The Road to LVO: The Post-LVO Goonhammer Roundtable

With another LVO behind us, we thought we’d take a moment to sit down with the Goonhammer authors who attended and get their feedback on the event.

UPDATE: Reece Robbins left a thoughtful comment in the comments after the article addressing several of our authors’ comments on the policies and conjecture around certain events. We would encourage readers to read those comments along with the article, and appreciate him taking the time to issue a formal comment and rebut any perceived inaccuracies.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it went live. In the text below, Cyle references some players having early access to terrain rules. We have received feedback that this is not the case, and have included the remarks below.

Participants

  • James “One Wing” Grover
  • Shane Watts
  • Cyle “Naramyth” Thompson
  • Chase “Gunum” Garber
  • Scott Horras “Heresy” (Scott received Grandfather Nurgle’s blessing right after LVO so sadly his contributions are absent from the below)
  • Liam “Corrode” Royle
  • James “Boon” Kelling

Corrode: there’s going to be a lot of complaining about Best Coast Pairings in the below. In the interests of fairness, I thought that right up top we should acknowledge BCP’s long-form apology for the issues that arose. You can find it here

What was the overall experience of attending LVO this year like? What was the best part? What was the worst?

James “One Wing” Grover : LVO delivered on the main thing I wanted out of it, which was a chance to meet and hang out with some of the American Goonhammer crew in person, touch base with some people in the wider community I’ve only spoken to online, and just in general to be there for the biggest event of the year. In addition to that, it was fantastic to meet lots of our fans in person, and I’d really like to thank everyone who came and said hello and for all the positive feedback on the site. My wife also flew out with me and we did a few days of tourist stuff before the main event, which was great fun. I’m very glad I made the trip overall.

Also, it was the biggest tournament ever and I got to play 6 games of 40K in it, which whatever problems did arise, is ultimately a cool thing.

In terms of downers, not doing better in the main event was disappointing, but it was an outcome I was prepared for. The thing that really sucked was the delay on the Friday, because quite apart from leading to a long day with lots of waiting around it meant that by the time the last round finished I had no energy to socialise with people. Given the social side was such a big part of why I’d come out, that was a real blow, though we did make up for it over the next few days!

Liam “Corrode” Royle: Like James said, the best part of LVO was a) spending time hanging out with all the Goonhammer crew (and the non-Goonhammer guys in the Warhogs) and b) meeting all of the readers who made a point of telling us how much they liked the site. This included people I played, people I was chatting with, and memorably one guy who stopped me while I was walking around the hall just so he could shake my hand and tell me how great Goonhammer is. My round 4 opponent Steve even had a print out of the ITC secondaries article with annotations, which made my day (and became really funny when I realised that I’d made a huge error in not picking Gangbusters against his Kataphron-heavy list – woops). A hugely validating experience for all the hard work that goes into making this thing happen! 

Worst part? I never really adjusted to the time zone so I was waking up at insane hours every day, and the worst one (3.30am) was the day that the rounds were delayed. Starting game 3 at gone 8pm, later than it was meant to have ended, was a real low-light when I was already exhausted.

While the delay sucked, my overall experience was positive. It was my first time in the mad city that is Las Vegas and the social side more than made up for the gaming going a little awry.

Shane: I had a blast this year (as in years past as well.) I got a chance to meet a bunch of the other Goonhammer authors which was awesome and interact with some of the readers. Thanks to everyone that came up and showed their support. Also I got to meet a bunch of people, including Val from 40k Stat Center, Paul from Forge the Narrative and Ser_Panda_Pants from Warhammer Comp Reddit, Beeranid from the Beeranid Kill Team channel/podcast, and another member of the U.S. Army Esports team. The social aspect of LVO is one of the most enjoyable aspects of going and it was great getting the opportunity to hang out with everyone.

The best part was certainly getting to see everyone, followed by the fact that I was able to go play Kill Team on Sunday. The worst was falling short of my goal of 5-1, I wanted to do better, but there is always next year. The follow on to that would be the BCP crash of 2020, it happens every year to a degree, but the length of this one made people rather cranky. 

