stratagem to prevent the opponent from shooting at the Possessed unless their the closest unit, or another trick this list can pull off is to stack hit modifiers – You combine the Benediction of Darkness prayer with the Miasma of Pestilence psychic power and the Alpha Legion Trait and suddenly your possessed are -3 to hit with ranged weapons outside of 12”. This isn’t quite as devastating as it used to be, but it’s still very nasty, and can be a solid way to protect your horde if Conceal won’t do the trick.

Wings: I’d go the other way on this versus the crawler lists – what this brings to the table is a near complete denial of targets for any heavy firepower your opponent might have brought, whereas while PBCs are tough they’re not going to last that long if your opponent has lots of Master Artisan lascannons with nothing better to do. Given how easy it is to hide them, Nurglings do plenty of work in holding objectives since the majority of popular no-LOS shooting is D1, meaning they get their 5++/5+++ against it. Three Thunderfires don’t even wipe a single unit on average dice at that point.

The sheer amount of bullshit you can pull with the Possessed themselves really is something to behold, and this list is incredibly difficult to put together an effective counter for. Deep Striking melee options sound good on paper until you remember that Alpha Legion can also prevent them coming in within 12” with the Scrambled Coordinates stratagem, and the sheer brick wall of resilience that a buffed-up unit represents will give even stuff like Shining Spears or GSC Acolytes pause, and comfortably butcher a lot of stuff on the fight back if you come at them and metaphorically miss. I do have a plan in my head for how I try and take this army down if I run up against it, but I’m definitely expecting it to be one of the toughest games out there.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Tomas Christensson’s Chaos Space Marines

Defcon, 5-1

Night Lords Battalion

Specialist Detachment: Host Raptorial

HQ: Chaos Lord w/Jump Pack, 2x Claws, MoK, Warlord
HQ: Chaos Lord w/Jump Pack, Combi-Bolter, MoK, Thunder Hammer

Troops: Cultists x10 w/Autogun, MoK
Troops: Cultists x10 w/Autogun, MoK
Troops: Cultists x10 w/Autogun, MoK

FA: Warp Talons x10
FA: Warp Talons x10

Night Lords Battalion

HQ: Chaos Lord w/Jump Pack, Combi-bolter, MoN
HQ: Sorcerer w/Jump Pack, Combi Bolter, MoT

Troops: CSMs x5 w/Bolter, MoK
Troops: CSMs x5 w/Bolter, MoK
Troops: CSMs x5 w/Bolter, MoK

Iron Warriors Spearhead

HQ: Daemon Prince w/Wings, Malefic Talon, Warp Bolter, MoS

HS: Hellforged Scorpius w/MoS
HS: Hellforged Scorpius w/MoS
HS: 3x Obliterators w/MoS

 

TheChirurgeon: This is more in-line with what I expected after Faith and Fury. I’ve tested the Warp Talons on my own before, and I know how nasty they can be in a Host Raptorial, so it’s cool to see them in a competitive list doing well. Here the Iron Warriors half of the list takes care of long-range shooting and vehicle targets, while the cultists and Chaos Marines sit on objectives and the Lords, Sorcerer, and Warp Talons act as the forward melee component, wrapping up key targets and using Vox Scream to shut off any auras that might cause trouble. Though I’m not sure how this list really deals with marines — the Warp Talons are great, but against Infiltrators you’re still dropping 12″ away (while a 3D6+2″ charge does stand a good chance of getting there before re-rolls, you can’t charge anything outside 12″ so you’re going to be SOL there), and while they throw out a lot of attacks, they’re still only 1 damage each.

Wings: We’ve looked at one of Tomas’ lists before in our Alliance write-up, and while I’m sad to see him abandoning the Craftworlds I’m very happy to see him proving the naysayers wrong about multiple things from Faith and Fury. Every time we say something positive about new tricks to a currently low-powered faction in a review we get a chorus of voices insisting that it won’t be enough to get them into tournament lists, and Iron Warriors were no exception, yet here they are!

