FAQ Breakdown Part 2

Hello my fellow nerd friends! On Monday GW released their long awaited Spring FAQ, so naturally on Tuesday I came out with my FAQ review. However, the FAQ was so earth-shattering I decided it’d be better to break the FAQ down into two parts to properly give respect to the ramifications of its rules erratas. In my previous article, I just briefly covered the main changes the FAQ brought and generally touched on their impact on the overall game,  Today I’m going to get into specific detail about how it will impact different armies and how I can foresee the meta shifting.

First and foremost, the game is going to slow down. I’m not talking about the game physically taking longer to play, but the game will start to utilize all 6 turns as opposed to its current state where 90% of games are decided by turn 3. The double whammy that reserves took will mean that deep striking, moving again, fighting twice and gutting someone turn 1 (or even potentially turn 2) is now a thing of the past. This will naturally reduce the damage that a player can deal on any given turn, which will, in-turn, make the game spread out over more turns. From a time perspective, where most turn ones typically take 30+ minutes, now you will start to see that length of time disperse over many different turns.


A common belief among a lot of competitive players right now is that shooting will once again reign supreme in 40k, as they no longer should fear getting charged turn 1, nor do they have to worry about screening so thoroughly. This is a legitimate concern, and I understand where these guys are coming from. That said, the Rule of Three coupled with the increased cost of Fire Raptors and Reapers means that the only armies that are capable of being a true gun line style are Tau and Guard. Guard and Tau (Guard more so) suffer from being a shooty army that mostly hits on 4’s across the board and typically have very high drop count. While that may not be horrible, it’s certainly a weakness.

Eldar can stack multiple negatives to hit to work around the garbage BS that Tau and Guard have, then close in and leverage their ludicrous offense against the pitifully squishy Tau and Guard armies.

Other armies, such as Custodes, Nids and Orks, who will likely have turn 1 against such high drop count armies, can really leverage that with their speed to just deploy,  go first, and get to grips with the Tau/Guard armies. This will be especially easy if you’re playing on a board with the infamous NOVA L’s or LVO magic bunkers, because you will be able to launch charges from out of LOS to mitigate a potentially devastating overwatch.


Now, you may look at it from the lens of “Well I’m not playing Custodes, Orks, Nids, or Eldar so what can I do?” Understand that these are real concerns for serious players taking pure shooty Tau and Guard armies; more than real, it is in fact likely (due to +1 to go first) that they lose these games. So, the question that actually gets posed back to the Tau and Guard players is – What are they going to do to cover up their weaknesses to these kinds of armies? Well, the answer to that is to diversify. Gunline players must start taking units that counter charge, or at least have ample mobility to give them a fighting chance in these kinds of games. But, a cool thing that happens when you spend points on things to make your army more balanced: it becomes less extreme! And then Tau and Guard are just reasonably shooty armies, which hopefully, you can handle with your also reasonable Chaos, Blood Angel, or whatever army.

That’s a long term look at what I expect will happen to the meta once it reaches an equilibrium. In the short term, you probably will see an up-tick in lopsided gun line style lists, as many players will see that as their free one-way ticket to Winsville. And unfortunately, that will probably work unless you are going out of your way to play something that will handle their extreme fire power. So, as a player in the SHORT TERM meta of 40k, if you want to give yourself the best shot at winning you should probably acknowledge the directional shift the meta is going to progress in.

Phew… That was a lot of words, but I’m not done just yet! I want to just cover how certain armies are going to have to adapt to the new world we live in.


Tau- Tau just got directly better because of the new reserve rules, and the fact that they typically didn’t need to spam much to do well. Good time to be a fish lover.

Blood Angels- As far as I know the verdict isn’t out yet for how the Wings of Fire strat and the new reinforcement rules interact, but assuming they don’t work, BA armies are going to have to look for more fire support (potentially from guard) in order to make up for the pressure they lost turn 1.

Tyranids- Tyranids obviously can’t spam Flyrants anymore, but that was a crutch for the weak anyway. More assault oriented armies with solid fire support based around Stealers, Swarmlord, Hiveguard, Warriors, etc will finally see their day in the sun.

Orks– 90 Storm boyz that no longer kill themselves, Weridboyz chucking big smites everywhere, and bikes all got buffed here! Not too shabby for the lowly index.

SM/DA- Well, the only success these guys seemed to be having on the highest levels of competition seemed to be spamming fliers, and now that’s gone. I’m not sure if these have a place as more than just an ally unfortunately.

