Greetings fellow greenskins and welcome to this latest entry in my Ork Tactica series, focusing this time on the re-imagined Tankbustas! This is a unit that has undergone significant changes with the 7th Edition codex, skyrocketing into competitive usefulness not only because of their improved capabilities but also because a unit featuring their particular set of skills can make such a huge impact in this more vehicle-heavy 7th Edition meta. One would be hard pressed to find a better Elites choice in the Ork Codex for the points than Tankbustas, providing the army with some sorely needed dedicated anti-tank that is almost as reliable as it gets for greenskins and as devastating as one could hope for. I hope you enjoy this article!
While my review of Burna Boyz was definitely more negative in tone than anything else, one must spare a thought to this particular unit as - even though the pair fulfill entirely different roles - it goes without saying that Tankbustas are the more widely applicable and valuable squad for an Ork army. Orks are geared for taking on infantry with massed Ballistic Skill 2 shooting and an unparalleled amount of Strength 4 or Strength 3 attacks in combat, especially once Lobbas and Burna Bombers are thrown in. What they lack aside from a handful of units is strong, reliable anti-tank outside of heavy melee attacks from Nobs and Warbosses wielding Power Klaws and the like; enter Lootas, Tankbustas and some of the various heavy vehicles available to the army. While Lootas fare a bit worse in terms of competition in the more hotly contested Heavy Support slot, the reality is that Tankbustas generally tend to be the best investment of at least one or two of the three Elites slots in a standard Combined Arms detachment.
While definitely Meganobs and at least Nobs are as popular - if not more so - as they were, I'm seeing more and more Ork lists drop them in favour of the other choices, but one could say this is more because of increased tools for dealing with the tougher, deadlier units offered by other armies - Tankbustas being chief among them. This is a unit that was previously considered a joke choice because an Ork player couldn't hope to even control them, let alone get them to do anything remotely useful. With the new codex, they have dropped in points, exchanged being virtually uncontrollable for gaining an extra victory point for you if they secure the First Blood secondary objective by killing a vehicle, and have proper meltabomb rules for their Tankbusta Bombs. Once you realize that this is a unit where every single model is priced identically to a Chaos Space Marine, wields a half-range missile launcher that exclusively fires krak rounds in addition to meltabombs, applies the Tank Hunters special rule and thus re-rolls of failed armour penetration rolls to all of their attacks and fights (and dies) like an Ork Boy to boot, you quickly realize just how insanely good they can be.
Sure, Ballistic Skill 2 and a 24" range on their Rokkit Launchas means they are inaccurate and generally will only hit once out of every three shots fired, but the re-rolls on armour penetration rolls and low cost of the unit means they are an inexpensive and efficient means of destroying any tank with AV13 or lower. They are also one of the best answers to super-heavies, Land Raiders, Monoliths and so on with the Tankbusta Bombs and access to cheap, fast open-topped transports in the form of Trukks - you can use them as literal suicide squads to destroy those significantly more expensive targets, and they are so cheap that your opponent will often be hard-pressed to deal with them adequately while accounting for your other forces. This doesn't even begin to mention how destructive a unit of Tankbustas can be when faced with Tyranids, seeing as Strength 8 AP3 shots are the literal bane of their monstrous creatures - even if the Tyranids can find their home in close combat, Strength 8 AP1 Unwieldy attacks from the absurdly cheap Tankbustas are just waiting to be used!
That the squad shares the basic Ork profile with standard Boyz is really their only true downside as they are incredibly fragile for their points cost when compared to Space Marine Tactical Marines or even Necron Warriors, though unlike Burna Boyz the cost of the unit and the squad sizes are generally small enough that this isn't too much of a thorn in your list allowance. The fact that the unit can be deadly from medium range or up close against pretty much anything - even horde units shouldn't give them too much pause with their mass of Weapon Skill 4 attacks at Strength 4 on the charge - makes them incredibly versatile, a trait that is too often lacking in an Ork list or, truth be told, any Xenos army for the most part. While they are definitely at home when shooting or fighting against vehicles, literally every unit type in the game can be exploited by these deadly and maniacal hunters. That they can easily get you an extra victory point via what amounts to a double dip of First Blood due to their Tank-Hunting Rokkit Launchas is both hilarious and potentially game-winning. Make no mistake here; Tankbustas provide fantastic value for points and are easily one of the best, if not the most important Elites choice available to an Ork player.
How to Equip Them
Much like Burna Boyz - and really most non-character Ork units - Tankbustas really don't have much in the way of options to choose from, though honestly this isn't an issue given how valuable a basic model is with this unit. The unit can include three Bomb Squigs that can be 'fired' instead of the equivalent number of Rokkit Launchers, having a slightly weaker AP, less range and the inability to target flyers, flying monstrous creatures or skimmers, but coming with the significant benefit of always hitting on the roll of a 2+. While they cannot 'fire' Snap Shots, hitting on a 2+ with up to three Strength 8 AP4 shots with an 18" range is awesome for only a handful of points per Bomb Squig, especially as they don't replace any Tankbusta's equipment.
