Today I’m going to continue with the Kalpar Lectures series, which so far has been me explaining Warhammer 40,000 stuff to those who are unfamiliar with the franchise. And honestly, I’ve been in the mood to talk about the Orks. I don’t know why, and since the orks never really go for much logic themselves it seems a perfect time.
To start, I’ll talk a little about how the Orks play on the tabletop. I will admit that I have never personally fought Orks on the field or know anyone who fields the so a lot of what I’m going on is what other people have written on the internet and what information I can surmise from their stat blocks. Now, apparently like the Space Marines there are a lot of options available to the Ork player, however Orks have the advantage of being much cheaper in terms of points than Space Marines. (Don’t expect to shell out less money, though. This is Warhammer 40k after all.) Thus in a 1,500 point army you can field significantly more Orks and overwhelm your enemy with sheer weight of numbers. However, while Marines can do pretty much anything at least competently if not extremely well, Orks gravitate towards close combat. Orks are extremely tough and have a decent Weapon Skill which makes them well-suited to close combat, while having a fairly low Ballistic Skill. A common tactic is called the “Green Tide” in which a large number of Orks are sent towards the enemy battle line and engage them in brutal hand-to-hand fighting. The greatest appeal of the Orks, though, is their fluff material and status as the comedic relief race of Warhammer 40k.
When talking about Orks, it’s important to mention their biology. Simply put, Orks are a splice of fungal and animal DNA by an ancient race of aliens to fight the Necrons. (The Necrons are a race of zombie robots who want to wipe out all life in the galaxy to appease their dark gods. More on them later.) As a result, Orks have very few organs to damage, the remaining organs are extremely hardy and they’re green. Seriously, the reason Orks are green in 40k is because they’re a type of fungus. Like most fungi, Orks reproduce by spreading spores constantly and they emit a large number of spores when they die. This means that in terms of population Orks outnumber humans by a significant margin, and any planet unlucky enough to be invaded by the greenskins will probably never really be free of them. What is even weirder about the Orks is that the mysterious precursors have hard-wired certain Orks to turn into Mekboyz and Painboyz, which practice engineering and medicine respectively. Well….what passes for engineering and medicine in Ork circles anyway.
An important thing to keep in mind about Orks is that their very race runs on a weird kind of psychology. Basically anything the Orks believe to be true….becomes true. Warbosses and Nobz, the leaders of Ork society, grow bigger and stronger because Orks that are in charge are supposed to be the biggest and ‘ardest boyz around. Because Orkz never stop growing during their lifetime it’s not unusual for an Ork Warboss to be nine or twelve feet tall. In fact Warboss Ghazghkull, one of the more notorious Ork Warbosses, apparently clocks in at over eighteen feet tall, all of it well-honed killing muscle.
The Ork gestalt psychology gets even weirder when you start looking at their technology. For example Orks believe that “red wunz go faster”, and oddly enough vehicles with red paint do move faster. Most of Ork technology is scrap metal and whatever parts they can find, welded or bolted together in some semblance of the desired product, that somehow works. Many an Imperial enginseer has looked at a captured Ork vehicle, only to conclude that the ramshackle monstrosity shouldn’t even be able to move, much less fight under combat conditions. Taken to its logical conclusion, as my friends like to joke, if you give an Ork a stick and tell him it’s a gun, somehow the stick will shoot bullets.
The Ork mentality is very simple and straightforward: the Orks love having fun. The best way to have fun? Fight. I guess the point I’m trying to convey is that Orks love to fight all the time. If there isn’t someone else to fight, the Orks will fight amongst themselves for any reason imaginable, including if they’re just bored. Did I mention they love to fight? As far as the Orks see it, at the end of the day if they won, they won, if they died, then they died fighting and it doesn’t count, and if they had to run away, well they can come back for another go. It may seem an odd mentality, but in the rather dark world of 40k it’s downright optimistic.
Broadly speaking the Orks are divided into six major clans, each which have their own unique characteristics and wears a specific color. The clans are as follows:
Bad Moons: Wearing yellow, the Bad Moons are the wealthiest of the clans because their teeth grow most quickly. (Oh yeah, Orks use teeth as currency.) As a result the Bad Moons have the flashiest equipment and love the big shootas.
Blood Axes: The only clan without a distinct color, the Blood Axes have the longest history of fighting the Imperium of Man. As a result they’ve begun to pick up tactics like camouflage and battle plans. As a result a large number of Warbosses come from the Blood Axes.
Deathskulls: Wearing blue because it’s a lucky color, the Deathskulls specialize in looting equipment from the battlefield, sometimes even while the battle is still raging. As a result they have a large number of converted enemy tanks in their arsenal.
Evil Sunz: Orks who love speed, it’s common to see an entire Evil Sunz army charging along on cobbled-together motorcycles and wartrukks. Because they love to go fast, and as you know, red ones go faster, the Evil Sunz often wear red themselves.
Goffs: The toughest of the Ork clans, the Goffs love getting into the thick of close combat. The Goffs wear black they consider other colors to be “un-Orky”.
Snakebites: The Snakebites are staunch traditionalists and generally look down on using new-fangled technology. While other Ork clans might use armor and vehicles, the Snakebites use war paint and ride into battle on giant boars. Although less common in the more-developed Ork hordes, Snakebites are still a dangerous force.
Usually the various clans fight amongst themselves, but on occasion a cunning Warboss can unite the various clans into a mighty WAAGH!, a mighty invasion of Orks which is best described as one part mass migration, one part holy war, and one part pub crawl. Any planet that finds themselves in the path of an oncoming WAAGH! is in serious trouble.
At the end of the day, the Orks are a brutal race that love to fight and get into trouble. However they’re also downright silly, with technology as likely to harm them or break down as it is to actually harm their enemies. As dangerous and intimidating as the Orks are, I still find them kind of funny and their philosophy rather logical. In the Grim Darkness of the 41st millennium where there is only war, perhaps the Orks are the ones that have it all figured out. If you’re going to die horribly on a battlefield, you might as well enjoy it, right? The Orks certainly seem to enjoy it, and they’re definitely not going away anytime soon.
Ben can be found with the I Smell Sheep Girls most days…