Who Are The Orks?

The Orks, often referred to as Greenskins, are quite possibly the most successful species to exist in the 41st millennium. They are found everywhere, outnumbering every intelligent species in the Milky Way galaxy (apart from maybe the vast bio-mass of the Tyranid hive fleets). If the Orks came together to form an empire they would undoubtedly conquer all that exists. 

Fortunately for everyone (apart from everyone that comes into contact with them) the Orks don’t care about unifying. The Orks care about krumping their enemies. Or their friends. Or anyone smaller than them. Or anyone bigger than them if they think they can get away with it. Basically they like krumping anything and everything.

Speed Freek ork's riding various war machines race into battle with Chaos Space Marines
Some Speed Freeks race ahead of the line to get to the enemy first

Savage, violent and, if we’re honest, certainly not the most intelligent of beasts, Orks are driven by one thing – a love of war. Across the galaxy Orks gather in warbands and seek to fight whatever stands in front of them. Through the impulses of strange, unexplained forces Orks gather wherever the fighting is thickest. A warband of Orks have a good scrap with an Imperial outpost and more Orks are inextricably drawn towards the chance of a battle. These warbands form tribes, and these larger groups in turn attract more Orks, which creates fiercer fighting and draws in more Orks in a brutal cycle. When these mobs are done fighting the non-Orks they often turn on each other, battering each other into the ground for the sheer fun of it. The more fighting an Ork does the larger and stronger it becomes. This is important for progression within Ork society as a simple doctrine rules all Orkish Kulture; might is right.

When a particularly big, brutal (or cunning) Ork emerges, and cracks the skulls of enough of his rivals he’ll become the Warboss, leading the other Ork’s on rampages and carving out their own empires – at least for as long as it takes for a challenger to batter them and take off (or rival to stab them in the back). Occasionally a particularly powerful Warboss will rise to power, and unite several tribes to become their Warlord. If a Warlord is able to gather enough tribes together the Orks reach an almost critical mass. The psychic energy all Orks produce becomes overwhelmingly powerful, and a WAAAGH! is formed. This is a mass migration of Orks on the warpath, sweeping across whole planetary systems and overwhelming their defenders in an unstoppable mass.

While Orks follow their Warboss and Warlord first, and their preference will dictate the structure of the army following them (a Warboss might favour hulking Nobz over armoured vehicles for example), its common for Orks to belong to a Klan. These are Orks who, possibly on a genetic level, share characteristics – often tied to how they prefer to fight. While there are rivalries between Klans it’s common to find a mixture of them all within a Tribe or WAAAGH!.

Beast Snagga Ork's riding squiggs and wielding spears charge a unit of space marines
Beast Snagga Boyz charging down a group of Space Marines

Ork Klans

Bad Moons

What passes for an economy among the Orks revolves around a pretty suitably Orky currency – Teef. The Bad Moon Klan is therefore made up of the riches Ork’s around, because their Teef grow faster than their brethren. While it might be an issue in most societies if one group can grow currency faster than everyone elses the Ork’s carefully and precisely balance their economy by routinely knocking the teef out of Bad Moon’s mouths. They’re the closest thing Ork’s get to a merchant, continually trading, scamming and stealing to increase their horde of teef, then using them to buy shinest wargear to hurt their enemies with. Bad Moon’s Warbosses use their wealth to ensure they have the fanciest gubbinz and biggest guns and are happy standing back and shooting their enemies. They’re noted for having a lot of Flash Gitz in their warbands, who blow away opponents with their Kustom Shootas.

Blood Axes

The Blood Axes have had the longest history with the Imperium of Man, having traded with them for weapons and machinery and even worked as mercenaries for them in the past. This has lead to them developing some hideously un-Orky characteristics – namely the use of tactics in warfare.

While other Orks view it with suspicion, and may consider them traitorous, the Blood Axes have successfully incorporated camouflage and retreating into their approach to warfare (reasoning that they can come and have another go if they retreat rather than dying). They’re noted for their stealth tactics, and their warbands contain a lot of Kommadoz – the closest things Ork’s are going to get to special ops soldiers.

Deathskulls

If it’s not bolted down securely enough (which the majority of stuff isn’t) then a Deathskull Ork will ‘requisition’ it for their own purposes. Known to loot and plunder anything left on the battlefield (or unattended by other Orks) the Deathskulls collect anything that might have a use, even as a lucky charm – the Deathskulls are particularly superstitious. It’s not uncommon to find Imperial tanks that have been commandeered, slapped with a coat of blue paint (coz it’s lucky) and rolled to the battle line for a scrap. They’re known to have larger than average numbers or Gretchin in their warbands, because they’re useful for lootin’.

Evil Sunz

If it’s got wheels (or really just a large enough engine to go fast) then a Evil Sunz Ork will hop in and put the pedal to the metal. The living embodiment of the phrase ‘gotta go fast’ Evil Sunz are almost obsessively interested in pushing themselves and their machinery to the limits of Orkish engineering. Like with blue being lucky all Orks know, and therefore psychically manifest into accuracy, that red ones go faster. So the Evil Sunz paint up their vehicles in red, and wear red clothing, and red face paint. In true Ork fashion if red paint isn’t available they aren’t against using blood.

Obviously Evil Sunz warbands have tons of vehicles, and more than the usual numbers of Mekboyz to maintain them. They also have a lot of Flyboyz, who take to the skies in search of faster ways to kill their enemies.

Goffs

The Goff Klan is made up of the biggest, toughest, meanest and most brutal of the Orks. They live for the thrill of battle and will find any opportunity to start krumpin’ heads – regardless of who’s head it is that they’re krumpin’. They’re hand to hand specialists, preferring to get up close and get stuck in to their opponents, and are known for having the biggest mobs of Boyz. Goff armies are packed full of Knobs and Stormboyz. As you might expect from a race that gets bigger and stronger the harder they fight a Klan that lives for being in the thick of the fighting can produce some powerful warlords. The greatest warlord of the 41st millennium, Gazghkull Thraka, if a member of the Goff Klan, and billions of Ork’s charge into battle at his command.

Gazghkull Thraka towers over his comrades as he leads them on his galactic conquest
Gazghkull Thraka leading his Boyz to war

Snakebites

The final Ork klan are the Snakebites, who distain modern trappings as unorky and prefer ancient traditions. They turn their noses up at technology like armoured trukks and fancy shootas, and prefer to ride to battle on boars and squiggs armed with choppas. At lot of the reasonably recently discovered Beast Snagga Orks, who spend their lives hunting the biggest, meanest quarry (from huge animals to Imperial Titans), are part of the Snakebite klan. Some very anti-technology Snakebite’s never progress past being feral Orks, even when they have access to the technology to become advanced (at least by Ork standards) kingdoms.

So who are the Orks?

A seemingly never ending green tide of muscle and aggression the Orks are one of the most threatening forces in the galaxy. Able to adapt to virtually any environment, with close to inexplicable physic powers and an incredible knack for making impossible technology work (because if enough Orks believe it will work then it will) they’d be entirely unstoppable – if they’d stop fighting long enough to take over. Can a truly monstrous warlord like Gazghkull Thraka unite enough Orks to rule the galaxy?


Want to learn about other races in the 41st millennium? Check out our primer on the Aeldari!

Did you enjoy this article or found it helpful? You could always tip the author with a coffee (or something stronger). If you want to pick up any Orks for your own army (or buy something else) then check out Element Games. They have up to 25% off on a wide range of units, box sets and accessories. Finally, make sure you’re following us on Instagram to stay up to date and get involved in our community!

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