Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reflections on Orks: Where does their power come from?

Orks have some pretty good stuff, I'll be the first to admit.  I'll also be the first to admit that there are a *ton* of obstacles that Orks have to deal with in order to be a competitive army.  This post will be my thoughts on exactly what makes the greenskins tick (not anything too deep, I promise!), and maybe some other stuff.

Ork boyz are oftentimes the reason an Ork army fails, I've come to realize.  Despite being a 'steal' for 6 points with their T4 and furious charge, they simply die too consistently in combat to really do what they're supposed to do.  In combat, one of two things almost always happens:

1) Ork boyz annihilate what they've assaulted:  the opponent squad/unit never really stood a chance, and maybe killed a single ork boy.

2) Ork boyz lose so many of their number that they can't really do enough damage in combat, and are subsequently wiped out in that combat phase, or the next.

It doesn't really happen another way.  Sure, maybe they'll get stuck in with a big Tactical squad for a turn or two, or they won't be able to kill a Dread or something, but overall, the boyz don't really have 'stalemates' in combat:  if they lose, they lose a lot of momentum and eventually flee, and if they win, they've likely killed a ton of the enemy squad, and win by a landslide.  Anything tough enough not to lose a bunch of guys to the Orks means they can usually hold their own in combat, and inflict a like number of wounds to the boyz, drawing combat.

A huge worry with Orks is the danger of being stopped.  They hit like a pile of bricks against many things, sure (if you do it right), but  in subsequent combats, they are extremely lacking.  1/4 less attacks, without the +1S for furious charge.  If something can hold out for one round of combat against orks, many times they'll end up winning the combat, especially if they can whittle the boyz down to under 11, so they aren't fearless anymore.

One thing to remember when getting orks in combat, is that trading point for point or even better, isn't always worth it.  If your orks kill 60 points of marines in combat, and the marines kill 60 points of orks in that same combat, it seems like a push, right?  Very wrong- the orks just lost 10 boyz, and the marines only lost 4, and won combat by 6.  Now the boyz get to run away with shit for initiative.  Or if they're fearless, they get to lose 5 more boyz.  Now the mob is down to 15 at best (down to 5 many times) and will realistically lose the next combat before they even get to swing.

Even in a slightly more realistic situation, if the boyz kill 60 points and the marines 'only' kill 30 points, the marines still win combat.  Losing combat with orks is a big worry, one that I think too many ork generals discount.  Those extra two orks dying to fearless checks every turn really start to add up.

Not to mention, if the orks charge and get stalled, even for a single turn, they open themselves to be counter-charged off the table next turn, before they even get to strike.

So, what's the redeeming grace of Orks?  I'll just spit it out and say... Klaws.  Every boyz squad has a claw in it, in just about any competitive list.  With boarding planks on vehicles, Orks can stay in the (relative) safety of their vehicle and kill transports, tanks, etc.  In a big squad of boyz, the nob can swing away and kill 2 enemy models a turn in relative safety.  Where a squad of boyz has quite a bit of trouble getting through a 3+ save, the Klaw perseveres.

Pretty obvious, I suppose.  However, I think there's something to be learned from this, and maybe I'm just being foolish, but here's the 'greater wisdom' I've discovered:

More Klaws/squad = more won combats.  Heh, not really that hard to grasp, I suppose.  The trick is, to not get stuck in combat for more than a turn, since momentum is very much against orks, and whereas you might be able to lose a single turn of combat, and stick around, you certainly can't afford to lose 2.

This is part of why Nob squads are so useful.  I won't get into it now, but suffice it to say that very rarely does a Nob squad suffer the same sort of sad defeat a mob of Boyz will.  Their 6-9 WS5 Klaw attacks are going to end up winning the combat for them almost every time.

What about boyz squads though?  They can only fit in a single Nob, and usually, that single nob is simply not enough.  They'll kill around 2 models a turn with their klaw, and combat will largely have the same results as it always did.

The only way I can see to help make this basic flaw better, is to add more Klaws.  I think this is pretty doable, actually.  Every Ork army that I've seen since forever, has a Big Mekk with a KFF.  Why not throw a Klaw on him and an attack squig?  5 extra Klaw attacks can really make a huge difference on the charge.  If you do it right, you can usually get the Mekk away from the opponent's fist by hitting it with a boy from the squad, and suddenly, your orks have overwhelming force on their side.

Or, try a few Deff Koptas w/ Klaws.  They only have S7 on the charge, but that's enough against almost any infantry model out there.  If you hide the Koptas in either a big squad, or behind some Wagons, they can fly out and charge something that your boyz are fighting, and lend 'supporting attacks'.   If they enemy decides to allocate some attacks into your koptas, you have a better save and T5 to help with combat res.

What about warbosses?  Too often, people put the boss with their Nobs.  It isn't needed in the nob squad- they can take care of themselves just fine.  A warboss with a bunch of boyz is going to be a lot bigger help than the overkill that happens when they hang with nobs.

I don't really know if this is the answer to making orks more viable in combat, but it's something I'm playing around with.  I know that any combat army that I play would be hurt by these ideas.

What do you think?


sonsoftaurus said...

Klaws are definitely key to an assaulting Ork army.

As for blowouts, the solution lies in more careful charging when you can. Use one unit to assault multiple weak enemies at once, hit strong enemies with multiple mobs at once (for either weight of attacks or multiple klaws), and sometimes limited charges that are positioned to restrict the # of enemy who can attack.

Thor said...

This is a pretty good assessment of da Boyz!

I play KoS and run a lot of Trukk Boyz, 4-5 units. One thing I learned early is to hunt in packs and attack in waves. Sending 2 Trukk Boyz squads at a single unit, something that's a bit meaty and not a weedy unit, lets you put 2 Nobz in there with PKs. The wave attack works well to help dislodge your Boyz if they get ground down, so I generally have one Trukk Boyz squad hanging back a bit to support any assault as needed.

The PK on the Big Mek I suppose depends on how you play. Running KoS I leave my Big Mek in his ride while the Boyz smash stuff. This gives me a larger KFF radius (measured from the vehicle hull), and keeps him from being singled out in assault, which he always is.

I agree about the Warboss. In addition, it helps you spread your threats around. Having one unit of death is great and all until it's focused fired off the table. Having many units that each provide a level of threat is much better and also ensures something is going to hit the enemy.

Xaereth said...

Taurus: Heh, I agree with you, I think the same holds true with almost any assaulting army. I think many ork players just simply fail to realize that they need more than one Klaw in order to win many combats. They roll 80 dice and kill... 4 marines, and wonder what went wrong.

Thor: Yeah, I want to try out the Mek w/ Klaw. I know that when I play against Orks, I certainly always target the Mek in combat if I can, since he's somewhat easy to kill, and he has such a huge impact on the game. That said, I think that in the right situations, he can really help tip the scale in the direction of the Orks.