Orks Review:  Saghaz of the Beast

Oi ya gitz! Slide on up ‘cause its high time all us warbosses conferred on who’s good and who’s not in Psychic Awakening: Saga of the Beast! That’s right, its Chief Krumpin’ Officer Dustin Quebedeaux, the cunningiest warboss ever to lay eyes on a choppa, ready to take the ladz into the thick and explain what’s what!

As with most of the Psychic Awakening books to date, your mileage is certainly going to vary depending on how much you’re into narrative missions and fluff, as well as which side of the Imperium you play on.  Since the launch of the Psychic Awakening series, almost every Xenos player has been asking the same question, “What will Psychic Awakening do to help me catch up to the Space Marines meta?”  For almost everyone to date, so far, the answer has not been satisfying, with the Imperium halves of the books stronger than the Xenos side.  So too is the case with Saga of the Wolf, even though I have been pleased with how exquisite the new Ork models have physically looked. With that said, Orks are in a better place now than we were a week ago, but you really have to be a proper brainboy to put together the pieces needed to enhance your own personal Waaagh.

In summary, again like many of the other Xenos rules, the intent seems to be less on bringing Orks up to the Space Marines’ level, and more towards elevating Ork codex entries that suffered from the “never take this” problem. We’re going to dig in deep, deep, deep and take a hard look at how these new rules rate vs. each other, as well as highlight some potential game-changers and standouts that opponents and warbosses alike need to make note of.


Game Changers Interesting Options Missed Opportunities
Da Biggest Boss Full Speed Ladz Da Kleverest Boss
Kustom Job Speshul Shells Grot Bumper
Flyin’ ‘Eadbutt Patch Up Da Burnin’ Highway
Temperamental Shokk Drive Unstoppable Momentum Squig Bombs
Hit ‘Em Harder Wildfire Dreaded Death Machine
  Klever Spanner  
The Game Changers

DA BIGGEST BOSS – Use this Stratagem before the battle. Select one WARBOSS model in your army. Add 1 to that model’s Wounds and Attacks characteristics and it gains a 4+ invulnerable save. You can only use this Stratagem once per battle, and only if your army does not include GHAZGHKULL THRAKA.  

We saw Da Biggest Boss in the preview, and this will be a slam-dunk, use-it-in-every –game stratagem for 95% of Ork players. This will be especially prominent on the already very common biker boss armed with Killa Klaw, turning what was once a suicidal cruise missile into something more akin to the classic Smash Captain with Storm Shield.

KUSTOM JOB – Use this Stratagem before the battle. Your army can have one additional Kustom Job. All of the Kustom Jobs that you include must be different and be given to different units.           

This is the stratagem that this book will ultimately be most known for as it unlocks a whole host of unit upgrades that range from very good to whimsically interesting. Most meta lists before Saga of the Beast were not using the Ork vehicles, and truthfully the Ork meta will not be significantly moved by this book (and in my opinion, Subcultures will instigate the primary meta shifts).  With that said, there is a lot unlocked through the Kustom Job that will open up a wide scope of never-take units to the edge of competitive play. We’ll cover all the jobs separately in full detail.

Photo credits: Warhammer Community

TEMPERAMENTAL SHOKK DRIVE – Use this Stratagem in your Shooting phase, after shooting with a SHOKKJUMP DRAGSTA unit from your army. That unit immediately Advances and the result is a 4+ (do not roll).              

