Codex Orks – 9th Edition: The Goonhammer Review

Hot on the heels of the two most powerful codexes we’ve seen in 9th edition, Codex Orks releases this weekend. Well, kind of. Similar to what they did for the Adepta Sororitas in 8th edition, Games Workshop have released Codex: Orks as part of a limited edition boxed set with a collection of the new Beast Snagga models, with plans to release the Codex to the wider public in a number of weeks. So it’s out, but not quite out – to the point that Games Workshop’s own Warhammer Open 40k tournament in Orlando isn’t allowing the new Ork rules. It’s a bit weird, but a book’s a book and that means more C O N T E N T for you, dear reader.

So how do the Orks fare in this brave new world of insanely powerful codexes and incredibly killy units? Do the Orks stand on the precipice of ascension to the glorious ranks of 70%+ win rate armies, ready to dominate GTs or are they the first stumble we’ve had in a while? Let’s take a look.

Also, extra special thanks to Rockfish for the hard work he’s been putting into his Ork collection, because this article wouldn’t look half as pretty without it!

Why Play Orks?

There are three kinds of people attracted to Orks as an army:

  • The people who love the idea of big green himbo football hooligans tearing their way across the galaxy in search of their next scrap.
  • People who really like to convert vehicles by either lovingly crafting spectacular amalgams of 10 different kits, or by covering some other faction’s model in glue and rolling it around in their bitz box like a katamari.
  • People who love to shout “WAAAAGH!” in a crowded convention room during a tournament.

Regardless of which unique brand of brainworms calls you to join the great Waaagh, Orks are a fun army with a pretty modern range that’s set to get a major update with the release of this Codex and the upcoming Kill Team reboot. They’re a fast, dynamic horde army that tends to favor quantity over quality and getting stuck in over shooting, though they certainly have options for both. Orks come in several flavors, from the vehicle-obsessed Speed Freeks to the brutal Goffs to the new squig-riding Beast Snaggas. Whatever your preferred play style, Orks give you some options to choose from.

What’s in this Book?

  • Lore for the Orks
  • Army special rules for fielding an Orks list, with rules for seven Clan Kulturs, the Ork subfactions
  • Warlord traits, stratagems, relics, and a dedicated set of Secondary Objectives
  • Two Ork Psychic Disciplines – Powers of the Waaagh! And Beasthead – with 6 powers each for your Weirdboyz and Wurrboyz to cast
  • A large number of new units, including the new Beastsnaggas who specialize in taking down large prey like monsters and vehicles
  • Specialist Mob rules return, now integrated into detachments.
  • Updated rules for the rest of the Orks range
  • Crusade rules which tell the story of your army, including your Warboss’ quest to keep his boyz in line and stay on top of his Waaagh

The Five Best Things About This Book

  • Bosses! Do you like herohammer? Did you feel that Orks were unreasonably disappointing on that front in 8th? Well good news – Orks can now build some of the nastiest killas out there, as it should be!
  • Boyz! T5 and AP-1 on choppas across the board means your basic Boyz, plus everything that shares their profile, are properly scary again.
  • Buggies! The Orktober buggies were already good – now they’re great.
  • Beast Snaggas! The new Beast Snagga range is largely pretty awesome on the tabletop. Maybe a little too awesome in places, but that’s a problem for da ‘umies to worry about.
  • Big! There’s a ton of content here, with a huge collection of datasheets plus lots of customisation options on multiple angles. Ork players now have a dizzying array of choices when building their army.

Where’s Crusade?

As ever, our initial review here is going to focus on the datasheets and matched play rules. Check back in next week for a dedicated Crusade review.

The Rules

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Army-wide Rules

As expected, anything with the WARBOSS keyword, which comprises Warbosses, Deffkilla Wartrikes, Beastbosses (foot and mounted), and some of the Named Characters are now one per detachment – this is in line with every other codex.

Orks are now Toughness 5

Less an army-wide rule and more like an army-wide change to Ork datasheets, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Orks are now Toughness 5 across the entire range, with boyz typically having one wound and nobz having 2. This means that Orks are significantly tougher than before and while they lack the second wound that marines have, they make up for some of that by shrugging off a great deal more S4 and S8 firepower. For the most part, Orks pay about 1 point per model for this upgrade. This also doesn’t really extend to vehicles, though they have their own rule for shrugging off damage.

Choppas are now AP-1

Building on the above, your basic hordes of boyz are now scarier than ever thanks to a point of AP on their melee attacks. This massively increases their damage output against units with strong saves in particular, and makes it much harder for a wall of 2+ models to blunt the Green Tide (though watch out for storm shield Terminators still).

Beast Snaggas

Orks get a sort of army within an army here, with pretty much all of their new options released alongside the codex having the Beast Snaggas rule and Keyword. At baseline this gives them a 6+ invulnerable save and +1 to hit against enemy VEHICLES and MONSTERS (notably not just in melee, which is a big deal for a few of their units), and there’s also a whole bunch of stuff that works off the Keyword that we’ll talk about when we get to it. At base though – yeah, this slaps, a 6++ doesn’t sound like much but those random saves where you wouldn’t have otherwise got one will add up, and the hit boost turns some of these units (Beastbosses in particular) into incredible killing machines against their favoured targets.

Dakka Weapons

Source: Warhammer Community

As previewed over on WarCom, Orks have lost their old Dakka! Dakka! Dakka! Rule and have replaced it instead with a new weapon type – Dakka. Dakka weapons have two values for the number of attacks they make – one for when the weapon is fired at full range and the other for when it is fired at half range.

While this tends to reduce Ork firepower at longer ranges, the effect as you get close is a decided increase – going from 2 shots to 3 for shootas is a big improvement over getting two shots with the possibility of a third if you roll a 6 to hit, and encourages Orks to play closer to their opponents in order to get large boosts in efficacy. It does mean, however, that some units now can’t expect to operate while Advancing – these are no longer Assault weapons and the Dakka type doesn’t let you shoot after Advancing.

‘Ere We Go

The ‘Ere We Go rule returns, allowing Ork units with the ability to re-roll charge rolls. The only change here is that they now have to re-roll all the dice for the roll and cannot choose to just re-roll one of them. This makes it a lot less reliable than the old version, especially out of Deep Strike, but it’s still nice to have and is going to save you a ton of CP in the long run.

Mob Rule

Like many of the rules in Codex: Orks, Mob Rule also got a revision. Mob Rule no longer allows an Ork unit to treat its Leadership as the number of models in the unit or that of a nearby unit; now units with this rule never count as being below half strength while they are within 6” of a friendly <CLAN> MOB unit that is not below half strength. This is a significant step down, but you could argue that mob rule was significantly less important in 9th edition with the changes to morale tests and combat attrition. This new version still provides a ton of value to taking large units and keeps them from losing a dozen models to attrition after a brutal round of incoming fire. It also, paradoxically, allows your smaller units to act as hype boyz for the larger ones – a unit of five Kommandos skulking near a bigger block of Boyz that’s dipped below half strength can still stop the larger unit taking the Combat Attrition modifier.

Ramshackle

The Ramshackle rule returns for Orks but in a changed fashion. Rather than letting you reduce damage on a D6 roll of 6, Ramshackle now reduces the damage of incoming attacks by 1 if the attack has a Strength characteristic less than 8. It also now appears on all non-Lord of War Vehicles rather than just a sub-set.

Source: Warhammer Community

Similar to the Death Guard’s change with Disgustingly Resilient, this is going to be useless sometimes but more reliable and more useful overall. This shuts out a large number of “smaller” heavy weapons, including Heavy Bolters, Assault Plasma Incinerators, Autocannons, Fleshmowers, Executor Bolt Rifles, Plague Belchers, Belleros Energy Cannons, and Volkite Culverins, as well as a lot of 2-damage melee weapons. It’s a big boost on the faction’s deff dreads and killa kans.

Wings Rant: Hoooooo boy. I am not a huge fan of this rule, and with my hackles up from what’s come out in some of the recent books, I’m very, very afraid of it. I can see what it’s here for – it helps reduce the number of games where you’ll field a buggy or converted battlewagon and have it immediately vanish, and for casual play it’s probably a good call. For competitive play it’s a nightmare. Ork Vehicles are pushed price-wise, and a lot of them have received significant glow-ups in regards to their damage output. There are also plenty that can operate in the Fight Phase as well as shooting, and a lot of cheap things like Killa Kanz and Mek Gunz that rock in at exceptionally low prices.

In that context, this is going to be absolutely horrific to play against. Yes, you can bypass it by shooting with S8+ weaponry, but what that effectively means is that all these cheapo, light vehicles are only truly vulnerable to “real” anti-tank guns, which you may recognise as normally being the preserve of “real” tanks. They take a little more chip damage from random D1 stuff sure, but chip damage is never going to accumulate sufficiently to deal with a wall of T5+ hulls. Many armies rely on massed D2 firepower from mid-quality weaponry to back-fill their damage output when they find themselves up against a VEHICLE heavy list, and against Orks that’s suddenly massively less viable.

Shokkjump Dragsta. Credit: Rockfish

Shokkjump Dragsta. Credit: Rockfish

That’s wild, because being vulnerable to that sort of weapon is supposed to be the drawback of the kind of light vehicles you can spam, which this book now cheerfully ignores. I’m concerned that we’re going to be in the same boat as we were with Drukhari Raiders after their jump to T6 here, where taking lists that lean hard into Ramshackle off the table is going to require incredibly skewed lists that may find themselves easy prey to everything else in the metagame. It’s also an incredible screw you to some armies, as massed, mid-strength D2 is just how some Codexes get anti-tank done. It feels bizarre that Repentia, for example, are pushed down to D1 against Ork Vehicles, and makes them extremely weak in the matchup if the opponent is going hard on VEHICLES.

I’ll come back to this at the end of the article when we look at lists and final thoughts – but if there are broken builds out of this book, I’m pretty sure this is one of the routes to achieving it.

Waaagh! And Speedwaaagh!

Another change previewed on WarCom in the last couple of weeks, the old Warboss’ Waaagh! Ability has been replaced by two new ones – Waaagh! And Speedwaaagh! – which have similar effects but instead of being an aura are now army-wide, once-per-game abilities with effects that last for two turns.

Source: Warhammer Community

Waaagh! is still your standard Advance-and-charge ability, able to be called down once per game, though it now also gives you +1 Attack, and that extra attack endures through the following turn. The new Waaagh! Is mostly an upgrade, with a bit of tradeoff – you have to be more careful about when you use it as if you blow it too early you might miss it later in the game, and the Advance/Charge part is CORE/CHARACTER locked, but it’s also now an army-wide benefit and comes with an extra attack. You’ll mostly feel the downside here when things get spicy towards the end of a game, as your reach to hustle around the board is diminished, but the upside is that you’ll hit the opponent a lot harder in the mid-game.

Source: Warhammer Community

The other new ability is Speedwaaagh!, which affects shooting and gives your Orks the ability to ignore the penalty for firing Assault weapons after advancing and boosts the AP of their Dakka weapons by one, an ability that lasts through the next turn. It’s a good alternative for more mechanized Ork armies that want to zoom around and shoot. It’s worth saying that there’s a lot of AP-2 dakka attached to various VEHICLES across the army, and pushing that up to AP-3 bypasses a lot of defensive abilities like the Logi Holy Order.

