Howdy everyone and welcome to the final entry in my yearly-installment Ork Tactica series! Stompas are big, buff and brutal - what more could you want? More articles of course!
Writing has been difficult lately as seems to be more and more the case over the past year. It almost goes without saying that I am rather irritated with this inability to produce regular content but I'm still committed to putting up more articles as always.
In much the same vein as an Imperial Knight or - background wise, anyway - a Warhound Titan, an Ork Stompa is commissioned for a steady advance, delivering fusillade after fusillade into multitudes of unlucky foes before delivering final judgement to the opposition with its arcing melee weapon. Of course, being an Ork unit means that it isn't quite so simple in practice as it is in theory to utilize effectively as you will need to be aware of its, for lack of a better term, eccentricities. The first of these is that it has a painfully low Initiative 1 score that ensures it will strike after many opponents that are quite capable of piercing its armor in combat - Imperial Knights and Wraithknights chief among them - while attacking simultaneously against the common high Strength Unwieldy weapons carried by Sergeants and elite infantry. Of course, the changes to how grenades function in a melee ensures that at least two hard counters to Super Heavy Vehicles (Melta Bombs and Haywire Grenades employed on a squad-wide basis) are no longer valid, but that doesn't change the fact that a charging brood of Carnifexes could feasibly maul the titanic construct before it gets a chance to retaliate.
Still, being a Super Heavy Walker that is comparable to the Warhound Titan fielded by Imperial and Chaos runts alike is not without its benefits, namely that a Stompa is a damned nightmare to face in close combat regardless of that Initiative deficiency. Weapon Skill 4 and 4 Attacks won't set the world on fire but an AP1 Destroyer melee weapon sure will the moment it connects with something, as will D3 Stomp attacks that have become the staple counter to Invisible units and hordes alike. Don't let the stats fool you, these things can and will brutalize nearly anything in an assault - besides, you can almost expect nearby Orks to support their monolithic effigy in combat. Speaking of effigies, the Stompa acts as a beacon of ferocity and fervor to the Orks with all friendly greenskins within 6" of it gaining the unbelievably useful Fearless special rule, completely nullifying the crippling Mob Rule and most other standard Leadership-based effects. Supporting a Stompa with a cloud of Orks of any variety - whether on foot, in transports or mounted on Warbikes - is a fairly logical tactic but one that does have a key foil; if and when the Stompa is destroyed, the resulting cataclysm will obliterate a good chunk of whatever surrounds it so this will doubtless invite caution when you mobilize your forces around it.
Possessing a Destroyer melee weapon on a mobile chassis is something that Orks can't access almost anywhere else, but clearly just having those traits wouldn't be enough to justify the massive price tag of which a general could easily field numerous squads wielding the lesser but still undeniably strong Power Klaws instead. No, one of the major draws of a Stompa is its presence in the Shooting phase that one would expect of what is essentially the primary Ork Titan. That aforementioned Ballistic Skill 2 renders all of its weapons as highly inaccurate but the Stompa overcomes this particular problem through sheer weight of numbers; before considering the two optional weapon additions, a Stompa is armed with a whopping ten ranged weapons. Almost giving the mighty Baneblade a run for its money is no mean feat and it is something that will regularly surprise opponents, even if none of the weapons possessed by a Stompa are individually as powerful as a Volcano Cannon that some Titan and Baneblade variants are known to field. Three Big Shoota and one Twin-Linked Big Shoota offer twelve Strength 5 AP5 shots that can be used to harass light vehicles and nearly anything with a medium or lower Toughness value reasonably well, even making for decent anti-air weapons in a pinch due to how many are present on the Stompa.
A Supa-Gatler acts as the evolution of these Big Shootas and very much commands a Shooting phase in its own right, firing three separate times at either one or multiple targets of your choice; each of these distinct shooting attacks is resolved with a wince-inducing 2D6 Strength 7 AP3 shots and makes them more than capable of simply gunning down most targets. The average number of hits this weapon will inflict a turn might be in the single digits but the sheer randomness of both the army and the machine itself can lead to devastating results in a pinch, while any number of Strength 7 AP3 hits are still going to make most units flinch. Unfortunately, the sheer variety of results offered by the weapon is also its downfall given that if any double is rolled for determining the number of shots after its first shooting attack for the game has been made, the weapon jams and can't be used again in the game. The chances of rolling a double on two dice only increase the more times you have to resolve it so don't expect to get past two or three turns of usage with the Supa-Gatler. As luck would have it this isn't even the most immediately threatening weapon bolted to a Stompa as its terrifying Deff Kannon would attest; firing a single 7" wide Strength 10 AP1 blast, the Deff Kannon obliterates darned near anything that doesn't have protection against Instant Death as it is easily capable of penetrating most armor with the Primary Weapon classification. While it lacks the Ignores Cover of a Dreadhammer Siege Cannon popularized by the Imperial Typhon, the immense coverage offered by a 7" blast marker, high bonus to vehicle damage rolls and instantly slaying anything that lacks Eternal Warrior or Toughness 6 and higher makes it an incredibly powerful weapon nonetheless.
