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40K: State of the Meta – Is 8th Balanced

5 Minute Read
Jul 26

After a month of gameplay and a good tournaments I started collecting data to see; are things really balanced?

A guest editorial written by Andrew from Frontlinegaming

As the hype for 8th edition of Warhammer 40,000 reached a fever pitch we heard lots of claims that this edition would be balanced, and that there would be no bad armies.  “Everything is good!” became a rallying cry. After a month of gameplay and a good sample of tournaments I decided to start collecting data from Best Coast Parings to see, are things really balanced


As I am talking about different factions, I am going to leave out factions with fewer than 10 total games.  It is very easy for factions with only a couple tournament appearances to look really good or really bad. For instance, Salamanders have a 0% win rate, but only have 3 games listed total. Some of this also comes down to how people have listed their faction.  For the most part, I have just left things exactly as they have been entered into Best Coast Pairings. I know that there have likely been more than three games played by Salamander armies, but only three have been listed as a faction, and many more where listed as Adeptus Astartes.

By the time this article is finished being written and published, some of the results will likely have shifted a bit.

What’s Popular?

The top five most played armies are:

  • Adeptus Astartes
  • Tyranids
  • Astra Militarum
  • Orks
  • Chaos Space Marines

Astra Militarum and Orks are actually tied for third place with their number of games.

Many of the armies that haven’t been good for a long time have suddenly gotten much better.  Tyranids and Orks have surged in popularity since 8th edition was released.


What’s Winning Games?

  • Chaos (62%)
  • Imperial Knights (60%)
  • Dark Eldar (59%)
  • Imperium (58%)
  • Chaos Daemons (57%)

For a point of reference: the overall chance to win is 47.5%, the chance to lose is 47.5%, and the chance to tie is 4.9%. As it appears, certain armies are winning games significantly more often than the average.

What’s Winning tournaments?

First the raw number of tournament wins:

  • Astra Militarum (4)
  • Chaos Daemons (4)
  • Adeptus Astartes (3)
  • Chaos Space Marines (3)
  • Tyranids (3)

Now lets look at the tournament wins compared to how many games the army has played total, and they can be ranked as follows:

  • Chaos (+10.78%)
  • Genestealer Cults (+8.40%)
  • Chaos Daemons (+7.02%)
  • Thousand Sons (+6.62%)
  • Necrons (+5.23%)

The way to interpret this is that ‘Chaos’ faction armies are winning tournaments about 10% more often than the the average army. If you are into baseball I am told that this is the same as ‘value over replacement’.  The most significant thing about these numbers is that they are so low.  No one faction is dominating the tournament scene.  For a point of comparison, I ran a similar analysis at the end of 7th edition and Eldar Corsairs were winning 24.33% more tournaments than their average counterpart.

Games or Tournaments?

As you have likely noticed, most of the armies that have the best win records are not the armies that are winning the most tournaments.  Armies like Dark Eldar and Imperial Knights have a high percent of wins, but they also have a high percent of exactly one loss/tie in tournaments.  Dark Eldar have gotten exactly one loss or tie in 46% of all the tournaments so far, but have only won 7% of the tournaments.  There are many armies that fall into this category, but Dark Eldar are some of the most extreme.  This indicates one of two significant things. First, we are still on a strong learning curve. At this point, there are so many possibly builds that people haven’t figured out how to play against every possible army. Second, being able to win the majority of your games does not mean you are going to win a tournament. Chances are, winning two thirds of your games will get you in the top half. To win a tournament you need to not only win all of your games, but you are going to need to do well on secondary objectives as well. I would estimate about one in four tournaments have multiple armies that win all of their games.

Does That Mean Things Are things Balanced?

Mathematically, yes (but just barely).  


Combining the information on how many games each army has played with the overall average for winning a game we would see the current number of wins and losses at least 5% of the time. (Definition for statistical significance.) Five percent may not seem like much, but think about the results of over two thousand games. The evidence suggests that if everyone were to play those games again the total number of wins and losses for each faction would come out to be exactly the same at least 5% of the time.

With tournaments, things are even more balanced. Looking at the current data, I am 99% certain that tournament wins are distributed proportionally to how often an army is played.

Translation: For the most part, the armies with the most tournament wins are the ones who are participating in the most tournaments.

The overall rate to win a tournament is about 6%, and everyone is within a reasonable range for that average. Some of you may be looking at my lists for the most popular armies and the armies with the most tournament wins and are wondering why they don’t perfectly align. Well, things are never going to align perfectly. The most extreme case of performing above the average is 10% above average, and this indicates that player skill is likely a more significant contributing factor over the army chosen.

What Does It Mean

Ok, thats a lot of numbers what does this all mean?

Right now, we are still very early in this edition. The vast majority of players have only played a handful of games, and we are all still on a learning curve. I suspect, as time progresses ( and codices are added) we are going to start seeing more imbalances pop up. Part of these imbalances will be the new rules of each codex, but  some of this will arise as people learn and master the intricacies of the game. As people learn the game, more and more people will learn to take advantage of their own armies strengths and their opponents’ weaknesses.

~Agree, disagree, let us know in the comments.



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