40k meme

Eldar- The most controversially affected codex it seems. Many players seem to think Eldar wasn’t nerfed at all, but let me assure you they most certainly were. Reapers going up in cost makes them unspammable. I’ve tried making lists with the new point costs, and 7 points a model coupled with the psycher point increases adds up fast. Furthermore, the reason Eldar were so strong was their dynamic mobility with deep strike and quicken and soul burst. With all that going away you’re going to see a full shift in style. That said, Eldar are still going to be a top army- especially when combined with DE. Spears are still phenomenal, just not borderline unbeatable, as are Guardians. Serpents remained unchanged. And remember how I was talking about Eldar being a counter to guns because of their hit modifiers? I suggest you take another look at Eldar fliers and Warp Spiders.

Chaos– Well, Pox walker spam is dead, Cultist spam got punched in the balls, Tzangor bombs got nerfed, and now you can’t spam PBC, what’s a pour soul to do? I suggest trying to play a balanced army. Noise marines may actually see the light of day again, given how obnoxious they are to remove in cover (especially with their shoot when they die rule) they can actually cause you to at least participate in a fire fight. Hell Drakes have an insanely far move, and the ability to charge after doing it too, they’re a very unique tool for Chaos and I could see their inclusion being very helpful in the upcoming meta. Bloat Drones are still very strong and functionally independent which is incredibly important these days. And finally, Magnus and Morty may actually get to see the light of day again. Most of their problematic counters (save for Guard) have been nerfed in one way or another. Reapers shot up in points, to a point where they are now manageable in numbers, Fire Raptors and Gulliman is probably just not a thing anymore, and Tau can’t spam Ion heads to just pick them up. Not only that, but Magnus, in particular, is still incredibly valuable as he can very reliably get off his huge 2d6 smite every turn now (no negative mod to smite, and more CP from battalions will allow you to give him +2 to cast fairly often, followed by a gift of fate reroll) and Death Hex is still amazing.

So, in short, the sky isn’t falling. The meta will change. The good players will adapt. The bad players won’t. And water is still wet.

31 Comments on “FAQ Breakdown Part 2

  1. Nothing specific on guard? Boo! I’m guessing catachan and bullgryn stock is going up in order to balance out the shooting and fend off assaults?

    • I feel like guard ultimately receives a net 0 change from all this

      • Agreed. As a guard player I’ve hardly been affected. I have some modest deep strike that either waits till turn 2 or gets cut out but otherwise my list and play style need hardly change, except to take into account more general changes in meta. I’m considering whether my screens need be as large and whether to add in some more assault counter punch (bullgryns) in place of my small tempestus drop plasma contingent. Thoughts?

      • The Rule of 3 hits their mortar HWT spam really hard, given that the most successful lists were running between 6 and 9 sets of three.

        Further, elite lists that were bringing IG allies for deepstrike denial / CP farming (i.e.- Sisters) would always bring mortar HWT spam for screen/objective clearing, so they got hit as well. They would undoubtedly switch to brigade for the CP farming anyways, so it’s not that high impact.

        The change to Lord Commisar’s price makes him a viable weapons platform, and the increase to CP for brigade/battalion means that giving a Lord Commisar the relic bolt pistol is essentially free. So the standard IG CP farm core changed from a Company Commander w/ Aquilla and Grand Strategist with 4 sets of 3 mortar HWTs, to a Company Commander w/ Aquilla and Grand Strategist, a Commisar w/ relic bolt pistol and a power maul, three sets of infantry each with a mortar, and 3×3 mortar HWTs. The price went up 140 points, but you get a respectable screen, a 12″ brawler, and an additional 3 CP.

        Celestine can’t be fielded with IG anymore without devoting an entire detachment to her. So unless they can fit in 523 points for her and three squads of inferno Seraphim, she’ll be benched outside of the Big Sisters list.

        Speaking of the Big Sisters list, Rule of 3 destroyed their ability to diversify, and they now have exactly one viable configuration:

        The Big Sisters List aka Every Sisters List For The Next Year – Outrider Detachment – 1270 pts

        Celestine w/ her kids
        Melta Doms in a Repressor
        Melta Doms in a Repressor
        Melta Doms in a Repressor
        Seraphim w/ Inferno pistols
        Seraphim w/ Inferno pistols
        Seraphim w/ Inferno pistols

  2. Hi. I recently started playing again, daemons. With more gunline lists and having to get 50% of your armies pl points on the ground i think there ability to survive past second turn will decrease a lot. For people like me that don’t really want to mix armies, what do you suggest. If i drop daemon bombs second turn they are probably gonna have to fight without back up as it will probably has been decimated by then. I guess deploying pretty far back and using minimun units to protect the line is gonna be a thing. But most stuff can’t survive two turns of shooting without los from guard or eldar.

