As above, so below

I haven’t been doing a lot of Warhammer painting lately, partially because of all the new ork stuff that’s been announced from GW, especially the new codex. There was a leak and from what I’ve read there’s going to be some big changes that might effect my approach to army building, so Imma hold off for a while. Also the new minis look SICK and I want to get my hands on some. Also-also, I literally don’t know anyone else IRL to play a game with, so I need to get that sorted out. ‘The next game’ has traditionally been a great source of motivation for me to work on my army and as of right now my next game is scheduled for ‘never’.

I have been writing more lately, which is good. My goal is to finish the graphic novel by the end of the year. I hadn’t worked on it for six months which was bumming me out and it feels good to be back at it. My mind is increasingly geared towards writing and so I shall now rant for a bit about one of my pet peeves in writing discussions: realism.

Yggdrasil connects all realms of reality

A bit of context: I work with writers in my job, I also write for my job, I studied writing at university, I was a teacher at a career college and also, I am on the internet sometimes. …so I have been in many discussions about scripts and what makes them good or bad. Some topics tend to come up in multiple instances, ‘realism’ and ‘plot holes’ are two of those. In this age of online user reviews there are many of opportunities to hear what people think about writing and how to do it. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and discussions can get ‘interesting’ when conducted with a mask of anonymity. (That noise you hear is just my axe, grinding. Apologies in advance.)

A common concept used to discuss the enjoyment of stories is their level of ‘realism’ which is a word I encourage people to avoid using. It plays into the false idea that there is an absolute yardstick to measure the excellence of a story. Our culture loves quantities and we are pushed towards quantitative descriptors of everything – we rate and rank and award points and like and subscribe and score top ten lists and bestseller lists all these numbers go up or down and we treat everything like it’s the stock market. Everyone loves a horse race. (Gotta know who’s winning!) Writing is not a zero sum. There’s no single winner. There can be many winners. Also no one has to lose for others to win. This kind of highly relativistic thinking puts many people off. ‘It’s just not very realistic.’

A sense of certainty is a beautiful thing. Chaos is bad, order is good. Up is up, down is down, and going against this is folly. The world makes sense when we know how things are supposed to be done, and realism is a word that appears to be certain what it’s about. When someone is being unreasonable you can tell them to be realistic. Realism is something that we should all aspire to in our daily lives. Wake up and take a healthy dose of realism! Realism has the word ‘real’ in it after all. You can’t argue with reality, can you? Well… mmmmmmactually I can. Reality is highly malleable because humans create meaning.

The sigil of SS Shadow’s End from my graphic novel ‘The Last Human

Imagine yourself sitting across a campfire from another person. Now tell them a story. Make them feel emotions they didn’t have and make them see things that aren’t there. Introduce them to people they’ve never met, all with just your voice. Make them laugh, make them cry. Inspire them, outrage them, thrill them. Entertain them. When you finish your story, leave them with a new idea to think about. Maybe your story helps pass the time and makes a pleasant evening, and maybe you change their entire outlook on life… change their reality.

What is reality, but a narrative? We’re born, we live, we die. Beginning, middle, end. The scientific method is simply a storytelling format… Once Upon A Time there was an observation which led to a question. After some research a mighty hypothesis arrived on the scene and there were a great many experiments, some great and some small. It all worked out and an analysis of the data led to a rightful conclusion. Theoretically, The End. Stories are a knowledge storage medium. Storytelling is the only technology that matters and so I take great umbrage with those that gum up the works with words like ‘realism’. Writers define reality, not the other way around.

Stop looking at me like I’m crazy. I’m not crazy. And stop looking at me.

I understand that natural events don’t flow from the tip of the writers’ pen. If that were the case then Donald Trump could have changed the path of Hurricane Dorian with his sharpie. (He couldn’t) But with his sharpie he did change what we said about it. With his best ever, incredible and amazing sharpie, he alone was able to tell us what it means. Writers don’t create reality but they define it. I may sound like I’m on some sort of metaphysical trip, trying to find the meaning of reality. that’s not what I want to do. I want to drive a wedge into your mind between the word ‘realism’ and ‘reality’. Reality exists in the physical world and realism exists only in the mind of the exister.

If writers aspire to realism, then our aspirations are set very low indeed for we are limiting the scope of our vision to what is expected, what is accepted, what is allowed. In my opinion realistic writing is not writing at all. It is collage, artfully cutting up familiar stories and arranging the fragments into new forms that fascinate because they remind us of things we already know. I have no time for authors that pour over works they admire and who think of storytelling like it’s a technical exercise to be mastered. Their stories are comfortable quilts made of scraps and they encourage us to sleep. Stories are simply propaganda when meaning is locked away by the tyranny of realism.

