[Being a study on the methods and culture of the Orkoid races]
by Erik Setzer
The Orks are a savage, and brutal race who love war. They are the dominant element of a race of Orkoids that includes Orks, Gretchin, and Snotlings. The Orks are in charge because they are the biggest, toughest, meanest, and most warlike of their kind.
The Ork mind is specialised: it is devoted wholly to the pursuit of power and war. Orks are brave and tough, and their bodies have a natural resilience which allows them to survive traumatic injuries and the most primitive of surgery.
Orks are evolved primarily for fighting, and this leads to rivalry and even outright war between the different tribes. Although this gives the impression that Orks are disorganised and rebellious, they are actually capable of a high degree of cooperation. The Techno-Magi of the Adeptus Mechanicus have identified low levels of background psychic energy in the minds of all Orks and Gretchin.
As a particular Warlord grows in power, other Orks are attracted to his armies, and clamour to assume subordinate positions under his command. This means that Ork armies can assemble very quickly, growing into massive hoards appearing out of nowhere and attacking unsuspecting planets. A Waagh! will last until the Orks are defeated, or until they run out of enemies.
Hand to Hand Weapons
Of the Ork hand to hand weapons, the choppa is the most commonly used, and the best. It uses the wielder's Strength, and reduces their opponent's save to a 4+. While 'Uge Choppas and Power Claws are tempting to take, striking last could mean that your character is dead before he even gets a chance to attack, making the weapon useless to have. The occasional power claw on a Nob will give you an excellent hand to hand tank buster, and an 'uge choppa will give you a weapon to use against high Toughness opponents, such as a Greater Daemon or an Eldar Avatar. The 'urty syringe can be very useful for Mad Doks when facing high Toughness opponents, and can even wound a Wraithlord on a 4+! Grabba stiks are useful for Slavers, because they can hold back from hand to hand and are still able to get their full number of attacks in.
The big shoota is, arguably, the best Ork heavy weapon. You can fire three shots at Strength 5 each turn, and being an Assault weapon means it can fire on the move. However, its relatively low AP means that while it will be devastating to lightly armoured troops you will not be able to score as many casualties against heavily armoured troops.
The rokkit launcha is a very useful weapon that can take out armoured troops and vehicles, and can be fired on the move. They are most useful in Tankbusta or Shoota Boy mobs.
Burnaz are usable as either a flamer or as a power weapon, though they can't be used as both in the same turn. The decision is tough, as it is often tempting to just use it as a power weapon and forget its flamer ability. Burnaz' flame attacks can be used to open a hole in the enemy lines to assault a unit beyond the closest unit or to get closer to an objective. Burnaz are most useful in Burna Boyz mobs or assault mobs.
Assorted Ranged Weapons
Shootas seem generally like a waste to Orks, as they are at their fullest effect when the user is standing still. Don't be afraid to do this, though, as a large group of shootas can lay down a withering hail of firepower.
A kustom mega-blasta is an excellent weapon against armoured targets, but it is a Heavy weapon, requiring its user to stand still to fire it. They are most useful on vehicles and Dreadnoughts, where they are able to move and fire.
Kombi weapons are useful in some instances, but the attached weapon is only available for one shot. This means that the shoota/skorcha is the best bet, as it is guaranteed to hit and can take out multiple targets. A mob of Nobz armed with shoota/skorchas can use the one-shot skorcha to fry an enemy squad right before a charge, devastating its opponent. Also remember that the shootas can be kustomized.
Orks start with a save of only 6+, the lowest of any basic troop in the game except Tyranids. Thus, armour is very useful for them. 'Eavy armour is a good deal at 5 points, as it gives a solid 4+ save. For your very important characters such as your Warboss, mega-armour isn't a bad deal; for 30 points you get a 2+ save, a shoota and power claw, but the character always moves as if he is in difficult terrain. If you purchase mega-armour, you should also purchase a mega-boosta, as this allows you to reroll your difficult terrain roll.