I say “alternative” here because you can only use one of these once per game, so you’ll have to pick which. The exceptions here are Ghazghkull, who can call a Great Waagh, which does both at once, and the Warboss on Warbike from Imperial Armour Compendium, who has both the WARBOSS and SPEEDBOSS keywords, giving him access to either (for the time being, don’t expect that to survive an FAQ).

Subfactions

Ork Kulturs return, with new rules for many of the subfactions. As usual, units (non-GRETCHIN) in detachments that only contain units from a single <CLAN> get a bonus ability, here called a Kultur, and if your Warlord come from a specific <CLAN> there’s an extra trait they can choose, and it also unlocks a specific Relic and Stratagem for your army. Do note that there’s an important change from other recent books here – just having a Detachment from a given Clan no longer unlocks the Stratagem, and you only ever get the one associated with the Clan your Warlord is from. That reduces the upside of taking a multi-Clan army, as unlocking additional strats was one of the reasons to do that. You can still take the Clan-specific Warlord traits on any <CLAN> model that gains one, at least, so souping to create some horrific characters (and boy can you) might still be on the table.

Like most codexes, there’s also a rule here allowing some units to be taken in any detachment without preventing it being a Clan detachment, here called Specialist Lads. This allows Makari and a bunch of useless goobers who aren’t as good as Makari (Badrukk, Grotsnik, Ghazghkull Thraka and Zogrod Wortsnagga) to be taken in any Ork detachment, and also covers any units that have renounced their Clan affiliation to become Specialist Mobs, which we’ll look at later.

Blood Axes

The Blood Axes are the sneakiest, stealthiest orks and are known for their Kommandos. Their trait remains pretty much unchanged from the 8th edition book – it gives them light cover against ranged attacks made from more than 18” away, and they can shoot or charge (pick one) after falling back. Their Warlord Trait, I’ve Got a Plan Ladz!, lets you pick up to three Blood Axes units from your army after deployment and redeploy them, including placing them into Strategic Reserves for free. Their Ded Sneaky Stratagem lets you take a unit within 3” of any battlefield edge at the end of the Movement phase and put it into Strategic Reserve.

There’s a pattern here, and that pattern is “pretty good deployment shenanigans.” The ability to drop back into reserves for free is a powerful one, but not necessarily one that Orks need with a fleet of Ramshackle vehicles at their disposal. These are good tricks, though. I’m giggling at the idea of dropping a Stompa into Strategic Reserves for free. Or three Kill Tanks. That doesn’t seem very nice either. It’s also worth noting that this is a place where the Buggies now coming in units actively helps you, as you can pull a full, high-value unit if needed.

Deathskulls

Nob With Waaagh! Banner. Credit: Rockfish

Nob With Waaagh! Banner. Credit: Rockfish

The lucky blue gitz of the Ork world. This was one of the most powerful subfaction traits you could field in 8th and while they’ve changed it a bit, it’s still stupid powerful. Each time you pick one of these units to shoot or fight, you can re-roll one hit roll or wound roll (used to be one hit, wound, and damage roll). Plus, this tactic gives units a 5+ roll to ignore damage against mortal wounds (instead of a 6+ invulnerable save) and gives all Infantry the Objective Secured ability, same as in 8th. There’s clearly something of a trade down here, as losing the incredible re-rolls hurts, but on the flip side plenty of units now already have a 6+ invulnerable save thanks to the Beast Snaggas, and the Objective Secured on things like Kommandos and Storm Boyz is as great as ever. If you’re saturating the table with Ramshackle Vehicles, partially closing down Mortals as an alternative way to go after them can help too. It’s undeniably a nerf overall, as the re-roll value was just bluntly insane before, but should still be the source of some nasty lists.

Their Wreckerz stratagem is also toned down a bit, becoming +1 to wound rather than re-rolls, but when you need it it’s still a valuable trick to throw out. You might want it if your Beastboss is planning to bite an enemy tank to death in order to harvest a Command Point via their Opportunist trait, which also allows for some close-range character sniping for shooter models. Finally, their Relic is Mek-only but extremely funny – it boosts the number of wounds you repair by 1, and every time you use it you get to shock a nearby enemy Vehicle for d3MWs as well on a 2+. Challenging to line up, but has potential in some lists.

Deathskulls end up as not quite the all-star premium Clan they were before, but still one that’s got a lot of potential, especially supporting some of the Vehicle heavy lists. There though, they undeniably have contention from…

Evil Sunz

The Evil Sunz trait also takes a bit of a knock from 8th, losing its +1 to charges and otherwise staying the same – it still gives +1” movement on units, +2” on speed Freeks units, as well as +1 to Advances and the ability to ignore the penalty for advancing and firing Assault weapons. Combined with the loss of single-dice re-rolls on ‘Ere We Go this makes Evil Sunz a lot less able to lean on easy charges out of Da Jump and Tellyportas to get things done, but luckily for them the general uplift in the quality of Vehicles across the board does a lot to mitigate that. Evil Sunz lists are going to be able to move around the table like lightning, and while there aren’t that many Assault Weapons on vehicles, the guns on the Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy are, and it’s probably the best of the bunch.

Further support for VEHICLES is provided by their stratagem, which allows a Speed Freekz unit to do a full normal move at the end of your shooting phase, at the cost of being able to Charge. For 1CP this is an absurd bargain, letting you do Fire and Fade style shenanigans with dakka buggies, but at max speed and with full knowledge of how the entire phase has gone. The other big highlight here is the relic, which can be taken on a Vehicle (unlike most), and makes all units within engagement range of that model at the start of the Fight Phase Fight Last (also adding another 2” of movement for good measure). This is great on its clear intended use of slapping it on a Wartrike, but gets absolutely hilarious when you throw it on a Kill Rig, who sport the Character keyword. Drift park that massive base into the heart of the enemy and then trample them beneath squig hooves? Yes please. Being fair, the Wartrike’s footprint isn’t much smaller (assuming they’ve squeezed the Rig onto a Knight base), so either way this lets you shut down a whole bunch of enemy models, while also making a premium unit very risky to charge. Good stuff. It also doesn’t have to go on a VEHICLE, so if you want to lose any friends who play melee armies, go ahead and chuck this on a Squigosaur Beastboss.

This book definitely looks to support some Vehicle-heavy builds, and there’s likely to be some real competition between Sunz and Deathskulls as to where they end up – the former gives you speed, the latter reliability. It’s also possible you’ll mix up both – the power of Deathskulls is more concentrated in their Kultur than the wider options, so an army with a Sunz Warlord and a Deathskulls add-on detachment seems moderately plausible.

Goffs

Credit: Tom Alexander

This one is similar to its 8th edition counterpart, but new and improved. Goffs score additional hits in melee when they roll an unmodified 6 hit – an improvement over getting to roll an additional hit roll. On top of that, Goffs get +1 Strength on their melee attacks the turn they charge or perform a Heroic Intervention. Being at S5 base when it really matters (or S6 for Beast Snaggas) obviates the need for their old Skarboyz upgrade stratagem, and they instead get Unbridled Carnage, which for 2CP on a CHARACTER or CORE unit pushes their extra attack trigger to 5+. Not cheap, but allows you to do some truly horrific stuff with big squads of Boyz, elite stuff like Meganobz or Squighog cavalry, and have the nasty characters they can build solo giant monsters like ain’t no thing. Speaking of that, the Warlord trait gives a character +1A and an extra point of AP, great on some of the models that start at AP-2, and if you really want to go all-in on damage dealing the relic also gives you a mortal wound headbutt.

The final important thing that’s concealed elsewhere in the book is that Ghaz’s Goff aura has improved – he now grants full hit re-rolls, and that sums up with all the other spice here to make Goffs the natural place to start if putting hordes of Boyz on the table is your jam – just as it should be.

Bad Moonz

In general this codex has a heavy trend away from re-rolls, presumably due to horrendous memories of just how look it could take to resolve shooting phases with the buffs Orks could stack. Bad Moonz were by far the worst offenders on that front, and get a complete re-work as a result. Their Kultur still boosts ranged attacks, but instead of RR1s now gives +6” range to Heavy and Dakka weapons, and an extra point of AP on 6s to wound. The new version of their Showin’ Off stratagem also interacts with Dakka, giving a CORE or CHARACTER unit an extra hit on 6s to hit when firing them.

These are meaningful boosts, certainly, and let Shoota Boyz or Lootas (the latter in particular) rack up some big numbers, but our suspicion is that ranged gunplay from this book is going to be mostly driven by Vehicles rather than massed infantry Dakka. Their other tricks here also don’t massively stand out, with a save-boosting Warlord trait and relic shotgun that’s firmly in the “comedy” rather than “actually relevant” bucket.

Snakebites

Weirdboy. Credit: Rockfish

Weirdboy. Credit: Rockfish

We had to go and look up what Snakebites did in the last edition, which should key you in to how relevant they were. Apparently it was a 6+ ignore wounds, which is OK but trivially accomplished for many models by bringing a Painboy (now even easier, as you can take your pick of a Painboy or Painboss depending on the slot you have to fill). Their strat was a very pricy anti-monster effect that’s been absorbed into Beast Snaggas (more on that later) and the trait and relic nothing to write home about.

Have things improved? Sort of – Snakebites now have probably the most specific Kultur, rewarding a small number of units, but what it does is undeniably powerful.  Before we get to that bit there’s a part that affects everything, which is the same partial transhuman that Prophets of Flesh got, meaning that attacks of S7 or less that hit Snakebites always fail to wound on an unmodified 1-3. This sounds cool but it’s pretty narrow – literally nothing that can benefit from this has a toughness of less than 5, so your range of things impacted is attacks of S6 and 7, and units that have +1 to wound effects. That’s not bad, and lets you spoil the fun of models like Drazhar, but probably isn’t the broad boost you’re really looking for.

The juicy part here is the effect for SQUIG units, giving them +1 to wound when they charge or heroically intervene. This only covers a few datasheets in the book, but they’re good units just on base rate and this makes them incredibly fearsome. This is where the big power for this Clan too, as the rest of what’s here is merely fine, making it ripe for potential souping – an Outrider of a bunch of the Squighog Boyz led by Mozrog feels like it’s begging to be tried.

Freebooterz

To finish up, we’ve got Freebooterz, who continue to have an unusual faction trait. Their Competitive Streak means that if a unit from the Clan destroys an enemy unit, then for the rest of the phase all other Freebooterz units get +1 to hit, army wide, no questions asked. Currently this even stacks additionally, allowing you to blast through any negatives the opponent has stacked up so you can still hit the +1 modifier cap.

It’s weird – is it good? Ehhhhh. On paper it’s cool (though a liability against some armies), but the problem this has is that this book hands out +1 to hit like candy, and while occasionally you’ll need +2 to cut through negative modifiers it’s pretty uncommon, so a lot of the time this will do very little. Despite this, the Clan does have one big thing going for it, which is their Badskull Banner relic. This can be taken by any CHARACTER including VEHICLES like the Wartrike or Kill Rig, and provides a 6” aura that stops enemy units benefitting from Objective Secured. That’s spectacular; seeing this effect as an always-on wide-ranging aura is incredibly rare, and can swing Primary scoring firmly towards you. Being locked behind having to have your warlord from this clan is a real conundrum, but it’s so stonkingly powerful that people might try. It also combos well with the Stratagem, which gives an INFANTRY unit Objective Secured from the start of your Command phase to the next one. Yes, Deathskulls just have that all the time, but the combo of switching off ObSec and gaining it yourself is a very good one for obvious reasons.

