23 Dec 2014

Orks Tactica - Nobz

'Ello there maties and welcome to the latest addition to my long overdue Ork Tactica series, the full review for the always popular Nobz! This particular breed of Orks has seen a lot of tweaks and changes since its last proper introduction in 4th Edition, most notably the fact that - like with any unit that could move from one Force Organization slot to another - they can no longer be taken as a Troops choice in any regard. While they can obviously still capture and contest objectives like any unit in 7th Edition, not having Objective Secured like actual Troops choices does mean they can be easily bamboozled by common lists such as the Tyranid Skyblight Swarm or any army that features these crucial units en masse. In any case, I hope you enjoy this article!



This is a unit that underwent some severe changes with the 6th Edition rulebook due to the various character-specific rules - though the silliness was later toned down in an FAQ - and has also seen some indirect tweaks with the latest rule-set. However, most will of course be pointing to the general points decreases across the board - other than when you mount them on Warbikes - as being in favour of Nobz, particularly as they now come stock with Stikkbombs that are actually much appreciated given that striking at Initiative 3 is quite a bit more likely to make a difference in an assault. The addition of 'Ere We Go while retaining the Waaagh! (provided a Warboss is taken) means Nobz are just a better assault unit overall than before and a more reliable one at that.

As much as Mob Rule has been a huge negative for most Ork units, Nobz are one of the few units that arguably get a buff from it; they were almost never in squad sizes of ten or more before or they would generally lose models quickly enough for it to not matter (not counting 5th Edition's zany wound allocation), so the chances of them running away are strictly lower than ever. While I do think Meganobz are now probably the most favoured of the three Nob variants - foot Nobz, mounted Nobz and Meganobz - I still think the other two have their place, especially given how much they dropped in points when equipped with 'eavy armour. They still end up being more fragile per-point-spent than Ork Boyz even with the 'eavy armour upgrade despite it being more valuable for Nobz than Boyz, but at least it does give one some cause to use Nobz on foot now. One point to consider is that Nobz can actually take Battlewagons as Dedicated Transports which is nice if you field plenty of those, but often you will prefer the Trukk so as to not considerably add to the units' already high price point.

However, my main issue with Nobz is that they can no longer be taken as a Troops choice (as is the theme with 7th Edition codices) meaning you can't use them as a far deadlier Objective Secured equivalent to Boyz, meaning they are there purely for increased damage output in melee which is made redundant in a sense by Meganobz anyway. It doesn't helps that regular Nobz and mounted Nobz are more fragile than Ork Boyz and Warbikers, respectively, once points-per-model and the respective survivability of each model is accounted for. It leaves them without a solid place in the army list other than being a strong bodyguard for Warbosses and other Independent Characters - remember also that the unit can no longer take a Painboy without using up a HQ slot - though one can definitely say they have a higher "ceiling" in terms of melee capabilities when outfitted with numerous support abilities as opposed to standard Boyz.

Still, Meganobz have them covered when it comes to both raw damage output and survivability - an entire unit of Meganobz can pack in severely improved armour, melee weapons and ranged weapons at a fraction of the cost similarly equipped Nobz can bring - with Meganobz proving to be twice (or more) as survivable against anything that lacks AP2 weaponry. The units share the same profile, sure, and basic Nobz are less than half of the cost of Meganobz that lack upgrades, but the problem then becomes that you are better off just taking three Ork Boyz for the cost of one Ork Nob in pretty much every situation; they provide one extra Toughness 4, 6+ armoured wound, as well as over twice as many attacks with the only sacrifices being a point in both Strength and Initiative. Meganobz having a 2+ armour save means they actually provide something the army lacks which is a unit that can stand up to any non AP2 shooting rather than falling over in a heap to nearly anything that is pointed at them.

Regardless of the unfavourable circumstances surrounding them, there are still some great aspects to consider with Nobz. An entire unit of two-wound models that are Strength 4 and Initiative 3 base can be a god-send for Orks, particularly when supported by a Painboy, as has long been evidenced by the common placement of Nobz in many army lists. They can be packed into super-cheap assault transports that effectively means they are a better assault unit in practice than the many dedicated elite melee forces of other codices, while even a unit that is light on upgrades can maul almost anything it touches with just a few well-placed Power Klaws or Big Choppas. The availability of a Waaagh Banner makes Nobz one of the best bodyguards for a Warboss in particular as it boosts the Weapon Skill value of all models in the squad, including any attached characters, which increases their damage output dramatically against opponents with Weapon Skill 4 and Weapon Skill 9 or higher. A unit of Nobz in the same squad as a Warboss with 'Da Lucky Stikk or a Waaagh Banner is hilariously deadly when you chuck in a Painboy and some nice melee weapon upgrades.

