Sunday, 18 April 2010

A guide to Black Orcs - Part 1

"Armed and armoured to fight in the thick of melee as a warrior and tanker, the Black Orc matches physical hardiness with a down and dirty brawler’s fighting style that makes him the heart of any war band. With choppa and shield in hand, he can face down any foe unshaken. However, it is his unique approach to fighting that makes him as deadly with his fists as with either of those tools. He’ll knock you down so you can’t fight back, and then kick you while you’re down. There’s no honour among Greenskins, and there’s no such thing as a fair fight – and that’s the way he likes it!"

Black Orcs are the Greenskin army tanks. Huge, hulking and green they are an instantly recognisable sight on the battlefield and are (in my opinion, which may be biased) the best 'feeling' class in the game through looks, abilities and background. People may laugh at you if you charge in with a chosen screaming about change for the raven god as a Chosen.. People cheer when you charge in as a Black Orc screaming "WAAAAAAAAAGHHH!".

This first Black Orc guide is not about how to level up your Black Orc, or where to quest and what loot is best, that may come later on; this is simply an introduction, to give a bit of background and understanding to our class and mechanic. We are huge, lumbering Greenskins, encased in metal with spikes sticking out from our armour. We have vast amounts of hit points and toughness and although we lack the technical skills such as high levels of parry, block and reduction in being critically hit that the Chosen or Blackguard have, the raw survivability stats can make the Black Orc a formidable foe in RvR.

The Black Orc - sometimes known as a Borc or Bob (Black Orc Brawler/Boss) - has two class mechanics, Bellows and Da Plan so lets look at those first.

Bellows :

Bellows are self buffs. You get a choice of three, all of which do different things. The difference with a standard buff though and bellows is that all bellows are based on procs (when there's a chance that something will happen rather than a guarantee). Two of the bellows (Biggest and Toughest) are a 25% chance of activating when hitting something and the last (Greenest) activates when being hit (again a 25% chance). We’ll look at each type of bellow individually.

Da Biggest: This is the bellow from the brawler tree, it’s a stat stealing proc which has a 25% chance when you hit a target to steal a random stat (other than wounds) from all enemies within 30 feet of you. Since this is a steal you and your party within 100 feet gain the stat you’ve stolen for 10 seconds. This does unfortunately mean that sometimes you will steal ballistic skill from a warrior priest but other times you’ll steal strength from a slayer. Fully specced at rank 40 in Brawler and you’ll be stealing 120 points where a rank 40 without any brawler points will steal 75. This is an excellent bellow for threat as well as the de buff that the mob receives will take a decent amount of threat from you and when you’re AOE tanking a big swing can be enough to de buff multiple targets keeping them locked on you.

Best Use: Da Biggest is the RvR bellow of choice due to the de buffs and buffs provided.

Da Toughest: Toughest comes from the toughest tree and is a self heal bellow. This heals the black orc between 300 and 480 wounds (depending on how much you have in the toughest tree) when it procs. There is a 25% chance upon hitting a target that this will proc however it’s on a 10 second cooldown which means at best you will heal yourself every 10 seconds and at worse it could be every 20 seconds or so. This is commonly used in situations where you are without a healer or you need a fairly constant trickle of health. It’s not the best for PvE tanking due to the low proc rate and low health regained (and lets be honest if you need to rely on 480 health every 10 seconds then you have issues with your healers. Even in RvR tanking the heal is minimal so it adds no benefit to your war band or scenario group (providing you have healers).

Best use: Solo grinding, duels or scenarios where there’s no healer.

Da Greenest: Coming from the boss tree this is a situational bellow. It relies on you getting hit for it to proc (25% chance) and it will give you and your group within 100 ft a resist buff or armour buff for ten seconds depending on what hit you. This sounds like a great bellow other than the crucial fact that tanks are generally the last targets on the battlefield to be targeted so your bellow doesn’t help as much. Add in the fact that most people will be or are already close to hitting the soft cap on resists and the buff doesn’t add as much protection as you’d believe. It’s certainly not as useful as the biggest bellow, however it can be good for keep sieges or battlefield objective defences where you will be in the front line hopefully buffing yourself and your group as you get assaulted.

Best Use: Situational defences where tank walls are formed up or high lag situations where you can't do much other than hold the line.

So to summarise, in almost every situation it’s best to use the biggest bellow to not only buff yourself and group but also to debuff your enemies. By all accounts play with the other bellows and see if any of them fit other situations not described but you can’t go wrong with more stats!

The Plan Mechanic:

The plan mechanic is the basis of how we attack our enemies. There are three levels of plan, No Plan , Da Gud Plan and Da Best Plan. Most of our actions fit into one of these three and can only be used after the previous plan has been activated. This leads to chains of attacks which grow in power as they get to the end of the chain before resetting back to the first plan. Actions in our last plan cost no Action Points and are generally the most powerful abilities we have.

However there are downsides to the mechanic. The nature of the mechanic means you lose a lot of flexibility in your attacks - you cannot guarantee to be able to use the attack you want to use as you may be in the wrong plan, that archmage might already be out of range by the time you get to the plan which lets you snare, silence or knock him down. Although the last plan is no action point cost, it’s offset by the first two plans being higher than average costs. These two disadvantages are by design however one which is not by design and which can be critical is unfortunately lag. In high lag situations the games takes a long time to realise what plan you are in, this unfortunately can mean that in mass RvR you are stuck spamming first plan attacks until the game realises you’re in the next plan. The Black Orc can be very frustrating to play and is not an easy mechanic to understand compared to the hate of Black Guards or the auras of the Chosen, however work with it and understand the limitations and you can play the Black Orc well.


With the Black Orc you don’t have a one button killing machine, you have to deal with a complicated mechanic and rely on procs for any of your buffs. You need to plan ahead and know what you’re doing. A Black Orc has to be in control of the battlefield or at least know what will be happening in advance, he cannot react to it as quickly as other classes so you lose a lot of effectiveness. However if you master this and have confidence in your abilities to understand the battle then you can be a key piece in a warband. Think of yourself as a rock. You might not be the most flexible, but as an almost immovable object you can get the rest of the world to adjust to you.