Why Orks are dumb, and you’re dumb for liking Orks.

Ok so inflammatory title aside (hey it worked, you’re reading right?). What’s up my butt this week? I have an issue with Orks. Orks in general D&D, Warhammer – everything. But for this baseless rant I am focusing on Orks in the warhammer 40,000 universe.

It’s clear Orks have gone through several different focuses as the game progresses, they’ve been comic relief, bikers, barbarians and well now they’re… well who knows what they are. And that’s my problem with them – they just don’t… fit.

40k Universe

Every army or faction in 40k has it’s function and place within the overarching mythos of the universe and Orks don’t. Orks are dumb.

Chaos Daemons

Nightmare bait. What’s more grim dark than demons? Nothing. What else conveys the hopelessness of the 40k condition than actual monsters-made-flesh from the nightmares of man.

Chaos Marines

The folly of man, hubris and meddling with powers beyond our control. Chaos personifies the worst traits of man, greed, lust, wraith etc, but also go to illustrate the ‘good’ aspects of these sins and emotions.

Assorted Space Marines

Lumping all the colours together, these are the hope for mankind, the best we can produce and one of our only hopes for survival in a bleak and uncaring universe.

Adapta Soroitas

The sisters illustrate the Imperium’s inner conflict, they exist to subvert a law preventing the church baring arms. They illustrate the conflict between religion and military and provide a well needed female element.

Imperial Guard

Men. Just men. Un-augmented, outnumbered and outgunned they represent humanity’s pugnaciousness and tenacity.


Ancient, immortal and terrifying terminator robots. A snapshot of what mankind could have been? The mad scientists of the universe.


A warning tale for mankind – what becomes of hubris. The elder race of puppet masters trying to still pull strings even with their empire in ruins.


New blood and new hope. Eastern style, with high technology, brings the high technology archetype to the universe.


Faceless, uncaring lovcraftian horde of horrors. Can’t be reasoned with or understood, they don’t care for your religion or politics, only your biomass to feed the hive mind.


Well that’s it… what are they? Horde? Nope ‘Nids have that. The Everyman? Nope that’s guard. So just why are they there?

They’re a hodgepodge of ideas, they’re hordes like ‘Nids… but with guns like guard… and… cartoon styled planes.. and Mr Potatohead stompers and… urgh. See they’re a mess.

Plants, that can manufacture guns and teleport… with green skin? Despite having red blood, riding round in mad-max buggies speaking in bad ray-winston-cockney voices.
‘Ere Ladz’
‘Dakka Dakka’


Fixing them

Grey OrkRight so it would be easy to just bash Orks and then leave them, but no, not me. I’m going to fix them too.

Something which is surprisingly easy. Feral Orks.

Yep that’s it, easy fix.

  • Stupid WW2 inspired cartoon planes? Gone.
  • Commandos smoking cigars? Gone.
  • Mr Potatohead Stomper? Gone.
  • Grot Teleporting Guns? Gone.
  • Big Rig Style Trucks? Gone.

Strip them back to a simple warpainted tribe of warriors with pre-gunpowder technology. They can have some catapults, spears, slings etc for ranged weapons – no more than 12″ range.

Outgunned you say? Nope that’s where Weirdboys come in, they’re the artillery for the army – take a note from Fantasy’s Skaven – horrifically powerful but just as likely to blow a massive chunk out of your own army.

Transports? Yep, gone are the buggies but whats in? Mummak style Squiggoths.

Maybe you could have a Mekboy. One. Who perhaps manages to cobble together one thing… perhaps a Dread style walker a big part scrap, part wicker man style idol to their gods.

Oh and one more thing.. they’re not bright-incredible-hulk-green. They’re green/grey.

There. You’re welcome. Orks are fixed!


Ok so no doubt someone will like Orks and come to their rescue. Cool, please do, that’s what the comment section is for below. I WANT to like them but… all those reasons.



By day a mild mannered Web Designer from Swindon, by night a horder and shaper of bits in his mad kit bash laboratory.

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  • Border Prince

    Orks are meant to be both a parody of humanity and the Imperium, but also a warning – they show what humanity could become.

    The orks were simply bred for war and conflict, which is arguably what the Imperium does with its massive recruitment and ideology which hates the alien and anything other. It is certainly what the Imperium does in the production of Space Marines.

    Orks build their technology from racial memory, rather than understanding and innovation, which is arguably what the Adeptus Mechanicus does.

    That’s why orks need to keep clunky technology and aspects of humans, such as smoking. They are a reminder of what mankind could become if the Imperium continues to stagnate or perhaps what happens if it is destroyed (fragmenting into tribes and isolated mini-empires) – there’s an interesting tension there.

