Updated: Apr 27, 2022
Waaagh! What is it good for? Plenty, as it turns out. Big Waaagh is definitely having a moment in the minds of the listbuilders out there, and when Joel Graham tells me that it’s ready to pounce on the meta – I listen.
The first thing that springs to mind is combining the melee power of Ironjawz with the ranged output of Kruleboyz – and if I was a gambling man, I’d say that was what the devs expected this faction to look like on the tabletop. Now I’m not saying you can’t make that archetype work, but in the lists I’ve been messing around with, it hasn’t been something I’ve ended up with nearly as much as I expected I would.
What I’m not going to do
We’ve probably all sat through a bunch of grubby YouTube videos, watching some hack lazily reading out the allegiance abilities. I’ve got no interest in regurgitating the whole book to you – I’m here today to share some little tricks you can pull with Big Waaagh, some combos to look out for in your lists and a few learning points I’ve picked up from putting them on the table.
Ready? Let’s go.
Whaddya got for me?
The cost is steep. If you’re running Big Waaagh, you’ll give up the (excellent) Waaagh abilities from all three Orruks races; the Ironjawz Waaagh in particular will be sorely missed in many matchups, when rend -2 just won’t cut it. You also give up the subfactions – Waaagh is your subfaction now – and a really powerful Battle Trait or two to boot. So no more Smashing and Bashing, no more Tireless Trackers and no more Dirty Tricks. It’s a pretty big deal.
But what you get in return is also a pretty big deal. As already mentioned my goal here is not to rattle through the whole set of allegiance abilities – there are already other sources for that kind of info – but there are a couple of things I’d like to call out:
+1 to hit is still awesome, even in a world of All Out Attack. Just having it army wide saves you a heap of CPs, but equally importantly, it liberates a unit (or three) to receive All Out Defence instead for the best of both worlds
+1 to wound also speaks for itself. Toozentooz feels pretty good!
+1 to cast, unbind and dispell is your main source of magic buffs outside of a 430-point liability, and can really elevate a couple of your wizards more than you might think
There are plenty of synergies from running the whole orc family together. We’ll be going into that, don’t you worry!
As a word of caution, the following units lack the Orruk keyword and therefore do not benefit from the main Battle Trait:
You still might be able to make them work in your list, but it’s something to be aware of for sure.
Why run Big Waaagh at all? Ironjawz have been the most successful part of the Warclans book competitively, and it’s not even close – Bonesplitterz and Kruleboyz are both rarely seen on top tables. Why would we not just run Ironjawz, and get access to Smashing and Bashing plus their rendalicious Waaagh?
Well, that’s what I’ll be attempting to address today, but in a nutshell there are some crucial extra tools you gain access to by uniting the wider orc family:
The Mirebrute Troggoth is a naughty boy, especially with access to Hand of Gork (as we will see)
The Kruleboyz spell lore gives you access to switch off wards thanks to Nasty Hex
The Wurrgog Prophet staring stuff down is the perfect nexus of fun and powerful
We gain access to an excellent suite of Artefacts
Truth is, if you just want to fly across the board and smash into everything at full throttle, Ironjawz are still da best. What stepping into Big Waaagh does is gives us a much more flexible gameplan that will have an “out” in most matchups the meta can throw at you, and a really intriguing set of decisions to make right the way through. We won’t be able to fit every tool into every list, but you can have a lot of fun adapting your package to suit the local meta for any given event.
So let’s take a look at some tools you might want to build into your army, starting with some modern classic Ironjawz funtimes.
It’s not just some rules and warscrolls that port across from the individual armies – it’s also the bullshit. In particular, there’s some really nice jank that the Ironjawz bring to the party.
Ironjawz bring Mighty Destroyers along for the ride, and there are a couple of staples of competitive play that are bundled in with that:
Teleport a unit 12″ away with Hand of Gork, and you can crack off a Mighty Destroyers move to get in closer for a charge. Gore Gruntas or Maw Krushas will be on a 3″ charge after this, and your opponent can’t Redeploy away from you either
If you use Mighty D to charge, you can retreat in the movement phase to 3.1″ away, and pile back in at your leisure (because you charged earlier that turn). Use your opponent’s minis to springboard up the table, or create your own little sequence of units effectively fighting first
Hero Phase charging also gets around Unleash Hell, which is tied to the Charge Phase
These dick champagne moves are already well familiar to Megabosses, and all come along for the journey in Big Waaagh.
Like a little green Homelander
I’ve said it before, but the Wurrgog Prophet nuking units just by looking at them is the coolest minigame in Warhammer bar none.
Credit: Games Workshop
The opportunity to include one of these guys in your army is one of the key reasons to go Big Waaagh. Surprisingly enough, infinite mortal wounds can cure a lot of life’s ills, so here’s a few pointers on using the wee legend:
You stare at the start of the Hero phase, i.e. in the same window as your Heroic Action and selection of Battle Tactics. This means that you can:
Stare with him first, then attempt an Heroic Recovery to heal him back up
Stare an enemy monster to within an inch of its life, then choose Bring It Down or similar as your Battle Tactic
Note that the first stare each time is risk-free to you; you only risk taking mortals if you keep on staring
He benefits disproportionately from the Glowin’ Tattooz artefact for a 4++ ward, to bounce off those self-inflicted mortal wounds and keep on staring
This in turn means he benefits disproportionately from healing, since every wound healed back up is more like two wounds in practice. Lifeswarm is nice if you can fit it in there, but more realistically Fixin’ Beat works on him too
One thing I’ve learned from playing games with Big Waaagh is that he’s a great little buddy for your Maw Krusha. Keep him nearby and anything that tries to end just within 12″ of the big fella – to prevent him moving with Mighty Destroyers – will automatically be in range to get stared the fuck down
Coolest warscoll in the game, bar none
That last one actually won me a recent game: some Ungors were 11.9″ away from Megaboss Bamm Bamm and blocking his Mighty D. The Wurggog gets to staring, about 5 of them explode, and hey presto we have a shining path right up the middle of the board, allowing Bamm Bamm to rip into the guts of their army. On paper the Wurrgog only stared off about 30 points worth of junk, but what it did to the shape of the game was absolutely glorious.
