Ad Mech have always struggled as an army due to their low variety of models. One of the strongest options for Ad Mech was to use the Stygies stratagem to move up a giant unit of Electropriests, and then tie up the enemy army turn one. It was very easy for them to wipe out a unit, which would improve their invulnerable save to a 3+. Mixed with a stratagem for +1 attack and +1 save along with their baseline ability to shrug off damage, and you had a deadly and highly durable unit.Unfortunately, the Stygies stratagem (and many like it) have been nerfed into the ground. Instead of being able to set a unit up anywhere on the table as long as it’s 9” away from the enemy, you now get a single free 9” move at the beginning of the game. Although a free 9” move is not negligible, it’s also not nearly as good and makes it the Electropriest combo borderline unplayable. This leaves Ad Mech in a rather awkward position since Mars is now far and away their best option thanks to Cawl and the ability to practically always get free armywide cover. However, Ad Mech do benefit from the fact that the game has slowed down and they will generally be under less pressure from most opponents, and it’s possible that a new sort of mid-range styled army might emerge out of Stygies. Overall, Ad Mech definitely are worse off after the FAQ, playing them just for fun will require careful consideration, and competitively they will probably rarely see top tables.
Aeldari actually encompasses four different factions in total, consisting of Craftworlds, Drukhari, Harlequins, and Ynnari. However, by design they tend to be very intertwined, so we’ll be looking at them as a group. Aeldari have consistently been one of the most competitive factions in 40K, which made them a key focus for the FAQ.Craftworlds will feel the nerf to FLY a bit, as it does make Shining Spears more of a liability. In addition, the changes to Rangers makes them far less desirable as a Troops choice. However, almost every unit in the Craftworlds codex is at least decent, if not very good, and they still benefit from probably the strongest Psychic abilities in the game, in addition to a powerful Stratagem line up. The army will continue to be a total powerhouse, but it will certainly change up in response to the FAQ. Of course, we can’t talk about the power of Craftworlds without at least mentioning Ynnari. Despite the nerfs to FLY reducing the usefulness of Ynnari Shining Spears, Soulburst is still an incredibly strong army special rule and both Yvraine and the Yncarne are absolute power houses each in their own way. Aeldari will continue to be a top tier faction just off the power of Craftworlds and Ynnari alone, and a regular competitive contender. This is to say nothing of Drukhari, who received a serious nerf to Agents of Vect. It’s now possible to effectively kill Agents of Vect out of the game by removing all units with the Kabal of The Black Heart keyword. In addition, moving Agents of Vect to being the only 4 CP Stratagem in the game makes it a very CP intensive stratagem to use. Drukhari are still a very strong army, but you will probably be seeing more Prophets of Flesh and less Kabal of The Black Heart at top tables. Of course, you will still see the Kabal Of The Black Heart, and will sometimes even see both, as the power of cancelling an enemy’s key Stratagem can never be discounted. The big loser for Aeldari however, is sadly Harlequins. These clowns aren’t finding the FAQ to be a laughing matter. Although the big FAQ didn’t do very much to them, their own personal FAQ changed Flip Belts to only be active in the movement phase. This is a crippling nerf to Harlequins, as one of their biggest powers was being able to quite literally dance through the enemy army in Close Combat to tie up and pin important enemy units. With the change to Flip Belts, it’s extremely easy to just screen Harlequins out and gun them down. While the army is still probably fine for casual play, they probably won’t be seeing nearly as much use at the top tables of competitions. Overall, Aeldari are still going to be a very powerful faction at high levels of play despite their various nerfs. Casually, any and all factions are totally playable. At a more competitive level, you’re going to see a lot more of Craftworld/Drukhari/Ynnari mixes and a lot less Harlequins, but overall the Faction will still be a top contender.
ASTRA MILLTARUM/IMPERIAL GUARD
The Astra Milltarum were one of the cornerstones of top tier competitive 40K due to their ability to generate functionally infinite CP for any Imperium player. With the changes to how CP regeneration works, that’s no longer possible. In addition, Slabshields were nerfed on Bullgryns slightly, mostly to prevent an almost certainly unintended interaction where you could make Bullgryns have crazy high invulnerable saves.Despite these nerfs, Astra Millitarum as a whole actually come out pretty well here. At very high levels of competition, the heavy nerf to CP regeneration is obviously felt and it does drop the army down a peg or two. However, for more regular play, Astra Millitarum (hereafter AM)maintains basically all of their power and synergy. This is good for most AM players, as it means that their lists don’t need to be changed very much, if at all. Frankly, in some ways the army actually comes out ahead. Generally speaking, AM were never looking to try to wipe their opponent out in one turn, especially for the more artillery focused players. Moreover, despite the nerfs to Slabshields, Bullgryns still maintain all of their threat, and there’s now a meaningful decision to be made between Slabshields and Bruteshields. In addition, Prepared Positions really improves the defenses on your vehicles and artillery, while also making your guardsmen a bit tougher to kill. Overall, AM are still very well positioned as an army, both casually and competitively. Most players won’t even have to make adjustments to their list in any meaningful way, other than taking different Warlord Traits and Relics.
