How to Smash Face with Big Waaagh!: List Tech

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:

  • Rogue Idol
  • Hobgrots
  • Kragnos
  • Marshcrawla Sloggoth

You still might be able to make them work in your list, but it’s something to be aware of for sure.

Why bother?

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.


List Tech

So let’s take a look at some tools you might want to build into your army, starting with some modern classic Ironjawz funtimes.

Ironjank

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.


Cross-Army Synergy

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:

Credit: Games Workshop via Wahapedia

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:
Credit: Games Workshop via Wahapedia

One to watch out for, conversely, is Summon Boggy Mist: this will slow down your own Ironjawz, your Bonesplitterz – and even your Hobgrots.


Enhancements

Mount Traits

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.

Artefacts

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.

Command Traits

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.

Spells

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:

Credit: Games Workshop via Wahapedia

Shoutout to legendary Megaboss Dalton Copeland for steering me towards that one – if your Prophet is in range to cast Warcry, he’s probably just staring anyway, so you’re better off with this situational pick. It’s already come in clutch on a unit of 6 pigs in one game for me, and it gives you a great one-two spellcast combo with Mystic Shield in those early turns when you’re outside of staring range.

Triumphs

The usual considerations come in here. If you’re taking a Maw Krusha you likely won’t need the reroll charges thing (since he can triple-bang the generic command ability); if you’ve got multiple large units of troops (unlikely) you will want Battleshock protection.

Where I usually land currently is Inspired for +1 to wound, getting the pain train rolling before our Big Waaagh abilities really kick in.

Credit: Jsedof

Key Units

Leaders

First thing to say is, you’re going to want a lot of heroes. The Waaagh itself calls for this (giving out points for packing both a Warchanter and a Bonesplitterz wizard), but it also gives us access to a suite of great artefacts (as noted above) as well as the standard tech we come to expect (including damage buffs, mystic shield and teleports).

An implicit benefit is that by loading up on heroes we give ourselves redundancy – your army won’t fold when one or two are sniped out, and we’re going to make that as hard as possible to do with Mork’s Eye Pebble and Fixin’ Beat.

The Swampcalla Shaman is a worthy inclusion in most lists because of Nasty Hex – a clutch of recent books like Nurgle, IDK and Fyreslayers hate that thing – and if he’s not in range to cast it (and you want to use your teleport elsewhere), he can always dish out an Elixir to your YOLO Trogg.

Because you’re likely to take a lot of heroes, it’s great to have them double up as threats in their own right – which is fine because there’s a long list of them in this army. Ya boy the Maw Krusha (maybe pimped out with Destroyer) is a great example, but the Megaboss on Foot can be a decent budget option, as well as a fairly durable Hand of Gork caddy if you give him Arcane Tome.

The Trogg is an ass-kicker, and you are never out of any game if your Prophet rolls hot. Even the Warchanters can buff themselves in a pinch – it does sometimes happen that your combat units are off on their adventures while these guys nurse a home objective. If your opponent summons on some minimum Ungors or Deamonettes and thinks they’re gonna take it off him, they might not always be glad they made that 9″ charge – with a 4+ save and solid attacks, he can take a jab and swing back with a haymaker against those kinds of units. He’s certainly no puny wizard just waiting to get punked.

Credit: Captain Chris Ramen

Battleline

Truth is, you’re funneled pretty hard towards Ironjawz currently, because your other Battleline options are dogshit in comparison. Savage Orruks and Gutrippaz both need drastic points reductions to come into consideration, with the latter requiring a hefty investment in support pieces while receiving precious little benefit from +1 to hit and +1 to wound.

Ardboyz are a cheap filler at 85 points (which our expensive hero package will likely necessitate), or can scale up to a real pain in the arse in units of 15. Removing casualties to get outside of 3″ and then rallying back on 4+ never gets old, and even a unit of 10 can throw a lot of dice into low-armour targets. If your opponent is well screened, buffing these guys and sending them in to trade as Wave 1 isn’t the worst idea.

Brutes are cool too – they can suffer from comparison to Gore Gruntas, who are still essentially the same thing but faster and with less Battleshock trouble. But when only one of those two is a Battleline option (as is the case here), and especially in a more reactive counterpunch playstyle, they do come into serious consideration. A 15-block deathstar with 2″ weapons will do a lot of work, believe me – and since they do a big proportion of their movement in the charge phase, they love being around Kragnos more than most.

This feeds back into the whole structure of Big Waaagh listbuilding: Ironjawz give you much better Battleline options, so it’s harder to justify the Kruleboyz buff pieces and they in turn are squeezed out. That’s why most competitive Big Waaagh lists end up as an Ironjawz core with some stuff tacked on – it’s not just relapsing into default mode on the part of Orruk players, there are real structural reasons for it. That’s not to discourage anyone from trying other directions, but it’s certainly where I keep coming back to currently.

Credit: Captain Chris Ramen

Named characters

The good news for Gordrakk is that he can dish out a given command ability to any three units (not just Ironjawz); the bad news for Gordrakk is that he’s still fucking rubbish. A 4+ save is an absolute insult and it feels at this point that GW have given up on him. For shame.

