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Battlecry of the Orcs

Posted November 25th, 2007 at 11:55 PM by Browncoat

A tattered flag of Utgar flails violently in the dry wind. Seated atop his mighty Tyrannosaur, Grimnak gnarls an uneven smile as he looks down upon the orc masses under his control. Wave after wave of Gruts line up in haphazard formations, poised for battle. Some, more experienced in battle, have earned the war beaten bronze armor on their backs. Others, like the squads of young Arrow Gruts look to their mounted leaders for inspiration. Grimnak raises his spear and bellows the orc battle cry. The ground trembles as the swarm overtakes the battlefield.

Choose your fantasy realm. Orcs are depicted the same no matter where you look: Lord of the Rings, Warhammer, Warcraft, or a myriad of others. They are unintelligent humanoid creatures, often green in color, with brutal warmongering tendencies. How they are portrayed sometimes varies, but they are always in high numbers. In the land of Valhalla, orcs are blue, but not much different. Individually, they are not overly impressive. However, coupled with their leaders, the orcs can be a devastating force. Let's take an in depth look at what assets make them so unique:

There are several units that have Bonding abilities in Heroscape. However, none share the level of bonding that the orcs have. Arrow Gruts Beast Bonding allows you to take a turn with the enhancing Swog Riders. You can also choose Krug to join your army, and send the enraged troll ahead of the Gruts to engage stronger units and pin them down. You can also choose Mimring, whose Fire Line attack and flying ability leaves squads trembling with fear. The melee forces also share bonding with Orc Champions. You can keep Ornak close to the action and use his enhancing aura for your attacks. Grimnak boosts stats, and there isn't a squad out there that doesn't fear Chomp. You could also activate Tornak, with greater attack and defend abilty and fast movement speed. Nerak the Glacian Swog Rider can also be used.

This ability allows the fast moving orcs to perfom feats on the battlefield no other army can do. Careful movement planning can allow you to pick and choose your targets at will, and rush to aid units in trouble if needed. You are able to draw enemy forces in, then double back to height advantage. Orc armies are one of the few who can perform real-world military maneuvers because of Disengage.

Superior Numbers
By definition, the orcs are a swarm army. The key to success is to overwhelm your opponent. Where one falls, two rise to take its place. Orc common squads are low cost/low stat figures. A strong orc army needs to contain multiple common squads to be effective. Part of the fun of playing an orc army is the "fear factor" of fielding so many units. In just about any matchup, it's entirely possible to outnumber your opponent nearly 2 to 1.

As stated before, the orcs' bonding allows for the creation of many different armies. Utgar has many units that are well suited to be included in an orc army. Krug is a heavy hitter, and an excellent counter to high defense units such as Major Q9. Krug is also good against figures like Su-Bak-Na, whose high attack power is an immediate threat, but has low defense. Mimring is another popular comrade for the orcs. Placing all 3 order markers on the Arrow Gruts and using Beast Bonding with Mimring puts him just about anywhere on the battlefied, where he can attack or hold on to height advantage for your advancing Gruts. The addition of the Esenwein clan in Wave 7 also presents new options with the orcs. Cyprien is a powerful figure, and is the same cost as Mimring. If needed, you can destroy your own low cost orcs using Life Drain, keeping the vampires free of wounds. Deathreavers make for an interesting combination as well. They can pin down enemy figures while your Arrow Gruts attack from afar, or until the more powerful melee units arrive on the scene.

Now that it has been established what makes an orc army so powerful, let's discuss how to put those units into action. The orcs alone do not have enough stopping power to defeat an opponent. You can however, stack the odds in your favor by using some tried and true tactics. Let's take a look at how bonding, disengage, superior numbers, and versatility can be turned used in tactics on the battlefield.

When to use Ornak
Asset(s): Bonding, Versatility
Ornak provides Utgar armies with a very powerful Bonding ability: By placing Order Marker 1 on Ornak, instead of taking a turn with him, you can instead take a turn with 2 Unique Heroes (within 8 clear sight spaces) who follow Utgar. It should then go without saying that Ornak's greatest asset isn't worth much unless your army has more than 2 Unique Heroes, since the ability does not apply to Ornak himself.