I respect the craft, but I seek the art. I am bored by clever writers and I prefer the lunatics who are doing everything wrong and strive to create something new. I seek out the sloppy writers, the self-taught amateurs. I want to work for it, I want to struggle to understand, I want to be surprised. I am bored by preaching, I prefer a conversation. I seek out the stories that intrigue me, beg me to keep them close and think about them for the rest of my life. I want to be rewarded for paying close attention. I prefer living flesh and blood to bronze that stands on a marble pedestal. I seek to write stories that are never finished what they have to say.

This entry is perhaps a bit more philosophical than my usual rantings about Warhammer and such but it underpins everything I do. This is my perspective on scriptwriting on comics, music, theatre and any other kind of storytelling. Gaming is a storytelling medium and there’s no reason that a game can’t be as a profound experience as any other.

The logo for Rootwood

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FOUNDATION opinions

warning: slightly worried rant ahead

Pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew

Attentive readers may recall my last post where I discuss haters and how pointless they are, specifically when they have expectations that the new version of the thing they like be exactly the same but slightly better. I am taking a moment to recall this before I launch into my topic for this post which is the upcoming Apple+ series ‘Foundation’ based on the classic science fiction novel series by Isaac Asimov. I do this because I will be ranting a bit, and veering into negative territory but I hope to stay within the bounds of critical analysis as opposed to simple hype/anti hype vitriol that fuels the internet stupidity machine. So with that context established, let’s talk about FOUNDATION.

Ohh you made a cool space font with dots next to some of the letters for added coolness. Dope!

Foundation was first published in serialized form in Astounding Magazine in 1942 so think about that – Asimov started to write this before the atom bomb, before Pearl Harbour, before the Holocaust. Also before Star Trek, Star Wars, Dune, Lord of the Rings, and most other popular sci-fi and fantasy works. For fans of sci-fi tv and movies Foundation is like that band you never heard of that all your favourite bands listened to.

I hear you. ‘Yeah wow I get it. So Asimov was the first, big deal.’ Stay with me I have more to say.

I’m not putting Asimov on a pedestal. He was pretty interesting but he had serious faults as well. You can look him up on Wikipedia if you’re interested. What’s relevant to my rant is that Asimov was ahead of his time. I’m pointing out that his work was revolutionary in the realm of popular fiction, and remains so to this day. There’s ideas in Foundation that haven’t been tapped yet and I am worried that this new series is missing the opportunity to put those ideas on screen.

Oh, one of the visionary minds behind Batman Begins and Man of Steel. I was worried that this would be dumbed down but now I feel better.

Apple+ has released two trailers now, so the hype machine has started. Naturally they will try to attract an audience by demonstrating the familiar aspects of a sci-fi series that people expect: spooky serious people in drab costumes saying spooky serious stuff, spaceships and laserguns going pew pew pew, and a couple of explosions. Yes, all that stuff is in Foundation and it’s a ‘must-have’ for any sci-fi trailer. But I’m worried that the series will be all frosting and no cake.

He’s in a library, but those books better not be printed on paper because in the galactic empire people watch their books on motherfucking microfilm you primitive savage.

The creator of this series is David Goyer, whose CV does not fill me with confidence. He makes big spectacle movies, a lot of superhero and sci-fi stuff. Not running the guy down, he’s a professional and does a good job. I’m sure it makes perfect sense on paper. Epic sci fi series based on classic novels, of course the Apple execs will think ‘game of thrones meets star wars’ and Goyer has a perfect resume to deliver that. I’m pretty sure it will be exactly that and if it is, I will be quite disappointed because it should be more than that.

Is this a screengrab from No Man’s Sky, Mass Effect or Destiny?

Bringing any book to the screen requires adaptation, and I understand the necessity of this very well. I also understand the requirements of television which is primarily a commercial enterprise. One cannot make a Foundation series with a precious attitude toward the source material. If it’s not entertaining then the project fails, no matter how noble the intentions. It would be just dumb to make Foundation while pretending that Star Wars didn’t exist so naturally the series will have to acknowledge audience expectations about what a galactic empire looks like and what it does. So our trailer is showing us stormtroopers and star destroyers but slightly different to pique interest. I have to cringe a bit at the mention of ‘Hari Seldon and his band of rebels’ but this is what’s expected of any epic sci-fi trailer. Don’t make it too complicated, just tell them who’s the hero and who’s the villain and show them what explodes.

Pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew

I hope they’re going to turn all this on its head – I would love it if when we get into the series we are presented with an empire that’s clearly a force for good and its destruction is actually a disaster for humanity. Asimov was a scientist first and he presented this story without sentimentality. It’s a story about mathematics struggling to overcome entropy over the course of a thousand years. Individual lives are of little consequence to the larger narrative and in his books there is no main hero or villain. So I hope that this trailer is a trick to bring audiences into a story that’s bigger than what they expect.

This is just goddamn cool as hell, no joke. I’m 100% sure this is Trantor, the capital world of the empire. In the books it is described as a ‘city planet’ with every square inch covered in metal except for the gardens of the imperial palace. That would be interesting except that Star Wars already showed us Coruscant so to make the imperial capital planet of Foundation impress modern audiences we need something audiences haven’t seen before. I think a dyson object built around a black hole fits the bill. This is bonkers and I LOVE IT.

To summarize my opinion, the world doesn’t need another Star Wars, but we could benefit from a properly done Foundation series. Hopefully the necessary dumbness of trailers belies the true mind-expanding nature of this series. Thank you for reading and while you’re at it, I recommend reading the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. (spoiler: no planets get blown up)

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Ork Fanboyz

It’s been a wild week for Orks in 40K. After a picture of what appeared to be new Ork Boyz leaked online, GW confirmed that a new Boyz kit is coming and they posted an image. (Note: for a change this post features images I grabbed from Google instead of original images made by me)

New orks! Now with improved waaaghy flavour!

I’m so glad I got a box of the current Boyz kit, and I may have to grab another one before they’re out of print. And just to clarify, I am super stoked about the new kit, and I am pretty sure I’ll need at least three boxes of them when they come out. I am an ork fan and I need my plastic crack. There’s some worry that this kit is ‘easy build’ or ‘monopose’ as opposed the the current ‘multi part’ kit we have. If the minis come already posed and we don’t have the option to glue the arms, torso and head then it limits our options for building and conversions. I’m not that worried about it. These are plastic guys so it’s never going to be difficult to chop and swap different bits.

‘Monopose will ruin Warhammer!’
Tell it to these guys.

As with any fandom, there’s those that will complain about anything new. There’s people that feel like ‘they’re the true fans’ and whoever is in charge of this new version is wrong and ruining what they love about it. One of the purest examples of this is when a band evolves and releases an album that doesn’t sound like their greatest hits. You don’t have to like it, and you don’t have to buy it, but you really have nothing to get upset about, and the band actually creatively owes you nothing. The greatest hits are still there, just as awesome as they ever where, and the living breathing humans that make music are changing over time and making other different music. Nothing’s ruined except the elusive excitement around the possibilities of the ‘new thing’ and that really is a you problem.

GW has shepherded the Warhammer IP for 30+ years and it’s still going strong. They know what they’re doing. I can armchair QB them as much as the next guy. Do I wish their prices were lower? Absolutely. I often feel like they pander to the toy-collector aspect of the hobby at the expense of the wargaming and model-making aspects. The thing is, you can’t argue with results. Success is success. I don’t know if I could run that company better than they do.

An example of the ‘Rogue Trader’ era orks, aka 1st edition. There’s nothing wrong with this mini, it’s clearly an ork, and I have several of these guys in my collection. That’s a 25mm base he’s on, so you can see he’s a lot smaller than the standard ork boy of 9th edition. They don’t make them like this anymore, and that’s a good thing. The game is alive and thriving and has evolved over time.

The new orks are new but they’re clearly still Orks. They’re not so different that you couldn’t mix them with your existing models. In fact I am excited to add even more variety to my ork armies. According to the lore they are supposed to be an unruly horde of warriors, so the less uniform they are the better. I guess people were expecting a new ork kit to be exactly the same as the old kit but slightly better?

Old stuff is not always better

The new Masters of the Universe series had a trailer launch this week, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s grown men getting upset about certain aspects of this kids cartoon show that they don’t like. The original show was literally a toy commercial – they didn’t try to hide this. There was never very much to MOTU in terms of plot or story or characters. There’s not really anything there to ruin and honestly anything they add to it will be an improvement. As I understand it, the main complaints are that the new show is ‘woke’, which apparently means bad things if you are a neckbeardy basement dweller. They added some people of colour and made the female characters more interesting so, if that ruins the new Masters of the Universe cartoon show for you… that would be a you problem.

They fight! And bite! They fight and bite and fight! Fight fight fight! Bite bite bite!

And I am not running down MOTU fans for liking a kids’ cartoon. That would be pretty hypocritical of me as a fan of little toy soldiers. I like kids cartoons a lot – I make cartoons for a living. Being a fan of things is good, it should be good. Liking what you like is not the problem. Complaining about the thing you like being ruined is the problem. I actually enjoy critical discussion and analysis, but when all you have to say is ‘I hate this’ then that’s not contributing to a coherent conversation. It’s just noise, and there’s such a lot of noise out there already.

