Best Armies of BAO 2018!

posted in: Bay Area Open | 1

The scores are out from the Bay Area Open! One of the biggest Grand Tournaments of the summer, the BAO is always an awesome event to follow. Frontline Gaming runs a tight show and there were several interesting armies at top table this year. Not to even mention this is one of the quintessential ITC tournaments of the year. Its also a great opportunity to see how things have changed since this year’s ATC. Now without further delay, are you ready to see the best armies of BAO 2018!

FactionAvg Final ScorePlayers
Dark Angels 1582
Thousand Sons 150.85
Imperial Knights 145.914
Cult Mechanicus 142.54
Ynnari 138.54
Adeptus Custodes 136.17
Death Guard 1347
Aeldari 129.912
Tyranids 129.610
Tau Empire 128.313
Overall Average127.8135 Total Players
Drukhari 127.65
Knights Renegades 1261
Astra Militarum 12511
Space Wolves 1211
Grey Knights 120.73
Blood Angels 117.77
Harlequins 116.33
Genestealer Cult 1152
Orks 1141
Chaos Daemons 1131
Necrons 109.17
Chaos Space Marines 108.65
Adeptus Astartes 100.34
Deathwatch 832
Renegades and Heretics 621

The BAO is a two day tournament using the ITC Champions Mission Packet. The winning player had 177 points (6-0) while the highest scoring player achieved 201 points.

Top Tier

Only a few surprises here. Look at those traitorous I mean loyal Sons of the Lion taking the top slot! We haven’t seen Space Marines fair especially well in the meta recently so its nice to see that they do still have potential. With only two players though lets take a look at some of the other top performers.

Thousand Sons and Imperial Knights

After the Dark Angels the Thousand Sons were the next best army at BAO. With Tzaangor or Horror screens protecting their smiting characters Thousand Sons are no joke on the table top. Few armies have so many effective screening options. Tzaangors can dish out a ton of decent strength attacks with AP-1 in melee and are still relatively survivable. Horrors on the other hand have great shooting potential and are even more tough to clear. Oh did I mention they can deepstrike turn one with Dark Matter Chrystal? You can check out our own Dernicus’s After Action Report of how they did for him at ATC. Combine this with a huge arsenal of psychic powers and no limit to smite and they’re quite difficult to deal with.

Next up we have the Imperial Knights. With 14 players it’s hard to argue that this codex is just consistently good. They put out lots of fire power, are tough, and really challenge opponents to pick good secondary objectives in ITC missions. A Castellan with a 3++ invulnerable save can survive even Shadowswords and Blood Angel Captains. The Knights also have a lot of utility with all their new stratagems and house traits. The ability to outflank a Gallant can be a nightmare for unprepared opponents. If the Knights run house Taranis they can even bring a knight back on a 4+ roll. Can you kill two knights a turn? Because you’re going to basically have to kill two knights a turn. BAO was the first major event, outside of team tournaments, that we got to see how they’re shaking up the meta. I think they’re going to be the army to beat at upcoming events like NOVA. Get ready for more anti-armor in the mix at those big events!

Cult Mechanicus-Death Guard

Here’s the meat of the top tier. Cult Mechanicus has slowly been making a comeback over the last 6 months. The addition of Imperial Knights and new toys like the Termite Drill are giving AdMech players what they need to win games. We’ll see if they can keep up their steady climb. Next up are our old friends the Ynnari. They did better than all their cousins at BAO and get to use a little bit of everything. Soulbursting Dark Reapers and Shining Spears are definitely still a threat. Even with some nerfs to soulburst and making it harder to cast, their high action economy is still pretty helpful.

Before we look at the Custodes, lets talk about Nurgle. I was surprsied to see so few dedicated Daemon players although they were all Nurgle Daemons. There were quite a few Death Guard players however and the overall winner was a Death Guard player. He combined Renegade Helverins and a Renegade Gatling Knight with Plagueburstcrawlers and terminators. Deffinitely not something I’ve seen before in the meta although I love it when strange new stuff wins. In ITC missions staying power is just so important in this edition where there are so many glass cannon units. Holding objectives and scoring secondaries like Recon (have a unit in every table quarter) can be a game changer. Plaguebearers and Plague zombies can both be pretty difficult to move without some dedicated firepower or if they’re supported by the goofy plague tree. Adding Knights into the mix adds a whole new level of toughness. Death Guard will be tough to deal with moving forward able to bring either hordes or all T8 3+ armies.

