Getting Started: Orks (40k)

At Goonhammer we’ve devoted a lot of words to talking about how to compete and take your game to the next level. In “Getting Started,” we look at how to get started with an army – the basics you need to know, how to start collecting models that will leave you with a serviceable army, and what the best deals are.

All right let’s get down to it! So you’re new or a casual player and want to do the big greens huh? Well then load up Mad Max Fury Road, grab a squig beer and sum good old snacks, and have a read!

Let’s start by running through what’s good and bad about Orks, which we’ll borrow from Start Competing: Orks:

Army Strengths

  • Belligerent and Numerous: Orks can put a staggering number of Grots and Boyz on the board while still having points to spare for tastier toys. Both offer more than just raw numbers – Boyz can chop down most threats through weight of attacks, while Grots shield other units via one of the more powerful Ork stratagems. If you want to run a horde, this is one of the armies to look at.
  • Fast: Ork armies built for it can cover a lot of ground very quickly. They have easy and wide access to Advance and Charge, repeatable redeploys, deep strike options and plenty of stuff that’s just naturally speedy. This combos well with being a horde army because it means your opponent is on a real clock to clear you out lest they be overwhelmed.
  • Psychic Powers: Weirdboyz are a regular feature in competitive Ork lists, owing to the fact that Da Jump is one of the game’s best psychic powers.
  • Surprising Amounts of Dakka: The Orks’ top shooting units are generally unusual but they’re also extremely effective and have various defensive mechanisms to keep them blasting away for long enough for their damage to add up.

Army Weaknesses

  • Swingy Shooting: A lot of Ork shooting is extremely high variance, often in multiple ways at once, meaning a complete faceplant turn is always a risk.
  • Expensive: There is basically no top-tier Ork list that doesn’t need an absolute avalanche of models, many of which have a terrible dollars/pounds-to-points ratio. That can leave starting players without the tools they need to field the very best lists, and none of the available starter kits really get you to where you need to be.
  • So many models: If you’re bringing hordes, you’re going to have a lot of models. Enough that you’ll need to practice playing with them and moving them around to ensure that you don’t end up losing too much time in games that use a chess clock.


Da books!

So first off when it comes to rule books these guys are pretty straightforward. All you need is the base codex.

The Psychic Awakening book of “Saga of the Beast” is also helpful as well as it gives you the latest extra rules and abilities of the orks to give them some more gud old waaagh Power. It even gives you the ability to make your own ork clan, so neato! Though if you’re just starting off the base codex will do as it is already strong enough on its own that the PA book does not feel required (unlike some other factions). Also for any faction I recommend picking up the Orks Datacards, which includes cards for all of the stratagems in the Codex! While they are in the book, these cards are a handy reference and just make it way easier to remember which stratagems you want to use and have used. Trust me, a lot of people forget to use that super awesome Stratagem that can turn the tide of battle but forgot to and now it’s too late.

There are also a couple of Ork Specialist Detachments in Vigilus Defiant, but you can skip these for now unless you’re going for something specifically themed after those options or you want to run a Dread WAAAGH! detachment in a competitive list.

That’s pretty much it, though – as I said Orks are pretty straightforward, NOW ONTO THE FUN PART!


What Are You ‘Ere For?

First, ask yourself what your goals are. If you…

Want to play competitively, right now

Well, competitive units come and go as rules change, so you’ve got a long road ahead of you that’s likely going to involve lots of painting and changes. But if you’re dead set on putting a competitive list together now, you’re going to want to look at a specific army type and build around that. You can find a more detailed rundown of the units that work and how they’re used in our Start Competing: Orks (40k) guide.

Just want to mash some minis together, but not lose like, every game

Well, the rest of this guide is for you–read on!


Da Boyz!

Ork Boyz
Ork Boyz. Credit: That Gobbo

Now you have probably heard that term “boys before toys” which means “get your base troops and HQ’s before you get all the big flashy stuff”. Well for Orks you’re gonna take that to heart. While orks are extremely versatile and can be played almost in any flavor, ork boyz are probably the most versatile and most useful unit in the Ork army. 