The Ork Mobz special rule is a great rule for Orks, as it keeps your Mobz from breaking or being pinned due to their low Leadership. Ork units' cheap costs allow you to field large Mobz. You should always try to take Mobz of at least 15-20 Boyz, so that you can use this rule to its fullest extent. You can also mob up with other mobs if you do break, creating larger and scarier mobs from the remnants of broken mobs.
Remember that Bikerz, Stormboyz, Boarboyz, and Gretchin don't use the Ork Mob Rule, so try to keep them from taking too many casualties.
The Power of the Waagh! allows the Orks to double their Initiative in an assault if they pass a mob check. This allows the Orks to equal or even pass their opponents' Initiative, meaning that they will either strike simultaneously or even before their opponent. This means that fewer Orks will be killed before getting to attack.
The Gretchin Mobs rule means that Grot units, instead of running, will stay in place and "hide". This means that the Grots will not be lost falling back off the table or into a crossfire, but it also means that the whole unit will be lost if there is no Slaver or the Slaver is killed. A Slaver with a Squighound is a virtual necessity for Gretchin mobs.
The following is a description of the troops that make up an Ork army and how to use them most effectively. It is broken down into the five categories that make up all armies: HQ, Elites, Troops, Fast Attack, and Heavy Support. The troops from the rulebook army list Appendix are also included. There is also an additional category, Special Characters. The alternate rules for Special Characters not included in the codex from Chapter Approved in White Dwarf are included below, as they are official rules.
Warboss and Retinue:
A Big Mek is very useful for adding some serious firepower or close-up punch to your army. A Big Mek and his retinue can have weapons unavailable to other characters, such as kustom mega-blastas and burnas. A Big Mek and his retinue can also act as a mobile field repair unit, each of them able to carry Mekboy's Toolz. A Wartrukk is very useful for a Big Mek and his retinue, as the added mobility will allow them to get to damaged vehicles or add their firepower where it is needed.
A Painboss can be used either to heal injured Orks, or to lead his retinue of Cyborks into an assault, where their high Toughness and invulnerable save can mean big trouble for an opponent. A Painboss with a Cybork retinue can aid a Warboss and Nob retinue in an assault, where they can drive a wedge into the enemy lines that the Ork army can follow through.
With jump packs and assault weapons, these are excellent shock troops! Try to keep them hidden while the get into place to charge. It is best to land Stormboyz behind terrain and behind woods, so that they do not crash. Stormboyz are good for making fast assaults.
Kommandoz' Infiltrators ability allows them to get close to the enemy quickly by deploying close to them. Their assault abilities are very good, and they are capable of taking out enemy units effectively in hand to hand combat. Their special ability can't be used in some scenarios, so it is always a gamble to take them.
These are your armoured assault troops. With a mixture of assault and long-ranged weapons, they can be used in a variety of roles. 'Ard Boyz can also aid in an assault, where there 'eavy armour keeps them alive until they get to attack.
Skarboyz' high Strength can given them the punch of a Space Marine, with two Attacks! If armed with a slugga and choppa, they will get four Attacks when charging, allowing them to take out even large units of enemy troops. The heavy weapons help soften up the enemy before the charge, which should also help negate some of the penalties of having a low Initiative.
Flash Gitz are a pure firepower unit. They can have their shootas kustomized with more Strength, more shots, or a higher AP at short range. With four heavy weapons available in the mob, you can specialize the mob to lay down a hail of firepower or take out heavily armoured or high Toughness targets.
Slugga Boyz are your basic assault troops. Their best use is to charge, and they work well in large mobz of 20-30, where their numbers will crush an opposing unit in hand to hand. A Nob and some heavy weapons, especially some Big Shootaz, will help the punch of the mob.
These are basically Slugga Boyz, but they have a bonus. For an extra point you get frag and krak stikkbombz. This unit uses the same basic tactics as a Slugga Boyz mob, but they also work well against lightly armoured vehicles and troops in cover, making them more flexible. Again, go for large units.
These are your Tactical troops. They are very good in close combat, with WS 4, T4, and two Attacks that are basic fr all Orks. They also have shootaz and can get heavy weapons for a long-range punch, allowing them to fill a variety of roles in the army. As with all Ork mobz, go for large units to take advantage of the Mob rule.