  3. “Tyranids obviously can’t spam Flyrants anymore, but that was a crutch for the weak anyway”
    “and welcome Matt to the team!”


    Also boo no mention of admech gun lines 🙁

  4. Be honest with me Nick, am I playing BA with Guard allies or am I playing Guard with BA allies?

  5. Hey Nick,

    How do you think Necrons fair now with the changes. I see them benefiting greatly from the deepstrike rules as they dont have cheap screens. With the deceiver ability you still have options for alpha striking, but not as much as before. I think you will see people use VOD for defense instead of contributing to the alpha. I can see lists revolving around bodies and RP doing well now that the game has slowed down and fire power is spread out over a few turns.

    • The game isn’t actually going to slow down in turn length.

      Lists that were deepstrike heavy are going to adjust and put more boots on the ground to either move-across-the-board and charge on turn 1 (which Saim Spears, Mortarion, etc. can still do), or shoot you off the board.

      Lists whose pivotal deepstrikes would normally occur on turn 2 or 3, which are still fill their intended role on turn 1, such as Cultists, will still be functional (although Cultists specifically will see list-building concessions made due to the change to Tide of Traitors).

      The lists which fail to be able to achieve that objective will simply hit the showers and be replaced by those that still can.

      IG on the other hand, are going to “slow down” mechanically, but are actually less likely to go the full time, as doubling-down on gunline and hoping to run hot moves them towards a leafblower setup with less screening and more shooting, since the deploy-and-charge-across-the-board requirement for Spears and other turn1 charge strategies means that IG have a reasonable chance to go full NOVA Invitational and win on the spot by winning the roll to go first/seize.

      • Congratulations you didn’t answer the question.

  6. So what are us poor admech players to do? I still haven’t been able to come up with a successful list for a gt or major :/

  7. Great article!
    For orks:
    – I’m not sure how smite was buffed? Or is it just that we aren’t as hurt by the semi-nerf in the way other armies are?
    – do you think bikes are a worthwhile include now, given that their points haven’t changed at all?

    • One way Smite was buffed was instead of -1 to your roll (taking you away from Super Smite) the Cast Charge goes up, so you can still reach those 1D6 Mortal wounds

  8. You should of mentioned Dark Angels. They relied more on Hellblasters/Azreal bubble. Now instead of flyers they can take bikes with more plasma, have the bubble, and outshoot a lot of armies and can kill tankspam that was unaffected.

  9. What do you think of the Hive Guard ignoring LOS, taking up the full space of a ruin, hiding out of LOS (maybe due to ITC Ruin rules), and being immune to charges and most counter fire?

  10. I think there are a few things players need to keep in perspective with this FAQ:

    1) You can deploy to minimize alpha-strike, WITHOUT giving up the board control that would have otherwise enabled deep-strikers in your deployment zone turn 1.

    2) Deep-striking has more counter-play now. The game is going to be more about in-game decisions and tactics.

    3) Deep-striking is still good! Eliminating 2-3 turns of walking up the board and protection from being hard focused before having a chance to impact the game is still really good, and most units who use the deep striking mechanic will still be worth using and deploying from reserves.

    Couple other thoughts:

    I also think units like Heldrakes, Hive Crones, and Bikers will become incredibly useful for flanking, and capturing extremely valuable board space (enabling your deep-strikers to drop in more advantageous positions). I’m curious to hear your thoughts on bikers and other Fast Attack options in general.

    I think GW should really come out and show players what a well designed, balanced 8th Edition Table should look like. I try to stay in touch with the community as a whole by reading articles, participating in discussions, writing Reddit posts about lists or unit analysis, and listening to podcasts. While I’m happy that spam lists are dead, I’m a bit disappointed by the fact that a Hive Tyrant limit was placed on the faction as whole, because of a strategy that’s only viable in a particular tournament format. If GW’s goal is to make the game more competitive, a firmer stance in terrain and board setup is required in my opinion.

  11. I can’t believe you’ve written off the most popular codices as not fit for the table. Does that not make this FAQ a problem?

  12. Hi Nick,
    Thanks for this for 2 reasons:-
    Firstly I found your blog!
    Secondly, it’s a pleasant surprise to read some sense about 40k instead of the hyperbolic crap spewed out by so many on the ‘net.
    As a (very) aged player of games you can spot those who know what they are talking about from the rest, so I look forward to being a regular reader.

