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Da Nobz (a tactica)

Submitted By: Azonalanthious Date: January 26, 2011, 04:20:06 PM Views: 1879
Summary: A look at all the many options allowed on Ork Nobz.

Sos, you fink you wanna play some dedd 'ard, dedd killie Nobz?  Well good fer you!  You kame to da propa place fer it.

Ok, to be serious and to preserve my brain (I'm not too good at talking Ork, I'm ashamed to admit), time to drop the accent.  It feels like I've been rambling about Nobz in a fair number of posts recent and I figured, time to give something back, hey?  So here I'm going to take a look at our beloved Nobz.  I'm not going to tell you HOW to use Nobz.  You're the Warboss, that's YOUR job.  But I want folks to have a clear understand of what their strengths and weakness are and WHY they might want to use them, so they can make good choices on that how.  So 'ere we go!


Rule 1: The best upgrade to Boyz is more Boyz. 
What does that have to do with Nobz, you ask?  Well, it doesn't directly.  But I think its worth pointing out that if you spend an equal number of points on Boyz and Nobz (and they are all still alive, which is where rule 2 comes in), against almost every possible foe, the Boyz will both do more damage to anything they can wound and will be able to take more damage before losing the unit.  So keep that in mind.

Rule 2: Nobz is ded 'ard. 
Now, by this, I don't mean they can be hard to kill, though they can be.  But what I really want to highlight is they way Nobz hold onto their offense power.  Let's start with a very simple example: 10 Nobz with no extra gear at all vs 20 Slugga Boyz.  Same number of wounds, same toughness, same armor save (though the Boyz are cheaper, which is where Rule 1 comes in).  Each unit takes, lets say, 3 unsaved wounds.  The Boyz have now lost 3 Boyz, which is 15% of their offensive power.  The Nobz, however, have lost only 1 Nob, or 10% of their power. 

This will be true any time the units have taken an odd number of wounds -- the Nobz will be in better shape in assaults then the Boyz.  Then we start adding the many fine Nob upgrades and start wound allocating and we can have a unit that can take enough damage to easily kill an entire squad of 30 boyz or more... and between Feel No Pain, better saves, and Wound Allocation, can STILL BE AT 100% of its starting offensive ability.  Make no mistake; it is this ability right here that makes Nob units such a useful and powerful addition to an Ork army.

Rule 3: Wound Allocation.
Mhh, smell the cheese.  Honestly, I used to be very against these type of tactics and they still aren't the type of thing I would take to a for fun game over at a friend's house.  But as other armies have gained similar abilities (take Thunder Wolf Cavalry for a shining example) I feel far less bad about using such tactics then I once did.   

For those not familiar with the concept, they way Wound Allocation works is to make sure each model has different Wargear.  This allows you to assign and roll each wound individually.  This in turn means with a little care and just small amount of luck, every Nob in the squad can take 1 wound before any of them has to take a second and be removed -- up to 10 wounds total in a full sized squad.  This works hand in hand with Rule 2 to make the Nobz the nasty unit we know and love.


  • Power Klaw:
Ahh, the beloved power klaw.  The signature nasty ork close combat weapon.  The ability to bypass armor and double (+1 on the charge) Strength are great and these weapons are a vital part of any Ork army.  Any Nob squad should probably have one.  That isn't in question.  But as nice as these are, how MANY Pk’s to take is a question.  Because they are:
a) expensive, and
b) slow

On paper each Power Klaw adds a significant increase in the total killyness of your Nobz.  In the 'real' (made-up real?) world, each one weakens the rest of your army as you pile more points into a single unit and increase the odds of the Nob being killed before he can use the Pk.  So it’s important to find a balance on just how many to take. 

