Ah the Battlewagon. My favourite Ork vehicle. And, I'm sure, a favourite of many other Warbosses out there.
They can be used in a variety of ways, whether as fire support tanks belching out ordnance and all manner of other projectiles, or speedy open-topped transports for da Boyz, or da Nobz, in my case. Battlewagons are useful indeed.
So, we'll start by looking at what we get for our base amount of points. Good, tuff armour at the front, usually quite hard to penetrate. Moderate armour on the sides, probably best left unexposed for as long as possible. And at the back, the easy weakness of the tank. Same armour as a Trukk; not something we want the enemy ever seeing. On top of this, it's open-topped. Good for letting us assault after disembarking, which I use to my advantage all the time. Not so good for protection, because as we know, open-topped vehicles are more easily destroyed. And finally, the transport capacity. 20 whole Orks (10 if in Mega Armour). The largest transport capacity in the game, discounting apocalypse? I like. No shooting capabilities, yet.
I'd say, for the price it is, it's worth it. Now, let's take a look at what is available to the tank.
First, we'll check out the offensive options.
Boarding Plank: Only useful while you have passengers embarked, and even then one of them needs to be armed for anti-armour in CC. Recommended when transporting units with Power Klaws, Tank Hammers or Big Choppas, but still optional, not a must have item. A disadvantage of the Boarding Plank is its very short range. If you plan on getting close enough to use it on enemy vehicles, you might be exposing your weaker armour to other elements of the opposing force, which could prove fatal. I personally don't use them because I'd rather just use my Deff Rolla (see below)!
Deff Rolla: A handy piece of tech if you're facing more vehicles than your ranged support can handle. Thanks to the latest FAQ, we now know for sure that Ramming is a special type of Tank Shock, so we can use our Rollas on other vehicles. Deliciously destructive possibilities, if you ask me. The Battlewagon can serve as a decent form of anti-armour, if you can get it close enough. It's even capable of squashing Land Raiders. It's effect on infantry is less than optimal, as it doesn't ignore armour saves, but can potentially inflict instant death on many models. It also allows you to re-roll dangerous terrain tests, and that can be very handy at important times. I always take it on my wagon, and think it is definitely a worthwhile upgrade.
Wreckin' Ball: This is another short ranged anti-tank option fitted somewhere on the vehicle. While this one does not require that the vehicle be occupied with someone carrying some sort of strength boosting weapon, it still requires a to-hit roll that will see it hitting 50% of the time. The hit it inflicts is powerful enough to have a decent chance of damaging AV13, with less of a chance against AV14 (still better than a Rokkit though). Again, I use the Deff Rolla for anti-armour on my Battlewagon, so see no need for this option. Still, it is a cheaper alternative, but you get what you pay for.
Big Shoota: A classic Ork weapon, the Big Shoota is cheap and offers a decent volume of fire at a good strength. Sadly though, the Battlewagon is crewed by inaccurate Orks, so one or two, if for the purpose of inflicting damage, are really not worth it. Fortunately, you can have up to four, and more shots = more hits. The next problem however, is that, with the strength value they have, they are classified as main weapons, so you can't move and shoot with them all, only one, which means if you want to move your Battlewagon, forget about taking Big Shootas if you want to hurt somebody with it. I find that their best purpose is to soak up Weapon Destroyed results, and protect the wagon from being destroyed too easily from multiple glancing hits. I always have two Big Shootas, for this purpose alone. I rarely fire them at all, but am very happy to take them away instead of becoming immobilised.
Rokkit Launcha: Double the points of a Big Shoota, for a one-shot (per turn) weapon. Not really what I'd call value for money. At Ork ballistic skill, they frankly aren't worth it unless you're planning on buying four (more shots = more hits) and sitting still for the whole game, as again, they are main weapons. I would never take them on my Battlewagon, if I used it for shooting.