Chase: LVO for me is always a time to get together with our whole Herd, the Warhogs, as we’ve kinda been scattered to the winds as the years went on. Having an opportunity to get everyone together from Montana to Nebraska is just a great experience.

Now, as I’m sure you all know I had a lofty goal this year. I had to score about 220 points at LVO to get my ultimate prize, the Best in Faction Dark Angels. I played some really tough opponents, and I was lambasted by them all the way down to 3-3. The start of day one was really hard for me as I had lost my first two games, so I already knew it was a pipe dream. The worst thing of the event? BCP. 

Cyle: This has been my 6th LVO, and honestly it was the worst one I have attended. Despite the nice weather and reprieve from the unending winter hellscape that is the Dakotas in January I have Thoughts About Things that touch almost every part of the 40k GT and how the FLG crew handled a convention that has grown beyond their grasp.

The registration line took 45 minutes, which was a long but not unreasonable. It’s not lost on me that there was the bougie line that was shorter if you purchased the High Roller package but that’s capitalism. However, the wristband we received this year was the same one you would get at a concert or a sports event that was not designed to be removed, despite needing it for the next three days. It’s a minor complaint, but I enjoy having, and wearing, all the LVO wristbands I’ve accumulated when I go to LVO and not having a 2020 band sucks. Friday morning however I thought that would be the worst part of the event would be behind us as pairing worked right away.

Then round two happened. And we had a 2 hour delay as the backend of BCP choked since they had not increased their data cap with Google cloud services. BCP never recovered for that round and the judges entered data into a spreadsheet and posted it on FLG’s site, and after the angry horde 504’d their site eventually got a sheet on google docs via Facebook so we could hand find our names and tables.

Eventually we get to round 3. And again, we were delayed for a couple hours. Again. Narawife was with, and I would have liked to spend time with her in Vegas since this is precious vacation time that I kind of build my life around. Instead I arrived at the con hall at 9am and didn’t leave save for brief runs back to the room for food until 11:30pm.

Best Coast Pairings should be fired. This is the third year in a row that their app caused an hour+ delay and taking away 4 hours of people’s vacation time is unacceptable. This is the biggest show on earth, treat it as such.  Big events In Cool Places can charge what they can for the prestige of where the event is and can use the city as an attraction point for non-participants. Taking that away, without proper communication or decision of when the round would start forced as all to languish in a loud hall being unable to leave in case pairings went up any minute is a huge blow to what is supposed to be a great time.

James “Boon” Kelling: This year I made sure to take an extra day off of work as last year’s Monday after was utterly miserable getting home and going to work at 630am. So that’s already a pretty significant win taking all the stress out of the weekend and giving me more time to hang out with some real cool nerds. Overall I would describe the LVO experience as fantastic but not because of the tournament itself. Hanging out with friends in Goonhammer, Frozen North, Warhammered, and the Hogs is always a fantastic time and I loved every minute of it. The worst part was definitely that moment where my opponent seized on me for the 4th time over the course of the weekend. My rage at Marines grew three-fold in that moment. The only way it could have possibly been worse is if it was Cyle seizing on me.

The best part was definitely that moment where my opponent seized on me for the 5th time over the course of the weekend. The absurdity of it all grew three-fold in that moment. The only way it could have possibly been better is if it was Cyle seizing on me. Though a close second was removing 5 Centurions in a single psychic phase in that same game. That was a whole thing.

 

How’d you do in the tournaments? Were there any stand-out moments? What did you enjoy, and what sucked?

James G: I went 3-3, and you can look at my full tournament report here. I was hoping for better, but I think realistically I changed too late in the day to a list that plays differently than what I’m used to, and got punished for it. I still had plenty of good games and round 6 against Thousand Sons stands out as one of the most enjoyable tournament games I’ve played for a while. I’ve come away with a few new list permutations to try that I’m looking forward to getting out on the table.

Liam: I went 4-2 in the end, which was absolutely fine. My main goal was just to go 3-3 and not go home with a negative record (as I did at NOVA) so once that was secured I was happy enough. It was a shame to lose in round 6 against Tyranids, which aren’t usually considered to be the toughest of opponents, but it was a good list played by a good player and when someone blows up both your Forge World Dreadnoughts in a single turn there’s not a lot you can do!