Now I’m treading on thin ice myself, by talking about how much I hate the haters. Look, just don’t be a hater, ok? You don’t want to be that one guy standing outside yelling at the wind, even if you’re right.

Anyways, I’m going solo camping today. It’s an annual event for me but it was disrupted last year due to ‘the pandemic that shall not be named’. Looking forward to recharging all by myself in the woods and not talking to anyone for 48 hours.

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Da Blue Meaniez

I’ve been figuring out my Deathskulls paint scheme on a few test units before progressing to more challenging pieces. The first to get painted was a unit of Boyz that was selected from some of my older models.

I like the bright toxic green for their flesh tone because it really pops on the tabletop.

There’s 22 orks in the mob and I went with a mix for their wargear. 14 shootaz, 5 sluggaz & choppaz, 2 big shootaz and a Boss Nob. Historically I have favoured taking rokkit launchaz over big shootaz but back then I was highly CC focused and all by Boyz were choppa Boyz. With this army I am leaning them towards shooting as part of their narrative. Obviously they’re still orks so I’m going to include a 30-strong unit of choppa Boyz but this army will be the more shooty of my three planned ork armies.

Deathskulls are battlefield looters so they have a mismatched aesthetic. The fun part for me is making them look coherent while maintaining a ragtag appearance.

Recent news that orks are getting an army-wide stats buff on the toughness characteristic is pretty cool although I have to wonder if that will come with a punishing points increase. I’m not a particularly competitive player but I like to field a large army with lots of models and ideally ork players should be getting 2 Boyz for every Space Marine to make it a fair fight. Astartes line infantry run between 18-20 points a model, so if orks go up a point from 8 to 9 then I’m happy. More than that and it’s a bit of a buzzkill.

My big fat shooty Lootaz unit. It will include 5 Lootaz led by a Spanner with a Kustom Mega Blasta and a Big Mek with a Shokk Attack Gun. Hopefully they will ruin someone’s day.

I never really put much stock in ork shooting before. They have such a low ballistic skill that I decided it was not worthwhile to invest any points in shooty units. Why try and make this army do something that it’s inherently bad at? Back in the day when I played in tournaments I used Big Gunz, Tankbustaz and Burnaz as my shooting units. The Big Gunz were Lobbaz and Zzap Gunz, which at that time (4th edition I believe) did not need to roll to hit and same with Burnaz. The Tankbustaz made up for their lack of skill with high damage; they would mostly miss, but the shots that landed were more deadly, killing a Marine in one-shot. The rules have evolved quite a bit since those days, and Big Gunz are no longer an option.

I like these guys. They really embody the orky principle of ‘MOAR DAKKA’

Right at the end of my gaming days I got some donations of orky stuff from a friend of mine who was moving away. Four Lootaz were in that lot and I just put them into storage with everything else. Now that I am returning to the hobby I am more intrigued by them. Four seemed like a paltry number for a unit so I kitbashed another one using some T’au weapons that somehow found their way into by bitz box. I struggled to figure out units markings for them since they’re all bristling with guns and there’s no smooth surfaces to paint glyphs on. Fortunately they all have the same Stahlhelm style headgear so I’m working on a unifying paint scene for that. I’m thinking black with yellow zigzags… we’ll see how it turns out.

Gas mask head will find a new home eventually. For now he will live in the bitz box.

One guy has a gas-mask head, but I just pried off his head and used one of the new heads I got in my new box of Boyz. One of the other things I had to tweak was the side of the Deffgun where there is a ‘blank spot’. I received these models already assembled and base coated with black and so I didn’t ever see the sprues. I went online and looks closely at the side of the weapon and there’s a little attached bit that goes there, like a smaller weapon that is welded onto the side. Turns out when my buddy put these guys together he didn’t do that so there was this regular square hole on the side of each of the guns. I went on a bitz box dive and came up with some fun options to stick there.

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The End Is Near

2021 has been a weird year and I’m glad that it will be over in June and I can ‘get back to normal’. I remember fondly when I had the mental bandwidth to write, in the before times. Starting in January my job kicked into full crunch mode and I have not written a thing except these blog entries (I just gotta write something, or I’ll crack up completely)

My graphic novel (https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/the-last-human/prelude-on-dorscu/viewer?title_no=375198&episode_no=1) and other writing projects have gone into hibernation because at the end of the day I can’t stand looking at a computer screen anymore. Warhammer has kept me from having a full nervous breakdown as the zoom calls and online seminars and daisy chains of meetings have taken their toll. It’s been therapeutic to work on something with my hands after being online for 8-12 hours a day.