Although on initial glance they don't seem very useful, Grots can be useful for a variety of things. Their cheap cost allows you to buy a maximum sized unit for under 100 points. Their blastas can be used to destroy enemy units through sheer weight of firepower. They can also piled onto an opponent in an assault, or just lend their numbers in an assault in an attempt to outnumber the enemy and drive them back. Gretchin can also be used to clear minefields or to give an Ork unit faster movement through difficult terrain.
Burna Boyz are what most people would call a highly specialized unit. In reality, they are not. They can be used to either flush troops out of cover, take out large groups of enemy troops, or take out heavily armoured troops in hand to hand, though they have to get close in to use their weapons. Burna Boyz are useful in a number of circumstances, and have a good amount of versatility.
Tankbustas are the single most specialized unit in the Ork army. Their weaponry and special rules make them the best unit to take out armoured vehicles and structures. They should be protected by a larger mob of Slugga or Shoota Boyz.
For their relatively low points cost, these are extremely useful vehicles. They can be used as tank killed with rokkit launchas, or take out troops with big shootaz. They will hit roughly half the time because of the weapons being twin-linked, which isn't bad for BS2! Of course, the Scorcher solves the BS problem entirely by automatically hitting anything the template touches, and it is very useful for taking out bunched-up enemy troops, but its short range is dangerous to the vehicle. Kustom mega-blastas are useful for taking out groups of heavily armoured and.or high Toughness enemy troops and light vehicles. War Buggies and Wartraks are Fast vehicles, but they are also Open-topped, making them much easier to destroy.
The rules for Warbikes make them very dangerous! Though their Big Shootaz have only half-range, the Warbikes have a 5+ invulnerable save when not in hand to hand combat and can even use their Big Shootaz to fire in the first round of hand to hand combat, striking first! Warbikes make an excellent escort unit for a Warboss in a Wartrukk, as they can use their firepower to soften up an assault target and then lend their weight to the assault.
Trukk Boyz are a good way to have a mobile mob of either Shoota Boyz or Slugga Boyz. The heavy weapon in the squad combined with the Wartrukk's heavy weapon should give the unit some good mobile firepower. With the Wartrukk being Fast and Open-topped, this is one very mobile mob, but the Wartrukk can be easily destroyed if not protected.
Batteries of Big Gunz are very good for supporting your advancing mobs. As Lobbas are a Guess weapon and Zzapas hit automatically, the low BS of the crew is usually not a problem. Be sure to get extra crew to keep the guns firing though! Lobbaz are good for taking out massed troops and pinning units with their barrages. Zzapas are good at taking out vehicles and heavily armoured troops such as Terminators, but their short range means they may have to move quite a bit to get in range. Kannons can be used to take out either armoured targets or masses of troops.
The Dreadnought is an awesome machine of death and destruction! With its two power claws, it can rip through any unit in hand to hand, and its two heavy weapons allow it to fire at troops and/or vehicles while getting into hand to hand. Pick the heavy weapons carefully, to suit your Dreadnought's chosen role.
Lootas are a great way to get non-Orky weapons, and can be used in a multitude of ways. They can be used as a heavy weapon squad, a tactical squad, or even a sniper squad. Remember that these heavy weapons are usually Heavy, so they can't be fired on the move. Also remember that while these looted weapons can be very deadly and effective, they are also dangerous to your own Lootas if you roll a 1!
Killer Kanz can provide long-range support and support in an assault. Their Dreadnought close combat weapons gives them a strong hand to hand attack, and allows them to take out vehicles with relative ease. Killer Kanz supporting a Dreadnought can be used to spearhead an assault to break through your opponent's battle line.
A Battlewagon can act both as a mobile weapons platform and as a transport for a large mob of Orks. Remember that up to half the models being transported may fire their weapons as well as the Battlewagon, adding to the amount of firepower. Extra armour plates are extremely useful for a Battlewagon.