“Da first and da best part of da waaagh, iz a gud old mob of boyz!”

-Kaptian Badruk of the freebootaz

Ork boyz make up da backbone of any good ork army and are practically required to play Orks. They may not be the most accurate shooters in da galaxy but that doesn’t matter because they are incredible in combat even before buffs or stratagems and they unleash a metric ton of dakka so you’re bound to hit enough times anyways (“Dakka” is the way Orks refer to guns and shooting). You’ll want to run your boyz in large mobs of 30, where they’ll have strength in numbers (and they’re cheap so you can have some big numbers).

And they’ll need that strength – they have terrible armor and low leadership but they make up for this by being effective in massive numbers – the Mob Rule special rule allows them to use their model count or the model count of a nearby unit with the rule as their Ld score when taking morale tests, ensuring that as long as you have a large group left, they’ll be functionally immune to morale effects. And the Green Tide special rule gives them +1 Attack as long as they have 20+ models in their unit.

On top of all this Ork Boyz have tons of ways to get into combat with ease. Their ability for turn one charges is so unparalleled it makes Khorne Berzerkers weep openly. You’re going to want a lot of boyz for your Ork army. At least 30 and probably 60 to 90, depending on the eventual army you’re building.


Credit: RichyP

Da Warboss!

Ah yes! The warboss! The original, the OG, da biggest, strongest Ork in your army and the fighting force that makes your ork boys 10 times better (as if they weren’t already strong enough). Your army is going to need a Warboss – and while this could be Ghagzhkull, I would not get him as your first model if you don’t have experience painting and modeling – get a few models under your belt first, then come back and tackle big G. Now sadly the Ork Warboss only comes in one form and also only comes in one box with 5 nobs called “Grukks mob”. But don’t worry because that box is absolutely worth it and that warboss is already equipped with the best load out anyway. There are other warbosses but they are more complicated to come by and are also made out of crappy resin and you can easily kit bash your own. Your Warboss is a powerful force multiplier and his key ability is WAAAGH!, which allows a unit of boyz to run and charge in the same turn, helping make early charges possible. He’s also a pretty cheap HQ, and you may find that you want 2 or 3 of these.


Da Gubbinz (What to Buy to Start)

For a good start I would get the main Start Collecting: Orks box, and a box of “Grukk’s mob”. The Start Collecting box comes with a Deff Dread (a big punchy robot–who doesn’t love that?), plus 10 boyz, 5 Nobs (bigger, stronger boyz), and a Pain boy which is basically your medic. The reason why I highly recommend then adding Grukk’s Mob to this is because it gives you an HQ (a Warboss), plus 5 more Nobs to give you a maximum-size 10-man squad. Note that the Pain Boy is sadly, not an HQ (though he used to be). This will give you a decent starting army to play small practice games with a friend, and is a good foundation to build on. Also I would recommend you get a lot of dice and a dice tray cause you are gonna be rolling a lot of them. 

If you can split it with a friend, Prophecy of the Wolf is a decent deal for the money, netting you Ghazghkull, 5 nobs, and 3 meganobz (and it’s the only place to get Ghaz right now), but it doesn’t net you any boyz and so you’ll want to supplement it with a Start Collecting box at the very least.


Credit: Greg “Greggles” Hess

What’s Next

You’ve got your Start Collecting and Grukk’s Mob boxes and you’re ready for more. Hell yeah! Let’s look at some options for what’s next:

Klan Kulturs?

Orks are organized into Klans, which have special traits called Kulturs. Each of these gives your orks a special bonus if your entire detachment is made of Orks from the same Kultur. Generally speaking, if you really want to play and paint a specific Kultur, feel free to do so! If you just want to do your own thing and pick rules that fit your army later, you can do that too, and in fact we’d recommend that. People care a lot less about how orks are painted than they do Space Marines, so pick a Kultur that fits your playstyle. Or, if your play style is “winning games,” then just pick Deathskulls.