Another cool and unique option available to Tankbustas are the Tankhammers, melee weapons that act as AP3 power fists that always strike at Strength 8 rather than simply doubling the Strength value of the respective model. These are priced as you would expect next to power klaws, however the issue here is that they replace each Tankbusta's Rokkit Launcha - of the two that can take Tankhammers, anyway - meaning you not only forgo the powerful shooting attack, but instead end up with both a meltabomb and power klaw equivalent on the same model.
Considering monstrous creatures and vehicles are the primary targets of Tankbustas anyway - both of which are available as targets for the Tankbusta Bombs - there really is little need for the Tankhammers, especially when the entire unit already has Tank Hunters applying to both their ranged and melee attacks anyway. One Tankbusta can be upgraded to a Boss Nob who acts just as any other Nob-upgrade throughout the codex, retaining wargear that is typical of his squad but having access to an increased number of melee weapons in addition to a Bosspole. Seeing as the Nob doesn't improve the Leadership of the squad, I would generally only take one for the cheap Bosspole addition as being able to take a Power Klaw only unnecessarily adds to the total cost of the unit. Remember, the entire unit already has Tankbusta Bombs which are identical to Meltabombs, and they function as regular Ork Shoota Boyz in combat against anything that can't legally be struck by the Tankbusta Bombs.
While saying that Tankbustas are best used against vehicles and monstrous creatures might be both derivative and pointless, it nonetheless bears mentioning; Orks have other dedicated anti-infantry units by the dozen, but generally lack solid ranged anti-tank outside of a few choices such as Lootas. While Lootas are definitely superior due to range and number of shots on average per point spent when looking at overall anti-tank duties, Tankbustas fill a niche that Lootas can't; they can obliterate heavily armoured tanks such as Leman Russes and Land Raiders with either side armour shots or their close combat attacks. The 24" range of the units' Rokkit Launchas means they generally belong in a Trukk or Battlewagon, preferably open-topped so that they can fire on the move (as Snap Shots don't faze them, though keep in mind that the Rokkit Launchas are assault weapons) and get close enough to the tougher targets so that they can charge and subsequently neutralize them.
No vehicle in the game short of a Super Heavy can stand up to anywhere from one to fifteen meltabomb equivalents that re-roll failed armour penetration rolls, and this is also true of most monstrous creatures; Weapon Skill 4 on all Orks means that Tankbustas become a nasty tool against those frightening enemies as well! Three attacks at Strength 4 per model on the charge against non-vehicle or non-monstrous unit types is often sufficient and leans in the Tankbustas favour most of the time, but generally those units are better dealt with by others - whether your basic Shoota Boyz, Lobbas and so on. Don't send the anti-tank specialist to do the anti-infantry specialist's job, not unless you are left with no other choice - such as the opportunity to gain some victory points through Tactical Objectives - or if it is a desperate objective grab. Another possibility is an unexpected maneuver that will set up future assaults or safeguard the Tankbustas for a turn or two until they can get a better viewpoint of their designated vehicular target, and one must not forget that all those Strength 8 AP3 assault shots can make a sizable dent in almost any unit that lacks a 2+ armour save - Tyranid multiple-wound models beware!
The fragility of the unit - similarly to Burna Boyz, Tankbustas are priced at just over twice the cost of basic Ork Slugga Boyz but lack any improvements to their durability - despite all their high value shooting and melee capabilities means transports are preferred, though the 24" range as opposed to templates or other such limited weapons means it isn't as necessary as it might be for other Elites choices. They are much cheaper for the most part and can deal with pretty much anything that gets thrown their way short of a horde, in direct contrast to the more expensive Burna Boyz that are virtually sitting ducks if only vehicles or monstrous creatures are nearby. Keep the Trukks handy if you want to save points, or perhaps invest in a Battlewagon - though generally I prefer to save these for Burna Boyz, Lootas and so on - but keep in mind that it is difficult to go wrong with this unit seeing as they can threaten literally anything that gets within their effective 30" threat range.
I'm generally a fan of running Tankbustas in medium sized squads seeing as they quickly reach a point where either Strength 8 does little against their target or they just annihilate whatever they touch anyway, though experimenting with varying sizes is always a good idea.
Tankbustas (8) - Two Bomb Squigs, Trukk (144 points) - This is your stock standard build that averages roughly three hits per Shooting Phase with the Rokkit Launchas, then once and if it closes with the enemy the two Bomb Squigs and Tankbusta Bombs should do the rest. The Trukk is an inexpensive and very mobile way of delivering the Tankbustas into threat range of enemy vehicles or monstrous creatures.
Tankbustas (5) - Trukk (95 points) - If you want to surprise your opponent into thinking their Land Raider is safe from that Trukk ferrying a mere five Orks, this is the unit to do it with. This is one of the cheapest ways for an Ork army to deal with AV14 - something that the codex traditionally struggles with - and in a transport-heavy army or one laden with mobile units, opponents will have a tough time prioritizing this particular Trukk out of all of them. Run in doubles or triples as necessary - if you face off against Land Raider spam, three of these crazily cheap units are a perfect counter in conjunction with other supporting forces.
Thank you very much for reading my latest Ork Tactica article! I've been struggling of late to really get motivated to write, likely due to my attention being focused elsewhere with the End Times and Christmas. However, the next few weeks should see some more consistent output as I am hoping to get back to a one article per two days schedule. Here's hoping! In any case, thank you again for reading this, I look forward to your feedback and hope you have a lovely day!