Gobsprakk on the other hand is very intriguing. Access to the whole Kruleboyz spell lore is a real asset, and he loves the +1s to cast, unbind and dispell that are unlocked at 12 Waaagh points. Even at 280 points he gets squeezed out of my own lists currently, but I would love to run him if I could make it work – he probably falls into that bucket as another piece that suffers from Gutrippaz being overcosted currently, but if they ever become more tempting in future, look out for his rerollable redeploy coming into its own.

Kragnos is Kragnos and has been discussed at length elsewhere, so I won’t dwell on him here. The named Croc is decent enough (mainly for his extra wound) – as long as you have someone else to act as a Mork’s Eye Pebble caddy – whereas the named Wurggog is a sadly complete waste of space. They don’t even get the Wurrgog mask, so this pack should be purchased strictly for the minis: they make a perfectly good generic Wurrgog sculpt if you want to run multiples without spamming the same mini, and the other models can be used as Savage Big Bosses or unit champs in your Bonesplitterz army.

Credit: Captain Chris Ramen

Other units

A unit of 6 Boltboyz is a worthy inclusion for sure. They can come in a neat package with a Swampcalla Shammy switching gears between dishing out Poison to them, Elixirs to the Trogg and casting Nasty Hex when required. If you’re squeezed for Leader slots you can always give the Mork’s Eye Pebble to your Shammy too.

Boltboyz are yet another unit that you can Hand of Gork into dakka range, although unfortunately they won’t get the full double-barrelled shotgun in that scenario as they haven’t moved. As you’ll see in Part Two they are squeezed out of my own competitive Big Waaagh army right now, but they’re a bloody handy tool if you can make them work in your list.

Big Stabbas are another unit I like putting in there when I can: they are the epitome of a unit that loves +1 to hit and wound, and where they shine over say Brutes (at the same points cost) is that their 3″ melee threat often comes in very handy, and they can double up as a screen strung out sideways in extreme circumstances.

Hobgrots are Hobgrots and give you a decent cheap screen if needed, and the other options I like in that space are Gloomspite allies. Shootas are marignally cheaper than Stabbas and therefore edge it, but I’m also a big fan of Spider Riders for the cheaper unit cost and added mobility.


Core Battalions

I’ll keep it short and sweet: your best friends are the Warlord and Hunters of the Heartlands Battalions. Warlord because we’re going for the artefact package outlined above, Hunters because once you’ve opted out of competing on drops it’s the most impactful way to boost your troops.

You could certainly aim for a low-drop Battle Regiment, but I’d want to hear a really solid case for why you’re not just playing Ironjawz at the point – the beauty of Big Waaagh is the techie stuff it unlocks, and Warlord ‘n’ Hunters is the best way to explore and maximise that facet of the army.

The one diamond in the rough to watch out for is the Ironjawz Fist:

Credit: Games Workshop via Wahapedia

The Slayers bonus it gives is not mission-critical, but given that this Battalion does not require any leaders, you should look for opportunities to drop any straggling Ironjawz units in here once your key Battalions are capped out.


Battle Tactics and Grand Strategies

The Grand Strategies for this army tend to be a bit tricky, and the book doesn’t help much. Hold the Line can be a solid pick if you have a 15-block of Ardboyz rezzing on 4s, or maybe Prized Sorcery since you will likely have a few wizards on the go – one of whom can teleport themselves to go hide a corner if needed. Beast Master comes into consideration, as does the classic memory test of Predator’s Domain. I’d select from that shortlist based on your specific army composition.

The book does offer up some useful Battle Tactics: you get access to either an extra Bring It Down, or an extra Broken Ranks (but slightly harder to score) with a Bonesplitterz or Ironjawz general respectively. If your general comes from Kruleboyz, on the other hand, you get the very interesting Take Dat:

Credit: Games Workshop via Wahapedia

If you’ve really gone to town on the shooting, this will take care of itself, but even if not you can easily score it by ripping apart a 10-man screen. Classic reward for doing something you wanted to do anyway.

With some useful little units of Arboyz to be in places they need to be, and a frontline monster who is a raging inferno of ass-kicking hellfire, the generic Battle Tactics are all very much on the table too – so keeping the scoreboard ticking over while you murderfuck everything shouldn’t be an issue.


Well I think that just about covers what we need to for today. No doubt my own biases came through but hopefully there is some useful tech in there to help you with your own listbuilding – and make sure you check back in next week when I’ll be bringing it all together with a competitive Big Waaagh list of my own.

I’ll sign off with a big shoutout to some Megabosses who have been helping me bounce these ideas around, namely Dalton, Joel, NC Dave and Mike. Make sure you check out Woehammer’s excellent coverage on the Big Waaagh lists that are currently circulating on the UK competitive scene, and finally here’s your reminder to get cracking this weekend on your entries for the April Listbuilding Challenge, if you have spare time in-between painting up those Wurrgog Prophets and preordering your Thondia Books. Have a good one.

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7 thoughts on “How to Smash Face with Big Waaagh!: List Tech

  1. This post RULES and is full of great information! But I can’t figure out what you’re saying here:
    “Hero Phase charging also gets around Look Out Sir, which is tied to the Charge Phase”.
    Only way I can make this make sense is if you meant “Unleash Hell” instead of Look Out Sir. Or I might be missing something?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been wanting to try BIG WAAAGH, Iron Jaws are just a little too boring IMO and this could be just what I need, would like a list or 2 to use as a jumping off point till I get the swing of them

    Like

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