Chaos has many subfactions, but due to how often they are paired together with one another, we will simply be looking at Chaos as a full entity. For the most part, Chaos actually came out okay here despite a couple of nerfs. Demons saw a minor nerf to Warp Surge, and they lost the ability to hand out a relic to a CSM Demon Prince, but were otherwise unaffected. The same is true for Death Guard and Thousand Sons, who saw no changes at all.The story is a little different for regular Chaos Space Marines, however. One of the most common competitive strategies for Chaos was using Forward Operatives to position large amounts of Cultists right in front of the enemy. With the heavy nerf to Forward Operatives, like other infiltrate strategies, this specific strategy is far less viable than before. However, Chaos still has many other powerful builds and lists, some of which that didn’t rely on Cultists at all. These builds will persist completely unchanged, which leaves them in an even stronger state than they were before. Even for more regular play, most Chaos players were not reliant on using FLY in particular to close the gap with the enemy, and the faction has other ways to propel Cultists or other units right into the enemy’s lines. Overall, Chaos looks to be extremely well positioned currently. They stand to benefit from Prepared Positions, most of the nerfs don’t heavily affect them, and they still have lots of options for both casual and competitive play. The only real losers in Chaos is Alpha Legion players and competitive players using hundreds of Cultists, as the changes to Alpha Legion will require an adjustment in strategy.
IMPERIAL KNIGHTS Imperial Knights are definitely not a major faction in the 40K universe, and normally wouldn’t make the cut for this article. However, they were a cornerstone of competitive Imperium lists, and they can be a downright terror to face regularly. As a result, they saw a sweeping array of nerfs in the form of many of their best stratagems going up in CP while also indirectly throttling their access to CP in general. Because these changes are so pivotal to the shape of the game, Knights will be discussed a bit as well.Before the FAQ, the main competitive use for Knights was to take a Castellan along with an Astra Millitarum “CP battery” to generate basically infinite CP which was then dumped into the Castellan to fuel a variety of powerful affects without consideration or cost. Post FAQ, Castellans have maintained all of their power, and instead had the access to that power restricted. What this means is that Imperial Knights, mainly but not exclusively Castellans, will probably still wind up as part of many Imperium lists. However, it now has to be a careful and thought out decision, as now not only are Knights more CP intensive to fully use, but Imperium players will also have less of it laying around. Of course, if you are playing with any of the other Knight variants or Hosueholds, you will actually be largely unaffected by these changes. If you intend to continue to play a Raven Castellan, however, than it’s something you need to consider carefully, as you have to make sure you bring enough CP to fuel it for multiple turns, which can be extremely CP intensive. Overall, Knights are definitely weaker now than they were before. However, it will almost certainly be a mistake for you to discount their existence. They may not make the absolute top tables without an excellent pilot, but they will still show up, and they will still clean house against a player that is not prepared for fighting against a Knight.
Necrons have really been struggling to find their place in the scene of 40K, and overall the FAQ hasn’t helped them much. On the one hand, Prepared Positions will greatly improve the defenses of your army. On the other hand, the nerfs to Wraiths and their movement options will definitely be felt. Wraiths are still decent models, but they’re not nearly as good.There is one thing that did get better for Necrons though, which is the Shard of The Deceiver. There’s a combo with the Shard of the Deceiver, along with Obyron and Zahndrekh to get real up close and personal with the enemy army. Since there are far less armies that are capable of doing this, those that are end up as well positioned in the game. Although it probably won’t end up dominating top tables, getting some Flayed Ones into the enemy at the beginning of the game is decently effective. Look to CA to hopefully lower some of the prices a bit in Necrons. With some points drops, the army has real potential.
