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.
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.