The space marines army was fun and helped me get ready to work on the orks. It’s nice to see where my skills are at, and I’m learning new tricks as I go. Looking forward to lockdown ending and getting to play a game and meet some new people.

This is a tankbusta bomb. I need about 24 of these but only one of them comes in the Ork Boyz kit.
This is a blob of epoxy putty, Milliput to be precise. It is commonly known as ‘Green Stuff’
I left the tankbusta bomb on the sprue so I could easily remove it from the Milliput.
Little cleanup and some finicky handle-building and we have something that looks good enough to paint. Cheaper than buying 24 Boyz kits

So yeah, the end of lockdown is near (I just know it) and the end of my work crunch is also near. I’ve been working on this one project for six years and now it’s finally coming to fruition and my work on it will be done. What comes after that I do not know but I will have no regrets. I feel good about the work I did on it.

And then…? I will begin something else. But the Warhammer is sticking with me for a while. Now that I’m back in it there’s no getting out again.

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Plastic crack

Da Boyz are back in town.

So it’s my birthday and I got myself some more orks. Mmm… (eyes roll back in head) Since I am in the middle of refurbishing my existing 500+ orks I will be keeping these guys in reserve for the time being. No need to rush into assembling them just yet as I have a lot of other pieces to work on. With the new codex threatening to drop soon it will be good to have some unassembled Boyz so I can adapt to the latest rules.

My skull needs are well served for the foreseeable future.

I also got a bunch of bases which I need very badly. All my Nobz and characters need to be on bigger bases or else people will come after me with torches and pitchforks. I had decided to order 20 of the 40mm bases but they’re out of stock online. The best I could do was get a variety pack from my local store when I stopped by to pick up my order. It’s got a bunch of other stuff I don’t need but at least I have 5 x 40mm bases now. I can properly base my Weirdboyz, Shokk Attack Gun and Big Mek with KFF.

This guy has been sitting around half-built for 20 years. Absolutely shokking!

I’m using isopropyl to strip off the old paint – I tried just painting over but it’s no good. I didn’t really thin out my paints before, so they were already a bit thick. Adding another layer looks like baked ass. So it’s into the dip with the lot of ya, ladz!

My first batch of Deathskulls Boyz is coming along nicely. I have been experimenting a bit with colour schemes as I try and find the right recipe and as I am happier with it I will start to increase my volume. I have about 100 minis to repaint so I need to get into assembly line mode.

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Mukkin’ About

WAAAGH!!!

For all my efforts at organizing my Ork armies and planning out my painting schedule, I am flitting back and forth between different projects like a crazed Mekboy, frantically grabbing bitz and mashing them together into new creations as the inspiration hits me. When I was working on refurbishing my space marines army I was a lot more methodical, which I suppose is appropriate to the character of the Imperium, inexorably advancing a step at a time toward the goal.

I used my kitbashed Burna Boyz as guinea pigs to try out my new paint scheme for the Deathskulls. I started stripping the old paint off their faces with isopropyl and an old toothbrush. Now that I made a clean spot I might as well do the whole thing.

It helps that I’ve sorted them into physical containers that roughly align with the three armies I am planning. I have a shelf near my desk where I can display my ‘current project’ army which is a good way to keep me on task (somewhat). The first army I have decided to work on is the Deathskulls, but all the same I did manage to work on one of my squiggoths for my Snakebite army. (I wanted to try the green stuff)

As I have mentioned, I have a lot of orks, mostly already painted. The challenge has been to figure out how best to use these in a tabletop-ready army since they’re all mis-matched and not clearly confirming to the current rule set. They’re good enough to use I suppose, they’re not grey plastic, but that’s not how I want to roll. They’re not representing the kind of game I want to bring. I want to show clear theming, well-executed concepts, consistent painting style. After much contemplation I have faced the music; I am going to have to take the plunge and strip off most of the paint jobs and redo them. Yeah, 500 or so models.

Having made that decision, a cloud has lifted in my head and the way forward is clear. I have an opportunity to paint 5 different 30-Boyz units all at one go, so their skin, markings and basing will all be consistent instead of a hodgepodge of styles from years of collecting and learning as I went. Some of these paint jobs are from when I was a teenager in 1987, using second-hand acrylic tube paint and I didn’t know to thin it out before applying it. I’ve leaned a lot since then, and the internet has so many resources now. So I’m excited to see what I can do with these guys now.

