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"Kilgore and Eibel at the Gaming Table": The New Ork Codex
Kenton Kilgore: Just like how the great critics Siskel and Ebert used to review movies back in the day, my buddy and fellow Jungle Guide Pat and I review new GW products that we have in common.  Pat has been playing Orks since Rogue Trader drop-podded into the U.S. in 1987, and I built a proxy-Ork army a few years ago.  So how’s the new codex?  Let’s take an in-depth look.

First off, like all the other recent codices, the book is hardcover and in full color, recycling some older artwork along with some brand-new ones. It retails for about $50—again, no surprise there.  This is the first one, however, to be produced for the new 7th Edition rules, and it shows.  More about that later.


The Barbarous Hordes
As you’ve come to expect from other codices, this one starts off with a long section of background material, or “fluff.”  If you’re not a newbie, all of this will be very familiar to you, but it’s still informative and entertaining.  A few Ork types—Wildboyz, Kult of Speed, and Madboyz—are presented but are not included in the rules that make up the bulk of the book.  How much you want to bet that they’ll show up in later dataslate supplements? 

The Ork gods Gork and Mork are mentioned, lots of cool-looking Ork glyphs (useful for painting onto characters, vehicles, and terrain pieces) are brought back from previous versions of the codex, and the clans (Goffs, Evil Sunz, etc.) are described.  GW missed an opportunity to provide rules for clan-themed armies, but perhaps that was on purpose so that they can be the subjects of future expansions. 

Then it’s on to some brief tales of Orky Waaaghs!, including, of course, that of Ghazghkull Thraka.  May I just say that I miss Nazdreg, his Bad Moon equivalent, who was a big part of the 2nd and 3rd Edition Ork codices and hasn’t been seen since?


Nazdreg is da Man...errr...da Ork

The fluff section is fun without being tiresome, so “thumbs up” from me.  Pat?

Patrick Eibel: I like how the writers tried to incorporate all of the past fluff of the Orks.  You get the myth of the Brainboyz as well as possible relations to fungus.  In fact, most of the fluff section is pretty interesting, although I tire of the exploits of Ork Warbosses that have no relevance to the army I want to create.  We also get a lot of text boxes that name-drop cool things that could be interesting (Madboyz, Freebootaz, Kults of Speed, and Clans) that would benefit from some additional rules.  Still, I have to give the fluff a “thumbs up,” as I actually took the time to read it, which is more than I can say for some other codices.


What self-respecting Ork player WOULDN'T want rules for these guys?

Ork Warbands
KK
: Next up in the codex comes a pictorial section with lots of gorgeously-painted minis, including the new Gorkanauts, Morkanauts, and Mek Gunz.  And is that a Stompa I see on page 44?  I cannot tell you how it warms the heart of my cockles to note that the featured army is Bad Moons, my favorite.  Very inspiring.  “Thumbs up” from me.   

PE: There is a little too much attention given over to the new models, particularly the Gorkanaut and Morkanaut, in all of the pictures.  I also don’t like how the pictures are primarily Bad Moon or Evil Suns armies.  There could have been a couple of extra pages to show some other clans (even with the Goffs getting the first supplement).  I am going to give the Warbands section a “thumbs down,” as I was left wanting much more.


Now you've gone and hurt his widdle feewings, Pat.  Shame on you!

Forces of the Orks
KK
: All of this fluff and pretty photos are nice, but not why you came to the show.  So let’s get stuck in with the latest unit descriptions and rules.  The first few pages go over the numerous HQ choices: Warboss, Weirdboy, Mek, Big Mek, Painboy, and Special Characters, any of whom can lead your army (unlike some previous versions, where you had to have a Warboss or SC). 

There are good news and bad news with the new HQ options.  The good is that for the most part, point costs have either stayed the same or gone down.  Also, the Weirdboy is strengthened (more about that later), and you can add Meks to your mobz on a 1:1 basis with the number of HQ you run. 

As for the bad…. One is that the Warboss (and Ghazghkull, too) no longer makes one Nobz or Meganobz unit count as Troops, which is less important than it used to be, but a shame nevertheless, as there are tough choices to be made about Elites (the same goes for Big Meks and Deff Dreads re. Heavy Support).  Two, the Painboy is no longer an upgrade to the Nobz, so he’s going to eat an HQ slot (but you can attach him to any infantry unit, granting them Feel No Pain). 