I have to admit, I’ve been a huge critic of the new Ork buggies since their release and have panned them and their use in Ork lists. The one idea that I had to give some credence to was the kunning plot of using the Shokkjump Dragsta’s teleporting ability and the Deathskulls clan rerolls to jump the buggie around as a character assassinator. Good in theory, bad in practice as it ultimately relied on succeeding on a 50-50 dice roll to jump. Even if the jump was successful, the Dragsta was then doomed in the subsequent shooting phase. One of my most vocal complaints about the Ork codex within this new Marine meta is our almost total lack of character targeting and indirect fire. Our Weirdboyz, banners and Warbosses are being picked off with impunity, while we ourselves are unable to counterstrike vs. aura giving backline heroes or eviscerating Thunderfire cannons. We have here one of two very important solutions to that puzzle. When the Tempermental Shokk Drive is combined with the Gyroscopic Whirligig Kustom Job you are able to create a consistent and highly effective tool for eliminating indirect fire or characters that are not 100% fully screened. Combined with the Deathskulls clan trait, you have a highly, highly efficient unit that will bring the Shokkjump Dragsta to “must-take” in every competitive list. The only question will be whether you bring 1 or full unit of 3.

FLYIN’ ’EADBUTT – Use this Stratagem at the end of your Movement phase. Select one ORK unit from your army that has the Flyer battlefield role. That model is reduced to 0 wounds and automatically crashes and burns (do not roll).

Flyin’ ‘Ead Butt represents the other solution to the same question that the Shokkjump Dragsta answers – “How do I deal with characters and indirect fire?” While the Shokkjump Dragsta offers a chance at elimination, then escape… Flyin’ guarantees damage at the loss of the unit. The most prominent and likely user of this stratagem was the previously forgotten Burna-bommer, allowing it to instantly deal 3 mortal wounds to every unit within 6”. I ask you to consider the size of a Burna-bommer. It sits on a 170mm oval base. The entire blast zone radiating 6” from that oval is over 17 inches in size. Every unit within that massive zone is taking 3 mortal wounds. The big question we’re left to consider, much like with the Shokkjump Dragsta is will we be seeing a single one included in a list, or a full flyer wing? I personally am very intrigued to see how three Burna-bommers (exploded on turns 1-3) deal with heavy Tau drone spam, Grey Knights or hero hammer lists.

HIT ‘EM HARDER – Use this Stratagem in the Fight phase, when a MEGANOBZ unit from your army is chosen to fight with. Until the end of that phase, add 1 to the Damage characteristic of melee weapons models in that unit are equipped with.               

Hit ‘Em Harder is not as huge of a game-changing stratagem as the previous four, but it is important enough to be listed among this tier for the fact that it took the MegaNobz list, which was right on the edge of competitive favor, and gives it just enough of a boost to damage to make it a pick well worth fielding to counter centurion and aggressor marine lists. Megas have the noted problem of inconsistent hitting, inconsistent damage, and poor movement. Sage of the Beast addresses all three of those concerns through cultures, stratagems and Kustom Jobs (indirectly). Combined with the new Tin ‘Eads, or Kustom Jobs that benefit MegaNobz transport options, I know we’ll be seeing more MANz in our future.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Reekie at geargutsmekshop.com
Interesting Options

FULL SPEED LADZ! – Use this Stratagem in your Charge phase, after charging with an ORK BIKER or DEFFKILLA WARTRIKE unit from your army. Until the end of the turn, add 1 to that unit’s Strength characteristic.          

Massed biker lists have yet to become a thing within 8th edition, but the Ork codex bonuses to the Evil Sunz and Blood Axes clans provide a lot of interesting incentives for those that do.  One important piece that held bikers back from greatness was the inherent weakness of their Strength 4, 0AP attack on the charge, relegating their use as more of a shooting unit through their bike guns. This gets them further and makes an interesting unit worth thinking about, especially if combined with the Squig Tyres Kustom Job.

SPESHUL SHELLS – Use this Stratagem in your Shooting phase, when a FLASH GITZ unit from your army is chosen to shoot with. Until the end of the phase, increase the range of Snazzguns models in that unit are equipped with by 12″.

Much like MegaNobz, Flashgitz have been popping up at GTs and with good reason. If played right, they can be Marine killers, but they were held back slightly by the double weakness of poor range and high points cost. If this stratagem was 1CP instead of 2, it goes up a tier and puts Flash Gitz as a real contender as the Ork shooting selection. At 2CP, you have to compare its value vs. repeated use of “Showing Off” and/or “More Dakka.” I just don’t think most lists have the CP to justify it.