The buffs that you can stack onto the Obliterators in particular are utterly horrendous, and they’re a nice counter to some of the Marine lists that skimp on the space control of scouts and infiltrators in favour or more threats. If the Obliterators can drop in within range of multiple juicy targets there’s a good chance they pick two or three up in a single shooting phase, and potentially neutering a lot of the enemy’s ability to take them out, especially if they’ve managed to drop in cover for an effectively 0+ save when they activate Dour Duty. 

 

Tyrands/Genestealer Cults

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Karl Abrahamsson’s Forces of the Hive Mind List

Defcon, 5-1

Hive Fleet Kraken Battalion

HQ: Broodlord, The Horror
HQ: The Swarmlord, Catalyst, Onslaught

Troops: Genestealers x18 w/claws
Troops: Genestealers x18 w/claws
Troops: Ripper Swarms x3

Pauper Princes Battalion

Specialist Detachment: Deliverance Broodsurge

HQ: Acolyte Iconward, Field Commander: Augur of the Insurgent
HQ: Broodcoven Primus, Reqliuary of Saint Tenndarc, Trait: Alien Majesty (Broodcoven)

Troops: Acolyte Hybrids, x20 w/2x Heavy Rock Saw
Troops: Acolyte Hybrids x20 w/Hand Flamers
Troops: Acolyte Hybrids x20
Troops: Acolyte Hybrids x20

Elites: Clamavus
Elites: Nexos

GSC Battalion

HQ: Magus, Might From Beyond, Trait: Inscrutable Cunning (Broodcoven)
HQ: Patriarch, Mass Hypnosis, Might From Beyond, Psychic Stimulus, Warlord: Beloved Grandsire

Brood Brothers Infantry x10
Brood Brothers Infantry x10
Brood Brothers Infantry x10

 

TheChirurgeon: A relatively standard Hive Mind list. It seems as though we’re still waiting for Blood of Baal to give us any real changes on the Tyranid front, and we may just be waiting forever, unless a future Psychic Awakening book gives us Genestealer Cult rules that somehow make the new Tyranids stuff more attractive.

Wings: I don’t think that’s quite fair, this is actually an important evolution compared to lists we’ve seen before, although it’s true that Blood of Baal hasn’t really affected it much. With the point hikes to several of the key GSC units in Chapter Approved, what Karl has done here is just go absolutely all-in on flooding the board with dangerous melee infantry. That could prove to be a pretty good call – the metagame has currently shifted away from horde lists, and plenty of people aren’t packing enough guns to chew through 150 models, especially not when the Swarmlord is going to have the first wave up in the opponent’s face right out of the gate. It also makes good use of the force multiplication of the Pauper Prince re-rolls, as it’s relying on sheer weight of rending claw attacks to get the job done rather than rocksaws most of the time.

When your faction is in a rough place, skewing to beat the metagame is a good way to answer it, and clearly this worked out pretty well here. The flipside of that is that there are some armies this just completely folds to – Iron Hands planes spring to mind (though at least – while still popular – they’re no longer the dominant Marine build).

“Primaris” Kevin: It’s unfortunate that Tyranids have largely been relegated to a supporting role, but given the efficacy of Genestealer Cultists it’s not surprising. The last time a pure Tyranid list placed in the Top 4 was back in November was Keith Martinez’s list at the Fresno Smackdown. The new Stratagems and Warlord trait replacements from Blood of Baal look promising, but I suspect that Tyranids need a lot more if they’re going to be viable.

 

Adeptus Custodes

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Ryan Snyder’s Adeptus Custodes

Glass City Gt, 5-0

Custodes Spearhead

HQ: Shield Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike

Flyer: Ares Gunship w/2 Arachnus Heavy blaze cannons, Magna blaze cannon

HS: Caladius Grav Tank w/twin heavy Arachnus blaze cannon, twin lastrum bolt cannon
HS: Caladius Grav Tank w/twin heavy Arachnus blaze cannon, twin lastrum bolt cannon
HS: Caladius Grav Tank w/twin heavy Arachnus blaze cannon, twin lastrum bolt cannon

Elites: Contemptor Achillus Dreadnought w/Spear, 2x Lastrum Storm Bolters
Elites: Contemptor Achillus Dreadnought w/Spear, Lastrum Storm Bolter, Twin Adrathic Destructor

