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The Art of Waaagh!

Foreword by Brother Taurinus:

The purpose of this takktica is to assist fellow Ork players in making educated and practical decisions which are, quite honestly, all too often the demise of an otherwise promising warband. The focus will be some cardinal rules, with commentary on units. I am not a new player, but rather a returning one from the Rogue Trader era, when marines wrote "kil kil kil" and "lust for blud" on their armor and weapons, when Space Wolves were the pinnacle of Space Marines and prided themselves on following the Codex to the letter, and when Genestealers weren't associated with Tyranids. Returning to play in 5th edition has been an enormous change, but I am learning quickly, and would like share with fellow Ork enthusiasts.

Something to remember however: The more competitive armies are, the more formulaic they become and the more they all start to look the same.

Achieving Goals

We share a common goal: To win. Indeed, we all want to have fun, but winning enhances that. To regularly achieve victory, we must have strategy, and tactics. You must understand these and have both.

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Strategy is long-term planning on how you will achieve your goals. Tactics are executable actions that support your strategy. Both your strategy and tactics will help determine the army you field. Good tactical decisions in battle will maximize the damage you inflict while minimizing your losses. Sun-Tzu's primary requirement to victory was intelligence. This is not the same intelligence as measured in an IQ test, but rather what kind of intelligence, or information you have. The game gives you all the intelligence you require. You know what you have fielded, and hopefully you know your troops, leaders, and your strengths and weaknesses. You discover your enemy's, and should understand them similarly. Understand the threats that your opponent fields, and what you can do to counteract those threats.

"Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays." - Sun Tzu

In short, don't make rash decisions and adapt to new and unexpected threats. If you can anticipate them, great. If not, be ready to adapt. Respond to threats as necessary, but don't wait for them. Be the threat, but don't be foolish about it. Calculated attacks are what we want. "And if you get slaughered you have forgotten to use stratergy anf tactics"-Sun Tzi

There is something that should be said about synergy between units. Most often, this is in reference to effective traveling speeds. Armies that travel at two different speeds suffer for attacking in two waves. Wave attacks are not effective in 40k. If half(or a portion) of your army hits a turn or two before the rest, your opponent is given the opportunity to focus ALL of his firepower and strength(including assaults) on the first wave, and then dealing with the second wave afterwards. Think about it. As orks, we suffer from a low initiative. Marines(all codices), many Tyranids, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Chaos Space Marines, some Daemons, Sisters of Battle....let's face it, almost everyone gets to attack first in assaults. If half of our army is mechanized, gets to the enemy first, disembarks and assaults, they can throw everything at them. If they've got an assault squad or two(or their equivalent), orks are going to get wiped. Then, a turn oe two later, the OTHER half of your army gets there......for the same results.

This doesn't mean that ALL units must travel at the same speed. It depends on your tactics. Lootas can be fielded with any army, much like big guns(artillery), because they must remain stationary to fire. It doesn't matter if your army is slogging, flying, mechanized, whatever, because those units will remain(if properly deployed) stationary so they can immediately start firing. Examples of poor synergy would be two footslogging units of 30 boyz, along with a battlewagon and two trukks. Your biggest hitters will be entering a couple rounds later.

Units that fulfill a special role, such as interceptors or tank hunters are most likely to be excluded from maintaining synergy. A suicide kopta(Deffkopta with rokkits and a buzzsaw) is not out of place in a footslogging army, because its role as an alpha strike unit is to destroy a vehicle that is more expensive than itself. Even koptas without the buzzsaw can be used to tie up infantry units and riflemen dreads(two twin-linked autocannons or the like).

Ork Strengths

Orks have the advantage of extremely cheap units that are effective in close combat and can be adapted for ranged. You can field so many models and wounds upon the table that your opponent may not be able to deal with them. You can swarm your opponents with so many attacks that they are overwhelmed with unsaved wounds. Yes, even massed terminators roll 1's.

Ork armies can be the best at one thing(someone said this before me but I'm not sure who). This is your main strategy. Decide on that and stick with it. This doesn't mean you don't take choppy units along with shooty ones, you should be able to support your strategy appropriately. That is where tactics come in.

