New ways to play Orks in Warhammer 40k 9th edition

Wondering how you can make an army do well but without following the crowd, doing what everyone else does and just copying the top meta lists?

In this show, new VT coach Aaron takes us through his approach to the game and how he has developed a super strong Warhammer 40k Ork list (see on the VT blog page) to succeed in 9th edition. 

Aaron covers some absolute gem units in the Ork codex and how he ius using them to score well on both the primary and the secondary.


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Show Notes


Tell the listeners a bit about your journey towards becoming a coach…

My story starts really at the beginning of this year. I had made the decision to make a big effort and travel around the country to really hit the competitive scene hard this year.

I signed up for the London Grand Tournament, Bristol Grand Tournament and a few other RTTs. The first of those was a 3 round RTT at the Hampshire Hammerers club.

It was my first large ITC event so I didn’t really go in with any particular hopes or expectations other than having a good time and try to maybe not have my trousers pulled down.

In the end I took 2 wins and a loss, ending up placing 15th/48 – this alone would have had me absolutely buzzing, but to top that off I managed to achieve best painted which I have to say had me on a high for days.

Now obviously with your win at the event Steve, I’m pretty comfortable to say that I did a little bit of googling after the event and fell upon your free Vanguard Tactics ITC Mastermind course, created an account and got stuck in!

Succeeding in a difficult year

Like many people up and down the country I was quickly placed on Furlough as my industry briefly folded in on itself, finding myself suddenly with a huge amount of time on my hands.

For me, I still wanted to keep my competitive dream alive and back then there was still a glimmer over hope that the situation would be over fairly quickly, so I decided to sign up to the academy.

At the same time, I discovered a way to play 40k that was entirely COVID secure and would put a loose estimate at having played around 250 competitive games since then, allowing me to really get to grips with my army and playtest against a huge variance of armies and players.

How has the academy helped you?

Well for a start the course material itself was incredibly useful - coming from a semi-competitive environment I thought I had a really good handle on the game, however some of the tips and tricks that I learned such as the advanced wrap and trap (where you’d have just one guy in engagement range and leave everyone else out so as not to kill the unit you were wrapping, protecting your unit and allowing you to kill the opponent in their own fight phase) proved absolutely invaluable.

Then there were the daily lessons and quiz the coach sessions. My absolute favourite lesson has to be the list of the week and choose your secondaries - I poured hours into these lessons, setting them up on the board, taking notes, perfecting my strategies and learning how to defeat armies that were simply non existent in my local meta. 

The number one thing for me about the academy though has to be the community. I’ve never known a group of people like those in VT and have made some amazing friends throughout lockdown. It’s a breath of fresh air to be a part of an online community that has literally zero drama. Coming from a gaming background that’s pretty big!

Let’s talk Orks. What inspired you to pick up the army?

It was actually a very good friend of mine called Aidan from my local club The Games Bunker who suggested the army to me. At the time, my Drukhari army was a little heavy handed for my local meta (mainly space marine codex 1) so I wanted to pick up a different army as a new challenge . I hadn’t really considered Orks as the idea of pushing a huge blob of Boyz around the table just didn’t appeal (and still doesn’t, I’ll add)

So we came up with the concept of running an Ork army that was 100% focused on shooting. ‘Cause Orks are bad at shooting… or so we thought. Right, Jack?


9th Drop! Let’s fast forward a little bit now and look at your approach to the new edition.

Now, I have to say, I really don’t think I could have been in a better place than the VT academy for a new edition of Warhammer 40K. That being said, initial playtesting of 9th had me feeling pretty despondent for a few reasons.

Firstly, I feel the current Ork Codex and it’s stratagems are largely balanced around the old triple battalion school of thought. My old list went from a comfortable 18 CPs (minus some for kustom jobs and specialist detachments) to basically 0CP if I played it the same way.

On top of that there was also a large disparity that we realised very early on in 9th on the new secondary choices. My old list with three Weirdboyz absolutely hemorrhaged points on assassinate and abhor the witch (I mean, the guys basically kill themselves when surrounded by Boyz to get bonuses to cast), added on to the fact that the 9 Mek Gunz in the list would give up an easy 18VP on bring it down.

Truthfully, for a while this caused me to look at other armies. I playtested with my Drukhari again, tried out harlequins, my original army of space wolves and a few others.

My heart was always with the Orks though. After some late night encouragement on the VT Discord, I was convinced to make it work. I really don’t think I could have been in a better place than the VT academy for a new edition of Warhammer 40K. 

A change of approach…

The first really big decision I had to make regarding 9th was on the overall composition of my army - I had a decision to make, reap the benefits of the excellent kulturs and kustom jobs we have access to with limited CP or stick with one kultur and be able to use a few stratagems.  