    One of the difficulties in the fluff is that some of the Imperial/human characteristics have been played down. These days the Imperium does to some extent innovate and develop – in earlier fluff all new technology was actually rediscovery from before the Age of Strife. GW has also tried to humanise Space Marines, despite the fact Marines have a different skeletal structure, different organs and extensive psychological reconditioning – they are no longer really human but creatures made for war, just like the orks.

    • I hadn’t considered that they could stand as a warning on what humanity could become, thats a nice spin on it. I especially like the consideration that they’re what happens should the imperium fall.

      I think you hit the bone of my contention on the head with the last paragraph, it’s where fluff has changed. Really what I want is the Orks to have their place better defined now the fluff has progressed. I take your point about why they need technology, but the aesthetic still grates on me (I like the Kans/Dreads) its just the cartoonish parody of 20th century big-rigs and the fat stogy cigars.

      Thanks for your input.

  • OrkFan

    Nice of you to call lovers of orks, like me, dumb, when you can’t even correctly spell “weird” or use the correct “its.” And feral orks aren’t new; they actually existed as a WD army back in the day (+1 BS because they are better hunters!). Feel free to model bikes as boars and trukks as rhinoxen. Perhaps the orks aren’t the ones who are dumb. . . .

    • Woah, chill out didn’t you get the hint this piece was a little tongue in cheek (“baseless rant”, “inflammatory title”)? I know Feral Orks aren’t new, hence me mentioning them I just feel they fit the universe that much better and solve many of my issues I address in the article. But that aside you really got me where it hurts – right in the grammar. OWWWW 😉

      Let me put the onus on you, what makes YOU think they fit so well in the universe?

  • Angelic Despot

    Hmm… Provocative title provokes!

    I’ve been an ork fan for a long time but… I think you’re kind of right. GW have struggled to know what to do with them certainly. I prefer their earliest two incarnations and a later one introduced around the turn of 3rd Ed. Before I explain why, I’ll say how I think orks should fit in to the universe.

    They are the ‘barbarian hordes’ to the declining roman empire. To a certain extent, their ‘genericness’ is an important part of why they’re needed. They’re ‘faceless bad guys’ to be used whenever you don’t want a battle to revolve around the central themes of 40K. Picking up on the barbarian horde thing though (and although the Tyranid hordes are done in a very different way), the emphasis is on the ‘barbarian’, as you suggested with your praise for Feral Orks. I don’t like the WWII planes and some of the other wacky stuff, but I’m comfortable with low-tech mad-max vehicles and ramshackle walkers and tanks. In the hi-tech far future, barbarians can have machines and still be backward. The planes just look silly though.

    The orks I like are the ones that most closely match this concept. In Rogue Trader they were pretty undeveloped, and were little more than a generic opponent for the Imperium to face off against. They were the personification of the brutish and uncaring nature of the universe. ‘Ere We Go, Freebooterz and the other book (which sadly I didn’t buy) moved away from this a bit, and introduced some wacky stuff, but also developed a low-tech tribal culture. (They were still aliens, not plants at this point too.) With 3rd Ed everything got stripped down to basics, including orks, and most of the wacky stuff was removed. That’s when one of the biggest changes was made, with ork stats changing from being very similar to humans towards something designed to make them play like ‘barbarians’ in the ancient or colonial periods.

    Interesting article!

  • Angelic Despot

    Also, I disagree with you about Necrons.

    They’re most similar to the Eldar, in that they’re a dangerous, jealous and tragic relic of the past, brought down by their own failings and now ‘living’ a terrible semi-existence.

    They’re done in a very different way to the Eldar, however, allowing the game to include cool Ancient Egyptian as well as Terminator aesthetics, but another purpose they serve is actually to reinforce the main theme of the 40K universe, which is chaos, and mankind’s doomed struggle with it.

    I’m one of the people who appreciated the fluff changes, as the previous backstory made chaos seem like a bit-player. As it is, not only is their culture and vitality defeated and ruined, but even their myths and their sense of their place in the universe. Even their Gods and their struggles have been sidelined by more recent developments.

  • jj.knowles

    I think orks aren’t really dumb or anything and do have a place as an ideal race. They just waagh build the tech they need and it works. The orks haven’t had a fall like the eldar or have half turn to chaos like the Horus heresy of the imperium. They just… Live

  • sheperd

    I Kinda think the WWll planes are cool. They’re all Rugged and Make-shift. I don’t really see what you all think is so silly about them. They’re a Decent Faction. And in my opinion they’re fine the way they are. Angry Green Fungus people is Enough.

  • Optimistic Skeptic

    I really like the current Ork concept. You’ve seemed to completely ignore some of the nuance of why their weapons and vehicles are the way they are. They’ve cobbled together the ruins of the things they’ve “overgrown”. Like the plants that consume civilization’s remains in deserted places, they make it their own to operate through a sheer ignorance of their psyke-abilities. It’s nuts, and awesome, all at once.