Black Blow Fly here to take a look at the state of USA vs European Competitive 40K – with one global tournament under the microscope.
Part of my profession is to conduct failure analysis – it can be small scale or large scale. Sometimes heads roll. I have had my share of failures and it is part of what makes us what we are in terms of how we handle it and if we learn anything. Repeatedly beating your head against the wall is not a solution. While I am considered a very competitive gamer I have not had the success as members of the team and hindsight is 20-20… BUT we can take an objective look.
ETC – USA vs Europe
Today I will take a look at the European Team Tournament (ETC) and the repeated drubbings team USA has suffered at the hands of their European opponents.
To me looking in from the outside I see two schools of thought for competitive play at the international level that is the ETC:
• Cheesing out an army list via spam and penultimate broken combinations which can result in armies that have no semblance in terms of background (USA)
• Tactical army lists that revolve around overall strategic play and still can adhere to background (Europe)
I think the US national tournament system unfortunately to a certain degree lends itself to the former type which has been shown repeatedly to not bring home the gold at the international level. Arguably the best USA daemon player lost to CenStar which is a really bad match up for the latter army. In fact is was this army:
ETC Primary Detachment (CAD): Codex Grey Knights, Faction Grey Knights
HQ1-Warlord: Librarian (110): Nemesis Daemon Hammer (5), Psyker ML3 (25) 
TROOP1: Strike Squad 
TROOP2: Strike Squad 
HEAVY SUPPORT1: Nemesis Dreadknight (130): Gatling Psilincer (30), Heavy Psycannon (35), Nemesis Daemon Hammer (5), Personal Teleporter (30) 
HEAVY SUPPORT2: Nemesis Dreadknight (130): Gatling Psilincer (30), Heavy Psycannon (35), Nemesis Daemon Hammer (5),Personal Teleporter (30) 
HEAVY SUPPORT3: Nemesis Dreadknight (130): Heavy Incinerator (20), Heavy Psycannon (35), Nemesis Greatsword (10),Personal Teleporter (30 )
LOW1: Kaldor Draigo 
Total ETC Primary Detachment: 1290 pts
ETC Secondary Detachment (Allied Detachment): Codex Space Marines, Faction Space Marines
HQ2: Chief Librarian Tigurius 
TROOP3: Scout Squad (55): Bolter (0) 
HEAVY SUPPORT4: Centurion Devastator Squad (190): additional Centurion (60), Omniscope (10), 4 Grav-cannon and grav-amp (80), Hurricane Bolter (0) 
Total ETC Secondary Detachment: 560 pts
Total Army Points: 1850
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
A New Roster
Another part of the equation to the failure mode is repeated self repetition. Maybe it’s time to bring in a totally new line up and see what they can do. In contrast Germany is always a top contender. If it were up to me I’d study their approach to the ETC and learn as much as possible from them. I always want to study the top competition as much as possible to figure out what makes them go tick tock like a well built clock. I may not blatantly copy them but you can bet I will know what they do to win on a consistent basis and figure out a reliable counter.
Counter Meta Builds
The top ETC teams will often bring highly tuned lists specifically built to counter one powerful build. It’s usually something not seen before or expected. The Polish team brought an anti leaf blower list the first year it surfaced in the Ard Boyz tournament. It consisted of nothing but Genestealers and Tervigons granting FNP. No one played anything like that ever back then and it tabled leaf blower lists all tourney long.
Follow the Leader
To me it’s obvious that while an army featuring non themed components such as Orks and Farsight Enclave might produce winning results at a local level it will face a lot of really tough counters at a higher level of competitive play such as ETC. The ETC seems to be not that big a focus in the USA and more of a novelty but in truth all competitive players can learn how to improve their game by being a student of the European approach. We could adapt to a humble stance letting go our own approach to enact a more totally open mind. At a commercial level this is how many big companies have revitalized their own self interests and turned around their ability to truly compete again and succeed. Look at Ford Motor Company as one prime example or Chevrolet. It takes a big person to accept their own failures recognizing them for what they truly are then starting over again at the grass root level to reinvent themselves.
Time to Pick Up the Pieces
In general the USA has been very successful competing abroad in any endeavor when they are well organized and properly prepared. This is a big investment in time and resources but it is the same old story year after year. Part of it too is the good boy system used to select players rather than a truly competitive system such as national playoffs to make the team.
What do you think the secret to European success at the 40K ETC is?