PATCH UP – Use this Stratagem at the start of any turn. Select one MORKANAUT, GORKANAUT or STOMPA unit from your army. Until the end of the turn, that model is considered to have double the number of wounds remaining for the purposes of determining what row to use on its damage table.    

Gorkonauts have benefited in a big way from Psychic Awakening, and other articles have already theory-crafted some ideas for getting the most out of them. This stratagem is part of that math. Is the Gorkonaut boosted enough to go competitive? My opinion is not yet, but a slight points drop in Chapter Approved could easily tip that scale.

UNSTOPPABLE MOMENTUM – Use this Stratagem in your Charge phase, when an ORK unit from your army has finished a charge move and dealt one or more mortal wounds to an enemy unit. If that ORK unit is no longer within 1″ of an enemy unit, it can immediately be chosen to charge with again.              

This is a very situational Stratagem and one that has gotten much critique.  What I like about this stratagem is that it, unlike most, is purely additive. For example, a stratagem like “More Dakka” gives you the potential benefit, and you’re gambling 2CP on a chance of generating more shots. With this, you only use it if you’ve achieved the parameters and the benefits are immediate. For me personally, I see a real use in it through a Deff Dread or Bonebreaker charging with ramming speed, dealing mortal wounds on impact, then slingshotting itself even further with the stratagem. It’s just another tool in your toolbox.

WILDFIRE – Use this Stratagem in your Movement phase, after selecting an enemy unit for the Burna Bombs ability of a BURNA-BOMMER unit from your army. Select one other enemy unit within 6″ of the unit you selected. Roll one D6 for each model in that additional unit, up to a maximum of 10 dice. For each roll of 5+ that unit suffers 1 mortal wound. This Stratagem is not affected by the Arsonists Subkultur.    

I spoke earlier about the Burna-bommer and where we could see it go with the new “Flyin’ ‘Eadbutt” stratagem. The Burna-bommer is otherwise not a great unit and was previously ignored for good reason. Wildfire gives you a little more mileage out of the plane before you crash it, and for that, I give it a thumbs up.

Missed Opportunities

DA KLEVEREST BOSS – Use this Stratagem before the battle. Select one BIG MEK model in your army. Add 1 to that model’s Wounds and Attacks characteristics and change its Weapon Skill to 2+. You can only use this Stratagem once per battle, and only if your army does not include MEK BOSS BUZZGOB.     

With Big Meks no longer able to use bikes, it’s very seldom that you will actually see one make it into combat. Their job is to stay in the back, forcefield your shooting units and repair vehicles. Mitigating enemy snipers with the +1 wound is helpful, but I don’t see enough value in that for 1CP.

KLEVER SPANNER – Use this Stratagem before the battle. Select one LOOTAS or BURNA BOYZ unit from your army that contains 9 or less models for 1CP, or one LOOTAS or BURNA BOYZ unit from your army that contains 10 or more models for 2CP. Whilst that unit contains one or more Spanners, you can roll one additional dice and discard one when determining the number of shots for Burnas or Deffguns equipped on models in that unit. Each unit can only be selected for this Stratagem once per battle.               

A much-heralded new stratagem, I mentioned in the original preview article that I don’t believe that the math justifies its use. Converting a Loota into a spanner drops one Deffgun out of the unit, and to maximize the effectiveness of “More Dakka” and/or “Showing Off,” you want a full unit of 15 models. Spending 2CP sacrifices one round of those stratagems, making this a bad trap.

GROT BUMPER – Use this Stratagem in your opponent’s Shooting phase, when an attack made with a ranged weapon successfully wounds a BOOMDAKKA SNAZZWAGON model in your army. The saving throw is automatically passed (do not roll). Each unit can only benefit from this Stratagem once per battle.      

