It’s Not Easy Being Green
After losing my boxing day Drunk-spire game to Mike, I had been offered the choice of taking Stormsires Cursebreakers as a relic deck, or Orruks to The Forge in Manchester as my forfeit. Forced to put Zarbag to one side for now, I opted for the larger and more brutal greenskin comrades. The original aggro warband of Underworlds has fallen from grace ever since Magore arrived on the scene, however I set out to find what advantages, if any, the Orruks had over their more popular aggro brethren.
Orruks; Da gud bitz
Most of the Orruks unique positives are wrapped up in their absolute unit of a leader. Having Gurzag as a model alters how you play the game, it opens some doors and closes others. Mostly Gurzag opens doors. Aggressively. With his face.
- 5 Wounds – In a game where +1 damage ploys are now restricted Gurzag is living the dream. Usually at least two restricted slots (and often more) are reserved for objectives, and one is going on Ready for Action. This mean more often than not your opponent will have 1-2 +1 damage ploys in their entire deck. Its harder than ever to one shot the leader, and when the opponent does damage you, it only makes Gurzag more accurate!
#TomsTopTips, 1: A lot of decks now run chip damage cards to make up for the loss of Twist the Knife and the like. Try to be cautious on edge hexes and objectives – being wary of Encroaching Shadow and Lethal Ward respectively. If the enemy pings you with these cards it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you inspire and still have 4 wounds. It’s worth being aware of them though. This brings me on to my next point.
#TomsTopTips 2: Let the enemy inspire Gurzag unless you absolutely need the re-roll. Your opponent will in almost all circumstances have to invest 2 attacks or a ploy and an attack to kill the beast, don’t make your opponents job easier for them! Especially if you run My Turn. Always think before you inspire your boss, do you need the re-roll more than you need the wound?
- 3 damage from the off: This is another advantage Orruks have when compared with Magore’s fiends. You can instantly threaten a one shot on 4 wound models in a meta where one shotting has gotten a whole lot less commonplace.
The Other Orruks
- 3 Damage almost from the off: Bonekutta can (with the aid of a ploy or lethal hex) also reach the wonderful 3 damage threshold that allows you to make enemies think twice about coming into range.
- An inspire condition that discourages opponents attacking models they can’t one shot: The current meta doesn’t feature a lot of warbands that can easily one shot an orruk straight away – at least not as easily as pre-BAR. This means opponents will have to consider if they want to risk making you stronger by chipping you down. You can decide whether you want to inspire your models (lethal hexes are always there) or whether you want to play mind games with your opponents.
Orruks: Dah bad bitz
- The Flankbro’s: In a four model warband competing against Magore’s Fiends for the top aggro spot, Hakka and Basha are woefully inadequate. Ghartok and Zharkus are more accurate and more damaging at every stage of the game, and even get faster when inspired. Speaking of which, the inspired versions of the bog standard Orruks are still arguably worse than the uninspired Blood Warriors. Hakka and Basha can score Extreme Flank though.
- 3 Move for days: This has always been the Achilles heel of the Orruks, they start slow and they ain’t getting quicker. Magore’s Fiends inspire to 4 move AND they have a death doggo who can sprint for 5 hexes before he begins gnawing on your pancreas. This is the most significant disadvantage the Orruks have to overcome when fighting in Warhammer Underworlds.
- Their Inspire Condition: Its both a blessing and a curse. Orruks are forced to lose their one advantage – their tankiness, in order to access an acceptable aggro statline. A statline which other warbands have access to without having stab themselves in the foot midway through a match.
- Gurzag or bust: Gurzag can make or break a game. The bottom line is you can only activate a model so many times a game, no matter how hard you try. Gurzags every activation has to have impact else you are squandering the one thing Orruks have that other Warbands do not.
Orruks in the current Metagame
Fortunately for the green giants, there stars have somewhat aligned with the meta to give these lovable lunks another chance.
- Quick Thinker and Great Concussion don’t exist – therefore defensive play has taken a massive hit. Orruks struggled massively against this style, and undoubtedly benefit from its current scarcity.
- Hordes are popular – Sepulchral Guard, Zarbags Gitz and Thorns of the Briar Queen are all popular warbands who happen to fill every spawn hex. You will always be able to fight against these boys from Turn 1.
- Faneway Crystal – a third big gap-closing card exists, helping patch over the orruks biggest weakness; their immobility. Other cards such as Potion of Grace can be combo’d with Hidden Paths to have your Orruks sprinting around the underworlds like enormous angry death cheetahs. Waaaaagh!
- Ping damage – Provided enough ping damage to whittle down your models doesn’t all come in the same power face, many warbands rely on dealing one damage with ploys to whittle models down. These combos can be interrupted by My Turn, and also inspire your Orruks. Just try not to get hit by too many.
Its not all bashin’ and smashin’ in the ruins of Shadespire however. Stormsire’s Cursebreakers are still a very difficult matchup for Orruks and feature heavily in the current meta. These boys are currently a difficult matchup for most Warbands though, so I wont hold that against our furious fungi too much.
