40K: 10 Best Armies Going to LVO


There will be tons of heavy hitting 40k lists at 2017’s Las Vegas Open. Here are the top 10 competitive lists you will see at this year’s LVO. 

DISCLAIMER: Listen up all you friendless WAAC drones, and narrative-driven fluff bunnies. These armies are cheesy, and are meant to be used in a setting like the 40k champs with consenting players. Netlist at your own risk, and don’t crucify players for creating competitive lists for a competitive event. Enjoy.

(No under-powered xenos codices were harmed in the making of these armies…often)

This is an opinion piece. I have no idea if any of these lists will win the tournament, nor do I expect one to. I just wanted to rank the lists I felt were the most powerful in the current ITC meta. I also wanted to write this article for people who may be preparing to play in the LVO 40k Championships who will want to know what kind of lists their list should beat. As you are reading this I encourage you to imagine the potential of each list because I do not have actual army lists. These are more army list concepts that expert players use to tailor fit the perfect list that caters to their playstyle. Now, without further ado…


Tau w/ Piranha Firestream

Now, I might not have even placed this army list in the top 10 if it wasn’t for the results of the TSHFT championship and Andrew Gonyo breaking into the top 5 in the ITC rankings. I went over this style of list on my 18th episode of Chapter Tactics but i’m going to break it down a little here.  Basically this is a Tau list that is Riptide-lite and focuses on the Tau Piranha Firestream formation and healthy amounts of markerlights and crisis suits. If you want a perfect example of a similar style of list, check the BCP player app on your smartphone and look for Paul McKelvey’s TSHFT winning Tau list. This Tau list has the models to compete with MSU, and still contains enough Tau firepower to shoot most armies off the board. Players who run this list tend to play really intelligently and cagey and I think it has surpassed the Tau “Monster Mash” list you would come to associate with the faction. This list is a refreshing reminder that Tau don’t always need big monstrous creatures to win.


Tripartite Lance w/ Psyker Support

Here is the only Imperial Knight list worth worrying about right now in the meta. Sure, if your army can’t deal with Imperial Knights you may have a hard time, but Imperial Knights can be outplayed with solid movement phase fundamentals and enough warm bodies. Deathstars have an even easier time dealing with knights, and most dedicated shooting armies use killing Imperial Knights as the golden standard for what your army should be able to blow up. Enter Joshua Death. Josh may not be the sole person responsible for building this list, but he is the guy I would expect to be across the table from me when i’m quivering at the thought of playing this list. Now, I know what you may be thinking. “Pablo, he is only one guy. Why should we worry about him in a 400+ person event?” Well, this army is EASY to build, and pretty easy to pilot. You have a Tripartite Lance. A single unit made up of a Knight Gallant, Knight Crusader, and Knight Warden. A Librarius Conclave, and a Psykana Division which summons a healthy sprinkling of demons. I could easily borrow the models for this list. Every Imperium player worth their Aquila has at least one Imperial Knight now, demons are everywhere, and librarians are easy to come by. All any player has to do is obtain this mishmash of 15-20 models, roll for key powers, summon demons on objectives and hope for the best. Now, Josh Death obviously plays this list a lot better than that, but I think it is a list you will see spark up a lot more. There are already a lot of Knight players because of how easy of an army it is transport. How hard would it be to grab some demons and librarians on the way out the door?


Riptide Wing + Best Ally Units Available

I know I know, this is an open ended list concept and barely counts as an actual list. But hear me out on this. This is a staple of some of the best players I know. Riptide wing is such a splashable formation that it can often times be one of many pieces of a swiss army knife. A buddy of mine dominated some of the best players with a Riptide wing, Wraithknight and friends, and 2 units of Wulfen in drop pods. Sean Nayden was recently spotted at the Goldensprue Cup GT with a Riptide wing, Corpsethief claw, and Skathatch Wraithknight. Basically the concept behind this list is Riptides for shooting, a powerful self-sufficient melee threat, and good scoring capability. If your army can’t deal with Riptide wings you may want to re-evaluate your list.


Genestealer Cult

Right now I think Genestealer Cult is the most overrated underrated faction in the history of 2017. Everyone I talk to has them making the top 8, everyone is preparing for them. The truth is, there are not going to be a lot at the LVO. The few that will be there are going to do really well. Geoff Robinson, Todd Silber, and Tyler Devries come to mind. The truth is, this faction is a balanced competitive faction that you should worry about, but it is still not better then a lot of the other more established factions. It is also a bit luck dependant. It is a dynamic army that can either look like the greatest army in the world, or the slowest. Which is why it is only number 7.



