The Pre-Dataslate State of the 40k Meta (January, 2024)

The Las Vegas Open is finally behind us and that means it’s time to look ahead to the Q1 2024 Dataslate for Warhammer 40k. We know from various announcements and hints dropped by Games Workshop that it’s happening this week so before all of the new changes release we could start from a pretty solid understanding of where the meta currently sits, who’s on top, and what stands to change.

The Current Meta

By most accounts, the meta is in a pretty good place. While there are clearly three stand-out factions at the top, the gap between them and the next set of A-tier factions is pretty small, and there’s a wide range of armies we’d consider playable. Since December every army except Daemons has put up at least one undefeated run at a GT-sized event or bigger, and the vast majority of the game’s armies sit in that 45-55% true win band, with only Drukhari dropping below 40% at events. 

We can further verify this by looking at our own metric for faction strength, TiWP ratio. TiWP, or Tournaments in Winning Position, measures the number of times a player at a GT-sized event or larger started 4-0 or better (or in other words, were in a position to win the event). In an ideal world, each faction’s share of TiWPs would be roughly the same as their percentage of the field. That is, if Space Marine armies made up half of all armies at tournaments, we’d expect half of the players in a position to win those events to be space marine players, and probably expect half the events to be won by marines. If marines overperformed this expectation we might say they’re too powerful. If they underperformed, too weak.

So What does TiWP tell us? Well for starters, it tells us that since December 1st, Chaos Space Marines, Leagues of Votann, Adepta Sororitas, Aeldari, and Necrons are the top dogs in the meta, each outperforming  expectations. None of these is more than double their expectation (we’ve seen TiWP Ratios go well above 3 and 4 in the most degenerate of times), and most of the game’s factions are above 0.75 – pretty healthy. CSM clearly need an adjustment, especially as they’re 7% of the field, but Necrons are rapidly creeping up in the mix as well, particularly with wins at the UTC Finals, LVO, Torino Open, and the Nottingham Super Major (and considering that their new book was not in play for some of December’s biggest events)..

So that leaves us with a meta where almost any faction can compete on a game-to-game basis, but we have a few factions at the top which are clearly a cut above, and a very large middle band of solid armies which may break out occasionally but will otherwise struggle against superior opponents.

On the whole we’ve been trending steadily toward a much narrower band of competitive play between factions since the start of 10th edition, with each dataslate update bringing us closer to a more even playing field. Stat-Check has a wonderful visualization to show this – check out and head over to the Faction Win Rates Trend tab to check it out for yourself. 

Curie: Jeremy aka Curie from Stat Check here – the above chart shows a 4-week rolling average for win rates for each faction. It has been created using very similar data to the set presented in the summary table, and turned into a lovely visualization by “Custode” Cliff. As previously mentioned, the meta since the last dataslate in September has converged into a much nicer group of fairly balanced armies than the initial launch of the edition. There remain some outliers – most notably Imperial Knights / Drukhari at the bottom of the meta, and Aeldari / Chaos Space Marines at the top of the meta – but it’s felt like a much more fun game to play since the previous balance dataslate. Nearly every army has had at least one GT win, and we’re seeing some very good diversity in the top 4’s.

Of note here are Necrons – they have only seen six weekends with event play and already their 4-week average is at 59%. I expect this to continue to rise, especially if they see no adjustments in this week’s expected dataslate.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Faction Tier List

With all that in mind, let’s build a faction Tier List for the final days before the new dataslate. While the Tiers themselves are in order, we won’t be making as much an effort to order things within each tier, so there may be some margin of error in terms of rankings within said tiers.

S Tier

At the current moment, we wouldn’t say there are any truly S-Tier factions. Nobody is consistently dominating the scene with a 60%+ Win Rate or a TiWP Ratio of 3+. There are some clear power armies, but the gaps between them and the next tier are much smaller.

A+ Tier

These are the factions which consistently sit at the top of the meta and win events. Other armies may be good, but these are the consensus stand-out best armies in the field, and the favorites to win any given event.

  • Chaos Space Marines
  • Necrons
  • Aeldari

Chaos Space Marines were clearly the game’s top faction coming out of the World Championships on the back of some truly nasty lists running Chosen and Accursed Cultists. They’re still a major contender and show up in a lot of top 4s. Aeldari have been nerfed several times here – probably more than any faction in the game – but are still going strong on the back of some incredible datasheets and the ability to just remove variance from the game when they need it. Necrons are a recent entrant to the top tier, but it’s pretty clear from the last three weeks that even with nerfs from the FAQ they’re a dominant force, winning LVO, the Nottingham Super Major, and a host of GTs, with quite a broad mix of strategies to boot. If Eldar and Chaos Space Marines get hit with big nerfs, Necrons will easily take over as the top faction.


These are solid factions which can regularly sniff the top four and put up wins at 5+ round events. With a skilled player they’ll win often, but their key flaw is that they often struggle too much with lists from one or more of the top three factions, meaning that whether they can take a trophy can be heavily influenced by which of the top factions they end up facing in the finale.

  • Adepta Sororitas
  • World Eaters
  • Black Templars
  • Leagues of Votann
  • Orks

The Adepta Sororitas may be the most surprising faction here, as they’re in the middle of a stellar run over the past three months, kicked off with a win at GW’s Tampa event. The driving force here is the mix of extremely efficient initial pressure/tarpitting from Arco-flagellants combined with the Aeldari-style variance reduction of parking tanks next to the Triumph. 