Rounding out the immense selection of weapons are a trio of Supa-Rokkits and a Skorcha, the former acting as one-use-only battle cannon shots easily able to punch a gaping hole in Space Marine squads or anything with similar or worse armor saves, while the former spits forth a Strength 5 AP4 template which, with Ignores Cover, is roving death to light and medium infantry or weakly armored Jetbike or Bike type squads. The big glaring deficiency of a Stompa is its anti-tank capabilities as most of its weapons are suited to murdering non-vehicle units in droves or readily stripping hull points off of the less durable vehicles an opponent can field, whereas Imperial Titans are often specialized to hunt other Super Heavy Vehicles - the Stompa doesn't really share this distinction. This does raise a particular problem with the Stompa; it is expensive, mobile and brimming with weapons but outside of a melee it is ill suited to dealing with other models of its class that are likely to act as natural counters to itself instead. For competitive play this is definitely a pertinent issue as it forces an Ork player to look elsewhere for ranged options capable of dealing with extremely large models and raises the question of why you would use the Stompa in the first place if it essentially fulfills a role that other units in your army could perform instead.
This is where the defensive capabilities of Super Heavy Walkers and indeed the Stompa in particular come into play, and while its armor values and lack of shields might reduce its value in the eyes of many beholders, there's no denying that this is still one tough nut to crack. Twelve hull points and armor values of 13/13/12 is ultimately equivalent to two Imperial Knights for surviving incoming firepower and, aside from the Supa-Gatler, only further imposes the reality that Super Heavy Walkers don't weaken no matter how much you damage them - armies will be forced to focus fire on a Stompa to reliably destroy it, taking immense pressure away from other Orks in the army. While it does lack an innate invulnerable save and cannot easily claim cover, the greenskins have multiple tricks up their sleeve to turn the Stompa into arguably one of the most ridiculously tough models in the game, all of which revolve around Meks or Big Meks. Pairing one or more of these up with the optional Grot Riggers upgrade lets you feasibly repair several hull points a turn for a Stompa, while Kustom Force Fields seem purpose-built to protect Stompas by offering them a 5+ invulnerable save against all shooting attacks originating from any source - quite an improvement on the one-facing-only Ion Shield adapted by Imperial Knights. This is ultimately the possibly painful albeit rewarding logic of the Stompa that ultimately applies to anything else in the game; the more points you invest into it, the stronger it becomes. The reason it is important to mention this is that it doesn't cost Orks too many points to do this where other armies may struggle to perform similar feats for their own titan-sized equivalents, but the rabbit hole runs deep here given how many Meks you can feasibly fit into a Stompa.
On that note, the Stompa completes the generalist tick-box by acting as a fully-fledged transport capable of ferrying up to twenty models across the battlefield - these can range from handfuls of Meks (hence the rabbit-hole) to mobs of Lootas - with all the associated benefits and risks of using a Super Heavy Walker as a transportation device. Four fire points allow multiple models to offer further fire support from within (or on) the Stompa itself while the single access point at the rear can be handy or an inconvenience depending on what unit is being trundled around and the circumstances of the turn in question. This completes the puzzle of the Stompa and goes some way to explaining why it is priced similarly to a Warhound Titan or Phantom Titan despite its glaring weaknesses in comparison to either - it isn't the most durable on its own or the best shooter but it actually possesses strong melee capabilities, can potentially put pressure on up to ten units at a time as opposed to a handful or less, provides an impressive Fearless buff to a faction that absolutely requires it and can become an almighty fire magnet with some well placed investments.
How to Equip Them
There aren't too many options for a Stompa but what is available is certainly worth considering as each adds a not inconsiderable increase to either of the models' damage output or durability. Supa Rokkits offer appreciable anti-infantry firepower that can brutalize exposed units with 3+ armor saves or worse due to its high Strength, inflicting Instant Death on Toughness 4 opponents. Normally these types of one-use-only weapon upgrades can be skipped due to how unreliable they are and this is somewhat true with a Stompas' paltry Ballistic Skill 2, but using the Large Blast marker as well as a Super Heavy Walkers' innate ability to shoot at multiple targets with each individual weapon means you should always have a good target for the weapon without compromising on mobility and targeting. Of course, Supa Rokkits really pale in comparison to the awesome and almost mandatory Grot Riggers upgrade; conferring It Will Not Die and thus the chance to repair a hull point at the end of each friendly turn makes more sense for a model with twelve hull points than any other standard Ork vehicle. Using the upgrade in conjunction with embarked Meks or Big Meks can lead to a nigh unstoppable engine of destruction, something that any Ork player would be remiss not to consider. The price point for Grot Riggers is surprisingly low given the potential to change the intricacies of a match by regenerating hull points on what is a truly terrifying foe for any army to face; my recommendation here should be rather obvious.
