40K: The Meta Doesn’t Matter

Play what you want because in 8th Edition GW has your back.

The vast majority of Warhammer 40,000 player are NOT top tournament players. It’s hard to believe but the numbers don’t lie. Now, I’m not dogging on the tournaments or the tourney scene – in fact, I actually enjoy them when I can attend, but at the end of the day there will be a top 8, then a top 4, then a top 2 and a lone “champion” for a tournament. What does that mean for the rest of the field? It means they went home empty handed with only their armies and hopefully some fun memories from the event.

If you’re going to tournaments and looking to compete and possibly take home the glory then you probably want to keep-up with the meta – but for the other 80-90% of the field, the meta really doesn’t matter.

Meta =/= Average Player Experience

If you’re an average 40k player then you probably don’t buy, build, and paint a new army every month. You probably don’t get to play as much as you’d like. You probably have other hobbies, friends, family, and obligations (like a job) that take up your valuable 40k time. The simple fact is that life gets in the way, bills need to get paid, and you can’t dedicate the resources you’d like to 40k. So why do you bother worrying about the next big meta army? Are you really that concerned about it showing up at your next local event? Are you worried about it showing up at your local game night? If you don’t have an answer for the “new hotness” on your once-a-week game night, do you really want to spend your evening bashing your head against that brick wall?

I got plans for your meta…

For many players, they will gladly accept that challenge! “Sure, I’ll play against your tournament list. I want to see how I’d fare against it.” Hey, I’ve been there – I think we all have. You get to the point where you just don’t care and just want to get a game in. It might not be the most enjoyable game, but it’s better than not playing…right? Debatable. At some point you start to value your limited game time more than “the challenge” and you start to say, “No thanks. That’s not the game I’m looking for tonight.” The truth is that for many players they’ve hit that point – and if you haven’t been there, you will. The Meta only matters to folks who want to be a part of the tournament scene.

Games Workshop And The Army Life Cycle

Let’s talk about the life cycle of an army really fast. First you have to buy it. Then you have to build it. Then you have to paint it. Then you, finally, get to play it. How long does that process take? A week? A month? A quarter? A whole year? For the average 40k gamer, I’d probably peg that around the 3 month mark. Now, let’s just say you’re behind the curve – you’ve just learned about a new “Meta Breaker” army and you’re committed to brining it to the next big tournament! Perfect – but I hope you’re checking your calendar:

Games Workshop, for the first time in a long time, has been very open about the FAQ process and has shown everyone their timelines. They have been actively “correcting” (some would say nerfing) trouble-causing armies. Stormravens? Fixed. Ogryn Hyper-loop? Fixed. Assassin/Smite Spam? Beta Rules out now. Dark Reapers? Guess who’s next…

If your fancy new “Meta” army relies on some gimmick or loophole, odds are by the time you’re army is ready to go, it might be on the chopping block. Are you willing to put your money on the line in a race against the clock? Hey maybe you’ll get lucky and your army will fly under the radar! Until it doesn’t…

Tick Tock…

Warhammer 40,000 is a hobby and at the end of the day if you’re not having fun with it, why bother? If you enjoy constantly chasing the Meta and turning over your army time and time again, more power to you. For the rest of us, my advice is to play what you want. Build the army you enjoy playing and let the top tournament ringers chase the Meta.


Are you on the bandwagon for the meta? Are you enjoying the ride? How do you feel about chasing the meta vs playing what you want to play?

  • I’d really really really like to see some articles that don’t revolve around 40k tournament play now please.

    Maybe some tactics articles. Strategy articles. Maybe a how to run a campaign article. I think we’ve went beyond beating the horse and into we’ve dismembered the creature and hung its entrails over the bridge for all to see.

    • Koonitz

      Well, that does sound like what a Chaos cultist WOULD do…

      Pretty tame, though, if you ask me….

    • Txabi Etxebarrieta

      Yeah, it helps to have a level of self-awareness around the issue considering the number of LVO-related articles that get posted on the outlets.

      This article may be a good reminder, but even that will get lost amidst list analysis and articles focusing on combos.

    • Boondox

      I agree. A few more articles for the casual gamer would be welcome. I look at the tournament lists on BoLS and can’t imagine having a fun game with any of them.

    • ZeeLobby

      Gosh, if only. I mean why talk so much about meta and tournaments for a system which does a horrible job supporting it…

      Just FYI, I’d love some Auticus articles :D.

    • Manouel Tiger


    • lunahula .

      It is a bit much yeah. I would prefer more of a digest after changes and summarisations of their impact every so often. Rather than the kind of mostly speculative updates on everything several times a day 😀

    • Lebowski1111111111

      do you think they just post these articles without regard to the clicks they generate? I would imagine these type of articles generate the most clicks.

