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Grotz 101

Ah, the humble Grot. In every society, there are those who are on the bottom of the heap. Quite literally downtrodden (and kicked and beaten), the Grotz are always on the wrong end of things - including the food chain!

Individually, Grotz are piss-poor troops. Their statline sucks, their gun is a peice of junk, and their morale - well, we just won't talk about it. But you get them together in a mob, and they suddenly become ... well, still piss-poor. However, they do have their uses.

Grotz do have a few things going for them. Number one, they're dirt cheap. If used poorly, you'll get exactly what you pay for. Your opponent also knows this. So use their apparent worthlessness to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to shove that 20 grot squad into the meat grinder and have it wiped out. After all, it was only 80 points.

Grots also have a couple of abilities and options, as well as some tactical tricks to make them very useful. They've lost a couple of neat tricks with the new codex, but they can still prove pretty useful. Here's how to use and abuse the Grotz.


The poor Ork saddled with the thankless task of driving a grot mob into battle is known as a Runtherd. Runtherds, also called Slavers, are responsible for keeping a grot mob in line and to keep them from running away like the cowardly gits they are. To assist them in their chore, Runtherds have a few nifty items at their disposal.

Grabba Stikk: Whether it takes the form of a large spiked claw on a pole or a nasty looking whip, a grabba stick is a Runtherd's tool of choice for keeping grotz in line and throttling anything within reach. They can cause a single enemy model in base contact to lose an attack (to a minimum of 1). This can work great when using the "Tar Pit" tactic (see below).

Squig Hound: A foul-tempered (and foul-smelling) little beasty that eats errant grotz on command. These vicious critters are very handy for keeping the grotz in the fight. If the grot mob fails a morale check, just feed D3 grotz to the hound and re-roll the check.

Grot-Prod: A handy electric prod that allows a Runtherd to wound any enemy on a 4+. This would be great, but it replaces the grabba stikk and your opponent still gets his armor save. Personally, I prefer having my opponent's big nasties lose an attack (or more with multiple Runtherds in base contact), rather than have a half-ass attempt at laying a wound on him.

It's a Grots Life

This is a marginally useful ability that allows a grot mob to remove a minefield. Wow. Big deal.
I mean really, how often have you even SEEN a minefield in 40k, let alone been willing to potentially damage a unit by going over it. I really would have preffered they keep the "Living Shield" and "Better Footing" abilities, but c'est la vie.

The rule operates like this: The grot mob is charged over a minefield to make the mines safe! Take 3D6 grotz away as casualties and remove the minefield. It's a very characterful rule, but not a game-winner by any means.

Well that does it for their options and special rules. Let's look at how to use the little runts

"The T-Bone"

I generally use my grots as an assault shield. Orks are at their best when charging an opponent and a grot mob deployed as a skirmish screen can help you acheive that.

The "T-Bone" tactic is a essentially like the "Speedbump" tactic I talked about in the Unit Tactics section, but modified slightly to take into account the unique makeup of the grot mob. The basic idea is to spread out the grots so they can't all be killed in one assault, but any in the kill zone are done for. If you're keeping grotz in base to base, hoping to tie up the unit and get some licks in, consider these points:

The T-Bone in action

1) I don't care who you are fighting, the grotz WILL lose the combat. They don't have the statline to cause more than one or two lucky casualties, and they will undoubtedly take more than that.

2) Their leadership sucks, pure and simple. The squig hound can help mitigate this, but plan on the grotz running for their lives.

However, in spite these two rather major flaws, grotz can be one of the most useful units in an ork army if used correctly. As an assault screen, they help get your boyz charging instead being charged. Here's how the "T-Bone" works:

Stick your grotz out in front of your boyz mobs, make a long line across the front to get maximum coverage. Then run a single line of grotz down one side of your boyz unit (or down the middle between units if covering more than one). This configuration will look like a "T" or an upside-down "L" depending on how you place them. Near the bottom of the "T", away from the enemy, is where you put the Runtherds (see picture). Make sure the front line of grotz is at least 3" or more from the nearest ork.

Now, assume a nasty close combat unit wants to get you. Well, they're going to have to get through the grot shield first. The assaulters will hit your grots, and since the little runts are spread so thin the assaulting unit will likely mop the floor with every grot in the kill zone. Make damn sure that you remove every grot from base contact when pulling casualties. When the time for a morale check comes around, one of two things will happen.

First up, let's assume the little blighters decide to run like the weedy runts that they are. You had no models in base contact with the enemy, so they can't sweeping advance. They get their 3" consolidation which isn't enough to get to your orks if you placed them properly. On your turn, the orks rush in and do what they do best.