This may end up as another thing tried in soup with Deathskulls – take your warlord as Freebooterz to unlock this supreme relic, then fill out most of the rest of the list with units designed to exploit their Kultur (including the ObSec that combos with the relic). It’s been a while since a single relic so thoroughly flips the maths on an entire Subfaction, and it may be that the barriers here are still too high, but it’s such a strong effect that it’s hard to count out entirely.

Stratagems

Lots of changes here, as it looks like we’re now deep enough into the Edition that these look more like a complete overhaul than some of the earlier sets did. Don’t assume that anything you used to use is still here without checking, and front and centre among those that will be missed is Unstoppable Green Tide. It would appear that re-spawning anywhere up to 29 T5 boyz was finally deemed A Bit Much. RIP to a real one. Similarly removed is the old version of Get Stuck in Ladz (changed to enhance pile-ins), so your Boyz (and others) aren’t Fighting Twice in an emergency any more. This feeds into the overall trend in the book, which is that Boyz are better on their base rate, but what you see is what you get. More Dakka also gets changed, now letting you shoot full Dakka shots at full range instead of its old effect, undeniably a bit of a loss as it used to enable some outrageously busted things. Finally, Flyin’ ‘Eadbutt has been staked through the heart and buried at a crossroads at midnight, just like it deserved. Good riddance on that one, don’t @ me.

Big Mek in Mega Armour. Credit: Rockfish

Big Mek in Mega Armour. Credit: Rockfish

The other general change here is that a few things that used to be Datasheet abilities have moved to being stratagems. Examples of this include Breakin ‘Eads to mitigate a failed morale test, Cuttin’ Flames to switch on Burna Boyz ability to swing at AP-2 in melee, and Lumbering Strides to get access to the old version of ‘Ere We Go on the Lords of War in the book. Some of this feels like a little bit of a shame – the Ork stratagem sheet is a little sparse compared to some other factions (presumably intended to counterbalance getting multiple customisation options) and not all of these really needed to be culled. The exception to this being a downside is for Flash Gitz, whose ability to randomly shoot a second time is now a stratagem. They’re not really priced to move in this book, but this does make them considerably better on the table. The final one that sort of fits in here is Force Field Boosta. Kustom force fields have gotten a re-vamp in this book, generally becoming weaker – they’re now 6++, and a smaller radius, but with the tradeoff that they work in melee, and only need the Unit to be “within” rather than “wholly within”. Boosta gives you most of the old magic back, increasing the radius to 9” and the save to 5++, but there’s a catch. Using it now burns out the force field for the rest of the game, turning it useless (and the strat itself is still once per game even if you bring two). That’s a pretty steep downside, but in a brutal shooting world being able to give most of your army a 5++ on turn one could still be worth the price. We’ll have to see.

Anyway, that’s enough griping out of the way – onto some exciting new stuff. There’s some extremely strong support for Beast Snaggas in here, with a bunch of stratagems that really stand out. Monster Hunterz got previewed, boosting the wound rolls of three of your units against enemy vehicles, and even after the probable FAQ to actually have an end clause it’s still incredibly good if you want to gank a high value target. On the defence, Beast Snagga INFANTRY, CAVALRY and MONSTERS get access to Tough as Squig-Hide, which is the standard Transhuman Physiology “can only be wounded on an unmodified 4+” effect. Beast Snaggas have some exceptional stuff, so this is amazing, and will see a ton of use.

For an alternative way to protect your stuff, Beast Snagga Boyz get a replacement for Snagga Grapple, which allows them to trap non-TITANIC enemies in melee on a 4+ when they try and fall back. It’s a little high variance, but boy is it going to suck for the opponent when it works. It also applies to every unit in contact with them, so multi-charging lots of stuff at once increases your chance of pulling it off. Finally, if a pesty TITANIC model needs to be dealt with, Beastbosses have access to Da Bigga Dey Iz, allowing them to get +2D when they attack a TITANIC model. Narrow? Absolutely, but stack a few other buffs and you’re genuinely looking at one-rounding a Knight with this, which is crazy. Finally, units with an ‘eavy lobba (so the Kill Rig and Hunta Rig) get access to Groundshaker Shells, allowing you to inflict a slowing effect on enemies that you hit. It’s very strong when it works, but does need to be caveated that unlike almost every other effect of this flavour, missing completely isn’t out of the question.

Outside of Beast Snaggas the new pickings are relatively sparse, but special mention has to go to Careen, making a bold play for funniest Stratagem in the whole game. This can be triggered when one of your Vehicles explodes on death, and allows you to move it up to 6” before resolving the explosion. 11/10 on flavour, and probably relevant at least some of the time. Don’t forget too that for Transports, explosions explicitly resolve before emergency disembarks, so you can use this to shift where your models are going to appear quite considerably. It’s still only July, but I’ll be surprised if any challengers for Strat of the year appear after this.

Those are the real highlights, but there are some other workhorse things here that’ll see use. The standard extra warlord trail option is incredibly welcome because boy howdy does this book support herohammer, and extra relics are as good as ever. You also keep access to Tellyporta, which is still tremendously helpful to have around, and a few other old favourites such as Grot Shields, Orks is Never Beaten’ and Hit ‘Em Harder.

Overall, there’s some perfectly strong stuff here, but amidst a very powerful book and a strong pedigree from recent releases these feel just the slightest bit weak. The likely consequence of that is that you’ll see lots of lists using multiple detachments to squeeze in maximum herohammer, as you care a little less about having loads of CP than some armies do.

Kustom Jobs

Ork Killa Kan

Ork Killa Kan. Credits: That Gobbo

Here are the point-based upgrades that every Codex gets. You can get them for “free” by using a Mek Shop, where there’s an Activity for Big Meks to give out a free one that has a chance of falling off every turn, but the Mek Shop sucks so the points option is how these will be used most of the time. They can’t be used on Specialist Mobs, no model can have more than one, and none of them can appear in an army more than once (unless the army also includes a Mek Shop, and we want to reiterate that it sucks, in which case each can appear twice). Some of the Vehicle Jobz have two different points costs – the higher one kicks in on units of 10PL or more – and all of them can only be used on single-model units. There are five Mek Kustom Jobs that go on infantry (in practice locked down so they can only appear on Big Meks, Lootas and Burna Boyz) , and ten Vehicle Kustom Jobs.

The Vehicle jobs are a mix of decent and good, and Ork Vehicles are very pushed in this book, though the restriction to one-model units hurts a bit. If you fancy a Battlewagon you almost certainly want to buy it a 5+ invulnerable save for 20pts with the Fortress on Wheels upgrade, and if you fancy a shooty one Da Booma returns for 15pts.

Elsewhere, several of the Orktober Buggies get their own options, letting you add some extra shots to a Boomdakka Snazzwagon or protect a Shokkjump Dragsta from the consequences of going through its Shokk Tunnel. The most exciting of these is probably Nitro Squigs, giving +1 to wound on the Squig Launchers of a Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy. It isn’t cheap at 25pts, but because these weapons work from out of line of sight you can protect your investment, and that makes it worth testing.

Finishing up, you get some more generic options. More Dakka lets you add a chance for extra shots when firing Dakka Weapons, and benefits units that can staple a whole bunch of these on. It’s slightly weird in that you want quantity of dakka weapons rather than quality. There aren’t that many things fitting that bracket, though Dakkajets are incredibly cheap to the point where you can’t entirely rule out the possibility of this being worth it for them. Both Walkerz and conventional vehicles get a choice that lets them go faster, and last but not least you get the extremely cool Shokka Hull, which makes any enemy unit that attacks the model take mortals after they fight on a 4+. This is one of the ones that has an incrementing cost, but stapling it to a Kill Rig or Battlewagon then drift-parking into a bunch of enemies units, who are forced to attack, then laughing as they shokk themselves to death seems extremely funny.

Over on Infantry, there one standout in the Enhanced Runt-Sucker, which changes a Shokk Attack Gun from Heavy d6 to Heavy 2d3. Consistency may not be orky, but it’s very valuable. For 15 points, never worrying about rolling 1 shot on a SAG is probably worth it.

The rest might have some situational uses but none really stand out. For marginal efficiency gains you can take a Bionik Oiler to double tap you your boosted repair, and if you’ve got 10pts kicking around you can probably do worse than banking it for an extra wound back at some point. Alternatively, you can add an extra shot to a kustom mega blaster, which is probably a bit spicy on the Mobs, where it’s likely to result in extra melted orks, but could be OK on a mega armoured Mek – again, not something you’re actively looking for, but a decent place to bank 10pts.

The final two options are unit upgrades – Smokey Gubbinz for Light Cover if you Remain Stationary at 1pt per model, or Zzapkrumpas, which for 2pts per model lets you do mortals on a 6 to wound (the unit has to contain a Spanner, but it applies to the whole squad). These are pretty clearly aimed at Lootas and Burnas respectively. Light Cover isn’t that relevant on units that only start on a 6+, sadly, especially higher value ones that will draw real shooting ire. The mortals effect is a little harder to evaluate – Burnas are cheap to the point where sticking a full unit on a Tellyporta or into Strategic Reserves is tempting now that they have 12” range, and adding some melee mortal threat would help broaden their capabilities. However, the fact that it pushes up the cost of Strat Reserving them is a real bummer, and increasing their cost risks undermining the point of taking them in the first place!

Specialist Mobs

Grots. Credit: Rockfish

Grots. Credit: Rockfish

Not content with one way to upgrade units, Orks get two. Specialist Mobs have been revamped from Saga of the Beast, no longer being a detachment-wide effect that required considerably skewing your army. Instead, for each detachment your army contains, you can pick one unit in it and turn them into a specialist mob. This still removes their <CLAN> keyword, replacing it with the relevant Specialist Mob name but has no other cost and thanks to the Specialist Lads rule, doesn’t break Kulturs for that detachment.

The price of entry here is thus extremely low, so how do they look? Well, up front there’s an important rules issue that does need sorting – right now none of these can ride in Transports, because those are all <CLAN> locked and Specialist Mobs lose that keyword. This is hilarious for Trukk Boyz, but there it will obviously get an immediate fix. Slightly less certain is the fate of other Specialists, and the value of Boom Boyz on Tankbustas in particular is likely to change considerably depending on whether they can be shooting out of a ride.

WIth that out the way, there’s definitely some cool stuff here. The aforementioned Trukk Boyz is one of the most exciting, allowing a BOYZ, NOB or WARBOSS unit to disembark from a Trukk after it moves. This is obviously a huge mobility boost (just as soon as they’re allowed in Trukks again) and very powerful in a number of contexts. You can make some pretty nasty infantry Warbosses, and this gets them right into the opponent’s face, and assuming “NOBZ” is the correct plural of “NOB” for keyword purposes, this lets you toss a squad of Meganobz right into the opponent’s face. That’s great for them – they look a little behind the curve on base rate these days, but this is one of several ways in the book to make them extremely scary again. There’s also a subtle trick here with the way these keywords work – as far as I can see you could choose to upgrade a Warboss in one detachment to Trukkboyz and a unit of Meganobz from another, and then the Nobz would benefit from the Warboss’s hit boost. That’s supremely spicy, as the mega armoured warboss can be turned into quite the killer, and wouldn’t you know it he fits perfectly in a Trukk alongside five Meganobz.

