Oi, over 'ere boyz! We've gotz' ta kill 'dese 'ere 'umies! Oh zog it, me' Orky brain is 'urting!
Greetings fellow war-gamers and welcome to the long-awaited introduction to my new Ork Tactica series! This has been a long time in the making and I must apologize profusely for the incredible delay between the codex's release date and the start of this new range of articles - you can blame those poncy 'umies for that! I couldn't be more excited to speak about 7th Edition's first fully fledged codex, featuring Lords of War and Formations unlike any of its 6th Edition predecessors. I hope you enjoy this series and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the latest Ork Waaagh! terrorizing your local gaming area!
Of all the many HQ choices available to Orks, none are as direct or blunt in their approach to warfare as the aptly named Warboss. While they are traditionally lacking in a support role due to only providing the Waaagh! special rule that specifically favours melee units, Warbosses are nonetheless among the more cost-effective characters you can find in a codex. The basic profile is very impressive with Strength and Toughness 5 on top of the usual three wounds, while four attacks base at Initiative 4 solidifies their role as a melee beat-stick. Weapon Skill 5 and Leadership 9 are "good" rather than "great" for a dedicated melee leader, but ultimately in the context of the Ork Codex and the fact that he has four base attacks with easy access to Strength 10 AP2 melee strikes, it is difficult to really complain about such trivial deficiencies. A Warboss features the usual special rules typical of the army, including 'Ere We Go! and Furious Charge, while his stats solidify his claim to being the best overall generic melee character in the codex. A Warboss' basic equipment is hilariously bad though in keeping with the Ork tradition that armour will just slow down ones' swings with a choppa; a 6+ armour save with the most basic weapons (including assault grenades) available doesn't leave much to be desired but ultimately doesn't really matter.
Thankfully a Warboss is crazily cheap given the profile and the sheer number of adequately priced options ensure that you can always find a use for one in an army list, whether by turning one into a melee powerhouse with a Power Klaw or letting opponents bounce uselessly off of their Mega Armour. Even a "fully-kitted" Warboss is unlikely to break the 150 point mark while providing sheer devastation in combat on top of some useful support capabilities due to the various Relics and wargear available to him. The thing to keep in mind is that spending too much on a Warboss can be a bit wasteful as they have a lower "ceiling" than a Space Marine Chapter Master or Tyranid Hive Tyrant, for example. You can't equip these to deal with the true heavy hitters in the game that often run over the 230 point mark, other than hoping the opponent can't deal with your own 2+ armour save while betting on the fact they lack Eternal Warrior and have a Toughness value lower than six. This is because the general lack of invulnerable saves in close combat in addition to a decent but otherwise still mediocre Initiative value means that someone like a Chapter Master with the Shield Eternal and a Thunder Hammer can soak up all the damage a Warboss provides while smashing him to bits in turn with relative ease. Still, a Warboss will nonetheless munch through most units on his own merit and that is really all you could want given how inexpensive they are; even most monstrous creatures often struggle to deal with a Warboss, while the fact that he is so cheap no matter how you equip him really is his defining attribute.
How to Equip Them
What I love about the Ork Warboss is the sheer amount of options available for one, even if there are some builds that obviously stand tall above the rest of the pack. Da Finkin' Kap is a virtually mandatory upgrade for the extra Warlord Trait roll on an always useful chart; the ability to roll up two traits and benefit from both on the Strategic Traits table means you are almost guaranteed to get a highly useful ability for your army. As painfully poor as a 6+ Feel No Pain roll is, spending a handful of points on one via a Cybork Body is worthwhile if you have the points spare - especially in conjunction with Da Lucky Stikk that may very well save your Warboss from otherwise certain death. As a counterpoint to this, however, I would skip it if you are using one of a Painboy, a Mek with a Kustom Force Field or equipping the Warboss with a Warbike; invulnerable saves are generally at their most useful against shooting attacks, which is where a 5+ invulnerable save or 4+ (increasing to 3+ when Turbo-Boosting) Jink save come in very handy. The best combination with Da Lucky Stikk and its' re-rolls is Mega Armour given that having up to three re-rolls available on a 2+ armour save can make your Warboss insanely difficult to kill. Choosing between Da Finkin' Kap and Da Lucky Stikk isn't easy, though I generally favour Da Finkin' Kap for the extra Warlord Trait and lower cost unless you are spending heavily on a Mega-Armoured Warboss where the re-rolls become that much more valuable and important. The bonus to a Warboss and his units' Weapon Skill also gives some great added value to Da Lucky Stikk, making it a premier choice on the Warboss - you can always consider running another HQ choice with Da Finkin Cap seeing as they are quite cheap for Orks.
