With the release of the lists for the 2021 VTC, it's time to dive into what I was immediately asked for - stats! I plan to start with a general overview of what we're seeing at the event this year, and then move onto individual Faction breakdowns over the coming days. Let's dive right in!
Let's start off with the Faction breakdown, which you can see in handy pie chart form above. Here's the raw numbers as well, in lazy Excel form.
Some things are pretty much as you would expect. Mercenaries continue their traditional domination, presumably by virtue of having access to the lion's share of top line releases in recent cycles (which is something I want to talk about in the future), and the Factions most recently represented in CID get a decent showing also. As a rule, if something's new and shiny, and people don't have much practice into it yet, it's going to get taken to tournaments disproportionately, and in an environment where model availability isn't a burden it's unsurprising to see a spread like this. On the opposite side of the coin, the Factions that are languishing are broadly the ones that we would expect to see at the bottom, due to general weakness into the meta as a whole (though I must admit it does interest me that, even with a Death Archon shot in the arm for the best Theme in the Faction, Cryx are still languishing - however, to be fair, maybe they just don't exploit the piece super well right now, as is the case with Crucible Guard).
However, that's not to say that there aren't a few very big surprises. I'll be honest, I was expecting to see every team that was taking the event seriously and trying to win it to have at least one Infernals player. If you know what you're doing with them, which admittedly is a big ask because of how complicated they are to play at full power, taking them to a team format event where they can get around their one dodge seems like you're just printing 5 wins. As such, I am flatly stunned to see a mere 5 out of 28 teams playing them, and I'll be honest, I think that more than a few teams may end up regretting that decision. It's also quite a shocker to see quite so many Convergence players. It's not as if they're actively bad, but given that Mercenaries arguably provide the better pairings for Strange Bedfellows, one would have thought that Convergence would have a lower share accordingly. Finally, my somewhat lukewarm take is that Protectorate are a bit overrepresented based on current strength, given that their most powerful Theme (The Faithful Masses) has a really bad time into well-piloted Death Archons, but more on those later (hint - there's quite a few!).
In the meantime, let's talk Themes.
And there is certainly a lot to talk about! The big headlines; new stuff good, stuff that can take lots of RiotQuest models, also good, Themes that we knew were kinda bad, are kinda unplayed here. So basically no huge earth-shattering meta shocks on the macro level. However, there are a few things that do actually jump out as surprising to me. Firstly, in line with the surprisingly high Convergence count, I was expecting to see a fair bit of Clockwork Legions as the offlist, owing to all those neat buffs to the options therein way back when in CID. Instead, it turns out we're getting Destruction Initiative for actual days, which I suppose says something about how good mass Shield Guard is in current year. On another subject, something that surprises me - but maybe shouldn't - is the dominance of Children of the Dragon as the Legion standout here. It's got as many picks as the next two Themes in the Faction combined, and I look forward to talking about it quite a bit when Legion get their focus article, because I personally don't think it's the most competitive pick. Pivoting to some slightly less shiny tech, Flame in the Darkness has an unexpected... 'stickiness', so to speak, in that I was expecting that the good lists would have chased it off by now. You'd expect, like, some Cygnar players to stick with it, and maybe the odd Khador player to take Zerkova1 because that list is actually quite good, but not only are there a few Mercenaries in the mix, but the Cygnar players have doubled up on it in surprising numbers. Beyond that, there aren't really any hidden gems with a super low count, but I would like to take the time to shout out Armored Korps here; not for any kind of particularly noteworthy appearance, but for causing my count of Themes to stubbornly stand at 279 for several fucking hours which I am so salty about. Apparently Men-O-War are so boring that I'm physically incapable of perceiving them on the page, like some kind of excitement-velociraptor.
Now for the biggie - 'caster stats.
To save myself writing intelligent commentary, as after the nightmare of getting lists up I only have like 3 brain cells left (down from what, 4? -Ed),;I'm going to provide a colour-coded version of the above - yellow is stuff I reckon is overrepresented, red is underrepresented.
In-depth analysis on this can wait, because it's probably an article in of itself, but suffice it to say that there are a lot of random picks in here that I would expect to be more competitive things. It got a bit hard to actively pick out things though, as you can argue for meta calls on some of the less played stuff, and people are always going to have their pet project picks. I'm also fairly sure there's stuff I've missed as obvious 'why not more of these?' picks, so feel free to add your own commentary in the comments.
The last things on here are because of a request from Lothcaramon, general babe and host of a neat lil' weekly Twitch stream. He asked me to do stats for Archons, RiotQuest models, and huge bases, and in true KM fashion, I'm going to be underdelivering on that by only providing the first two.
To save you the maths, that's 389 Archons, or an average of 1.39 per list, and 1.11 for RiotQuest models off a total of 311. The sheer warping that the Death Archon has done to the meta is plain to see - I honestly didn't see this coming personally due to being a fan of literally every single list archetype that fucks them over and thus never having a huge issue with them, but it's become apparent over the last couple months that they kinda donk a lot of dominant archetypes, and I'm expecting them to be the thing to beat for a lot of players. I will say that the amount of Void Archons does surprise me, as in my opinion they've taken something of a hit to their relative power as the meta has developed, although when I thought about it for a bit I suppose it made sense with the sheer quantity of Strange Bedfellows. I was expecting pretty much two Blight Archons per Legion list in line with the similar turnout for Menite Archons and Defiled Archons in Protectorate and Grymkin respectively, and I'm a little surprised at that not bearing out in the lists, but we'll get to that when we talk Legion stats. Otherwise, pretty much everything where one would expect. Meanwhile on the RiotQuest side, nothing hugely surprising; I was expecting more Lynda the Forgotten (but then I was expecting more Infernals in general), pretty much 1 to 1 correlation between Gudrun2 and Vengeance of Dhunia, and a few more sightings of The Four Horseymans.
I'm gonna leave it there for now, as I've a lot (a lot) of other stuff to do, but my plan for the rest of the stats is to get them done by Faction over the next weeks leading up to the event (and during, if I'm slow), and go a little bit more into depth about what I think of things as I go. This is the first major snapshot of tournament numbers we've seen since... well, since the last VTC, and I'm pretty excited to dig into more detail. :)