Ghazgkull Mag Uruk Thraka, prophet of Gork and Mork, has long stood within the obscurity of his defeats and apparent inability to conquer a single planet (Piscina VI, Armageddon during the second war). The Waaagh Ghazgkull book puts all of these events in a new light, bringing forward new details of the conquering of Uruk, the events that brought about the deadlock on Armageddon and the tales of the fresh hell occurring within Octaria and how Ghazgkull has shaped these conflicts.
Gork (and possibly Mork) have had plans for Ghazgkull all along it seems, and the worst is yet to come from the greatest greenskin warboss that ever lived. The book is broadly divided into the background section, detailing the three major warzones of Ghazgkulls life, the formations that are deployed by the Prophet of the Waagh and the extra rules required for playing with Waagh Ghazgkull (including warlord traits and unique relics).
The background contained within Waagh Ghazgkull sets out to do something not done previously. It sets out to completely rebuild the character of Ghazgkull and turn him into a credible threat to the Imperium. The three warzones chosen to depict this are Urk, the greenskin melting pot, Armageddon, the most war-torn planet in the Imperium, and Octaria, the next prospective meal of Hive Fleet Leviathan.
Uruk was a decades fractured greenskin planet brought under the influence of Ghazgkull following his fortuitous raid on an outpost of the Dark Angels (imagine how they’d react if they knew they were responsible for Ghazgkull!) and the subsequent surgery performed by Mad Dok Grotsnik . The narrative of the desolation of Uruk by the Orks is a grim one befitting any world within the 40k universe. The setting of a rising and falling system of empires on a single planet creates the impression that the planet would only be conquered by a truly exceptional Ork. This is exactly what it takes and Ghazgkulls rise to power is demonstrated in elaborate detail.
The scale of Uruk is built up more in a clever and indirect way during the next section – the first war for Armageddon. The scale of the war and the amount of Orks attacking Armageddon are huge. This has the dual effect of making the conquest of Uruk more impressive. The tenacity of Ghazgkull and the pure rage that is felt for Commisar Yarrick is evident within the book as the description of the stubborn refusal to leave Hades Hives to conquer the rest of Armageddon demonstrates.
The lead up to the Third invasion of Armageddon is covered in detail at this point and has been summarised in many places previously. One slightly lacking point here is the lack of information presented about Golgotha and Ghazghkulls desire to turn it into a burgeoning ammo factory ready to supply the Third War of Armageddon. This coupled with the crushing defeat of Yarrick needed more detail here. The alliance with Nazdreg and the subsequent folding in of the Bad Moonz resources is demonstrated well from the point onwards, particularly the inclusion and subsequent work of one of the side focuses of the booking – Orkimedes.
The Third War on Armageddon has been described in greater detail than we have words to do justice for. This was previously the finishing point of the journey of Ghazgkull. This was expanded slightly in the Ork codex with The Beasts escape from Armageddon on Kill Kruza and the subsequent pursuit by Helbrecht and Yarrick. Gork/Mork speaking to Ghazgkull and the immediate seizing of Urgoks Waagh following the Ork Gods granting a reprieve is wonderfully thought out. The aftermath of this and the war against the Leviathan on Octaria demonstrate Ghazgkulls ability to meet a new threat and his adaptability in the face of this new adversity. Using Urgoks and the Overfiend of Octarias already immense Waaghs combined as a bludgeon against Leviathan may be the only reprieve that the Imperium gets.
As well as the detailed descriptions of the major conflicts of Ghazgkulls Waagh, there are details on the formations presented during this section and in the case of the Morkanaunts and Gorkanauts, they come with pictures to help recreate some of the more famous units (though three of the ‘Nauts could be excessive) in his Waagh. These are the sort of characterful units that turn a generic Ork army led by Ghazgkull into his almighty Waagh. The description of the three ‘Nauts vying for leadership of the unit is my own personal favourite here.
I believe trying to review the missions is going to fail in a large way due to the fact that I have not played them. I intend on playing them in the near future and will, obviously, keep you updated on Graven Games as to how this turns out.
The Army Extras
The detachment system for Waagh Ghazgkull is unique as we have come to expect from the new Warhammer 40,000 books. There is a heavy emphasis on troops and elite choices, reflecting the extended use of boys and Nobz by Ghazgkulls Waagh. The extras for this formation are both simple and potentially devastating. Eight troops choices with the potential to Deep Strike is the potential biggest draw for this army as it allows an immense amount of mid game tactical flexibility for capturing objectives and surprising enemy firebases. Combine this with the potential for Nobz to drop in for an interesting twist on conventional Ork tactics.
There are a few army wide rules for taking the Ghazgkull detachment. The first ‘Biggest and the Best means that the Warboss must issue challenges and accept them. The second of these is that the Mob Rule becomes more brutal. The modified mob rule makes the army less appealing as they guarantee more casualties for the unit when they fail morale checks. The mandatory tying up of characters in challenges is another drawback when Warbosses and Nobs are better served ripping units apart at will with their very expensive Power Claws.