A lot of these meta quirks don’t necessarily favour Orruks specifically, they favour all aggro warbands. What Orruks can do that most other aggro bands can’t however, is instantly batter three health models without any help from the deck and then reliably survive the counterattack. Speaking of the deck…
Gurzag and the Flankbro’s
Here’s the deck I took to the tournament at The Forge in Manchester. I’m going to break down the essentials, including some of the changes i think could be made to improve it.
Objectives: Key Points
- 3 Score Immediately Objectives – 5 Objectives dependent on kills – Even in an aggressive deck – you need to be able to score glory without killing. Intelligent players will stay out of range and stave you of glory if you are dependent on a target and a good dice roll to have any chance of putting an upgrade onto a model. Ration yourself so that you can snowball from kills, but you aren’t stunted without them.
#TomsTopTips 3: I would consider switching Good Scrap after my games at the tournament, even against the horde warbands I never scored it. This could potentially be switched with Victorious Duel for risky plays and big swings, or a card like Solid Gains for some more reliable glory when your getting kills.
- Quick On Your Feet: A great turn one objective that can be scored from moves and charges. Hidden Paths can also count as a move for one of your models so you can still spend an activation doing something else if you want. Remember you need 3 models alive to score this one.
- No Remorse: Gurzag does 3 damage, their are an abundance of 2 health models in the meta that farm glory for their respective warbands, with keys, objectives and snazzy books. Put them in the ground and get an extra glory for doing Gods work.
- Extreme Flank: Take it
Gambits: Key Points
- Movement Gambits: Hidden Paths and Spectral Wings are not optional if you are playing Aggro. Especially if you are stuck with 3 move. You need to be able to start a fight and these cards will help make sure no one hides from your crude chunks of sharp metal on sticks. I would also include Brutal but Kunnin’ here. If you end up adjacent to a fighter without having moved – you can get a free push before your do. You can also piggy back closer fighters to push Gurzag next to a tastier target in the back-lines afterwards. With multiple extra activation cards you can get your second swing on the priority target afterwards. You can also run away with Brutal but Kunnin’ if you really want to.
- Extra Activations: Ready for Action and My Turn are well worth the restricted slots. You rely heavily on your leader, and these cards help him swing again and again. Cards like Shattering Terrain and Ghoulish Pact help you control when My Turn Triggers and also inspire your Orruks!
#TomsTopTips 4: Cards like Aggressive Defense are worth considering for even more extra swings, just be wary that all of these reactions require certain conditions to be used properly, The more you set restrictions on your ploys, the more likely you are to find yourself not able to play anything if you cant get in the fight.
- Extra Damage: Trap is the +1 damage card of choice as it happens during the attack action and scores Masterstroke which – unlike Precise Use of Force – isn’t restricted. Shattering Terrain, whilst inspiring models and triggering My Turn, also acts as a pseudo +1 damage to your attacks. What a card!
- Sidestep and Distraction: Distraction should be in every deck, it can help deny enemy positional objectives and get you in range of a charge. Sidestep I personally love and is almost as strong. There is never a time when i am unhappy to see these cards in my hand.
#TomsTopTips 5: I haven’t included accuracy boosting gambits here, but Haymaker may be worth considering. You need your attacks to go through, and I have learned the hard way the only way to ensure that is by rolling crits.
If you want to know why i don’t run Shardgale see top tip number 2.
Upgrades: Key Points
- Waaagh!: Thanks to Jamie Giblin for pointing out to me that this upgrade provides +1 damage for the entire turn in which a model has charged. This means if you get extra attacks with My Turn/Ready for Action after a charge, you still do the bonus damage. This is a solid faction specific upgrade for the Orruks, as it is onw of the only faction specific damage upgrades that is not restricted to a single fighter.
- Shadeglass Stabbing: Shadeglass Spear and Shadeglass Darts help extend the reach of your waddling Orruks even further. The darts even combo with Gloryseeker potentially hitting for 3 damage at range!
- Faneway Crystal: Teleports are good.
Are the Orruks simply a worse version of Magore’s Fiends?
No. Not simply.
I do feel that Magore’s Fiends have more going for them though.
Magore’s Fiends run faster, are more accurate and once inspired hit just as hard. They have easier access to cleave, and across the board their non-leader models are stronger. They also have built in reaction attacks and a smattering of knockback immunity for some icing on the cake.
I do not think the gap between Fiends and Orruks is necessarily as big as people think however, and I do think Orruks can succeed if played in a considered way. Orruks have instant access to one of the most threatening models in the game. a 3 damage 5 health behemoth that demands respect from the opponent and significant investment to take down. Learning to play with and around Gurzag is ultimately very rewarding and will win you games in ways other warbands couldn’t achieve.
As this article is already longer than I thought and I need to have beer, I am going to do a second article on the Orruk playstyle. The style essentially revolves, somewhat appropriately, around timing your Waaagh! Knowing the right moment to commit your big guns and commit hard so your green tide smashes through the enemy rather than bouncing off their defense dice.
Hope this article was helpful! Remember Gurzag is da…
Biggest an’ da Best