The rule of thumb I've found to be useful is 1 Power Klaw per 3 nobz, rounding down.  So a 5 man squad would have 1, a full 10 man squad would have 3, and say a 7 man squad would have 2.  I find this to be a good balance between keeping the squad at a reasonable point level, keeping enough buffer models to keep your Pk’s safe, and still being very killy for the size.  If you want a higher ratio of Klaws then this, I suggest taking a serious look at Meganobz instead, which give you not just a Klaw but a 2+ armor save and a Twin-Linked Shoota for 5 points less then a regular Pk Nob (even if he has no other upgrades!).
  • Big Choppa:
The Power Klaw's underestimated little brother.  These things are cheap, so it’s easy to take a lot of them.  And against a fairly standard toughness 4 foe, they will increase your number of wounds per hit by 25% on the charge or 67% when not charging.  That’s huge!  They also make nobz more serious threat to just about any MC or vehicle. 

While I wouldn't call them required, I would never call points spent on Big Choppa's wasted and they are always worth serious consideration.  These bad boyz are really nifty weapons for hunting dreadnoughts, non-AV 14 all around armor, and for inflicting a lot of wounds at initiative to power through the saves of things like terminators.
  • Stikkbombs:
You know, this is one of the tiny handful of units in the entire codex I might take these Stickbombs with.  Ork initative is low enough that it’s rarely worth the bother - you'll go last one way or another.  But nobz are I4 on the charge.  That’s enough to tie many units and beat some, so all of a sudden getting that quick blow in when charging into cover becomes useful.  This wouldn't be a first pick upgrade to a Nob squad for me, but when you reach the 'I've got 10 points left before the point limit, what do I spend them on' point, these are certainly worth a look.
  • The Guns (in general):
This is true for all 3 of the gun upgrades below -- these upgrades are generally best taken along side Big Choppas or Power Klaws.  This is because they will cost a slugga/choppa Nob a close combat attack.  There are perfectly valid reasons to put them on a Slugga/Choppa Nob anyways (notably wound allocation) but it’s certainly worth mentioning that they are a better value on the Big Choppa/Power Klaw models.
  • Twin-Linked Shoota:
I don't, personally, like this upgrade.  Trying to look at it objectively, it doubles the Nobz's number of shots, adds 6" to his range, and makes his shooting 67% more accurate.  You gotta call it a reasonable value for its low cost.  But your Nobz should be trying to get into hand to hand!  You wanna sit back and shoot things, take Flash Gitz.  I gotta call this an ok upgrade, but I really don't wanna.
  • Kombi-Skorcha:
Now here’s a gun I'm ok with.  The Shoota portion doesn't really matter, but a one shot heavy flamer is very nice.  You often don’t need to fire a flamer weapon more then once per game anyways, so the single shot is fine, and its up close and personal, right were a Nob should be.  The potential damage it can do given its low cost makes it a great choice.  The one caution I would have on it is that it can inflict enough casualties that a unit can go from being in assault range to being out of assault range.  For this reason, I think (unlike most other Nob upgrades) that it actually becomes a better choice the smaller your unit is, rather then the other way around.  Regardless it’s a solid option at any unit size.
  • Kombi-rokkit:
I gotta call it the worst of all the Nob gun options (even though I'd personally take it over the twin-linked shootas).  The basic Shoota isn't worth much and 1 Rokkit shot at Ork BS almost never amounts to anything.  Still it can be used to give you another different set of Wargear for Wound Allocation and taking potshots at transports as you close in the hopes that you get lucky and so can go straight into assault with the juice center is a worthwhile pastime.
  • Ammo Runt:
Uses for this upgrade: cheap wound allocation?  Seriously, there isn't much point to this upgrade.  Slugga's are there for keeping moral up by making fun loud noises.  Any hits from them are accidents and you should use any rerolls to make these shots miss instead.    The Twin-Linked Shoota is twin-linked, and you can't reroll a reroll anyways.  The Kombi-Skorcha is there for the Skorcha portion, which has no to hit roll.  I suppose it could have a valid use combined with a Kombi-Rokkit -- 60% more points then for the Kombi-Rokkit alone in return for 66% more accuracy.  Not a combination I've ever tried personally.

  • Bosspole:
Your Nobz should have a Bosspole.  Yes, they should still have a Bosspole even if you do that.  Yup, even then, they should have a Bosspole.  Look, quit arguing -- your Nobz still need a Bosspole.  Just take the Bosspole already. 

