Building a better Waagh
A couple of people have asked about my ork list, and how I came up with it, so here is the list, and the story of its genesis
How to build a Waagh
So, now that I've tested it in the heat of battle over two UKGT finals, and a Heat, I think I can say with some assurance that Waagh Fotheringham-Willoughby works pretty well. In response to a couple of scattered requests then, what follows is a long rambling article about how I came up with the army, the precepts that underpin its construction, what the weather was like when I first played it, and anything else that I think is interesting.
The first thing to say is that this is not all my own work. In particular, Dakari-Mane provided an invaluable sounding board for my ideas, and contributed plenty of his own. This list would not be what it is today, without his help.
So, how did the list start out?
The first principle was caused by the environment. The list was intended for play at the UKGT which, at the time (and still), was using both Gamma and Omega level missions, with a 50-50 split of each. I had been using KoS previously, and they had been somewhat hampered by the escalation, since things would turn up at random, meaning that it was difficult to build any synergy into the list. So, my first resolution was simple - everything deploys, all the time. Basically, this means no vehicles. As it turns out, this has an important ancillary benefit - people pack their lists with anti-tank, as you have to, which becomes basically useless against. Every marine player would rather have two bolters than a lascannon when facing a horde of orks. This also extends to the plasma lists of doom that are somewhat prevalent since, again, a bolter is almost as effective as a plasma gun against me, with the added advantages of being cheaper, and not occasionally blowing up.
My second principle for building the army was not quite so ork-specific, as I tend to use it for most of my lists. Simply put, no minimax squads. No minimum size squads with maximum special guys (normally meaning heavy weapons). I don't like taking models off the board, and since this is inevitable, I'd rather that it wasn't ever a model that I've spent extra points on. So, every single upgraded model (whether that's with a better gun, or a nob, or whatever) gets at least one ablative wound. This resiliency is key, as it allows me to just keep on coming, and the first couple of rounds of shooting don't really affect my ability to dish out the pain. This also sometimes has something of a psychological affect on my opponent, as they realise that they've had their best two turns, and basically done nothing to me.
The "No Vehicles" rule forced me quickly into a decision. Since I would have no vehicles, I would be giving up an awful lot of mobility, which is generally not a great position to be in. So, how can we get some mobility back? Well, StormBoyz were considered but (a) they don't start on the board in escalation, so that's not a lot of use and (b) they're a bit overpriced for what they are. So, the only other solution in the current ork list is Kommandoz, with their infiltrate ability.
Initially, I considered using three full-size mobz of these guys but my initial experiments were not encouraging. What I was effectively doing was performing the somewhat tricky job of target prioritisation *for* my opponent, since I just had two sets of practically identical orks, one set closer than the other. This meant that the kommandoz just got shot up first, never really getting close enough in enough numbers to do real damage in kombat. Then, once the kommandoz had been dealt with, my opponent would still have time to turn his guns on the main mob.
I eventually ended up with two small mobs armed with rokkitz and ammo runtz. They were cheap enough to be considered throw away, but with a couple of rokkitz apiece, and the re-rolls from the ammo runtz, they could do a very good job of tankbusting, particularly if they could get into a side armour facing. Finally, against particularly poor kombat armies (Tau, Guard), the presence of ten orks on a flank is a worrying one, and if they could get stuck in, they have the potential to do a reasonable amount of damage. One final note is that these mobs (almost) always deployed as a pair. Two rokkitz, even with re-rolls, isn't reliable enough to leave them on their own, so they would go down in the same place. As a side note, they are also numerous enough to do a decent job of area denial against an all-infiltrate army, though these seem to be seen less than they once were.
So, we've got our two basic principles, and a couple of Elite slots locked up. Let's start to look at the rest of the army. First and foremost, what are we taking for our troops?
As I think everyone will agree, the troops selections are the strength of the ork codex. A regular boy is cheap and pretty good value for what you get. Heavy weapons are reasonably plentiful, and the nob upgrade is mandatory and excellent value.
The first, and easiest, selection, is a unit of grotz. These are absolutely mandatory in every footsloggers' army. They protect your boyz, they allow you to move more quickly through terrain (vital, as we shall see later), and they force target priority tests for every single one of your opponents' units. The only real questions is how big? I aimed for a unit size of 20, but this was inevitably the squeeze unit when I needed just a couple more points.
