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How To Basic: Orc

02.12.18 | Cepheid , RehcraM 3836


Here's the How To Basic guide for the final race, Orc. So if you want to learn how to channel your inner brute and crush your opponent with raw, untamed power, make sure to read this article!

Pros and Cons


  • Hard to kill
    • Orc has a natural hardiness with high hit point units, complimented by many spells and abilities that sustain fights and keep the Orc army healthy. They also benefit from a shared armor upgrade for all units, which helps encourage a play style of long drawn out battles.
  • Strong racial hero options
    • All the Orc heroes are incredibly powerful and are all used in several different scenarios. Orc is arguably the race that has the strongest tri-hero combination.
  • Voodoo lounge
    • Every item in the Orc shop is invaluable and mends Orc's weaknesses well. Efficient healing with salves, the unique Tiny Great Hall for late game expansions, a powerful Orb and the incredible speed scroll which too often goes underappreciated by newer players.
  • Strong presence at Tier 2
    • All but one of the Orc units are available at Tier 2, which allows them the unique ability to field their late game army early on. This entails them hitting a strong power spike once their Tier 2 units take the field, giving them a good map presence.


  • Weak late game powerhouse unit
    • The other races all have strong Tier 3 units that, if permitted, can be devastating in high population battles. Orc has the Tauren which, while strong on the ground, is easily crowd controlled or focused by the other races' big hitters such as Frost Wyrms, Gryphon Riders or Chimeras.
  • Vulnerable key buildings
    • Any player who has a few Orc games under their belt has keenly felt the pain of their burrows being destroyed, delaying their second hero or first Tier 2 units. They are the only race who have a supply building that does not have fortified armor, making them ripe for the picking. In addition they have a very predictable Tier 2 timing where they must build their Tier 2 production buildings, which is regularly exploited by opponents to delay the Orc's progress.
  • No magic immunity / weak anti-magic
    • Orc is the only race with no magic immune units.This leads to the massing of spells or magic damage being quite effective, as we see with the commonly used mass casters by Night Elf (Talons) and Human (Sorceresses/Priests). In addition, the anti-magic from Spirit Walkers is not nearly as attractive as the other races selections.
  • Limited anti-air options
    • Orcs deal well with a cloud of low hit point airborne units such as Gargoyles or Flying Machines due to Bat Riders, but have less tools to deal with the likes of Frost Wyrms, Destroyers and Gryphon Riders.



On their own, Peons are nothing special. They haven’t got the ability to summon buildings like Acolytes, they can’t power-build like Peasants nor can they detonate like the Night Elves’ Wisps. When coupled with the Orc Burrows, they do, however, have the ability to both hide themselves and aid in defending your base.

It’s important to have your Orc Burrows placed optimally for each match-up, so make sure to read up on the Orc base layout (see links under miscellaneous). Furthermore, a good tip is to always have an Orc Burrow by your expansion. That way your Peons will be much less vulnerable to potential harassment.


Being both beefy and dealing a very respectable amount of damage, Grunts are a great tier 1 unit that is only matched by few others. Like so many other tier 1 units, it does, however, fall short to tier 2 units, so while they are strong, you don’t want to invest too handily in them. Their high price-tag also entails that losing just one of them in the early game is a big loss for you, so watch out for surrounds!

Thankfully, the Spirit Walker’s Spirit Link allows Grunts to soak up damage on behalf of your key tier 2 units, which gives them a use in the later stages of the game as well.

Troll Headhunter

On paper, one must have thought that mass Druid of the Talons against Orc is a ludicrous idea since Troll Headhunter’s damage and armor type counters them very well. Even so, said strategy was the meta for over a decade against Orc.

The key reason as to why they didn’t work is their low range paired with low durability. This makes them very awkward to navigate during fights and leads to them easily being picked apart by the enemy heroes.

One place where Troll Headhunters (in the form of Troll Berserkers) have found their way to meta game play is against Undead. In this matchup Orcs can afford to tech to tier 3 to acquire a third hero and the Orb of Lightning, which leads to Troll Berserkers being easily accessible. So, if your opponent is going heavy on Destroyers, they are great at shooting them down.


Demolisher is not a flashy unit. It’s a Siege weapon that does its job against structures, but it’s also vulnerable and quite ineffective in fights.

You’ll mostly be getting Demolishers against the common tier 2 timing attack against Humans where they put down towers to keep you in your base. If they succeed to complete the towers, you, more often than not, will need Demolishers to break free from their siege against you.


Raiders are arguably the most important unit in your army, rivalled only by Spirit Walkers. Their high movement speed and Ensnare ability easily makes them the very best unit for lock-down in the entire game. Due to this unit alone, backing out of a fight against Orc is hardly a possibility without suffering heavy losses. Ensnare is also very effective to keep an enemy hero unit in place so you are free to focus fire it. As it’s a physical ability, it can’t even be dispelled!

The movement speed and Siege attack type makes Raiders great at striking the enemy’s base – especially with Pillage researched. If they try to attack your base, you’re very likely to come out on top.