Based on the fact that I actually really needed some of those kustom jobs in my list I decided to go all in on Kulturs. A little bit of mathhammer showed me a 20% increase in dead eradicators for taking the Grot Mobs kultur on my Mek Gunz, which was really an easy justification to take an extra spearhead, as I would definitely spend those 3CP on stratagems to achieve the same boost. 

The next big decision to make was on reducing the opportunity for my opponent to score secondaries against me. I had to concede defeat on Bring it Down as orks were backed into a bit of a corner and pretty much every build I could think of would give up at least one kill secondary in a big way.

Must takes…

Making the decision to go all in on vehicles, there were some must takes in my new 9th list revision. Firstly, the Smasha Gunz - they are absolutely perfect for killing elite infantry and vehicles alike. They also received quite a buff with the ability to move and shoot with no penalty.

The second must take for me was my unit of 3 shooty Deff Dreads and the +1 BS kustom job. Anyone who has played me a few times will recognise my trademark of deep striking these with the Tellyporta stratagem. They really can put the hurt down especially when you consider that when they are deployed they benefit from being separate units so each one gets its own set of Deathskulls rerolls.

The final must have in my list was the Megatrakk Scrapjets. These guys are great - they have a great variance of guns that helps balance out my list and are pretty tasty in combat too especially with the fight twice kustom job.

Scoring on Primary as an Ork…

Through our playtesting of 9th (albeit based on snippets of information received) it became clear very quickly that mid-board control and staying power was very important. With Primary now scored the turn after, you essentially have to be able to stay alive on an objective through your opponent’s entire turn - something I think we can probably agree on the surface is quite difficult to achieve for an Ork.

Part one of my solution to this was to place my troops in transports, reducing the unit count of my Boyz to 10. Adding this protective bubble forces opponents to need to deal with not just the transport itself but the whole obsec unit inside, which is not always possible. For myself, and I know Jack has recently found success using the same strategy with his Devilfish, this is a really core part of making my army successful in 9th.

I also just want to make a note of in my opinion one of the most useful stratagems in 9th that I love to make full use of - Emergency Disembarkation. For 1 CP when your transport explodes you can disembark within 6 inches, rollings 1s and 2s to lose models.

I’d like to stress how this strat is not just relegated to when your unit has been wrapped - have a think about the multiple ways it can be used - to jump on an objective otherwise out of reach (especially if your opponent doesn’t have shooting left to deal with the unit) or even to place the unit you were about to disembark out of line of sight or range of more shooting. I’ve had some pretty big game swings using this one.

The final part to my Kunnin’ Plan revolves around a weakness I established earlier on Bring it Down - volume of threats that are on approximately the same profile as my transports. Turning this around to my opponent’s perspective, that’s actually a huge amount of vehicle wounds to chew through. Does my opponent focus on all the Mek Gunz? The Scrapjets? The Deff Dreads? Ghaz? Or the groups of 10 Boyz flying about in their Chinork Warkoptas / Trukks that are pushing primary..

Add to that the unique ability that makes all those units separate on deployment, and the efficiency of units such as Eradicators absolutely plummets.

You’ve already briefly mentioned issues with secondaries, what is your strategy to overcome the deficit caused by Bring it Down?

Obviously the recent FAQ has significantly improved my outlook in terms of secondaries, but previously as mentioned my list would give up anywhere between 25 and 30 points of Bring it Down. It’s a tough call, but by doing this I limit my opponent’s choices as I don’t give up any other kill secondaries.

In order to counter this the first thing I needed to create in my list was the ability to score Deploy Scramblers relatively easily through 2 units of Kommandos - this is my fall back secondary if I’m facing an army that doesn’t give up kill secondaries easily and the mission isn’t suited to Raise the Banners. Naturally if I choose banners these guys end up being action monkeys.

After that, it’s really a case of understanding which maps are suitable for Engage or Domination - these are secondaries I can generally score well on but understanding the mission is really key to making them work.

There are a few mission secondaries that can work with my army too so I’m always on the look out for those. Vital Intel (Data Intercept), Sweep & Clear (Direct Assault) and Priority Target are all strong picks dependent on my opponent.

Even though I would love for there to be a gangbusters style secondary introduced to the game for killing elite infantry, I feel really positive about the changes to Bring it Down and While We Stand. My current list still gives up 16 points for bring it down however that’s no longer a given as you basically need to table me to be able to achieve that.


We’ve talked a fair amount about the journey - let’s have a look at your current list.

Yes! From the top then I guess! Here’s current iteration of my orks:



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