Codex Orks: The Crusade Rules Review

There’s a new Codex: Orks, and we’re covering it on Goonhammer this week. If you want to check out the competitive rules, we did that too, but here we’ve summoned the Narrative Waaagh! and Special Goonhammer Friend Greggles to look at the Crusade content in the book. Folks, it’s good.

Orks are Warhammer’s all-purpose antagonist, ready to fight anyone at any time, for absolutely no reason. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the thrill of creating your own Waaagh, recruiting morons and clobbering your way across the galaxy, this is the supplement for you. As usual for the 9th edition Codices, Orks get a host of new agendas, relics, traits, and requisitions, but no battle scars, along with a couple of twists unique to the army. These offer both the now-obligatory unique resource to track and, for the first time, a stunningly in-character internecine warfare mechanic. Join us, as we risk madness trying to make sense of this riotous mob.

Might Makes Right: Gettin’ Swole

An entire page is devoted to the intricacies of Orkinoid power struggles and the process of selecting new leadership. The process is violence.

To start an Ork Crusade, you select a non-named CHARACTER to be your Waaagh!boss. The naming is presumably so you don’t confuse them with Warbosses, which they can actually also be. Also, the three “a”s and the exclamation point is how GW wrote it, and I don’t intend to let them forget that. 

When your Waaagh!boss gains a rank, in addition to a Battle Honour, they can pay 1PL to increase their Strength or Wounds characteristic by 1 (only twice for each characteristic, which is frankly still terrifying). So far, so good: the biggest Ork should be in charge, this is Correct. After every battle, when the XP has been tallied and your Crusade Cards updated, if any other CHARACTER units have more total XP than your Waaagh!boss, the one with the highest total XP challenges the Waaagh!boss for leadership.

I’m going to stop here for a second, and explain something. You may have noticed when reading our Crusade coverage – I certainly have while writing it – that every Codex, campaign book, or WD supplement since at least Drukhari has had something in it we described as “the coolest Crusade rule ever”. There’s a reason for this: we keep finding cool stuff that outdoes the previous books. I would love, genuinely and truly, for at least one of these to include a letdown of a Crusade section, because I’m running out of ways to say that something rips/slaps/bangs/etc, but it refuses to happen. I promise, in a way that assuredly gets harder to believe every time we say that something “kicks the most ass of any rule committed to the page by human hands” or such, that we are not complete shills for Games Workshop. I am completely willing to be mean to Business Daddy, but they aren’t letting me, the supplements are too consistently good. Please, GW, just miss once. Our integrity is on the line here.

Anyway, your Orks punch and kick each other to see if the boss stays the boss. The current Waaagh!boss gets the first turn, and the fight starts with each of them (if they can) casting a single psychic power (the opponent can attempt to Deny the Witch, if they have that ability), and then carrying out a single round of shooting. This is done old west style, from 6” away and with no cover. Then they punch each other until one of them dies. If they both die, somehow, the Waaagh!boss is considered the winner.

If the Waaagh!boss wins, they immediately gain enough XP to put them 1 higher than the challenger, and the challenger takes a Battle Scar for their hubris. If the challenger wins, they gain d3 more XP and officially become the new Waaagh!boss. The previous incumbent, disgraced, gains a Battle Scar and loses their title. The outgoing Waaagh!boss keeps any stat boosts they’ve earned, but only the current Waaagh!boss can gain new ones. It’s a fun word to type. Waaagh!boss.

With the previous caveat about Excitement Inflation well in mind, I still have to say it. I can’t help myself. This absolutely and unequivocally kicks ass

Beanith: Hand on heart, I agree completely. From sticking your characters into dreadnoughts to playing property tycoon in Commorragh, pretty much every Crusade section has been amazing. Several of which have actually made me want to go out and start collecting another army.


Orks. Credit: Rockfish
Orks. Credit: Rockfish

There are five agendas here, only two of which are really notable, and even then mostly only for their names: Krumpin’ Spree has your Warlord add 1 to its Krumpin’ tally every time it destroys a Character, Vehicle, or Monster unit, and gives it 2XP for every Krumpin’ point it has. This rules, and you should take it every time.