Various different kinds of units get boosts to their damage output here, all available to you if they seem more valuable than whatever Clan Kultur and keyword you’d otherwise pick up . You’ve got Boom Boyz to boost the AP of rokkit launchers, Pyromaniacs to stick a floor on the number of shots your flamer weapons do and, circling back to Meganobz, Big Krumpas to boost the hit rolls of them, or a number of large angry robots such as Morkanauts or Gorkanauts. Another subtle thing here – you only unlock the ability to take Specialist Mobz if your army includes a detachment other than an Aux, Super Heavy Aux or Fortification Network, but once unlocked you get to do it once per detachment, no questions asked. Since a model in a Super Heavy Aux won’t get Kulturs anyway, taking Big Krumpas on a solo one feels like a gimme quite a bit of the time.

Moving on from that, we have a few things where you can make a good case for taking them if you want a unit that’s generally “off spec” for the Clan you’ve chosen. Flyboyz gives any of the Aircraft Light Cover against attacks from >6” away, and if you find yourself wanting a plane in, say, Goffs, there’s basically no reason you’d ever not take this. Madboyz is the other end of the spectrum, giving a Mob, Biker Cavalry or Character a random buff each turn. These are generally focused towards killing in melee, and if your main host is Goffs you wouldn’t bother – but if you decide you want some Squighog Boyz charging to war alongside your Bad Moonz, absolutely slam this on them.

Last, but probably not least, we have ‘Orrible Gitz, allowing you to field the stinkiest Grots of all. This gives them ObSec, which they now don’t normally get, in exchange for giving -1 to hit for shooting attacks made by units within 3” of them – including friendly models. You can probably work around that drawback a lot of the time, and if you want a squad for objective camping this is pretty strong.

Overall this is an interesting and potentially potent part of the book. Trukk Boyz actively switches on some nasty stuff, and the rest go some way towards mitigating one of the challenges you often get in list design, which is taking units that don’t fit the main theme of your chosen faction. Quite a few of these let you amp up shooting units in a melee build or melee units in a shooting or vehicle-focused list, and that’s a neat mechanic that we really like.

Warlord Traits

Hooo boy here we go. As of this book, Orks are going to have some of the nastiest characters in the entire game, and yes that takes into account the fact that Drukhari exist. On some level that is as it should be – the mightiest of the Orks should be able to krump anything that takes their fancy – but you can do some spectacular stuff here, especially on Squigosaurs. You may have noticed they’re being mentioned a lot and that’s because they’re outrageous just on base rate, and adding some of these traits can pump them up to contend with the real greats.

There’s a lot here, too. On top of the seven Clan traits, Orks get twelve generic ones. Six can be taken by any Character, three are reserved for Beast Snaggas and three go to Speed Freeks (which is just the Deffkilla Trike and the Warboss on Bike from Forge World). Good news – there’s a fantastic hit rate here, with a bunch of great options. Taking into account the fact that general strats are a bit weaker, I strongly suspect two additional Characters are picking up traits in most games. One final admin point – Named Characters all have a pre-determined trait as ever, and here that’s also extended to the Kill Rig. That’s another datasheet which we’re going to have some words about later on, but at least here it can only take an aura buff for squigs rather than any of the totally crazy things you could apply to it.

We’ll get the Speed Freekz options out the way first because there’s a clear standout – Junkboss gives the model a 4++, and if you have a Deffkilla Trike this is a great add. The others are a little meh, but don’t forget that the regular traits are all available as well.

Beast Snaggas get two phenomenal abilities, both themed around fighting the enemy’s best stuff. If you want to try and be the biggest and strongest, Bigkilla Boss gives you +2A and +1 to wound when fighting a VEHICLE or MONSTER, which when you remember that you can stack Da Bigga Dey Iz for the largest targets, makes your Squigosaur Beastbosses melt pretty much whatever they touch. Alternatively, if you want to play defence, you can take Half-Chewed, which as long as your Warlord is in engagement range of an enemy Character or Monster gives them a 4+ ignore wounds. That’s outrageous, especially on Squigosaurs that already have -1D, taking them to a point where combat characters of other factions basically just shouldn’t ever engage. With this active, fighting Drazhar starts to look like that one bit from Indiana Jones, so if you want to win every Character showdown for the rest of time, take this. The final Beast Snagga trait (and the one that the Rig is obliged to take) is an aura boost to squig attacks – funny, possibly even fine in a small Snakebite detachment, but not mandatory.

Returning to the theme of comparisons with Drukhari, one of the most exciting generic traits is Brutal but Kunnin’, which is just straight up Competitive Edge (allowing you to do a whole new attack sequence for any of your first round of attacks that either fail to hit, fail to wound or the opponent saves) It is as busted (if not more) here as it is on Succubi, and is easily your standout damage dealing trait, especially if you’re running a character that can pick up attack or wound boosts from other sources. Plenty of the other traits around killing look fine, but compared to that and the Beast Snagga nonsense they pale in comparison. That probably means the most relevant of those remaining is Big Gob, boosting auras by 3” and thus excellent on either a Painboy or Painboss (KFFs specifically cannot have their aura range boosted).

Orks look poised to steal the herohammer crown from Drukhari, so prepare to see these on tables a whole bunch. There are even several more generic traits that would be totally fine in other books, they’re just eclipsed by the peak nonsense on show here.

Relics

A relatively short list of generic relics for Orks, but still some goodies among them. You’ve got a couple of different spins on fancy defences from Super Cybork Body and Da Krushin’ Armour, and some deadly weapons in the form of Da Killa Klaw (still good, but sadly trading its re-rolls for a point of AP) and Headwoppa’s Killchoppa. The latter lets you get a Beastboss up to S12, and you absolutely want that, so it should see plenty of use. If you prefer to take things out at range, Da Ded Shiny Shoota is an massive upgrade over a regular Kustom Shoota, and while Orks should probably be using their relic slots for melee-focused fare, it’s cool in a themed force.

Finishing up with some more esoteric fare, Scorched Gitbonez provides a boost to casting Witchfire powers and some resistance to Perils wounds. It can be taken on a Vehicle, which is cute, but you can do better. Much, Much more exciting is the Beasthide Mantle, giving a Beast Snagga unit +1A and a 5+ ignore wounds. Please do go ahead and put that on your Squigosaurs.

Overall, a short list but not a bad one – you’re going to find several things you want every game, especially once you factor in the Clan relics.

Psychic Powers

Weirdboy Warphead or Warchanter – Credit Beanith

Orks have access to two Psychic Disciplines in the new codex: The returning Powers of the Waaagh and the new Beasthead discipline, which is exclusive to Beast Snaggas.

Patch notes: Powers of the Waaagh!

Hello there, gamers. Patch 9.Ork has been released, and is now live! It includes fixes for some common issues with the Powers of the Waaagh.

Classes

  • Powers of the Waaagh are now locked to the Weirdboy class.
  • Introduced the new Wurrboy class.

Abilities

  • ‘Eadbanger: reduced WC to 5, from 8, but instead of outright killing a model, does d6 Mortal Wounds to it. Known issue: unlike other MW, these do not spill over once the first model is killed.
  • Warpath: reduced WC to 6, from 7, gains a CORE/CHARACTER limitation.
  • Da Jump: Bug Fix: CORE only.
  • Fists of Gork: On a psychic test of 11+, A and S are now increased by 3 instead of 2.
  • Da Krunch: reduced WC to 6, from 8. Remove extra 2d6 test to proc a second round of MW rolls, but add 1 to MW rolls if the psychic test was 9 or higher.
  • Roar of Mork: has been deprecated.
  • Jabbin’ Fingerz: New power: WC6, one visible enemy unit within 18” subtracts 1 from their hit rolls for the turn.

For Customer Support with Orks, please go outside and scream into the sky, shaking your fist if possible. Gork, or possibly Mork, should respond within 24 hours.

Wings Note: Strategically, things are mostly unchanged. You’re still going to want Da Jump and Warpath in a list running lots of Boyz, and probably still have better ways to invest in damage than a Weirdboy tuned to throwing mortals (possibly including a Wurrboy). However, Fists of Gork goes up in value quite a bit, because the things you can do with characters in this book are deeply, deeply unpleasant.

Beasthead Powers

This is feeling a bit like a 7th edition AdMech-style split codex, with the psychic disciplines applying to different units, and their buffs divided cleanly into Weirdboy powers that work on all <CLAN> CORE units, and Wurrboy powers that only work on Beastsnaggas (in a few cases, units have the keywords to benefit from both). Straight damage-dealing powers and enemy debuffs are available in both, but it seems to be incentivizing running the majority of a list as either Beastsnaggas or Orks Classic, without a lot of cross-pollination.

This is where Roar of Mork ended up – it still inflicts -1Ld to all enemies in range, but also tags one unit for -2 to Advance and Charge rolls. Pretty good!

There are two buff powers: Spirit of Gork targets a Squig unit and grants +1 attack as well as dealing a MW on unmodified 6s to wound. Not bad for WC6, if you have the Squigs to make use of it. Beastscent (unclear if this is meant to be Beast Scent or Beasts Cent) goes off on a 5, and allows all Beastnaggas to ignore cover when shooting the targeted enemy unit. Given the number of shooty Beastsnagga units, this is a better pick than it might seem, but it’s probably not one of the top two choices.

A strong candidate for top-tier is Bitin’ Jaws, basically a good version of Jaws of the World Wolf. A mere 6 Warp Charge to draw a line and deal 1 Mortal Wound to every enemy under it.

And there are two Smite-like powers: Squiggly Curse is WC7, and targets a single unit within 12”. Roll one dice per model (up to 6), and for every 4+ do a MW. If it kills a model, all enemies within 6” take an extra MW. Seems like a lot of work for something not as easy to cast, or as good against Marines, as Smite, but going into a clump of large units of single-wound models, there’s an upside. Arguably not as good as Frazzle, though. That one is WC6, and for each unit within 9”, roll a d6, dealing d3 MWs for each a 4+. This is a nice AoE to splash around a few MWs if you have a cluster of enemy units to punish with it, though it won’t reliably target damage on any one unit. The 9” radius goes a long way to making up for it doing absolutely nothing to a particular unit half the time. Don’t forget that you can (and will) be throwing this from a Kill Rig base a lot of the time too!

Secondary Objectives

These are all Progressive. Orks don’t plan five turns ahead, because they aren’t nerds.

Stomp ‘em Good (No Mercy, No Respite)

3VP at the end of the battle round if you melee-d more units to death than you had melee-d to death, with a bonus 1VP if you doubled-up on their count. No, Gretchin don’t count. We fired them all, because they kept getting stomped.

Probably a fine way to score points, most of the time, if you were planning to bully the other army in melee anyway, or if they have no significant punching threats. Really, really good when you’re on the hero-hammer plan too, as your opponent frankly isn’t going to take out multiple Squigosaurs in a fight in one turn. Ever. Really just no.

Get Da Good Bitz (Shadow Operations)

This is your obligatory Activity-based secondary. Pick up to three objectives that aren’t in anyone’s deployment zone to mark as Good Bitz, and a CORE unit can do an Activity at them. It takes a full turn, and is good for 3VP every time. If there are multiple Good Bitz on the table, a different unit can perform the Activity on each of them.

