Monday, January 2, 2012

Hating on BoLS - Ork Edition

I really need to just stay away from BoLS. The posts make me nothing but mad and the comments make me feel like my head if full of drunk bees. For as much as I post about how I hate it, I can't stay away. Call me an optimist, but I keep hoping that they will pull their heads out of their asses and churn out professional articles. Heck, I would settle for actual content rather than rumor milling, caption "contests", post that are just a link and the vacuous goatboy.

What they are good for is inspiration. Though, I cannot produce articles as appealing to the general public as they (and that is not always a good thing), I use the things that I like least about BoLS as inspiration to try to do better, even if only for myself.

Recently (relatively), there was an article posted about "fixing" Orks. You may know my distaste for the gall, audacity and presumption it takes for someone to think a codex needs "fixing" and they they best know how to do it. Much of it devolves from trying to make things more viable into codexenvy and self-masturbatory wishlisting. There is very little useful in that.

Big Red starts off pretty well in his post by establishing some premises. He states that Orks suffer as some of their units are no longer as useful and therefore rarely used. Seems plausible but he is ignoring that almost any unit can be effective and therefore useful to an experienced general. Also, there are always units in a codex that are included for fluff or just for fun and do not need to be competitive. So much for his premise, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

He goes on to define Orkiness:

1. They shall be numerous.
2. They shall be strong in numbers.
3. They shall be fighty.

I have problems with #1 and #2 as they sound like the same thing stated different ways. Even if you grant that #2 may mean that they are greater than the sum of their parts in larger numbers, it is still weak. #3 just seems strange. What does that mean exactly and how are you going to achieve that?

If I had to define Orkiness, I don't know that I could do it in three points or would want to. Orks philosophy come in two flavors, IMHO. There is the "roll more dice" Orks and the "be more better" Orks. RMD Orks believe that volume has its own kind of accuracy. Think of 30 Boyz or Shootas. If you roll enough dice, it won't matter how crappy your stats are or how good your opponent's armor save is. These units are typically cheap in points but you need a lot of them to do anything. The BMB Orks are embodied by the flash units like Ghazghkull, Meganobz, Def Dreads or the Battlewagon. These are tough and powerful units that are brutal, devastating and hit like a hammer.

Orkiness also has a "nothing risked, nothing gained" aspect to it. This means that Orks are best played with a "play like you have a pair" attitude. Orks should never encourage a conservative play style. There should be immediate pressure on an Ork player to close the distance and crush some heads. This manifests in the game rules in a reduced Strength but Furious Charge. That makes Orks deadly on the charge, but after that turn, they falter. Orks should be all about big risks and big gains.

My third Ork concept would have to be the unreliability of Orky gear. It should be really great and flash but also have a chance to go really really horribly wrong. Best examples of this are Stormboyz special rule, Shokk Attack gun and Weirdboyz. Advanced Ork weaponry should be capable of rending a tank in twain or wiping even the mighty Space Marines off the board but also might blow your guys up too.Good thing you brought more soldiers than he did, right.

See, took longer than three short bullet points, but I think I got it done.

Big Red then tried to apply his point to aspects of the Ork Codex that he feels have fallen behind the times. I agree with very few of them and strongly disagree with the rest. I disagree with both his assessment that the units are not useful and at his attempts to fix them. Below in bold are his "ideas" and below that are my responses.

1) Weirdboyz with psychic defense. Orks suffer greatly from the lack of any counter to psychic powers. This weakness makes some match-ups forgone conclusions. My suggestion would be to allow some way for the Weirdboy to dissipate enemy psyker abilities, maybe by using an attached unit as a grounding element (they do have copper rods after all). 2d6 S4 hits to the Weirdboyz’ unit for every psyker power stopped? Something Orky.

I agree that Orks suffer from a defenselessness vs psychic powers but a better questions would be why would Orks have such a thing. High defense is not an Orky thing. Yes, they have a few things that are heavily armored (Meganobz and Battlewagons), but for the most part, Orks do not rely on a high defense but rather on the weight of numbers to prevail. Give an Ork a shield and he'll find a way to make it into a sword. A psychic defense on par with Eldar or Space Marines is just not Orky!

Orks do have a gestalt psychic  presense that manifest in Weirdboyz powers or in the Waaagh! It also manifests in the Meks ability to take a kitten to a spool of wire and make a lightning canon out of it. All of these things are evidence of the Orks psychic power, but none of them are defensive. Orks are very offensive, and not just in terms of smell. Thus, I see no reason that Orks should have anything in terms of psychic defense. Even a 6+ save against psychic powers is to much. You want a psychic defense, bring more Boys!

2) Nob Leadership. It makes no sense that 7 Meganobz are more likely to run than 8 ork boyz. The fix could be as easy as allowing Nobz to count their remaining wounds rather than model count when it comes to figuring out Mob Rule! Leadership.