Grot Bumper is easily the most hilarious and flavorful of the stratagems, but sadly it’s stuck with a unit that is not especially valuable in a competitive list.

DA BURNIN’ HIGHWAY – Use this Stratagem in your Shooting phase, when a KUSTOM BOOSTA-BLASTA unit from your army is chosen to shoot with. Until the start of your next turn, change the characteristics of that unit’s burna exhausts as follows: Range 10″, Assault 3, Strength 5, AP -1.               

Kustom Boosta-Blastas are not a great unit already, and the value gotten from such a poor weapon isn’t worth the CP.

SQUIG BOMBS – Use this Stratagem in your Movement phase, after moving a BLITZA-BOMMER model from your army. Until the end of that phase, add 1 to rolls made for that model’s Boom Bomb ability.     

I love the Rukkatruck, I really do, but I love looking at it on my shelf and that’s where it should stay. The unit needs a fundamental rework and this doesn’t give it enough to bring to the table.

DREADED DEATH MACHINE – Use this Stratagem in the Fight phase, when a DEFF DREADS unit from your army is chosen to fight with. Until the end of the phase, each time an enemy model is destroyed as a result of an attack made by that unit, you can immediately make an additional attack against the same target using the same weapon. These additional attacks cannot themselves generate any further attacks.            

For me, I have a strong dislike for this stratagem because it operates in a way that I think is counterintuitive for smart Deff Dread play.  In most cases, you want your dreads to land in a situation where they have an enemy unit held captive to deny them getting shot at. The stratagem will really only see use in multi-model infantry squads, which you’ll often not want to fully eliminate on your own turn. The amount of extra attacks potentially gained (not extra wounds, not extra hits) is also too marginal.

Overall, my judgment on the stratagems is a 3/5. There are some big, big items here that uplift some forgotten vehicles, but the almost total lack of new options for infantry (the core of any Ork army) is deeply disappointing and will, unfortunately, be a theme throughout the book. 

Kustom Jobs

Game Changers Interesting Options Missed Opportunities
Sparkly Bitz Orkymantic Pistons Blitzgatler
Gyroscopic Whirligig Da Boomer Gog Klaw
Slug Gubbin Zagzap Souped-Up Speshul
Dirty Gubbinz Forktress Sizzly Rivets
Squig Hide Tyres Red Rolla Nitro-Powered Squigs
Korkscrew   Gork’s Roar
Photo courtesy of Kyle Reekie at geargutsmekshop.com
The Game Changers

SPARKLY BITZ – KILLA KANS, DEFF DREADS, MORKANAUT or GORKANAUT unit only. Improve the unit’s Ballistic Skill characteristic by 1 (e.g. a Ballistic Skill characteristic of 5+ becomes 4+).

This is perhaps my favorite of all the Kustom Jobs for the wide amount of new list options it opens up that can effectively utilize Kans, Dreads and ‘Nauts. Let’s be honest folks, Orks ballistic skill is trash, but we’ve got the dakka to still make it work. When we get small degrees of bonuses to our shooting skill, that’s where you really see the magic happen. In an earlier article, I spoke about how enormous this Kustom Job is for creating a competitively viable grot-based army that features Kans (and make sure to check out Steve Pampreen’s later article on the Art of War that expounds even further on that idea), but it also opens up a world for shooty Freebootas or Bad Moons Deff Dreads, and is, of course, one of the fundamental parts of the new ideas on getting Gorkonauts to the table.

GYROSCOPIC WHIRLIGIG – SHOKKJUMP DRAGSTA unit only. You can use this unit’s Shokk Tunnel ability when Advancing, even if you did not roll a 4+. In addition, this unit does not suffer any mortal wounds as a result of the Shokk Tunnel ability.

As mentioned earlier, this is a big part of what makes the Shokk Jump Dragsta a soon-to-be sold out model. While Sparkly Bitz is a huge shift in the viability of Ork walkers, the Whirligig is a Kustom Job that *every* Ork list will be budgeting CP for.

