The Ork Population System Explained
Okay, since there have been a lot of new players to DC coming into these forums we have seen an increase in the number of people being totally clueless, or having the wrong idea, of how the ork population system actually works, even though Orks have been around since the beginning of DoW! Yes, this has been covered in threads in the past but they have all been long lost in the black hole of the relicforums archives so here is a hopefully noob-friendly guide to the way the ork population system works.
Number 1: Ork Cap
The first thing to note about the Orks is that they do not have a squad cap like every other race in the game. All the other races have a limit to the number of squads they can build before they need to increase their cap, but they can reinforce these squads to maximum strength without needing any additional upgrades. Orks do not work this way.
Orks work on what is known as Ork cap. This may seem confusing at first since it's so far removed from the way the other races work but it's really not that hard to understand. Instead of a limit to the number of squads they can field, orks have limit to the number of orks they can field. Every ork you have on the battlefield takes up ork cap. This means two squads of four orks take the same ork cap as one squad of eight orks. This means that, unlike the other races, reinforcing your squads takes up ork pop. If you have 4 sluggas, and reinforce that squad to 8 for example, it will take 8 ork pop for the squad, not 4.
- Gretchins take up 0 pop. This is the ONLY ork unit that does not use pop cap.
- Sluggas, Shootas, Stormboyz, Tankbustas and Mad Docs all take up 1 Ork pop each.
- Nob Leaders, Nobz, Flash Gitz, The Big Mek, Warboss and Mega-Armoured Nobz all take up 2 ork pop each.
The above is an important thing to note about the ork heroes. Unlike all other races with the exception of the Imperial Guard, Ork heroes take up pop cap, as do their squad leaders. If you do not have the ork pop to build them, they can't be built!
So a force consisting of 8 sluggas with a nob leader, 4 shootas, and a BM will take up 16 ork cap.
Note that vehicles do NOT take up ork pop, they have their own seperate vehicle cap which by and large works the same way as the other races.
- Wartrukks, Wartraks and the Squiggoth all take up 3 vehicle pop.
- Killa Kans take up 4 vehicle pop.
- Looted Tanks take up 5 vehicle pop.
Number 2: Increasing your Ork Cap
Okay, so now you have the basics on how the ork population system works. So you jump into a game and...hey...wait...you've only got 15 ork pop to start with! That's not many orks, so how do you increase your pop cap so you can build more orks? Excellent question.
Orks do not increase their population cap the same way as most of the other races with simple upgrades found in the HQ, nor do they receive any increase in pop cap by adding squad leaders like most of the other races (in fact squad leaders actually take up pop cap, as previously noted). To increase their population cap, orks must build a special building called a Waaagh banner. Each Waaagh banner you build increases your ork population cap by 10 and increases your vehicle cap by 2. Each waagh banner also progesses you up the tech tree, which we'll get to covering soon. For the purposes of this guide, building a waaagh banner will increase your ork cap by 10 (on an interesting side note for you game junkies out there, building additional HQ's will give you an extra 2 ork cap). Unfortunately, this system does have it's drawbacks. Unlike the other races orks can be knocked back in their population cap if their waaagh banners are destroyed. This will also be covered in more detail below.
All other races have a maximum squad limit of 20. Since orks don't work on a squad cap, they are limited to a maximum of 100 ork pop.
Each banner will increase your vehicle pop by 2 up to a maximum of 20.
Number 3: Ork Resource
Okay, Ork resource. This is where is starts getting tricky my young padawans, so sit down and pay attention.
Orks effectively have a third resource known as Ork Resource. This is the red number in the top left corner of the screen underneath the requisition and power numbers. Even though it's not a resource technically speaking, it's probably the best description for it. As explained above, every ork you have on the field takes up ork pop, and you need to build waaagh banners to increase that ork pop so you can build more orks. That's how it works on a basic level...but as you may have noticed, you need to wait a few seconds after building a banner before you can actually build more orks, you can't do it straight away. Why is this? It's because after you construct that banner, you need to wait for your ork resource to accumulate before you can build more orks.
Think of Waaagh banners as kind of similar to generators...once that generator is built you'll need to wait until enough power has accumulated to be able to build what you wanted to build. Banners work in a similar way, but unlike generators, constructing more does not increase the rate your ork resource accumulates. Constructing more banners instead increases your maximum ork cap, but you'll still need to wait a set amount of time for the ork resource to accumulate before you can take advantage of that maximum pop cap. Ork resource will roughly increase by 1 every 1 game second.
So, the ork resource works hand in hand with your maximum ork pop. Here's an example.
You start with a maximum 15 ork pop. This means that the ork resource will accumulate up to a maximum of 15 until you build a waaagh banner.
So, you build a waaagh banner, and this increases your maximum ork cap to 25. You then need to wait until your ork resource accumulates before you can build more orks, and it will accumulate up to a maximum of 25.
Now then, here's where it starts getting a bit trickier.