More Boyz!

Keep picking up boxes of Ork Boyz because you’re gonna need a lot of em! Note that because of the model counts, Orks are not exactly a cheap army but they make up for it by being fun as hell. Once you have 30 boyz and can make one “full”-size mob, you can start to branch into other things, but you’re going to want to pick up another 30 to make two full squads. Then grab a box of Gretchin to give you a third troops choice and either another Warboss or a Weirdboy to give you a second HQ. The Weirdboy gives you access to Orks’ best trick – Using Da Jump psychic power to slingshot a unit of Boyz across the table where they can then charge into combat, using ‘Ere We Go to re-roll if they fail the roll badly.

…Or Maybe Not!

If you’re not a fan of mass swarms of troops for your army, FEAR NOT!!! Orks are an extremely flexible bunch and you can instead grab 3 boxes of Gretchin (totally not goblins), Gretchin are extremely weak but also extremely cheap troops both in points and money so you can make a battalion for your command points and focus mainly on other, bigger Ork toys. This is where you can live out your dreams of an all-vehicle Mad Max-style army. You can build this without the foot-slogging Gretchin, but having at least one Battalion Detachment (2 HQs + 3 Troops, minimum) gives you +5 Command Points to work with and is a huge boost for doing other fun stuff, plus the Getchin will work well as units that can hold objectives while your vehicles zoom around killing things.

Other Units

Once you’ve got your mob of boyz or you’ve picked up a few boxes of Gretchin to act as your army’s base, you should start looking at the other wonderful toys Orks have to play with.

  • Big Mek with Shokk attack gun. Another incredibly useful HQ choice for Orks. Basically an Ork mechanic with an amazing gun. The gun has a bit of wacky randomness for damage and strength but it packs a massive AP-5 punch and the model holding it is a character, meaning you can easily hide it behind a mass of boyz. Many competitive armies pack three of these, but if you don’t want to go that hard, picking up one is well worth it.
  • Mek Gunz are incredibly useful. Their only downside is that they cannot benefit from a Klan Kultur. Mek Gunz are very cheap and come in groups so you can run a lot of them (some competitive armies run the maximum number). The big payoff on these is the Smasha gun, which puts out a ton of shots and rolls 2D6 against a target’s toughness to wound it, allowing it to easily hurt most things in the game.
  • Buggies. Some of the coolest models in the GW range and wonderful as fast, annoying distractions on the tabletop. The best of these are the Shokkjump Dragsta, which gives you effective anti-tank shooting on the move, and the Megatrakk Scrapjet, which combines decent shooting with being a good melee threat. The other buggies are solid additions if you want to add fast firepower, but if you’re building more with an eye toward power you’ll probably want to double- or triple-up on Shokkjumps and Megatrakks instead.
  • Warboss on a Deffkilla Wartrike. The baddest warboss you can get, this warboss may be on a bike but he hits like a trukk. The Warboss on the bike might be technically better, but this model is much cooler.
  • The Battlewagon. The big lumbering behemoth tank for the orks and also a very useful transport with its transport capacity of 20. It is pretty though and has a load of guns and weapons. While overall its shooting in Gunwagon configuration leaves a bit to be desired, Battlewagons work great as mobile open-topped firing platforms or as melee push threats in their Bonebreaka configuration. All three versions can be built from the same box.
  • Lootas. Once a scourge in competitive play, Lootas are the best shooting you can get in an Ork army and have been in almost every edition. Most Ork armies want exactly one full-sized squad of these (15), who can use the Even Moar Dakka! Stratagem to make sure they get extra shots when shooting. These come in a dual kit that makes Burna Boyz. Do not use the kit to make Burna Boyz.
  • Meganobz are the biggest, meanest Ork infantry units, but also the most expensive points-wise. They’re also the most expensive money-wise as well, since they only come in boxes of 3. They compliment the Ork army well – take a unit of 10 and teleport them onto the table using the Tellyporta Stratagem. If your opponent is already trying to fend of 30-90 boyz the last thing they want is a super-killy unit of high-wound combat monsters with power klaws and combi-skorchas landing in their backlines. 
  • Killa Kanz, Deff Dreads, and Gorka/Morkanauts (oh my). These are the big walking robots of the Ork army, coming in small, medium, and large flavors. Of these the Morkanaught is the best, offering decent shooting and a Kustom Force Field that can protect chunks of your army. Deff Dreads are OK and Killa Kanz are fun but tend to be difficult to work with effectively.
  • Warbikers and Stormboyz are fast units that can give you other ways to press into combat. Warbikers add a bunch of extra shooting, while Stormboyz can fly and can advance extra far (with some risk involved). Don’t bother with the nob version of warbikers.
  • The Flyers. Some of the most underestimated Ork units. The Wazbom Blastajet is the best of the bunch, though each of the others (the Blitza Bommer, Burna Bommer, and Dakkajet) can pack a punch and be interesting on the table. Behind Blastajets, Burna Bommers are your next best option, and just got a lot of love in Saga of the Beast. They can also dive bomb into enemy units using the Flying ‘Eadbutt Stratagem. 
  • Stompa. Do not buy the Stompa. It will only disappoint you.

