Don’t call it a comeback!
The blog has been pretty quiet over the last few weeks: I work in the food industry so it’s been heads down, tails up and let’s keep things moving. The industry has been on the frontline of Coronavirus right around the world, and that shows no signs of changing; including close to home. So although the risks are real, we’ve all been coming in to work and will continue to do so.
This will be my 40th post in the 46 weeks since Plastic Craic went live, and while this is a pace I’m really pleased with, please do bear with me if we slow down for a while. Huge thanks to everyone who has contributed articles, and for every Like, Retweet and Share along the way. Let’s keep on trucking.
What have you got for us?
Today, we will be looking at the biggest Orruk in all of the Mortal Realms. The Sons of Behemat hype train may have been sleeping quietly in its shed recently, with attention focused squarely on the 9th Edition of 40K and the new Aelves; but a self-indulgent wankfest on one of my hobby projects is what you were promised, and that is exactly what you shall receive.
So hang on…are you banging on about Giants this time, or Orcs?
Why choose, when you can have both?
When I saw the sheer scale of the Bonegrinder Gargant, I had to pick one up. So today we’ll be taking a look both at the Bonegrinder in general, and my Bonegrinder in particular.
Because my Bonegrinder – Durdokk Da Biggist – is an Orruk.
“What are you doing?”, my wife asked.
“I’m chopping his head off, to stick an orc head on there.”
“Can you do that?”
“You just watch me, darling.”
Mierce Miniatures – legendary for creating models that are anatomically accurate (and NSFW) – happen to do a giant Orruk head, which you can buy separately from their giant kit. So I did.
Orruks are well-known for getting bigga and meaner after every fight – it’s literally the entire foundation of what Ironjawz are – so why stop at a Megaboss?
Strength From Victory is hardwired into their Warscroll, so that can’t be the ceiling. If an Orruk has been krumpin’ long enough, couldn’t he reach truly epic proportions?
Hell yeah he could!
Runebrush has an excellent Warscroll designer that I would encourage you to take a look at:
Because my intention was to use Durdokk in Matched Play, I resisted the temptation to pimp his stats, but I did add a little flavour text to his rules and abilities.
Is The Bonegrinder Any Good?
Eh…kinda? Not really. Allow me to explain.
His 6″ Pile in is sensational. For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, this rule is an absolute game-changer.
The first major impact is that it has its own unique hold in Activation Wars: because you’re attacking from outside of normal combat range, you effectively get to swing first with multiple units sequentially. So you attack with a unit that has charged as normal, and the best your opponent can hope for is to fight back with their depleted unit into yours that has already activated. Then it’s back to your turn, and you get to stride in and go again with your Bonegrinder, who is sitting pretty and ready to rumble.
In this way, it also bypasses interactions like Hermdar’s ability to fight at the start of the Combat Phase (since you are outside of 3″ at that point). I’ve been playing Activation Wars with this guy since before Activation Wars was a thing, and it’s so, so good.
Yep, he’s almost impossible to pin down, and phases in and out of combat at will. Your opponent might need a bit of a memory jog on this one, because sometimes people have it in their heads that retreating means you are “locked” out of combat; that’s not quite true.
Retreating and / or running specifically means you can’t charge, but because The Big Fella can just moonwalk back into combat without charging, you’re golden.
Worth a mention here too is that mighty 3″ melee range. Because combat doesn’t require line of sight, and you don’t need to be able to get close enough to complete a charge, you can even just pile in to enemy units cowering in the nook of a Numinous Occulum and swing at them right through that wall. If your opponent thought you were a gamey fucker before, wait until you pull that one on them.
The final little boost this gives you is that it bypasses anti-charge tech. Whether that’s Cities of Sigmar firing overwatch at you, or Slaves to Darkness messing with your charge roll, the Bonegrinder gives zero fucks. He just struts up like he owns the place, then walks right into the fray.
Durdokk packs a menacing shooting attack, although it’s rarely used in practice. I find that there is significantly more value to be gained from running, retreating and moonwalking back in every turn, giving sequential pile ins and helping you reach the unreachable, than there is in staying put and taking one pot-shot hitting on 4s. So it’s only a minor nice-to-have on the tabletop.
Much more interesting are “I’ll Bite Your Head Off!” (aka “Stuff ‘Em Down Your Pants on my Warscroll) and “Jump Up and Down”. The wonderful, wonderful thing here is that these are both active in “the combat phase”. Note: Because it’s not “your” combat phase, you can do it in both players’ turns. Boo yah!