Kannon: Yes, Battlewagons can take a single Big Gun of your choice. The Kannon is the cheapest of the options and can be used as a defensive weapon if you fire the frag round. This somewhat nullifies the Orks' terrible ballistic skill and allows you to fire on the move, in addition to a main weapon. Alternatively, you can fire it as a long range Rokkit, so you have a bit of freedom with how you can use it. It also costs the same as a Rokkit Launcha, but does more, so always take this before you take a Rokkit Launcha, if you plan to take one (or many). The Kannon is my favourite Big Gun, but as I usually take a Big Gunz Battery in my army, to utilise the BS of the Gretchin Krew, I don't bother putting it on my wagon (that and, I don't take my Battlewagon for the guns it can take.
Lobba: Another of the Big Gunz available to the Battlewagon, this is a main weapon that doesn't so much rely on Ork BS as the Zzap Gun or Kannon Krak shell does. This is a barrage weapon, so has the potential to ignore armour saves, and doesn't require line of sight to fire (but scatters even worse than it would normally). 5pts more than the Kannon, I don't really think its worth it.
Zzap Gun: The Zzap Gun is the last of the Big Gunz. It is unpredictable in terms of its strength, which is randomly determined each time you fire it. An upside is that it can't harm the wagon when you roll too high for strength, but the down side is - yep, you guessed it - Ork BS. This weapon as the potential to do well, but I wouldn't want to have to rely on it. On average, 2D6 will roll for a total of 7. So you'd better off taking the Kannon, in my opinion, for a good, solid weapon that provides you with options.
Killkannon: Now we're getting to the good stuff. Not as good as the Looted Wagon's Boomgun, but still powerful (easily capable of annihilating infantry who stray from cover), and mounted on a more durable platform. Also has the potential to be effective against lightly armoured vehicles, thanks in part to its Ordnance characteristic. But again, it suffers from Ork BS, which isn't too bad because its a blast weapon. If you're looking for something to blast apart heavy infantry I'd suggest taking the Looted Wagon with a Boomgun instead, but this can still have decent impact, and is more durable. The Killkannon is a solid option for a shooty tank, fairly reasonably priced. However, it does reduce the transport capacity from 20 to 12. Although if you have this weapon you won't be able to move over 6" and fire it, so you probably won't be using it as a transport anyway. It still houses a full squad of Nobz, though. Just remember that the Killkannon cannot be taken on a Battlewagon that is a dedicated transport.
Now for the defensive options.
'Ard Case: This option provides mixed 'bonuses' to your vehicle. On one hand, it makes it no longer open-topped, so it will be harder to destroy. But losing open-topped means that you can't get out from just anywhere (particularly the front, if you're like me), AND, you can't assault after disembarking! That's a big disadvantage if you're transporting a unit. However, this upgrade is good if you aren't using the wagon for a transport, but for shooting.
Armour Plates: Extra armour is always a good thing to have. If you're transporting models, definitely consider this upgrade. Why? Because, if you're transporting models, chances are you'll want to be moving, as much as possible. And this upgrade makes sure you're always moving...most of the time. I'll always recommend it on transport vehicles, but it comes down to what sort of anti-armour you're up against. Not so important on shooty tanks.
Reinforced Ram: It sounds offensive but it's really defensive. If you're not taking a Deff Rolla, you might want to look into this. For just a quarter of the price, you're almost definitely protected from unlucky dangerous terrain rolls. It's other benefits are wasted, however.
And finally, the other options.
Grot Riggers: I always take these little guys on my wagon, purely because I don't want an unlucky roll to see it stuck in place for multiple turns. For such a small price, it can bring the Battlewagon back to usefulness as a transport, and, as that is the primary role I have for it, I find it very important to keep it rolling. Granted, it might not ever work for an entire game, but when it does, you'll be glad you paid for it. A good, cheap, insurance option.