There are a lot of tricks you can play around with when using a Stompa and these tend to be the most popular ones I've seen and adapted. The "token" Skorcha is there to clear a path through an intervening unit intended to keep you away from a more valuable target behind them; as the Skorcha itself can simply target the primary unit you want to charge, you are free to hit both units and make space for your sizable Stompa to fit through while the rest of the weapons can brutalize the same or other enemies as you desire. Having to fire at Ballistic Skill 2 normally means that Snap Firing is not as much of a downgrade as it would be for non-Ork factions, allowing you to use any of your non-blast and non-template weapons at fliers or Invisible units as required. Lightly armored fliers and flying monstrous creatures can easily fall victim to the combination of Big Shootas and the Supa-Gatler which is something to keep in mind should you be lacking in anti-air firepower elsewhere. Supa-Rokkits are purpose built to hunt down squads that lack Jink capabilities or either of strong cover and invulnerable saves, each one potentially blasting multiple times' its points worth in enemies to oblivion or failing spectacularly - shoot them at a mass of flesh and reap the results, as is also the case with the Deff Kannon. That latter weapon is similarly capable of harming most vehicles fairly easily but it too is at its best crushing models with Toughness values of five or less, especially if there are numerous foes to attack in a given phase - Centurions without Invisibility will need to rely on a tanking character or prayers to the God-Emperor for survival against an accurate Deff Kannon shot. Don't worry about using cover to your advantage where possible if a Kustom Force Field is unavailable - a Stompa is Initiative 1 so you lose nothing by moving or charging through cover, other than potentially a few inches of movement.
Mounting a unit of five to eight Lootas with one to three exchanging their guns to become Meks and then attaching both a Mek and a Big Mek to that squad on to the Stompa gives you three or more repair rolls and maximizes the four fire points offered by the armored behemoth, while the same feat can be accomplished with Burna Boyz should you desire more close ranged Ignores Cover shooting. Add Da Fixer Upperz, a Kustom Force Field and Grot Riggers in to further amplify the hull regeneration capabilities and paint a massive red glob of laughter on to your face with the satisfaction that a nearly indestructible Stompa will surely provide - be wary of Destroyer weapons and massed Haywire attacks. Deploy Orks near to a Stompa backed by a Kustom Force Field to pacify the nagging Mob Rule and move them away as necessary the moment you feel that it becomes highly vulnerable to destruction so that you can avoid unnecessary casualties being inflicted on your own forces from any resulting explosions. Commit the Stompa to Invisible units or other incredibly tough units that lack the means to destroy it quickly but simultaneously can't be dealt with by the rest of your forces so that you can potentially obliterate them through Stomps that bypass any and all defences, but take care to avoid foes like Imperial Knights or Wraithknights that have the Initiative edge and their own close combat Destroyer weapons. Those types of foes in particular are best dealt with by either inviting them into a charge that can only be completed by forcing them through cover and thus hopefully ensuring mutual destruction, or by simply shooting them instead - they are the main threats to a Stompa other than obvious picks such as Warhound or Revenant Titans. Keep in mind that the bulk of its shooting damage output is effective against non-vehicle units while its Destroyer weapon attacks brutalize Monstrous, Gargantuan, Vehicle and Super Heavy Vehicle unit types with Stomps acting as a buffer against some of those and pretty much anything else. Use the massive width of the Stompa to your advantage with the latest rulebook clarifications and updates allowing a single-model unit to complete charges and multiple targets in the same turn provided it can come into base-to-base contact with said different units with the one charge move. Tying up multiple units at a time and effectively guaranteeing their destruction by punishing clumped unit tactics is now possible with both the Stompas' ranged and melee weaponry.
Here is the build I most recommend for a Stompa;
Stompa - Grot Riggers - The extra Supa-Rokkits aren't a requirement for a Stompa but I certainly consider Grot Riggers to be instead; it's a no-brainer to combine It Will Not Die with something that has twelve hull points. Adding Meks and Big Meks to repair the Stompa as well as a squad to transport around are all great ideas that you should pursue to get full value out of such an expensive model; don't waste the fact that it can be nearly impossible to destroy and what that means for ferrying units around given its speed and firepower.
Thank you all for reading this article, I hope you enjoyed it! At last the Ork series is completed in principle and a weight that has been on my shoulders for over a year finally lifts, and with that comes the hope of a better future. I see the Ork Tactica as the low point for my work and not necessarily because of the content quality but more because it represents my growing inability to regularly contribute to the blog. I used to churn out an article every two days but now I struggle to get them out on a fortnightly basis, let alone the weekly schedule I try to adhere to. Frustrating as it is, I'm glad that I can move on from Orks - one of my favorite factions and indeed the first army I ever played with in Warhammer 40,000 - to other factions that are long overdue for reviews and tactical analyses, some of which are ongoing (Skitarii and Tau). As always, we'll see what happens and go from there - I'll start up some Age of Sigmar reviews once the Generals' Handbook comes out (and try and get an overview of the rules and background in before then) while my thoughts on each Horus Heresy Legion should continue on at some point. Truth be told I'm still deciding which 30K Legion to review next and that brings me to the crux of this closing segment; what Legion do you want me to cover in future, keeping in mind that I've already seen to the Imperial Fists and Iron Warriors? Lastly, what do you think of the Ork series as a whole and how it compares to either my other recent work or more classic content? I'm eager to read your opinions on these matters as they will ultimately decide where I go next as a contributor to the Warhammer 40,000 online community. Thank you again for reading the article and for any input you provide!