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ITC 2017: 40K Year in Review Statfest

10 Minute Read
Jan 4 2018
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Get ready to see what the meta really looked like in the past year – with actual DATA!

Hi Everyone! Uncle Heffelfinger here with the legendary Captain Sunshine aka Reecius aka Reece “don’t call me Dick” Richard Robbins with a delightful year in review*

(*now with DATA!)

Contrary to what you might have heard on Signals from the Frontline, I am neither a statistician nor mathematician. I am but a guy with B level excel spreadsheet skills. While I understand that to mere mortals this makes me appear to be some sort of numbers wizard, I promise you that this is not the case. I am but a vessel for dropping these incredible factbombs.

Furthermore, to those who’ve listened to the Chapter Tactics or the Signals episode where some of the below numbers were first reported – you may notice some differences. This is due to my having subsequently cleaned up the data some more to reduce duplication and otherwise make it an even more accurate picture of what last year looked like.

Mmmm… cleaner data.

Finally: the vast majority of the below would not be possible without the mind-bendingly awesome innovation that is Best Coast Pairings. I cannot say this enough: Best Coast Pairings is what will allow us to take a feeble step forward from vroom vroom sounds and bashing toys in the air to an actual, metrics driven, functional 40k gaming meta. Just imagine how useful these types of real world results could be to, I don’t know, the ongoing rebalancing of the matched play rules?

Please, if you have ever said “hey that’s cool – there’s an app ON MY F#*(%^$ CELL PHONE that I’m using to enter results for this ten man RTT VIA OUTER SPACE” please… buy a subscription. More subscribers means they can keep the lights on and keep innovating and provide us even more insights and actionable data to use in the future. Best Coast Pairings for President.

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With that all aside, open the bomb bay doors, switch targeting to manual, and get ready for some retrospective FACTBOMBS.

2017 may well go down as the year in which it all changed – where GW found their stride and started making and supporting the game that we all wished it was. Outside of caps lock wielding internet commentators, many actual things point to this being a not insane thing to say – for example, the story of GW’s share price:

KABOOM!

Only one year ago GW was sitting at 730 GBX per share (that’s £7.30 m8). A year later and their share has increased more than 3.5 times over. Now that may not be sexy cryptocurrency numbers, but for a humble small cap stock it qualifies as one of the top performers in Britain.

Oh and by the way – there’s about 32 million Games Workshop shares up for grabs. Doing a little math that means that all of GWs stock is worth roughly £867,682,200. Using our friends at google to convert that to freedom dollars you get:

For those overwhelmed by the decimal places – at some point in December Games Workshop became a billion dollar company in good old fashioned USD and no one noticed or cared.

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So, in the era of virtual reality, a company that sells genocidal toys to grown-ups has grown into something that other companies go to Tony Robbins seminars to try and become. How could that be you ask? The answer quite simply is sales. We are eating this shit UP and GW has repeatedly beat their own and outside expectations on revenue. Will this pace continue? DO YOU LIKE PLASTIC PRIMARCHS?*

*full disclosure: the author indeed holds GW stock, and by no means do the above rambling paragraphs constitute cogent investment advice, rather, an observation of a crazy thing that happened.

But I digress…

What about our sweet, sweet Independent Tournament Circuit brought to us by the more humble purveyors of hobby product at Frontline Gaming? How did the year pan out vs 2017? For that, we have a look at the numbers again:

In contrast to my original stab at this, these numbers do not include any duplicate entries (sorry John Smith: THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE). I believe that this will provide a better snapshot of how the ITC looked in 2017.

These figures include tournaments up until the first week of December and yet there’s already a significant 12% increase in participants from last year. With a number of events yet to be put in the books it’s a guarantee that unique participation will be up even more significantly by season’s end.

On the downside, of the 5411 noble nerds that attended events last year 59% of them have only attended one event. Notably though, this number is down from 2016 where 65% of all ITC players were one-and-done. That’s a good sign! However it highlights the need for us to encourage and coach first time players. You can’t be “pwning noobs” 24/7 if there aren’t any noobs around now can ya?

So keep that in mind next time you’re at an event and it’s the first one that your opponent has played in – there’s a 60% chance it might be their last if they don’t find it to be a good experience. Only you can help prevent salty modeler syndrome – have lunch with the rookies, chat lists, high five ‘em for no reason, do whatever – just show ‘em a good time! This is supposed to be fun on some level, right? Kinda?
Ok moving on…

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So who are the real “playerz” out there? Assuming that attending more than one tournament suggests that you are an “active” competitor – here’s how the meta breaks out:

While the single event set saw piddly growth of 2% since 2016 – the active tournament crowd has increased 30% since last year! That means that there are 30% more people battling for the individual faction crowns and overall ITC rankings. This is a sign to me that people are not only trying ITC tournaments more, but they’re also seeking out more ITC tournaments to play in.

That’s the whole reason for the ITC to exist in the first place, and the more these numbers grow, the better the party on this crazy train gets!

