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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: Orc Boyz

As the first of the specific unit reviews from the new Orcs and Goblins book, here is a closer look at the Orc Boyz. 

The new army book saw the Orc Boyz rise a point in price compared to the previous incarnation of them, without giving them much of an upgrade aside from a change in the special rule for their choppas. This, combined with the rise of the Savage Orcs has made regular Orc Boyz much less of a compulsory unit selection for the new Orcs and Goblins.

Their problem is not so much that they aren't worth their points (which they are) but rather that they're stuck somewhere between two choices who in most cases appear superior. If you're looking for large steadfast units, Night Goblins with Nets will do just as well, for a lot cheaper. If you're looking for hard hitting flankers and support units, Savage Orcs will hit a lot more. With a statline of WS3, S3 (4 in the 1st round of combat) and T4, Orc Boyz are quite average fighters who will pack a decent punch on the charge but will struggle to win combats on their own against most foes. That said, they're tough and quite resilient if outkitted for defense, and so will be able to take quite a lot of attacks back without losing too many boyz from it.

Their toughness make Orc Boyz ideal for a unit that provides ranks and numbers to break enemies on the charge, if aided by more hard hitting options, without losing that many of their own. A unit of Boyz ranked 4-5 deep and 5-6 models wide, led by a Black Orc Big Boss or Warboss to provide the kills will do reasonably well against most foes, and even better if joined by a Boar Chariot on the charge. Taking the same unit but without adding a fighty character to it, and leaving it on its own will make you regret bringing Orc Boyz in the first place, as they will have trouble breaking even lesser foes in combat. Orc Boyz alone just aren't good enough in a fight.

Big 'Uns: The price for upgrading your Boyz to Big 'Uns got cut in half in the new book which naturally made them a lot more attractive. Adding +1 to WS and S, along with the ability to take a magic banner is a very good deal and one well worth paying for. A unit of Big 'Uns is strong enough and skilled enough to do well against other core troops, such as Elves, Saurus or Dwarfs. With Animosity no longer being as much of a bother to us, you'll also feel less of a need to have a fighty character lead them. That said, they will also make for an excellent bunker for your Warboss or BSB, if they too are footsloggers.

Unit size: For Orc Boyz, 30-35, for Orc Big 'Uns, 24-30. As regular Boyz will mostly provide the ranks and numbers, they're better kept in ranks of five, while Big 'Uns will actually benefit a lot more from the extra attacks so should definitely consider going 6 or 7 wide.

If you're looking for even bigger units (40-50) that will remain steadfast longer, you're better off getting Goblins, while smaller support units (12-18) are better left to the Savage Boyz.

Equipment: Although the price for additional handweapon went down by a point, regular Orc Boyz or Big 'Uns should never leave home without their shields. You want tough troops to survive longer and shields help with that. The extra handweapon is a much better option for Savage Orcs who won't know how to use shields effectively anyway. I would only consider spears a viable option for Big 'Uns, as the main benefit of Orc Boyz is still their relative cheapness compared to their resilience, and paying more to rid them off their parry save in order to get another rank of WS3 attacks just isn't worth doing. Big 'Uns on the other hand are strong enough to actually do well with another rank of spears, especially if 6 or 7 models wide, and so the added cost is worth considering in this case.

Command Options: Orc Boyz are unique in that their Bosses are actually quite a lot better at fighting, since it's a Big 'Un with better WS and S, so they're well worth paying the points to get as it increases the hittyness of the unit quite a bit, along with the added benefits of a champion. If you're running a unit of Big 'Uns without a character present, you might wish to skip out on the Boss though and instead just get another Big 'Un and a cheap magic banner. Standard Bearers and Musicians are, however, very well worth getting in both cases.

Magic Banners: It's almost always worth getting a magic banner for the few Orc units that are able to (and who will be bringing Standard Bearers anyway) and the Big 'Uns are no exceptions. If you plan on running a Big Boss or your Warboss general in the unit, the Banner of Discipline is an excellent choice as it either improves the General's Inspiring Presence or makes the Big 'Uns able to operate with a leadership of 9 even away from the General. If running them on their own, the Banner of Swiftness is a cheap item well worth getting, as it makes your Orcs run as swiftly as the Elves of the Skaven. The Razor Banner is interesting and makes your Orcs hit at an effective S5 even in the second round of combat, and will be nasty for thickly armored foes to face. However, you'll be paying the same amount of points as four additional Big 'Uns which is quite a lot for something that might be overkill in some situations.