SLUG GUBBIN – GORKANAUT model only. Slug gubbin replaces the model’s deffstorm mega-shoota and has the following profile:

Slug Gubbin 36″ Heavy 24 6 -1 1
Abilities: When resolving an attack made with this weapon, if the target was within 12″ when the bearer was chosen to shoot with, add 1 to the hit roll.

As an alternative to taking Sparkly Bitz on a Gorkonaut (or heck, maybe you’re crazy enough to run two!), this is truly an incredible upgrade. Paired with “More Dakka” and “Kustom Ammo,” a Bad Moons, Evil Sunz or Freeboota Gorkonaut with this upgrade will be something to behold. Considering that Gorkonauts are an excellent candidate to arrive through the Teleporta in the first place, I don’t see the 12” range to trigger the +1BS to be a problem. The big question is whether you take this or the Sparkly Bitz on a single Gorkonaut; my gut tells me you take Sluggin Gubbin.

DIRTY GUBBINZ – KILLA KANS or DEFF DREADS unit only. When resolving an attack made with a ranged weapon against this unit, subtract 1 from the hit roll.

Although not as strong as Sparkly Bitz, the Dirty Gubbinz is still a worthwhile pick on your second unit of Kans or Dreads. -1 to hit is among the most powerful debuffs in the game, and if paired with the Blood Axes clan trait, you’ll have an incredibly durable Dread.

SQUIG-HIDE TYRES – SPEED FREEKS (excluding named characters and units that can FLY), BATTLEWAGON, GUNWAGON, BONEBREAKA or TRUKKunit only. Add 2″ to the unit’s Move characteristic.

While not as impactful as the earlier Kustom Jobs, Squig Hide Tyres belong in the same tier because of its nearly universal benefit to all lists. To be honest, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a sudden explosion of vehicle-based, tournament-winning Ork Lists as Saga of the Beast seems to hope. We will, however, continue to see Biker Bosses and an additional +2 to their movement will give your Evil Sunz boss a potential 25” move/advance. Paired with the new “Da Biggest Boss” stratagem, that is a real end-game level monster.

KORKSCREW – MEGATRAKK SCRAPJET unit only. The first time this unit finishes a consolidation move in each Fight phase, it can immediately fight again.

Until the ascension of the Shokkjump Dragsta, the Megatrakk Scrapjet was considered by some to be the best of the new Ork buggies because of its rather effective melee profile. Giving it the ability to fight twice is a big promotion, especially if spread over a unit of 3. Having a banner nearby, however, will be critical to make these models viable, and that’s easier said than done. There is real potential here and I expect a Deffskulls Korkscrew unit to be the most critical point of an Ork buggy list.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Reekie at geargutsmekshop.com
Interesting Options

ORKYMATIC PISTONS – KILLA KANS, DEFF DREADS, MORKANAUT or GORKANAUT unit only. Add 3″ to the unit’s Move characteristic. You can re-roll Advance rolls made for the unit.

As the third best Kustom Job for a dread or kan, it’s still worthy of consideration in your second or third unit of walkers. As for Gorkonauts, I feel you have much better options on the table.

DA BOOMER – BATTLEWAGON, BONEBREAKA or GUNWAGON model with killkannon only. Da Boomer replaces a killkannon and has the following profile:

Da Boomer 36″ Heavy 2D6 8 -2 2

ZAGZAP – BATTLEWAGON, BONEBREAKA or GUNWAGON model with zzap gun only. Zagzap replaces a zzap gun and has the following profile:

Zagzap 36″ Heavy 1 2D6 -3 3
Abilities: When resolving an attack made with this weapon, do not make a hit roll; it automatically scores a hit. Before firing this weapon, roll to determine the Strength of the shot. If the result is 9+, do not make a wound roll. Inflict 3 mortal wounds on the target and the attack sequence ends.