Playing 3 Marine lists on day 1 definitely wasn’t a great experience, although they were all wildly different lists, and all three players were great fun to spend a few hours with. I appreciate that I’m part of the problem here, but still, it would be nice if the field was a little better balanced.

In terms of stand-out moments, I think my first two games offer the best ones. In round 1 my opponent threw Shrike, a block of 10 Intercessors, 5 Infiltrators, and a slam Captain into my army. I killed 4 Infiltrators with overwatching stalker bolt rifles, and then punked Shrike with the Intercessor thunder hammer. It was a similar story next battle round – I killed a Centurion and a half on overwatch and then punched the rest to death with Pedro Kantor! In the second game, my half-damaged Leviathan did 21 damage to a Repulsor Executioner, and then the Relic Contemptor blew up a second. A truly gross amount of damage from the two Dreadnought lads.

Going the other way, in my round 5 I felt like I was cruising against Grey Knights, until the Paladin bomb dropped in and my opponent made 3/3 9” charges – just one is a 28% chance of success and he managed all 3! It very nearly swung the game for him, and if we were playing a week later with the Ritual of the Damned content in use, it would have. 

Cyle: My performance at the event was fine. I went 4-2, losing to Nick Rose’s White Scars in a barn burner of a game by 2 points and a much worse (for me) grind out loss to Alex Ing. Playing Rose was a real treat and if the game didn’t start at 8pm I think we would have had an even better go at it. We were all business until the end when he jumped out of his chair and gave me a huge hug. All my games and opponents were great though. I played all new opponents and I feel I gelled well with all of them. I’m a little bummed I didn’t go 5-1 or better to get some hardware but Ad Mech does struggle in the Marine meta. I played Marines in my last four games and the two wins I had (Iron Hands, Imperial Fists) were 100% because I was able to sneak bonus points and had favorable deployment maps and/or missions (I exclusively played in the top 100 tables after my first round)

Chase: Well, I went 3-3. I wasn’t very psyched about that as I was trying to play for my best in faction and missed the mark by much more than I wanted to. I had some great games, I think the one I enjoyed the most was being able to see the Warlock Conclave being used. It’s one of my favorite units in the Eldar book and being able to play against that was a personal treat. 

James K: My goal was 4-2 but I fell a bit short at 3-3. Though I did go 3-0 to win the Sunday RTT in bracket 3. I have to be honest, I am really happy with how my list performed in the current meta and I’m not clear that I would really make a significant shift. I considered switching out the Vibro Cannons for a second squad of Shining Spears before the tournament, but I ran out of hobby time to get them ready  – that’d be my only consideration as of right now but the Vibros were useful in every game.

My favorite game was actually my first loss against Stephen Fore. He seized and destroyed my Shining Spears with a drop podding Grav-Dev squad which… frankly crippled my ability to deal with his triple-Chappy dreads + Leviathan combo. Despite all this it was a great and hard-fought game that was decided by turn 4 but still resulted in a rather tight 26-28 loss. 

My least favorite game was against his partner in crime Jeremy Knox running a nearly identical Iron Hands list – though it had nothing to do with Jeremy who was a cool guy. By this point I understood that going second against a competitive Marine list, especially this meta-defining Iron Hands list, simply wasn’t an even fight and I was a little salty about it. I needed some luck and smart play. But after my Shining Spears failed a 4” charge with a reroll that could have saved the game for me, I decided that I wanted to take a competitive break…

Right until my addiction kicked back in and I played the RTT the next day. Overall, I took three losses in nine games, all three against Iron Hands or Raven Guard. All three going second with two of those games having been seized upon. It’s very easy for me to see a different path altogether in this tournament and for that reason I’m actually really happy with my 3-3 performance.

 

What are your thoughts on this year’s 40k Tournament and how it was run?

Liam: I’m gonna have to be honest and say that I have a number of criticisms, some of which I’m surprised to have to make about such a big event with such a long history.

