"I'z da biggest. So I'z da boss."
- -The Orks' simple yet highly effective method of determining who's in charge.
A Warboss is the biggest, baddest, meanest and greenest ork in a tribe, and the second-biggest possible type of ork within the species - the biggest being the Warlord. A warboss easily towers over a space marine and the largest of them can nearly approach the size of Dreadnought. Every Warboss is the undisputed leader of his warband.
A Warboss is what you get when a Nob rises through the ranks of the tribe via some combination of brutal cunnin and/or cunnin brutality. Most often, a Warboss arrives at that position by making a power play against the reigning Warboss and nabbing his spot (and all the shiny gubbinz that come with it). In other cases, though, the previous Warboss might have died in a genuine scrap with the enemy. When that happens all his Nobz will fight amongst themselves for the right to take his place.
Orks grow larger and larger over their lives as they fight. It's believed that they don't ever die from old age either, although in the pervasive ultra-violence of Ork society very few live long compared to humans. Therefore a warboss's size proves how 'ard and killy he is to everyone else, both to fellow Orks and the enemy. As if that wasn't enough, a Warboss also proclaims his status through trophies and bling such as boss poles (spiked poles that contain the impaled heads of the warboss' fiercest opponents), flashy gubbinz, and the deadliest weapons and teknology that the Meks can provide. Being a Warboss means you are the richest Greenskin out there, and if anyone doubts that, well, you can just knock 'is teef out and take 'em fer yerself.
A Warboss leads from the front, eager to have the chance to add some heads to his bosspole. Don't think they do this lightly, though - Warbosses are always keen to slap about the Meks of the tribe to make them give them the shiniest bitz. Despite their pretty much single-minded focus on warfare, the manner in which a warboss is equipped comes down to his individual preferences and thus can be even more varied than the clans that they come from. This often results in the already ridiculously huge bastards having Mega Armour, or outlandish weapons, or even a bitchin' bike to chop heads off from at high speeds.
Furthermore, it's true that Orks aren't known for their intelligence, and some Warbosses can be quite dim indeed. However, even the most slow-witted Warboss will be a fearsome fighter, completely confident and utterly lacking in self-doubt, and his years of experience will lend him a low cunning that makes him extraordinarily dangerous. Once in a while a genuinely intelligent Warboss will arise, and these are the ones that tend to arise to Warlord status and thus cause the most damage to the other civilizations of the galaxy.
In any event, when a Warboss is around, short of the Warlord himself all the other lesser Orks will instinctively know that this is the Ork that's in charge.
On the Tabletop (9th Edition)
The Warboss always has been, and perhaps always will be, one of the most iconic and generally useful HQs to the Orks, and maybe in the entire game. Perhaps Marines have better armor. Perhaps Farseers and Tau Commanders have better supportive abilities. It doesn't matter, because a Warboss can just punch his way out of any situation he might face anyway, all while rallying the Boys around around him- and nothing is more Orky than that. So let's dive in, shall we?
In terms of stats, the Warboss is in a good spot, having been considerably buffed in comparison to prior editions. He now has WS 2+ BS 5+ T 6 S 6 A 5 and 6 Wounds, making him quite a powerful git off the bat. He also has a Ld of 8 as well as a 4+ armor and 5+ invulnerable save. This is already pretty darn decent, but taking the right Relic can make him into a true force to be reckoned with. In terms of core equipment you're a bit limited compared to a Space Marine hero. Melee options are either a Big Choppa or a Power Klaw, and either a Kustom Shoota or a Kombi-Rokkit or Kombi-Skorcha. For a few more points he can also take an Attack Squig to squeeze out a couple more S4 Ap-1 melee attacks, and he comes with 2 Sluggas and Stikkbombs for free. Most importantly he has the Warboss aura ability that adds +1 to friendly melee hit rolls for units within 6".
In 9th Edition the Mega-Armored Warboss is back as an option, and has FINALLY received a dedicated model for the first time. Stats are largely the same compared to the non-Mega version, except your MegaBoss has 7 wounds and obviously a 2+ armor save. Unfortunately, it is also a mono-pose model, so his core weapons are strictly limited to a 'Uge Choppa, a grot-controlled Big Shoota, and nothing else. Still, that's more than enough to get the job done.
In either version a Warboss is primarily a melee beatstick. However, he also has just enough ranged threat to sometimes kill a model or two in a clutch moment. Most importantly, he is crucial for boosting the melee attacks of nearby Boyz with the Warboss aura ability. Of course, if the Warboss is your army's Warlord (and why the hell wouldn't he be?) then once per game he can also Call Da Waaagh! This allows all Core and Character units to charge that turn even if they advanced, and add +1 melee attacks for that turn to boot.
In 9th, the Warboss-on-Bike is considered a Legends unit, having been replaced by the Deffkilla Wartrike.
Defensively, there's not much choice for a Warboss - most players will have him lurk in mobs of Boys and Nobs until he's within charge distance.
A Big Mek has his weird gadgets, a Painboy keeps your Boys standing, and a Weirdboy out-psyks the enemy. However the Warboss is the duct tape, gum and liberal kicking that makes this rowdy band of lunatics into an efficient and scary monster for any enemy to face.
The Warboss appears as the primary commander for the Orkz in the original Dawn of War. Most factions can build their commanders fairly early in the game, but the in game fluff says that the Warboss only joins battles that he considers big enough to be worth his time. Hence you need to tech up a bit more to get him, while you can grab your secondary commander (The Big Mek) fairly early.
The Warboss has the most health of any hero next to the Daemon Prince and Necron Lord with the upgrades added in Soulstorm, but falls short compared to the like of the Force Commander and Chaos Lord in terms of raw damage since his abilities are more aimed at buffing large groups of Orks than himself.
In Dawn of War II the Warboss is one of three heroes the Orks can pick before the game begins, serving as their offensive hero. If you want to play an Orky style with a focus on melee, the Warboss is your Ork, because his global abilities are designed for melee. "Use Yer Choppas" increases melee damage, and melee skill giving a higher chance for special attacks to knock back an enemy. His other "Ard Boyz" cuts melee damage in half. Early game he's one of the strongest heroes in a direct fight and can knock down squads with is Stomp ability. Whether or not you want to focus on the wargear to bring him to his full killing power depends on the situation.
Most commonly you will see a Warboss given a Power Klaw since it does the most damage and packs a punch against vehicles. His best bet for armor is usually 'Eavy Armor for the health boost, unless fighting Tyranids or other Orks, where his Spiky Armor that deals damage to enemies every time he's hit in melee, becomes a viable choice. His accessories have two good mid-late game option and one early-mid game one. Angry Bits (T1) gives him the ability to charge over the battlefield and knock everything smaller then a dreadnout down. And it leaves cover behind for your shootas to use.The other two are the Boss Pole, which increased health and suppression resistance within its radius (this includes the Warboss), and the Trophy Rack which decreases enemy damage. Which is better depends on the situation, the boss pole is more likely to be helpful in a team game with more friendlies to affect, especially if you want to stack it with ally buffs.