The Ork natural affinity to close combat, in addition to the capacity of nobs taking power klaws concludes a devastating effect. Your boyz are more often than not a delivery system for a power klaw(DashofPepper). Don't discount them, because they cause wounds themselves, but they protect a powerklaw toting nob who eats marines for breakfast while under their protection.

Cardinal Rules

1. Nobs

If the unit can upgrade a nob, do it. Nobs provide a couple options that are necessary to a unit, and provide the base of a close combat terror supported by many cheap bodyguards.

2. Bosspole

Don't leave home without it. If a unit can take a bosspole, pay for it. A Standard group of boyz, or ANY non-HQ ork unit has a leadership of 7. Without modifiers, a basic leadership test(from gunfire for example) will succeed 58.3% of the time. For 5 points, a re-roll is allowed. This re-roll increases the chances of success to 82.6%, which is comparable to having a leadership of 9 (83.3% success). Granted, this re-roll inflicts a wound on a model. Don't forget to make an armor save, because you might just get a free re-roll! If you lose an assault by 2( Leadership 5 after modifier) you have a 47.7% chance of success versus a 27.7% chance.

Independent characters rarely have a need for bosspoles. The units they join should have bosspoles, and this is better because independent characters get singled out in close combat, and are killed quickly. A nob leading a group of boys should have the bosspole, not your warboss or big mek.

I will always argue for the validity of bosspoles. I just recently lost an assault against Black Templars by 5, requiring snake-eyes to stay. I missed the roll, used the bosspole, the boy made his armor save so NO wound, and then rolled a 2. I was amazed myself, but there it was: PK stuck around to kill more of the Emperor's finest.

3. Power Klaws

A nob with a power klaw is a menace to everyone. 4 attacks at strength 9 that normally hit on a 4+ is a nasty thing. Nobz with powerklaws shred MEQs like paper. They can pop any vehicle(though Land Raiders and Monoliths slow them down). Ultimately, every unit of boyz with a PK nob is a threat to anything it can get its klaws on. As a rule of thumb, if a unit can upgrade a leader to a nob, do it. Give it a bosspole(see #2) and a power klaw. The exception to nobs always taking power klaws is a Nobz unit. Approximately 1/3 should be appropriate. Full groups of nobz typically wield 3-4 PKs. You want enough to kill your enemy unit on the second turn of assault, which should be the ENEMY'S assault phase. This allows you to move and charge another unit on yours. Too many PK's, and you've spent too much. Remember that those other nobz are basically a delivery system for the PKs. They'll cause a few deaths, but those PKs will destroy MEQ units. [Un-named contributor: Also when a indepenednet charcter on the other team comes against them-thwak!]

Unit Commentary

Big Meks

In most lists, the most competitive HQ choice is the Big Mek with a Kustom Force Field. He is(competitively) a required choice for a mechanized ork army. Speed Freeks, Battlewagon Rush, and Kan Wall all benefit greatly for the 4+ cover save provided to vehicles. Even foot slogging units will gain a 5+ cover which is priceless for Green Tide armies, as it more than doubles their save chance. Most weapons have AP 6 or less and deny your boyz their "T-shirt" saves. An 85 point unit providing THIS much of an upgrade for so many units is an amazingly efficient use of points. You've just cut down on 50% of damage to your vehicles and 33% for your infantry.

Don't invest more points than necessary in an HQ unit. Big Meks are only nobs with mek tools and a Ld 8. Don't give him a PK, he'll get killed to quickly for it to pay off. A burna is still a stretch to be an efficient investment; maybe, if the situations allow to to make use of it.

Keep your KFF Big Mek inside a battlewagon. He's safe, and projects 6" from the hull. Start out with him attached, disembark your 18 boyz led by their PK toting BP hefting nob, but keep the Big Mek in the battlewagon. He has no gun, so feel free to repair any destroyed weapon or try to negate that immobilized result.


The Warboss is a less competitive choice. He is fun, and VERY choppy, but independent characters do get singled out in CC. We all know he does best with a PK and no one wants to get hit with five strength 10 power weapon hits. PK and Cybork Body are a must. That's 95 points. The attack squig is inefficient but fun. 'eavy armor helps him a bit, but is not a necessary option. Consider a bike if you're running the correct army. T5(6) is a pain. Bolters only wound on a 6, along with any other S 4 weapons. The bike gives him a 4+ armor and 4+cover save, along with better guns than he could purchase on his own.