This is a spin on Investigate Signals, requiring a CORE unit and lasting all the way through to your next command phase, but with up to 3 sites for it (on Objectives in neutral territory), instead of only 1 at the center of the battlefield. Only worth taking if you have 2-3 Good Bitz objectives to score it off of, but if you do, this is max-able in two turns.That’s potent, because if you body them off the board quickly you can completely max this even if you only start from turn 3. Also, CORE includes Warbikers and Squighog Boyz, who have the right combination of speed and durability to make them excellent for picking this up.

Da Biggest and Da Best (Purge the Enemy)

This has three things your Warlord can do every turn, each good for 3VP, with a cap of 5. The math makes almost no sense, but think of it as 3VP if you accomplish one of these, and 5VP if you get two. The TODO list is:

  • Punch a MONSTER or VEHICLE to death.
  • Punch a CHARACTER to death.
  • Kill 5 models any which way you can.

This is basically stuff your Warboss would be doing anyway, you just need to prioritize targets. Seems like an easy 6-9 (nice) VP every game, but maxing it out is going to require some strategizing and a bit of luck, plus your opponent can feed you the wrong types of units and block scoring too much from it. It’s also asking for trouble, putting your warlord into combat and accepting that if they get Thunderhammered on turn 2, you aren’t scoring anything. This is a Bravery Mode objective.

Green Tide (Battlefield Supremacy)

A quarter-claiming objective that only units of 11 or more models can score. 3 VP if you have two quarters, 5VP if you have all four. The 11 models thing is kind of not great, but that’s why it’s called the Green Tide I guess. Given enough Boyz, it seems reasonably easy to get 3VP a turn here, and with even one good turn of full coverage, come close to maxing out. This is good enough to be worth planning your army list around, but if you didn’t, and built specifically around MSU, it’s not a great game-time pickup. Also, it works with Grots, so a unit of about 20 of them to tick off the home quarter is a very good idea if this is your plan.

The rule also says to “divide the table into quarters”, which has led to certain degenerates trying to gerrymander increasingly bizarre layouts. Please do not do this.

The Units

Orks have a truly spectacular number of units available, so we’re not going to go into quite as much detail on some of these as we normally would, instead focusing on the shiny new things and the most important changes. There also aren’t too many things in this book that look terrible either – most of the infantry and characters are at least fine at their jobs, and attaching Ramshackle to every non-LOW vehicle makes almost all of them look pretty decent. Anyway, let’s get into it.

HQ

Credit: Charlie Brassley

Warbosses

Warbosses come in both mega-armoured and regular form, the former being a fixed datasheet for the new model and the latter being able to mix and match various weapon options (including taking a power claw to upgrade to Da Killa Klaw). Both benefit from a fancy new 5+ invulnerable save thanks to their Dead Tough rule, and both get the new Warboss aura, giving friendly CORE and CHARACTER units from the same Clan nearby +1 to hit in melee. This neatly offsets various negative modifiers kicking around, and is obviously a spicy bit of force multiplication for your infantry. Finally, taking one of these as your Warlord unlocks the Waaagh ability (also available if you take a Beastboss or some of the named characters).

These are fine, with the Mega Armour flavour more likely to see play – the price premium isn’t massive, he swings at a spicy S9 base, and a 2+ save and extra wound are good times. Remember, however, that you’re limited to one WARBOSS per detachment, so these are competing with your Beastbosses.

Beastboss

Speaking of. The Beastboss is the Beast Snagga version of the Warboss, getting the generic Beast Snagga ability and a tasty Beastchoppa as their weapon. The trade-off is that they only apply their Aura to Beast Snagga CORE and CHARACTER units. Realistically, outside of smaller games this guy will be a rare sight because…

Beastboss on Squigosaur

Good grief. The Beastboss on Squigosaur is instantly in contention for the best single datasheet in the entire game, and yes we’re including all the AdMech stuff and Morvenn Vahl in that. Sticking a Beastboss on a gigantic Squig makes them faster, boosts them up to T7, the pitch perfect 9W and gives them -1 to all incoming damage. ON top of their already decent melee output from their beastchoppa, the Squig gets to make three bite attacks each time the model fights, hitting at a cool S7 AP-3 D3. Oh and on a six to wound from those? Three mortals instead of the normal damage. Yum. All this for a frankly outrageous 145pts which is uh, not very many points. They can take a thump gun for +5pts if you feel like it.

Just on base rate these are fantastic, but apply some of the many, many relics or warlord traits available to Orks and they become truly crazy. Benefitting from Look Out Sir means that these will usually hit your opponent on full health, and they’re monstrously resilient against anything relying on D2 or D3 attacks. On top of their already considerable offensive or defensive powers, you can layer extra attacks, Brutal But Kunnin’, a 5+ feel no pain from the Beasthide Mantle, or how about a mass Fight Last from Rezmekka’s Redder Paint? Good luck keeping any friends who play melee armies with that last one.

This datasheet is off the charts, and the only thing stopping you putting three in nearly every Ork list is the one-per-detachment Warboss limit. As it is, this unit will be a driving force behind cramming as many detachments into lists as possible, because who needs CP when you have multiple borderline unstoppable killing machines? If your regular opponent plays Orks, get ready to start packing either massed Mortal Wounds, or weapons like lightning claws or Sacresant halberds that throw massed D1 output – you’re going to need them where you’re going.

Finally, if you play Snakebites you can take a named version of this in the form of Mozrog Skragbad. For 25 extra points, you get improved saves, a better weapon, and even more mortals if the great white squig rolls a 6, with the only downside being that he’s fixed to the high variance Surly as a Squiggoth trait. He’s probably still worth considering – his extra kit probably works out as less good than peak optimising a generic one yourself, but can save you 2CP.

Deffkilla Wartrike

Your other flavour of souped-up speedy Warboss looks a whole bunch better in the new book, gaining a 5++ and Ramshackle, while also going down 5pts. He’s also the only Codex source of Da Big Race if you want that instead of Waaagh. Finally, while his weapon hasn’t changed, the fact that Da Killa Klaw has gone down in value, plus the addition of a huge variety of traits that can benefit this speedy boy makes this one of the most improved units in the codex. It’s obviously competing with Squigosaurs, which is a tough place to be, but this would look like an A+ character in almost any other book and is worth a go here.

Big Meks

Big Mek. Credit: Kevin Genson

All three flavours of Big Mek return in this book, all sporting a fancy new base 4+ BS to compensate for the loss of the old version of Dakka Dakka Dakka!. The Big Mek in Mega Armour is probably the biggest loser of the bunch, as the main way they were used was combining Da Cleverest Boss with some traits and relics to basically build yourself a better warboss. With Waaagh moving to an army-level effect requiring a Warboss that’s basically off the table, so the mega armour build exclusively focuses on making a tougher and nastier fighter/KFF bearer. If you’ve got the points then sure, but it’s not mandatory.

If you want a Kustom Force Field on the cheap, the Big Mek with KFF datasheet returns at 85pts. As mentioned earlier, these have been flattened out a bit – they’re now a 6” bubble, and a unit only needs to be “within”, which is good, they work in melee, which is good, but they’re only a 6++, which is bad. You can boost this up as a one time only deal with Force Field Boosta, and Boyz heavy lists almost certainly still want that, but if you’re focusing on Beast Snaggas (who have a 6++ anyway) or Vehicles you’re maybe a bit more likely to pass on this guy.

Finally, the Shokk Attack Gun. This has stayed pretty much unchanged and actually come down 10pts (though you’ll often want to invest in an Enhanced Runt Sucker on your first) and obviously enjoy the improved BS. In general there’s a bit of a reduction in support for amping these up (especially the loss of the old version of the Deathskulls trait), but they’re still going to be a persistent annoyance for the enemy, and also benefit by osmosis from the upgraded Rukkatrukk being perfect for parking next to them.

Psykers

For all your casting needs you can take either a Weirdboy or a Wurrboy (depending on which discipline you want powers from). There’s been a bit of a shakeup to how Weirdboys work – they no longer get boosts to casting from having nearby Orks, but the tradeoff is that now if you have 20+ Ork models (excluding Gretchin) nearby you get to cast an additional power each turn, and they know two base. Essentially, as long as you’re bringing the model count you now get the old Warphead upgrade for free, at the cost of some reliability on the actual casts.

Any list on the old-school Boyz plan absolutely wants a Weirdboy 100% of the time – Da Jump and Warpath are still super spicy things you want in every list. The Wurrboy is a bit more of a question mark – some builds might want one, but there’s another extremely strong way to get access to Beasthead powers that we’ll cover later on.

Painboss

A nice extra here – if you want to fill an HQ slot the Beast Snaggas now bring the Painboss to the table. He’s an HQ Painboy with the Beast Snagga ability and a nastier statline for some extra points. Handily, unlike a lot of the Beast Snagga stuff his 6+ feel no pain aura still works on non-Beast Snagga units, so if you’ve got an HQ slot to fill this guy is great. Also, his Aura does work on CAVALRY where the regular Painboy does not, so if you’re bringing Squighog Boyz, you want this guy.

Named Characters

In addition to Skragbad, all the Named Characters you’d expect return, and they’re joined by another new Snakebite special in the form of Zodgrod Wortsnagga. He’s essentially an extremely pumped up Runtherd, and is one of the units that can be taken in any detachment, so is another decent way to fill a battalion alongside a Warboss.

Out of the rest, Ghaz returns in all his illustrious glory, keeping his damage prevention and impressive statline, and adding a full melee hit re-roll aura for Goff CORE and CHARACTER units. In combination with their new Kultur he’s even more of a monster than ever before, and he gains the Supreme Commander keyword too. The only thing to consider there is that he also has to be your warlord, which thanks to the new wording on stratagems means that if you take him in a non-Goff list, you’re cutting yourself off from your Clan’s strats or relics. Combined with the improvement to Goffs, improvement to his Aura and slight weakening of the support for Boyz hordes in Deathskulls and Evil Sunz, expect to see Ghaz mostly at the head of a Goff horde (as is right and proper) rather than accompanying other Clans.

Right now, there’s a horrible trick that you can pull with Ghaz’s banner bearer Makari, who can also go in any detachment. This is very unlikely to survive the FAQ, but at the moment he can be used to provide Grot Shields to a unit while also benefiting from Look Out Sir himself. This is cheesy as hell, so maybe don’t, hmm? We probably wouldn’t even have mentioned this were it not already out in the wild, but it is, so we may as well try to invoke the FAQ gods to look down upon it disdainfully.

The rest of the lads here still mostly do their old things, and still don’t appear to be anything particularly outrageous. We’re well past the point where Named Character datasheets come out actively bad, but these aren’t creating new strategies either.

Troops

Shoota Boyz. Credit: Rockfish

Shoota Boyz. Credit: Rockfish

Boyz

At pretty much every point since the release of the 8th Edition Codex throwing down 90+ Boyz and trying to steamroll your opponent has been at worst a fringe strategy and hey, they’re T5 AP-1 now! They do jump to 9pts each, and lose their +1 A for moving in large numbers, but don’t forget that they’ll be at +1A for two turns of the game thanks to Waaagh in lists built around them.

Realistically, while some of the support for Boyz is gone, throwing down 90 with character backup is almost certainly still a viable game plan. It helps that you’ve got some additional must-answer wrecking ball threats in the form of Squigosaurs, and great backup from units like Kill Rigs and Squigbuggies. If we had to guess, we’d say the Vehicle or Herohammer lists out of this book are probably the best things you can do, but Boyz still seem interesting.

