New themes, new Steamroller, new faction. What do you need? A shoot-from-the-hip guess at the future of the meta, that’s what.
Haley2 and 3 are still really good, even with the recent feat nerf to haley2. They can control the scenarios and always have a game. Sloane and Caine3 run mean gun lines, but with steamroller 2017 and the active scenario play they are really going to suffer. Nemo3 is still a sleeper hit, as is Stryker1, especially since his feat is going to give a timewalk effect in scenario play. They are still the top dogs.
The faction is good with 3 diverse themes. They can run jack heavy, combined or infantry heavy. Winterguard theme is good, it is going to have to change to having a more balanced list with jacks rather than all the rockets. Controlling those round zones is going to be tough. Vlad1 with 5 jacks and rocket spam is still good though. Butcher3 and Sorscha2 will be doing the rounds due to the fact that they have RFP for dealing with Cryx recursion. Irusk2 is amazing with the Iron Fang theme, and with Old Witch2 and the Man O War theme coming they are in a good place. I would expect the 6+ jack lists to drop away so that more balanced lists come in for scenario play, so a little less armour cracking needed.
They have got a good bane theme now, and variety is improving for them. Denny1 ghost pirates is very good and a strong gear check, plus with incorp battle engines, solos and units they are going to make winning by scenario really tough. With the max of 7 turns, timing them out is not really viable either. Skarre1 can run an extremely strong assassination list, and the banes give some more options for dealing with lots of armour.
Menoth are currently lacking lots of good themes, but they have a couple of tricks. Definitely not near the top of the factions, with Harby being knocked down a lot. High Reclaimer has a tasty cloud wall and recursion though, and Amon is pretty good with his jacks. The real star is the kicky monk (Allegiant of the order of the Fist) are probably the second best scenario piece in the game. The high level of terrain at the center of the table in SR2017 is going to be hard on them, but it also normally allows some good hiding places for casters.
Ret are good with a strong ranged game but also some good combat punch. They have a good mix of lists and a battle engine which puts out 2 x pow16 boosted damage every turn and can never be killed. Helios and Imperatus also are some fantastic scenario pieces, giving control over the zones.
At the moment they are meh, though new themes will shake them up. Ossrum is a great caster with gun bunny spam, and will get better in scenario now since they can move so many models with bulldoze. Thexes will also get better since being able to move the enemy around all the zones will build up a lot of CPs. Come new themes though all bets are off and they could become really powerful.
Convergence are pretty strong at the moment, but have a narrow list design. Basically it is prime axiom+TEP, or a galveniser+axis spam. The new themes should really open them up, as the current previews show, and the new caster at Christmas will offer a whole other dimension, making ranged lists very viable.
Trolls were really blah, but their new CID tested northkin models and themes, which will be released in a month or two, really change them up. There is a very strong meat mountain, a cloud wall done right, and some potentially strong ranged lists. They also have excellent game in SR2017, now being able to bring some zone holding infantry and good beasts to hang around in the rectangles, plus super strong free solos from themes to go and be a PITA on the flags. I expect trolls to do well towards the end of the year and become a force to be reckoned with.
Circle are blah, very blah. Wyrmwood is still good, and Una2 griffon spam can be done but not as strong as it was pre-nerf (which was justified). Baldur2 with 2xwoldwraths are around, and there is the Ravager spam in theme, but they are not that hot and not on the top tables. Circle is really the last faction which needs a thorough CID process on the majority of their models. While they have some outstanding ones (Sentry Stones and Warpwolf Stalkers come to mind) they also have a lot of duds, and lost a lot of play with the nerf to shifting stones. I think that there is potential for them, and with some tweaks I think they could be given a new lease of life like Trolls have.
Legion are a strange bunch. Not super strong, but there is a brutal Lylyth3 list, and the Hellmouth is extremely powerful though not currently in themes (expect that to change next month and make our lives hell). Fyanna2 with Neraphs is a terror, and takes a lot of practice to play against, while Saeryn+rhyas2 are also good with a tasty piece trading and assassination. I suggest to be cautious (and bring RFP).
Skorne are currently morphing into a very strong faction. There is a makeda2 list with 2 units of ferox which is a horrific attrition/assassination list (basically 10 cats, high def and arm, tough, steady, and when one goes down she burns a fury to keep it alive). When those Ferox go into theme and the list gets a bunch of free solos it is going to be even worse. Fatty runs an exceptional ranged list, and the derp turtle (Siege Animantarax) battle engine is really fast and hits like a ton of bricks now. And with the new themes they are going to be super strong counter punchers, which is a big benefit for SR2017. With new themes I think they will be pushed over the edge and into A tier faction territory.
Minions are not great, but not bad either. Rask is a terror, but there isn’t really a second list out there and gators really suffered by dropping to 5 boxes and other nerfs. I haven’t seen anything thrilling for them, but perhaps something will come along next year. At the moment I think they face an uphill struggle.
Grymkin, the new kids on the block, seem super strong. You are going to need to know them inside out if you want to do well, since their bag seems to be all gotchas, all game long. Perhaps once they have being around for a while it will calm down, but with the arcana it is like they have a mini sideboard for every game. With some high powered troops and heavies being able to kill almost anything quickly, and the best scenario piece in the game (Gremlin Swarms FTW) they are going to make a big splash once they are fully released.
The game is in an exciting place right now. SR2017 has shaken everything up, and provided some much needed tension to list design which will make finesse stronger than spam. I think the meta will adjust to a more balanced list type over the next few months, and clever niche picks for lists, such as putting in an otherwise ineffective light warjack/beast with a shield for zone holding, will become the sign of the top players.
Please let me know your thoughts on the meta. This is a fantastic time to play, and I am eager to hear other opinions.
About the Author
mangustheix (Marcus Steffen) has played WMH since Escalation, and has had minor success with some local SRs and team tournaments. He helps run the Cross Gaming Club and enjoys its extremely competitive meta while trying to resist his snowflake list building tendencies.