The Ork Gunwagon, even with the periscope is very rarely seen, and never in a competitive setting due to its poor BS and relatively low amount of shots versus its cost. Da Boomer and Zagzap are both excellent upgrades that bring the models into competitive contention (especially Da Boomer), but rules as written, the Periscope ability will only let Killkannons, Kannons and Zzap guns fire twice (which these are not). A FAQ to fix this issue could allow us to see Da Boomer show up in some lists.

RED ROLLA – BONEBREAKA model only. Replace the model’s Bonebreaka Ramability with the following: ‘Red Rolla: When this model makes a charge move, add 6 to its Attacks characteristic until the end of the turn.’

FORKTRESS – BATTLEWAGON, BONEBREAKA or GUNWAGON model only. The model has a Save characteristic of 3+ and a 5+ invulnerable save.

We haven’t yet witnessed the arrival of triple bonebreaka lists, I presume because who actually owns three bonebreakas? Having played around with it myself, I can give you the early warning that it’s extremely effective (maybe TOO effective) in the majority of matchups, but falls down flat versus certain lists or terrain arrangements. Bonebreakas paired with a Deffkilla Wartrike have the speed and WS to absolutely flatten your opponent on Turn 1 in Dawn of War deployment, and nominating one as the Red Rolla and another as the Forktress would be a list I would never, ever want to play against, especially if they’re filled with Tin ‘Ead MANz and their assorted HQs.

Missed Opportunities

BLITZA-GATLER – STOMPA only. The model’s supa-gatler has a Damage characteristic of 2. In addition, when rolling for the weapon’s Psycho-dakka-blastaability, you can re-roll the D6 once per phase.

What can I say, the Stompa is a trash can and will be until it gets *hundreds,* yes *hundreds,* of points shaved off. The Blitzgatler brings the Supa-Gatler to the profile it should have been in the first place, but it’s still a unit you’ll should never take outside of an Apocalypse match.

GOG KLAW – GORKANAUT or MORKANAUT model only. When rolling to determine the Damage characteristic of the crush profile of the bearer’s klaw of gork (or possibly mork), rolls of less than 4 count as 4.

The Gorkonaut’s existing melee weapon is hyper-killy, so making it even more so does nothing for the pre-existing reasons it doesn’t see action – it dies easily and shoots poorly. The Pistons and Sparkly Bitz are far superior options. Only take this if you’re the maddest of lads that brought three Gorkonauts to your FLGS.

SOUPED-UP SPESHUL – BOOMDAKKA SNAZZWAGON unit only. Souped-up Speshul replaces the unit’s mek speshul and has the following profile:

Souped-up Speshul 30″ Assault 15 4 -1 1

Why would I pay 1CP to gain a slightly better Strength 4 gun? Pass.

SIZZLY RIVETS – KUSTOM BOOSTA BLASTA unit only. When resolving an attack made with a rivet kannon by a model in this unit, an unmodified wound rollof 6 inflicts 1 mortal wound on the target in addition to any other damage.

A very lackluster upgrade on a very lackluster model. Pass.

NITRO-POWERED SQUIGS – RUKKATRUKK SQUIGBUGGY unit only. When resolving an attack made by this unit’s squig launcha or heavy squig launcha, add 1 to the wound roll.

A terrible upgrade on an even more terrible model. Hard pass!

GORK’S ROAR – DEFFKILLA WARTRIKE model only. Add 4″ to the Range characteristic of this model’s killa jet and change the Type characteristic of its burna profile to Assault 6.

The Burna jets on the Deffkilla perhaps go down as the most superfluous weapon in the Ork Codex. The weapon already is very disappointing, and ideally the Deffkilla spends the entire game in melee and unable to use it.

PINCHA – Model with grabbin’ klaw only. Pincha replaces the model’s grabbin’ klaw and has the following profile:

Pincha Melee Melee +1 -3 D6
Abilities: Each time the bearer fights, it can only make a single attack with this weapon. When resolving an attack made with this weapon, add 3 to the hit roll if the target is a VEHICLE or MONSTER.