Finally there are the Emperor’s Chosen. There were more Custodes players than we’ve seen at other events. The top table in fact had a Custodes player on it. We’ve known for a while that Custodes Shield Captains and Dawneagle Bikes are fast, tough, and can seriously hurt your opponent’s army. The top Custodes player however had 3 units of infantry with spears in addition to the bikes. He also actually used Trajann Valoris! Supported by a Guard command point battery and a Culexus the Custodes were able to find a sweet spot in the meta. I love that the top table was mostly unique armies that weren’t the cookie cutter meta. Does this mean we’re about to see a big shift that no one else saw coming?

Middle Tier

Aeldari-Tau Empire

We’ve made our way into the middle tier. One of the first things you’ll notice is that these armies all had significant numbers of players. At first look that tells me that people of all skill levels are playing these armies which I think is awesome. It could also mean they’re just really rock/paper/scissors which is less great but hey I can dream.

Aeldari in particular have a lot of potential which we’ve seen since their codex dropped. With minuses to hit all over the place and consistent damage output they’ve held their ground near the top. Unfortunately I think the toughness and BS/WS 3+ of Imperial Knights is starting to be challenge for the space pixies. Tyranids averaged almost exactly the same as Eldar. I’ve seen all sorts of different Tyranid builds with lots of good options. Hive Tyrants and Hive Guard are still terrifying units if they aren’t handled quickly. At ATC support from Genestealer Cults was essential so I’m curious to see how they do when that codex drops. Finally we have the Tau. Riptides are obviously still a thing but their codex drop was a bit lackluster. The only serious threat I see right now in the meta is the Borkan Yvhara which can easily match an Imperial Knight’s output. With no new updates scheduled we’ll see how everyone’s favorite space communist do for the next few months.

Drukhari-Blood Angels

Now we’re below the overall average score. Things have changed a lot for the Drukhari since being ATC’s top faction. Have people just adapted to how disruptive Agents of Vect can be? Following BAO’s theme of all Knights all night, there was even a Renegade Knights player. He did pretty well considering they are playing Imperial Knights without most of the extra goodies. Next are the Good Ol’ Guard. As other armies have been on the rise, the Astra Militarum has been steadily trending down. Even with Blood Angels Captains or Custodes it looks like they’re mostly going to be seen at top tables to generate command points instead of being the main force.

While Dark Angels were able to outperform a lot of armies, their battle brothers just couldn’t cut it the same way. Definitely not at the bottom at BAO but we’ve seen Space Marines clustered at the bottom in other tournaments like ATC. I’m glad we’re not just seeing Guilliman with devastators anymore but I would like to see the poster boys of GW do a little better. We’ve even considered that GW is purposefully keeping Space Marines a little simpler to play on purpose. They’re a great iconic starter army to get players into the hobby but that means they don’t get the same level of fancy toys as some other factions. Maybe the Space Wolves will change all that!

Factions that Struggled

Harlequins-Renegades and Heretics

Some factions just didn’t perform as well as others. I don’t think there were too many surprises here except for maybe Necrons. Tesseract Vaults and Destroyers are quite difficult to deal with when they get the jump on their opponents. We see some more marine armies down here which is still a shame as it’s not just the Imperials. Orks and Genestealer Cult players just keep slugging it out and I love seeing them on the table. I have a feeling these new codexes are going to give them some serious new toys to reward those loyal die-hards. I can’t wait to see Orks get some type of Feel No Pain or get goofy new stratagems. Oh, there was also a Renegades and Heretics player. Hats off to you! They have so many great modelling opportunities its a shame that they’ve fallen so far from the days of spamming Melfic Lords early in 8th Edition.

Final Thoughts

The Bay Area Open went pretty smoothly after some of the drama in the community recently. Frontline Gaming does a great job but it looks like their floor rules pulled through with no major issues. If it hasn’t been made clear my final thought is Knights. They were in almost every one of the top 5 lists. Almost everyone has one guy with 3 Knights sitting around so we’re going to keep seeing them on the table. I wonder if this will push players to bring more anti-armor units. If that happens will we see more non-vehicle units that can fight armor like Devastators or Havocs? On that note I’m hoping someone will figure out a way to bring a winning Space Marine list that isn’t just Blood Angels Captains and Slamguinius.

Another interesting thing from BAO was the armies at top table. They weren’t necessarily spam lists and they weren’t hordes. Each one was unique and had a lot of utility packed into them. I’ve never even seen 10 Terminators played competitively this edition much less 3 units of walking Custodes. I really enjoy seeing players make a unique list, learn to play with it, and do well not just because they exploited one rule or unit. Overall I think BAO has been one of the most fun tournaments to follow and write about so far this year. Next up for us is NOVA at the end of the month. How will BAO affect their meta? We’ll see!


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