Having a unit of Nobz or Meganobz as a troops choice is an advantage of selecting a warboss, if you field them.

Wazdakka Gutsmek

Use only if you are running multiple biker squads, and even then he's probably not necessary. At the point cost, Wazdakka is pricy. Some people turbo boost him every turn and fire his dakkakannons. Unfortunately, it is difficult to kill his point value like this, and he is a bit underpowered statwise, compared to a Warboss.

Nobz(the elite unit)

Try for wound allocation, if you can. Powerfist, klaws, or their equivalent are a bane, as are any strength 8 attacks that will inflict instant death. These attacks negate the nobs having 2 wounds, and will negate FNP from a painboy.

If you take a Waaagh! Banner, place it with your BP, and preferrably on a PK nob. When you have to start selecting where to place wounds, the last thing you want to do is have to decide whether you're going to lose +1 WS, the ability to re-roll failed morale checks, a PK, or FNP.

Take a painboy and give all your nobs CBs. A 1/3 chance of surviving a power weapon hit, or more importantly a powerfist or thunderhammer hit is WELL worth 5 points.

'eavy armor is unnecessary, as basically anything that would ignore FNP will ignore your 4+ armor save.


Not the worst unit that an Ork army can field, but potentially problematic. Glory Hogs is such a handicap that the unit can be rendered helpless with some clever maneuvering on your opponent's behalf. He can keep a land speeder or other cheap, fast vehicle within LOS of your Tankbustas, forcing you to shoot at an out of range target, and prevent you from assaulting that vulnerable unit 3" in front of you. I will point out that some of my local meta is infantry heavy and some armies I face field no vehicles or just a couple transports. If local meta is vehicle heavy, you DO have a reasonable area in which you can target opponent vehicles.

You can help regain control of your tankbustas by embarking them in a transport, but anything less than a battlewagon is too flimsy to have any staying power, and battlewagons are better served delivering boyz into assault.

I once made some harsh comments about Tankbustas, and someone(I wish I remembered who) stated that it sounded like something spoken by a person who had never actually fielded them. Well, I have now. Tankbustas are still not a competitive choice. I will continue to experiment with them, and they in turn will continue to be an experimental unit. I will say this: Don't bother with tankhammers. You really don't want to assault infantry with a 15 point shoota boy, and if you're assaulting a vehicle then use your tankbusta bombs and the nob's PK!

Tankbustas are still not good ranged AV for Land Raiders and Monoliths(or AV14 in general). With an average of 18 shots to get a glancing hit, you need 180 to destroy a landraider(assuming it doesn't have any additional weapons added), because you'll never get a penetrating hit with a S8 shot. If your nob doesn't take a PK and retains his rokkit launcha(if you're taking a nob), then it will, on average, take 15 tankbustas 12 turns to destroy a landraider. For lighter AV vehicles, lootas just do better, at a farther range, and without targeting restrictions.

Ork Boyz

Slugga or shoota? Sluggas all the way, 99% of the time if you're mechanized. Shooting is important, but if you're delivering your boyz in vehicles, you should be assaulting on turn 2. Even trukks that deliver 11 boyz and a nob are dangerous. 11 slugga boyz assaulting deliver 44 attacks, which average 3.66 MEQ deaths, and then your PK nob strikes.

Shootas make better use of their guns when foot slogging. Consider 30 boyz advancing down the field upon 10 tactical marines. The count starts with the orks entering <24", and the marines firing upon them. With sluggas, and assuming an average of 3.5" during the run phase, and a Waaagh! declared on the turn of assault, a slugga boy unit will assault the marines in 2 more turns(without difficult terrain hindering them) with 23.34 boyz left. If you move and shoot with shoota boyz, the marines will end up assaulting first with 5.69 marines left, while you have 22.44 boyz. A good marine player will most likely deny you the assault.