Beast Snagga Boyz

The poster boyz of the new Ork boxed set, the Beast Snagga boyz are basically bigger, stronger boyz – they come in units of up to 20 models, and like boyz have a slugga and a choppa, but come with Strength 5 instead of 4, making them a bit better at melee combat. The units’ nob comes with a power snappa, a S+2, AP-2, 2 damage melee weapon and one model in 10 can swap their slugga for a thump gun. Overall they’re less versatile than boyz but better at melee, with the downside being +2 points per model added cost. They’re fine but their utility will depend heavily on how many T4 and T5 targets you’re going up against, and while Death Guard are pretty common right now, S5 isn’t particularly helpful against the T5 targets that Drukhari and Admech armies present. That said, with Orks moving to T5, Beast Snaggas are the smarter mirror play. The other big reasons to take these are access to the Snagga Grapple strat, and the ability to ride on a Kill Rig – if you’re taking one or more or those, filling it with ObSec bodies seems like a very strong play.

Gretchin

Ah the humble gretchin. Suddenly elevated to Toughness 3 to match their big green comrades, Gretchin still clock in at 5 points per model and now they’re CORE. They’ve lost Surprisingly Dangerous in Large Numbers, which gave them +1 to hit when the unit size was 20+ and replaced it with Diminutive, which gives them an extra +1 to their saving throw while getting the benefits of cover, and Cowardly, which gives them -1 to combat attrition tests unless there’s a Runtherd within 6”. Also, their save dropped from a 6+ to a 7+. It’s a weird move for a unit that was already not worth 5 points per model. That said, the toughness boost helps a unit that you’re only ever going to take to be a 50-point ObSec objective holder (assuming you take Orrible Gitz) and action-doer and because of their role it likely makes up for the loss of combat effectiveness. On the other hand, Grot Shields will now cost you 2 CP, so using them as a diversion will be something you turn to less often, even with the improved toughness. The other worthwhile thing here is that Gretchin do count for the Green Tide secondary, so if you’re planning around that taking some squads of 15-20 can really help shore up the game plan.

Elites

Burna Boyz. Credit: Rockfish

Burna Boyz. Credit: Rockfish

Nobz

Nobz still come in vanilla and mega form, with the former being your improved 2W Boyz, and the latter being 2+ save killers with nasty weapons. Basic Nobz basically still don’t really have a place – you can do so much elsewhere in the book with the points you need to spend to get a worthwhile unit on the table that you’re not really motivated to bother. Meganobz are mostly the same as ever, with the only loss being that taking two Killsaws is now more expensive (though the basic claw build gets cheaper thanks to not paying a premium for the kustom shoota). They feel like they’ve been a little left behind by the general curve of the game, but backing up Ghaz so they get full re-rolls is potentially interesting, and assuming the “Nob” and “Nobz” keyword are singular/plural equivalents and they can become Trukk Boyz, the ability to throw them straight at the opponent will substantially boost their value.

Special Weapon Units

Burna Boyz and Tankbustas both catch some improvements. Burnas do now have to take a Spanna per five models, but they get the general boost to 12” range on their flamers that all similar units have received, and a full unit of 15 runs you 9PL, the perfect number to squeeze into Strategic Reserves for a single CP. Whether that’s good enough to justify the price tag in this stonkingly powerful book is an open question, but it doesn’t seem ridiculous as a plan.

Tankbustas also get a boost to their weapon baseline, with their rokkit launchers going up to heavy d3 Blast, but pay for it with their re-rolls against vehicles becoming +1 to hit, and not having access to the old version of the Dakka Dakka Dakka strat. Mounting a whole unit of these in a Trukk for drive bys still seems maybe interesting, but they’re one of a few units in the book that’s now in rough competition with how absurdly pushed the buggies are – taking ten of these ahead of two Scrapjets (for only 10 more pts) is a tough sell.

Kommandos

You know what isn’t a tough sell? Kommandos. These only go up a pt per model each and the power claw on the Boss Nob is now no longer mandatory, meaning that you now get these at a better point per wound price than before despite the jump to T5 (the claw is also only 5pts extra). In addition, in line with scout units from other factions these now scout deploy rather than deep strike, providing you with an absolutely dirt cheap source of screening. They’re also even more enhanced in durability if you set them up in terrain, as their Sneaky Gitz ability now adds an additional +2 to their armour save instead of +1.

For those playing along at home, that means you get 6 T5 3+ save wounds when scout deploying these in terrain, which is a stonking bargain, and you can make them either nastier with Goffs or Ob-seccier with Deathskulls to your heart’s content. These are crazy good, you want some units to field as utility MSUs.

The final thing here is that this is sort of a split datasheet – if you take 10 models in a squad, you suddenly unlock a bunch of extra wargear options, representing all the cool toys from the Kill Team kit for these. Gut feel says that for serious competitive play this probably isn’t worth it, but it’s neat to have support for more casual games, where these can be extremely funny.

Support Characters

Rounding out the Elites slot is a collection of various support characters. You’ve got your basic Mek (rarely worth it), a Nob with a Waaagh Banner (kind of meh as the aura is the same as a Warboss), a Painboy (great if you’re running lots of INFANTRY, but notably only 10pts cheaper than the Painboss so it mostly comes down to what slot you want to fill) and a Runtherd (providing relatively weak grot buffs). Finally, Mad Dok Grotsnik returns in this slot, continuing to provide the Painboy aura for multiple Clans at once and thus being plausibly viable in a mixed list. For all this stuff – you want it if you want it, and the Painboy flavours will definitely make it to lists, but there’s nothing strategy-defining here.

Fast Attack

Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy. Credit: Rockfish

Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy. Credit: Rockfish

Buggies

Several of the the Orktober Buggies come out of this book looking pretty fantastic. They no longer split into single units, but they’re almost all cheaper, almost all substantially more dangerous, and all gain Ramshackle. You’re going to be seeing a whole bunch of these on tables just as soon as Ork players can paint the many, many they need.

Let’s start with the most improved and best, the Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy. This was the runt of the litter before but has received some classic overcorrection and is now completely bonkers. The main squig launcher is a 36” range no-LoS Heavy 2d6 Blast S5 AP-2 D2 weapon, and the smaller launcher is another d6 shots if you can get within 18” range. In addition, the saw blades strapped to it now hit at S7 AP-2 D2. All this for a mere 90pts each is completely wild, and 4-5 of these in lists is a very real prospect.

Compared to that, the other two “mixed” melee/shooting options, the Dragster and Scrapjet seem relatively modest in their improvements – but they’re both massively cheaper, gain Ramshackle and benefit from the addition of shots on all rokkit weapons, so they’re also super great.

Finally, shooting. First up, the Kustom Boosta Blasta is the cheapest of the lot, rocking in at 80pts each, gain more shots on their rivet cannons and see their four flamers jump to d6 shots each rather than d3. Also pretty good! Last, and honestly probably least, the Boomdakka Snazzwagon gets a lot more shots on its mek speshul, but inexplicably stays at 90pts while all the others go down, and doesn’t have the souped up auto-hit goodness of the KBB’s flamers. Definitely last in the queue.

These are, bluntly, outrageous powerhouses that should form a part of many successful lists. They’re all substantially better on both the offence and defence, mostly got cheaper, and some were already seriously playable units! Good stuff.

Squighog Cavalry

Squighog Cavalry come in two forms, the Squighog Boyz units and the Nob on Smasha Squig.

The Squighog Boyz are probably the more exciting – they’re just enormously pushed stat wise, hitting like trucks in combat and sporting T6, 4+ save and 3W each on the defence, so they don’t exactly melt either. They also naturally get the Beast Snagga bonus, and are speedy and CORE. All this for 25pts per model is a bargain, and you’re definitely going to see these tried out both in Squig-themed detachments from Snakebites, and just as a generic useful threat.

The Nob is a little less outrageously pushed, costing you nearly as much as a minimum squad of the cavalry by himself, so while the mortals on charge are cool you’ll probably see less of these on tournament tables. They seem like great fun to use though, so a real boon for casual play.

Warbikes

For your shooty mounted option you get Warbikers. They’re probably a bit less exciting than the Squighog boyz, but are notable as the most cost-efficient places to rack up a bunch of Dakka shots if you want to try and do something clever with the Bad Moonz stratagem. Beyond that, your main reason for taking them over the Squighogs is that they’re a lot faster, being able to auto-advance 20” when needed. Realistically, the flexibility and pure crunch of the Squighoggs probably gives them the nod, but for the right list you could make a case for these.

Edit: On reflection, I probably didn’t value the -1 to hit enough on the first pass here – stick a klaw on the Nob and you have a pretty good all-rounder unit, which also works well with Ghaz and the Great Waaagh.

Stormboyz

11pt, T5, AP-1 Stormboyz? Yes please! That’s kind of all that needs saying – these sure are useful, and now that Kommandos scout deploy, this is your source of cheapo units with deep strike for Actions. Fantastic in Deathskulls in particular for ObSec, but just a generically useful utility unit that fills a role you need.

Deffkoptas

Making an illustrious return to the main range, Deffkoptas look pretty interesting. They’re not as pushed as some of the Beast Snagga stuff, but do provide you with a way to hide a lot of Rokkit shots off the table till the time is right. THey also rack up a lot of Ramshackle wounds, and are surprisingly good horder clearers in melee, as their blades multiply their attacks. That also means they benefit strongly from Waaagh, as you essentially get +3 swings per model – obviously great. A neat unit that could definitely see some play.

Heavy Support

Credit: FlamingFig

Battlewagons

Battlewagons are somewhat tricky to evaluate, because they sit in roughly the same ballpark cost-wise as the Kill Rig (which as we’ll get to, is knocking on the door of “best large vehicle in the game”), but with the universal addition of Ramshackle there’s probably some builds you can put together that give you value. These are still split into the customisable generic version, and then the Bonebreaka and Gunwagon for more specialised melee/shooting builds that trade customisability for bonuses. The Gunwagon is the least likely to see use, as if you want guns strapped to hulls there is no way you’re getting better value here than by jamming a couple of Buggies.

That leaves either a generic one built to be a cheap battering ram, or a Bonebreaka for a fiercer push threat. The Bonebreaka is likely the bigger casualty of “not being a Kill Rig”, but it does provide a big threat that can transport non-Beast Snagga units, so you can see it being tried. Going cheap as chips on a basic one and carting around (probably) lots of Lootas is the other likely option – one of the big upsides of Ramshackle is that it means you care a lot less about the ‘ardcase jump to T8, as anything S7 or less is already pretty trash against you. I’d guess that’s the most likely way one of these sees play.

They’re honestly slightly hard to evaluate overall, but the good news for players who love converting this kind of model is that none of these feel bad – the addition of Ramshackle and their relatively aggressive price tags mean you should get your money’s worth, and the question around them is definitely “is there a place for these in top-end lists?” not “are they good at all?”.