Ok, to be somewhat seriously now, I really can only think of 1 possible situation where I wouldn't give a Nob squad a Bosspole -- if I was taking 3 with no gear at all purely to get another battlewagon in a list.  Nobs are an expensive unit that will never hit the Mob Rule Fearless threshold.  Keeping them from running away should always be a high priority.  I've seen some folks take 2 or more bosspoles in a single squad -- this I don't quite understand.  Your Bosspole should be on a model well 'back' in the squad so by the time you risk him getting killed off, you squad should be darn near gone anyways.  Even for Wound Allocation purposes I don't see it -- there are other, better things for equal or fewer points that can be used for that.
  • 'Eavy Armor:
My least favorite defensive upgrade, but it’s still worth a look.  Saving 3 times as many wounds is a good thing, and making an expensive model harder to kill is another major plus.  But some of the most effective dedicated anti-infantry weapons, like Heavy Bolters or Heavy Flamers, will cut through this armor like butter, so its not quite as shinny as it looks at first glance.  It also loses a fair bit of its utility if the squad also has Cybork Bodies -- it goes from 200% more saves to 50% more saves.  For this reason I very rarely take a squad that has both 'Eavy Armor and Cybork Bodies.
  • Cybork Bodies:
Mhh, cybork.  Invulnerable save -- do I need to say more?  Actually, I probably should.  'Eavy Armor in theory offers better protection, but that better protection is mostly against small arms, which aren't a huge concern for Nobz.  The things that should concern Nobz are things like dedicated anti-infantry fire such as Heavy Bolters/Flamers, S8+ weapons that will Instant Kill them, and large blast templates.  All of with will generally ignore 'Eavy Armor but not Cybork, which is why this is my upgrade of choice for defense.  It’s also worth noting that if you have Cybork, you almost certainly have Feel No Pain.  And Cybork + Feel No Pain is equal to or better then a 3+ save against anything other than a S8+ weapon.  3+ save Orks.  Mhhh...

  • Painboy:
At first glance this looks like it should go under defensive, but there is an offensive benefit as well, so I stuck it here to draw attention to that.  But first, the big reason to take it, Feel No Pain!  Basically a 4+ save that stacks with other saves.  This is huge!  And great!  And awesome! 

The one real downside is a relatively high absolute cost, but the larger your squad is the more this cost is spread out and so the better value it becomes.  In a full sized squad you are only paying about a third of the cost per model compared to a min sized squad, which is very, very much worth it.  I would generally say take this in any squad 5 models or up, below that I would think carefully though it still sometimes has a place. 

Now the offensive aspect, a poisoned weapon!  This lets your Painboy keep up with your klaws/big choppas when hunting high toughness models but it really isn't quite the same value as those weapons offer.  However, an often overlooked aspect of poison is that if the attack's strength is equal or higher then the defender's toughness (so 4 regularly, 5 on the charge for a Painboy) it allows you to reroll to wound instead.  Which means your Painboy actually has the best to wound rate of any model against T4(charging)/T3(not charging) models, beating even the Power Klaw (although the klaw will pull ahead after saves against models with good armor).  The Painboy himself pulls off an extremely impressive wound rate of 97% against T3 models on the charge.
  • Waaagh! Banner:
Nobz!  Now 33% more killy!!  This is kinda the inverse of the Painboy in that it is mostly an offensive upgrade, but has a defensive aspect.  Offensively, the most common WS in the game is 4 (at least in my experience).  This upgrade will let you hit on a 3+, a 33% increase in hits, against such models in close combat, a very nice benefit indeed.  The defensive aspect shouldn’t be ignored either, as there are a fair number of WS 5 things out there as well, and causing them to hit you on a 4+ instead of a 3+.  Like a Painboy, the larger the squad is, the better the value on a Waaagh Banner.  I usually use the same cutoff -- squads of 5 or more.