Highly disagree and this violates his own second point. Orks should never be given any incentive for taking a unit that is few in numbers. It should always be MOAR! Part of the price you pay for Nobz is the fact that they have the Mob Rule special rule. That is built in to make you take the largest unit you can. Nobs are strong enough and far too cheesy as they are to allow them better leadership.

His premise also blows by the painfully obvious fact that 5 Mega nobs are a lot harder to force to take a fall back test than 15 boys. His comparison of "It makes no sense that 7 Meganobz are more likely to run than 8 ork boyz" falls utterly flat. It is apples and hammers. You are going to force far fewer Leadership tests on Meganobz as opposed to boys. It makes perfect sense, Big Red AKA Larry Vella. You just have to think about it for a second or play Orks more than once to appreciate that.

3) Meganobz. Allow a Bosspole. I would pay 20 points for it. Also, plastic kit here please.

Complete agreement that they needs to be a plastic kit here. There are two Meganobz models out there and not many bits you can use to convert one.

I disagree with the idea of a bosspole for Meganobz. That wargear lets you reroll failed moral tests if you take an armor save on one of your models. The reason for this is the Nob enforcing his brutal authority on weaker Orks. With a unit of Boys of any type or even Nobs, taking an armor save is a risky proposition. With Meganobz, that risk is less because of the 2+ armor save. Giving them a bosspole if akin to giving them a free reroll of leadership. That would make the bosspole for Meganobz 50 points. That or have them take a wound with no armor save allowed (They are attacking each other with Power Klaws after all).
"Orks iz da biggest and da best ...but we have problems with Leadership."

Also, you can give them a bosspole by adding a Warboss to the unit. There is no clear leader to carry the bosspole in a unit of Meganobz. The only Ork that can lead a unit like that would be a Warboss. Turns out that a basic Warboss plus bosspole is 65 points which is fair for what it grants. Given this fix, I do not see the gripe with this unit aside from Big Red wanting to get a highly effective upgrade for few points (see my previous comment about self-masturbatory wishlisting).

I love how casually he slips that in like it is no big deal. As if it is an obvious oversight in the Codex when really this is a massive change and an intentional omission. This change would actually "break" Meganobs.

"Boss, why can't we ignore our special rules?"
4) Tank Bustaz. Just lose the glory hogs rule. Or allow them to fire at a unit of infantry if there are not any tanks in range.

WTF??!?! Really? I can't even believe someone would suggest this. The Glory Hogs special rule is in there to prevent you from doing precisely what you are intending to do. They are tank hunters. That's all they live for. Granted, it would be nice if they could shoot at other units if a tank is not in range, but how would you go about enacting that? Measure distances to all tanks before evaluating what they can fire at? There is enough beardy measuring in this game as it is and relaxing that special rule only opens it up to more of the same. No other army has a unit that has S8 AP3 weapon for each model. To say that you want to take the dedicated tank hunting unit out and shoot marines with it is deliberately misinterpretation the spirit of the rules.

I still can't believe this.

5) Boyz. Honestly one of my favorite things in the codex. Unfortunately I don’t see sluggas nearly as often as shootas. This is easily fixed by allowing Burnas in the units. I don’t know why they were removed from the previous codex.

IDGI, how does allowing Burnas in the unit fix anything about Shootas and Sluggas? Also, I disagree with his premise. I see plenty of boys with pistol and CCW. Burnas were taken out of this entry because they changed the way Burnas work. They are now power weapons when they are not used as flamers. Allowing them in a Boyz unit changes their dynamic. While I do not think it would mess things up too dearly if 1 for every 10 Boys could have a Burna for +10 points, it does not chap my hide that they are gone at all. I, unlike Larry, can appreciate that when a piece of wargear changes the way it functions, that maybe it needs to be used a little more delicately.

This whole point seems weak, conflated and plastic (here meaning fake and contrived and not the stuff our toy soldiers are made out of). There is no thought, time or consideration put into this point and that is representative in the muddled, confused and inconsistent nature of it. It is a point about nothing and therefore means nothing.

6) Zzap Gunz. Allow them to either be “Lance” or 2d6 to armor pen. As it is now, I really don’t see any reason to choose them over Kannons.

I do agree that Zzap guns have lost their place since 2nd Ed, I do not fully agree that they need to be fixed by adding special rules. 2d6 armor pen is silly as that would slow down shooting several Zzap guns at one time. Also, there is no indication for it to have 2d6 armor pen. It shares nothing in common with other weapons that that have that rule. Lance might work but is over-powered. If it get the lance special rule, you would need to massively up the points cost to double or triple (a point that Larry breezes past).

