How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the WAAAGH!!

A guest editorial by PT Taylor.

So, back in my Army days, we more or less lived by the timeless mantra: “embrace the suck”. It’s a very Buddhist concept, if you think about it. By denying what reality has given us, we end up creating our own misery. 25 klick road march? Embrace the suck. In 40 degree weather? Embrace the suck. It’s raining? You get the idea. Which, of course, is to go ahead and settle yourself, mentally, into the shittiness of the situation and just get the job done, knowing that you will actually get through it and that you’ll have plenty of company and good times along the way. And afterward, you’ll all have great stories that you’ll be able to recount and enjoy, maybe next year. Or the year after that. It really depends on how much actual suck was loaded into the event.

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Now, I’ve been an Eldar player since the beginning of 3rd Edition. I was a teenager then, and also played elves at D&D, like I suspect teenagers are often inclined to do. I’m sure that says something about me as a person, but we’re not here to discuss me. So, after an extended break from our beloved hobby, I’ve come back and gotten my elf band back together (I’m still inclined toward the pointy ears, who are rocking out harder than ever), built a fun Space Wolves army (because who can resist Viking Werewolf Supersoldiers? In space! Riding giant wolves!!), and more recently started feeling around for a third army, (because ADD is a real thing), and settled onto the Orks Codex after I saw a buddy play a game with the Green Tide formation. At first I was all, “Ten units are one unit? That’s stupid,” but then I was like, “Holy shit, what a cool way to run Orks!” And then eight months later, after I’d built most of my Green Tide, Games Workshop 86’d it, with the new Ghazghkull supplement. But then they seemingly gave it back to us with the recent FAQ, so hopefully the ITC will concur with that ruling (fingers crossed, because I spent a lot of money!). Which, of course, perfectly illustrates my love/hate relationship with this game.

Anyway. I’ve always felt a slight draw toward the Greenskins, but to be blunt, I’ve also always sort of hated modeling (I know, I have problems). And everyone knows, you can’t do a proper Ork army without fun conversions, which left me at an impasse. But now? Well, I’m still not keen on modeling, but I’m going to do it anyway (recall the thesis of this article), and in the meantime, I’ve been playing proxies (I know, I know, heresy…) alongside the Orks I’ve already mustered to start getting a feel for how the game plays on the other side of town. You know, the shitty part of town across the train tracks, with busted houses and dirty convenience stores, out of which people totally don’t sell illegal narcotics (totally), and no one has super slick jet bikes or good armor saves. The side of town where your neighbor might have a Baal Predator parked on his lawn, or let his out of control kids drive around, knives out and barely any clothes on, in the back of a very nice looking, but absolutely immoral, Venom attack skimmer. You know, the dirty side of town. The Land of Misfit Codices. And now that I’ve taken a drive through it all, I have to admit, it’s a lot of damn fun.

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At first, there was a bit of an acclimation period, wherein my brain twisted and contorted attempting to justify rolling saving throws for my Boyz against the withering volleys of incoming fire. It’s truly amazing how much you take for granted a 2+/3++ save on a Wolf Lord, or even just having vehicles that don’t explode when someone looks at them sideways (and then, of course, all your boyz burn up in the ensuing explosion caused by pistol fire). It took me about three turns of getting absolutely hammered by some manner of terrible pie plates (my first Ork game was against the Emperor blessed Astra Militarum), for it to really sink in that unless there’s a ruin or a Pain Boy, I didn’t get a save. It was a hard truth, but once it properly sunk in, I was good. Better than good, really. Almost sublime. Because once I stopped worrying about the crap I couldn’t affect anyway (I also assumed I was probably going to lose), I started to have more fun. There seems to be a certain amount of carefree abandon inherent in the acknowledgment of impending doom. In other words, it’s hard to give a shit when you have nothing to lose. That said, once I stopped fretting about the lack of armor saves, good weapons, and vehicles, I was able to focus more on playing to the mission, capturing objectives, and actually winning the game.

This was a few weeks ago, and I’ve since played a number of games with the Orks, tinkering with lists, trying out new units (who knew Orks had so many different units?), and slowly homing in on viable tactics to win games. Most importantly, though, each game I’ve played, thus far, has been light hearted, friendly, and enjoyable (except, maybe, my last game against Tyranid Flyrant spam, because ain’t nobody got time for that), regardless of whether it was a win or a loss. Overall, it’s been an enjoyable experience, and I wish I’d taken the plunge into the Green Tide sooner. Now, I’m beginning to understand why my Ork buddies seem to enjoy themselves so much during games, even when they’re getting their faces smashed.

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But, integral to the experience, I believe, is the concept of “embracing the suck”. Understanding that nearly every game will be an uphill battle, and that most of your units have fairly poor points efficiency relative to most other armies, and that your formations are generally underwhelming compared to other codices. Don’t get me wrong, Orks do have some good units, even some very good ones, but overall, they just don’t add up to a competitive codex. That said, I have been able to catch a few opponents off guard, as they didn’t expect much from the kunnin’ Orks, which speaks to one of the inherent advantages of playing the role of the underdog in a given situation (besides, if you lose, you can always blame your shitty codex!).

