A guest editorial by PT Taylor. A more or less happy Ork player.
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.
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.
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.
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