An Overview of the Orks

[Guest Article by Porky ]

I love the Orks. They are are one of the defining forces of the Warhammer 40,000 universe and a lot of fun to collect and play. I have been interested in them or collecting them for the best part of two decades so I know more than a little. What's my understanding then?
Well, here it is.

The Orks are an ever-present threat, spread throughout the galaxy of the 41st millenium in vast numbers. Wherever in the galaxy a spacefaring species travels it will find Orks and can expect to have to fight them. The Orks live for conflict and are always ready for battle. In fact,
their basic nature and entire civilisation are perfectly suited to waging war. Their fungus-based physiology makes them immensely tough as individuals, their spore-driven ecosystem means they will never be hungry or short of workers and their pre-programmed skills mean that
basic knowledge need never be learnt. Most importantly of all, the natural psychic energy of the Orks sees them drift into ever larger groups and gears them up for war. When an Ork population reaches critical mass it will burst out into the surrounding space and wash across world after world. This is the Ork Waaagh! and it is a force of nature to be feared.

The greenskins, as the Orks are commonly known, have been central to Warhammer 40,000 since the origins of the game in the Rogue Trader book of the late 1980s. They featured in the first ever scenario in that very book and were some of the first models to be released for the game. In that first edition alone, they were the stars of not one, not two, but three full sourcebooks! Since then they have been the subject of three more of their very own codices and twice been a starter force, first in the second edition boxed game and now in the current Assault on Black Reach box, on both occasions squaring off against the Space Marines. They even got a major game of their own with Gorkamorka, which saw the survivors of a crash landing battling for scrap across the deserts of a distant world.

On the battlefield the Orks are generally a direct, brutal force, but one with plenty of cunning. An Ork army may be led by a Warboss, a Big Mek or a Weirdboy. The Warboss is the biggest Ork in the army and a fearsome fighter, often accompanied by a retinue of experienced warriors
almost equally tough. The Big Mek is a crazy Ork engineer with ambition who has access to the wacky Shokk Attack Gun and Kustom Force Field. The Weirdboy is a kind of Ork shaman who absorbs and focuses the psychic energies of the Orks, often with little or no real control, and
unleashes them on the enemy. A Weirdboy may develop over time into a Warphead, a psyker of even greater power.

Ork armies built using the current Codex: Orks seem to be composed of lesser or greater quantities of four basic things. First there are the mobs of Ork Boyz and their lesser cousins the Gretchin, then the clanking and rattling Deff Dreads and Killa Kans, then all manner of
ramshackle vehicles, whether Warbikes, Warbuggies and Wartrakks, the mob-carrying Trukks or squadrons of Deffkoptas, and finally the enormous tank-like Battlewagons, well-armed and -armoured and usually filled with even more Orks. These break down into what might be termed the Ork horde, the Kult of Speed, the Kan wall and the steamroller.

The fabled Ork horde consists chiefly of large mobs of Ork Boyz kept in line by their bigger comrades, the Nobz. Ork Boyz carry shootas or sluggas for ranged combat and choppas for when the fighting gets closer, while Nobz may carry larger and more powerful weapons, including the
feared power klaw. These mobs often charge directly at the enemy and, when the moment, is right let rip with their famous battle cry - “Waaagh!” - inspiring them to even greater feats.

The Kult of Speed is broad concept. It certainly consists of a mass of the lighter Ork vehicles, which hurtle forward with riders, gunners and any brave Gretchin crew hanging on for dear life. It is also likely to include mobs of Ork boyz and Nobz packed into lightly-armoured Trukks bolted together Gork knows how and racing towards the opponent's lines, while Deffkoptas may buzz over all, loosing off rokkits in all directions.

The Kan wall would be any force with a sizeable number of Deff Dreads or Killa Kans striding forward, pincers snapping, buzzsaws whining, pistons squeaking and steam hissing, possibly with some Nobz in crude but effective Mega Armour stomping alongside. With a Big Mek as your boss
you can fit even more Deff Dreads into an army and really terrify the enemy.

The steamrolla sees the army fit in as many of the solid Battlewagons as possible, kitted out with all kinds of Mek toys, including the famous and destructive Deathrolla. With weapons blazing from every opening, the Battlewagons rumble forward to drop their Ork passengers into the heart of the fighting, only the heaviest or most powerful weaponry is able to blast through the layers of thick armour plate.

There are several other common units which complement the army types, among them the Lootas with their cobbled-together heavy weaponry, the Stormboyz arcing over the battlefield on dangerous rokkit packs and the Kommandos sneaking forward to set up ambushes. There is also the Looted Vehicle, allowing you to field a great vehicle from one of the other Warhammer 40,000 model ranges, 'improved' and made properly Orky of course. The many specialised units available mean that while the army may seem unsubtle an Ork warboss is able to pull off plenty of low tricks.

This long history means that they have a dedicated following and are always adding new players who love their direct approach and happy-go-lucky attitude. The current range of models is enormous and many are regarded as the best incarnations ever made. Just as the Orks love to hammer weapons and vehicles together from whatever gubbins they have to hand, so an Ork army is a varied and colourful force, with many parts mixed and matched and vehicles modified to a lesser or greater degree. In terms of colour schemes, the Orks' division into clans mean
that several tried-and-tested patterns exist, but experimenting is definitely Orky and the sky's the limit. One thing that can be said is that Orks do not much like cleaning, so dust, dirt and flaking paint are the order of the day.

The Orks are often seen as comic relief in a game world which can be grim. Although the comedy has been toned down over the years, the Orks remain an unpredictable army, with weapons malfunctioning and vehicles going out of control left, right and centre. Many units and weapons have fun special rules like this to keep both players on their toes.

Their relatively recent and effective Codex: Orks is the icing on the cake and contains far more information than can be covered here, with greater detail and more accuracy of course. Have a read of it and grab your army - the Orks are more than ready to rumble!



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