Custodes Outrider

HQ: Shield Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike

FA: Pallas Grav-Attack w/Twin Arachnus
FA: Pallas Grav-Attack w/Twin Arachnus
FA: Pallas Grav-Attack w/Twin Arachnus

 

Shane: This list is LETHAL. It has a ton of quality fire that can alternate to a decent amount of anti horde shooting. Because of its focus on Custodes vehicles, it is very mobile and semi durable. With a low model count it should play fairly quickly much like knights. The only drawback I see here is that there is no indirect fire, so as long as this list can leverage its mobility for LoS it should be doing well, otherwise it could struggle.

TheChirurgeon: Shane, didn’t you play against this list at Goldensprue? I feel like this list relies very heavily on having the first turn.

Shane: I did have the pleasure to play Ryan at Goldensprue, and this list certainly does well with first turn as long as it can get LoS to targets. The heavy vehicle list makes it nigh impossible to hide everything if it goes second. It is more durable with 5++ all around, but still is vulnerable to other alpha strike lists.

Wings: I’ve played against some of this stuff and it’s definitely no joke. In a metagame where a lot of the common heavier choices aren’t packing invulns the Blaze weaponry is exceptionally good, and flexible enough to adapt to lots of targets.

 

Necrons

Credit: Merton

Steven Christopher’s Necrons

Hammer in the New Year, 4-1

Sautekh Battalion

HQ: Cryptek
HQ: Imotekh

Troops: Immortals x9 w/Tesla
Troops: Immortals x7 w/Tesla
Troops: Immortals x7 w/Tesla

Elites: C’Tan Shard of the Deceiver
Elites: Triarch Stalker w/Twin Heavy Gauss Cannon

FA: Destroyers x3, Heavy Destroyer

HS: Tesseract Ark
HS: Tesseract Ark

Sautekh Spearhead

HQ: Lord w/Hyperphase Sword

HS: Doomsday Ark
HS: Doomsday Ark
HS: Doomsday Ark

 

TheChirurgeon: The big changes here are that there are more stuff, and now Heavy Destroyers are making the cut, which is a direct result of their points drop. 

Wings: The Deceiver and Heavy Destroyers were obvious big winners out of Chapter Approved, and it’s nice to see that they’re good enough to even make it into more “conventional” Necron lists rather than ones specifically built for them.

Shane: I see Stephen in events out here on the east coast and pinged him for some insight. The Tesseract Arks generally are his MVP unit, simply because of how durable and disruptive they are. The Ark is capable of denying charges fairly easily which adds to its disruption. Also his list has sources of rerolls which add to the efficiency and with the points cuts keeps adding more efficiency.

 

Orks

Credit: Greg “Greggles” Hess

Richard Kilton’s Orks

Rudder GT, 4-1

Evil Sunz Battalion

HQ: Big Mek (Index) w/Choppa, KFF
HQ: Warboss w/Attack Squig, Power Klaw, Shoota, Warlord: Brutal But Kunnin’
HQ: Warboss on Warbike (Index) w/Attack Squig, Power Klaw

Troops: Boys x30 w/Slugga + Choppa, 3x Tankbusta bombs, Boss Nob w/Power Klaw
Troops: Boys x30 w/Slugga + Choppa, 3x Tankbusta bombs, Boss Nob w/Power Klaw
Troops: Gretchin x15

Elites: Nob w/Waaagh! Banner, Kustom Shoota

FA: Stormboyz x24, Boss Nob w/Big Choppa, Slugga

Deathskulls Battalion

HQ: Big Mek w/Shokk Attack Gun, Grot Oiler
HQ: Big Mek w/Shokk Attack Gun, Grot Oiler
HQ: Big Mek w/Shokk Attack Gun, Grot Oiler