The Siege damage is, however, a bit lacklustre in fights, so you can’t rely too much on your Raiders being your main source of damage in fights.

Kodo Beast

While this unit on its own is dreadful, it’s a vital part of the Orc army as it boosts your other units significantly. With the Devour ability you can take out an enemy unit in an instant. This makes Kodo Beasts an excellent counter to units such as Abominations, Druids of the Claw and Knights.

Wind Rider

Wind Riders are outliers compared to the other Orc units in terms of bulkiness and damage output. They deal an incredible amount of damage but are also extremely vulnerable – a true ‘glass cannon’ unit.

If you can delay you opponent or surprise them so they haven’t got any proper answer to Wind Riders, they’ll be able to grant you victories in a dominant fashion. As their upgrade, Envenomed Spears stack, Wind Riders deal obscene damage when focussing the same unit.

Troll Batrider

There’s not much that need to be said about Troll Batriders. They are a great unit for taking down air units with low HP and high numbers, such as Flying Machines or Gargoyles. Against fewer high-health units they are not nearly as good and will not trade favourably. It is, however, important to note that your opponent receives no experience when Troll Batriders use Unstable Concoction. So, in long games, you benefit from a lot of small fights compared to one big fight.


Shamans are a very interesting unit, but since the release of The Frozen Throne which brought a lot of dispelling effects, they haven’t really found their way into the meta. They were experimented with against the dreaded KotG and Huntresses of 1.30 but didn’t see too much success. Reason being a mix of how mana hungry and how bad of a fighter unit they are (low damage and HP).

Witch Doctor

Witch Doctors got shafted with the transfer of Spirit Walkers to the Tauren Totem. This lead to them being much harder to access as Orcs now get a Tauren Totem instead of Spirit Lodge. Before the transfer, Witch Doctors wasn’t dominant of an essential part of your army, but in longer games it was neat to get a Witch Doctor in order to place Sentry Wards at key locations.

Witch Doctors don't offer enough combat stats (or combat enhancing abilities) to really justify spending time and resources on them and their upgrades. Trapping your opponent with Stasis Trap or gaining a ton of vision with Sentry Wards is, needless to say, fun though, so make sure to give Witch Doctors a spin just for the sake of having a good time! 

Spirit Walkers

The Frozen Throne brought both healing in terms of Shadow Hunter and Healing Salves, but without the Spirit Walkers they’d still never have been able to manifest themselves as a faction with outstanding sustain.

While Disenchant isn’t as good an anti-magic ability compared to what the other races have, but still it’s absolutely vital to have it.


Taurens are a rare sight in competitive play. While they, undoubtedly, are very strong front-line units, they are also a vulnerable target to many different spells and can end up feeling quite clunky. Being a 5-population unit, they are hard to justify having, but are no joke in the right circumstances!



Together with Siege Engines, I think it’s safe to state that Blademaster is the most controversial unit throughout the game’s history. Consistently dishing out tons of damage with Critical Strike, he’s able to fill the Orc’s much needed role of a main source of damage very well.

With Wind Walk he’s a menace to deal with for the opponent as he, while having mana, is practically immune to surrounds and they’ll always have to second-guess creeping as an invisible Blademaster might be waiting to not only grab the dropped items, but also the experience and gold!

 Healing Salves are an amazing fit with Blademaster. Salves allow you to take trades against the opponent and come out on top since you have such an efficient way of healing.

Far Seer

Far Seer is second to Blademaster the most common first picked hero. While Blademaster oftentimes is preferred, Far Seer is highly viable in all four matchups as well.

Your main objective when playing Far Seer is to pressure your opponent in the early stages of the game. Whether it being by delaying their tech, preventing them from creeping or both. 

To read more about Far Seer and ways to play him, read this article.

Tauren Chieftain

Tauren Chieftain is rarely seen as a first picked hero, but as a second or third hero he's able to do a tremendous amount of work.

He works especially well as a second hero if Far Seer has been picked first. Reason being that he supports the more explosive kind of fight that's not as dependent on out sustaining your opponent. The combination of Chain Lightning and Shock Wave can be devastating for your opponent, especially if they've many small units. With War Stomp you're able to lock down big parts of the enemy's army, not only preventing their damage, but also allowing yourself to secure kills.

If Blademaster has been picked first, Tauren Chieftain is more suited as a third hero, since you with the Blademasters high, consistent damage benefit from long fights, where you'll require the healing from Shadow Hunter. Tauren Chieftain still is highly impact when he comes third, where he'll benefit the entire army with his powerful aura and AoE stun.

Shadow Hunter

Shadow Hunter is a utility hero that's able to do a bit of everything.

As formerly mentioned his Healing Wave is not only very strong on its own, but it also compliments the Orc's game play very well, allowing Blademaster to stay in fights for longer. As Spirit Link spreads out the damage on your entire army, it's valuable to have a healing effect that target several units.