One must also not forget the Warbiker Nobz that remain the most survivable mobs in the game as far as participants of the Bike unit type are concerned, providing a deadly blend of destructive melee capabilities, insane mobility and great survivability that does come at a significant but often worthwhile price. When this unit has Feel No Pain provided to them by a Painboy and makes full use of their boost to cover saves by Turbo-Boosting thanks to their Warbikes, they become a moving force of nightmarish proportions. Again, one must consider that a standard Warbiker unit can still be hugely difficult to deal with when taken in multiple units as you can easily fit in two full squads of those for the price of just one Nob Biker unit, but they of course can only rely mostly on their regular attacks outside of their own Boss Nob if they want to deal with the more heavily armoured units or even vehicles.

In fact, for 90 points more than ten Nob Warbikers without upgrades, you can take thirty stock Ork Warbikers in three separate units that provide ten more wounds with the exact same saving throws, fifty more attacks (albeit at Strength 3 rather than Strength 4) and sixty more Strength 5 AP5 shots from the twin-linked Dakkaguns. When you consider that Nobz share their Weapon Skill 4 and Ballistic Skill 2 with those Warbikers, it is pretty darned easy to see which units are more valuable overall. While you can obviously take heaps of upgrades on Nobz and they benefit more from one Painboy due to sharing all their wounds across one unit rather than two or three, their costs only skyrocket out of proportion and so much so that it becomes truly difficult to really justify taking them over the Warbikers. It doesn't help that all of these units are affected equally by Mob Rule, save that Warbikers can actually be taken in unit sizes above ten without the need for attaching Independent Characters. When you look at how character Nobz are priced for other units, it quickly becomes apparent that a minor - or possibly major in the case of Warbiker Nobz - points drop on the actual unit itself would be a good way to improve their value in squads. An Ork Boy Nob is a few points cheaper than a squad Nob, while a Boss Nob as a sergeant upgrade for Warbikers is a whopping 17 points cheaper than an actual Nob Warbiker. Isn't that just a little bit too disparate?

Overall, Nobz are still a more valuable damage-dealing unit than they used to be with an effective three point-per-model price drop due to featuring built-in Stikkbombs, while gaining those for free when mounted on Warbikes despite the upgrade itself being increased slightly to leave them points-equivalent with their previous incarnation. I'm a fan of Nobz generally as they tend to be priced quite well in their role as a veteran infantry choice, though the problem lies in the fact that they are a great melee unit that finds itself outclassed by other options in specific roles. Meganobz are easily superior as a hardcore assault unit, running Nobz as a cheap alternative to Meganobz just leaves them as less efficient Ork Boyz, and placing them on Warbikes just emphasizes the incredible value of Ork Warbikers in a slot that could be seen as less contested. There are definitely some nice ways to employ standard Nobz in an Ork force but I feel like they are almost comparable to a mediocre generalist - they can perform any number of roles you want but none of them particularly better than the other similar units. Crucially, they can't provide sufficient ranged anti-tank which is where Tankbustas from the same slot come into play; seeing as this is a common weakness of Ork lists, it isn't difficult to spot the reason why many favour the tank-hunters over Nobz with the new codex.

How to Equip Them

Seeing as Nobz generally have more equipment options and ways to run them than any other Ork squad, this will largely depend on what your army list is lacking. No matter how you run them, they are a devastating melee unit that provides five Strength 5 attacks on the charge per model with their basic equipment. A Waaagh Banner or an attached Warboss with 'Da Lucky Stikk further improve their incredible melee prowess - keep in mind though that the Weapon Skill bonuses from either piece of wargear do not stack with one another, which may provide more incentive to run a Warboss with 'Da Finkin Kap instead.