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‘Ere we go

I’ve finished tackling the organization of my orks (finished should be in quotation marks because I am constantly re-organizing them) and I am now to the point where I can begin refurbishing, re-painting and getting them tabletop-ready.

Some things have changed in the 20-ish years I’ve been away from Warhammer 40,000. The basics are the same, orks is still orks (an’ dey’z da best) but the clan rules are much more fundamental to army construction. Visually my ork army was always a pastiche of influences, painted yellow and blue with black and white checkerboard and other random fun like flames and eyeballs and zigzags. It worked visually when I didn’t have to pick a clan kultur, and I suppose I could just run them as Freebooterz but I don’t wanna do that just yet. I have my reasons.

One of my trukks

I have the minis to make three complete armies of 3000 points each. That plan doesn’t use absolutely everything orky I have in my collection but I’m not sure there’s a point in making armies of a higher points value. That’s as high as the army builder goes. Do people play bigger games than 3000 points? (No one’s playing any games now I guess but my question remains) After much reading and thinking and obsessing I have decided that my three armies will be Snakebites 🐍 , Blood Axes 🪓 and Deathskulls 💀 . I would have gone with Goffs 🐃 but there’s no satisfactory way for me to convert Skarboyz. I’ve seen it done by using Nob bitz and mixing them with bitz from the regular Boyz kit, and as fun as that sounds I’m not going out and buying more orks when I have hundreds already. Once I’ve refurbished the orks I have, then I may reward myself with MOAR ORKSES.

Warhammer is not just a game, it’s also a hobby which means you never really stop. When you’re not actually playing a game it doesn’t just go back in the box. A hobby is something you sort of think about a lot even when your not doing it.

Another one of my scratch built trukks

I’ll be spending a lot of time with these orks, creating narratives with them through model making, mini painting, lore writing, army construction and… last and least is gameplay. The majority of my time investment will be on things other than playing games, so it shouldn’t factor that much. The 40K game rules will change over time, so the meta just doesn’t matter to me. The game will have updates and new editions and this faction will get buffed and that one will get nerfed and I don’t want my enjoyment to be tethered to factors that are beyond my control. I hope to play in tournaments and events, and obviously it’s nice to win, but partially I enjoy the orks because it’s always fun to play them, winning or not. (Orks nevva lose tho)

Morkzilla has seen better days.

So here’s my thinking about the Clan Kulturz and why I picked these three as my favourites.

Deathskulls – I primarily like da Boyz in Blue because I love kitbashing. I have quite a few scratchbuilt and converted vehicles, and the Deathskulls are particularly known for this. Their lore is very fun as they are known to be thieves who loot whatever they can whenever the opportunity presents itself. They feel the colour blue is lucky and because they believe this, it’s really true. This army will be the home for my more outlandish Mekboy creations and probably my more shooty army. Their warlord is a Warboss named Gorkamungus Prime, a towering monster with a Supa-Cybork body. He’s basically an ork head that I stuck on top of a Battletech figure. His army is called Da Blue Meaniez.

Warboss Gorkamungus Prime sporting a Supa-Cybork Body and with his loyal Attack Squig perched on his shoulder. I’ll probably scrub off a lot of his paint and redo it. Also gonna put some more thought into his weapons, they’re kind of just okay right now and I think he deserves better.

Snakebites – Just love these guys for the old rusty dusty rural flavour; backwoods orks that spend all their time hunting, lighting big fires and trippin balls on wacky fungus juice. So much fun to be had with the lore of this clan which is summed up as ‘da old wayz iz da best’. They listen to their Weirdboyz and also spend time learning a lot about squigs and grots and fungus. Visually all the tribal motifs and leather and rust and dirt is really fun to paint. Looking forward to crafting a distinctive army with this in mind. I’ve got 2 scratchbuilt Squiggoths, Gorkzilla and Morkzilla and I am excited to refurbish them and start terrifying my opponents. Their warlord is a Big Mek known as Da Wizzerd of Zzog who smokes a lot of mushrooms and gets inspiration for new inventions and his warband is known as Da Durty Dawgz.

Da Wunnerful Wizzerd of Zzog.

Blood Axes – they have been my favourite clan from the first ork source book ‘Waaargh the Orks’. These are orks that see the Imperium and think, ‘oi, dem gitz iz quite klevver’ and then imitate them crudely. They like uniforms and marching and drills and barking orders and a bit of discipline – it’s fun for them, while orks of the other clanz think they’re un-orky and sneaky. I’ve always leaned more towards the ‘Kunnin’ but Brutal’ side of the ork philosophical debate. They are known to actually negotiate with the Imperium and co-operate with them sometimes. I love the idea of ork mercenaries fighting alongside the Imperial Guard. Back in the day my friends and I organized a huge 6-player game with Orks, Imperial Guard and Eldar holding a fortress against a massive Tyrannid swarm. Good times.