A looted vehicle presents an Ork army with the option to take vehicles from Imperial armies, but you must be careful when picking them, as Orks only have BS2. It is tempting to take a Basilisk or other Ordnance tank. A Hellhound or Griffon is a good buy, as you don't need to roll against BS to hit. The Hellhound can be used to flush out enemy troops in cover or aid an assault, and the Griffon can lay down barrages to pin enemy troops or even tae out large groups of the enemy. Three Rhinos can also be useful, as they give you something to transport small mobs such as Burna Boyz and Tankbustaz in.
Boarboyz are the only Ork cavalry. They make pretty good shock troops, as they have speed and a good save. Stikkbombz are a good investment with Boarboyz. Try to keep Boarboyz in cover while getting them within charge range. It is often a good trick to fire the mob's sluggaz at its intended target before charging into hand to hand, to possibly take out some troops.
Although they are easily killed in close combat, Weirdboy are very good for supporting your Mobz. Try not to get them in hand to hand combat, though, as their relatively low WS can get them killed. Their psychic power is very good at taking out enemy models, and they automatically pass their test to use it if your mob is over 12 Boyz strong. They make an excellent addition to a Wartrukk Mob, as the Wartrukk will help them get around the battlefield easier.
Nazdreg Ud Urdgrub (Codex)
Nazdreg is an extremely useful warboss. He is tough to kill, and can be used in an assault or to sit back and shoot your opponent to pieces with his Kustom Blast-X (essentially an Assault 1 plasma cannon!). Nazdreg allows one Elites or Troops mob to Deep Strike, and can have an extra Heavy Support choice in his army. However, he can only have up to one of each of the assault mobs, so his army will consist of mostly firepower units.
Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, Mighty Goff Warlord and Leader of the Waaagh! (Codex)
Ghazghkull is extremely dangerous in hand to hand, and is very resilient. His S5 and T5, with his 2+ save, WS6, and power claw, mean that he will be hard to kill and able to take out masses of enemy troops. His high Leadership is also very useful. Also, Ghazghkull's Power of the Waagh! special rule makes any Ork unit in hand to hand on the turn it is used very formidable, and gives him a 2+ unmodified save for that turn. Ghazghkull's army is always made up mostly of normal Boyz, with few light vehicles, looted equipment, or heavy weapons.
Boss Zagstruk and Da Vulcha Boyz (Codex)
Zagstruk and his personal Stormboyz are able to make long-ranged assaults, striking hard when they hit. Zagstruk and his Stormboyz can assault up to 12" and add +1 to their Strength when they charge, but they take a chance on one or more of them crashing and being splattered on the ground. Zagstruk also has a kustom slugga, allowing him to fire two S5 shots while on the move.
Mad Dok Grotsnik (Codex)
Grotsnik is a very tough Ork to kill, and can lead a unit, making it immune to the effects of morale and pinning, but he and any unit he is with must move straight towards the nearest enemy unit and assault it if possible. This makes Grotsnik an excellent leader for a mob of Slugga Boyz or Skarboyz! Grostnik also has Dok's tools, so can try to heal a wounded Ork even!
Boss Snikrot and Da Redskull Kommandos (Codex)
Snikrot and his Kommandos are great at taking out sentries in missions with sentries, and are hard to spot, meaning that they are usually immune to firing until they get extremely close to the enemy.
Wazdakka Gutzmek (Codex)
Wazdakka is an excellent leader for a unit of warbikes. His own warbike has twin-linked autocannons and a kustom blasta, and Wazdakka is armed with a power claw. He can tear apart an enemy with shooting, then assault with his power claw. Wazdakka must take a Leadership test every turn, or else he will go straight forward 12+D6", even if he's in hand to hand combat, which could possibly ruin a well laid-out assault. He also has his own Gretchin assistant, Fixit, who allows him to reroll difficult terrain tests.
Makari, Ghazghkull's Battle Standard Bearer (Chapter Appoved, WD 227)
Makari must always stay within 2" of Ghazghkull, as the two are inseperable. He has a close combat weapon and a slugga, plus a Waaagh banner. He also has a 2+ invulnerable save, making him one tough Grot to kill!