Troops: Gretchin x10
Troops: Gretchin x10
Troops: Gretchin x10

Elites: Mad Dok Grotsnik

Bad Moons Battalion

HQ: Weirdboy
HQ: Weirdboy
HQ: Weirdboy

Troops: Gretchin x10
Troops: Gretchin x10
Troops: Gretchin x10

HS: Lootas x15

TheChirurgeon: Our initial pass excluded Orks, because not a lot has changed for them and they’ve taken a slight hit as the Index Big Mek was phased out with the release of Legends. Richard’s list is one of two successful varieties in December, packing in lots of Stormboyz to support Da Jump-ing Boyz and going heavy on the melee aspects of what Orks can do. The other variety, which Bobby Kingsada took to a 4-1 3rd-place finish at the Merry Slaaneshmas GT in December, trades out the Stormboyz, a Shokk Attack Gun, and a Weirdboy for another full squad of Boyz and 12 Smasha Guns, giving it more long-range anti-vehicle firepower.

 

Blood Angels

Blood Angels Captain with Thunder Hammer

Blood Angels Captain with Thunder Hammer. Credit: Jack Hunter

Devin Swan’s Blood Angels/Astartes

Critical Hit, 4-0-1 (1st)

Blood Angels Battalion

HQ: Captain w/ Jump Pack, Storm shield, Thunder hammer
HQ: Captain w/ Jump Pack, Storm shield, Thunder hammer

Troops: Scouts x5 w/Combat Knife
Troops: Scouts x5 w/Combat Knife
Troops: Scouts x5 w/Combat Knife

Blood Angels Battalion

HQ: Astorath w/Invocation of Destruction, Litanies of Hate
HQ: Captain w/Jump Pack, Storm Shield, Thunder Hammer
HQ: Chief Librarian Mephiston

Troops: Scouts x5 w/Bolter
Troops: Scouts x5 w/Bolter
Troops: Tactical Squad x5 w/Bolter

Elites: Death Company x14 w/Jump Pack, bolter + chainsword

Imperial Fists Spearhead

HQ: Librarian w/ Boltgun, Force sword, Jump Pack
HQ: Primaris Captain w/ Master-crafted stalker bolt rifle, Power sword

HS: Thunderfire Cannon
HS: Thunderfire Cannon
HS: Thunderfire Cannon
HS: Whirlwind
HS: Whirlwind
HS: Whirlwind

 

TheChirurgeon: Thanks, I hate it. I was hoping to see Sanguinary Guard in the lone successful Blood Angels list from our sample, but it’s hard to argue that just playing herohammer around some standard Death Company with Imperial Fist artillery backing you up isn’t a more effective solution. The amount of damage this list can put out without line of sight is silly, and anything the artillery can’t handle, the Smash Captains will take care of.

Wings: I literally burst into hysterical laughter on reading this list.

Y I K E S.

Shane: <insert Perfection meme here>

 

 

Asuryani (Eldar)

Falcon Grav Tank

Falcon Grav Tank. Credit: Wings

Ben Cherwien’s Asuryani

LVO 2020

Alaitoc Air Wing Detachment

Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch w/2x Starcannons, Power: Hawkeye
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch w/2x Starcannons, Power: Hawkeye
Flyer: Crimson Hunter Exarch w/2x Starcannons, Power: Hawkeye

Kabal of the Black Heart Air Wing Detachment

Flyer: Razorwing Jetfighter w/2x Disintegrator Cannons
Flyer: Razorwing Jetfighter w/2x Disintegrator Cannons
Flyer: Razorwing Jetfighter w/2x Disintegrator Cannons

Craftworlds (Custom) Spearhead Detachment
Expert Crafters, Masterful Shots

HQ: Farseer Skyrunner w/Singing Spear, The Phoenix Gem, Doom, Executioner, Fate’s Messenger, Warlord
HQ: Warlock Skyrunner w/Witchblade

HS: Falcon w/Starcannon
HS: Falcon w/Starcannon
HS: Night Spinner
HS: Night Spinner
HS: Night Spinner

DT: Wave Serpent w/Twin Scatter Laser
DT: Wave Serpent w/Twin Scatter Laser

TheChirurgeon: Eldar flyers are back, baby! Coming out of Phoenix Rising, it was clear that Hawkeye was going to be everywhere, but with marines suddenly dominant, it wasn’t clear how Eldar would be able to keep up. One potential answer appears to be “even more flyers,” and with the drop in cost for the Falcon and Night Spinner in Chapter Approved 2019, they’ve suddenly become much more palatable, especially when combined with the Expert Crafters and Masterful Shots custom Craftworld traits, which make them much more deadly. Wings didn’t think much of Masterful Shots when the book was first released, but in a meta awash with Raven Guard and Stealthy Astartes Successors, it suddenly has much more value.