Stikkbomb Chukka: Fairly simple. If you're transporting Boyz, don't worry about it. Their initiative is usually too low to make a difference anyway. But, if you're transporting Nobz, this upgrade does become useful. I only ever disembark from my Battlewagon if I'm about to charge, so I would always utilise the Chukka. I don't bother taking it though, because I like my wagon to be as cheap as possible, and don't find that I am often assaulting into cover with my Nobz, who just about always ride in it.
Red Paint Job: Da red wunz go fasta! It's true! It used to be cheaper in the old codex, but even with a 2pt increase, that extra 1" of movement could make or break the game. Again, I don't bother with this upgrade, for cheapness' sake, but I would definitely say that it could be useful. There are some issues that arise with the RPJ, but its better that they aren't gone into, and doesn't impact greatly on the use of the vehicle.
So that's the options covered. Let's talk tactics. This is a tactica after all.
As I mentioned earlier, there are a few uses for a Battlewagon, the most prominent of these being transport and shooting. I use my wagon for transport. But that's not to say a shooty wagon won't pack a punch. Let's have a look at some example set ups:
My Setup (Transport):
- Deff Rolla
- Big Shoota (x2)
- Armour Plates
- Grot Riggers
A pretty cheap vehicle here, with protection against Stunned, Weapon Destroyed and Immobilised results. That only leaves Shaken (which isn't a problem, as I never shoot with it), Wrecked, and Explodes! So half of the results are harmless, while only 2/3 of the other half are permanently bad. I always take this Battlewagon in games of over 1k, for my 7 man Nobz mob. Sometimes I'll take it in 1k too. I find it almost always gets the Nobz where they need to go, and manages to intimidate the enemy. Of course, there are other variations you can take, to make it even cheaper, by replacing the Rolla with a Ram and ditching a Big Shoota, but I think this is close to the optimal set up for a Battlewagon acting as a transport.
When using it, I always make sure the front armour is facing the majority (if not all of) my enemy's anti-tank. While they try to take it out, it takes the heat off my other vehicles, like my Boomwagon or Deff Dread. I have taken to leaving it in reserves in some games, to better protect it from anti-tank, and (hopefully) have it roll on in time to counter charge any approaching enemies (as I did against a unit of Thunderwolves, worked out alright...).
So who can/should ride in a Battlewagon? As I mentioned earlier, I usually put my Nobz in there, accompanied by my Warboss. They are certainly a good option, if you choose not to give them bikes. Alternatively you could throw in a squad of 20 Boyz. The Battlewagon provides good protection for them and allows them to assault after disembarking. 20 Boyz on the charge is pretty powerful. Being an open-topped vehicle, it could also transport Burna Boyz, who can stack their templates from any part of the vehicle's hull. Mega Nobz could also utilise the transport, which has enough space to hold a full squad of ten; the only transport able to do so. Tankbustas or Flash Gitz could also hitch a ride, but seeing as they are primarily shooty, the Wagon would have to move slower to allow them to do so.
Let's take a look at a shooty wagon now.
- 'Ard Case
- Armour Plates
A little more expensive, but the Killkannon can more than pay for itself if you use it right. Remember, its ordnance, so it has a decent chance of penetrating armour between 10 and 12, and will keep MEQs with their heads down if they know what's good for them. The 'Ard Case makes the wagon more durable, and the Armour Plates will allow it to keep moving if it gets Stunned (so it can get away from whatever stunned it, if possible, or Tank Shock). You could throw on a Kannon, just so that if a Weapon Destroyed result comes up, your tank doesn't become useless, and as has already been discussed, the Kannon is probably the next best gun you could have. Try and sit the wagon back a little, so that it is just within range of its target (allowing for scatter, of course), with the front armour facing whatever anti-tank the enemy has. Then blast away.
So we've looked at the bare bones of the Battlewagon, gone over the options available to it, and looked at a couple of example builds. There are so many more you could toy with, but I feel these are probably the two most effective set ups. But that's just me.
So, how'd I do? Was it worth reading? I hope you learned something reading this, this
large huge block of text. With any luck it'll help someone out there deciding how to build their Battlewagon.
Thanks for reading.