After the grotz, my next selection was two units of tankbustaz. These guys are among my favourite units anyway, with the +1 ability against tanks, not to mention everyone getting tankbusta bomz, and automatically passing all tank shokk tests (probably one of the more forgotten about advantages). Unfortunately, these guys are a little expensive, and don't have choppaz. Initially, I started out with ammo runtz in these units, since the re-rolls seemed to be better value than they would be with slugga boyz (for example). However, as time passed, I decided that attack squigz would be more useful, since the increased resilience meant that they were more likely to take additional shots, rather than the one time re-roll that the runtz provided.
So, what next? Well, the key to having a large ork waagh is to, well, have a lot of boyz, and that's going to come from the other troops. First question - are any of the other "specialist" troops worth taking? I basically decided not. Stikkbommaz are slightly more expensive for nothing that great, and they lose choppaz. Burna boyz have potential (mostly for the kustom force field), but they can't have any ranged weapons, and I don't think burnaz are really going to cut it. So that leaves Slugga boyz and Shoota boyz. Personally, I decided to steer well clear of shoota boyz, as that one point saving per boy is really not worth it. They can't assault after shooting the rapid-fire guns, the shooting isn't that great anyway, and they not only lose an attack, but they lose the choppa, as well. In an environment that is MEq heavy, that's just not a good trade-off.
I've now decided on all of my troops selections, and two of my elites choices - what about the rest. Going with my second principle, I can go as low as minimum ten boy units with three special weapons in each, plus a nob upgrade. This leaves me with a decent number of points to spend, but where are we going to spend them?
Heavy Support is an easy slot to deal with, so let's talk about it briefly. Basically, don't do it. Going by the first principle (everything deploys in escalation), there's only one choice available to us - Lootaz. I did try these out (with a lascannon), but there are a couple of problems with them. First, the rules are confusing - you are supposed to use the options for squads from the 3rd ed rulebook, which is yet another book to carry around. Secondly, and more importantly, they delay the deployment of the grot screen. Since this is a critical part of anyone's deployment, and something you want to do as soon as possible in all the missions that allow you any form of "push back", you don't want to be delaying them with something of your own. So, no heavy support selections.
Similarly, Fast Attack is easy to deal with, as none of it can deploy in escalation - so, no fast attack.
We're now running out of places to spend our points. How about the HQ section? My initial playtesting of this army used the cut'n'paste FAQ from chapter approved, still available on the GW website, that changed the Warboss entry to "0-1", allowing me to take a Big Mek, and a Painboss. The Big Mek is easy to explain, as he gets me a Kustom Force Field. With some neat placement, and always remembering to leave a gap for him, he can cover two mobs with this, giving you the ability to stick a couple of mobs down one flank, away from your grot screen. For this alone, he's absolutely vital. Of course, given the size of the KFF, that's all he can do for you - no heavy weapons for this boy. The painboss is intriguing, just for his access to Cyborks. A 5+ invulnerable save means that they can be deployed off on their own, as well, and T5 means that they're bit more survivable than the average boy. However, they can't take ranged weapons (except on the painboss), and that ultimately makes them a bit useless. In any case, for the UKGT, the rules required one and only one Warboss, so da boss had to make a comeback.
There are probably as many ways to use the warboss as there are ork commanders, and for a while I toyed with the idea of a small nob retinue in order to outfit him with a strength 10 powerklaw, but I decided that ruling may not be adhered to, and it was a lot of points to wager upon. However, I noticed that one weakness in the list was the grot screen running away - particularly out of kombat. Adding a warboss, as an independent character, to the unit gave them leadership 9, and the presence of the squighound attached to the slaver allowed a re-roll. This should keep them nearby. Since he was basically bought just for his leadership, I kept him cheap and cheerful, outfitting him with just a choppa, and a heavy weapon. Since he'd be joining up with the slaver, I gave him the same weapon, and since there were only the two of them, I decided it should be big shootaz, rather than rokkitz, as they would be a bit more reliable in small numbers than the rokkitz.