      And to be fair, why would i even want to read tips or strategies to be used in casual games (non competitive)? Everybody can figure that stuff out on their own, and if they cant, who cares, aslong as they had fun.

      • Sure but why do we need to read the same article written by a dozen different people in a dozen different ways?

        A tactics or strategy article would result in a conversation that centers around the use of tactics and strategies. Not another whine fest about Tony from LVO being WAAC or players netlisting the meta over and over.

        Also no one mentioned casual tactics and strategies. I’m not even sure thats a thing lol

        It would be nice to see an alpha strike article and how to counter it. Things of that nature. To give people the tools needed to learn to play better instead of giving up when WAAC Daddy shows up to the table and takes a giant crap down their throat with his lvo list in a casual game and tells them to git gud.

  • Agent of Change

    If the Meta doesn’t matter, and most 40k players aren’t tournament players (both true) then one one expect to see the majority of articles to be about something other than tournaments and meta issues.

    Is that something we can see happen?

    • Kabal1te

      That would require BOLS writers to take their own advice.

      • HeadHunter

        Or for people to stop laying back while someone else does all the pushing. I never understood why someone would waste so much of their time visiting a site that apparently makes them miserable.

        • GrimBarker

          Yes, that seems like a thing: why don’t you, the reader, just write the articles that you want to read? While I would agree that most of us could write better articles in our sleep, I don’t know why someone would rag on someone else for expressing the opinion that they think their entertainment site can (and probably should) do better. I mean, it’s not like BOLS didn’t just do a survey asking readers to tell them just that sort of thing…

          • Koen Diepen Van

            well because they don´t feature those articles . I mean god bless pimpcron more of those kind of articles would be a good thing. And i am sure they are out there. They just don´t get selected.

        • Kabal1te

          Just because I would like to see more articles on things outside meta and tournaments doesn’t mean that I don’t find information in the articles they do post useful, I also enjoy the opinions of the comments to gage the thoughts of players and people outside my local area.

        • LankTank

          Its just likea how the same people have spent a whole decade telling everyone GW and 40k is horrible, and how everything they release is broken but yet they still play and read daily articles

    • HeadHunter

      I’m sure they’d accept a worthwhile submission. Did you have an article in mind, or should someone else write it for you? 😉

    • chris harrison

      The reason why most of the articles on BOLS are about tournament monkeys is because they are the loudest minority in the fanbase, and it’s 2018, where loud minorities rule.
      Personally, whenever I hear somebody talking about Meta (And I don’t know what LVO means, and I really don’t care) I want to laugh in their face, because they’re just telling me that I don’t need to listen to anything they have to say.
      Finally, as a long time Ork player, I love it when I field a perfectly reasonable all-comers list and the ironic-t-shirt-wearing hipster across from me says “That’s not an optimized list! playing against you is a waste of my precious tournament practice time!”

      • Koen Diepen Van

        Man you love weird things

        • chris harrison

          I take that as a compliment. Normal is for those who cannot do any better.

          • euansmith

            Orkz iz not weird… well, Weirdboyz iz pretty weird, I’ll give you that, but da Boyz iz az normal az a Squig on Toast.

      • generalchaos34

        yeah, ive had people refuse to play me because it would be a “waste of their time” because I was running fun things, and here I thought we were friends…..

        • Lebowski1111111111

          nothing personal but my time is very valuable, if i can mix in 3 hrs to play, and your the only guy showing up running some list that is fluffy but im gonna dominate in 60 minutes, yes, that is a waste of my time. Time is money friend.

          • AmorousBadger

            If you’re playing 40k for money you are totally in the wrong game…

          • Lebowski1111111111

            where did i say i play 40k for money? i mean did you just completely make that up off the top of your head?

            My time is valuable, hence the expression time is money. If you dont understand something, best not reply.

          • euansmith

            Or else you could get in two games against your fluffy opponent in the three hours, and swap armies for the second game.

          • Lebowski1111111111

            Im not letting some random touch my models. Ive sunk to much time and effort painting them, and have seen to many models smashed to the ground by careless hands in my 20 years in the hobby.

            More power to you if you do.

          • SYSTem050

            Nothing personal but if you aren’t being sarcastic I agree as that’s also 60 minutes of oxygen the world isn’t getting back

          • Lebowski1111111111

            so because i dont like to have my time wasted im not worth oxygen? i hope your entire family dies a slow painful death.

          • LankTank

            So to reiterate, if he was the only player you would choose no gane over game cause his list is not meta optimal? Nothing about his sportsmanship or the chance to see a new list?
            You know in medievil warfare where some peasants only job was to carry a sack, run towards the wall covered in archers and throw it in the moat basically guranteeing their death? The sack carrier of the first wave? That job is too good for you.

