Friday, March 11, 2011
The Overlooked Ork - Part 2
The Overlooked Fast – The Skortcha Trakk
Most of the Fast Attach choices of the ork army fall into midgrade category. None are particularly great, but none are particularly bad. But there is one unit in the Fast Attack category that stands above the rest when it comes to its ability to achieve its goals at a minimal expense. The Skortcha Trakk. I am convinced that the skortcha trakk is not more commonly used because the model for it is out of production and the unit has to be scratch built. This, for many, is a strong detriment for use. However, for those who wish to take advantage of a little plasticard and a discount toy bin can have a gorgeous and funcional skortcha trakk.
The first benefit of the Skortcha Trakk is its cost. For 40 points you have an armor 10 fast vehicle with the ability to reroll difficult terrain tests and which can lay down a heavy flamer template. Add red paint to the mixture for 5 points and that heavy flamer template just, defacto, got a little longer. The skortcha buggy is a darn near perfect ork attack vehicle for so many reasons. Their inexpensive price makes them somewhat disposable, their speed makes them extremely hard to hit in close combat, they also have enough movement to often be able to maneuver efficiently behind or into enemy lines to either cause problems or constest enemy objectives. And finally, being able to move 13” (red paint) and fire the skortcha (Str 5, AP 4, template) makes the orks poor bailistic skill somewhat irrevelent.
As a practice lesson opposing players will often ignore the skortch buggy for more threatening targets. And who could blame them? However, most of these players learn that if the skortcha buggy reaches their line they become a tremendous burr in their sides. Nids, orks, imperial guardsmen, eldar, etc die en masse to the skortcha trakk that has reached them. But even tanks are not completely safe. The skortcha trakks superior speed often will allow them to quickly maneuver and hit rear armor of the unwarry enemy. And while the odds of penetrating armor 10 and glancing armor 11 are not great, it is a threat that the opponenet realizes quickly has to be addressed.
The Overlooked Heavy – The Looted Wagon
There are three units in the heavy support section of the ork codex which often get overlooked. Flashgits, artillery and the Looted Wagon. Flashgits can do a significant amount of damage to Marine units (and their kin) but rarely does their cost equal their benefit. So while Flashgits may be an overlooked unit they probably should be overlooked. The next overlooked unit is ork artilery. However while these units are not commonly seen in ork armies it is generally accepted that they are a value unit and shold be taken seriously. For those who have not examined Ork Kannons and Lobba’s in detail I suggest you do so. They are some of the greatest value in the entire orkiverse. However, what I would like to address is a unit which, much like the rest of this article, needs to be tried a few times to see its true worth. Namely the Looted Wagon.
The looted wagon is a unit which is subtly misleading. In examining the looted wagon we will look at its two most common, and ancient, configurations.
1. Gobsmasha / Spleenrippa / Looted Basilisk / looted Leman Russ – This is the basic variant of the looted wagon whose primary attribute is the Boomgun (a shorter ranged battle cannon) and which will usually include an ard case so that the vehicle is no longer open topped. This brings the models cost up to 115 points. And with the additon of two big shoota sponsons the vehicle is still only 125 points. When one considers the base cost of a Leman Russ is 150 points (170 with Heavy Bolter Sponsons), the cost of a Gobsmasha configuration does not seem too far out of line. Finally, it should also be noted that while the looted wagons big shootas are being fired by orks at balistic skill 2 they are actually more effective “on a point per point basis” than the same sponsons armed by guardsmen on the Leman Russ.
This configuraion is often immediately disregarded by ork players at first glance beceause the looted wagon has an armor value of 11. And I do think there is some truth to this concern as no one wants a leman russ that can be neutralized by heavy bolter fire. However, careful placement of the unit in cover so that it is obscured at the beginning of the game can, as we all know, go a long way to making the Gobsmasha more survivable.
The biggest problem with the Gobsmasha configuration in my opinion is the “ooops don’t touch that” roll. At the beginning of each round the player controlling a looted wagon must roll a dice and on a roll of a 1 the wagon lurches forward its maximum distance. Should this happen the boomgun is no longer able to fire and the Gobsmasha is probably no longer in cover leaving it a fairly ripe target for the enemy. But even with that having been said the Gobsmasha is a vehcile which, at a very reasonable price, will surprise many opponents.
2. Da Transport – This is where the looted wagon really shines in my opinion. The looted wagon is rarely used for a couple reasons. Players usually do not think of it as a transport because it is not as fast as a truck and not as durable as a battle wagon. So some think it has the worst of both worlds. However, they are incorrect. Comparing the looted wagon to a truck or a battle wagon is an apples and oranges comparison. I am by no means advocating the casting away of trucks and battlewagons in lieu of the looted wagon but I do assert that looted wagon has a place and is a viable unit.
First the cost of the looted wagon is extremely cheap at 35 points and like the truck has transport capacity for 12 models. While the battle wagon has a significantly larger cargo capacity at 20 models, greater armor and superior offensive capacity it is also on average two and a half times the cost of a looted wagon after both vehicles have applied upgrades.
The most successful use of the looted wagon has come from using it as an alternative to the truck. In fact, when used for the purpose of tansporting a squad of boys in to mele combat it is a wonderful choice. My standard configuration for the looted wagon transport vehicle is red paint, 1 big shoota or skortcha, and reinforced ram which makes the vehicle 50 points or 60 points with the skortcha. While we ork players know that our truck get blown away on a regular basis by lazcannons and missle launchers trucks also regularly get “nailed” by simple bolter fire. This one point of extra armor at basically the same price of a truck allows your squad of slugga boys to have a greater degree of protection as it crosses the field. And while the slower speed of the Looted Wagon seems to be a disadvantage to the truck it is, in reality, not significant.
The truck (with red paint) moves 19” and the looted wagon (with red paint) moves 13”. Normally, on the first round of movement the boys in a truck are not going to be able to assautl anyway because the truck has moved “flat out.” It is on both vehicles second movement that assaulting out of the vehicle becomes a greater option. And in games where you are going second there is virtually no disadvantage at all as you are commonly assaulting some unit which has moved forward. With the Looted wagon being open topped and having 13” movement your assault range for orks is still huge when you consider disembarking and potential assault range. In such cases any advantage that the extra 6” movement granted by the truck in the first round has clearly been negated. And if, for some reason, the truck did not move “flat out” on its first turn then there is no advantage to the truck at all.
The looted wagon transport is not, and should not, replace the truck. However, it is a unit which should be tried several times by ork players and given a fair shot. In my opinion, it is a good option for a squad of boys and is nearly perfect as a transport option for a unit of Ardboys (who can survive an open topped exploding vehicle with ease). After trying the looted wagon as a transport for 12 ard boys I have come to be extremely fond of its use.
I hope this article has helped to open your eyes to some of the lesser used options in the ork codex. The orks are an army which thrive on being different. They thrive on not being “standard.“ The above units are those that, in my experience, play significantly better than many would expect by looking at them on paper. I hope that those who play the orks will give these units a try and those that do not will continue to underestimate them.