I tend not to worry about melee anti-tank upgrades too much on the Nobz as a ridiculous amount of Strength 5 attacks will obliterate Wave Serpents, Leman Russes and most other vehicles on the charge anyway; however, a few Power Klaws and/or Big Choppas are always a useful addition to keep the unit flexible, particularly against 2+ armoured targets. One or two Bosspoles are almost mandatory seeing as this unit is no more safe against Mob Rule checks than standard Ork Boyz, while I probably wouldn't bother with the Ammo Runts unless you take a few Kombi-Weapons with Rokkit Launchas in the unit. The big decisions to make generally revolve around 'Eavy Armour and Warbikes; is the former viable, and is the latter necessary anymore?

'Eavy Armour should only be considered if you aren't taking the Warbike upgrade, and while it is technically more valuable for a Nob than it is for an Ork Boy, I still would only really prioritize it if you can get a Painboy attached to the squad. For clarity, the relative survivability of four Ork Boyz when compared to one Ork Nob with 'Eavy Armour - the two options are almost identically priced - is identical against AP5 and AP6 shooting, and favours the Boyz against AP4 or better attacks. I guess one could say it only serves to draw out that "Ork Boyz are the most points-efficient models in the game" argument, but I digress.

As for the Warbike upgrade, Kombi-Weapons with Skorchas are more valuable here but generally one could argue the unit should be in range to charge their target anyway - there is nothing a Skorcha can hurt that the melee attacks of Nobz cannot, especially once you remember the addition of the 'Ere We Go special rule. If you do take Warbikes, be sure to keep the sluggas as opposed to shootas as you should always be firing the twin-linked Dakkaguns anyway; there's no point in losing out on an extra close combat attack just to look awesome by carrying a large gun in one hand and driving with the other. I wouldn't bother with the Rokkit Launcha Kombi-Weapons unless you have Ammo Runts as you will never want to use the latter aspect of the Kombi-Weapon over the Dakkagun once the anti-tank shot has been used.

Now, whether you should even bother with Warbikes for Nobz anymore is what I'm sure most are really interested in - though this review is so heavily delayed that I am sure most have already worked it out for themselves! Obviously, Warbiker Nobz were over-powered in 5th Edition and enjoyed a brief stint at breaking the game at the start of 6th Edition, but the new codex did serve to keep them in check by removing any possibility of Objective Secured from their often long list of abilities. The case used to be that Nob Warbikers were only 20 points more per model than standard Warbikers, the extra wound in particular and wound allocation rules obviously favouring them as well as the greater access to upgrades. Now that the Fast Attack Warbikers have dropped in points by a significant seven and wound allocation can't be abused as before, especially with the recent focus on insane firepower, spreading your points across multiple units for Maelstrom of War missions tends to be the smarter option now that objectives are basically the be-all end-all of Warhammer 40,000.

There do exist more units than ever that can annihilate single units with pitiless ease due to the introduction of Super Heavies and Gargantuan Creatures into standard matches, meaning you almost always want to take three cheaper units rather than one more expensive one. The only exception to this rule is if you can buff that one unit to a point where it is almost unstoppable or at least a terrifying force on the battlefield. Sadly, Orks lack the proper tools to accomplish this; their own psychic discipline doesn't solve the issue of surviving against apocalyptic weapons of war, while the Painboy is really their only outlet for boosting the defence of a unit. While you can accomplish some crazy shenanigans with Meganobz and a Warboss with 'Da Lucky Stikk, ultimately it pales in comparison to the Centurion-stars, Screamer-stars and other such units that populate 7th Edition - though generally I don't think death-stars are all that common anymore. So with all that said, no, I'm not a big fan of Nob Warbikers; they are simply too expensive for what they do and really don't offer much of anything over regular Warbikers, at least certainly not something that justifies their ridiculously high price per model.

Best Uses

It's difficult to really determine where Nobz are at their best in the new codex, but I guess their inability to compare too well as a standard combat unit to Ork Boyz, as an elite melee unit to Meganobz, and as a mobile destroyer to Warbikers leaves them as a decent jack of all trades. With 'Eavy Armour, a few Power Klaws or Big Choppas sprinkled through the unit and a Trukk or Battlewagon as their ferry, Nobz are still one scary as heck squad that can demolish the elite combat units of other armies with ease. They are essentially scarier Terminators at bargain prices even with just the basic choppas and sluggas, providing a whopping five Strength 5 attacks on the charge at Initiative 3 which will annihilate anything from hordes to the aforementioned power-fist wielding Space Marines hailing from their respective 1st Companies.