  13. I agree on most counts with what you said, I don’t believe guilliman is not a thing, a 15 point increase will not deter people who ran him prior to the faq, fliers have been nurfed but debatable whether that’s the last we see of them. TSons have been improved in my opinion and tzaangors still have a way into the fray via relic. (Dark matter crystal) granted it’s not as simple. Smite spam is not really a thing with most HQs over 100 points but still possible to exploit. Overall the nurfs and counter nurfs have balanced the game a lot depite the panick from some players. Curious to see how the neta shifts

  14. Why all the eldar hate?
    As an CWE player, the most troublesome opponents have been IG shooting range & nurgle never dies, since 6th ed.
    The only problem with reapers was Ynnari reapers and the big unit size. Lowering the unit size to max 7 would have fixed it.
    Raising point cost makes them sit on the shelf unless you actually DO spam them as Ynnari.
    Psychic powers have been generally useless for eldar since 4th ed in the competitive scene unless you have weighted dice. (the pure random chaos of psychic powers does not mix well with glasscannon armies, it’s win or die and either way the opponent will hate you for it.)

    Hitting the worst unit in the Craftworld codex (warlock conclave) is probably the most stupid move I have ever seen from GW meanwhile completely ignoring the OP Shining Spears.
    With reapers and warlocks on the shelf, Shining spears is the only unit that can deal with Primaris marines, but I guess GW didn’t sell enough jetbikes in 6th & 7th ed.

    Eldar as a counter to shooting is just bonkers, space elfs simply does not have the durability to sit and shoot, especially with a points hike on their only real long range unit dark reapers.

    Next in line rangewise is Swooping Hawks which can’t even compete with lasguns.

    Warp spiders have 12″ range guns, and the Alaitoc to hit penalty only works beyond 12″, do the math. Hitting a unit on a worse diceroll, when that unit can’t even retaliate, is just a cat playing with the mouse, it never ends well for the mouse.

    • I certainly agree with you on the Warlock Conclaves. The increase in price had absolutely no basis, and the only reason more people aren’t talking about how pointless it was is that:
      1) a great many players dislike Eldar and are happy with anything that seems to lessen them (I say this in all seriousness; it has to do with their play-style being so contrary to that of many other armies, and it is probably inevitable);
      2) very few players know or care about warlock conclaves, as they have been rarely used for quite a long time.
      A more elegant solution to the cheap HQ problem would have been to make solo Warlocks “Elites” (but still characters) instead of HQ, and leave the points unchanged. Conclaves could have remained as HQ slots (and probably could have used a 5 point/model price reduction).

      With regard to Reapers, I still think they are the strongest Eldar ranged unit by price, so I am sure they will see use. However, I absolutely agree that the largest problem is their place in Ynnari lists due to their huge possible unit size. I don’t think the FAQ’s changes will correct this. Had anyone asked me, I would have suggested a limit to unit size (to 5 – the number sold in a box), and a substantial increase in the price of tempest launchers. After all, that weapon is the reason you saw 3 or 4 units of MSU Reapers in so many Eldar lists. Of course, the rule of 3 does provide a correction for this.

      With regard to Spears, I am not convinced they are under-priced. Watching a player like Nick use them makes them look amazing, but most players don’t get those results. Like many Eldar units, they are amazing when you use them correctly, but its easier said than done. Additionally, they are strongly affected by deepstrike rule changes.

      In fact, what I just said about Spears being hard to use applies to many facets of the Eldar force. As the army is designed to be a collection of specialists who all have to be in the right place at the right time, they should always be one of the top armies in the competitive game – the best players will know how to use them correctly. But, at the local game store in the hands of a dabbler (and even on most Batreps I watch from the big content providers) they usually look inept. But if we adjust them based on their best possible use, it will make them worthless to 95% of the player base.

  15. I’m a little disappointed with this article. You hyped it so much in your fb stream and in the last article that i thought that you would go into way more detail and all factions. Sadly it’s just 2-3 line for the ones that don’t interest you. Come on Nick, I know you can do better than this 😉

  16. I’m a bit confused by the fact that everybody is talking about the beta rules as if they were official. Did I got this rong? As far as I can tell, the “battle brothers” and “tactical reserves” rules are beta. Is everybody playing with beta rules now?

    • Everyone has always played with the beta rules. No different than the beta rules in Chapter Approved.

  17. Honestly I am more concerned that lists with a combination of banehammer and shadowswords plus some CP farm or 3x tesseract vault and a receiver may rise.
    Only problem for those is that not many players have the models or are willing to buy them.

  18. I’d love to see you do a segment where Matt talks about Tyranids post-FAQ, since his adepticon list (and the only Tyranid build that I know of that has cracked the top tables anywhere) was just killed with fire.

    • You really need to look at the European scene then as Tyranids had won numerous events for months before that.

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