In almost every situation, the Pincha will be used by a vehicle with WS5+, and can only use it for one attack per combat round. There’s no value here, unless it’s attached to a Deathskulls Trukk.

Overall, my judgment on the Kustom Jobs is a 4/5. Some of these Kustom Jobs are absolutely fabulous and play a huge role in elevating walker lists to being competitively viable. We see bonuses for MANz lists indirectly through bonuses to Battlewagons and Bonebreakers which act as strong transport options, and of course, we have the absolutely game-changing Whirligig that is coming soon to a tabletop near you.  Sure, we have a few stinkers on the list, but I can easily see some players burning 2-3 CP on Kustom Jobs alone.

Specialist Mobs & Subkultures

Before jumping into my tier listings for the specialist mobs and subkultures, I want to handle this section a little differently. There has been much confusion online on how subkultures work, and this passage is important:

“If your army is Battle-forged, all <CLAN> units from an ORK Detachment (excluding those in Super-heavy Auxiliary Detachments) can gain a Subkultur instead of a Clan Kultur, so long as every unit in that Detachment is from the same specialist mob.”

The short summary is that subkultures effectively work the same as regular clan kultures. You can’t mix and match within a detachment and enjoy the benefits of both. They’re not additive. With that in mind, subkultures are in a very real sense competing for your attention with the regular codex clans and should be compared, apples to apples vs. those clans to see where the value is. For this listing, I’ll rank all clans alongside the new specialist mobs to see how things shake out.

Top Tier Second Tier Third Tier Fourth Tier
Evil Sunz Tin ‘Eads Feral Orks Pyromaniacs
Deathskullz Blood Axes Boomboyz Huntas
Bad Moons Freebootas Goffs Flyboyz
Grot Mobs   Snakebites Madboyz
Top Tier

Evil Sunz – This clan has dominated the Ork meta since the codex release and with good reason. Classic greentide lists will still favor it for the +1 to charge, new psychic spell and its very underrated warlord trait.

Deathskullz – Debatably now the best clan in the game as of Saga of the Beast, I will certainly at least say that they now make the strongest mono-clan list and gained the most from the book.

Grot Mobs – Yes, you read that right, Grot Mobs I believe come in at a strong #3 on the clan list. Mek Gunz are tremendous and would be more dominant, more obnoxious and more heavily featured in all Ork tournament lists if they weren’t $50 per model. For those that can field 18 of them in a list, you should certainly do so now in a Spearhead or Battalion with 2xWeirdboy + 3×10 Gretchin. For the past year, we’ve debated which shooting option was the best for Orks: Lootas, Tankbustas, Flash Gitz, Shokk Attack Gunz, or Mek Gunz.  Each has had their time of prominence, but this change will leave the Mek Gun as the final winner. The only debate that remains is whether or not deep-pocketed Ork players can justify converting their Smashas to Kustom Mega Kannons (KMKs), which mathematically gain even more from the new trait.

Bad Moons  – With players realizing how much more effective a Deathskullz Souped Up Shokk Attack Gun can be, Bad Moons have fallen out of favor. The new Deathskullz psychic spell further cements that, but Bad Moon Loota castles are still strong, if a little out-of-style. “Showing Off” is a strong stratagem, and can just by itself always keep Bad Moons at the top tier.

Second Tier

Tin ‘Eads – For those that love walker lists, Saga of the Beast gave you everything you needed to begin testing those lists out at your local tournament scene. As wildly effective as this culture is, especially for Meganobz with their innate -1 to hit from power weapons, we need to ask ourselves if it’s enough to supplant the enormous movement benefits of Evil Sunz. For me, unless your MANz are riding in transports, the answer is no.