Also in the A-Tier are World Eaters, who might be the most “solved” a faction has ever been, with an exact 1975pts netlist showing up again and again. You see occasional variations, but there’s limited wiggle room in the small range, and the top build is extremely good, putting opponents under immense early pressure with the first turn, and having the flexibility to stage for a mid-game rush without it. Black Templars also top the list for loyal Space Marine factions here off the back of both the best range of unique Marine units (the Epic Heroes, both flavours of Crusader and Sword Brethren are all fantastic), one of the best Marine detachments (the only non-Codex one that sees regular X-1s) and bonus multi-meltas. Meanwhile, Leagues of Votann have had a resurgence since the last dataslate, leaning on the power of Sagitaurs (possibly the most efficient vehicle in the game), Hearthguard, and Thunderkyn to overwhelm opponents. They haven’t consistently troubled the genuine top armies in the game but they have so many units and such potent shooting that they can breeze an awful lot of match ups thanks to the changes to their detachment ability Ruthless Efficiency in the September dataslate.

Orks are the faction on the line here: They’ve put up four event wins since December 1st, and in the hands of skilled players can absolutely compete with top factions, but probably have more definitively bad matchups with other armies in this tier than you’d like. Squighogs, Nobz and Trukks really carry the faction, with the one big Badrukk/Flash Gitz brick often popping up to add some firepower.


These factions can compete, but lack the tools of the A-Tier and above factions when it comes to scoring, killing enemy units, or both. Or they may just have too many negative matchups against better armies to win events with a ton of consistency. They’re still playable, but will see less play from top players. They’re going to show up often in top 4s.

  • Chaos Knights
  • Grey Knights
  • Death Guard
  • Space Marines*
  • T’au Empire
  • Tyranids
  • Thousand Sons
  • Astra Militarum
  • Genestealer Cults

The B tier is the largest of our groups – and that’s a good thing. A few factions here, such as Chaos Knights and Death Guard, can often play at being in the A-Tier in the hands of good players but just haven’t put up the consistent results you’d need to see to push them higher. Space Marines are in the middle here, but they have an asterisk, in large part because their performance with the Ultramarines Vanguard detachment is good enough to be considered an A-Tier army, while the rest of the army’s options are B-Tier or below.

Astra Militarum also squeak in here on the back of some big recent performances which have shown them able to compete at higher levels, though there are still some matchups where they just crumble.

The bottom end of this group are Genestealer Cults, who are good enough that you’ll see good players pick them, but which haven’t put up any meaningful results since the start of December (though they had two strong finishes at the end of November). T’au Empire settled down here after a strong start post-slate, with the predictability of their shooting patterns and the ease enemy armies have in taking Homers and Bring it Down against them countering their undoubted width of assets on the board.The Tyranids book is an interesting fit here: it has a real range of possible builds with genuine flavour inside it but every single one of them has at least some hard counters at the top. Is that the benchmark codices should be aiming for, or do players want more raw power at release than that? Is it nobler to be the ‘Cron, or the Bug? Discuss…


These factions are just not powerful enough to consistently compete. They struggle when it comes to scoring, lack the kind of powerful units needed to build an army around, and have few positive match-ups. They can win games, but not events.

  • Adeptus Mechanicus
  • Imperial Knights
  • Adeptus Custodes

The Adeptus Mechanicus can make a case here for being the bottom of B-tier, with players of the faction having put up some results since December 1st. But in a similar fashion to Astra Militarum, Admech are also deeply flawed and just crumble in some matchups with their competitive lists when they get run over. Knights and Custodes are two factions which still have some OK options but haven’t been competitively viable since the last dataslate, and they both suffered heavily from changes to core rules (Towering and Devastating Wounds respectively).


These armies are just bad. They’re in dire need of help – usually more than a simple points adjustment can offer. They lose most of their games and don’t win events.

  • Chaos Daemons
  • Drukhari

Chaos Daemons have put up a single top four appearance since mid November (4th). Nerfs to their monsters look harsh in hindsight, and the overall pricing on the army is simply too high. Life has been equally tough for Drukhari (2nd), who haven’t had an event win since September, and have only put up eight top 4 finishes all edition. The Realspace Raid detachment is good at shooting and primary denial but folds itself away like a collapsing high chair under pressure.

Going Beyond Win Rates

That said, it’s not quite as simple as win rates and tournament win rates. While we want armies to be balanced in terms of win rates, and GT players give us the best idea of what army performance looks like separate from player skill, there are lots of intricacies to consider within that framework. For example – World Eaters are an A-Tier faction right now but they’re largely dependent on a single list concept that was finalised months ago. On top of that, when they win their games, it can often be by crushing an opponent early, leading to lopsided games with less interaction. That’s not good, even if it means they’re competitive on the larger stage. There’s lots of room for adjustments that take this into account and help improve internal balance for some factions and open things up for different lists and play experiences.

What We’d Like to See in the Dataslate

Part of what makes this meta so weird is that there’s a very large “B-Tier” of factions which can compete but struggle to close. That’s a good thing, and something we generally want to see, albeit with fewer A+ tier factions. The meta is in a very good place now, and that might call for a lighter touch than some past approaches. Moderate nerfs to the game’s A+ tier – CSM, Aeldari, and Necrons – to bring them more in line with armies at the A- and B-Tier levels, major buffs for the D-Tier crew, and some solid buffs for the C-Tier should shake things up enough while also bringing the current slate of armies together in a much tighter band. 

Curie: My hope for the slate is a slight downward nudge to Aeldari/CSM/Necrons – address the current biggest offenders in each faction, and then a similar upward nudge to Imperial Knights, Drukhari, and Custodes. The last Metawatch article back in December mentioned internal balance – it will be interesting to see how they attack this problem without throwing external balance off. Internal tweaks, especially to armies at the top, often lead to unintended consequences à la Thiccc City that the very first balance dataslate gave us.

Have any questions or feedback? Have notes on what you want to see in the dataslate this week? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.comAnd if you want regular updates in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.