The State of Tournament 40k


Hi Peeps.

I’ve just been reading the results for the Northern Warlords GT and it makes for depressing reading. Here is the top 20:


1 Gaz Donnelly Eldar
2 Gaz Jones Eldar
3 Greg Mountford Tau
4 Dan Sackett Eldar / DE
5 Chris Green Eldar / SW
6 Andy Oakham Eldar
7 Mark Pocock Daemons
8 Bernard Lee Necrons / Tau
9 Bob Tau / Eldar
10 Rob Sims Eldar / Tau
11 Andrew Southern Eldar
12 John Swallow Eldar
13 Sean Whatson Eldar / Tau
14 Tom Gould Tau / Eldar
15 Paul Burke Tau
16 Sam Dickinson Necrons
17 Matthew Edmonds Eldar / Tau
18 Adam Jones Necrons
19 Michael Porter Necrons
20 Princess Ryland Necrons

You don’t need to be an analyst expert to see what’s wrong with this picture. Bar one Daemon army, only three Codexes were used in the top twenty! The Cult of WAAC has finally taken over the 40k tournament scene.

Even in it’s twilight year, 5th edition never reached such monotonous levels of banality that 6th has achieved in what? 18 months.

Hopefully it’s not all doom and gloom, 6th is still in a state of flux and the release of more Codexes will (hopefully) add more variety to tournament armies. Until then though, I think I’ll stick to comp events that actually encourage people to bring varied and enjoyable armies rather than the Cult of WAAC events that all the sheep are attending.

Stay Frosty and remember, Comp is the new black!



26 thoughts on “The State of Tournament 40k

  1. Yeah that is ridiculous.

    Glad I didn’t bother going. We should compile a list of comped/laid back events on the forum. Most of us can only do 4 or so events a year so we should get together and work out which ones would suit us best.

    • That’s a good idea Alex.
      GW events offer some relief from the Cult of WAAC but they are so damned expensive compared to the indie events.

  2. Iain went and enjoyed some elements. he tells me the organisation was good and that the scoring system rewarded careful play rather than punishing you if you cam e a close second. Iain’s biggest gripe, and one I agree with, is the four games on the saturday. it puts a serious dent in the socialising aspect.

    I am more worried about the type of player that can afford to keep up with buying the latest kit in order to win games. There are thousands of us who enjoy playing with our armies even if they are not competitive. We are effectively banned from attending competitive events so the clever amongst us will go off and design our own events. The result will be less of players like us at events so that the competitive events get even more waacer oriented and thus the circle is complete!

    • The post was about what sort of armies that are attending rather than the event itself. I Have heard nothing but positive things about the events held by the Northern Warlords, I’m sure the event itself was great.

      I think the you may well be right Michael. I have no interest in going to uncomped events at the moment simply because of the lack of variety that such tournaments offer.

      Chris Green has been in touch with me about running a Highlander event, so hopefully an announcement will be released shortly. Add that to the Invitational and the Champions of Chaos events and we have three events that offer a more interesting and fun environment.

  3. The event was generally enjoyable but Michael’s original post says it all really. There were 22 Wraithknights in the top lists, most with a skyshield. It was rather depressing to see it like that.

  4. I must say I’m not surprised. For me this realisation that players weren’t interested in anything other than “The win” came at the Indie GT in March 12.

    First game and my opponent wheels out a Grey Knight Force with 9-10 Razorbacks, 3 twin Auto Cannon Dreads and about 20 foot sluggers. The army had been painted grey with a White dry brush and absolute minimal 3rd colour touch up here & there to adhere to the 3 colour basics. First thing the opponent said to me was that he was sorry his army was so WAAC, suffice to say my 80% foot slogging World Eaters were removed from the board very efficiently.
    Game 2 was a guy who told me he’d never been to a 40K tournie before and was using another players nicely painted but cut and paste…….yes you’ve guessed it Grey Knights. Again I received a pre game apology from my opponent about the WAAC nature of their army.
    I’d only attended the event as I’d already paid for both my ticket and room but this experience really reinforced what I’d seen and experienced the 40k tournie scene developing into, and as such I began to be very selective as to which events I’d go to.

    This WAAC ethos was made all the more apparant as only 2-3 weeks earlier I’d attended a GW Doubles event where I’d played against opponents using models and units in their armies because they were fun, they enjoyed modelling and painting them, or they better represented their race of choice, not because of their devastating killing ability. This made games much closer, but more importantly fun for both teams of players.