Part of the reason they’re going to be squeezed for places in premium builds is, of course…

Kill Rig

The big, bad bogeyman of the 9th edition Codex: Orks, the Kill Rig is so far beyond pushed it veers directly into “what the hell were they thinking” category. For 190 points you get a 16 wound, 8 Toughness vehicle with Ramshackle that doubles as a 10-model transport, triples as a mobile pile of weapons capable of shooting and fighting in melee, and quadruples as a Psyker Character. The Kill Rig does it all. In addition to its transport capacity, it’s a capable melee combatant, with 6 attacks and a WS of 3+ it makes with its 2-damage S+2 saw blades, plus it gets another 8 attacks each time it fights, 4 each from the butcha boyz on top making S5 choppa attacks and 4 from the Squig that are S7 Ap-1, 3 damage.

It’s no slouch when it comes to shooting, either: The Kill Rig has three ranged weapons – the 48” Heavy D6 ‘Eavy Lobba, that can fire S6 AP-1, 2-damage shots at targets out of line of sight, the S8, AP-2 3-damage Stikka Cannon that can re-roll hits against monster and vehicle targets (and traps them nearby), and the Wurrtower, a brutal 24” Assault 1 S9 AP-3 D6 damage gun that automatically hits its targets and does D3 shots if the kill rig successfully manifested any psychic powers this turn.

Oh, yeah – the Kill Rig is a PSYKER and a CHARACTER that knows Smite and 2 Beasthead powers, plus it can cast two per turn and deny one. That’s super important for two reasons: For one, we’ve already mentioned that it powers up the Wurrtower if it manifests a power, and powers like Frazzle on a large, 12” movement vehicle are a great way to put mortal wounds all over your opponent’s army, while Beastscent can be handy for removing the benefits of dense cover prior to shooting. Second, as a CHARACTER, the Kill Rig can benefit from a whole bunch of  benefits it has no business enjoying. Mercifully, it’s locked to taking a relatively narrow warlord trait, but it benefits from +1 to hit auras from Warbosses, and can be given any of the relics that work on vehicles. Most upsettingly, as Evil Sunz Detachment it can take the Rezmekka’s Redder Paint relic to get +2” movement and force nearby units to fight last. Building your own Silent King for 190pts and a CP is big and clever. It can also fight on death with Orks is Never Beaten, and while its stats degrade a bit you’ll still get some decent attacks out when it does this.

Finally, as a Transport this can ship around 10 Beast Snagga INFANTRY. Realistically that means Beast Snagga Boyz, but just because you’re limited in scope doesn’t make it bad – filling this with some extra ObSec wounds that will fall out when it dies is just gravy.

The Kill Rig is a truly outrageous creation that could comfortably cost 40pts+ more than it does. Expect to see lots of them just as soon as players manage to paint the thing.

Hunta Rig

30pts less than the Kill Rig and higher transport capacity, but no Wurrtower, no Psychic might and no CHARACTER keyword. The price differential to upgrade to the Kill Rig is small enough that it seems very unlikely you want to take this version. It’s certainly not a terrible unit, it’s just that the Kill Rig is outrageously, meta-bustingly good.

Deff Dreads

Deff Dreadz. Credit: Rockfish

Deff Dreadz. Credit: Rockfish

Cheap and cheerful, but that’s probably no bad thing. The addition of Ramshackle, like for a lot of units, makes these look way spicier than before, and just strapping four claws to them and sending them lumbering towards the enemy demanding an answer seems perfectly fun!

Killa Kanz

Extreme Ramshackle winners here, Kanz look like they’re threatening to be at least somewhat good? Maybe? The base build is incredibly cheap for how many Ramshackle wounds you put on the table, and while they do still have the issue of risking losing models to morale when one dies, they’re enough of a pain to kill that it feels like something you might risk? A plausible way to use them would be to throw a unit into strategic reserves, as they’re under 10PL for a three model squad and going to be extremely tough for a weaker part of your opponent’s line to fend off. There are so many good vehicle units that they might still find themselves out-competed in competitive lists, but the key win here, like a lot of stuff, is that if this is a unit you love and want to throw down with on a casual table they’re going to be a blast to use.

Mek Gunz

Mek Gunz - Traktor Kannonz. Credit: Rockfish

Mek Gunz – Traktor Kannonz. Credit: Rockfish

Mek Gunz were a constant nightmare from the old book, being far too annoying to take off the board, far too powerful for the cost (in the case of Smashas at least) and very abusive with While We Stand (less with To the Last, but still annoying). They’ve had a bit of a shakeup here – like all the other vehicles they no longer split, and their unit size is capped at three, so a maximum of nine on the table in any given game. Their leadership is also an atrocious four, so if you take a multi-model unit and one dies you lose another on a 4+, and have a one in six chance of losing the entire unit of three.

That’s obviously bad, no getting around that. The good news is that these are still cheap (45pts a piece), and Ramshackle is big nonsense on them. They’re T5 with 6W, and used to be premium targets for things like autocannons, as that was the only way to prise them off the table efficiently. Now that basically doesn’t work, and on average your opponent is going to need to push two unsaved wounds from a real anti-tank gun through to take one of these off the table, and if they can’t they might just not bother.

That leaves a very specific window open for taking three of these solo and just using them as backfield annoyance/attrition units, with an option on sticking all of them into Strat Reserves for a single CP in an inclement matchup. The Smasha Gun loses its special wound mechanic but is probably still the standout, though Traktor Cannons give you access to some of that juicy d3+3D goodness that other armies have picked up, rising to a truly hilarious d6+3 against FLY models. They have lost their auto-hit (boosts to hit rolls against FLY instead), but again the play with these now feels like it’s just using them to eke out some damage over time from models that are a pain to deal with and the threat of those huge damage spikes might be useful in that context.

There’s no way around the fact that if you own 18 of these, the changes here suck for you. However, three solos feels like a very valid play in a tonne of lists, so I guess find some Orky friends to palm them off to.

Lootas

Lootas are who you come to if you want a lot of Dakka shots, with their deffguns becoming Dakka 3/2. That’s pretty much a straight upgrade, as it allows them to move and shoot without issue, and they’ll often get the top profile. The downsides are that they don’t have access to either the old version of More Dakka or a shoot twice effect any more, and now have to take a Spanner per 5 models.

Adding it all up, these feel a little like they’ve fallen casualty to one of the things that bedevils units that were exceptional at some point in 8th edition – their datasheet has been treated pretty cautiously, but with the loss of the tricks that made them crazy before they could probably have gotten some more generous upgrades. They still represent a whole bunch of Dakka autocannon shots, and the lure of driving a squad around in a Battlewagon is there, but they look unlikely to be top tier.

Flash Gitz

First, the good news – these are no longer required to be Freebooterz, so you can run them as whatever clan you do so choose. The bad news? They’re 27pts per model, and their weapons are still 24” range and heavy, which makes these a real tough sell. Guaranteed access to double shooting from the Gun Crazy Show Offs Stratagem helps, and they’ve picked up a bunch of stat boosts so I can sort of see how you arrive at the price tag, but the complete package here definitely feels like less than the sum of its parts. They’re also not CORE, as a final kick in the teef. Feels like a bit of a missed opportunity overall – cut a few points from these and they’re interesting.

Dedicated Transport

Trukk. Credit: Rockfish

Trukk. Credit: Rockfish

Trukk

The humble Trukk remains your only option here, and the addition of Ramshackle plus presumed eventual compatibility with Trukk Boyz ensures that it’s still a decent one. Having something sticky you can commit to the mid board right away is still good in 9th, and packing one of these with some bodies gives you that.

Flyer

Credit: Greg “Greggles” Hess

The Ork Flyers in general get a huge win from Ramshackle, as it makes them much more annoying to take down. They also come on a nice sliding curve of price – the Dakkajet is extremely cheap to the point where you probably at least think about it as a random Engage on All Fronts tool. The two bombers give you mortal effects tuned to different targets – the Blitza Bomba provides area of effect Boom Bombs that roll per nearby unit for mortals similar to the Voidraven, while the Burna Bomba is your tool for punishing infantry hordes, rolling per model within a 6” radius. The latter option is extremely spicy in a Skitarii world – there’s no cap on the number of dice you can roll, and a 12” diameter pie plate is a truly gigantic space to measure within, so there’s probably some legs on these. I mean not literally. Because they fly. Can you tell that writing the unit sections of these reviews ends up as a bit of a death march sometimes?

Finally, for your slightly fancier class of plane you have the Wazbomb Blastajet. An important change on these is that they no longer have a KFF, instead being able to buy a Wazbomb Force Field that provides a 5++ aura for Aircraft only. If you find yourself taking several planes it might be worth considering, but it’s fairly pricy for a single one – especially as the planes can still benefit from a KFF on the ground, meaning that if you’re going vehicle heavy and relying on a Boostaed field for turn one protection, these can just tag in on that.

Where these shine is offensively, most notably because they can mount two tellyport blastas. These are d6 shot Blast guns at S8 AP-2 d3+3 damage, by far the most attacks of that calibre you get on a single model right now. Even better, the Blastajet gets base BS4+, and has a smasha gun as well, which means that one of these is a pretty monstrous tank killing machine. The issue of that is, of course, that unlike the others this will be a priority target for the best guns your opponent is bringing, so you should make sure you’re ready to commit to spending the 2CP it will cost you to reserve it in inclement matchups (or run as Bloodaxes and pull it with the Warlord trait).

Lord of War

Gorkanaut. Credit: Rockfish

Gorkanaut. Credit: Rockfish

The Ork Lord of War slot swells in number, with Morkanauts and Gorkanauts now having statlines that befit their Knight-like stature. They haven’t gone up much in cost to pay for it, and are thus both pretty vicious looking, but do come with one major drawback – they don’t have Ramshackle. Paradoxically, in a list that’s also sporting other Vehicles, this means that taking one of these opens up a huge weakness, because if gives all of your opponents’ D2 weaponry a place to shoot for big value. They’re still pretty cool, and as ever the Morkanaut is the slightly more interesting option, being able to take a KFF on a huge frame and packing some good ranged firepower. Like pretty much every other vehicle, these are also firmly tuned to where you can have some proper fun with them even if they don’t break out onto tournament tables. Don’t forget that if you take one in a Super Heavy Aux there’s vanishingly little reason not to turn it into a Big Krumpas specialist mob.

What really hangs over these is the fact that the Forge World Kill Tank 1.) exists and 2.) still gets Ramshackle at the time of writing – it’s just an outrageously better unit as things stand, and if you want to compete with Ork Lords of War it is 100% your choice.

Finally here, the Stompa, gifted a substantial drop in points and some improvements to its killing power, with more shots on some of its guns and better damage on its already potent melee attacks. Does that make it good? Tough to say – in a world where AdMech chickens are on the rampage it’s a fairly firm no, as they’ll scythe through it in record time. If they go away? Maybe things get more interesting – it’s a whole bunch of wounds on a model that will fully ruin your day if you ignore it. It is another model that’s a bit sad that some of the old buffs are gone (RIP Visions in the Smoke) but because the liability with the Stompa was always it getting punked, anything that lets them bring its points down significantly is a win. Like all the other fancy toys, it’s definitely going to be a lot more fun to use in Crusade and casual play.

Fortifications

Orks now command not one but two fortifications, the Mekboy workshop that makes the jump from 8th and the new Big’ed Bossbunka released with the updated range.

The Mekboy Workshop retains its link with Kustom Jobs, now letting you include the same one in your army multiple times, and also letting a Mek perform an Action to add one to one of your vehicles for free*. Free gets an asterisk there because you’re paying for both the Workshop and the Mek, and there’s also a chance that these bodge jobs fall off during the game. This datasheet is, honestly, a massive argument for some of these Fortifications becoming AoS style free add-ons for armies, it would fit very well into that paradigm. As it is, there’s a whole bunch of creative fun you can do with it, but it’s definitely not a competitive choice.