I was so tempted to put Genestealer Cult above Taudar, but two things made me change my mind. Taudar are a lot more consistent, and they can take a Skathach Wraithknight. Basically TauDar lists are an Eldar list of the usual suspects, mixed in with a Riptide Wing. Nothing fancy, just a bunch of amazing units which can put out a lot of firepower and jump on late game objectives. This list beats regular pure Eldar lists because it has a better capability of shooting vulnerable demon flyers off the board. Something a lot of armies really need to be able to do.

3D Number 5 isolated on white background

Battle Company

Ah, the perpetual 5-1 list. This list is actually in a better spot than it was last year at the LVO because a lot more armies are starting to become more susceptible to losing Purge the Alien. Also, battle company players got a mission boost in the form of Big Game Hunter. Because of the MSU nature of the list battle company players have an important tertiary point they can easily deny and take. Whichever battle company you decide to take (White Scars or Dark Angels are your only options) the battle company still suffers from a serious lack of top tournament wins though, and I don’t think has what it takes to beat the next 4 armies on our list from a threat-level perspective.


Renegades w/Demons

Renegades are a great army. They do everything the elite Imperial Guard lists of old used to do, but better, and cheaper. They can shoot any army off the board with tough T7 artillery, they can tarpit and zone with obsec zombies, and have access to melee threats like Screamer stars and Renegade Knights. Throw in Fateweaver and a little demon summoning actions and you have an army which has evolved from a more static army, to one which can threaten every part of the board and contest any objective. Oh, and that GW FAQ didn’t hurt either. The only armies which don’t fear Renegades, are the ones which don’t need to hide in multi-level ruins. Which brings me to…


Magnus and Friends

If you were wondering where big bird brain was, in all his horn-nippled glory he was right here. The Rehati War-Sect is the new kid on the block of tough formations, and it is kicking butt and taking names. This list is a very simple design but is oh so hard to general at the highest level. As one great 40k player said a couple weeks ago “This list is deceptively easy, but one mistake, and you lose your Magnus and the entire list comes crashing down from the sky”. Which is why I am going to put it at number 3. Nick Nanavati recently won an event with what I think is the most optimal way to run this list. Basically a Rehati War-Sect and as many brimstone horrors as he could fit. These lists are nasty because they can do a variety of things in multiple phases of the game. They have close combat threats, a variety of shooting attacks, access to cheap obsec, and mobility in the form of hard to kill flyers and demon summoning.


The Cabalstar

James Carmona can explain this list way better then I possibly could. So if you want to listen to his analysis here and here I will not be offended. In the mean time let me explain to you what exactly it is you are dealing with, when it comes to Cabalstars. You are dealing with the best psykers in the game. That’s it. Nothing else. The chaos factions have cheap warp dice (brimstone horrors), cheap IC warp dice (heralds), the best generic psyker HQs (sorcerors), the best FMC flyers (Magnus, and Fateweaver), and access to the best non-psychic deathstar buff in the form of the Grimoire. Not to mention summoning, and fast dogs of their own. The beauty of these lists is you can run a cabalstar in any list exactly like a librarius conclave. The rest is up to the player and their preferred playstyle.

I do think these lists have one achilles heel though. They can be really dicey. Warlords like Fateweaver, and pink heralds can blow themselves up or wear themselves down over the course of the game. These lists also don’t have easy access to mobile obsec (unless you count deep striking demons) which means they sometimes have a rough time beating armies like battle company. Speaking of which…

Belt-of-BrandonBattle Company w/ Deathstar

So, I know this is a battle company. So it should be ranked number 5. However this army concept is so much more terrifying and different then it’s less furrier barkstar-less counterpart. Basically Superfriends players and battle company players got together and decided that they were sick of losing specific missions like The Scouring, and Purge the Alien. So people started running deathstars in their battle company lists. You will see some prominant players run these lists, and you will see almost as many battle companies with deathstars as ones without. These lists come in a variety of chapters, deathstars, and styles but they all play the same. They shove a hard to kill unit down your throat and cover everywhere else with cheap obsec. The worst of these lists is the Dark Angels battle company with a non-psychic dependant barkstar. Which trade an expensive deathstar unit for one with a larger footprint that cannot get it’s buffs turned off.

Also, in case you were wondering Brandon Grant’s recent reign of terror  did have an effect on my decision. Matt Root may be the number one player but I honestly think Brandon Grant is the hottest player of the ITC season right now.

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Did I miss any armies? Agree with my list? Which armies would make up your top 10? 


  • piglette

    Orks will rise again!