    This WAAC ethos has made for both boring and repetitive gaming experiences for those who prefer to use balanced or representational army lists, but as Michael has pointed out it’s now more about whose’s prepared and able to drop hundreds of pounds to buy the latest spam army list that’s been spread across the net within hours of a new Codex being released.

    For me it’s now no longer which events I’d like to go to because, last time I went I had a great time, the event was brilliantly run or even the event location and social aspects were outstanding, but the rules pack (does it have some form of comp), and more importantly who’s attending. By this I mean, not how many of my mates or people I like to meet up with will be in attendance, but which players sit within the WAAC camp and how many of this sort of player are attending.

    Clearly the 40K scene is becoming more and more polarised, and currently this is resulting in more of the old school players no longer attending Indie events. Just look at the list of players who attended last weekends event, how many where attending 40K events 5 or 3 years ago, not many I’d wager.

    This also seems to be reflected on TWF where I see fewer and fewer topics created or commented on by regular 40K forum users. I suspect that many, (like ourselves with the new forum Alex has created) have just got fed up with the new breed of 40K players and have moved away.

    I think Alex’s suggestion of creating a list of suitable non WAAC events is a great idea.


  5. I just have become a waacer then as my list for the next event I am attending has 3 units of Noise Marines in it! Anyway back to sanity, for me the Pillage was great due to some nice armies and the whole ethos was about playing in the right frame of mind. The events that we try to attend are more for fun and meeting up than winning but even with Noise Marines Gary took a great third place but where would we have come if half the players above had arrived? Fortunately the waac amongst the community will go to their events and we will just to look a bit harder to find the ones that we want to do.

  6. Well the TWF strikes a new low for me. A waacer blaming the TO for allowing plastic crack and demanding that they stop the players using it, FFS don’t these idiots get it, they can stop themselves using the latest net list and new toys just to win a game?

    • Yeah I noticed that as well. I believe they call it “Don’t blame me, blame the game” syndrome 😉

    • David W here, I think I played Steve and Michael at the battlefield Birmingham doubles tournament? and I played a great game against Michael in Bristol earlier in the year…. anyway…..

      I totally agree with all of you that the tournament scene is in a desperate place right now. I recently went to Toy Soldiers, and as a long time Tau player my heart sank when I saw the field. There was a complete lack of imagination in 80% of the lists, and apparently this got much, much worse at NW. I made a decision at Toy Soldiers to give myself a break from uncomped tournaments. Since then I’ve also sold my Tau, because even though I worked my ass off painting them, and really enjoyed using them for the last 18 months, I just can’t bear to be part of the problem. I’ve started painting up some nids-fingers crossed the new dex doesn’t ruin that for me too!

      Its gotten so bad I’m running a campaign with some of the the Good the Bad and the Dudley team (including everyone’s favorite WAACer!) to force some fun back into playing!

      Its a real shame that comping a tournament is looking like the only way to guarantee a variety of lists, remove spam, and force people to prove themselves with generalship rather than power-gaming. 40k is a game, not a sport, I just don’t know why people insist on playing it otherwise!

      Steve, I do feel i need to explain that WAACers actions a little (not that I in any way agree with them) You see he had a plan. a very very misguided plan. He chose to take the list he did as a protest against the sky-shield. he believed that by winning a tournament with it, he could get the word out that it was a stupid, broken piece of kit that should be banned. i’m not sure where he got the idea that people would listen to him-but even after I repeatedly explained that his plan was flawed he insisted he’d go ahead with it. I told him that people would just hear his argument and think to do the same. i suggested that the only way to “shake things up” in the way he wanted was to win the tournament-and then give his prizes up to the highest placed person without a sky-shield. unfortunately the shiny sword got the better of him. I have not stopped berating him for this-and I don’t plan on stopping for some time!

      I know gaz has a reputation for power gaming, and to an extent this is true, but in the past he as always attempted to at least bring something unexpected to a tournament (the exception being the above example). Sometimes this works (triple storm raven in 5th), sometimes it doesn’t (dark eldar at the last GT final). I think his forum persona does him an injustice at times.

      anyway-sorry for taking up so much space on your blog! Keep up the FAACing (fun at all costs) you fine people!