Blood Axes – A dark horse choice that I’ve been championing for a while, I think there is a lot of overlooked power in the ability of this clan to retreat and still charge back into combat. Controlling who fights first is a vital, powerful ability (just ask any AoS or Slaanesh player) and Blood Axes do that best. Their new Psychic Power further supports that idea, while Snikrot is in the top three of named Ork characters.

Freebootas – They’ve been coming to prominence in shooty Ork lists, and for good reason. Watching an Ork hit on a 3+ after Saga of the Beast buffs is practically incomprehensible, but Freebootas also hit a brick wall when encountering armies that don’t have easily killable units to trigger their clan trait.

Third Tier

Feral Orks – For old school players that love to push 120 Ork boyz across the board without using Da Jump or the Teleporta, this is the clan for you. Their movement is superior in that specific example versus Evil Sunz, but this playstyle is very rare. Combined with the stratagem that allows Ork infantry to fight twice to maximize that 6” pile-in, you can get some real krumpin’ done.

Boomboyz – Allowing Rokkits to make the jump from Strength 8 to Strength 9 and from -2 to -3 AP is a powerful leap, especially versus knights. I see potential in a small detachment of Tankbustas or Deffkoptas, but this will essentially always be a niche, specialized detachment choice which I would have assumed was the original purpose of specialist mobs.

Goffs – Poor Makari and Zagstruk! Two of the most powerful HQs in the Ork Codex are sadly sitting with Thraka and paired with one of the most superfluous clan traits in Clan Goff! Orks are extremely killy in melee, everyone knows that, and the Goff trait only pushes that even further. The point I have always made with Goffs, though, is that at a certain point that killy-ness becomes overkill, and thus that bonus is wasted. Goffs, and Thraka is the biggest culprit, far too often are to slow in reaching combat vs. their more effective Evil Sunz peers. 

Snakebites – As the weakest of the codex clans, Snakebites have distinguished themselves more for kitbashers and hobbyists that enjoy their aesthetic. The best use of Snakebites is probably as a gretchin-based list due to the “Surly As a Squiggoth” warlord trait, allowing fearless gretchin.

Fourth Tier

Huntas – This heavily restricted specialist mob is far too specific in the parameters of enjoying their traits to ever see use. Kommandos would seem the natural fit for this mob, but Snikrot is stuck with the Blood Axes clan and is too good to pass up if you opt to roll with a Kommando heavy list.

Flyboyz – The most likely users of this mob would be Stormboyz, but with a paltry 6+ T-shirt save, adding a +1 to it is a barely noticeable benefit. Stormboyz and Deffkoptas see vastly greater benefits from acting in an Evil Sunz, Blood Axe or Goff mob.

Madboyz – With randomized traits, one of which is worthless and two which are situational, this is the fluffy and fun option you pick to go easy on your opponent. Even if you could select the benefits instead of rolling a die, there are better ways to access comparable benefits.

We coulda been so much bigga
Photo courtesy of Kyle Reekie at geargutsmekshop.com

Closing Thoughts

My final thoughts on Specialist Mobs as a whole is a 2/5, and that is solely because of how game-changing and meta defining Grot Mobs will be. As a whole, these subkultures fall down and they fall down hard.  You have to sacrifice much to have access to them; consider that a detachment that chooses a specialist mob will not have access to clan relics, clan warlord traits, clan stratagems and even the new clan-based psychic powers just recently released. These mobs go naked into the world with only their (usually poor) subculture benefits.   The implementation of subkultures is sloppy, roughshod and often highly ineffective. Furthermore, we have specialist mobs that seem like perfect fits for the named Ork characters, but due to limited keyword design, are left out.  My advice – stick to the codex clans.

What are your thoughts on Orks in Saga of the Beast? What do you like, what don’t you like, and how will you be playing them in the future? Comment below and please follow us on the usual social platforms to stay current with the latest GDFC releases.

Stay safe, stay sane, and stay at-home! Hope everyone is getting some quality hobbying time in and we will see you on the battlefield in the not too socially-distant future!