The BCP thing is well-documented. From my point of view, I have always disliked BCP. The app has slowly gotten better over the last year, but I still think it’s not very good, and for a long time it was operating without features I would consider basic to its function. Down Under Pairings has much better functionality, as does Tabletop.to. I think it’s valid to question whether either of them would stand up to the intensity of attention which LVO brings, but I would be willing to try the experiment and I really hope FLG are too – BCP has surely reached the end of its tether.

Other stuff is small, but taken together I think it adds up to a surprising level of dysfunction. I would pick out the following as issues which I would not expect to experience at an event like this:

  • New, impactful terrain set-ups being announced 2 days before list cut-off
  • Poorly organised event pack 
  • Models & conversion policy
  • Lack of published FAQs

Let’s look at these in order.

The terrain thing is honestly baffling to me, as someone who has themselves organised tournaments. It’s a really big change to announce with so little time for players to respond to it, and it became even more so with the way the event ended up actually going. Some of the terrain set-ups were ill-considered, too – Dawn of War in particular left players with a pretty stark choice between being in cover or having line of sight blockers, but absolutely not both. Against planes or artillery this was not what you might call optimal. A longer, more consultative, process would have been a lot better than firing this out at such short notice, I think.

The event pack thing made it very difficult to know what was happening on the ground. The pack published online differed from the paper one handed out on the day (which ran out quickly) and didn’t include things like the rulings on what the different terrain pieces on the top 100 tables were meant to be, which were instead hidden in a single post on the FLG website. Contrasting this with how the NOVA Open runs things is night and day.

The models & conversion policy has had a lot of discussion online already. For me, I mostly agree with the policy as it existed, and I think some of the response to it being enforced was in the worst of faith – made by people with an axe to grind or conspiracy theories about GW’s involvement with the event, or from players who were either innocently or deliberately misunderstanding the policy to reach absurd conclusions. That said, I felt like the way in which it was enforced, and the attitude of the judges in enforcing it, absolutely sucked. There was a lot of focus on Chaplain Dreadnoughts and Thunderfire Cannons. On the face of it this is reasonable, since one is OOP and the other has supply issues which make it scarcer than you’d expect. Reading between the lines, though, the judges seemed to be seeing the policy as a way to punish players for taking powerful units, and to be enjoying the role of arbiter in whipping models off the table, which is pretty unseemly. I’m sure it created a lot of negative experiences for people, which isn’t a great way to run an event.

Finally, there’s the FAQs. LVO has historically had a problem with important rulings being made in private. This year this was apparently policy rather than carelessness. I am not privy to the details of whether this was enforced on FLG as a condition of GW’s participation in the event, as some people have suggested, but to me it is absolutely mad to solicit queries and then not publicise the answers. The “totally not official” document which did come out is pretty thin gruel as a response. This isn’t even mentioning the wild swings between RAW and RAI in some of the judge calls.

That is a lot of critical commentary that makes it sound worse than it was. In reality, I still had a great time, and I think that despite the huge challenges on Friday the judges did the best they could to keep things moving. My games all went well and my opponents were uniformly a pleasure to play against. 

Cyle: I cannot lay all the blame for this event on Best Coast Pairings. Front Line Gaming should be ashamed at its continuous lack of communication. This being the 7th year of this event and failing at very basic tasks is comedic. Not having enough packets for all players and the packet being different in person then what is online is ridiculous. The top 100 tables having changing terrain being announced two days before lists were due is outrageous. In addition to this having a game warping effect of guaranteeing an L blocker 83% of the time only players that follow FLG news very closely had any idea. I heard multiple players mention they were expecting the other FLG Special (Enclosed Ruins) and were surprised to see forced terrain changing with L blockers and no magic boxes. The lack of large-scale testing with changing terrain before the biggest event of the year is madness.

The dust up over conversions and sudden very strict enforcing of pulling non-approved models was applied inconsistently at best. We had two writers who had their opponents’ Thunderfire Cannons pulled because they were either the Kromlech not-Thunderfire Cannons (slightly too small) or they were conversions that didn’t have the legs. (Corrode: I also had a judge question whether I’d deliberately pulled the legs off my TFC. One of them was still attached to the model he was looking at; the other had broken off in transit and was sat on my tray waiting to be re-attached). However, I saw, and in my last game played against the Kromlech models. Apparently, they were approved but some of the judge staff did not know. I’m sure players lost games because of an inconsistent ruling and that is a feel bad situation.

Finally, some of the rumors I heard around the leadup to the event and in the hall are troubling. Playtesters knew about the terrain change and were still allowed to play. Some pairings were forced without the general player population’s knowledge, including allegedly forcing a round 5 pairing of a couple named players after one of their opponents dropped.  And finally GW supposedly didn’t like the Sisters v Marines stream after Sisters got dumpstered and didn’t allow Marines back on the stream. (Corrode: we should note that some of this is unsubstantiated, but I definitely heard the Marines-on-stream thing from multiple sources, and from speaking to the players involved I understand that the round 5 pairing was logical but still not great as one player was playing up a bracket.)


Editor’s note: Richard Seigler reached out to us in response to these comments about playtesters and terrain:

I along with the charity hammer crew were tasked with playtesting a top 100 format at the charity hammer event, but they ended up abandoning their original ideas and [went] with something else entirely for the event itself. So we were in the same boat as him during the event. We didn’t see the actual format until everyone else did. Our playtesting was based off a loose description. The changing terrain based on deployment actually come out of our collective critique of the original terrain format, but we didn’t have a say in what pieces should go where or how different dawn of war ended up being.

 

Having players with knowledge of a huge event change still being allowed to play when the rest of the player base gets a two day notice is unethical, especially if the players in question have a real shot at winning.  We all understand exactly how we are all subject to truly random pairings after tie breakers and teams on round one. Changing that system feels close to match fixing or at least betraying the trust players have in the system. And keeping Marines off the stream is a pretty underhanded move. This is the bed you made GW, you need to lay in it.

Chase: I’m currently dying from the flu. So I’m gonna say “Same” to what Cyle said. 

James G: I’ll start with the good stuff here – there were a lot of judges available, they were knowledgeable and well prepared and the terrain for the event was good – all the tables I played on looked nice, which is a real feat to accomplish for that many players. The tournament rooms were really nice too, with the high ceilings and readily available free water making it a pleasant place to play.

I’ve got a bigger piece in the works looking into some of the challenges that clearly arose in the runup to the event, so I’m not going to dive too deep into it here. The conversion policy made sense, but I think enforcing it this strictly for the first time at LVO was a bad call – rules like it have always existed and people are used to sailing close to the wind, with the result that quite a few people probably left the event with a sour taste in their mouth. No matter how many “we really mean it this time” posts went up, I think the strictness of enforcement needed to be tried out at another event to get people used to it, not on the game’s biggest annual showcase.

On the terrain, I am a huge fan of fixed layouts and a massive hater of magic boxes (and four rounds of playing on tables with said boxes on has in no way changed my mind) so I did like the rules, but desperately wish it had been announced earlier. However, I do think it’s worth acknowledging that it was, technically, announced prior to the rules cutoff, and I have previously strongly advocated for the right of TOs to make sweeping rulings as long as they stay before that – after all, GW could theoretically have dropped an FAQ nerfing Marines on the same day the terrain changes landed!

Both of these could probably have been dealt with by taking a lesson from the LGT – after the Bad LGT in 2018, the organisers ran a series of trial events in Spring/Summer 2019 to test out their pack, show off their terrain layout and (if we’re honest) build confidence that things were going to be better in 2019. Those led to some tweaks and improvements to the pack, which made the final event (which was a huge success) better. Running a Las Vegas Warmup a couple months out would have let the organisers publicly test out the terrain, and show off that they really, properly meant it about conversions and painting. I appreciate that this year FLG were mid relocation in this window, but now they’re based in Nevada proper I’d strongly, strongly advise them to take this route in the coming season.

There were two other negative things for me, one minor, one moderate. The first was a lack of clear announcements for some things. Despite a good try, I couldn’t find anywhere announcing where or exactly when the GW preview was on the website, and missed getting in as a result. In addition, it wasn’t clear from the pack when the hall would open on Thursday, and I think if I’d realised how early it was I might have been able to get a practice game in. This lack of clarity extended to some things in the event itself – in the first round, which had a listed start time of 10:00, players were told to come up and get re-paired if they didn’t have an opponent by 9:45. Both me and my (eventual) opponent found ourselves in this position – and both of us went back to our original tables to find the people we’d been supposed to play had turned up at 10:00, because there hadn’t been a notice to make sure you were at the table 15 minutes early. None of this was a dealbreaker, but it all kind of felt like you were supposed to already just “know” how the LVO fit together, which is the opposite of what you want for a huge event that attracts loads of new players each year!

Ruling inconsistency is my one real bugbear. It’s very clear that there were some factors outside the organisers’ control leading to the lack of a full published FAQ, but the impact of this was exacerbated by there seemingly being little pattern for what was ruled as written (RAW) and what was ruled as intended (RAI). I have an intricate knowledge of where the various rules holes in the Eldar range lie, and accumulated discussions with other Eldar players elicited that some of them were being run RAW and some RAI – but pretty much all to the advantage of Eldar players. That’s super problematic, because it means that the players who’ve bothered to query every single edge case pre-event end up advantaged over other players, who might assume that a less powerful interpretation is in effect. This isn’t solely FLG’s problem – different rulings between TOs is a pervasive problem in the UK, and it causes weird metagame imbalances in some cases, and all of these questions are things I’ve sent in to the GW FAQ address and had no action on, but I think if you don’t or can’t have a full published FAQ then a more consistent use of either RAW or RAI was needed.

Realistically, none of this stopped the tournament being a fun experience other than the big waits on the Friday, which were a real downer, and the worst delays I’ve ever seen at an event, including the Bad LGT. While the impression I get from various chatter is that this one wasn’t FLG’s fault, I think that’s the one thing where I’d really want some serious show of faith before I booked to attend again – losing an entire night of socialising that I’d flown around the world for sucked. This is definitely an achievable goal – to again reference back to the LGT, the thing that convinced me to rebook after the bad year was them announcing that they had a suitable venue, and had fully contracted out terrain production to a reliable supplier. Either BCP needs to demonstrate in a tangible way that it can stand up to an event of this magnitude, or FLG need to find a new pairings supplier.

James K: I already agreed with basically everything the guys above said and then I got to James’ well reasoned novel and decided to just rip-off Chase’s “Same” but without the coronavirus undertones.

 

Please take a few moments to complain about the meta.

Liam: I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone by saying that Marines are Too Much right now. Five of eight top finishers being pure Marines and another one being an Imperium list with a heavy Marine contingent is not great for the game. It’s particularly stunning that Iron Hands remain so strong after receiving the most sweeping set of changes to a published book that I can remember.

I think the winning list really demonstrates some of what’s wrong with 40k right now. I don’t want to take anything away from Richard Siegler or the other Brohammer team members who were playing the list; I have no doubt those guys are all really good players who would have been challenging for the top regardless. However, a list which includes three character models toting six lascannons, which also have strong melee ability, none of which can be targeted until you clear one of the toughest models in the game (with extra durability from its Warlord trait and the Cogitated Martyrdom stratagem), fundamentally looks to me like it’s genuinely broken. At minimum I would expect that stratagem to be changed to only affect non-VEHICLE characters, and I am very hopeful that Chaplain Dreadnoughts will finally die with the new Forge World books being released, but even putting those aside I think Iron Hands need a fundamental re-think. One suggestion I’ve heard would be to change their doctrine to be re-roll 1s to hit if stationary or ignore heavy penalty for moving, and not have both at the same time. That would be a good place to start.

Centurions probably also need another look, hopefully one which addresses some of their power in Raven Guard/White Scars without just making them across-the-board useless. I don’t mind Cents so much though, since they’re at least somewhat interactive.

It’s also a shame to have seen Genestealer Cult basically disappear overnight. It’s not surprising – the Chapter Approved changes were too heavy-handed (even ignoring the typo on the Neophyte points cost) and GSC were already facing a tough life in Marine meta – but it is sad. The 5-1 and 4-2 brackets are pretty diverse, but the Cult have gone missing after their brief run on top and as much as they were hard work to play against I don’t think anyone wanted to see them gone completely. 

Chase: I play Dark Angels. My only complaint is more people aren’t playing Dark Angels to make it even. How dare you. 

