The August Competitive 40k Round-up

9th edition dropped at the end of July and changed the entire landscape of Warhammer 40,000. Since then we’ve seen some competitive play resume as some states and countries have lifted lockdown measures and limited events have been run in that time, with most putting responsible social distancing measures in place for player safety. While there’s still a lot to learn about the state of the game, this first month has been incredibly informative, giving us a look at the armies and strategies that are dominating early on.

In today’s round-up, we’ll talk about some of the things we learned from our first month of competitive play in 9th edition. Additionally, if you missed any of our articles on the topic, you can check them out here.

Custodes, Death Guard, and… Salamanders? are emerging as dominant forces.

In his Competitive Innovations in 9th series, James “One_Wing” Grover has been taking a weekly look at notable lists from the prior weekend’s events and talking about why they work.

Generally speaking, we all expected Custodes, Marines, and Death Guard to do well in the new edition. In a mission pack that rewards being able to sit on an objective, these factions offer incredible resilience and in the case of Marines and Death Guard, the ability to hold objectives from deployment thanks to units like Infiltrators and Nurglings. What we didn’t see coming was that the flavor of Marines that would be most dominant early on would be Salamanders (though Iron Hands are also still very good) – now armed with a way to put Aggressors in reserves and have them pop out mid-table, plus the addition of Eradicators and some very good stratagems, Salamanders and their Long-Range Marksmen Successors have been tearing it up.

It’s also likely that Orks and Chaos Knights are a bit better than originally thought; both factions have posted decent win rates so far and it’ll be worth seeing if their tricks and strategies stand up to broader competition as we collect more data.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The advantage of going first may be a bit too good.

One of our major concerns coming into 9th edition was the perceived advantage of going first in the new missions – having the first ability to act, score, and interfere with an opponent’s scoring seems like a huge advantage for primary objective scoring, particularly with the game moving to five turns. In order to assess whether this was the case, we’ve been collecting data from events around the world on first turn and its effect on win rates. Last week we published our findings and this week we talked about those findings and our impressions of the meta.


Some TOs are rising to the challenge of running safe events.

It’s a tough time. Although there’s a new edition out, COVID-19 cases are still rampant in many states in the US, making it difficult to run events responsibly. Still, there have been events where proper precautions are put in place, and the net result is a compelling model for how to run events that put an emphasis on player safety. We looked at two such events this past month – The Vanguard Tactics GT in the UK, and the Tokyo Tactical Reborn RTT in Tokyo.


The new FAQs fixed a lot of 9th edition’s most glaring issues.

When we first read the 9th edition core rulebook, we were excited for the new edition, but there were several things that concerned us about the rules, which were tight but could stand clarification in places. Around the middle of the month Games Workshop dropped a new FAQ that fixed most of these issues, resolved some wording problems with terrain and FLY, and generally put the entire edition on solid ground. We’ll admit that it was dicey there for a couple of days while we had some dodgy character targeting rules for Look Out, Sir, but those were fixed two days later with a quick patch on the FAQs.


Games Workshop finally updates power levels.

After promising to pay more attention to unit power ratings for some time, GW finally made good on that promise by releasing an updated list of power ratings for every unit in the game. Power ratings have major implications for competitive play in 9th edition – they affect the amount of CP you pay for Strategic Reserves and come into play with a number of rules, such as Denizens of the Warp. In our review, we looked at units whose power levels changed in a way that would push them over certain thresholds for these purposes, i.e. units whose power rating crossed from 9 to 10, 19 to 20, or from 6 to 7, and vice versa.


What’s Next: More Competitive Coverage

There’s still a ton up in the air for 9th edition and as we move into September, I expect we’ll see some leveling out as players adjust to the edition and its missions. It will be interesting to see how things play out before new Space Marines and Necrons codexes blow it all up in October. Over the next month, we’ll continue our coverage of winning lists and talking about their implications on the format and any new rules and stats changes where they happen, so check back every week for more. And as always, if you have any questions, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at