There are plenty of other options, of course. As you build your army, explore how you want to play and figure out what works for you.


A Sample List Using the Start Collecting Box

We mentioned picking up the Start Collecting Box to start, plus Ork Warboss Grukk’s Boss Mob. Now we’re going to expand on that and talk about a list you can build from there.

Ork Battalion Detachment
HQ: Warboss w/Da Killa Klaw, Kustom Shoota
HQ: Warboss w/Power Klaw, Kustom Shoota
HQ: Big Mek w/Shokk Attack Gun

Troops: 30x Boyz w/Slugga & Choppa, 3w/Tankbusta Bombs, Boss Nob w/Slugg & Choppa
Troops: 30x Boyz w/Slugga & Choppa, 3w/Tankbusta Bombs, Boss Nob w/Slugg & Choppa
Troops: 10x Gretchin

Elites: Painboy
Elites: 10x Nobz
Elites: 6x Meganobz w/Power Klaw

HS: Battlewagon
HS: Deff Dread

Ork Vanguard Detachment
HQ: Weirdboy

FA: Shokkjump Dragsta
FA: Shokkjump Dragsta
FA: Megatrakk Skrapjet

Elites: 5x Lootas

Flyer: Wazbom Blastajet
Flyer: Wazbom Blastajet

Depending on how you kit it out, this will come to about 2,000 points. It uses everything you get in Start Collecting: Orks plus everything from Grukk’s Boss Mob, and gives you a wide variety of units to play with so you don’t go crazy painting 60 boyz. The Weirdboy jumps the boyz into combat while the Painboy helps keep him alive. The Buggies harass your enemy’s flank and the meganobz teleport in and hit like a sledgehammer.

It also doesn’t go quite as hard on some of the more expensive units, but it’s also not a cheap army to build either (there’s just not a lot you can do about that, really). This list can give you some real hitting power but also won’t make your friends hate you out the gate. Depending on how you play, you’ll likely want the Battalion to be Evil Sunz, which helps the Boyz the most. You could also add Ghazghkull to this and use Prophecy of the Wolf to get some of the nobz and meganobz.

What’s Next

If you want to keep building on this, consider adding more Boyz to get up to the full 90 and adding another Weirdboy. You may also want another Warboss, and you’ll want to beef up your Meganobz until you have a full squad of 10. You can also look at adding 20 more Gretchin so you can swap out the Vanguard Detachment for a Battalion and have more CP to play with. You may also want to consider more of the shokkjump dragstas and megatrakk scrapjets or look into going heavier with Morkanauts. A Kustom Force Field Big Mek could also be a good add here.


‘Ere We Go

And that’s pretty much it for the orks! And just remember, green is best! Good luck with your building, and if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below, shoot us an email at or head over to r/goonhammer to discuss.