I agree they need a rework but not the kind he suggests. Reducing the points cost (remember MOAR!) would make them more plentiful but not really fix the usefulness. They are only 30 points right now and that is pretty cheap. I can't see how you could make them cheaper. One other idea would be to give them a base Strength plus a d6 rather than making it it 2d6 would give it a bit more reliability. Perhaps S6+d6. Still gives them the same range but with an Orky chance of being better than Kannons. To balance that out, you could have them Get Hot if you roll a 1 on the Strength roll.

7) Looted Wagons. Big missed opportunity here. Unfortunately there isn't an easy fix. Allowing the Ork player to pay points for certain imperial weapons or increase the armor would be a great start.

No. No you can not take Imperial weapons. You are playing Orks and Orks use Ork weapons. This is not the wild and free days of 3rd Ed where you can mix and match Codices. There is no reason that and Ork would use and Imperial weapon. No Mek could stand to leave a gun alone without tinkering with it or just flat out stealing the big gun for himself. 0% chance that Imperial gun stays on the wagon.

As the the increase in armor, it is not Orky! It is silly to allow Orks to have a more heavily armored Rhino than Marines. Again, he tosses in the flagrant fluff and theme violation in the end as a casual afterthought. It is blatant wishlisting at this point. I too wish that all my vehicles would have a AV 14 and fast but that is not going to happen.

I think the looted wagon is a fine entry. It is not very sexy but not everything has to be. It has it's place in the codex but eats up a very valuable Heavy slot. Perhaps moving them to dedicated transports or allowing the player to take them in squadrons of  3 per slot would help a bit and is a more sensible fix.

8) Flash Gitz. Another big missed opportunity. Snazzguns should be assault 2. They should get to roll on a table of weapon upgrades, with the current options on it as well as additional upgrades like increased range, ignores cover, and twin-linked. Allow the player to pay points get multiple rolls on the table, but keep it orky by saying that doubles cancel out.

No no no. Snazzguns can be assault 2 but you have to pay for it. No free upgrades! Same goes for the twin-linked. If you want that, buy ammo runts. While rolling on a random upgrade table would be cool, it is an either/or proposition. A random table and and upgrade list is just too complicated.

I think that increased range would be neat but their needs to be sometime to balance it out. Maybe keep it at +5 points but make the upgrade the weapons Heavy. Ignoring cover is too powerful. If allowed, it would have to be an expensive upgrade. Also, I can not figure out a fluffy way to allow this. There are very few ranged weapons that ignore cover that are not template or fire based.

9) Kustom Force Field. This is a strange one. The mechanics of the new edition will greatly affect the validity of the KFF. One thing I know for sure – if the firer is within range of the KFF (inside it), targets should not be protected from the firer.

If I am understanding this right, that means that KFF would work a little like Titan Void Shields. I'm ok with this. The 5+ save is not super powerful or even something to be counted on. It is very Orky in that it works better the more things you have out there. It is less effective for a Deff Dread than it is for a squadron of 3 Killa Kans and that is how it should be. Hamstringing it be inactivating the field within 12" just seem mean. Then again, if something is within 12" you are pretty much hosed already.

10) Update the Remaining Vehicles. Trukks and Battlewagons really make the older buggies show their age. The buggies/wartrakk/skorchas are the only things holding the Orks back from being a fantastic range.

The only thing holding the range back? Didn't you just say that the Meganobz needed updating? Ghazghkull left out? Big guns lookin' shabby (and pricey)? I'll let this slide as hyperbole and ignore the hypocrisy. It is as if Big Red is writing posts for people that have such a short attention span that they can not remember what he said at the beginning of the post. This makes him not only a hypocrite but also a patronizer in that contradicts himself openly in his own article unapologeticly. He things you are so stupid that you can't remember  what he said earlier in the article. Are you that stupid? I dont think so but Lary Vella does. Let me ask you, who do you trust?

"I love the smell of Skorcha in the mornin'"
I do agree that the tracks and buggies need an update but they are decent models. Regardless of the current models, you could always make your own. I feel like the awesome models for the Truk and Battlewagon actually hurt Ork armies as a whole. While it is nice to have a standard template to cite when someone is obviously modeling for advantage with their Battlewagon, Ork vehicles should not all look the same. Each should be a unique conglomeration of bits and gubbins. It is just laziness to demand an update for something like this. I think Big Red just needed a 10th point and could not think of anything good.

I hope that I expanded and improved on what I saw as a shoddy list of incomplete thoughts. Orks is a great Codex. It is fun to play and diverse. I think it competitive enough not to need an update until after other Codices (Black Templars would be a great place to start) get some much needed attention. As if to undermine my previous sentence, 40k is not meant to be a competitive system. It is meant to be fun and Orks are very fun. They are wild, crazy and barely controlled. Orks could use a tweak here and there, but not the ones the Big Red suggests.

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