Nick Nanavati Talks About Playing Orks with the New Codex

An article by    Competitive Play Gaming Warhammer 40k        0

 

Hello friends, family, and creatures of all ages! I’m Nick Nanavati from Art of War, and I’m hear to tell you all about the new Ork codex and how you can best loot up your tanks, sharpen your axes, and smash them squishy bitz. The new Ork codex gives players a lot of new units to choose from and allows them to build new archetypes like nothing Orks have seen before, along along with a slew of new Warlord traits and Specialist Mobs. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for our Greenskin friends; the stratagems and relics in the new Codex leave a lot to be desired and they’ve lost a number of key mechanics that were instrumental to previous builds, such as Dakka! Dakka! Dakka! powering out extra hits. I’ve played quite a few games with these Green Machines since the new book dropped, and today I’m here to share with you what I’ve learned in those games.

In this article I’ll start by summarizing some of the archetypes I’ve tried with the new book that didn’t work, and talk about why I think they failed, and then I’ll dive into the new builds that I see emerging and having competitive success, and why I think they’ll work.

As always, these articles are written from the perspective of a tournament competitor, so please are that in mind when reading!

Learning From Failure: The Playstyles That Didn’t Work

At first glance, Orks have what seems like a vast array of viable styles to chose from. I’ve heard of people trying to take mass units in trukks while complementing them with buggies and new Kill Rigs, while others are trying to run a Snake Bites Squig Farm led by multiple Beast Bosses. While these extreme lists can certainly lead to some awesomely fun and thematic forces, are they actually competitively viable? An unfortunate reality to a lot of the shiny, fancy Ork toys is that many of their most powerful units are non-fly, non-infantry units with enormous, rotund footprints that have to do wheelies around the ruins that litter the tables of the competitive landscape. Competitive 40k in its current state is largely based around using ruins to provide impactful obscuring and move blocking for units. As a result it’s all too easy to get caught in a self-created traffic jam with too many vehicles and cavalry models stepping all over each other. This is one reason we don’t see Astra Militarum vehicle spam or Storm shield-packing Thunder Wolf Cavalry even remotely near the top tables at events, and I’m afraid Ork builds that try a similar approach will quickly fall out of favor.

Another thing I’d like to point out is that while the basic Ork body has gone up a point in toughness (not insignificant), their cost increase to 9 points for a standard boy really makes me feel traditional horde approach simply won’t reach the critical mass needed to deliver a win through overwhelming you opponent’s ability to kill you effectively. This coupled with 9th edition’s natural tendency to favor armies made of multiple, small units (MSUs) really make me less than enthusiastic about the competitive viability of slamming six units of 30 boyz on the table and yelling WAAAGH! Large units simply don’t lend themselves to playing the mission well, because secondaries like Engage on All Fronts that require you to be wholly within a table quarter and action-based secondaries are so hard to achieve effectively. Also large units can be unwieldy and easily tied up, making it possible to stall them out.

Finally, let’s talk about Ork shooting. Ork shooting has always been incredibly fickle, and never even close to average. This is largely caused by terrible ballistic skill, which often combines with a comically high mount of shots with seemingly outrageous stats per point to produce high variance. In previous codices Ork shooting had access to the stratagem MORE DAKKA to ignore hit modifiers and bring some sort of consistency to an otherwise entirely random Shooting phase. Death Skulls used to also give a free re-roll to hit, wound, and damage for a unit each time it shot or fought, which could also trigger more shots via DAKKA! DAKKA! DAKKA!. Now that the MORE DAKKA Stratagem is gone it means when you’re suffering the penalty for hit modifiers, you’re really feeling it. I’ve theory crafted the builds with 9 Rukkatrukk Squigbuggies and 27 War bikers calling a speed Waaagh!; the list has fundamental issues with basic things like any Space Marine army in ruins, and the concept of forests. Who knew Orks were allergic to trees!?

 

Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy. Credit: Rockfish

Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy. Credit: Rockfish

What Works

OK, so that’s what I’ve tried or explored with Orks that didn’t work. Let’s talk about what actually does.

Orks have an amazing ability: WAAAGH! It gives the entire army the ability to Advance and Charge for a turn and +1 attack for two battle rounds. This is an amazing ability, and one worth building your army around. Advancing and Charging once on a single, well-timed turn is all the Advance and charge that you need. You only need to be fast once to get to where you’re going. Delivering your army in a single, explosive turn and then following it up with the turn of an extra attack for good measure is very powerful and a great place to start, because it buys you tempo and has a direct impact on primary and secondary points.