Boon:A relatively fresh take on the current Eldar flyer spam lists. He has the core Aliatoc CHE’s with the Hawkeye Exarch power (lol, GW) as well as the Black Heart triple Razorwing. This gives him a significant amount of anti-flyer and anti-elite capabilities as well as a good punch against standard infantry with the splinter shots, but moreover he retains a Vect for those emergency situations that can swing the game. Notably he has retained Aliatoc versus the newer traits which may better guarantee 100% of his shots hit/wound/ignore cover – I like this for reason’s I’ll discuss momentarily. What’s far more interesting is his core boots on the ground component. He’s running a Spearhead of Farseer and Warlock Skyrunner with seven tough tanks capable of dishing out an incredible and understated amount of damage with their Expert Crafters and Masterful Shots traits. The Wave Serpents add some objective grabbing durability. With the Aliatoc component of the flyers, the net result is a list that is deceptively tough, fast, and flexible army which can zone out deep strikers and cannot be locked in combat except for some specialist abilities. Moreover, it’s damage output will catch people by surprise. Consider Ben and his list a top competitor in this year’s LVO if you hadn’t already.

 

Drukhari (Dark Eldar)

Credit: Corrode

Ridvan Martinez’s Dark Eldar

Critical Hit GT, 4-0-1 (2nd)

Kabal of the Black Heart Battalion

HQ: Archon w/ VB, Warlord
HQ: Archon w/ Husk, blast Pistol

Troops: 5 Kabalites w/ blaster
Troops: 5 Kabalites w/ blaster
Troops: 5 Kabalites w/ blaster

DT: Venom
DT: Venom
DT: Venom
DT: Venom
DT: Venom
DT: Venom

Flyer: Void Raven
Flyer: Void Raven

Custom Wych Cult Battalion
Test of Skill / Berzerk Fugue

HQ: Succubus net/imp
HQ: Drazhar

Troops: 5 wyches w/ net, blast pistol
Troops: 5 wyches w/ hydra gauntlet, blast pistol
Troops: 5 wyches w/ hydra gauntlet, blast pistol

Flyer: Razorwing w/2 disintegrator cannon, TL Rifle
Flyer: Razorwing w/2 disintegrator cannon, TL Rifle

Prophets of Flesh Vanguard

HQ: Haemonculus w/Hex Rifle, Relic: Vexator Mask

Troops: Wracks x10 w/Ossefactor

Elites: Mandrakes x5
Elites: Mandrakes x5
Elites: Mandrakes x5

 

TheChirurgeon: This is the first successful list I’ve seen that uses the custom Obsession rules from Psychic Awakening, which is neat to see.

Corrode: Rather than doing the hard work of list analysis myself, I figured I’d reach out to Skari and see what he had to say about the army. Skari is well known in the community for being friendly and accessible and of course he obliged. The below is mostly his response, with light editing on my part for clarity:

“The list was mainly designed to be able to hide against a turn one alpha with minimal terrain. The Wyches are there to tie units up in close combat, and the Prophets of the Flesh detachment is there simply to give him a tough Troops choice that can be recycled with Black Cornucopians, and to access the extra command points from the Diabolical Soothsayer warlord trait as well as the Vexator Mask relic (Corrode: Ignores overwatch, makes a unit within 6” fight last). Drukhari have been out for a while so it’s hard to surprise anyone with obscure choices. The Vexator Mask is the go to relic, Labyrinthine Cunning is the main warlord trait , and then with Alliance of Agony, the Haemonculus gets the Soothsayer trait for extra cp (and a handy re roll). The Succcubus warlord trait would normally be 6+ to wound in the Fight phase causes a mortal wound, this is probably the most interesting as it combines with “Test of Skill” so against big monsters and vehicles she does mortals on 5+.