Three, in the same vein as the Painboy, many of the Special Characters are no longer upgrades to certain units, so they’ll use HQ slots.  Under the old book, you could have Ghazghkull (HQ), Mad Dok Grotsnik (HQ), Boss Snikrot (Kommandos upgrade), Boss Zagstruk (Stormboyz upgrade), and Kaptain Badrukk (Flash Gitz upgrade) in the same army.  You can approximate that by various ways, such as using the Ork Horde Detachment on page 102 or by going Unbound, but those have their own hassles.


So metal, he makes Rob Halford of Judas Priest look like those One Direction kids

Fourth, no more Wazdakka Gutsmek and his ability to let Warbikers be Troops.  Maybe he’ll return with a Speed Freeks supplement.  So I’m sad to say I’m going to give a “Meh”—thumb neither up nor down—to the HQ.  Pat?

PE: Once you get used to the new dataslate format, you can really start to sort out all of the units.  The Warboss is still a Toughness 5 beast, even if he doesn’t unlock Nobz as Troops.  I like the slotless basic Meks (one per HQ unit) that will help with the proliferation of rokkit launchas.  I don’t like that the kustom force field has been nerfed to only models within 6", not units.  Painboyz grant Feel no Pain, which could be devastating in a large unit of ‘Ard Boys.  In general, I like the HQ, as they offer some solid choices, even without the ability make units Troops (less important now that everything scores). “Thumbs up.”

KK: Let’s move on to Troops…of which Orks still have all of two: Boyz and Gretchin.  The latter are the same as before, the former’s base price is unchanged, but now they pack stikkbombs as standard, so that will save on points…except that shootas are now 1 point each.  Never mind.  Mo’ betta is that rokkit launchas got 5 points cheaper, and every Boyz mob (not just one, as previously) can have a 4+ Save with ‘eavy armor (for +4 points each, appropriately).  I’ll give a half-hearted “thumbs up” for Troops.


Boyz will be Boyz, and you'll want a lot of them

PE:  This seems like a good place to mention the sucktastic revised Mob Rule test chart.  Because we needed to make things more complicated and less effective.  Taking big groups of Boyz still seems to be encouraged, which leaves players wanting help for their Kult of Speed scratching their heads.  I will give another half-hearted “thumbs up.”

KK: HQ and Troops didn’t “wow” me, but what about Elites?  I touched on Nobz and Meganobz before, and the former did get 2 points cheaper, even if they lost the Painboy (and his ability to give them cybork bodies).  Burna Boyz got 1 point more expensive, but come with stikkbombz and now can have a Trukk, so that ain’t sad.  The Glory Hogs rule for Tankbustas no longer requires them to stupidly shoot at vehicles, regardless of if they’re in range or not, and they are now Tank Hunters—booyah!  Kommandos get Stealth and can add Snikrot for 60 points instead of 85 (and he gives his unit Shrouded on the first turn they come on).  What’s not to like?  “Thumbs up” from me.



"We don't suck!  We don't suck!  Yay!"

PE:  It is interesting that Snikrot is a separate Elite unit from Kommandos, but I guess if you want to go that route you can always go Unbound.  One unit that has gotten worse over all of the rules changes is Nobz.  While you can still field way-cool biker Nobz,  changes to wound allocation mean that you will no longer be able to slag wounds off onto unwounded models.  I love that Kommandos got Stealth, that Tankbustas don’t suck anymore, and that Burnas and Bustas get Trukks as transports.  It opens up the Elite slots since Lootas have moved to Heavy Support.  Overall, a “thumbs up” from me.

KK: Trukks are (oddly) a Fast Attack unit instead of just being a Transport option, so iffn you wanted, you could field some of those zipping around…by why would you bother when the other FA choices are so much better?  Stormboyz 3 points cheaper, and have ‘Ere We Go, which allows them to Waaagh! if the army has a Warboss or Warlord who can do the same?  Yes, please, but how awesome would it be to be able to take Zagstruk as an HQ and have Stormies as Troops? 

Deffkoptas 5 points cheaper, free upgrades for twin rokkits or kustom mega-blasta, and have ‘Ere We Go.  Warbikers 7 points cheaper, can have up to 15 in a mob, have ‘Ere We Go, and have bikes, which are awesome under the current rules (remember waaaaay back in 3rd and 4th, when bikes sucked?). 