With WAAAGH! as the core principle we’re building around, we should make unit choices and army selections based around the idea of having a single explosive turn and then leveraging the momentum from that turn to carry us to victory. There are two approaches we can look at when making an “explosive push” army that fits this style:

  1. We can either attempt to bum rush the opponent, keep the pressure on, and never take it off, or
  2. We can create a board control army designed to take any attempt by the opponent to gain a foothold and turn it against them.

Of these two options I think both can be viable; however the former blitzkrieg style just simply doesn’t mesh with my personal play style and I’m not the best person to speak on it (Rob: This is a great point that Jonk recently covered in his series on coaching), so in this case I’m opting for the latter. Playing board control and counter charge with Orks is right up my alley, and I’ve been seeing a lot of success with the style, so let’s focus on that approach.

Here’s a sample list I’ve been enjoying in my games so far

+++ Goffs Patrol Detachment (535 points, -2 CP) +++

HQ: Beastboss on Squigasaur- Extra WL Trait/Relic: Brutal but Kunnin, Beasthide Mantle 145, -1 CP

Troops: 10 Boyz- Trukk Boyz, Nob with power klaw 100

Elites: 10 Kommandoz- Nob with klaw, breacher ram 110
Elites: 10 Kommandoz- Nob with klaw, breacher ram 110

DT: Trukk 70

+++ Goffs Outrider Detachment (1,012 points, -3 CP)

HQ: Mega Armor Warboss- Extra WL Trait/Relic: ‘Ard as Nails, Supa Cybork Body 115, -1 CP

Troops: 10 Boyz- Trukk Boyz, Nob with power klaw 100

Elites: 5 Kommadoz 50
Elites: 5 Burna Boyz 55

FA: 9 Storm Boyz- Power Klaw 109
FA: 9 Storm Boyz- Power Klaw 109
FA: 9 Storm Boyz- Power Klaw 109
FA: Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy- Nitro Squigs 115
FA: Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy 90
FA: Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy 90

DT: Trukk 70

+++ Snakebites Patrol Detachment (450 points, 0 CP) +++

HQ: Mozrog Skragbad 170 (WL)

Troops: 10 Boyz- Trukk Boyz, Nob with Power Klaw 100

Elites: 5 Burna Boyz 55
Elites: 5 Burna Boyz 55

DT: Trukk 70

+++ (1,997 points, 5 CP) +++

 

Despite its speed and the first-glance appearances that it will play aggressively, this army is actually designed to set up camp in the middle of the table, taking cover behind some terrain and never letting you do anything about it. It’s a two-turn strike army, often waiting until turn 2 or even 3 before calling the WAAAGH! From a style perspective, this army has a few very carefully selected design choices which will greatly influence how to play it effectively.

 

Stormboyz. Credit: Rockfish

Stormboyz. Credit: Rockfish

Secondary Selection

The first thing to note about this list is that it has pretty rock solid targets for the To The Last (TTL) secondary objective. Most Ork builds don’t typically build towards To The Last since the units you’ll nominate often end up as units you’re likely to get killed – Deff Koptas, for example. Even when an Ork army’s To the Last targets are Beast Bosses on Squigasaurs TTL is often not selected because well, who doesn’t want to crash Ork Shark Dinos full speed ahead into the enemy? And that makes them too big a risk if you’re playing aggressively. On the other hand this Ork army is fundamentally designed around taking To the Last, and the play style reflects that. In this list your TTL targets are going to be two characters on Squigasaurs (Mozrog and the Beastboss) and most often your Nitro Squig Rukkatrukk, which will stay hidden behind a wall (though it could be your mega boss). This is a free 15 points in the bank unless you either use your characters too aggressively and get them killed, or your opponent runs into your Ork army and takes them away. To reiterate – the plan is not to crash full-speed into the opponent, so you shouldn’t be losing your characters needlessly or without extracting great cost.