Now if the grotz hold (yes, miracles do happen from time to time), the assault unit must pile-in on the grotz and can't contact another unit. The enemy has to pile-in first, since it's his turn and he charged you. When you pile in, make sure to get your grotz into base contact with as many of the enemy as you can while leaving a few gaps for the boyz to get in. Try to get your Runtherds into base contact during the pile in, that way you can reduce the attacks of your opponent in the following round.

Here's where it gets REALLY nasty. Most of the enemy unit is in contact with grotz, meaning they have to attack them. There will probably be only a few in contact with orks; meaning da boyz will be able to inflict maximum punishment, while likely only suffering a few casualties in return. This is especially important against opponents with a higher initiative so da boyz can get their licks in.

This tactic takes a bit of practice to get down pat, but once you do, you'll never field orks without a grot mob.

"The Tar Pit"

Got a nasty close combat gribbly coming your way? Need for that guy to cool his heels for a round or two so you can deal with him proppa like? Run a Grot Mob forward and bury that assault monster in a sea of green runtz!

As I've stated before, the grot statline is pathetic. They aren't going to kill much in close combat. But they do have one thing going for them. Unit size. Where else in 40k can you get a couple dozen ablative wounds for less than 100 points. They may not kill much but they don't need to, they're there to die. Just not quickly.

The Tar Pit

And hey... any kills they do make are bragging points. There's nothing sweeter than rubbing your buddy's nose in the fact that his nasty lord in terminator armor took one in the groin from a snotling with a sharp stick!

The "Tar Pit" is a tactic to keep an enemy model occupied until you can properly deal with it. Likely candidates are chaos lords, hive tyrants, or any other tough beastie you don't want running roughshod through your lines. These big nasties can cause a real mess if left unchecked. In order to deal with them, you often need a 'specialist' (i.e. a Powerklaw toting Nob) who may need some time to get into position. The whole purpose of a "Tar Pit" is to bury the gribbly in grotz to buy time. Hopefully, the grot mob will hold long enough for your 'specialist' to get in there and take care of business.

There are a few things to know about grotz in a close combat. First off, they have a tendency to die. The "Tar Pit" tactic only works against a single models, or at least a small number of models. Don't try it against an assault unit at full strength or they'll mow you down like grass. The second thing to be aware of is how you remove your casualties.

In a "Tar Pit", you'll want to pull the casualties from base contact whenever possible. That way the grot mob can't be wiped out by a sweeping advance if you blow the morale check (and the hound re-roll). Against some enemies this will be easier than others.

Something on a regular 25mm or 40mm base will likely have quite a few attacks. Since you can't get that many grotz in contact with such a small target, removing all models in base contact will be easier. Independent Characters, Demon Princes and guys in Terminator Armor fall into this category. If you end up re-rolling the morale check, take the grots you feed to the hound from base contact as well. This tactic will help avoid nasty sweeping advance problems. Against gribblies like these having a Runtherd in base contact isn't generally a good idea, using a grabba stikk to reduce the number of attacks will likely keep you in base contact and vulnerable to getting swept.

Against a really big beastie on a very large base, like Dreadnaughts, Wraithlords, and Tyranid Big Bugs, removing all models in base contact is less likely. In cases like this you want to stick as many Runtherds as you can into base contact to reduce incoming attacks and allow you to hang in there as long as possible. Against things like Dreadnaughts, with a low number of high strength attacks, you can reduce the amount of damage you take considerably.

I have personally used this tactic against a variety of opponents. My personal favorite was keeping a Rune Priest in terminator armor occupied for 3 full turns. The grotz even laid a wound on him! Not bad for a 80 point unit.

Objective Camping

The above tactics are all fine and good if you're facing an assault army. But what about an army like the Tau or Imperial Guard who just sit back and make you eat lead? Since the grotz lost their "Living Shield" rule, they can no longer provide cover saves for the Orks behind them. However, they still have a use: Objective Camping.

Even though the unit costs next to nothing and has pathetic stats, grot mobs still count as scoring units. By using grotz, an ork player can hold objectives cheaper than any other army in the game. By just parking themselves on an objective (preferably in cover) and sitting tight, a grot mob can capture many times it's own value in Victory Points.

Let's say you're playing a table quarters battle at 1500 points. Would you rather have a couple hundred points of orks holding down a quarter to gain 375 VPs, or send less than 100 points of grots to do the same job so the orks can go smash something?


Grots are all about using and abusing their points cost. Sure, clearing mines may sound fun, but when was the last time it changed the course of a game? The key to grotz is tactics. They don't have good stats or fancy options, so don't try to use them as something they're not.

And remember, the odds of a grot mob nailing a carnifex are terrible. But when it happens, you win the game, regardless of what the victory points say.

Back to "Deep Strike"

Next: "Tau Shoot n' Scoot"