Okay, so, with our minimum squads we've still got a bunch of points left, and we only have one force organisation slot left to spend them on - Elites. Which is the best of the elites units? Well, as we've now very firmly become as shooty as we can, there's really only one choice - flash gitz. They get an extra special weapon compared to anyone else, and are relatively cheap. 'Ard boyz are a possiblity, but since the things I'm most worried about are heavy bolters, assault cannons and whirlwinds, that 4+ save isn't going to do me any good. Skarboyz are unlikely to make it to combat, so those points for extra strength are equally bad. However, flash gitz, since they are armed with shootaz, do come with some of the same drawbacks as shoota boyz (mentioned above), rapid fire guns, and an absence of choppaz. I can give the nob a klaw, which negates some of the downsides of being choppa-less, and at four points a man, I can give them all assault 2 shootaz, negating the rapid-fire disadvantage. This also creates, with the four big shootaz, an extraordinarily shooty unit. However, since I have to upgrade the shootaz on the boyz that then take big shootaz, I need to make this a pretty big unit, in order to offset this points bump as much as possible. Finally, the nob doesn't get a big shoota, since I've already bought him "More Dakka", and that would make a really expensive gun. Instead, I give him the "Shootier" upgrade so that he has a strength 5, assault 2 shoota, which should be enough for anyone.
After all of this, I still have points to spend, so they go into the three slugga boy units. I mostly even out the points, but consider that giving all of the nobs power klaws will be too expensive. I give two of the three slugga boy nobz klaws, and make the unit without the klaw a bit smaller, giving more boyz to the units I'm more concerned about. At this point, I have two units armed with rokkitz (the tankbustaz), and one unit armed with big shootaz (the flash gitz), and three units that can be armed either way (the slugga boyz). Each weapon has it's advantages and disadvantages. The rokkitz are required for tankbustin', and are also great against any marines you can find on foot. The big shootaz have a foot more range, though, and are just as effective as rokkitz at taking down landspeeders (which are one thing I'm worried about). I decide that I like the rokkitz more, and want a 2:1 split in favour of rokkitz - so two of the tankbusta unitz get rokkitz, and one gets big shootaz. Finally, which two units get the power klaws? Well, one power klaw is already on the flash gitz, which are a shoota unit. If I give the slugga boyz with big shootaz a power klaw as well, that means that all of my shoota units have klaws, but only one of my four rokkit units. For reasons that are hard to articulate, this feels wrong to me, so both of the slugga boy units that have rokkits get klaws, and are thus the slightly bigger units.
Finally, all of the units get the maximum number of squigz. As with the tankbustaz, these are a must for the flash gitz, to keep the numbers up and the points down. Although there are fewer points on offer for doing this with slugga boyz, the odds of me ever hitting combat, or even slugga range, without taking fire and losing the squigz is minimal, and the potential in that case to get in some attacks at initiative 8 more than offsets the loss of an attack, and no choppa.
So, there we go, a step-by-step guide to building the list. As you can see, starting off with a couple of basic principles, plus the limitations of the force org, quickly left me with an army that had very little actual choice in it.
Warboss, Big Shoota, Choppa
Big Mek, Kustom Force Field, Slugga
4 Kommandoz, Rokkit, Nob, Rokkit, Tankbusta bomz, 2 Ammo Runtz
4 Kommandoz, Rokkit, Nob, Rokkit, Tankbusta bomz, 2 Ammo Runtz
13 Flash Gitz w/More Dakka, 4 Big Shootaz, Nob, Shootier, Power Klaw, 3 Attack Squigz
11 Slugga Boyz, 3 Big Shootaz, Nob, Big Shoota, 3 Attack Squigz
15 Slugga Boyz, 3 Rokkitz, Nob, Rokkit, Power Klaw, 3 Attack Squig
13 Slugga Boyz, 3 Rokkitz, Nob, Power Klaw, Rokkit, 3 Attack Squig
5 Tankbustaz, 3 Rokkitz, Nob, Rokkit, 3 Attack Squigz
5 Tankbustaz, 3 Rokkitz, Nob, Rokkit, 3 Attack Squigz
22 Gretchin, Slaver, Big Shoota, Squighound
 Initially, this was determined by a dice-off, 1-3 was gamma leve, 4-6 was omega level. For the 2006-2007 season, this was changed to be exactly 3 of each, determined by the judges.
 Four boyz, one with a rokkit. Nob upgrade, with rokkit, tankbusta bomz and two ammo runtz. 85 points.
 Attack squigz become cheap ablative wounds for the unit. Despite the squigz being T3, anyone shooting at a unit uses the majority toughness for purposes of wounding, which will be 4, from the boyz. When taking casualties, however, one can select any model from within range and line of sight, regardless of toughness. This only works when the models have the same save, though, as otherwise the mixed armour rules take precendence, so attack squigz are no use in a kommandoz unit.
 While he has a retinue, he is no longer an independent character, so can have an initiative 1 weapon with some degree of safety
 Attack squigz have an initiative of 4, which will double on a successful Waagh test to 8. If the squigz are still in the unit, I'm guaranteed to be passing the Waagh test.