The army formations look very familiar to those who have played Orks at Apocalypse level during the first edition of the rules. The green tide, dread mob and blitz brigade are Ghazghkull exclusives nowadays. This seems to be counter intuitive in a manner because the Ork players who have played for any considerable length of time will have the models for these units already and the sales ploy involved with regards to buying a second book needed for fielding their own models. There have been some formation updates which are welcome and refreshing as well. The addition of +1WS for the Bully Boys, the scouting deployment of the Battlewagons and the Hammer of Wrath addition to the Dread Mobs spring to mind here.
The standout unit of the book appears to be the Vulka Squad. The ability to form a single jumbo deep striking unit that only scatters 1D6 and has the benefit of the shred rule, this unit is the epitome of Orkish shock and awe. Snikrots Kommandos came a very close second here in my opinion with their shrouded rule allowing a lot of potential sneaking. This sort of tactic is not very Orky really but still quite useful overall.
Overall a lot of this section feels quite lazy. The council of Waagh, for example, could have actually named the Warbosses included in the unit and had Makari waving the banner of the Great Waagh. Also, who in their right mind would not think that the Mek accompanying the council is Orkimedes? This would have presented a much more characterful and interesting unit. The Warbosses get a +2 Weapon Skill bonus and the rest get +1 WS (including Ghazgkull) and extra use from the Warlords traits.
This section exemplifies the idea that adding generic special rules to things make them special. Scouting Battlewagons coupled with something to prevent the first turn charge is not really all that special because a savy Ork Commander with 5 battlewagons will be able to get them where he wants them to be for unloading cargo on Turn 2 regardless of where they deploy. These rules feel like they are attempting to make the previous formations feel more special.
The Extras (Warlord Traits and Armoury)
One of the perks of using this list is the addition of a new Warlord Traits table that seems to reflect both the religious aspect of the Waagh, the fiendish hand of Ghazgkull and the devilish cunning of Orkimedes.
Supa Shootist, which increases a Warlords ballistic skill to 3, feels like it has been put in specifically for use in the Piscina Scenario. The value of this trait is self evident but if your Warboss is shooting, he’s not chopping which is where he really needs to be.
Waagh Mongerer; Gaining the crusader rule is nothing to sniff at and is definitely one of the stronger rolls on this table. Allowing Warbosses on foot (Whats one of those?!) to get into combat quicker is advantageous and would work especially well if you were fielding a Green Tide and their Warboss was your commander (though this is unlikely as the scale of game required for a Green Tide would almost mandate using Ghazgkull and the Council of Waagh).
Madboy continues in this style. The addition of Rage to a Warboss is a nice one but nothing really worth elaborating on. The benefits of this are obvious and its inclusion feels lazy on the part of the books author.
The next trait is probably the best on this list. A Kunnin Plan means the Warboss and a unit he is accompanying can Outflank the opponent. The tactical benefits of such a unit are huge and considering this can be combined with Ghazgkull/The council of Waagh and its hard to not let out a good hearty chuckle.
Callin in a Favour provides a Master Crafted weapon to a Warboss. Re-rolling to hits is never a bad thing with a commander, especially considering that Orks MUST accept challenges now. Not much more that can be said about this trait.
The traits feel a bit lacklustre, except for A Kunnin Plan. They only buff the Warboss himself and do not have a lot of benefits befitting one of the leftenutz of the greatest Ork Warboss of the age. The potential for grander tactical advantages has been grossly overlooked in favour of establishing unique bosses with extra rules. This has become symptomatic of the current edition of the game and the many supplements being published currently.
The armoury of the book is filled with a plethora of interesting and unique items. The only one really worth of mention is the Mega Forcefield. Improving the existing one to a 4+ cover save makes the choice of a Mek almost mandatory and for said Mek to be left as dead centre in the Ork force as it possible. Honourable mention goes to the Choppa of the Ragnaork for sheer destructive potential here. The other items are too random or simply confer more rules on the boss to be of major use anywhere else in the army.
In conclusion, Waagh Ghazkgull feels like an extended love letter to three sets of people:-
- Diehard Ork players
- Apocalypse players
- Lore enthusiasts
The formations and the army specific rules definitely favour those who play bigger games or simply enjoyed playing Apocalypse with the Orks previously. The extended lore of the book finally establishes Ghazgkull as the menace to the galaxy he deserved to be. The book will please diehard Ork fans immeasurably too. My biggest gripe with the book is that there appears to be no continuation of the feud with Yarrick due to the half a galaxy separating The Beast and the Old Man.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lee Pratt is a ten year veteran of Games Workshop games and has been playing games of all types even longer. He is also the former editor of the Watchman magazine. Following his hiatus from writing, Lee has delved deeper into the darker recesses of the far future.