Army: Ork HQ Primer

Ork Primer - HQ's.

Flipping through the Ork codex reveals a lot of options in the HQ slot. There are a nice variety of choices, wargear options, and even a number of special characters. This article aims to identify which HQ's are worth taking, when they are worth taking, and which HQ's are better left out of lists altogether.

The bottom rung of the Ork HQ ladder has a number of interchangeable models. We can start with the absolute worst and work our way up. The lousiest HQ in the Ork codex? The Weirdboy.

The Weirdboy has the unfortunate distinction of being a psyker that ultimately cannot control what power it gets to use each turn. Not only that, but sometimes those powers have a negative effect. There is nothing more frustrating than not only being assigned a power you didn't want with a random die roll, but also having it kill your HQ or a nearby unit. If you are the masochistic type and decide that you must use an HQ that encourages random powers at the very least take the warphead upgrade for an additional 30 points (ouch) so you can at least re-roll a power you aren't happy with.

One notable work-around to the Weirdboyz lousy power rolls are the ability to essentially ignore the shooting powers when you are in close combat. In fact, they simply let you upgrade to a power weapon for the duration of the turn. Not terribly exciting but still better than killing your own units.

Continuing the theme of random psychic power attacks, slightly better than the unpredictable Weirdboy is the unpredictable Old Zogwort. This special character is a warphead with an upgraded stat-line, a few special powers and a much higher price tag.

In reality Zogwort is probably worse than a vanilla warphead since he costs almost twice as much, but frankly if you're going to bother taking an Ork psyker you may as well take the special character and get some comp points while you're at it. For this reason I consider it barely superior. In reality Ork psykers are just all around terrible and should be avoided at all costs.

Moving past the utterly hopeless HQ choices you can improve your list greatly by taking a couple of niche HQ's that may work under certain circumstances. They are a pair of special characters: Wazdakka Gutsmek and Mad Dok Grotsnik.

Grotsnik has a pretty powerful ability that makes him worth considering and an extremely annoying drawback that will make most wise players decide to not bother. Aside from a potent statline and a strength 8 powerklaw, he also confers Feel No Pain to any unit he joins, and more importantly allows any model in your army to take a cybork body that grants a 5+ invulnerable save.

These abilities are extremely powerful, particularly the cybork bodies when combos with expensive power units that couldn't otherwise take them. Deffkoptas and Mega-Armored Nobs come to mind. Aside from this ability though, his other benefits are duplicated less expensive and more efficient models. If you don't exploit his cybork body for all ability he really is just a glorified painboy with the unfortunate drawback of rage, which often gets him killed sooner than one would prefer.

Wazdakka Gutsmek likely has more promise and has the ability to transform all warbikers in your army into scoring units. Useful in that specific army where you determine scoring warbiker spam is a strategy you want to take advantage of. He's got a powerful stat line too, shoots a wicked strength 8 gun, and has a strength 8 powerklaw to boot. If you can figure out a way to keep him alive long enough to matter, he's a quality HQ in the right list.

Finally we can identify the top tier of the Ork HQ's. There are essentially two options to choose from here, but technically they consist of three different models.

The first option(s) are what I like to call the Nob enablers. They are the Warboss, or the special character upgrade, Ghazghull Thraka. The primary benefit of these two HQ's is they allow Nobz to become scoring units, this enables a general to take more of them while filling out the slots beyond elite. It also allows you to create ultra powerful close combat units that can score objectives. A potent combo to be sure. The Warboss is the more cost effective and flexible option. He works just fine on foot, he works even better in a bike, or in a vehicle as well, usually attached to a nob unit. Give him a powerklaw and you can upgrade some of his other wargear to taste. He'll run you around 100-180 points based on wargear. Ghazghkull Thraka is the upgraded warboss. He enables nobz to score just the same, hits even harder with his powerklaw with a whopping 7 close combat attacks on the charge, sports a 2+ armor save and even better, can make your entire army fearless for a full turn, not to mention fleet for the duration of yours. Did I mention he has eternal warrior making him immune to instant death? He's a nasty HQ that can crush even the most potent of CC specialists. His only drawback is his pricetag. At 225 points he's the most expensive model in the Ork codex.

The second top tier HQ option option is the Big Mek. It's the cheapest HQ in the book and if you're starved for points you can take them vanilla just to satisfy the HQ requirement. However they truly shine when they are combined with mechanized vehicles or walkers and a Kustom Force Field.

The Kustom Force Field mek is an inexpensive HQ that costs less than 100 points, and is walking cover for any unit he is joined too or within 6" of. That's 5+ for non vehicle units, and a whopping 4+ for any vehicle. It's a huge advantage for any ork army, and essentially renders penetrating hits against Ork Battlewagons, Trukks, Killa Kanz and Deff Dreads null and void 50% of the time.

If you are running a mechanized Ork foce you will be hard pressed not the take advantage of a Big Mek with a Kustom Force Field. It's the best HQ in the codex and it shows up in almost every mechanized Ork list for good reason.

*Edited to fix an incorrect statistic.

2 Response to "Army: Ork HQ Primer"

  1. Unknown May 22, 2010 at 10:46 AM
    Aren't Grotsnik's and Wazdakka's PKs both S9? I'm almost sure they are S4 base :S
  2. Kevin Nash May 22, 2010 at 11:09 AM
    You're right Jonathan. I'll edit the article to reflect that. Thanks for the correction!

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