But wait, there’s more!
Another super powerful aspect of Mighty D – and one that I haven’t really heard people talking about online – is the ole switcheroo. There are a few armies floating around that set up layers of layers of crap between you and their hammer units, the intention being that you waste resources massively overkilling their trash, leaving the way clear for their own bruisers to step forth and layeth the smacketh downeth.
It’s BOC’s standard setup (Bullgors prowling behind Ungors) and I’ve played plenty of armies like this myself – when you see a shit book doing well currently, it generally means the list is 60% bad and 40% Kragnos.
The hypermobility of Warclans can give you a good solution. Deploy spread out, or even centrally, and your opponent has to respond in kind with layers of screens spread across the board. You can rapidly switch your whole army across to the one side, using a combination of Mighty Destroyers (typically a Maw Krusha and two units of Gore Gruntas), Hand of Gork and Fast Un.
Now you only have to batter your way through half their chaff, and the other half has been eliminated from the game without ever having to engage. And once you do break into the backfield, you can just chomp your way sideways through the heart of their army.
Perhaps the biggest cross-book synergy is Hand of Gork:
Credit: Games Workshop via Wahapedia
This works on all Orruks, giving quite a few units access to a teleport that they would not normally have (outside of Endless Spells). Just to lay out a few of the key applications, you can:
Chuck a Kruleboyz Shammy packing Nasty Hex right in front of a key target
Sling a Mirebrute Troggoth up the field, then use Fast Un for a short charge with no opportunity to Redeploy
Teleport a Warchanter up towards your Maw Krusha, to dish out a Fixin’ Beat in addition to the +1 damage buff
If you have enough Ironjawz troops advanced the board, you might teleport the Shammy himself near them to go vomit on some stuff
See above discussion on the standard Ironjawz pop ‘n’ slide, where you teleport 12″ away then Mighty D in closer for a shorter charge (combos nicely with your army wide +1 to charge, in addition to any unit musicians)
My current favourite among these is the Mirebrute, because his small-ish base and Fast Un makes him a true boardwide threat and a great trading piece. He typically punches well above his weight, but as a very modular piece your army won’t collapse in a heap if you throw him away. Highly self-sufficient, and benefits greatly from the Big Waaagh +1 to hit and wound (in a way that most Kruleboyz units don’t). Take him.
Credit: Captain Chris Ramen
And we’re still not done
A couple more that work army-wide are the Egomaniak bodyguard save from the Kruleboyz command trait (which even lets you dump wounds onto Allies), and ever-popular Fixin’ Beat from your Warchanter:
We touched on this above but if you’ve put a few wounds on your Wurggog Prophet with his lazer eyes, you can heal him right back up.
There is a further category of abilities in this army that effectively buff all of their mates by targeting enemy units:
Nasty Hex: once wards are switched off, anything you hit them with benefits
Similarly Choking Mist will protect all units in your army with its crippling debuffs
Gorkamorka’s Warcry makes a unit fight last so you can dogpile them
Killa Beat makes an enemy easier to hit, no matter who’s doing the hitting:
One to watch out for, conversely, is Summon Boggy Mist: this will slow down your own Ironjawz, your Bonesplitterz – and even your Hobgrots.
The question is not which one you take – the question is who gets Fast Un. The Maw Krusha is always a good option – it’s clutch when you’re tagged within 12″ and can’t Mighty D – but the Mirebrute Troggoth is another prime candidate, as outlined above.
There’s some solid gold right here:
Ironjawz bring Destroyer, and your Megaboss will feel like a true god of war with Damage 6 attacks
Bonesplitterz bring Glowin’ Tattooz, which makes staring with your Wurrgog Prophet exponentially stronger (as detailed above)
Kruleboyz bring the Mork’s Eye Pebble for one round of solid shooting protection
Arcane Tome does Arcane Tome things
In any given Orruk army, you’ll usually be happy with one artefact, because there’s pretty much one diamond in each set. In Big Waaagh, we can benefit massively from all of the above, so what that’s telling us is:
We may well want to go high drop, and take Warlord or Command Entourage Battalions
That in turn means we need to be comfortable going first or second (since we won’t have the choice), and build into our lists both screens and turn 1 threats.
Hand of Gork is so important that you’ll usually want to take Master of Magic for the reroll. The Kruleboyz options are strong if you want to protect your Croc with Egomaniak, or alpha bunker some meat in front of the objectives with Supa Sneaky (another great mitigation tool to have in a high-drop list), but I’ll take a lot of convincing to look past Master of Magic currently.
Hand of Gork is an auto-include in every list, and Nasty Hex is some great tech if you can fit it in. Choking Mist and Gorkamorka’s Warcry are both nice to have, but the other one I really like taking on my Wurrgog is Levitate: