Friday, 8 October 2010

Orkyness Abounds

As it's been a while since I played, and indeed I have only have a couple of games under my belt prior to that (blame my loins and the joys of fatherhood), it is difficult to remember all the rules.

Reading and rereading the rule book and the codex is fine as far as it goes. But the problem with reading is that one tends on second, and subsequent re-reading to see what one imagines, rather than what is there. Not to mention that assumptions get made on the basis of all the rule sets and games that one has played over the years.

Therefore I decided to take a different approach.

I took one unit, and googled it and it's rules in order to find out the realities - or overwise - of the doubts I have with regard to how it is played.

In the course of which - I got bored - and ended up reading this thread on the Waargh forum about what should be in the new Ork codex.

One of the things I found myself puzzling over, is the notion of what Orky actually is.

It is not something that is particularly easy to answer.

For instance, I think the version of Orks as being akin to a 19th century racist's view of Africans makes no sense. Not least because one only needs to look at modern criminal organisations, such as the Mafia or Columbian drug cartels, to see that psychopathy and violence in no way equates with the Boss being the biggest. Ok I take on board that they are not human - and perhaps a closer correlation in the 40k universe would be between choas and organised crime. But it still doesn't make sense, even if one looks to nature - as in evolutionary terms asssimilation of similarity is as successful a strategy for reproduction as 'nature red in tooth and claw' - though perhaps it doesn't make such interesting wildlife documentary.

Nor does it make much sense to argue that Orks - and by extension Orkyness should be defined by being a "competative" army, because in all the fluff they never win - they mob up, they invade, they cause mayhem and then like a male orgasm they get all excited at the moment when victory appears certain, before they slip away with very little to show for there efforts.

Not that it matters much because they'll just re-spore.

And then there is the issue that in the 40k universe - and at GW - the Orks are seen as the joke race. It is surely a joke that they are fearless instead of stubborn, or that they lack transport, or a genuine tank, or any special rules for differentiation between the clans. And I guess there is an element of humour in the concept that they either win big or lose big on the whim of the dice Gods - and that this chance factor is their Orkyness. The problem with this approach as a defintion, is that it ignores the natural reaction of players to ignore the choices that impose randomness, and instead opt for the sure thing, or at least the controllable. Which some might argue is working against the spirit of Orkyness, but I would argue is simply rational - and indeed goes back to the point about trying to define Orks is the same narrow terms as a 19th century racist would define Africans.

Perhaps the Orks are the most difficult race in 40k to define their essence. And perhaps that is what really defines Orkyness - a certain punk rock defiance of convention - which in turn might explain why they are effectively a nuisance to the Empire and not a genuine threat, as say the Tyranids.

But then perhaps actually far from the codex being wrong, they have got things spot on.

After all if one thinks about the recruiting process it is hardly surprising that whoever passes for the Quartermaster should end up with a transport requisition that is badly awry. And perhaps fearless is the right rule, if one takes the essence of the army to be win big/lose big. And far from the clans being varied and widely different, they are in fact pretty much homogenous and divided by petty jealousies that make them chaotic and disorganised - childlike - and pretty much the defintion of a 19th century racists view of Africans. Indeed the lack of melta in a mechanised meta-game might be precisely the reflection of the relative strengths that the codex writers intended - the perfect recreation via RAW and RAI.

Meh! I'm happy enough with the army.


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