Warbuggies cheaper and more in a squadron (up to 5, from 3).  And, of course, the Dakkajet, the Burna-Bommer, and the Blitza-Bommer, which I confess I was not familiar with from previous supplements.  Perhaps Pat will be kind enough to discuss their merits.  As for me, a solid “thumbs up” for Fast Attack.

PE: Kenton is right, you will likely never field Trukks on their own, so we will move on.  Deffkoptas get Scout and Jink, but are still limited to 5 in a unit.  If you want to field Ork Flyers (and you know you do, because they are so cool), go with either the Dakka Jet (with additional supa shoota and flyboss) or a Burna Bomma (burna bombs are good vs. hordes.)  Stormboyz, Buggies and Bikes are all improved, so a “thumbs up” from me.


"All I wanna do is a zoom-zoom and a boom-boom..."

KK: Just as with Fast Attack choices, we’re spoiled for riches with Heavy Support.  Mek Gunz are the new Big Gunz, except now you can field more of them, and there are more choices as to what you can throw downfield (it’s hard to choose my favorite, but I’d have to go with the kustom mega-kannon).  Battlewagons got more expensive, which isn’t good news for my Dvergar, as did Deff Dreads and Killa Kans.  Kans also get slapped with the Cowardly Grots! rule, though you can have a six-pack of them in each unit. 

Looted Wagons are out (they appeared in a recent White Dwarf), but Gorkanauts and Morkanauts are here, and they’re fun, if nothing else, and should spit out a whole lot of dakka (and draw a whole lot of fire).  Lootas move to HS from Elites, but they’re 1 point cheaper, and deffguns are still sweet.  Flash Gitz are cheaper, their Gitfindas give them BS 3 if they’re stationary, but they lose the More Dakka/ Shootier/ Blasta upgrades to their snazzguns. And Badrukk’s no longer an upgrade.  How awesome would it be if you could take him as an HQ and have Flash Gitz as Troops?

I’ll include Ghaz and the Stompa in this discussion, even though they’re Lords of War, and say I approve heartily of both.  “Thumbs up” from me for HS.


"Look at 'im!  Iddnt 'e koot?  IDDNT 'E KOOT?"

PE: GW loves Heavy Support, so once again we have way too many options to choose from.  For the Mek Guns, go with Kannons with lots of ammo runts.  I am sure there are other options people like, but Kannons offer good range and flexibility without a bump in point cost.  I like the idea of an Unbound army of nothing but Meks, Dreads, Kans, Gorkanaut or Morkanaut, and a Stompa, and the fact that this is even possible is very cool.  Flash Gitz and Lootas now clog the Heavy section, so consider carefully.  The Ork Warband give a footslogging army a fighting chance, even though it will not keep units from contesting objectives.  I will give the Heavy Support and other stuff section a happy “thumbs up,” especially since Unbound means I don’t have to make hard choices.

Appendix
KK
: Going through the units was the easy part.  Now to wade through the minutiae of the special rules, weapons, wargear, psychic powers, etc.  Right off the bat, we get ‘Ere We Go, which is a Good Thing in that it lets Orks re-roll one die when determining charge range.  And then we get the new Mob Rule, which is Sure-As-Hell-Ain’t-No-Good-Thing.  All I can suggest is load up on the mob sizes and the bosspoles, people.  Changing gears, the Warlord Traits range from excellent (#1-3) to merely good (#4-6).  “Thumbs down” on the Special Rules, “thumbs up” on the Warlord Traits.

PE: The Warlord Traits are a mixed bag.  Number 1 is useful, since you can nominate any character as your Warlord in an Unbound army.  Numbers 2, 3, 5, and 6 are good too, and 4 is OK.  So, a pretty good list overall.

KK: Under “Gubbinz and Gunz,” most of the weapons are the familiar ones you’ve come to know and love, though the latest version of the Grot prod (with its double Strength High Voltage attack) is entertaining, and the killsaw lends some more vehicle-smiting.  There are quite a few new shooty options, my favorite of which is the tellyport blasta (provided you can hit).  And now Orks have a solid anti-Flyer option with traktor kannons.  “Runts and Squigs” round out this section, with the bomb squig being more reliable than before, making Tankbustas even better.  “Thumbs up.”

PE: I like that some fun has been injected back into the Ork weaponry.  Bubblechukkas, traktor kannons, and the revised shokk attack gun will appeal to players that don’t mind a little randomness for the potential of something really wild happening.  There were some nerfs, most notably the kustom force field, but that was to be expected, and overall the entire section became more interesting.  “Thumbs up.”