Orks are one of the last Index armies, and the only major faction to still be in an Index. Their new codex is right around the corner, and the specifics of that codex will of course greatly shape their viability and performance in the game of 40K.However, the current changes to the game have already been very friendly to Orks. Orks are one of the only remaining armies that can plausibly and consistently gurantee a serious melee threat at the beginning of the game thanks to Da Jump. In addition, although Storm Boyz are going to suffer from the FLY nerfs, the rest of the army was largely unaffected, and they even minorly benefit from Prepared Positions. The specifics for Orks will again depend on their Codex, which is due out in October. They are definitely a faction to keep on the radar, as it’s very likely they will be well positioned for both casual and competitive play once their Codex arrives.
Space Marines truly comprises a huge variety of armies, but like many other factions discussed here today, we’re going to lump them together. Marines received both some of the biggest buffs and largest nerfs from this FAQ.Marines will greatly benefit from receiving a massive defensive benefit thanks to Prepared Positions, as bonuses to your saves are more impactful the better your save already is. In addition, Marines will in general benefit from the slowed down pace of the game, as most Marine armies aren’t looking to beat their opponent in one fell swoop. Instead, the army tends to try to grind their opponent out over many turns, which will be a more viable strategy moving forward. However, Blood Angels and Raven Guard are seriously suffering from this set of changes, and Grey Knights continue to be largely overpriced. Blood Angels in particular are going to greatly suffer from the change to how FLY operates, as practically all of their threat comes from units with the FLY keyword. It is now much easier for your opponent to screen you out and prevent you from closing in, which Blood Angels need to do quickly to secure a win. Raven Guard is in a similar boat, as they too will greatly feel the pain from the nerf to “Strike From The Shadows”. Raven Guard have always been an up close assault army utilizing lots of flying units, both on the table and in lore. With the changes to both their main Stratagem and FLY, Raven Guard simply isn’t very good at this role anymore. Grey Knights unfortunately didn’t receive much love here, as the core issue with the army is their atrocious price points. Hopefully, Chapter Approved will see some improved love here. Overall, Marines received somewhat of a mixed bag of changes from the FAQ. Certain factions, like Ultramarines and Dark Angels, will be slightly better positioned than before. Even Deathwatch has received a quality of life change, as the adjustment for reinforcements to check against points instead of Power Level allows them to teleport units in more easily. On the other hand, Blood Angels, Raven Guard, and Grey Knights are suffering. Competitively, of course, Ultramarines with Gman will be the main go to for competitive Space Marine players as that style of list got slightly better with the FAQ.
T’au are hands down and far and away the biggest winners from this FAQ, as basically every change has been very beneficial to them. Whenever close combat gets worse, T’au of course get better as they are strictly a gunline, with basically no close combat potential to speak of. As the most recent FAQ was very friendly to ranged armies, this is already a leg up in the T’au player’s favor.In addition, Prepared Positions is basically a total positive for them. If they go first, Markerlights remove the benefit of cover for any important unit, which mostly removes it as an option for their opponent. If the T’au player goes second, Prepared Positions will obviously help cut their losses. The only real nerf that T’au saw was a change to Tigersharks, which is a forgeworld unit. Although the nerf to Tigersharks was actually rather significant, the codex itself contains a huge variety of powerful units and combinations. The only other nerf that T’au saw was a minor change to Savior Protocols which prevents them from being used against Psychic Powers. Overall, if you have a T’au collection somewhere, consider dusting them off, and if you’re already playing them than enjoy all the love you got indirectly. They won’t totally overtake the competitive scene, but they will be a major contender at all levels of play.
Tyranids are another faction that are largely unaffected by the FAQ. They have kept their ability to control the entire board from the beginning of the game, Genestealers are still extremely good at what they do, as are Flyrants with Devourers.The only real change that happened with Tyranids is that GSC got nerfed, and they no longer have access to an Astra Millitarum “CP Farm” from Brood Brothers. GSC are still a very powerful ally to Tyranids, but they are really going to struggle on their own two feet if played by themselves. All in all, Tyranids are probably the least affected by this FAQ. They’re still very good, and they’re still great at doing what they do best, which is covering the entire board and applying lots of pressure to their opponent from the beginning of the game with their crazy movement options. They’re a great army at all levels of play. Well, that wraps us up for today. These are simply quick snapshots into the current state of the major armies of the game. The FAQ was a very good change for the competitive scene, as it will most likely greatly diversify what the top tables look like. Unfortunately, some armies were completely caught in the cross fire as far as casual play goes, notably Blood Angels in particular. Still, it’s a brand new game, and with it will come many new strategies and tactics. Make sure to check out next week for us to wrap up our close combat tutorials with how to defend yourself against assault armies!