This fella used to be a Runtherd but now he’s a Weirdboy, Prophet of Krork.

My Blood Axe army is called Da Dark Moon Troopaz, and I think I may try and give them a Pink Floyd theme. It will be the last of my three armies that I work on, so I will have some more time to figure them out. I like the marching hammer logo from The Wall and an orky version of it would look pretty dope. My Blood Axe Warlord is a Waaagh Banner Nob named Ug-Waa Moondog og-Nazgof, and he actually will float between all three armies. According to my lore, Boss Moondog is the Dark Moon King, the great unifying leader that brings the three tribes of Nazgof together for da WAAAGH!!!

Lots to keep me busy while I anxiously await the new Ork Codex. I may not be able to resist new orks if GW puts out a new box, but for now I will focus on Da Blue Meaniez and get them ready for the end of lockdown.

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The Ork Kingdom of Nazgof

Orks are a constant menace that have plagued the Imperium of Humanity with brutal and unrelenting war for millennia. Attempts at peace treaties are pointless, as there is no central ork authority with which to negotiate. Their society is an ever-shifting network of tribal warlords that fight with each other even more than they fight external enemies. From time to time a powerful figure rises to prominence and unites a large number of factions into a single great horde, what the orks call a ‘Waaagh’. The formation of these groups is highly difficult to predict and their behaviour is equally inscrutable. The Waaagh is less like a political structure and more like an energetic system. It builds up potential force, and then starts a reaction that continues until its energy is spent.

Within the region known as the Koronus Expanse there exists an Ork ‘empire’ called the ‘Undred-‘Undred Teef which is less of a coherent empire and more of a group of systems that have been inhabited by Orks for so long that few other lifeforms exist within its borders. Most of the habitable planets have been terraformed by centuries of the orkish fungal ecology cycle and now provide a reliable foundation for cultivating generation after generation of ork warriors. The systems on the outer edge of the sector tend to produce many Freebooterz who take to the stars in search of loot and enemies to fight. The traditional clan ‘kulturz’ are more distinct in the inner systems where orks have no one to fight but each other.

The Uznaa system is situated at the core of this sector and was possibly the original stronghold that spawned the rest of the Ork infestation in ‘Undred-‘Undred Teef. It is centered on a blue giant star indexed in Imperial cartographical records as VK-7726.9231. Space travel is hazardous in this system due to high levels of radiation but the magnetic fields of the planets make them relatively safe for habitation.

Fingog is the innermost planet of the Uznaa system with an orbit in the mercurial zone that occasionally skirts the edge of the star’s solar flares. It is a dense and rocky world, with more gravity than physics would allow for a planet of its size. This is likely due to the dormant xenotech artifacts that can be found everywhere on this hot and dusty wasteland. At some point this planet was an advanced technological complex with very large transmitters directed at the nearby star. The original builders are gone, their purpose in building this massive machine is unknown. The orks have a shocking lack of curiosity about this and are delighted to have such a vast treasure trove of shiny bitz to loot and repurpose for their own inventions. The majority of the orks of Fingog are of the Deathskull clan and they are kept quite busy digging around and exploring in the endless ruins. Occasionally their activities will awaken something dangerous and they have a nasty fight on their hands which is always good fun too.

Orbiting along Uznaa’s inner biosphere, Zzogamor is the second planet and it is a classic Death World covered in hot steamy jungles teeming with life and filled with dangerous creatures. The ork fungoid bioform is the dominant species and can be found all along the food chain from basic producers like mushrooms and toadstools up to apex predators like gargantuan squiggoths. The orks that dwell here are of the Snakebite clan and they live deep in the jungles, hunting the great beasts.

Nazgof is one of three moons orbiting the gas giant Gargor which is the outermost planet in Uznaa’s habitable zone. The other two moons are inhabited by orks as well, but they all take orders from a sort of king called the ‘Ug-Waa’ that rules Nazgof. Several tribes of the Blood Axe clan are spread across the moons of Gargor where they plot and scheme against each other for the throne of Nazgof and the right to rule over the entire sector. This may seem like atypical ork behaviour but it is normal for the Blood Axes who enjoy orders and discipline and of course treachery. The intrigues around a royal throne offer the orks of Nazgof another form of combat where they can hatch kunnin planz and schemes.