Let’s move on a bit from To the Last for the moment and focus on some other aspects of this armies ability to play the mission. We’ve already touched on how the WAAAGH! Is so powerful we can use it as the basic premise of the list for creating an explosive push turn. But, how does that work practically? At its core this army wants to drive up into the middle of the field behind terrain and set up camp. This should give it a decent place to control enough objectives to score decently well on the Primary. We already have one secondary covered with To the Last as explained above, but what about the others? This army can score either Stranglehold or Engage on All Fronts super well since it’s naturally designed to run to the middle of the board and explode outward. In this case exploding outward from that position will often lead to a naturally good score on Engage or Stranglehold. Finally, from the Shadow Operations Category secondaries Raise the Banners High and Retrieve Octarius Data (ROD) are relatively easy, go-to secondaries for this army as well. Especially when you note the fun fact that the three units of Burnas can go into strategic reserve for just 1CP total. With these options, the list gives us a very solid plan to score secondary objectives regardless of the opponent or mission. This is a tremendously good spot to find yourself in before the game even begins as it puts the onus on your opponent to start making plays to stop you from scoring. And as it happens, “making plays” in this instance is also synonymous with “walking into your threat ranges and embracing risk instead of mitigating it” – this is EXACTLY what you want.

 

Burna Boyz. Credit: Rockfish

Burna Boyz. Credit: Rockfish

Executing the Game Plan

When your opponent figures out that your baseline score is set up to passively get you to ~90 points they may have to start doing something about it. Which should ideally be easier said than done since the moment they start to make any sort of aggressive push you can respond with a tremendously powerful WAAAGH! turn to deal crippling damage to them as they just eat a charge from however much of your army you want to commit. This makes it very hard to regain board control from the Orks in the first place.

There’s a potential pitfall here, however: What if your opponent does it better? Unfortunately, the concept of being able to score well on primaries and secondaries is not novel to Orks, and the higher you go up the competitive 40k food chain the more that concept actually becomes a prerequisite to compete rather than an advantage. Thankfully, Orks actually address this issue very well with a combination of the WAAAGH! And some naturally built-in speed options. When you find yourself on the losing side of a standoff where you’re both on track to sit there and passively score points, you need to be able to maintain your points factory (the primaries and secondaries you’re scoring naturally without doing much), whilst simultaneously disrupting your opponent’s.

To mitigate this, we’ve made an Ork army that’s got enough speed to participate in the game without having to call the WAAAGH! or going too far out of our way. The Trukk Boyz allow you to bide your time and play the game from your side of the table while still being able to launch objective secured melee missiles at your opponent from a respectable distance and good speed without having to call the WAAAGH! This means you don’t have to commit all-or-nothing to get across the table. You have three objective secured units that can move 12”, then disembark 3”, move another 8” and then charge. That should be more than enough to get across the table, steal an opponent’s primary objective, score yourself a Stranglehold, and create a tangible lead on the score board. Between triple Trukk Boys, Storm boyz, and a WAAAGH! Turn you should have no problem with continuously pressuring your opponent’s objectives while coincidentally increasing your secondary score throughout all five turns.

The remainder of the unit choices are mostly just value adds that don’t detract from this core premise. The buggies are great for protecting your characters, who often camp your backfield objectives – especially if they end up being placed in the open. The buggies can stay out of line of sight and provide an inconsistent but sometimes useful amount of shooting, while screening your backfield from enemy reserves and staying within 3” of a Squigosaur character on an objective. The Kommandoz and burnas give many different deployment options to help with the passive scoring of Engage, Banners and ROD, while also being relatively points-efficient infantry. As far as klan cultrures go I went for Goffs and Snakebites after a bit of play testing. Initially the whole army was Deathskulls for the objective secured bonus and the squig buggies were Blood Axes for fall back and shoot. Somewhat surprisingly, I found that my units simply didn’t hit hard enough. The army tends to fight a small number of isolated, unsupported, yet highly important combats in the form of trading, so I’ve gone for goffs in order to get that extra combat edge. The fall-back-and-shoot on the squigbuggies was fine, but they rarely get engaged and in my opinion it’s a mistake to go out of your way to buff inconsistent units. Overall, the army functions as one flexible, synergistic piece, not as a pile of independently efficient units.

The reality to Orks in their current state is that their most points-efficient units are for the most part also saddled with inconsistent fire power and clunky maneuverability. Unfortunately those weaknesses can become game-enders at the higher level of competitive play. To that end I’ve found the most success in focusing on the aspects I can control, the movement phase, and pregame selections. I think this style of Ork army, one that prioritizes the actual goal – scoring more points than your opponent by the game’s end – will be the long-lasting direction Ork players need to take to be competitively viable.

If you like this kind of wholistic approach to list building for Orks, and want to learn more about how to apply it to your own armies I highly recommend checking out our YouTube channel and The War Room, where we have the best players in the world teaching you how to elevate your game.

 

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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