      • Hi Dave,
        Nice to have you here. It’s a shame you felt you needed to get rid of your Tau, but I can understand your reasoning and wish to be disassociated from one of the latest WAAC races.
        I think if it had been me given all the time you’d put into painting them, I’d just put them on the shelf for 6-12 months, but I fly understand that different players have different financial constraints.

        I haven’t read the post on TWF but I’m pretty sure I know who your referring to, and if its who I think, I played him back at the start of 2011 at either Cally or the 1st Indie GT where he was using his Deamons and we had a great game. He struck me as a really nice guy, however since that time he clearly seems to have turned to the WAAC.


  7. David,
    thanks for your comments. I have to say though that Gaz has compounded the problem and has not attempted to be a part of the solution. I have played him a few times and we have had good games even against his storm raven Mephiston assassin combo [what a joy that was] and again the same list at the Birmingham Doubles. The top end players really need to either accept what they are doing and tone it down in my opinion or carry on and play at events with other like minded individuals. I don’t have a problem with either but asking the TOs to force the players to conform is a bit rich.
    I do know how hard it is to make players conform as I used to umpire the WPS 40k events and after separating players in the car park at one event I changed the comp to include a minimum of 4 troops just to force some normal play. Yes they complained, yes some left the game but it did make for easier events and to be fair made the games closer and more fun.

    • Steve-I totally agree that he’s made the problem worse, and I really did try and explain this to him before he went. I think what i’m trying to explain is that his intentions were good, its just that his actions weren’t (It sounds like i’m excusing him-I’m really not! i was/am stupidly disappointed in him!)

      I also played them against that list at the doubles, and it was the most miserable game of 40k i’ve ever had, and it was against 2 good friends. We managed to pull a draw out of that game, but we had so much more fun in the game where you guys destroyed us!

      I don’t know if its got anything to do with the increase in popularity of the 40kuk podcast, where celebrating un-sportsmanlike behavior has become a running theme, or that the etc is becoming some peoples entire reason to play 40k, but theres a really unpleasant “feel” to tournaments at the moment. the bottom tables are full of people who came for fun, but got tabled by 5 tau/dar cookie-cutter lists. and the rest of the field is the same 2-3 lists repeated over and over. the top players don’t look down the tables at what they’ve created….they just look up & try and break the game to get higher. trying to make them better people won’t work-comp is the only way!

      Gaz & I think Rob Simms came up with, what I think, is a good idea. a tournament where the armies are balanced and pre-set. Each round you play with a random army against another pre-set army to create a balanced match. the winner of the tournament would then be based on generalship alone. Its got quite alot of interest on the forum-but strangely enough non of the “top” players have put their names down……

      • Hi David, welcome to the Blog 🙂 (I didn’t know anybody outside of the CSM read it!)
        Your thoughts about the UK Podcast echo mine, I’ve thought for a while that they’re pushing the unsavoury side of tournament play and promoting the attitude of “everybody play ETC tournament style, cos that’s all we’re interested in”, but I have to admit that I haven’t listened to it for a while.
        It’s a shame that we have to carefully choose which events to attend now but at least there are some events out there for the more laid back player.
        I think the hard core tournament players have got what they have wanted all along, they are playing like minded people who play to win above everything else and the ironic thing is that they’re now complaining that it’s become stale and boring 😀

    • But there is a solution to the issue of WAAC V Tradionalists (which I think I’ve alluded to before on here or TWF), & that’s one event but running two rules sets for 40K, one which is no holds barred & one which is comped for those players who play for fun with representative or Fluffy armies. Not only should this satisfy both camps whilst allowing all to enjoy the social aspect of events, but it would also give players from both camps the opportunity (if they so wanted to), to experience playing 40K a different way for a change.

      Personally my biggest disappointment is not the fact players can turn up to events with any old ragtag bunch of cobbled together minis they’ve purchased from a dozen or so sellers on Ebay, or even the insincerity with which appologies are offered right before you pack your army back up and go to the bar for an early bevy, but that due to the mindset of such players I’ve now found myself choosing to not attend such events that I’ve previously enjoyed,and thus don’t get to meet up with my friends.

      It would be great if some TO’s consider such a suggestion, and maybe run a few such events to see if a two rules set 40K event would be viable and supported. Personally I think TO would actually be surprised by the amount of traditionalist players who would be drawn to a comped event.


  8. thanks for the welcome guys!

    Rob: I was originally intending to stick them in the attack for a while, but me and the fiance are finally planning our wedding-and i got some serious brownie points for selling that army! (and considering I bought it all from ebay when tau were rubbish I made a decent profit too!)