    • Stealthbadger

      Prrrft, they don’t need to rise 🙂

      “Orkses never lose a battle, if we win we win, if we die we die fightin’ so it don’t count. If we runs for it we don’t die either, cos we come back for annuva go, see!”

      • ZeeLobby

        Well, they’re getting their dying and running practice in :P.

        • Stealthbadger

          Aw, they’re not half as bad as people make out if you play with friendly lists. Yes they’re not quite god tier but it’s not the auto lose nonsense.

          For me the issues are more internal, for example I want to run my pirate army of flashgitz but two groups of ten with their own pirate ship battlewagons is a bit too pricy for what you get with just a 6+ save.

          There a lot to be said for knowing that no matter what you plonk down no ones ever going to (reasonably) refuse to play that army.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, with Orks it’s heavily opponent dependent, which is the issue. Opponents with massive firepower, and you simply won’t live past turn 3. Sadly that’s most of the top tier armies as well. I’ve played into my friends Eldar with howling banshee spam, and it’s still tough, lol. And that’s probably the worst build in the Eldar book. They’re just in a sad state, which is too bad. Their dakka used to be feared, but now most armies can outrange and out-dakka them. Short of playing custom scenarios where combat is only a turn away, I have yet to see them come close to winning most games (played by me or others). Sadly our friend who just started has already thrown in the towel and moved on to Infinity, lol.

          • Stealthbadger

            Turn 2 charge is pretty much a must, getting first turn for this helps obviously.

            Shame about your friend, orks are probably more play to have fun than play to win on balance. Your enjoyment mileage is very geared around your opponent and personality.

            I still do quite well with mine but I play with friends almost exclusively so there’s nothing remotely like the lists in this article. Still, can’t help wonder how many boyz it’d take to bring down Magnus….

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, but everyone has a bit of both inside them. He was definitely more on the play-to-have-fun side, but sometimes it can just be demoralizing when you just can’t seem to win. We were all trying smaller games, and easier lists to help him get into it, but that kind of rubbed him the wrong way as well. When we explained that you pretty much have to talk about what your both taking to make the game even, he couldn’t quite understand why things had point values in the first place. So maybe the game just wasn’t for him.

            It also didn’t help that he came with us to a local tournament and saw the lists we beat him with get smashed by some power builds, lol. He was like well F orks.

      • piglette

        Unfortunately that old mantra just doesn’t cut it anymore. MY NOB BIKERS REMEMBER WHAT ONCE WAS

        • Stealthbadger

          You see now I prefer regular bikers over nobz and have pretty good results with a big enough group. But yeah if anything they standout more now.

          • piglette

            My point was that in the end of 4th ed, beginning of 5th, for a very short while orks were an OP powerhouse tournament army. The rules at the time favored nob bikers immensely and made them an OP deathstar the orks could ride behind to great victories. They have slid lower and lower in the power scales through the years since.

  • Commissar Molotov

    The more I read tourney lists, the happier I am to play pick-up games at the FLGS.

    • Stealthbadger

      Awaits same old WAAC players ruin the game/don’t play tournaments argument AGAIN.

      • Commissar Molotov

        Nah, man – if you like competitive play, good for you! But for me, playing against a summoning army composed of brimstone horrors looks like the most boring game of whack-a-mole imaginable.

        • Stealthbadger

          Hey I hear you man but you just know that this article is going to stoke the flames.

          • Commissar Molotov

            Ah, it’s always interesting to see how the other half lives!

          • ZeeLobby

            It’s even weirder when you live in both halves :D. Though I have to admit, the tournament scene has gotten pretty ridiculous for my blood. Pretty much requires going out and buying whole factions to stay up to speed at this point. I still think people who invested heavily in GSC to compete are insane at those prices.

  • Ebsolom

    I think a “fix” to the battle company would be to have the marines purchase full 10 man squads, so that it is actually a FULL 100 man company. Otherwise with these minimum squads of 5 only makes it a demi company when you think about it. I would feel dirty playing with all those free transports if I didn’t have to meet a reasonable minimum requirement.

    • NNextremNN

      Not all chapters/companies are at full strength all the time

      • Ebsolom

        That is true, but it’s not as if the marine codex needs any help.

  • Simon Chatterley

    I very recently played in a fairly big event in the U.K (54 players) which used ITC scenarios and new ITC and GW FAQ but crucially added “Single faction only”

    It made a massive difference and 8 out of them 10 lists could not exist.

    The winner was a Double Storm Surge with Riptide which doesn’t even feature in the “top 10 nasty lists”. 2nd was Genestealer cult, 3rd was Deamons, 4th was KDK and 5th was Imperial Knights.