Zodgrod, Snakebite Runtmaster (Slaver - Chapter Approved, WD 227)
Zodgrod is a tough character in hand to hand, and his T4, two Wounds, and 'eavy armour make him very hard to kill! His special rules allow him to make all Grots in the same unit as him +1 WS and +1T (making them WS 3 and T3), but they cost +2 points each (making them 5 points). This still makes a good cheap hand to hand unit that can overwhelm enemy units.
While the Orks seem extremely well suited to hand to hand, don't discount their shooting. The Orks have cheap Assault heavy weapons that are quite effective. The Big Shoota gives you three shots at 36", with a Strength good enough to take out most infantry, and at least one shot should hit your target. Rokkit launchas are relatively short-ranged, but are good at taking out vehiclesl They are both cheap enough for you to take many of them in an army.
Not only do Orks' heavy weapons give them a good ranged attack, but they can also be used to supplement the Orks' main strength, hand to hand combat. Big Shootaz and Rokkit Launchaz can be purchased by even Slugga Boyz mobz, and their Assault ability means that they can be fired while the unit advances on the enemy. They can be used to soften up a unit before the Mob makes an assault on it. This will result in at least a few casualties, making the hand to hand easier to win for the Orks.
Orks are often devastating in an assault, especially with the Power of the Waagh! special rule, allowing them to possibly double their Initiative in the first round of hand to hand. However, their low Initiative means that on turns when they haven't charged they will usually strike last, even against Imperial Guardsmen, which means that the enemy will often get a chance to kill a few Orks before you get a chance to strike back. You can even up the odds somewhat by making sure that you are the one to charge, giving each Ork an extra attack and a chance to double their Initiative, and by using heavy weapons to take out part of the enemy before assaulting as described above.
Orks are excellent at fast attacks. Their cheap Fast Attack units allow them to make massed fast assaults. While Wartraks and War Buggies give covering support fire, Warbikes and Wartrukks filled with Boyz can be sent in to make devastating close assaults.
The flank attack tactic works extremely well for Orks, as they can mass Fast Attack units to assault the opposing army's flanks. The Fast Attack units in an Ork army can be used to compliment each other's strengths, as an Ork army can include both hand to hand and firepower vehicles. Wartraks, War Buggies, and Wartrukks are all Fast Attack, allowing them to fire even if they moved 12", and allowing them to move up to 24", but they are also all Open-topped, making them very fragile as well.
Another tactic that works for Orks is the hammer and anvil. You can form a hard hitting hammer from squadrons of War Buggies and Wartraks armed with heavy weapons. Your anvil will include such things as Big Gunz batteries, Dreadnoughts, and large mobz of Boyz. Use the hammer to run around your opponent's flank and rear, drawing their troops towards your anvil, where you can then crush the army between your hammer and anvil. Your hammer can also include close assault elements in the form of Wartrukks loaded with Boyz.
A good trick for scenarios in which you gain VPs or win the scenario by capturing quarters of the battlefield is to use large units of Gretchin to hold quarters. This can be very useful (and nasty) when you place a mob of Gretchin on the line between two quarters of the table. This way the mob will be covering two quarters, either gaining VPs or the win for you, or denying them to your enemy.
Wartrukks can only carry a few troops, but they can be extremely useful for hit and run assaults. Wartrukks can drive to within 4"-5" of an enemy unit and drop of its troops to assault the enemy unit (as long as the Wartrukk has moved 12" or less). The Wartrukk's unit can them re-embark at the end of the combat if they win by consolidating to within 2" of the Wartrukk and then re-embarking. Using this trick a unit in a Wartrukk can assault a unit each turn, provided they win each combat.
The main thing to remember with Orks is that they have a versatile range of troops that work best when using combined arms. The Ork mobz are somewhat specialized, and only when the mobz in an army are used to compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses can an Ork army win. While the Orks are good in close assault, they will never get there without supporting fire. Similarly, while the Orks can have a large amount of heavy weapons those heavy weapons will not stand up well to a close assault. An Ork army works best when all of its units are used in unity.
Ork Tips and Tricks