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Warhammer 40K: What Recent Tournaments Tell Us About 40K’s Meta

5 Minute Read
Apr 15

Let’s talk about the Grimdark’s Meta.

Around the world competitive 40K is slowly starting to come back to life. With more and more people getting vaccinated, and restrictions lifting in places tournaments are starting to get more frequent. Though they aren’t yet, and won’t be for a while, up to pre-2020 levels, they are revving up. With new events happening we are also getting more data about what is doing well at events. Today let’s take a look at what, if anything, the recent tournaments can tell us about the meta.

The Events: March-April 2021

Today we will look at the easily accessed results from 9 tournaments played between March 6th and April 9th. These were mainly played in the US and Australia.  They ranged in size from Clutch City GT with 81 players to Western Aus Ironman with 31 players. While none of these broke the 100 player cap, those sized events have always been pretty rare. Overall I think for a one month period this is a decent sample, especially given how limited things have been.

The Winning Armies

The top lists at the nine events are a mixed bag. For them we have

  • 1 Drukhari
  • 1 Custodes
  • 1 Imperial Soup (Admech/IG/SoB)
  • 1 Eldar Soup
  • 1 Dark Angels
  • 1 Sisters of Battle
  • 1 Ynnari
  • 1 Death Guard
  • 1 Orks

This is a very diverse group with no repeat winners. While both Sisters of Battle, and Craftworld Eldar do show up twice, they are using divergent lists.The Sisters having one mono and one soup list and CWE having 2 soup lists. Without any dupicates its hard to say if there are any particular meta lists. Of particular note I would say is the absence of both Necrons, who have one of the newer 9th Edition books, and Harlequins, who had been getting a lot of meta buzz recently.

Top 4s

Looking at armies that placed in a top 4 we also get very diverse lists, both with a few more trends to see. For top fours we have

  • 2 Drukhari
  • 3 Custodes
  • 2 Imperial Soup
  • 2 Eldar Soup
  • 7 Space Marines (4 Dark Angels )
  • 1 Sisters of Battle
  • 1 Ynnari
  • 2 Death Guard
  • 4 Orks
  • 2 Necrons
  • 5 Chaos Soup
  • 1 Astra M.
  • 1 Craftworld
  • 3 Admech

Looking at top 4s Space Marines have the highest numbers of lists in the top 4 with, 7 out of 36 lists. Given how popular Space marines are however, I’m not sure this is really a good showing at all. Of Marines, Dark Angels were by far the most popular and tied with Orks with the most mono-faction armies in the top 4, with 4 each. After Marines, Chaos Soup was next up with 5 lists, followed by Orks, Admech and Custodies. 10 out of the the 36 lists were soup of some type, proving that, at least until more books update to 9th, soup is still very comparative.


For having a newly updated book Necrons have a pretty poor showing. GSC, Tau and Nids and Imperial Knights didn’t crack the top 4s in any format. Admech had a really strong showing, both on their own and showing up in soup.

So What’s The Meta

The Winners? Looking at the winning lists and the top 4s its hard to really say what the meta is. Partially there just isn’t enough info. 9 events seem like a lot if you were going to play in them, but it’s still a relatively small sample size, thrown off by having a limited player pool, and to a degree people possibly not taking them as seriously. Still its a place to start form and based on it there isn’t a clearly dominant meta list. A few factions or grouping of list, Marines, Chaos Soup, stand out as having done well, but within those, the lists are so varied it’s hard to make any sort of real call. Even just looking at the four Dark Angels lists all four were radically different, with two leaning Ravenwing, one Deathwing and one a mix. There doesn’t seem to be a single major winning list.

The Losers? While it’s hard to see what’s at the top of the meta, the things that aren’t doing well in the meta are much more obvious. Nids, GSC, T’au and Imperial Knights are all underperforming with no hits in the top 4s. Outside of Death Guard no Chaos army did well outside of soup lists. Harlequins, which had been touted as a promising meta army only showed up in one soup list and seem to have fizzled out. While Necrons did crack into the top 4, with a new book and a lot of new units they are underperforming. Astra Militarum got in through soup and one list in the top 4, but are also clearly not doing well, the same appears to be true of Sisters of Battle. If we look at Space Marine Supplement books, only a handful of them are getting into the top 4, with some clear power disparities among the supplements. Overall its clear that while the top lists may be fairly balanced, there are still a number of armies that are really struggling.

Let us know what you think of the current meta, down in the comments! 


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