Every few centuries Uznaa enters a quiet phase where the radiation levels drop low enough for space travel to become feasible. During this time the Ug-Waa of Nazgof will declare an off-world military expedition known as the Ug-Waaugh. The target of this Waaugh is determined by Da Prophets of Krork, who are a group of Warphead Weirdboyz that maintain a compound on Zzogamor. The Ug-Waa makes a ceremonial journey to the Weirdnoyz of Zzogamor to formally begin the great Waaagh that unites the clans under the Nazgof banner and unleashes their wrath across the stars.

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561 Orks

WAAAGH!!!

If there’s one thing that I am a fanatic about it’s orks. This week I organized my sprawling and anachronistic Orks collection. I started collecting orks in 1987 when I bought my very first Warhammer minis: the RTB2 Space Ork Raiders box. It was love at first sight, and I have picked up every iteration of orks since then, in whatever game system GW has included them. There’s something about their narrative that connects with me on a basic level of my personality. Yes, they’re badguys, but Warhammer 40,000 is an entire universe of badguys. One of the overall themes of 40K is there are no heroes, everyone is a bastard. In a rotten corrupt universe of killers, the orks don’t try and pretend they are anything else. They don’t need complicated justification for their brutality, they are completely un-conflicted. Everyone in the 40K galaxy is miserable and terrified except the Orks, who are happy as pigs in shit.

Da Green Tide

I was always a fan of the Klingons but they have this stuffy ‘code of honour’ that harshes my mellow. There’s something almost Buddhist about the philosophy of the Orks. An eternal Burning Man horde of non-binary YOLO ‘Eavy Metal Murder Hobos… I find this to be very aspirational. When I was 20 I got tattoos of an Evil Sun and a Bad Moon. Absolute fact: The Best Movie Ever is Fury Road. Its actual title is ‘The Gorkamorka Movie’. This is the damn truth, and if your opinion is different then your entire life is a lie and I feel pity for you. I recommend that you seek spiritual guidance in this matter and correct your thinking.

‘Ere we go, ‘ere we go, ‘ere we go…

So as I have mentioned in other posts, I stepped away from Warhammer about 20 years ago, not for lack of love for the game; during that period the needs of family and career left little time for any hobbies. My kids are grown now and during lockdown I have reconnected with my tabletop gaming roots. My first ‘get back’ project was my Space Marines army (the Storm⚡️Hunters) which was a good way to dip my toe in and see if I still like it. I have found that I do indeed like it quite a lot and I’m ready to take the plunge and dive back in.

I can’t just jump in and start painting orks because that way leads to madness and despair. Army painting requires army organization so that the miniatures are playable on the tabletop. For me to make best use of my orks the first step is to do a proper tally. I got out all my storage boxes and put everybody out on my table – every Ork and Gretchin and Snotling that I have and did a head count. It came in at 561. (Edit: since writing this I found a few more) This is more than I think would ever reasonably be playable in a regular game, well over 3000 points even without units like Warbikes, Kans, Squiggoths, etc. I have to figure out what army (armies) these guys all fit into before I make decisions about how to paint them.

The Ork Clan Kulturz are more prominent in the rules now than they used to be many years ago, and this needs to be taken into account for choosing colour schemes. I will probably have at least three different army corps with some elites like Tankbustaz that will be shared between them all. When I played in tournaments I sometimes found it annoying to try and tell what units in my opponent’s army did what, and it’s worse when all their minis have the exact same colour scheme so the only way to tell them apart is by the differences in their little spiky bits. So in the interests of good sportsmanship I always made an effort to accentuate the different unit types through paint scheme. Things should clearly look like what they are so it’s not confusing for the players. I’m not a fan of ‘gotchahammer’ and I’d rather my opponent played their best game. All this is to say that I need to sort these lads into proper units so I can start to figure out how to paint them.

My collection spans several generations of ork sculpts. In the 80’s they started out quite comedic and cartoonish, and over time became more grimdark looking and scary. They also got bigger. The scale creep is real. The RTB02 OGs are only slightly larger than Gretchin. It makes sense visually to start by putting like with like, and perhaps mixing a little from each to homogenize them a bit. There’s really old metal guys, there’s slightly-less old plastic guys, then there’s the tail end of the comedic orks with the metal blister pack guys with plastic sprue arms.

The big design change came when Gorkamorka came out, and suddenly the look of orks shifted to a more dangerous and grim looking aesthetic. This fits with the current line but the Gorkamorka orks are still quite a bit smaller. The challenge is to blend these four different looks in a way that’s visually pleasing and also clear for gaming purposes. I have grouped my orks into three big blobs, each one predominantly guided by the tenets of a different ork kultur, and of course I am rooting this structure in lore… but that is for another post. Right now I have a lot of orks that need to be refurbished so I better get to it!

Quit yer mukkin’ about!
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