The other interesting one, Kunnin’ Stuntz, is notable not only for a name that is probably going to get someone fired, but also because it does not function as written. Speed Freekz units do Stuntz by completing the Kunnin’ Stuntz action, which requires you to choose an eligible Speed Freekz unit that advanced this turn and ended at least 6” from where it started. While we’re glad to see them fix this dumb bullshit so they can’t do Stupid Ravenwing Tricks, we remain perplexed as to why they would create an agenda that requires you to complete Activities with units who have moved in such a way as to render them ineligible to perform Activities. Orks are bad drivers, I guess.

Greg: Kunnin’ Stuntz actually rules, because it gives you XP for doing insane wheelies and other motorcycle tricks, which is, if nothing else, certainly an experience. Tear-assing around the battlefield for 2XP every time you stop shooting your gun off and go do something stupid on a bike instead is rad as hell.

Greggles:  I would like to think the Ork tried to shoot their guns, and instead fired off the wheelie launcher button instead.  It’s pretty easy to do since all the buttons are the same size and red.

The other agendas are aggressively fine. Megawaaagh! gives you experience for killing things when your Waaagh! or Speedwaaagh! is in effect, with more XP awarded for kills in the round you declare it. Scrap ‘Em gives experience to Lootas and Meks for every Titanic Vehicle you destroyed that didn’t explode, and then a pile of scrap for every vehicle you kill without causing it to explode. Finally, Bring It Down! gives XP to Beast Snaggas for each vehicle or monster they destroy, with bonus XP if they do it in melee. 

Greggles: Scrap ‘Em is one of the best agendas here for a truly narrative experience. If you are a veteran player, you and your friends probably have bitz boxes galore all over the place. If you happen to get piles of loot for your opponent, see about actually getting some bitz and throwing them on vehicles or models. Fun way to really get into the narrative spirit while getting XP at the same time!

Beanith: I’ve been sticking with Reaper and Assassins as my go to Agendas for my old Ork Crusade list mostly because they’re incredibly easy to keep track of. But now that I have some fun Ork specific Agendas to play with…I’m not sure I’ll change from my lazy, easy-to-remember options. Although when I do rebuild my list, if I do go down the Speed Freekz path and go vehicle heavy, then Kunnin’ Stuntz will be an auto-include in every game. A potential 10xp every game on my Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy? Yes please.


Two of the requisitions are fairly perfunctory: Specialist Mob is, well, how you get access to Specialist Mobs, similar to how you’d choose a Holy Order, or upgrade a Drukhari character to be a Lord of the Dark City, or any of the other similar requisitions. The other, Extra Scrap, is also precisely what it says on the tin: you get extra scrap for every objective you control at the end of a game. These are both 1RP.

You’z Fight For Me Now! is a 1RP requisition that you can only use after you win a battle against another Ork player. Your Warlord gains 5XP, which is pretty rad, but the really cool part is the kicker: your feats of strength are so inspiring that some of your opponent’s warband deserts and joins your cause, allowing you to use the Fresh Recruits requisition for free and bump up one of your mobs in size.

The last requisition sucks. It’s called Sneaky Scheme, and allows you to skip the whole leadership challenge in favor of a sneaking mission. 2RP to avoid an incident where you get a new Waaagh!boss is useful, and we can’t argue with Brutal Kunnin’ as a valid Ork strategy, but the reason I don’t respect this one is simple: having your characters fight each other is incredibly cool, and using this means that it happens less often.

Beanith: The Coward’s Scheme, more like it. Plus who has spare Requisition Points? I’m always sinking mine into Increase Supply Limit.

Greggles: I really feel like this set of crusade rules is just made for almost roleplaying your army.  Fight another ork player and lose? Give some extra xp to another character and start a boss fight cause your leader messed up.  So many ways to really dive into the army and make it your own and really get a feel for progression and growth.

Greg: I figured you’d enjoy this, because it’s basically what you were already doing.


