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


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


  • Commissar Molotov

    I love converting stuff for Orks. It’s supposed to look ramshackle and half-assed, darn it!

  • JP

    Wait, they FAQed the Green Tide back into existence? Where did that happen?

    • Nathaniel Wright

      In the FAQ for the core book.

    • Loki Nahat

      no they didnt, unfortunately

      • Nathaniel Wright

        Q: Can you still take Formations or Models that are no longer available, like the Void Shield Generator (an out of production model) or the Skyhammer Annihilation Force Formation (an out-of-print Formation)?

        A: Yes.

        Source: Detachments and Formations section, 4th question. 7th Edition Rulebook FAQ.

        • Loki Nahat

          no, the ghazgkull supplement was updated and the formations were replaced, they are not oop, they are retconned out of existence, the reference to oop in your example like Skyhammer is due to box set formations, which is fine, but Green Tide has been replaced

          • JP

            SAD waaagh….

          • georgelabour

            Unless the GW FAQ, and other statements, change from its current format nothing has been replaced unless you wish it to be.

            Obviously certain people, I.E: Tournament organizes, local cliques, power gamers, OCD folks like myself, will have their own preferences on what remains official or not but GW’s stance has been that you use the books you have with a preference for the update material should it be available.

            Which neatly sidesteps the whining about books being invalidated thus ‘forcing’ people to buy the same thing just for a few rules changes.

          • JP

            HAPPY WAAAGH!!!

          • CMAngelos

            It has not been “replaced” any more than any other thing mentioned above. The book it was in was updated and replace released as a new edition, thus making the original an OOP version, and by that FAQ ruling Still valid for use.

          • Loki Nahat

            your logic is severely flawed, by your example we could use rogue trader rules, because even though it is oop its still valid, which makes no sense

          • no, it’s not. the materials in question are 7th edition releases. Your Rogue Trader example is not. They’re not the same at all, which makes even less sense.

          • Would’t that retconning make the formation unavailable? Wouldn’t that then bring it back with the YES answer they gave?

          • Loki Nahat

            no, since we cant pick and choose previous codex, similarly you cannot pick and choose versions, the latest one is the current one, oop and formations applies to dataslates and boxed formations which are still valid, as they havent been replaced, but are not available to purchase

          • Thank you. This might just be all I’ve needed to move off to a fan dex.
            If I’m not allowed to use formations in books I’ve paid for then I guess I can stop doing that.
            I’m just glad I didn’t buy the warboss edition I can’t imagine how upset I would have been after that.
            I don’t agree with you though, while the books were replaced the formations were not which as far as I am concerned puts them in the category required to get that yes answer from the FAQ. I don’t have to convince anyone I play with either.

          • CMAngelos

            The FAQ does not say any of that mate. Only that you can take oop formations and models, there are no restrictions on what that means.

            The green tide formation, is an oop formation, it hasn’t been replaced by a new Green Tide formation and thus is still available for use per this FAQ.

      • I guess we’ll know for sure when they post the Ork FAQ.

  • Talos2

    Fun but rubbish. And far less fun than they’ve ever been

    • Firefly

      Agreed! They seem vanilla now. :/

    • rednekkboss

      Not enough random stuff for my taste and no madboys. That’s just criminal. A supplement with different clan rules (and freebootas) could be great, especially if they tapped the old material from the ’90’s.

  • Dongmaster

    My two main opponents are foremost playing CSM and Blood Angels.

    Seing how they fit in with that Codex pics above, together with my Orks…

    … lulz!

    • ZeeLobby

      Then you live in a dream meta I wish I was in. My DE would fit perfectly with those 3.

  • sjap98

    Excellent article!
    You’re in the same league as Goatboy and Pimpcron!
    Keep it up Petey Pab.

  • grim_dork


  • Moonsaves

    I think the ork mentality on this was best when I was explaining the zzap gun to somebody…
    “So it’s AP2 and you roll 2 dice, and those together are your strength. If it’s 10 or above, it’s strength 10 AP 2.”
    “So it could be strength 2?”
    “Well, yeah… It auto crew shaken results, though…”
    “Too unreliable, I can get better for cheaper in another army.”

    I don’t think he realises it makes moments ten times more memorable when it kicks into full power and wrecks up vehicles. It’s a fun gamble.

    • Ghaniman

      I miss the auto-hitting 3rd Edition Zzap. If they brought that part back, it’d make it worth it.

  • J Mad

    My 2 main armies DE and Nids both over 12k Points……….

    I went Corsairs for now.

  • Benjamin Gregersen

    Awsome reading! As a long time ork player i can only agree. Actually i never care much for winning as long as im having fun playing. When ever orks are inbolved both players win

  • DaveTycho

    This is a great article. More 40k players need to concern themselves more in having fun rather then just winning. From my experience winning games with a powerful lists gets boring quickly. Some of my most fun games have been close matches, usually come-from-behind victories, or games when I thought I was going to lose and decided that if I can’t win, at least I could have fun and make my opponent’s victory as difficult as possible.

  • Alienerd the unbannable

    My grumble with the ork book (and I know I say this enough, pass the salt please) is that it’s a boring list for the most over the top race. Why is my gorkanaut so constricted in terms of options? These are orks! My gorkanaut should be able to use a jet pack with the chance of it exploding spectacularly, or at the very least, more than 1 CCW.