How awesome is a big gun that blows bubbles...THAT KILL PEOPLE?

KK: “Orky Know-Wots” are wargear, and I’m happy that the kustom force field has been curtailed in its range: now it affects models within 6"; before, it was units within 6", a ruling which wily Ork players (are there any other kind?) could exploit to cover half the damn board.  Before the codex released, there were rumors that rokkit packs would let one engage Flyers, and/or that mega armor could Deep Strike.  Neither are true.  Vehicle equipment is still solid and appropriately Orky: my new favorite is the reinforced ram, which, for 5 points, allows a ride to Tank Shock and Ram, adds 2 to the Front Armor Value when ramming, and re-rolls failed Dangerous Terrain checks. “Thumbs up” for the new gear.

PE:  I seem to have jumped forward a section, how Orky of me!  I will move on to the special artefacts. I like them all pretty well and they do not seem to be ridiculously overpriced, so I might consider using one.  “Thumbs up,” boyee!

KK: Something new are the “Gifts of Gork and Mork,” unique items you army may have.  Unlike the Tyranid equivalents (as we discussed), the Orky ones are reasonably priced and seem useful.  With Da Lucky Stikk, veteran players like Pat and me will appreciate the shout-out to long-lost Makari, Ghazghkull’s faithful Grot standard bearer, who was apparently dropped from the game because he wasn’t grimdark enough.  “Thumbs up” from me.

“Thumbs up” also to the new psychic powers.  Under the previous codex, using a Weirdboy was a crap shoot that too often went spectacularly wrong for the Ork player.  There’s still some element of danger involved (see the Waaagh! Energy rule on page 55), but powers are more reliable now, and just as lethal—if not more.  Old favorites like Da Jump (teleport a unit to anywhere on the table) and Da Krunch (the new “Foot of Gork” from the 2nd Edition days) return. 

PE: Bringing Ork Weirdboyz in line with other psykers was probably a good move.  I still may leave psykers on the shelf, as there are so many options to consider to gamble on getting Da Jump.


"Wut's a Weirdboy gotta do ta get sum luv from yoo, Pat?"

KK: Nearing the end, we come to the Ork Horde Detachment, which allows one to field 3 HQ (for accommodating some of those Special Characters I mentioned earlier) and up to 9 Troops.  All in addition to the standard 3 Elite, 3 Fast Attack, and 3 Heavy Support we’ve been used to since 3rd Edition arrived.  With but one slot for Lords of War, you’re going to have to choose between Ghazghkull or a Stompa in your army.  The detachment is very much in character with the Orks, and is a not-so-subtle hint from the designers (as if you needed it after considering the new Mob Rule) that they really, really want you to field lots and lots of Boyz.  “Thumbs up.”

Finally, Orks get their own Tactical Objectives; I haven’t played a game yet with them, but the greenskin versions look like fun and seem very Orky.  An eager-to-try-them “thumbs up” from me.

PE:  The Horde Detachment reminds of the Green Tide from the old Apocalypse, so I am down with it.  Giving Orks army-specific objectives seems like a good idea and a harbinger of future codices.  Both “thumbs up.”


Also, have we emphasized enough how much we love these guys?

Conclusion
KK
: Ork players have been waiting a long time for the new codex, and now they have it.  So overall, what do I think?  When I first got it, I was Over-The-(Bad)-Moon in love: ‘eavy armor for all Troops, more reliable Weirdboy powers, Tankbustas done right, cheaper Fast Attack, the Ork Horde Detachment, etc.  Then I looked closer and saw some things I didn’t like so much (chief among them being Mob Rule—shocker, I know).  The new Ork book does not “wow” me as much as the Space Marine version did, but it does not exasperate and bewilder as the Tyranid one does.  And it is an improvement over the previous version, though I’m still trying to decide how much of an improvement it is.  So overall, “thumbs up” from me. 

Pat, you’re the greenskin expert: what say you?

PE: If you can get past the obvious beatstick of failing a Mob Rules check, I think Orks will present a fun army: “thumbs up.”  Just be prepared to shell out LOTS of teef to acquire more and more Boyz…               

      

Posted July 2014.  Images copyright Games Workshop 2014; used for review purposes

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Fighting Tigers:
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Other Pages:
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