    I have no idea if its the same person! I started playing mid-2011, but Gaz is a good guy-i promise! He likes using tough lists, but this is the first time since I met him that he’s copied a known power list.

    Castigator (Gary is it?): If I play in a tournament against someone with a blog I tend to check afterwards to make sure they say nice things about me! lol i carried on following your blog because I enjoyed the campaign reports-thats what inspired me to do my own!

    I’ve stopped listening to the podcast too. I couldn’t care less about the etc, and I don’t think unsporting behavior is funny!

    I couldnt put your last paragraph better myself-spot on! 🙂

    • Yeah it’s Gary, I’m so used to using the name Castigator that I forget to use Gary now.
      Glad you enjoyed the campaign reports, it’s nice to know someone is reading them ;-).
      What tournament did we play at and what army did you use?

  9. Hmmm… I was at DoG this weekend and there was an equal lack of variety at the top. I think aside from my necrons the entire top 10 was Eldar or Tau or Eldar/Tau.

    It’s difficult to know what to say really. I know the quality of the 40K podcast has gone down in recent times, and I do take exception to glorifying unsporting play. However, When it comes to Gaz Donnelly, though he doesn’t do himself any favours when it comes to forums, (some of his posts can be ill thought through), I do think over critisism of him is wrong. While his Eldar army at northern warlords in indefensible he has been an innovator in terms of list building in the past. His storm ravens (while spammy) were pretty unique at the time, as was his loota Ork army.

    Also, Gaz is a fun and engaging guy to play against. Far more so than many tournament players. I’ve never witnessed him pull “the face” in any game I’ve played against him, and I’ve played him more than most.

    The Indy tournament scene I’m afraid is in cardiac arrest and needs a pretty severe electric shock to revive it. What it needs more than anything is a mix of player attitudes and with many more fluffy players not playing at events like Warlords it has left the door open for more spam players to fill the void.

    Shame really. I’ll continue playing Necrons until I’m bored with them, not until they stop winning tournaments, cos that time appears to be quickly approaching. 😦

    • While our gaming philosophy is diametrically opposed to each other, Gaz has always been a gentleman to play against on the three occasions that I’ve played him.
      The original post wasn’t meant as an attack on him or the top 20 players, I was just trying to stimulate conversation about the state of the tournament scene in the UK and how some of us are now being put off entering a lot of the Indie tournaments by the lack of variety in the armies.
      Hopefully things will improve with the release of more dexes or players will come to realise that Comp isn’t the evil thing that a lot of tournament goers think it it.

      • Gaz is a good bloke but he would never pretend that his Storm raven army or his wraith knight army were fluffy. They may have been unusual but he designed them to beat the enemy and with no thought to fluffiness.
        This doesn’t mean I dislike Gaz. But I would probably chose different events to attend.

  10. Very true Rob, I too have played Gaz and he made a game of it after killing all of my anti flyer stuff when he could have just whipped around gunning me off of the table. He was also a great laugh during the game but from my perspective the lists in current use are just no fun to play against and the players should not complain when they take them. I know I am getting older and so probably just don’t want the hassle these days and yes I did run the abusive 2 lords with the stupid invisible power under 3rd edition backed up by 66 daemonettes. I did it for one GT and didn’t lose a game but gained zero friends so the list went out of the window to be replaced by a far more balanced set up. I would rather have a game that goes to the wire and neither player knows who has won than a point and click list that if it goes beyond turn 3 you feel lucky.

  11. Personally I think players should be able to ‘comp’ themselves if they can’t they are the people I don’t want to play. Anyone who feels they have to apologise for their list before a game knows what they are doing!

    • In an ideal world I’d totally agree with you Rob, but clearly we’re not. What I do find very strange with a lot of the WAAC guys is that if they were actually as good as they think they are, surely having reached a level where they’re regularly winning with a cut & paste net list isn’t there more of a challenge to then play with a more balanced list and still win?
      Personally for myself that’s the sort of player who’s genuinely a good 40K player.

  12. The recent 40kGT Heat 1 results offer some hope that things will improve. Although first & second were Eldar armies and seven of the top twenty contained some Eldar, there was a greater variety this time around. I was particularly impressed with Pete Cooke finishing 7th with Dark Angels/Space Wolves.
    Thing can only improve when the Space Marine Codex passes the one month mark 🙂

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