          • Lebowski1111111111

            lets compare peasants in medieval warfare to me not wanting to waste my time smashing a guy fluff bunny in warhammer. Good times.

          • Lebowski1111111111

            i would rather work on my chore list or take my kids to hockey or shovel the snow from my driveway or do any of the 500 things on my honey do list than waste 3 hrs playing some guy i will smash at my store. My time is mroe valuable than whatever experience smashing a guy would be.

            Its pathetic that im being shouted down in here for saying i dont want to waste my time, if i was in here bragging about taking my tournament list and smashing the crap out of overwhelemed opponents instead would i be celebrated.

            Sorry i dont have fun crushing guys at warhammer and would rather do something else.

          • LankTank

            I think its more the fact tgat you think you’re gods gift to warhammer and would obliterate any list with creativity to such a degree it wouldnt even pique your interest. And alot of trash talk about “basements” from a man who nees to work 60 hours. Come to Auckland where the avg 5 bdroom house is $1mill usd

      • Snord

        Tell it like it is, Chris. Nicely put.

      • LankTank

        Las Vegas Open. Just a tornament that just passed. Well really its THE tournament in america. But here from NZ that means jack

    • Nathaniel Wright

      Read between the lines: ‘The Meta Doesn’t Matter (to you)’.

      Rather than fix the problem, the shysters that run the tournaments pick their favorites, give them tailored lists, and see how it goes.

  • SilentPony

    I say we take ours and BOLS advice and stop talking about META and tournaments all together.

    Love the idea of tactics and unit breakdown articles. So i’ll get the ball rolling by asking for advice:
    I’m thinking of running Ragnar Blackmane in a land raider for awhile, but I don’t know if I want him with blood claws, or wolf guard. And then, terminators or normal marine guard? Suggestions?

    • HeadHunter

      Stormwolf full of Blood Claws. Or Crusader full of WGTs.
      Just my opinion and more based on fun than anything else.

    • Apocryphus

      Model Ragnor on top riding that Land Raider into battle like a legendary mount, that’s my advice. :3

  • Bigalmoney666
    • Ash_Durant

      Because nothing else META’s 😉

  • So where is the actual content of this article? 🙁
    That is all just meta-content.

  • zeno666

    Dear BoLS author(s), show me on this doll where the Dark Reapers touched you..


  • euansmith

    “Meta don’t matter to night
    It sure didn’t matter yesterday
    Just when you think you’ve got Storm Ravens enough
    That’s when it all up and flies away
    That’s when you find out that you’re better off
    Makin’ sure your fluff’s alright
    ‘Cause meta didn’t matter yesterday,
    And it sure don’t matter to night”


    • Spacefrisian

      Stil not as powerful as 36 darklances in 1500 points when everyone was raving on about the Iron waariors Obliterator 3.5 dex spam, but plebs only played easy armies. And the IW list loaded faster on the web back than.

      Those tears i saw when my DE won when everyone said DE were weak…

      • euansmith

        I remember those weak-sauce DE. The Duke and his Green Goblin Squad eating my Space Marines.

        • Spacefrisian

          Was earlier, the Duke and Green Goblins werent even invented, we did have Kruellagh the Vile though.

  • http://www.belloflostsouls.net/2014/05/forging-the-narrative-what-is-narrative-gaming.html

    Blast from the past. An article I wrote for BOLS in 2014 on what is narrative gaming.

  • af

    I like those grots.

    They look old school, which is the best kind of school.

  • ectoplasmic gyrator

    I love this article because I could give a F less about the meta

  • Rob brown

    Couldn’t agree more. We use peer pressure and light bullying to maintain game balance.

    • Warrior24_7

      “Internet” peer pressure and Internet bullying? Waaahahahaha!!!

  • AmorousBadger

    Frankly, I’d be more convinced that the BOLS team were interested in actually playing games for fun if you know, they didn’t keep endlessly wanking on about tournament play, posting cheese lists and posting up dodgy WAAC stratagem ‘synergies’.

  • Warrior24_7

    If the meta doesn’t matter? Then why whine about the meta?

  • AnomanderRake

    “The meta” doesn’t matter. YOUR meta (what the people you play with do) does matter. The vast majority of players may not be LVO tournament players, but there exists a space in between “meta doesn’t matter, play what you like” and “play to the top-level tournament meta” where you pay attention to what’s going on around YOU and decide what to do/not do based on that. And I suspect that’s the space in which people are going to have fun, because you aren’t forcing people to buy tournament-meta armies that are going to die shortly in order to not get tabled immediately and you aren’t telling people to go out and buy what they like, only for them to come back and find that what they like is terrible and they can’t do anything about losing every game in two turns.

  • Foxdonut

    Dont worry casual players GW will support you by making your commissars worthless then release a new model thats better in everyway except fluff!!!