Let’s talk about the strange state of the 9th Edition Meta.
We are a couple of months into 9th Edition, and it has been a weird start. While players are still trying to figure out how things work, and how to work in new releases, the tournament scene has mostly been on hold this year, meaning it’s hard to determine what the meta is and what is actually good. A lot of people, myself included, have made predictions for what is going to rule the meta. In particular, a lot of people have felt that MSU armies and Marines, in general, would likely dominate, as they did at the end of 8th. We’ve now started to get some tournament results from scattered events, and while it is not what we are used to, it does give us some data to try to determine where the meta is out; let’s dig in.
Surprisingly, Not Marines
While many people predicted, and continue to do so, that Marines would rule the meta in 9th; the data so far isn’t really supporting that. Take, for example, the Invasion GT in Norway, which happened this last weekend. This was a 58 person event, and while small compared the major events we are used to, it’s one of the largest evens to happen in 9th. The event was won overall by a Deamon army, and in fact, Space Marines didn’t even make the top, which held the aforementioned Daemons, Harlequins, Ad-Mech, and Orks. This is a great spread of armies there and something that is good for the game. 2 Marine lists did make the Top ten, but that’s not all that great.
Earlier this month, the YHP Labor Day GT also so no Space Marines int he top four. This smaller event, 37 players, was dominated by Custodes, followed by Orks, Daemons, and Death Guard. At the start of August the Adelaide GT, with 42 players, saw Orks take the top spot. While no one faction dominated at these events, we have seen Orks, Harlequins, Custodes, and Daemons/Death Guard do surprisingly well and become major players unlike in 8th. This has lead to several people saying that Space Marines are no longer the dominant faction in the game.
Yes, But Also Space Marines
While they may have been shut out of the top four at the YHP and Invasion events, Space Marines are hardly out of the meta. Flying Monkey Con (a US event with 74 players) is the largest to my knowledge 9th Edition event to take place. Played back on August 15th, this event was dominated by Marines, with Salamanders winning the event, and two other Marine lists in the top 4 (which was filled out by a Death Guard list). The Smaller Varberg GT on August 29th was won by Marines, with another one in the top 4.
Battle for Survival and Vanguard Tactics Grand Series were also taken by Marines. Out of 8 “GT” events since August 1st that I have access to the top 4 lists from, four were won by Marines, two by Orks, one by Custodian Guard, and one by Daemons. Out of 32 lists that made the top 4 of these events, 11 were some flavor of loyalist Marines (12 if you include Grey Knights). So while Marines aren’t dominating every event, they are winning the most events and making up the largest percentage of the top 4 out of any group. I wouldn’t count them out.
What Is Going On
Look at what data we have. There are a few things we should be aware of that could be throwing it off.
- We have a super small sample size right now. Not only do we not have many events to look at, but they are overall small events. This makes any data we have pretty unreliable and allows a single outlier to throw off our data.
- Going along with that, a lot of the major competitive players aren’t going to events right now; the events that are happening tend to be more dominated by smaller local groups than usual as fewer people can travel far to go to one. That doesn’t mean these players are bad or unimportant, but it does mean that some of the most innovative players and those that might typically drive the meta aren’t.
- People are still learning the new missions and secondaries, and it can take time for it all the shake out.
- A greater than average percentage of the reported events are outside the US; traditionally, the US meta has been slightly different from the rest of the world, especially the UK.
- It’s not clear how much Space Marines are getting played right now; there is a distinct possibility that between Marine burnout and the fact that they both just got a ton of new units and are about to get a new book – people aren’t playing them at the moment. Either to give them a rest or because they don’t want to retool an army for 9th, to then have to retool it in a month when the new book comes out.
With that in mind, here are some conclusions we can draw from the data we are seeing:
- Marines remain the strongest single faction in 9th, winning more events than any other faction by a lot. They also won the largest event to take place in 9th. Out of Marines, Salamanders seem to be the favored choice.
- Marines may be less dominant than in 8th. This remains unclear, but Orks, Daemons, Custodes, Harlequins, and Death Guard all seem competitive right now.
- Astra Militarum, Nids, T’au, Craftworld Eldar, both Flavors of Knights and Necrons didn’t crack the top 4 at any event; this is a big change from 8th, which usually saw some Knights and T’au placing.
- A lot is still changing, and we need more data to know anything.
- MSU armies do seem to be doing well, but some horde armies can compete.
- Assault armies can win events.
So overall, Marines do still seem to be the best, just maybe a little less so than before. I’m happy that we are seeing more variety in the top 4s than in the past, but there are still too many armies that just don’t seem to be viable at all. The new Marine book, and to a lesser extent the Necron book, will likely shake things up a bit, but unless Marines get some major nerfs, they are likely to stay as top dog.
Let us know what you think about the current meta down in the comments!