Big Mek. Credit: Kevin Genson

That Scrap you’ll be picking up comes in handy. In addition to the bits you can pick up from the Requisition or Agenda, you get one point of scrap for every vehicle you destroy that doesn’t explode. Once you get 3 Scrap Points, you can spend them to have your Meks (this requires either a Mek or a Big Mek in your Order of Battle) perform a Mek Job on a vehicle in your roster.

There are only two jobs a mek can do: Patch Up allows you to pick a vehicle with at least one battle scar and remove it, while Kustom Job is how you get access to the Kustom Jobs in the army rules. These are obviously useful, but not particularly exciting.

Either of the effects here are things that would normally be Requisitions, and don’t really do anything unique – the idea of collecting scrap is a good one, but Scrap Points do so little that it feels half-baked. Call it a missed opportunity, but it seems designed to tick a box on an internal GW rubric more than anything else, and the book easily could have just used RP for these if they weren’t going to do anything more interesting with scrap. In the ranking of types of crusade Points, these are cooler and more useful than Fallen Points but far below Saint Points or Raid Spoils Points.

Greggles: Make Scrap way more interesting by taking vehicle bits from your opponents army and slapping them on your vehicles to indicate which ones have the kustom jobs. It’s a great way to instantly demoralize your opponent. Oh yes, like that new front ram on my “Snazablastamega Supreme” attack Buggy? It’s from your Warhound titan. (GREGNOTE: I feel very attacked by this).

Beanith: I think it could also be used to add Mek Kustom Jobs to upgrade the Mek’s gear as well.  

Battle Traits

There are four tables here, two of which are similar to what we’ve seen before: Meks (both Big and otherwise) and Painboys each get a two-trait table that’s eerily similar to the tables for apothecaries, techmarines, and similar units in other codexes. Squig Cavalry get a 3-trait table that improves their squig mounts’ hit rolls, AP, or Move characteristic, all of which are pretty useful, but none of which are particularly interesting.

Where things get really wild, though, is in the 6-trait Mob Units table. Some of these are, frankly, not OK. For instance, a Ded Keen mob can perform Heroic Interventions as though it were a character, and Ded Choppy gives them +1 to hit when they charge or Heroically Intervene. Conditnote: Somewhat appropriate that the two traits you need to build your own Space Wolves trait are preceded by “Ded.” Beast Mode, indeed. Dakkaladz can turn off overwatch if they score even a single hit with a Dakka weapon, something which, for most mobs, will be a statistical certainty. And Cyborks can re-roll 1s to wound if there’s a Painboy within 6”, making them that much deadlier. These traits are all pretty cool, and while not all of them will be useful on every mob, enough of them are that you’ll probably find yourself fishing for options from here for your first rank or two.

Greg: A 30-model unit of Boyz that can heroically intervene sounds like a nightmare to play around. Absolute god-tier CC screening unit.

Greggles: I feel like Ded Keen is missing the negative. The mob should ALWAYS have to intervene if able. They’re orks. It’s not heroic, they just want to fight. This would be easy to write into a narrative campaign for balance though…it is narrative :).

Crusade Relics

Artificer Relics

Ded ‘Ard Armour is boring, but good. +1W, +1 to saving throws, who cares. 

Bosspole, though. We love Bosspole. The bonuses are kinda whatever – +1 to the bearer’s Ld, and a 12” aura to ignore modifiers to Combat Attrition. The cool thing isn’t the bonuses, it’s how you unlock that aura – every time you destroy an Adeptus Astartes unit, you can choose to make a note of the Chapter of the marines you just murdered on your model’s sheet. You don’t get the aura ability until you’ve marked down 3 different Chapters as victims. It’s like Pokemon, except instead of you having to catch ‘em all, they all have to catch these hands. 

Condit: While it’s not expressly set out in the rules, you really should model the helmets onto your character and paint them in your friends’ chapter schemes. As though you weren’t doing this already.

Greg: Bosspole good.

Greggles: +1 Condit!  Make sure to indicate which helmets are their HQ’s and characters to rub it in a bit more.