With Mimring or Krug in your army, Ornak is a great option. You can take 1 of these turns with them, then another with the Arrow Gruts Beast Bonding...which makes for some fast moving heroes...and take the other turn with Grimnak or Tornak. You can then place another order marker on the Blade/Heavy gruts, and move Ornak up with your melee squad using their Orc Champion Bonding. This keeps Ornak in the action, both with his orc attack aura and for using Red Flag of Fury Aura again in the next round. Ornak, because of his abilities, is a high priority target for your opponent. You can use this to your advantage by enticing your opponent and placing Ornak within reach. Your opponent may abandon his plans, and risk going after Ornak. You can then swarm his units and crush them.

Grimnak or Tornak?
Asset(s): Bonding, Versatility
These are the beating heart of your army's melee units. Both provide an attack and defense increase to adjacent figures, and share bonding with those same melee units. Grimnak's Chomp is any common squad's worst nightmare. However, his low attack power and not much better defense is not that impressive. Tornak is a fast moving Orc Champion with better attack and defense, but lower life. In large point games of 600+, I recommend drafting both. Personally, I believe that Tornak is better suited to be paired with the lower powered Blade Gruts, while Grimnak should be used with Heavy Gruts. Grimnak is obviously a better choice against multiple squad armies, while Tornak makes for a better hero killer.

Asset(s): Disengage
Flanking is one of the oldest tactics in the book, and few units available can perform it better than the orcs. Their fast movement and disengage ability make it possible. Flanking refers to attacking the enemy at their sides, rather than a head on engagement. This forces your opponent to attack and defend on 2 fronts, and to pick and choose which units to use first. A key element to using this tactic is keeping your opponent's figures engaged, while your units are free to move around and make adjustments.

Image: Here, an advancing unit (purple) approaches to engage a squad of Heavy Gruts (blue) and a squad of Arrow Gruts (blue, back).

Image: By engaging the enemy with your Heavy Gruts, you pin the enemy down, allowing your Arrow Gruts to flank your opponent, and secure height advantage.

Asset(s): Disengage, Bonding
This refers to an age old military tactic of firing at a target and then moving away from the location where the shots were fired. This tactic works best with a range-featured orc army with multiple squads of Arrow Gruts and Swog Riders. Arrow Gruts have a threat range of 12 (6 move+6 range), and do not take leaving engagement strikes. You can fire upon a slower moving squad or figure, then move out of their range and attack again with the next order marker. Should your opponent actually catch up to you, you can leave the engagement without penalty. What's more, you can even use this tactic to lead your opponent right into the heart of your army, featuring more powerful units.

Image: Having defeated the Heavy Gruts, the opposing army seeks to engage your Arrow Gruts. Since they have no range, they will have to move to engage them (as noted by the red X's).

Image: Since the Arrow Gruts have Disengage, they can move back out of harm's way, and attack your opponent from distance again. Should the opposing squad survive another round, just move again.

The Wedge
Asset(s): Superior Numbers, Disengage, Bonding
This tactic is best used with a more balanced army. Send two ranged squads to your enemy's flanks, down the left and right sides of the battlefield. You melee units should remain in the center, and since they are slower moving, this will form the "V" shape of the wedge formation. Do not get caught up in forming a perfect "V" shape, or keeping all figures in a straight line. This is not necessary, as the idea here is to trap your opponent. You can attack from both sides of the V, and from the middle. This attack formation gives the highest strategic benefit for a swarm army, allowing you to pick and choose which figures attack whom. Your army is fighting against one common front, directing all attacks towards the center, while your opponent is forced to fight on all fronts.

Image: The Wedge employs all of the above tactics, and they are key for the success of this attack formation. Keep the advantage by moving units around where you need them, pinning down units with your melee squad(s) so they can't advance on the Arrow Gruts.

General Tactics
Order Marker placement is key to any battle. Playing an orc army can help simplify this, since bonding is a feature. However, always keep in mind that the orcs are a swarm army and work best when all units are kept within close proximity of each other. Moving a single squad of Arrow Gruts out on their own to secure height advantage may seem like a good idea at first, but they likely won't be able to hold it for long on their own.

Because of what the orc army has to offer, keep a close eye on your opponent's Order Markers as well. You may be able to catch him napping, and go after a squad or figure that doesn't have any markers on it. Your orcs can leave an engagement, and go after the unactivated figure(s) and suprise your opponent, wreaking havoc on his gameplan.

You are probably going to lose a lot of figures. Orcs, again, are low cost/low stat units. Because they rely heavily on boosting figures (Swog Riders, heroes) keep in mind that those figures are priority targets to your opponent. It should be easy to protect these boosting figures from melee squads, but ranged units can be tricky. A priority for your army is to hope to destroy your opponent's ranged figures as soon as possible.
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