In fact, ten Nobz just stock with a Waaagh Banner charging against five Terminators - the Nobz are cheaper overall! - will dish out fifty attacks that hit on threes, wound on threes and allow the Terminators their 2+ armour saves. That is around thirty-three hits, twenty-two wounds for roughly three or four dead Terminators before they can strike (if we assume they have power fists). That's certainly a hugely impressive feat! With that in mind, I prefer keeping Nobz relatively inexpensive as they are still surprisingly valuable even without any additions to their wargear; base Strength 4 and Initiative 3 with Stikkbombs makes them easily worthwhile in some cases over Ork Boyz despite the fact you can field three for one in favour of the latter. For one, Strength 5 attacks on the charge make a huge difference in terms of striking the increasingly common rear armour eleven vehicles, while striking at Strength 4 when charged or in subsequent rounds of combat ensures they can keep up and easily out-muscle most other units.

While the above might conflict with some of my earlier recommendations, honestly, it just goes to show how divided I am when it comes to Nobz as an individual squad. They are awesome sergeant-type characters because of the extra wound and mass of potential Strength 9 AP2 attacks, but they are definitely a bit over-priced or otherwise lacking when massed up by themselves. I think the best way to use them is probably with a Trukk and minimal upgrades other than some improved melee weapons so that they can threaten almost anything that gets in their way while remaining suitably inexpensive. They can bully almost anything in close combat provided the Waaagh Banner is in attendance, while a Painboy is a suitably appropriate addition to any Nob squad because a combination of Feel No Pain and 'Eavy Armour on two-wound Toughness 4 models make for a squad that is almost entirely resistant to small arms fire.

Recommended Build

Though I can think of a dozen different and interesting ways to use Nobz to plug glaring gaps in an Ork army list, I'll list a few here for you as an audience to help inspire your own personalized builds;

Nobz (10) - Two Power Klaws, Two Big Choppas, Waaagh Banner, Battlewagon (370 points) - If you want a decently priced and survivable squad that can mow through damn near anything it touches, this is your most basic, tried and tested version. Attach a Painboy and add any weapon upgrades of your choice to the Battlewagon.

Nobz (8) - One Power Klaw, Two Big Choppas, Waaagh Banner, Trukk (229 points) - This is a cheaper but still effective variation on the above build, saving considerably on points by using a Trukk instead of a Battlewagon while still retaining most of its close combat effectiveness.

Nobz (10) - Warbikes, Two Power Klaws, Two Big Choppas, Waaagh Banner (530 points) - If you want a full-on mobile death-star that hits as hard as almost any elite melee unit you can think of, this is your ideal unit. I still question the points-efficiency of the unit, and a mounted Painboy is practically mandatory to make the most of all those Toughness 5 wounds and boosted 4+ armour saves, but there is no denying how devastating it is.

Nobz (6) - Warbikes, Two Power Klaws, Two Big Choppas, Waaagh Banner (350 points) - If you want a more restrained but still devastating unit of Warbiker Nobz, I prefer units of six with four having upgraded melee weapons. They will spank pretty much anything they fight regardless of losing out on four models compared to the above build, while it also effectively makes the mandatory Painboy "free" as a result. 

Thank you all for taking the time to read this unfortunately stretched out article that is a result of my inner conflict when it comes to the reviewed unit in question, Nob Squads. They definitely have their own merits and advantages over their various more specialized competitors in other slots, but ultimately I feel generalists aren't exactly what an Ork list needs - especially as they still don't solve the core issue of dealing with AV14 at range. In any case, I hope you enjoyed my in-depth look at Nob Squads and look forward to reading your feedback for this article - have your experiences with Nobz differed, or have you found them as surprisingly mediocre as I have? I hope you have a lovely day and be sure to leave a comment if you can - I greatly appreciate your input!


  1. One of the things that resold me on nobz, was the bully boyz formation. Sure it's a bit points costly, but WS5, fearless, fear causing meganobz is incredible. Add a Mega armored warboss to one group with lucky stixx, and WS6 death is just slashing out all over the table.

    I watched a guy use one, and throw the groups into trukks. It created ultimate MANZ missiles, that some of his opponents were at a loss to deal with. Deal with the manz in their face, or deal with the incoming horde. Game over either way!

    1. It definitely is quite awesome which is why I'll be covering all of the Ork formations (at least the ones in the codex, anyway) in a separate article after all the unit reviews. I felt like doing distinct reviews for units as they are and then again for units as part of a formation.