    Honestly the most enjoyable event I’ve ever played in and was so refreshing to not have all that broken star rubbish.

    • silashand

      I would actually try an event that used the single faction restriction. Allies are what I hate most about the current game. They work fine in fluff, but on the table they end up creating games that are just not fun when stuff like the above lists are the result. It’s why if I go to the NOVA Open this year I will likely just play Blood Bowl :-).

    • NNextremNN

      Imperium is a pretty big faction.

      • Simon Chatterley

        Well no it isn’t actually. Imperium is lots of different factions

        • NNextremNN

          They only have one entry in the ally chart. And some institutions work very close with with others some Inquisitor ordos have armies. Cult mechanicus has skitarii and admech even some knight houses directly attached to forgeworlds. So even restricting them to one Codex wouldn’t make much sense. On the other hand we have far sight enclave and Tau empire which are technically one codex (+supplement) but in Lore are two factions.

          • Simon Chatterley

            Lore didn’t come into it. If you had a force that had 2 different factions (so say Space Wolves and Space Marines) it wasn’t allowed. Battle brothers and factions are different things.

    • Victor Hartmann

      That’s nice but it basically means that the codexes designed to stand on their own (Daemons, KDK, GSC, Tau, and Eldar) have a huge advantage while codexes designed to ally with others vary from disadvantaged (Grey Knights, Dark Eldar, Sisters of Battle, Deathwatch) to pretty much unplayable (Militarum Tempestus, Legion of the Damned, Inquisition).

      Basically, it’s another “propped” meta, just different. If you’re one of the “solo” codexes (Daemons, KDK, GSC, Tau, Eldar, and most likely Traitor Guard & Traitor Legions too), you’re loving this because it keeps the non-solo codexes from covering their weaknesses. You have a distinct advantage.

      Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a different enforced meta. Having different events to choose from is always good. But it’s not more balanced, just weighted more towards Heretics and Xenos.

      Personally, if super-friends are really the problem, there’s a much better solution than limiting sources and/or detachments: limit ICs to one per unit (which also means a “unit”of only ICs would have a maximum of 2 ICs in it). There might be some exceptions and/or modifications for formations specifically made up of ICs but there aren’t a lot of those so it shouldn’t be too hard to address.

      • Simon Chatterley

        I was nice to mix the meta.

        Interesting fact though, people there with those disadvantaged armies you mention seemed to really enjoy themselves as well.

        • Victor Hartmann

          Games can still be fun even when the odds are never in your favor and having a change-up in the meta can be refreshing. I’m fully in support of having a variety of tournaments providing a variety of formats to play in. I don’t think it would stay fun if single faction became the standard though.

          And in fairness, there are many other factors to a fun game: most important is the people your playing against but also things like mission, venue (hard to have fun when you’re bumping bums with every movement, well, for most people), time per round, players coming in with nicely painted armies, interesting looking terrain supporting good game balance, friendly and knowledgeable judges, or even what kind of food is available (that’s probably more important than many people realize). Etcetera.

          Sounds to me like there were a lot of open-minded and fun players at the event. Probably a lot of the other factors too. That’s always a win in my book!

  • Spacefrisian

    I bet alot of these list rely on 2+ re-rollable Jinksave…but i cannot here there awesomness over the screams of my sonic weaponry with shred.

  • Mr.Gold

    war convocation including Cawl?

    • KingAceNumber1

      Yeah, I was a bit surprised WarCon didn’t even make the list.

    • Victor Hartmann

      Fall of Cadia came out too late to be included for LVO

  • Benoit Tremblay

    How about you write these articles for people who don’t know 40k that well? I can’t figure out most of the nicknames you give to formations/armies/etc.

    • Hendrik Booraem VI

      Seconded. I can’t figure out what the heck “Battle Company with Deathstar” refers to. I mean, I get “Battle Company,” heck, I’m IN Battle Company (my national guard unit – we call ourselves “Battle Company” because we’re Bravo 4/118th Infantry) but what Deathstar? How do you combine Battle Company WITH a deathstar? Haven’t you spent all your points just meeting the minimum requirements for a Battle Company?

    • Lee Wilde


    • Victor Hartmann

      40k has a lot of jargon which is only made worse with acronyms. But, like any niche topic, you get the hang of it by reading a lot and listening to podcasts. Some of the forums (dakkadakka comes to mind) have handy little features which pops up the meaning of acronyms and some unusual words.

    • E65

      Yup, pretty much written for tourny heads. If they are supposed to be the primary audience I guess it’s awesome.

  • I’m picking Magnus with friends. The army seems to have the most recent impact and is still a new thing. It is auto win versus many of the top contenders too.