James G: So hilariously my personal meta complaint is that after trying to tech my list against Marines I only played them once, so don’t really have full data on whether what I was trying worked. I’m sure I’ll get a chance soon enough.

My actual serious complaint is that Games Workshop need to do something about the Chaplain Dreadnought now. Untargetable gun platforms of this quality simply should not exist (and there’s an argument for the Mortis dread going the same way), and it’s the kind of problem that creates absurdly unfun play patterns. No one (except the owners) wants to deal with three more months of it, and I think the data coming out of the event (more on that from Kevin soon) is more than enough to show that it’s wildly problematic, exacerbated by it being an extremely scarce model. The Leviathan combo at the core of the winning list is also extremely stupid, and changing the keywords on that so it stops being able to benefit from abilities designed to top out at a Vendread/Redemptor would also be a good short term fix.

Centurions are arguably nearly as problematic, but I think they should be left alone until the April FAQ. I don’t think GW should deviate from their published balance schedule lightly, but think it’s justifiable for an out-of-print model operating on two-and-a-half year old rules from an out-of-print book in a way that it just isn’t for a mainline Codex unit that’s in plastic on store shelves. Also, while they’re absurdly good, Centurions can at least be interacted with, and while Master of Ambush is definitely too good on them, you can build lists that have counterplay against it.

Outside of that things seemed tentatively…good? The Possessed bomb whiffing hard was a big surprise, but Chaos gets another round of new tricks in Ritual of the Damned, and will have more coming soon in other books. People were making decent stabs at success with nearly every faction, meaning that hopefully taking the best Marine lists down just a little bit might open up the field considerably.

James K: Marines made me so mad at one point that I wanted to quit for a while… so let’s talk about it.

I’ve been tracking their progress since October and so have a pretty solid understanding of how they’re performing overall. After playing three games against Iron Hands and two against Raven Guard in such a short span, the big takeaway for me on the table was that going second didn’t mean an automatic loss, but it did mean you were playing at a big disadvantage. Moreover, a bad turn against Marines will end the game – they’re so durable that trying to claw back after being down is a very difficult prospect and will usually require your opponent to make a mistake you can capitalize on or suffer an unlikely worse spat of luck. The number of times I got seized on by Marines this weekend (3) just made the whole feeling of “fuck this stupid army, GW, and the horse they rode in on” that much worse. 

I think there’s a number of problems that the guys have already covered but the most elegant solution to the Chaplain dread is to simply bump it up 1W thus making it targetable. Without the targeting problem, the Leviathan also becomes much less scary – at the end of the day it’s a model that moves 8” with 24” guns (usually) that is pretty pricey all things considered.

I could mention that the Thunderfire Cannons are probably undercosted, or that Centurions benefit from probably way too many things in the Marine codex for their point cost/profile, but I think the real issue that is still at play is that Devastator doctrine is frankly too powerful in a game that is so dominant in the shooting phase – I have no answers for that.

 

Is there anything else you want to say about the event?

Liam: Just to express my gratitude one more time to all the people who talked to me about Goonhammer over the weekend. It was great to hear from all of you and to get a chance to speak to you about what we do here. Thank you!

James G: I’ll echo that from Liam – it was wonderful to speak to so many readers and fans, and that’s the big thing that makes me want to do it all again next year despite the eye-watering expense of just existing in Las Vegas. I’d also say that while there’s some negativity here I do want it to be constructive, and I did have a good time with the event itself. I think FLG are unlucky that the BCP issues happened the way they did – that one big issue makes all the small ones more memorable, and a lot of the minor stuff probably wouldn’t have caused the same amount of rancor if we weren’t experiencing it on a 14-hour day of 40k. I’m confident that things will be much improved next year, and there’s a good chance I’ll be back.

Chase:  Just keep holding it. Keep learning, keep developing, keep pushing those numbers. 

James K: Despite some of the criticisms that we levied against FLG and the crew running the event I want to sincerely thank them for all the hard work and planning that goes into this. I think this year may have been a bit of a down year, but it wasn’t awful, and if taken in stride will only lead to a better event next year. I also want to thank the judges – I can’t imagine the patience it must take to handle 700+ competitive nerds. Bravo.

 

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