I felt the infamous Nob Bikers really deserved their own subsection rather then being lumped in with another upgrade.  Adding bikes to Nobz bring a huge number of benefits.  Built in 'Eavy Armor - nifty.  Built in cover save - VERY nice.  Extra Toughness - nifty.  6" extra movement every turn and the ability to turbo-boost - VERY nice.  Ability to always move full speed through terrain (though at the cost of risking wounds) - nifty.  Dakkaguns, the best darn gun in our entire codex (in my opinion) - VERY nice.  Not being able to run -- I know this sounds a bit odd as a benefit, but it means you have a perfectly valid excuse to be firing your Dakkaguns regularly, which I consider a good thing.

However, all that bikey goodness comes at a significant cost -- namely COST.    The simple addition of a bike more then doubles the base cost of a Nob, making them more expensive the a terminator.  By the time you have properly geared out your bikers, you are probably going to be sitting at an average of upwards of 60 points per model, or 3 times the base cost of a Nob, and 10 times that of an Ork Boy.  Well built Nob Bikers are a nasty enough unit that they can actually be worth this high cost, but its something that you need to stay aware of and balance carefully.

By popular demand!  First, general: Transports get your Nobz to where they can kill stuff faster.  This is ALWAYS a good thing.  I very rarely/almost never take a Nob squad that isn't either on bikes or in a transport.
  • Trukks:
Ahh, the lovely ork trukk.  Fast.  Really fast.  And since you want your Nobz in close combat quickly, this is a good thing.  But... trukks explode like popcorn.  Anytime I go into a game with Trukks, I enter the game with the assumption that every single Trukk will die, most of them before the end of turn 2.  And that assumption is very rarely proven wrong.  Because of that, I like my Trukks dirt cheap, rarely taking more then one upgrade and often none. 

However, solid arguments can and have been made for Red Paint Jobs, Grot Riggers, Armor Plates, Boarding Planks, and Reinforced Rams.  And I could add in an argument for Stikkbomb Chucka's as well (see the point on stikkbomb's above).  Heck, even the Wreckin' Ball has the 'cool, my Trukk has a close combat-esq' attack thing going for it.  But all that stuff is a much larger debate beyond the scope of this piece.  So I'll finish this up with this: Trukks work better in mass. 

A single Trukk in a list with no other vehicles WILL die turn one -- don't fool yourself.  With other, non-Trukk vehicles or in a list with a lot of Trukks though, it has a much better chance of surviving long enough to do it's job (and if the Nobz's Trukk gets blown up, they can always kick some regular Boyz out of their Trukk and steal it!)
  • Battlewagons
Ahh, the noble Ork Tank/Transport.  Look, Battlewagons deserve a Tactica of their own.  They have loads of options and all sorts of things you can do with them.  All that is way beyond this post.  So *beep* it all, I'm not doing a careful weighing or analysis of the options, I'm just gonna tell ya what to do!  So there! 

If your Nobz are going to be the only or one of only a handful of units in transports, take a Battlewagon (and sometimes take one even if everyone is in transports - they are fun!) because they aren't Trukks and so don't explode like popcorn.  You want to get there fast -- take Red Paint.  You don't want to double your chances of being immobilized -- take a Big Shoota or a Kannon.  You are going to be racing towards foes, may as well squish something in the process -- take a Deffrolla.  But don't take an 'Ard Case, you want to be able to pile out and assault.

Alright, I guess that's all I have to say on the topic of Ded 'Ard Nobz today.  Questions, comments, and feedback always welcome and I hope this helps you aspiring new Warbosses out there.

Rating: ***** by 11 members.


Infinity Circuit | Boss Orkountant | I used Flash Gitz and didn't lose! | KoN Warlord
Lazerous Penguin
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The best upgrade for an ork, is more orks!

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March 10, 2011, 10:59:26 AM
A Great Article, and I feel it is almost required reading for all ork players.
The Ecclesiarch
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Be Pure, Be Vigiliant, Obey!

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February 23, 2011, 10:11:37 AM
Great tactica, easy to read & very helpful, thanks :D

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