Reece was right! Exclamation points rule!

Shifting gears, I feel the need to call out a significant elephant in the room. He used to be our only friend, and well, none of us have called him since June. That’s right folks – I’m drunk dialing 7th edition.

We remember those abusive days don’t we? Formations and monobuild armies, those crazy Ynarri… seemed like there were like two lists to choose from and like a high school boyfriend both made you feel bad. So I axe a simple question: what did the 7th edition meta really look like at the end of it all?

Oooooohweeee. There you have it! Feels about right doesn’t it? Half of the meta was comprised of Space Marines, Craftworld Eldar, Chaos Space Marines, Tau and Chaos Daemons. The only real surprise to me here is that Chaos Space Marines were so prominent. However, I’d be willing to bet that it was really just one Chaos Space Marine in particular: with ripped abs and nipple horns. You know – this guy:

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Rounding out the top tenish you’ve got Ad-mech (no surprise) followed by Guard (these are the real guard players) and then of course, the super friends.

So we get a text and it’s time to see the sidechick on the regular. No more blurry cell phone pics for us, it’s time to make things official. 8th edition is our bae. So how did the meta shift in the months since 8th dropped?

KABOOM

While this doesn’t include the soup factions of Chaos or Imperium (we’ll get to them later) on a faction to faction basis you can really see that players were ready to move on in a big way.

Sure power armoured murder monks still rule the day – but look at Orks and Tyranids! And where did Eldar go? Answer: devoured by the slaneeshi pleasure of no longer being bound to a faction you’re just not that into. Seriously – Eldar’s usage implodes with the switch to 8th edition. Combining Ynnari and Asuryani still gets you barely half of the total eldar players that were present in the meta just six months ago.

For full harshness – here’s a chart showing the swings in usage:

Sure the Ynnari seem to have really blown up, but that’s really just the desperate remains of the pointy-eared meta clinging to the only lifeboat they had. Otherwise 8th edition has been a boon to many underpowered but beloved factions.

RIP Eldar Corsairs: you were neither.

On that topic, let’s have a look at the relative strength of each faction in 8th edition. To do this I took every tournament result from each faction and simply looked at the average tournament points earned by it. Note that this does not control for sample size, so less used factions can be over-represented here (because I’m not a statistician, this will just have to do).

All factions together on average score 62 ITC points – anything more than that and there’s a chance your faction is giving you a boost. Below that suggests that playing Deathwatch is indeed, a handicap.

In the above average camp – there are certainly some outliers buoyed by small sample size here. I wouldn’t be anticipating the dark mechanicus meta, or understating the death of Genestealer Cult (they are basically extinct since NOVA). However armies with large samples and excellent results like Chaos faction, Daemons and Ynnari are either attracting skilled pilots, or are every bit deserving of the significant nerf bat that they collectively just took to the face.

Average results are interesting and all but who cares about average? This is America: what about winning? Which factions walk away with more hardware than the others?

There we have it folks: Though Astra Militarum may own first place in the first half of 8th edition, Chao Space Marines own the podium by a mile. When you lump in Daemons and the Chaos faction – it starts to feel like the “good” bad guys might be in tough vs the “bad” bad guys.

A final note about the data:

The above comes from all tournaments entered into the BCP app (including some but not all manual submission results.) This works out to 8200 tournament results from 368 tournaments in 8th edition alone. This is a tremendous wealth of information about our game, and though this article feebly gets the ball rolling – there will be more to come. In the weeks ahead we will go deeper not only on tournament results – but the even more useful realm of round by round results. That means knowing how each faction fares against each faction at the matchup level, individual player statistics, and probably a bunch of other cool shit.

However, interesting insights and actionable data is not possible without you. If you have a T.O who is either unaware or reluctant to use BCP or won’t submit scores to the ITC, remember that it’s not just about that little store tournament. It’s about being a part of a wider, quantifiable meta that now touches nearly every continent. The excitement of being a part of that bigger “thing” is why I’ve spent way too long writing this. I am super excited to share with you that there is tremendous possibility presented to us by using a silly damn app.

Ask yourself if you’d pay attention to your favorite pro sport if you didn’t know whether your favorite team was good or how many points your favorite player scored. Participating in the ITC and sharing your results through BCP is how we get to that kind of a world for competitive 40k. That is something worth supporting.

You don’t have to use someone else’s comp pack. You don’t have to swear allegiance to Frontline Gaming where you can save 15% on GW MSRP. You just need to make use of an app that makes T.Os lives easier, is way cool – and I will bet dollars to donuts – will play a role in improving this game in the future.

In Closing: Best Coast Pairings for President.

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I was going to add some flavor test to this but Val did such a good job I don’t feel it is necessary beyond this: the more data we collect through active participation in the ITC and use of the BCP app, the more accurate model we can build of how our game exists in the reality of how it is played and not just in our individual opinions. So by all means, please continue to play, have fun and go to events!

-Reecius

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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