These are just standard probability, and there are too many variables that can affect this, depending on you, your opponent, and the terrain. Ultimately, you are most often best served fielding slugga boyz in vehicles, or shoota boyz for footslogging.

You can consider 'eavy armor, despite the fact that people badmouth it. A unit of 'ard boyz survives an exploding vehicle better, and wins assaults against MEQ units with more boyz remaining to continue the fight.

Last thing. If you are purchasing a big shoota or rokkit launcha for your unit, place it on your nob(see #1 through #3). He doesn't get an extra attack for having a pistol because he's using a PK. Furthermore, that's one more wound your unit can take without losing a special upgraded weapon, and is on the last model to die(barring Sergeant Telion or similar).


Don't take a unit of 30. Take 29, so you don't need that 3rd Runtherd. From 120 points to 107. The usual name of the game is to purchase as many models as possible, so that's 2 more boyz for you! The same applies to 20. If you're right around there and need some points, you might be able to drop a few gretchin AND a runtherd for an extra 10.

Don't make the mistake that gretchin are competitive. At twice the cost, ork boyz bring about three times the offensive capability, with twice the toughness and longevity. Gretchin are a comedic unit. If you are playing competitively then don't take a unit to absorb damage, take a unit that can cause damage while absorbing it.


Reinforced Ram. Blaze through difficult terrain with no worries, and claim cover saves if possible. [unnamed contributor: Red Paint Job is a epic option. I've played games where it's allowed me to get into CC a turn quicker! You will most likely be assaulting by turn 2 either way.:)]


Don't discount their cost. They're the fastest assaulting unit in the game. They bypass terrain, and do it faster. Compare 184 points of 12 Stormboyz with a nob upgrade w/PK, BP to 12 boyz with a nob upgrade w/PK, BP in a Trukk with a RR for 152. 32 points is quite a lot, but you do get extra speed, and aren't going to lose mobility at any point like a trukk being popped......which averages 3.33 boyz lost by the way. Not the best use of points, and not the most competetive choice, but they can be used effectively. A group of 20 Boyz loaded 123(rules) compared to the same in a battlewagon is 280 points vs. 285. You're losing a deffrolling battlewagon and protection for speed. Not a good trade, but it's food for thought.

Consider a group of Stormboyz led by a PK, BP nob as an alternative to a deffkopta:

100 points - 5 Stormboyz, nob upgrade with PK/BP

70 points - Deffkopta w/RL and Buzzsaw.

The Stormboyz' sluggas will most likely never harm a vehicle. The Kopta has a 53% chance of inflicting a Str 8 hit.

The Kopta takes 2 wounds to down. The Stormboyz can take more. Initially, they will require 3 wounds to cause a morale test, if one wound is allocated to the nob. With the BP, the unit has an 82% chance of making the morale test, and might take another wound. Not to mention that a Str 8+ unsaved wound (i.e. Krak missile or melta) will kill a kopta outright via the instant death rule.

Stormboyz move 12+d6 while the deffkopta can move 12 and shoot/assault. Both units can fly over terrain. The deffkopta has its scout move, in which it can turbo boost and get a cover save. This scout move is what makes it an alpha strike unit, potentially popping a vehicle on your first turn. Stormboyz cannot do this.

Finally, assault. The kopta attacks 3 times at Str 7 on the charge, 2 attacks with Str 6 afterwards. On the charge, the PK Nob attacks 4 times with Str 9, and the boyz attack 4 times each at Str 4; afterwards the nob is 3 attacks at Str 8 and the boyz can use their stikkbombs for a single Str 4 each.

The Stormboyz sacrifice alpha strike for a bit more staying power, and superior assault damage, for an increase in point cost.

All in all, a unit of 5 Stormboyz is not a good replacement for an alpha strike anti-vehicle unit, but it is superior for tank hunting in the field if you have the points.


Amazing dakka. Simply amazing. They're mobile, respond to many threats, have 4+ armor, 4+cover, and are still choppy. It's best to remain with rules 1,2, and 3 so you can respond to any threat, but warbikes excel at dakka. A full unit of 12 averages 4.44 MEQ deaths in 1 turn of shooting. Amazing.