Beanith: I’m going to be boring and point out a 4+ Invun save on your Waaagh!boss is nice too. But having a Bosspole with a couple of Swords of Davion helmets does spark joy in my blackened shriveled heart.

Antiquity Relics

Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun. Credit: Rockfish
Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun. Credit: Rockfish

If you like gambling, Da Souped Up Shokka might be for you. It’s a shokk attack gun with 12” extra range, 2d3 shots rather than d6, and +1 strength. Not only does this make it that much more reliable into softer targets, it also makes you more likely to get those D3 additional mortals, taking you from a roughly 8% chance to a more palatable 16% chance of landing a total strength of 11+. Neat.

On the other hand, if you’re into the weird shit, you can give a unit with the WEIRDBOY tag (which includes Weirdboys, Wurrboys, and the new public enemy number 1: the Kill Rig) Wazgit’s Kopper Skullkap. This stylish little number confers the ability to double-cast a non-Smite Witchfire power if they rolled a 10+ on the psychic test. This might seem a bit unlikely to go off, but given just how good several of the Witchfire powers in this codex are (double Squiggly Curse, anyone?) it’s probably worth shoving this onto one of your psykers.

Beanith: Da Souped Up Shokka was the bane of my existence for a good 6 months that drove me up the wall… and now it’s my turn! MWhahahahahahaha

Legendary Relics

There are only two, and only one that any Ork worth leveling to this point would care about. It is, unsurprisingly, a huge melee beatstick, the Choppa of da Great Waaagh!. Not only does this let you call a second Waaagh!, it’s an AP-3, flat 3 damage, strength 3x Choppa. 

This is a good time to point out that Warbosses start at S6, and by the time you get enough XP to unlock this relic, a Warboss that’s also a Waaagh!boss will almost certainly be S8. I’m not sure there’s a unit in the game where hitting at strength goddamned twenty four is relevant to the wound process, but it sure is a flex to do that to someone. Condit note: Maybe not at S24, but the S18 could be relevant if your opponent somehow manages to get a Warlord Titan on the table.

Greggles: I’m guessing the best way to model this would be to give your warboss a reaper chainsword off an imperial knight.

Beanith: The Choppa of da Great Waaagh! passes my “Is it better than a Vortex Grenade?” test with flying colours. The Gitstoppa Rounds fail the same test dismally. 

Final Thoughts

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Greg: I don’t normally read the little short fiction sidebars in the Codexes, but I’m going to recommend that you do so with this one. It’s Extremely Orky Stuff. 

The Waaagh!boss advancement is obviously the centerpiece here, and we do love it. It’s a less complex journey than that of a Living Saint or a landlord in Commorragh, but that’s fitting for Orks: a straightforward increase in raw brute strength feels about right. 

I do wish there was more to do with your Scrap Points, the Requisitions are pretty slim, and the Battle Traits (other than the incredible Mob table) are uninspired, but Might Makes Right is so good that I don’t even mind. I’m not sure it slingshots this all the way to the top of the pile, but it’s firmly in the upper tier of Crusade rules, at least. Considering how much fun the rest of the book seems, it’s probably sufficient that many of these rules exist to unlock Crusade access to that content, though they don’t add much else to it, beyond some relics for your truly horrific Waaah!boss to wield. There are worse armies to play.

Condit: There are a few weaker bits in here, like most of the Battle Traits and Agendas, but boy howdy do the Might Makes Right rules make up for it. 

Greggles: A lot of fun stuff here, which is what crusade is all about. Highly recommend diving full on it and working with your opponents to add bits and bobs to vehicles and units as you progress.  

Beanith: The Scraps mechanic is a bit of a damp squig unless you’re going Vehicle heavy in your Crusade Force but judging by our review of the Codex that could very well be the case. Buggies are awesome. I’m rebuilding my Ork Crusade Force now to take into account all the fun new toys and I’m spoilt for choice. My Waaah!boss can’t wait to wallop some Marines on my next game day.

If you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at