With Hex and Serpent Wards you can also assume the more aggressive role for Shadow Hunter. Hex is a marvelous spell that is great for locking down and focusing individual units. The target will oftentimes be a hero, and while they are hexed they won't be able to use items such as Potion of Invulnerability and Scroll of Town Portal.

With Serpent Wards you can vastly improve your odds when fighting in a certain area. Normally the opponent will just be able to run away from them since they are stationary, but if you are attacking their base or expansion they can be used with great success to lay siege on the opponent. This is especially seen against Night Elf, where their Piercing Attack works wonders against Huntresses.


vs Human

Against Human, you will find you have a strong advantage in early skirmishes. The Orc Tier 1 is just far better at killing Footmen than the Human Tier 1 is at killing Grunts (but watch out for surrounds!). The efficient healing with Salves means that Orc will come out ahead in any early fights. You can also pressure the Human's hero as they have limited healing options until Tier 2 unless they invest in a Troll Shadow Priest from a Mercenary Camp.

Early into Tier 2 there are two typical paths in this matchup. Either the map becomes split and both players creep in relative peace, or the Human will push the Orc once they have a few casters. This may come with a Beastmaster, Naga, Alchemist or Mountain King - and it's a scary push. Make sure to do your homework on how to defend a Tier 2 tower push by Humans, as you will see a lot of it if you plan to play Orc!

Your goal should be to get a strong second hero, with good items and a 50 food with lots of upgrades. Healing Scrolls and Invulnerability Potions are key, especially if you can deny them from your opponent. In the case where both players lose all their units and only have heroes left, the Orc will usually be a favorite, so focus those weak Human Units, don't lose your heroes and try to be the one left standing with more army at the end!

vs Orc

As with most mirror matchups, we see the extreme traits of the race. In this case, Orc vs Orc battles are long and micro intensive. It has been known for a late game Orc battle to last a few minutes before a unit is killed!

A good solid game plan for Orc mirror that a lot of players follow is:

  • Blademaster first.
  • Tech after two burrows.
  • Creep a lot.
  • Try to cancel your opponents Tier 2 buildings while not losing your own.
  • Shadow Hunter second and creep him to level 3.
  • get to 50, upgrade and tech, bank until you are able to pump units.
  • Go quickly up to 60-70 and attack.

What is fun about this matchup is that there isn't a lot of strategy or macro, it's almost all decided by micro and small decisions. You want to control the shops, and execute the game plan better than your opponent. The plan listed above is not the only way to play, but it is a solid base to work from.

vs Night Elf 

The matchup against Night Elf has changed a lot in 1.30, and so you could end up facing many different scenarios. By far the most common at the moment is Keeper of the Grove with a heavy emphasis on Tier 1 units, controlling the map, expanding and teching with an Alchemist second hero.

Your base layout will decide the outcome of this matchup more than any other. If the Night Elf can pick off your shop, or if your burrows can't participate in fights, you will struggle.

While some players prefer using the Far seer, the Blademaster is still the most common choice, and keeping him alive is your number one priority. You are likely to face a lot of pressure, and with Entangle/Acid Bomb, the Blademaster will be focused a lot more than usual. If you can keep him safe and withstand the mid-game pressure, eventually your high quality Tier 2 units will be able to push the opponent back. Don't be alarmed if you find yourself stuck in your base for the majority of the game, it's quite common.

In 1.28, Demon Hunter, Beastmaster, Tinker and mass Talons was a common strategy, and there will still be a few Night Elves (especially returning players) who may use it. A lot has been said about this since it was popularized around 2007 which you can find online, and unfortunately too much to go into here.

vs Undead

Even before the flurry of recent patches, this was a matchup that was undergoing changes. After the arrival of  120, Undead players have been tightening their game and trying new (often highly successful) tactics to turn around what many players regarded as a very unbalanced matchup.

Adding the recent patches to that means it is hard to predict what your opponent will do on the small scale, however it's still likely that you will face a fast-teching Undead going for the killer 50 army of Death Knight, Lich with Orb, Fiends, Statues, Destroyers. 

This is a matchup where knowing the map will help you a ton. By knowing where you can creep safely without being creep-jacked, and knowing where you can creep-jack or deny items from the Undead, you will gain a solid advantage.

It's good to pick a fight once you have your first Raider with Ensnare and try to snipe Fiends and Statues. More than in any other matchup, you will need speed scrolls! Engaging quickly into a line of fiends, disengaging when your units are slowed by Frost Nova or Frost Armor, and saving low HP heroes from deadly nukes is invaluable.

Wind Riders and Headhunters see a lot of play here, particularly if the Undead leans heavily towards Destroyers or Frost Wyrms.


Orc base layout

The importance of a good base layout can often be underestimated, especially when playing Orc. So make sure to do your homework to understand how you should orchestrate your base!

I hope you learned a thing or two while reading through the guide. Orc is a very fun and intense race to play, so have fun channeling your inner beast while overpowering the enemy!



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Right click Arch Mage and go afk. That summarizes it!

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