Like terminators, warbikes provide an ork unit that is tougher with more firepower. Like terminators, we flinch every time one dies. If you are going to field them, be prepared for them to start dropping faster than you'd expect. People who have experienced the pain do not want them around to lay into their infantry. Don't assault mass power weapons like GK armies or terminator units. Play them smart, as mobile ranged support and rapid response, with the capability of assault.


The Battlewagon is the ultimate transport for orks. Transport. This is its purpose, and should not be forgotten. While it is extremely durable head-on, it's sides and rear armor are vulnerable, so remember that it can and will go down. Fortunately, unlike trukks, the battlewagon has a secondary purpose after delivering its cargo, which is(usually) deffrolling! Battlewagons are often overloaded with unnecessary options. Deffrolla(unless it's a gunwagon), AP, and Big Shoota as a basic template for transports. Always put a weapon on a battlewagon so that a weapon destroyed result isn't changed into an immobilized result.

Battlewagons in general should have armor plates(AP). This precludes a 1/6 chance of becoming immobile(stunned) for a turn. 'ard case should basically never be taken. You want to disgorge lots of boyz to assault? You can't if it's open topped. Want to shoot with all those burnas? Sorry, you've got a limit(fire points). Not a good use of points, because the drawbacks completely nullify the advantages that orks make use of.

Deffrolla: Almost always a must. D6 strength 10 hits. Granted, armor saves are allowed, but you're tank-shocking in the process. The deffrolla is superb anti-tank.

Red Paint Job: Usually unnecessary, particularly with good tactics and a good eye for estimating distances. An exception to this is for a gunwagon, particularly a burnawagon because you need to be so close and still allow passengers to shoot, hence a 7" combat speed being a potentially valuable upgrade.

I cannot emphasize how much of a waste grot riggers are with poor strategy. If you are immobilised, grot riggers only give a 50/50 chance of fixing the result. WHILE they are waiting for this chance, you sit around to be shot at for another turn. Besides, if your wagon has a KFF Big Mek inside, he has no gun, so he can attempt repairs for you at no penalty. If your battlewagon is immobilized before your passengers can disembark and assault, then it has failed its primary purpose. Disembark and start slogging if the situation warrants it, don't wait for the riggers to fix it. If they fix it before it's been destroyed, you'll be glad to have that deffrolla so you can do something. That being said, grot riggers are a good option to get your expensive battlewagon back into the fray to start deffrolling, or at least are a way of drawing fire under the threat of potential repairs.

Flash Gitz

Often overlooked, and it's easy to do if you are fielding many battlewagons. For 25 points each, you are paying the cost of a nob with 'eavy armor, and Flash Gitz are all that PLUS a better gun. That strength 5 gun ignores MEQ armor 50% of the time! For 5 more points(per model), you DOUBLE their firepower(more dakka for assault 2). A unit of 10, one upgraded to a painboy averages 2.67 MEQ deaths. The unit has a 4+ armor save and FNP. It's a bit more resilient in CC, but lacks a PK and a BP(Badrukk has a BP). All in all, an inferior unit compared to Warbikers for dakka, but I just wanted to point out that they aren't worthless, your points are just better spent elsewhere. I will run Flash Gitz in friendly games for fun.

Looted Wagons

(By ParatrooperSimon) Some players see these as uncompetetive. I and some other see these badly watched then stolen Lemun Russ tanks as a MEQ killing gold mine, as long as you take the boomgun-(Strength 8 AP 3 Large Blast, Ordance) Sure you have a chance of rolling a 1 then having to move 12" (13" RPJ) inchs and then not being able to do anything that turn. But if you have 2 or 3 of these beasts. The chance of rolling 3 ones on the same turn is hardly going to happen So your almost certain to get at least on of these pie plates off. They also can be used as solid AT assests, now since their ordnance, we get 2d6 then pick the highest. So we have a pretty good chance of killing that whirlwind or predetor. Now the only upgrades this thing needs is a boomgun. Some might take a ard case so those pesky +1's on the damage table go away but with only average armour 11. They'll get blown up at some points during the game. Thats where a KFF comes in to play ;D. Some people use scorchas so they can still transport a squad of boys. But unlike the trukk. They are not fast :(.

More to come as time allows...


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