The Big’ed Bossbunka shows why we can’t have nice things like free terrain – in 40K, some Fortifications are sort of tanks. The Bossbunka honestly gets a lot closer to playability than most of these do – it provides an open topped transport for 10 models, a pretty decent shooting attack of its own and a solid defensive profile, all at 75pts. If you want something to hide Lootas in, and are very sure that your tables will support you setting this up, you can genuinely do worse. You can, of course, likely do much better, but it’s nice to see one of these that’s reaching the heady heights of “mildly interesting”.

Our Thoughts

How They’ll Play

Ultramarines Reiver Sergeant and far too many Orks. Credit: SRM

Orks are about overwhelming the opponent. Whether they’re doing it with hordes of Boyz, exceptional monstrous characters or a swarm of cost-efficient hulls, Orks want to put the opponent under more pressure than they can handle, ensure they can’t safely contest the Primary objective, then body them hard enough that they can’t get back into the game.

That’s not really a change from old school Orky plans, so the things to consider from the new book are what new tools it gives you to achieve that. There certainly are some! Ork Characters other than Ghaz used to be disappointingly fragile, with a lack of invulns that made them operate like glass cannons. No more. The baseline stats on your warbosses are now much heftier, and units like the Deffkilla Wartrike and (especially) the Beastboss on Squigosaur are terrifying wrecking balls that can soak up pain as well as dish it out.

This really helps your plan of overwhelming the enemy, because amongst whatever units you’re pressuring the opponent with you’re now going to have some nightmare combat monsters seeded, protected by Look Out Sir until the time is right. This lets you either plug gaps in your lines or strike hard at a point where the opponent is weak, smashing their forces asunder and dominating the board. The other units that are just wildly improved across the board are the buggies, all now pretty tremendous at their jobs and strong in both lists built around them and included alongside other units.

The other shiny new assets are the scout deploy from Kommandos and mobile melee punch from Squighog Boyz. The Kommandos give you a tool to prevent early blowouts from opposing redeploys, plus pressure any scouts they bring to the table, while Squighogs give you something that the opponent has to be properly scared of as long as they’re on the board.

All good stuff that feeds back into your core plan – shouting Waaaagh and either slamming hordes of Boyz into the opponent’s lines, or unleashing endless volleys of rokkits and catapulted squigs to annihilate them while doing sick donuts in the middle of the board. Fun times.

Hot Takes

Wings

The Ork book is a little unlucky – after recent incidents I’m coming to it with a pretty skeptical eye, very much on the lookout for whatever is going to turn out to be our next big swig from the forbidden bottle labelled “Metagame Hurting Juice”. There are certainly some things that get my hackles up, but let’s talk positives first.

The big things I like about this book are the global re-calibration of what it means to be an Ork, especially for the Characters, plus a real focus on ensuring that almost everything with a hull is usable. The 8th Edition Ork book was plenty powerful on a number of angles, but had a persistent problem that Boyz and anything that shared their statline kind of sucked at killing anything through anything other than sheer weight of numbers, and died to a stiff breeze. Obviously the green tide is part of the fluff too, but even your ‘umble Boy should be good at krumpin’ stuff, and should be at least not completely trivial to take out. The Characters had a similar issue – you could assemble a few nasty builds with relics, but even those were ridiculous glass cannons who couldn’t stand up in a fight with heroes from other factions. Finally, a lot of the Vehicles were just bad.

All of these problems are fixed in the new book. Shifting the basic Ork statline to T5 and adding AP to the choppa means that every Boy (plus all the units that share their statline) now feels more like a brutal brawlin’ killa. That’s good, and what’s more this is somewhere where I think other sliders have been moved to stop this being oppressive. Your Boyz are better on their base rate, but the removal of Unstoppable Green Tide means that your starting complement is your lot, and the difference between victory isn’t going to turn on a last few dice rolls that determine whether a unit clings on to be completely refreshed. I was a bit worried when T5 Boyz was announced that they’d be oppressive, but I think here the tuning is good – they’re playable (with maybe a slight asterisk of “once Enriched Rounds gets nerfed”) and scary, but not broken.

Battlewagon - Deathrolla and Kannon. Credit: Rockfish

Battlewagon – Deathrolla and Kannon. Credit: Rockfish

Vehicles also see some considerable improvements across the board. For competitive play I have concerns around the Buggies and Ramshackle that we’ll get to, but for casual and narrative play it’s a godsend, as it puts a high floor on vehicle durability. The Ork community is consistently the game’s most inventive when it comes to incredible vehicle conversions, and this book goes out of its way to make sure that whatever datasheet you’re running your spectacular kitbash as will be at minimum functional in the game, and generally pretty exciting to use. Vehicles have had a pretty uneven ride in 9th, and I was a bit worried going into this review that some of the Ork ones would end up worthless. I 100% didn’t need to be, and if your collection is built around some incredible vehicular centrepieces you’re likely to have a great time playing games with this book.

Finally, Characters get the biggest glowup. Most get far spicier on base rate, and all benefit from a hugely improved list of Warlord traits and some decent relics that should give them the tools they need to stomp on the ‘umies or whoever else is annoying you. At the higher end, the Beastboss on Squigosaur is probably the most powerful non-Named Character in the entire game, and that’s a neat way to segue into the things about this book that scare the hell out of me.

A few of the datasheets here, notably the Squigosaur and Kill Rig, are pushed to a degree that’s wildly unhealthy – both could eat 30pt price hikes and still be among the best units in the book. For the Kill Rig there are at least angles for the metagame to adapt – it does die if you point enough big anti-tank at it, and it’s going to be hard to hide on the table. The Squigosaur being a 9W CHARACTER means that there is no such answer – you can’t kill it at range, and being T7 with flat -1D means it’s very resilient to a large number of melee counters as well – S6 D2 is a place that a lot of premium melee ends up and uh, bad news folks. You can tune against it a bit but it’s bad for a single model to be such a hefty consideration for list building, and problematic that the things you want against it (volume D1 attacks or a few gigantic swings) are exactly not what you want against Lucius Skitarii.

That warping caused by damage reduction hits even harder once you add all the buggies as well. You’ve seen my rant about Ramshackle further up, and my concern is that there are going to be lists that stack up lots of buggies and lots of Squigosaurs to create something that’s incredibly high threat and incredibly hard to take off the table, to a degree that just isn’t going to be fun. You can see my first attempt at this in one of the builds below, and it’s a doozy. My gut says that if there are broken builds in this book, the Squigosaur is going to be near the crime scene looking massive and guilty, and his accomplices are likely to include large numbers of buggies.

Overall, I think this book succeeds on the metric of ensuring that Orks feel right, plus on giving players lots of fun ways to use their favourite kits, but I am skeptical that it has managed to dodge the recent curse of unleashing meta-smashing monstrosities on the tournament world. I suspect the lag time on them appearing is going to be longer than it was for Drukhari or AdMech, because the builds that appear to be the most potent require substantial numbers of complex new kits, and also lots of fiddly to paint units like buggies. I will, as ever, be casting an eye across the tournament scene as things develop.

Army Lists

Two builds from me, showing off different things you can do with the book.

First up, this is a rough go at bringing a Boyz horde into the new world.

Waaagh Da Goffs

Goff Supreme Command

Ghazghkull Thraka, Warlord – 300
Goff Patrol
HQ
Beastboss on Squigosaur, Brutal But Kunnin, Beasthide Mantle –  145, 2CP
Weirdboy, Da Jump, Warpath  – 70

Troops
30 Boyz, Big Choppa – 275
30 Boyz – 270

Elites
Kommandos, power klaw – 55
Kommandos, power klaw – 55

Fast Attack
5 Squighog Boyz -125
Stormboyz – 55

Heavy Support
Smasha Gun – 45
Smasha Gun – 45

Goff Patrol
HQ
Painboss, Big Gob – 80, 1CP
Big Mek with KFF – 85
Troops
30 Boyz – 270

Fast Attack
5 Squighog Boyz -125

2000pts, 7CP

You may notice that this looks pretty similar to how you’d assemble a Goff horde before and yup, it sure does! I’ve included the Squighog Boyz because they’re very nasty as Goffs and provide the melee horde here with an angle to spike damage upwards where it’s really needed, and also a Squigosaur because they’re so good that it’s bordering on wrong not to. However, if those units don’t take your fancy, Meganobz in Trukks would still feel like a strong way to back up the core here, and you could easily expand the Kommando/Stormboy contingent.

Da Fun Poleez

Evil Sunz Patrol
HQ
Beastboss on Squigosaur, Warlord, Rezmekkas Reddest Paint, Brutal But Kunnin’ – 145

Troops
15 Grots, Orrible Gitz’ – 75

Fast Attack
3 Rukkatrukk Squigbuggies – 270

Heavy Support
Smasha Gun – 45
Smasha Gun – 45

Deathskulls Outrider
HQ
Beastboss on Squigosaur, Bigkilla Boss, Beasthide Mantle – 145, 2CP

Troops
10 Beast Snagga Boyz, thump gun – 115
10 Beast Snagga Boyz, thump gun – 115
15 Grots, Orrible Gitz’ – 75

Elites
Kommandos, power klaw – 55
Kommandos, power klaw – 55

Fast Attack
Stormboyz, power klaw – 65
Stormboyz – 55
Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy – 90
Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy – 90
Megatrakk Scrapjet – 90
Megatrakk Scrapjet – 90

Heavy Support
Kill Rig, Frazzle, Spirit of Gork – 190
Kill Rig, Squiggly Curse, Roar of Mork – 190

2000pts, 7CP

This list is an attempt to sketch out what I think the Ork boot stomping on all our faces is roughly going to look like, cramming in multiple Squigosaurs, multiple Kill Rigs and a whole host of efficient buggies. Taking the Evil Sunz patrol as the warlord’s detachment lets you stick Rezmekka’s Reddest Paint on the Squigosaur, creating something that’s functionally unchargeable with anything less than apocalyptic force, while also unlocking Drive By Dakka for the big Squigbuggy unit. That lets them dart in to get full value from their shooting potential and squig mines, then zip back to safety or to grab an objective as the situation dictates.

The Deathskulls detachment is then all about efficiency. You’ve got your Kommandos and Stormboyz for objective play (and to maximise the benefit from the ObSec they gain), then a whole bunch of strong vehicles to make use of the re-rolls and to stack the anti-mortal effect on top of Ramshackle to ensure there are no easy answers. Two Kill Rigs crammed with Beast Snagga Boyz are the obvious centrepieces, but more Rukkatrukks and some Scrapjets add some serious weight of dakka as well. Finally, a second Squigosaur, loaded down with the nastiest “generic” loadout you can buy him.

This list does appalling amounts of damage and looks like a complete nightmare to contemplate taking off the board for anyone that isn’t the Adeptus Mechanicus. I expect to see builds like this experimented with heavily, and I’m sure there are optimisations you can make, but as a starting point it looks brutal.

Wrap Up

That’s a wrap folks, so it’s time for warbosses to begin assembling their great Waaaghs and everyone else to start looking at how they’re going to repel the green tide. We’ll have more Ork content for you in the coming week, and in the meantime if you have any comments, questions or suggestions hit us up at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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