Monday, 31 January 2011

Killswitch drops the "Meta" word in....

Editor: Introduction post from our new regular author - Killswitch/Alex Harrison from the Space Wolves blog. Alex and I met at the Brighton Warlords Doubles last year and we've kept in touch...sort of...anyway, he's here to fill us in on what he is up to... 

Hello everyone. I’ve been given the go ahead to provide some extra posts here on Sons of Sanguinius, so here I am.

The names Alex, some people may know me as a regular tourney player, others as a poster from the Space Wolves blog. I’ve decided to spend some time talking about things which aren’t just related to wolves, so jumped aboard the bandwagon and joined forces with Venerable and his team.

So, a little about me. I attend around 8-10 tourneys a year, I have a fully painted Imperial Guard army and a Marine army in development. It will be my own chapter (so I can be a cheap ass and use any codex I want). Why am I doing this? Because I love variety. I started Guard simply because it was a very different approach to Space Wolves, and they have lots of TANK!! Yes that’s right, I love my tanks.
I love the hobby just as much as the game, and do like to spend a bit of time & money on my armies, to make sure they stand out or at least get a second look rather than a pass over. For this very reason, my new Marine army will be taking me a fairly long time, as I will be putting a lot of time to convert them, make them very unique, and put some hardcore money to make them stand out. Stay tuned for some WIP’s in future posts.

I would like to spend this time to also talk to you all about something I have learned. There is and always be a “meta game”. I know I know, this will cause a stir in the community, and most of all will make some of you tear you’re hair out, but alas it’s the truth. How many of you travel the country to play games, events, tournaments or even to the nearest clubs for pick up games. Have you all noticed that there is and always will be a majority of certain armies? Well yes, there are, but what about their builds?

What you see online and what is “suggested” online are completely different to what you see on the tabletop. Mech is the way forward? Well yes, to some extent. Mech allows your army to effectively ignore small arms fire and push up the board fairly quickly with little to no ill effect. This mixed with giving your opponents plenty of targets, gives your opponent a hard time in terms of target priority. The 5th ed rules also tend to suggest Mech is very strong. I can’t say how far from the truth some of you are.

Mech does and always will do well, but we can’t forget 3 things. The mission, the deployment and most of all the opponents’ army. What you expect to face and what you have a good chance of facing are actually completely two opposite things. What you expect to face are what you read online. Mech Guard with lots of meltaguns, Mech MSU wolves with lots of long fangs, Mech elder with lots of fire dragons & fire prisms, Mech Blood angels with lots of preds & razors. I think you get the point. Now what about what you have a GOOD chance of facing. This is the meta. UK’s meta is fairly different to the rest of the world, with a large variety of different codex’s used. There are plenty of Daemon armies, ranging from Cav lists with Flesh hounds, chariots & fiends, to a large mixture between Great Unclean Ones, Daemon Princes & Soul Grinders backed up with Blood Crushers. Then we have the Tyranids, the supposedly “piss poor codex of 5th. Well when we take a closer look at the meta, we see lots of Nid lists; 9 Hive guard, plenty of Genestealers, Tyranid primes and Tervigons. Is this different to what the internet suggests? Slightly yes, so therefore you wont “expect” such a list. “Who takes 50 Genestealers, they suck”. Yes, they do when there’s one unit outflanking which you can ignore, but what about 3 large blocks of them infiltrating, 2 of them given FNP from Tervigons and they are getting first turn to rush your gun line. What then? Was you expecting this? No! Did you have a good chance of facing this? Well according to the Meta at the moment, then yes!

What about DOA Blood angels. Why don’t we see lots of them online faring well? Well because I personally don’t see people ball’ sing up to take them for an outing to a big tourney. Recently, my Mech Guard faced such an army, pure jump packs, which came out of no where. Did I expect to face them? No! Did I have a feeling that I would face them, hell no. Its not in our meta & I’ve never faced them before. This is what I describe an “evolving” metagame. People adapt. This player took this list JUST to face Mech Guard. There were plenty of guard armies out there, and this player KNEW what they were going to bring, because of what he has seen attending recently. Lots of dakka, which FNP marines aren’t effected by. By taking such a list (with about 9 KP’s) I was quickly overwhelmed and lost the game by 4 KP’s. Was it my deployment or target priority? Well according to my opponent it was the best I could have done. Did I have a chance from the beginning? No. Why? The mission.

So where does this come into play with our game? Well we need to come to terms that when you play a game or tourney where you aren’t sure what you will face, then instead of looking to the internet or local area for guidance, take a breath and consider that there is soo much out there, you will never be fully prepared. Experience will give you metagame knowledge, but this knowledge is always changing, adapting and being experimented with. Take a list that YOU are comfortable with, and as you progress with this list, experiment and adapt to the current climate. I do not believe in “perfect” lists. Look at all those MSU spam armies. Will it perform well in KP missions? Nope. Will it perform well against other MSU armies? Who knows! Will it have enough dakka to take down a horde army? Of course not, but hey, who takes that right? Well guess what, this Meta does ;)

Hopefully I have hit a nerve in some of you, and you appreciate the fact that an army list you build will never be perfect. Don’t get into a scruff with the internet about the list, but instead, simply use it and test it. Playtest, practise and knowledge. These 3 basic principles will bring out the best in all of us, so go out there and play some games. Don’t sit in all day and play around with an army list that looks good on paper but in reality, sucks on the tabletop.

That’s all for today but I will be looking into different army lists which I have started to build which requires those 3 principles.



  1. very interesting article. certainly food for thought.

    I dont think it'll stop me taking an almost fully meched force, but i will try not to be surprised when a load of 'stealers smash me in the face on turn 1. oh wait, actually, they will be smashing into my two units of bubblewrap and then dying in my turn. does that mean i've paid attention to the meta? ;)

  2. Bare in mind not everyone takes bubble wrap ;D It was certainly an example and very situational, just like Alpha striking.

  3. Indeed. The game against ven last week was the first time for ages I didn't take bubble wrap, and it was the first time I needed it.

    I think the best armies are those which have the ability to take on the most other army types. That's why I don't really believe in a meta. Some armies will always be able to at least adequetly take on all comers in most situations.

  4. I must second Atreides comments, I think that what we are seeing on the tabletop is very different to the 'excellence of execution' we see online (bonus points for reference lol!)...but that this should not make us change the way we build... we build an army that is efficient in its points costs, output, threat vectors, range, protection, mobility etc... so whether we are facing MC-spam demons (really? wtf?) or Horde Orks (please fuck off and die in a corner) we should have the tools to do so.
    There may be a 'meta' game...what the locals take, what tournament players take, but there will always be excellence.
    If we strive for that excellence AND combine it with execution... we are a shoe in versus whatever army.

    But, it most certainly pays to be aware and prepared... undeniably.

  5. I disagree with a lot of points in the article. Sounds to me you're talking about tailoring lists... not cool.

    Maybe if work will release me to actually write an article I can put some actual thoughts down on computer screen.

  6. Nothing about tailoring lists, more being prepared :) Learning how to play against such armies as they will be the ones you are expected to face, not simply changing your list to fight them.