The list is designed to be balanced enough to tackle every matchup, from Centurion spam to Possessed bomb (both of those I have played and won). I was surprised at how well it did against Jim Vesal and his Possessed bomb! Having a lot of the army strength diversified all over the units in the army really helped!”

He considers that this list, for now, is a well oiled machine, and that each point and upgrade has a purpose. Once the meta shifts again he will be looking at tweaking it but for now, this is his competitive ITC list. Thanks again to Skari for talking us through the army, and if you’d like to hear more from him, check out his Twitter (https://twitter.com/Skari2) or consider supporting him on Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/skaredcast).

 

The Marine Lists

Imperial Fist Stormtalon Gunships

Imperial Fist Stormtalon Gunships. Credit: Jack Hunter

Marine lists haven’t changed much. They still come in four basic flavors:

  • Flyers
  • Centurions
  • Invictors
  • Brigades

Where the Chapters used will vary a little bit depending on play style and preference. For Completeness’ sake, I am including some new flavors here, though they’ve been well documented. Invictor-heavy lists tend to run as Raven Guard, for maximum redeployment shenanigans, while Brigades can run anything from the Marines armory but are notable in that they have to find ways to fill out the Fast Attack slots, which usually means either Suppressors or Attack Bikes, depending on which chapter they’re running 

Flyers: Markus Hinson’s Imperial Fists

Caledonian Uprising, 4-1-0 (4th)

Imperial Fists Battalion 

HQ: Chapter Master on Bike w/Storm Shield, Power Fist, Relic: Eye of Hypnoth, Hero of The Chapter: Hand of Dorn
HQ: Captain in Phobos Armour w/Master-crafted Instigator Bolt Carbine, Camo Cloak, Warlord: Fleetmaster
HQ: Captain in Phobos Armour w/Master-crafted Instigator Bolt Carbine, Camo Cloak

Troops: Scouts x5 w/Bolters
Troops: Scouts x5 w/Bolters
Troops: Scouts x5 w/Bolters

FA: Suppressors x3

HS: Eliminators x3
HS: Eliminators x3
HS: Eliminators x3

Imperial Fists Spearhead

HQ: Lieutenant w/Storm Bolter
HQ: Techmarine

HS: Thunderfire Cannon
HS: Thunderfire Cannon
HS: Thunderfire Cannon

Imperial Fists Air Wing

Flyer: Stormtalon Gunship
Flyer: Stormtalon Gunship
Flyer: Stormtalon Gunship
Flyer: Stormhawk Interceptor
Flyer: Stormhawk Interceptor

Primaris Eliminator

Primaris Eliminator. Credit: Eifert Posting

Centurions: Alexander Fennell’s Raptors (Adeptus Astartes)

Goldensprue Cup GT, 5-0

Raven Guard Successor Battalion

Long-Range Marksmen, Master Artisans

HQ: Captain w/ Jump Pack, Storm shield, Thunder hammer
HQ: Lias Issodon

Troops: Incursor Squad x5
Troops: Incursor Squad x5
Troops: Infiltrator Squad x5

Elites: Centurion Assault Squad x4
Elites: Centurion Assault Squad x5

Raven Guard Successor Battalion

Long-Range Marksmen, Master Artisans

HQ: Chaplain w/ Litany of Faith, Boltgun, Jump Pack, Litany of Hate, Warlord
HQ: Primaris Lieutenant w/ Master-crafted auto bolt rifle

Troops: Scouts x10 w/Sniper Rifle
Troops: Scouts x10 w/Sniper Rifle
Troops: Scouts x10 w/Sniper Rifle

HS: Centurion Devastator Squad x5
HS: Thunderfire Cannon

 

More to Come

At the time of this writing, we’re already looking at another Psychic Awakening release that looks to shake things up significantly. All three of Dark Angels, Grey Knights, and Thousand Sons got significant improvements, and we think that all three now meet minimum levels of viability in the current meta, though none are likely to be as oppressive as the current top Space Marine lists. Still, having more competitive armies will help diversify the field, particularly if Grey Knights or Thousand Sons proves to be adept at taking on marine lists. As always, if you have any questions or feedback on our analysis, feel free to shoot us a note in the comments below, or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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