Greetings fellow hobbyists and war-gamers, I welcome you to the latest addition in my fledgling Ork Tactica series! Today sees the airborne introduction of Boss Zagstruk, a maniacal and - as he likely punishes anyone for admitting to - suicidal Stormboy that leads his mob with a ferocity the like of which possibly no other Ork in the galaxy can emulate. I hope you enjoy this article!
If ever you've wanted an inexpensive Warlord option that combines a great Warlord Trait with some good or great melee capabilities based on how well you can maximise the mobility of Jump Infantry, Boss Zagstruk definitely fits the bill. His profile is mostly similar to that of a Warboss with a few seemingly slight but ultimately crucial tweaks, including a lowered Toughness 4, reduced Initiative 3 and Leadership 8 rather than the always nice Leadership 9. For the melee-centric players, the important stats remain the same with base Strength 5, Weapon Skill 5 and four attacks before any modifiers or wargear are considered. Zagstruk has decent enough survivability for an Ork with 'Eavy Armour and a Cybork Body giving him a 4+ armour save and 6+ Feel No Pain roll, while being the only Ork HQ choice with a Rokkit Pack ensures he is the exclusive themed leader for an army list oriented around Stormboyz. The fact that he only has a basic Slugga and Choppa ensures he can't really deal with most enemy types other than on a favourable charge with a basic five Strength 5 attacks, though when launching an assault he makes full benefit of Furious Charge with a much more impressive six Strength 6 attacks. The usual Stikkbombs and Independent Character traits are present, though there are two defining traits to Zagstruk that help to distinguish him further from the typical Warboss or Stormboy Nob, though which of these is more useful may be surprising.
The obvious advantage is that Zagstruk treats any Hammer of Wrath attack he makes as Strength 8 and AP2 which is understandably incredibly nasty; an automatic hit of that caliber is just fantastic, even if it is limited to just one in any potential combat. Inflicting Instant Death on the incredibly common Toughness 4 HQ choices and characters is amazing, as is the almost guaranteed wound dealt to most monstrous creatures. The reason this isn't as awesome in practice as it is might seem is because it is relegated to a Hammer of Wrath attack, meaning that Zagstruk - and any unit he might be attached to - has to use save his Rokkit Pack for the Assault Phase rather than the Movement Phase. What this means is that you lose 6" of total movement to instead benefit from Hammer of Wrath and a re-roll on a failed charge distance roll, but considering that Zagstruk himself and Stormboyz are fragile melee-centric Jump Infantry this can often mean they will have to endure an extra turn of shooting just to ensure they get that charge off. This is often a bad trade-off as Toughness 4 bodies with a 6+ armour save are hilariously easy to kill in a game system where the most common basic weapon is Strength 4 AP5 with a 24" range that fires two shots at half range. This relegates the actual character-killing potential of Zagstruk and the boosted Hammer of Wrath attack itself to situational uses at best where - unless you have really good positioning and terrain to your advantage - you basically have to weigh up whether the extra round of shooting resolved against the unit is worth the slightly boosted damage output provided by Hammer of Wrath.
What really makes Zagstruk worthwhile is his predetermined Warlord Trait, Bellowing Tyrant, that allows all friendly Ork units within 12" of him to re-roll any of their failed Morale and Pinning tests. Considering that Orks are a mostly low-Leadership army that suffers immensely from the all-new Mob Rule chart, providing re-rolls to units in a sizable area is so insanely valuable - especially in the context of a melee-centric army list - that the Warlord Trait alone guarantees Zagstruk is at least a consideration for competitive Ork army lists. If you compare Zagstruk to a regular Stormboy Nob, he gains +1 Weapon Skill, +1 Strength, +1 Attack, +1 Leadership, 'Eavy Armour, a Cybork Body, a Strength 8 AP2 Hammer of Wrath attack and an amazingly useful Warlord Trait for roughly 46 points - I feel this is an exchange that greatly favours Zagstruk given that he fulfills a mandatory slot in an army list. While I still think the generic HQ choices offer far better support capabilities - especially a Warboss with Da Finkin' Cap - I feel Zagstruk shines in smaller games where his Warlord Trait is more likely to affect a greater portion of the army, while he is a dirt cheap melee character that is still pretty darned nasty overall.
While you can attach Zagstruk to any number of units including ferrying him in a transport, I generally do feel he is at home in a huge mob of Stormboyz seeing as they provide an insanely high amount of filler bodies to protect him while he in turn gives them a very nice buff with his Warlord Trait and Leadership 8. The reality is that his fragility and greatly useful traits make him a good candidate to join almost any unit in the army provided they are mobile - whether via transport, Warbike or Rokkit Pack - and I would probably advise against Deep Striking him as the first few turns are typically where the Mob Rule chart is at its' most potentially game-breaking for an Ork list. Avoid challenges against opponents he can't beat such as Toughness 5 characters with good saves or models possessing Eternal Warrior, though generally speaking any sub 150-point character will usually be easy fodder for Zagstruk - especially if you can actually make use of his Hammer of Wrath attack.
While he might not necessarily be as potentially useful or powerful as a Warboss, Zagstruk is inexpensive enough to be worthwhile in an army list that features either Warbikers or Stormboyz in some capacity due to his extremely useful guaranteed Warlord Trait. Re-rolling failed Morale and Pinning tests for Orks given the new Mob Rule chart makes Zagstruk incredibly valuable in a more aggressive and mobile army list where the 12" bubble can affect a good portion of the force. However, I'm not entirely sold on using him as a dedicated challenge character seeing as his damage output is lacking outside of his AP2 Hammer of Wrath attack. In any case, I hope you found something useful in this article to adapt to your own games and please be sure to leave any feedback you might have for me in the comments section below - I greatly appreciate it!