Now, I’m sure nearly every long time Ork player is rolling their eyes at this commentary. “Of course, Orks are totally rad! Why else would we be playing them this whole time?!” Well, you folks are the choir, and I’m not exactly preaching to you. The same can be said for the folks still hanging in there with Dark Eldar, Tyranids, and the rest, who refuse to bandwagon over to Gladius White Scars, Eldar Scatterbikes (ahem), or whatever style of invincible Space Moran Deathstar is the best, right now. You guys deserve a round of applause for spicing the game up for everyone else, despite The Almighty Geedub’s best efforts. Without you, we’d just be playing a game called Space Marines vs Eldar vs Tau, which would be a very boring game, indeed.

No, I’m speaking to everyone else, right now. All the folks who occasionally branch out, like myself, looking for another army to play. Whether you’ve grown bored or just a bit stagnant with your current army, or just need a break from the monotony of winning so damn much, I highly recommend giving the Orks (or any of the bottom tier armies, for that matter) a go. I can’t very well speak for the other armies at the bottom, but so far the Orks have been a lot of fun and have shaken up my game by giving me a new perspective on certain fundamental aspects of the game. It’s often a whole new game from the other side of the table, and I know it’s done me more than a fair amount of good, as a player, to witness that firsthand.


And, of course, that’s not to mention how great the practice of playing at a disadvantage really is. The exercise of learning to accomplish the same tasks with inferior tools is an age old training method for practically every competitive event in existence. From hockey goalies and chess masters, to MMA fighters and track runners, successful competitive training requires this sort of method to push a particular competitor beyond his previous capabilities. By running track with a 20 pound weighted vest, you become a stronger runner, so when you take the vest off for competition, you end up shaving time off your 40 meter dash. Similarly, when you learn to win 40k battles with an army of foot slogging (or riding in paper Trukks!), fragile Boyz with morale issues and poor weaponry, you’re going to be that much better when you strap back into your Eldar Jetbike, polish up your scatter lasers, and unleash psychic hell onto the battlefield. In fact, you will appreciate your amazing Jetbike armor saves and mobility all the more, once you don’t have it anymore.

At any rate, as long time devotees to the cult movement called Warhammer 40k, we all end up switching armies plenty of times, as we go. I, personally, couldn’t even tell you how many new armies I’ve begun over the years. And since the game has never been, and never will be, perfectly balanced, there have always been bottom tier codices and top tier codices, and that will never change. Unfortunately, GW simply doesn’t seem to have any interest in a balanced game, and we as consumers have never cared enough to take them to task for that oversight. The point is that there will always be bottom rung armies to play, so go play them. Embrace the suck.  I’m sure most of us have buddies that play Orks, who would likely be glad to let you borrow their models for a one off game (Ork players tend to be chill like that). Even if it is just a one off game, not only will you end up being a better player for it, but you will have also gained some insight and perspective on how it feels to be that other guy, on the other side of the table from the Grav Centurions and Wraithknights.

And, at the end of the day, the crux of this game is the shared social experience, in which we engage with the other people who play it. It’s an investment of both money and time, and one through which we tend to accumulate friendships that often last a lifetime. And in this regard, that perspective and insight is a potentially invaluable commodity. But, I think you will also find that Orks are rad as hell, and one of the funnest armies in the game.

There’s so much to be learned



About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

15 Responses to “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the WAAAGH!!”

  1. Avatar
    Chris July 7, 2016 8:02 am #

    Orks love the grab centurions! They are our favorites to run up and decapitate. Great article!

  2. Avatar
    Drachnyen July 7, 2016 8:08 am #

    Good Article!

    I am a Chaos Space Marines player and I have embraced the suck!
    Makes the games much more enjoyable…

  3. Petey Pab
    Petey Pab July 7, 2016 8:09 am #

    This was a great article! I feel the same exact way with Age of Sigmar, and I think a lot of competitive 40k players should turn to Age of Sigmar for all their “embracing the suck” fun-time needs.

  4. Avatar
    TheMadMek July 7, 2016 9:08 am #

    Very nice article and perspective. Orks are loads of fun with the right attitude.

  5. Avatar
    Da40kOrks July 7, 2016 9:47 am #

    After many games and a couple tournaments with the decurion, It’s ..viable. Not great, not going to win much but a 2++ for an EW Gazzy is pretty good, and the only time he’s died is to 6’s on a stomp. Add in the lucky stick MA warboss to suck up normal wounds (he’s literally tanked hundreds of wounds) and the council is a real deathstar. The fearless on everything else helps a lot but the tax for the decurion is so high that everything else is extremely fragile. it’s also very boring and overly predictable.

  6. Avatar
    Blargh July 7, 2016 11:12 am #

    Wow, is this article lopsided. Orks aren’t always great against the very top ultra-tuned cheesey tourney netlists, but we still take home top spots in a lot of tournaments and do pretty well against most other lists. I swept a 750pt doubles tournament last month with Orks, going up against Tau, Eldar, etc.

    They take some learning but when you really know the ins and outs of the codex, they’re capable of wrecking face AS WELL AS still being the most fun army. Big mobs of 30 boyz are fantastic units, if you’re using them right. And the Ghaz supplement’s decurion is fantastic regardless of what it’s up against.