If you want a more mobile Warboss then the Warbike is virtually mandatory, combining the cost of a regular Bike upgrade with a much improved 4+ armour save over the basic and almost worthless 6+ armour save. Chuck a Power Klaw on the Warboss as well as a ranged weapon of your choice - or alternatively use the smartly priced Warboss Gazbag's Blitzbike instead (albeit at the cost of Da Finkin' Cap) - in addition to Da Finkin' Kap and you will have yourself a terrifying and cheap all-rounder that still provides a lot of beneficial support abilities to the rest of the Ork Waaagh! A Bosspole is also a handy upgrade for a Warboss seeing as a re-roll on Mob Rule "test" given the new, mostly harmful chart can prove pivotal seeing as one failed Morale or Pinning test on a smaller, elite unit can be absolutely game-breaking. An alternative melee weapon option is the Headwoppa's Killchoppa which stacks very well with the native Furious Charge of all Orks, giving the Warboss five Strength 8 attacks on the charge that are both Rending and inflict Instant Death on to-wound rolls of a 6 - even if you don't roll any 6s to wound however, Toughness 4 characters will still suffer Instant Death providing they fail an armour save against it! What I like about a Warboss is that no matter how you equip them, they are cheap and well worth the price of admission with several viable builds allowing them to be dropped into almost any army list with the expectation that they will be at least moderately successful.
While a Warboss provides some very nice augments to either his unit or his army as a whole, he nonetheless belongs on the front-lines where you can put that crazily cheap yet still awesome profile to good use. Packing five Strength 10 AP2 attacks on the charge with a Power Klaw at Weapon Skill 5 as a base before any other upgrades makes for one heck of a power-house in close combat, while Toughness 5 atop the usual three wounds means he is also quite hardy in a pinch. You want a Warboss to be joined up typically either with Mega-Nobz or Warbikers - including Nob Bikers - as they make a great bodyguard for him while he provides the unit with some awesome support abilities and massively improved damage potential. Warbikers and Nob Bikers are the preferred outlet because a Warbike is a relatively cheap upgrade and doesn't force you to have to worry about a Dedicated Transport option for what will typically be a pricey character and unit combination. However, packing a Warboss into a foot-slogging horde of Boyz isn't always a bad idea either - just be aware that there are many easy counters to this kind of unit, most notable among them being the Astra Militarum Wyvern. If you choose to follow this route, however, be aware that you will have to make do with 'Eavy Armour rather than Mega Armour because denying a Run move to a generally close-ranged horde unit is tantamount to wasted points.
Though there are lots of ways to build a Warboss, these are my favourites; consider them to be examples of good Warboss load-outs and not what you should just copy into your army list.
Warboss - Power Klaw, Da Finkin' Cap, Warbike, Bosspole (125 points) - This is your most basic competitive Warboss build, providing five Strength 10 AP2 Unwieldy attacks on the charge, either two Strategic Warlord Traits or just one plus another Warlord Trait from a different chart, three Toughness 6 Wounds in addition to heavily increased mobility, a 4+ armour save and 4+ Jink save as necessary, and re-rolls for his own unit on Mob Rule tests. Given how insanely cheap the build is, you'll be amazed when this Warboss makes it into combat very early, crushes most opposition including many monstrous creatures and still proves useful even if he doesn't get into combat because of his Waaagh! special rule and two Warlord Traits.
Warboss - Mega Armour, Da Lucky Stikk, Kombi-Scorcha, Bosspole (140 points) - This is your "hammer and anvil" rolled into one very cheap model; three Toughness 5 wounds and a 2+ armour save with a potential for three re-rolls on failures is just crazily good survivability. Chuck in a Painboy for crazy shenanigans! This Warboss still hits just as hard as the previous build but requires a dedicated transport - whether it be a Trukk or a Battlewagon - to make up for the obvious lack of mobility presented by having the Infantry unit type in conjunction with the Slow and Purposeful special rule.
Thank you all for your patience and support with this long-awaited series introduction finally coming to fruition; it means so much to me to click on my Blog Overview and regularly see a few thousand views and a handful or more comments each day, so kudos to you all! I await your feedback on this particular article as well as your thoughts on Ork Warbosses and their applications in a competitive Ork army list; how have they performed in your games, and do you rate them as highly as I do? Feel free to leave any and all critiques in the comments section below - I greatly appreciate it! Thanks again and have yourselves a lovely day!