Your ork resource is determined not just by the amount of orks you have on the field, but also the amount of orks you can potentially have on the field. You'll notice at the start of a game, your ork resource will accumulate to a maximum of 15. This means you can potentially build 15 pop worth of orks. Build a squad of sluggas however, and your accumulated ork resource decreases by 4, and you don't get that back (unless the sluggas all die, which we'll get to soon). You are now reduced to an accumulated ork resource of 11, so now you can only build 11 pop worth of orks. But but but! Notice that your maximum ork resource remains at 15. For all intents and purposes, you have 15 ork pop worth of orks, even though only 4 of them are actually on the field.
If you are starting to have a brain spasm right about now, you probably aren't alone. Talk about a head spin!
Our great forum fact fairy and ork extraordinnaire Slow_Runner once explained the ork resource system like a bank. You build your waaagh banners, and ork resource starts accumulating into an ork resource bank. By building orks, you withdraw from the bank, but you haven't spent the ork resource, you still have it in your pocket, so you still have the same amount of ork resource. It's just split into two different places.
If those built orks die however, you haven't lost that ork resource. It will accumulate back into your bank account up to the current maximum ork pop.
It seems convoluted, but it really isn't that hard to understand once you get your head around it. Increase your maximum ork pop by building banners, wait a bit, then you can build more orks. If those orks die, wait a bit, then you can build them again. Your ork resource is the combination of the orks you have on the field as well as the orks you haven't built yet but can potentially build.
Number 4: Ork teching system
Orks tech differently to other races, and their teching system is quite unique. The Ork's teching system is based around the current ork resource level.
All ork units, upgrades and structures require a certain amount of ork resource to build. The ork's armoury structure, the Pile O' Gunz, requires an ork pop of 20 to build. This means from the start of the game, you need to construct a waaagh banner, then wait for your ork resource to increase to 20 before you can build the structure. The same goes with units...Stormboyz for example require an ork pop of 31, so you need to construct 2 banners, then wait for your resource to accumulate to 31 before you can build stormboyz. Some units and structures require other stuff to be built as well on top of needing the ork pop...for example Nobz require 55 ork pop as well as the PoG to be built.
I have a complete Ork tech tree listing for Dark Crusade at the following link:
You'll notice it's split up into what you can build or upgrade after each successive banner. Once you hit tier 3 though (that is, once you upgrade the settlement to the orky fort), additional banners do not increase tech level (but they still increase your maximum ork pop).
Number 5: Disadvantages of the Ork system
So now, hopefully, you have a pretty solid understanding on how the ork population system works, how the ork resource system works and how the ork teching system works.
Wait a minute, how come my tech level or my current maximum ork pop decreases?
Unfortunately the ork's system of doing things does have it's disadvantages. It's really easy to be knocked backwards in tech level or maximum ork pop, something the other races generally don't need to deal with. If a banner is destroyed, you will instantly lose the maximum ork pop it provides. If you are currently at 55 ork pop for example, if you lose a banner, your maximum ork pop will instantly decrease to 45. If however your ork resource has already accumulated to 55, it will stay that way until you build more orks. Once you start building orks, you'll use that stored up ork resource, but it will only accumulate back to a maximum of 45 until you replace that banner. Therefore, your tech level will not decrease despite losing banners until you actually build orks and use up your stored away ork resource. So if you are at 55 pop and you still have your PoG, but then lose a banner, you can still build Nobz. However you'll quickly find you can no longer build new squads of them until you replace that banner (existing squads can still be reinforced though, provided you have the spare ork resource to do it). This applies to vehicles too...if you are at 65 pop and lose a banner, you can still build a killa kan. But if you build a nob squad before you replace that missing banner, and your ork resource drops to 55 as a result, you'll find you can no longer build killa kans until you replace that banner. Remember vehicles don't count towards the ork pop system, but they are still affected by it.
Keep in mind, good players will exploit this weakness and target your banners in an effort to try and knock you back in tech level. Be prepared to replace those banners a lot, especially later in the game.
There are some ork units that do not require a ork pop level however. These are all the units that can be built once you have your orky fort. That is: Warboss, Mad Doc and Flash Gitz. As long as your orky fort is still standing, these units can still be built regardless of how many banners you lose once you get to that point. Looted Tanks can also still be built once Extra Vehicle Armour has been researched and are not affected by banners...however the Squiggoth is affected by banners as well as requiring a captured relic.
HOWEVER, the "gotcha" here is that your tier 2 and tier 1 units are still affected by the banners even once you are in tier 3. If you are in tier 3, and you lose enough banners while you are continuing to pump orks out, you'll quickly find you can't build nobz, tankbustas, stormboyz, wartrukks, wartraks, killa kans or MANZ. Don't be caught out by this! If you want to keep building these units in tier 3, you'll need to replace those banners.
Wow...what a marathon! Hopefully by reading this guide, you'll have a much better understanding of how the ork population, ork resource and ork teching system actually works.
Now that you are armed with this knowledge, go out 'dere an' smash dem humies!