“I’ll Bite Your Head Off” still feels a little bit stingy, only working as it does on a natural 6. I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on this one in any potential Warscroll rewrite to accompany the new book, because it feels like something that is ripe to be cranked up a notch. But when it pops, it really pops, because plucking out a banner or breaking coherency is serious business.
“Jump Up and Down” is also pretty sweet. Because it works at the end of the combat phase, you can actually make it harder to trigger by performing better in melee and leaving fewer models around to stomp on; but whatever works, works, right? It can be a bit of insurance if you crap out in combat, and a nice little bonus on your opponent’s turn. Enemy units with 1 wound sitting behind elite armour saves (Mortek and now Lumineth spring to mind) should fear this in particular.
This is where it gets a bit awkward. His main melee attacks are badly underpowered.
The Bonegrinder is another unit like the Troggboss and Fanatics where he seems to be costed on the assumption that D6 always equals 6. It’s easy to look at 3D6 attacks and think hey, that could be 18 attacks! The fact is that will rarely be the case, and even if it was, it wouldn’t be too much.
3D6 is an average of 10.5 attacks. That’s not enough, and especially not enough when you’re paying 400 points for the fucker. At that level, you should be demanding something that will have a devastating impact on the game – you don’t have to search far to think of examples (Kroak) that cost less and do more. So much more.
Taking an example closer to home, let’s compare him to the Fellwater Troggoth. It’s a good comparison because they are both Gloomspite units, and both keyworded to be universal Allies in Destruction.
3+ 3+ rend -1 damage 2 attacks are a sweet, sweet profile. And both Durdokk and the Fellies have exactly that. But whereas Durdokk has 10.5 such attacks for 400 points, a minimum unit of Fellwaters gets 12 identical attacks for 150 points. What the fuck!
400 points is actually the equivalent of 8 Fellwaters, which is 32 wounds and 32 attacks. That’s almost triple the output that Durdokk brings to the table, and with much better shooting on top.
What about the 6″ pile in? Ok, let’s compare him to Yetis, who have the same rule; and they’re bringing 9 attacks for 110 points. Again that works out at 33 attacks per 400 points, so way more bang for your buck. They’re only hitting on 4s (instead of 3s), but that’s still a pretty ugly look for the Bonegrinder.
Really, you should get a risk premium for the unreliability of his main attack profile; most competitive players would consider 3D6 to be worse than 10.5 attacks, because you can’t count on it. Instead, you are expected to pay through the nose. He will let you down when you need it most, and for me, that’s what kills him as a serious competitive pick.
Boyz Before Toyz. Whatever army you’re playing, whatever the role that Durdokk fills, there is probably something that does it more efficiently. Whether that’s Fellwater Troggoths in Gloomspite Gits (or as Allies in other Destro allegiances), or Yetis if you’re super keen on that tricksy mobility and 6″ pile in for a Mawtribes or Mixed Destruction force.
Now, that being said, I still believe that he is useable. He might not be optimal, mainly due to his undercooked and unreliable combat output, but there is enough going on there with his special rules that he can sometimes come in clutch.
Trying to make this guy work is not for the faint-hearted. You have to really want to use him. And you know what? I do.
I’ve ran him at local one-dayers before, and after every game my opponents ask “Have you thought about swapping out the Bonegrinder for XYZ?”. But his presence on the table is breathtaking, he will draw a disproportionate amount of fire, and his special rules do keep him interesting right down to the last wound.
He’s not the most competitive unit in the game, but he’s not army-ruining trash either, and he’s my dude.
The Future for Durdokk
Yeah, I’ll be using him in my Sons army. I genuinely have no idea what (if any) official role he will have in Sons of Behemat, but worst case scenario, I’ll rebase him to a Mega Gargant base and use him as one of those.
This gives me a dilemma: do I make my other Gargants (including Aleguzzlers) into Giant Orruks, or keep them as Giants led by a Giant Orruk? I’m honestly not sure yet, and I’ll need to have the new kit in my hands before I decide.
I’d love Durdokk’s Warscroll to get a refresh with Sons of Behemat, but if not, I’ll be chucking him in there regardless. You can’t keep a growing lad down, and Durdokk will keep fighting and fucking his way through the Mortal Realms for a good while yet.
And if I could wishlist one thing for Sons of Behemat to learn from the Bonegrinder, that would be to have “Longshanks” as a Battle Trait, giving an army-wide 6″ pile in. Please Mork!
Let me know if you’ve ran a Bonegrinder and how you’ve made it work, let me see any photos of your cool models, and until next time: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.