    TL;DR Orks are only bad if you’re used to playing really easily with overpowered cheese. Orks are 40K Hard Mode, and more fun for it.

    • Avatar
      Sanchezsam2 July 7, 2016 6:18 pm #

      While i don’t disagree with you Orks can be decent. Most decent competitve options are kinda wish washy rules wise. You either rely on an ITC pseudo gift of a buzzgrob big Mek stompa, an outdated greentide list, an outdated forgeworld 6th edition zhardsnark bikerswarm, or a very monolithic Orkorion build since its impossible to build it much differently under 1850 pts. The only current formstion that’s really any good is bullyboys. After that we have a couple of ok codex unit entries such as super expensive Mek gunz models, outdated Deffkopta finecast models, outdated and recently nerfed tankbusta models, and random lootas. I’m not saying you can’t cobble together a list from this ragtag codex and win if you play well, but the op was completely right when he said Orks are one of the bottom tier codexs. however I have faith Orks will get better for the main reason most of our decent units don’t have a formation to help them yet so I’m optimistic that Warbikers, Mek guns, warbuggies, Deffkoptas, lootas, tankbustas could receive a decent formations someday.

    • Avatar
      BrokerKingdoms July 8, 2016 11:05 am #

      To be fair, a 750 pt doubles tournament isn’t exactly what everyone is playing right now, or ever.

  7. Avatar
    Bdub July 7, 2016 12:37 pm #

    Orks win even is they lose because their just too much fun to play!

  8. Val Heffelfinger
    Val Heffelfinger July 7, 2016 12:53 pm #

    I’ve played Orks since the days of goofy clown shoes and paper cut out dreadnoughts. They were the first army I rebuilt when I came back to 7th edition too.

    While I love them, and have an affection for 40K hard mode… the place where they let me down is mostly in the list building phase. I have a lot of fun dreaming up combos and different buffs/interactions … building an Ork list is basically like choosing from different coloured sledgehammers and then adding a painboy.

    That sounds super pessimistic and is not really my style to be whiny on here – but when noodling around on battle scribe, I just find myself drawn to building out other types of “hard mode” lists – like Elysians, IG, Inquisition and Grey Knights.

    Once you get to the tabletop though – I fully agree with this article. And they have to be one of the top armies for building and painting if that’s your thing.

  9. Avatar
    Blargh July 7, 2016 1:47 pm #

    The ting about Orks is that you can’t expect to table your opponent, and killpoint games are probably the toughest mission type to win. Maelstrom games are where we shine with tons of very mobile units, and ones that are good at holding objectives.

    Even mission types like Relic and Emperor’s Will are winnable if you can use cover and LoS blocking effectively, or get units that have Fearless (adding a Big Bosspole or Mad Dok Grotsnik to a big 30-boy blob is incredibly helpful and cheaper in points than you’d think in overall list building). If you’re running any footslog units that you want to accomplish anything, you need to factor in Painboys and Kustom Force Fields as part of the cost of the unit.

    Since Boyz are as cheap as they are for what you can do with them, it makes more sense that the rest of the army isn’t as points-efficient.

  10. Avatar
    tag8833 July 7, 2016 2:23 pm #

    Kill points are the enemy of Orks usually. The last GT I went to had 2 out of 6 games with Kill point primary and a Secondary that was essentially irrelevant, so I auto lost twice. I got close to tabling one opponent, and then found out if I tabled them I still lost, so we called it at the top of 4.

    The next event I’m going to has Kill points as the primary of every single mission which sucks. In Mission 2 I’ve already lost because I play Orks, (21 of the 25 points for that mission come from Kill points in some fashion).

    I think it is critical to get Orks back into the meta, because when lower tiered armies are so effectively purged from the meta that TO’s can’t be bothered to consider them when writing Army Comp, FAQ’s and Missions, it is a sad state of affairs.

  11. Avatar
    Mikillangelo July 7, 2016 7:51 pm #

    I have been playing Orks since 2nd edition and couldn’t agree more. I finally left the garage this year and went to my first tournament. I placed 63rd (out of 64). To be fair, I had a pretty wretched list – I didn’t get nearly as many models finished as my pipe dreams envisioned. But whatever. I had the time of my life. Can’t wait for the next tournament.

    I had tons of cool stories. My Morkanaut (yes, I brought a Morkanaut to a GT) stood toe-to-toe with a Bloodthirster for three turns. It was awesome. Once you realize that both winning and losing have absolutely zero impact on your life, playing Orks becomes a total freaking blast.

  12. Avatar
    Heldericht July 8, 2016 2:57 am #

    Finally a guest editorial article grounded in reality that doesnt involve sweeping hypothetical changes to the game or decieving newer players into playing bad armies. I really enjoyed this read and the perspective is definitely valuable. I will be trying some of the more languishing armies.

    Thank you for this and please write more!

  13. PT Taylor
    PT Taylor July 9, 2016 2:19 am #

    Thanks so much for all the positive comments and feedback, guys! Greatly appreciated! 🙂

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