The Cycle of Meta, or Why We Need Destroyers in 40k


The storm of arguing over Destroyer Weapons has been continuing. People hate the 2++ lists and Ovesastars that are conquering the meta, but they're not willing to use the solution right in front of them. I'm going to talk a bit more about Destroyer weapons and why they are important to the meta of 40k. When I talk about meta, I'm literally referring to the zeitgeist of the game. As the meta current stands right now, it's broken. Long before we had units with 2++ re-rollable saves, we had a cyclical meta game that would ebb and flow with whatever was in fashion to play.  Razorspam, begat Leafblower, begat Longfang Spam, begat GK Draigowing/Razorspam... There was always the top dog to beat and the tools to do so were always available. This cycle began to end with Daemons, capable of a 2++ re-rollable save through the use of some psychic powers, a magic item and the Daemon of Tzeentch rule. To make things worse, Eldar came along and could get it far easier through the use of one specific psychic power, and a special character allied in from Dark Eldar, The Baron. At the same time that these 2++ stars were coming along, over on the eastern fringe a different kind of star was born, the Ovesastar. This one I actually have far fewer issues with, so for now, I'm going to keep focused on the 2++ units. You see, unlike the power lists of old, there is flat out, no effective way to counter a 2++ re-rollable save. It's not fun to go against, they reduce your fire power to a mere 2.77% of it's previous output, and at the end of the game they have a nasty habit of breaking up into 4 different units and contesting a bunch of objectives at once. Good game.


What the game needs to be interesting is a full cycle of counters. Nothing in the game should be so good that there aren't other effective ways to deal with it, and that's precisely why the game is broken now. When you break the cycle, the unit at the end of that chain is going to be the winner, or in nature, the Apex Predator. I'm sure if you ask a seal, an orca is OP, and the seal probably has no fun at all playing against it. Fortunately this isn't nature, this is a game, and that game is supposed to be fun and interesting.

So how do we introduce this cycle back into the game? Games Workshop has actually already given us the tools. The internet hates to hear it, and I'm aware that my opinion is hugely unpopular, but that doesn't deter me because I've seen it in action before (who remembers the Leafblower). Because I'm a graphic designer, let me make a simple infographic...


I'll note that this is not the all inclusive graphic of what meta is or could become, but instead an EXTREMELY simplified version, do not take it the wrong way. Now, there's this crazy idea that some people have that Rock Paper Scissors is a bad thing, and that might be the case when you think about it on a small scale. That's not the kind of person I am, I don't base my opinion on what happens in a single game (this is bad data collection, you never use a single datapoint to determine a trend). If you take this approach, you could come to the conclusion that Land Raiders are over powered, because they beat up Scatter Laser toting Wave Serpents. Similarly, you could conclude that Meltaguns are over powered because they can kill a Land Raider in a single shot. That is kind of an absurd example, but you can see how detrimental small thinking can be. Instead you must think of the bigger picture. In tournaments before, you had both extreme lists, and what we call TAC lists. A TAC list is what we used to call a "balanced army" in the past, so that's the terminology I choose to use today. A balanced list doesn't excel at any one thing, but instead is able to provide fairly adequate threats to more than one type of opponent. If the meta looked like the graphic above, this could mean an army that is effective at dealing with both Ripties and Revenants, or Riptides and Drop Pods.

Now lets relate that graphic I posted above to nature. In nature, things try to find equilibrium, and it happens in a very logical manner. If there is not enough food, then the animal will become less abundant, if there is more food, then the animal becomes more abundant. How does this relate to wargaming? Well, if the Revenant (animal) becomes more abundant to counter the 2++ list (food), what happens next? People will take the Drop Pods (eats the Revenant), then what? Well, if the drop pod becomes more popular, then the Riptide list will become more popular, and so on... Unlike nature though, players are not assigned their role in the chain and can change at any time, after a while, people get sick of being food and try to find the alternative, which is the more balanced list I mention above.

So how long does this take? That's a really tough question, but I suspect it wouldn't take more than a few tournaments to jumpstart the meta engine, competitive players are always going to look for the next best thing. What wins one tournament will be popular at the next, and so will it's direct counter.

Those are just my thoughts and theorycrafting... I've put a lot of time into this position and I honestly think that if people set aside their hang ups on Escalation and Destroyer Weapons in particular, we could see a fantastic future of the game. Worst case scenario, 7th edition comes out and it's forced down your throat, like it or not, haha! :)