Greetings fellow wargamers and welcome to one of the last entries in my Ork Tactica series, focusing this time on the mighty Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka! Though his actual competitive worth is questionable nowadays due to some unnecessary changes he received and other supporting meta-game related factors, he is still a cunning beast with colossal strength. I hope you enjoy this article!
Apologies for the absence, I wasn't happy with this article so just fair warning on that front.
Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka
The mightiest of all Warbosses unsurprisingly maintains the nucleus of the generic Ork leader, being primarily a monster of close quarters warfare while also filling a token supporting role. In contrast to a Mega-Armored Warboss, Ghazghkull possesses a codex-high Weapon Skill 6 - ultimately not that impressive compared to all of the other "challenge kings or queens" out there - an additional Wound and five base Attacks, making for some significant improvements in both the damage dealing and surviving categories. In fact, Ghazghkull is one of the more terrifying combatants around what with a whopping six Strength 10 AP2 attacks on the charge backed by Weapon Skill 6, though the token Assault Grenades and base Initiative 4 do nothing to circumvent the speed penalty imposed by using an Unwieldy Power Klaw. While he will make a mess of most enemies in a melee, you do need to be careful of who or what you send him against; anything that wields a Destroyer weapon should always raise a red flag for the intelligent greenskin. His shooting capabilities are lackluster by comparison what with Ballistic Skill 2 supplementing three Strength 5 AP5 shots featuring an otherwise impressive range of 36"; these serve to ping off a few wounds or hull points with a bit of luck while Ghazghkull makes his inevitable slog across the battlefield or just after he is unloaded from a transport.
Outside of hurting opponents, the Ork gods' chosen prophet is fairly durable for his price but suffers from a critical short-coming; his four Wounds, Toughness 5 and 2+ armor save will ward off almost all glancing blows, while Eternal Warrior and a natural Feel No Pain (6+) assist against the stronger strikes. Unfortunately, Ghazghkull lacks an invulnerable save of any kind and thus is incredibly vulnerable to massed AP2 attacks of either the ranged or combat variety, though Kustom Force Fields and a unique special rule soften this particular blow(s). Like any Warboss, Ghazghkull is capable of declaring a Waaagh! but unlike the lesser beings of his kind, any Waaagh! called by the 'Beast of Armageddon' will also provide him with a 2+ invulnerable save that lasts for a full game turn, temporarily making the leviathan greenskin virtually unstoppable. The limitation of this only working for a single turn does limit its uses and force you to appropriately apply that Waaagh! with even more tactical consideration than would normally be the case, but it nonetheless allows Ghazghkull to trade blows with the strongest of foes for at least a fifth or sixth of a game. If you run the new Ork detachment found in the updated Waaagh! Ghazghkull or any of the other similar Force Organization charts, the ability to call a Waaagh! every turn morphs Ghazkghull into an immortal wrecking ball and stands as one of the best uses of the venerable warlord. Another benefit of Ghazghkull's special Waaagh! is that both he and any Slow and Purposeful unit he is attached are permitted to Run though this is normally not the case, pairing up with the ability to Run and charge that a regular Waaagh! provides. The re-roll on any single die for a random charge length roll only add to the surprising speed of such a large Ork, though you should ignore the Furious Charge rule he possesses as unless he is disarmed of his Power Klaw (a certain Phoenix Lord that shall not be named) or has his Strength reduced he can never benefit from it.
Lastly, you would expect the most powerful of all Orks to have some kind of Leadership altering mechanic but sadly no such thing exists; the standard Mob Rule is present as is a handy Bosspole, though this won't stop Ghazkghull potentially running off the board as if Yarrick himself was on his (non-existent) tail. However, another Waaagh-centric rule presents itself in the form of his Warlord Trait; while the Waaagh! is in effect, all friendly Orks with 'Ere We Go benefit from the Fearless special rule. In a nutshell, Ghazghkull is a one-hit-wonder that absolutely requires some kind of extra turns for his Waaagh! or incredibly thoughtful use of that ability to really get full value out of him, making him the natural leader for that aforementioned super detachment in the supplemental codex. The reality is that if you take those abilities away, you are left with a model that is undeniably frightening in close combat while being a natural wound tank against AP3 or weaker shots, but falls apart when massed AP2 or the other true masters of melee are directed his way due respectively to his lack of invulnerable save and Unwieldy weapon. His place as a Lord of War is thus somewhat painful to bear given that he competes with the titanic Stompa and forces you to use a standard HQ choice alongside him in a Combined Arms detachment, indirectly adding to the points cost required to field him. As an aside, Ghazghkull amusingly utilizes optional Runts and Squigs like most other Ork characters with the Attack Squig essentially acting as Master-Crafting; a nice upgrade if you have the points but otherwise not really worth your time.
If ever you wanted to run an expensive bodyguard for an Ork character, Ghazghkull is the only one you should really do it for given his pedigree and cost. The updated Waaagh! Ghazghkull utilizes a number of different formations inside of a larger over-arching detachment, one of them acting as a "death-star" that consumes hundreds of points but is a veritable power-house on the battlefield. Such uses of Ghazghkull make the most out of his special Waaagh! which is undeniably his defining trait given that he is ultimately not quite as powerful overall - counting both damage output and durability - compared to the equivalent faction leaders from other codices. He belongs in a fight where he can annihilate almost anything that gets in his way but you must be careful with what engagements he partakes in unless his temporary 2+ invulnerable save is in effect. Be very mindful of foes like Insensate Rage Bloodthirsters or Imperial Knights should Ghazghkull find his bodyguard depleted or incapable of properly supplementing his damage output against such targets. Utilize cover or Kustom Force Fields when advancing up the field to make up for his lack of an invulnerable save, while Painboys form a natural bond with the great Ork given that he really struggles with incoming AP2 attacks. Given that you want him in a fight usually as soon as possible as it can be difficult keeping him alive against the stronger shooting armies, a transport is almost necessary; Battlewagons are the popular choice, but there's nothing saying you can't "low-ball" your points totals and use a Trukk with minimal supporting elements too. Treat him with the respect afforded a true engine of destruction with natural vulnerabilities and you should do well with Ghazghkull, while I heartily encourage any list-building strategy incorporating additional turns for a Waaagh!
Thank you for reading this article, I hope you enjoyed it! Ghazghkull is an iconic figure in both the war-game and the setting having been the mastermind behind one of the most brutal conflicts faced by the Imperium, and while his rules don't necessarily reflect that currently he is still a power-house that needs to be treated with a great deal of respect by any opponent. I look forward to reading your thoughts on Ghazghkull and seeing if you can be consistent with the spelling of such a messy name. Thanks again!