Epic: The Ork Horde

I’m not even sure when I first started collecting for this Ork army in Epic as a lot of it hails back to the original Adeptus Titanicus era. The painting however as shown I’m pretty sure was started sometime back in 1996 (or possibly earlier) and refined with a second wave in 2004. The current size is considerably larger than what’s shown here and should I ever manage to dig the figure case out of storage I will see about re-photographing. Like many of my Epic armies, I have no ‘end game’ in mind as far as the Orks are concerned and will just keep adding to them and letting them grow organically. Anyway, here’s where they were back in 2008 ~

Epic Scale OrksThe Orks are one of those armies that just keeps growing and growing. The examples you will see here represent just a tiny fraction of my entire collection, which, just like the Orks themselves has been expanding ever since the days of 1st Edition Adeptus Titanicus nearly two decades ago at the time of writing. The great thing about collecting Orks is pretty much anything goes! Old models, new models, scratch-builds or conversions all work comfortably together and the great thing is it doesn’t matter whether you are a veteran painter, or just starting off in the hobby, because Ork armies rarely look anything other than spectacular on the table.

For my own collection I tend to steer towards a more conventional palette of classical Ork colours including reds and blacks or yellows and blacks, all generally in a weathered or distressed state over a dirty metallic basecoat. This helps tie the army look together in at least a rough semblance of uniformity, before I then break it all up in true Ork fashion by adding replacement panels in blue, or green, or, pretty much any other colour I can think of to brighten the overall look up.

Core Formation: The Warband

Unlike the rigid hierarchical structure of the Imperial War Machine, the Orks are a far more unpredictable force with a natural tendency to group together, particularly under the banner of a powerful or especially large Warboss. These mobs of Orks are loosely described as Warbands and vary in size from anything from sixty Orks to literally thousands, with accompanying armoured transports and Guntrukks.

Epic Scale Orks

The basic Ork Warband consists of six Boyz units, two Grots units and two Nobz units, however this can be further expanded into an almost infinite number of different combinations. The most basic expansion is to simply double or triple the basic Warband into either a ‘Big’ or ‘Uge’ Warband. Either way, additional vehicles and Ork units can be added to the mob with little in the way of restriction. Ultimately this means that most Ork Forces can be incredibly flexible and easily fine-tuned (Not to mention an eclectic mix of infantry and vehicles).

Epic Scale Orks

For my starting core Ork force I chose a simple Warband to which I added a Warboss, some battlefortresses , a few more Boyz units and a some Guntrukks. I then created a Kult of Speed and Guntrukk’s Blitz Brigade to add further punch as well as a basic Stompa Mob.

All in all this gave me four simple formations to which I can add further units and build up my Ork force organically as it were.

Painting Greenskins

For my Orks I like a rusted earthier feel to the vehicles and a dark look for my infantry only broken up by the occasional bright patch of clothing or armour. In both cases I undercoat black then mix up a 50/50 blend of tin bitz and brazen brass which I lightly dry brush over the entire model (infantry or vehicle, doesn’t matter one bit). This base metal coat does two things, firstly it brings out all of the detail making it easier to see and secondly it provides me with my filthy dark rusty base over which I can layer my colours.

For the infantry I picked out any flesh with goblin green over which I applied a thin green ink wash to bring back any details. The clothing was a combination of bubonic brown, blood red and bleached bone, which just left any weapons to pick out in boltgun metal.

For the vehicles, once my rusty base mix was complete I added a 70/30 mix of scab red and bestial brown over any armour panels, leaving a few areas here and there as the base metal undercoat. This was then highlighted by adding increasing amounts of blood red to the mix. To break up the uniform look of any Ork vehicles I randomly picked out occasional panels in either green, yellow, black or blue to give the army an even more rag-tag look. Rivets and other metal details were painted chainmail or brazen brass and any glyphs were added at the end in skull white or yellow. This basic approach was used throughout the entire army on everything from Ork Boyz, to Guntrukks and Gargants.

GHAZGHKULL’S ORKS – KULT OF SPEED

Ork Speed Freaks, collectively known as a ‘Kult of Speed’ formation are a fast hitting formation, albeit with a weakness of light armour. They are a great way of outflanking slower moving formations or disrupting enemy defences with their fast moving Buggies and Wartraks. Upgraded with a few Skorcha units Speed Freaks can be a very useful mob to have in an Ork army.

Epic Scale Orks

Like Warbands and Blitz Brigades, Speed Freak formations can be fielded in three basic sizes even before any upgrades are added. For my own formation I have started with a basic ‘Kult of Speed’ to which I have added a few upgrades, later on I will expand the force to a ‘Big’ Mob by adding in a few more Buggies. I started the formation by fishing out a random assortment of Buggies and Wartraks from my bitz boxes which I then stuck onto a 20mm x 20mm base (or slightly larger in the case of the Skorchas). Even if you don’t normally like basing vehicles I would recommend basing Buggies and Wartraks as their tiny size can be a nuisance to move around the gaming table otherwise.

Epic Scale Orks

Once I’d based and textured each of the buggies I undercoated them with a black primer and then painted them in a variety of effects from base metal to red or yellow armour and markings. A little static grass was also stuck onto the bases with PVA glue to add a little more variety in the base itself. I initially added in a few Guntrukks to give the mob some extra punch, but after a few games I found that the slower moving vehicles slowed down the formation too much and negated the benefit of the smaller buggies speed. Instead I added a few units of Deth Kopta’s as they were able to keep up with the buggies and also fitted better the background of Ghazghkull’s invasion force. More on those at a later date though.

Epic Scale OrksAs a preference I find larger Speed Freak formations are a lot more effective as they can sustain a few casualties and blast markers from at least a round or two of fire and still be able to fight back. Smaller formations however, although cheaper I have found can be a little fragile in the face of a persistent of ‘shooty’ foe, like the Imperial Guard. Of course, two Kults of Speed’ can be twice as distracting,  hoomies beware!

Exiled from their own Clans, Speed Freeks form roving bands of highly mobile (and fast) warbands. Led by a Bad Ork Mekaniak, Speed Freek Warbands are a constant thorn in the side of Imperial Commanders on Armageddon. To support the Speed Freek army list in White Dwarf Magazine I have included a quick look at a standard formation here along with a few upgrades and suggestions on making Trukks.

Modelling and Painting Speed Freeks.

The Speed Freeks army list is the first of the army specific tournament lists to be added to those already in the Epic Armageddon Rulebook and was published in White Dwarf Magazine. Focusing on the exiled Speed Freeks and Bad Meks of the Burning Death, Speed Freek armies are very mobile and ideal at launching ‘hit and run’ raids from their numerous Warbikes and Trukks. Unlike the ‘Kult of Speed’ formation featured above which is taken from the standard Ork Tournament List, Speed Freek armies are led by a Mekboy Bad Ork Bikeboy as opposed to a Warboss. Speed Freek armies introduce three new Ork units; the aforementioned Mekboy Bad Ork Bikeboy, Ork Trukk and Mek Speedsta. These units are specific to the Speed Freeks list and cannot be used in a tournament in anything other than a Speed Freek army. Of course, if you are putting together a campaign of your own then a small Speed Freek force would make an ideal starting point for an ‘Ambush’ or ‘Convoy Raid’ Scenario.

For full details on the new units you will need a copy of the Speed Freek Tournament Army List, which is published in White Dwarf Magazine and a handful of models, most noticeably Ork Warbikes and Buggies. As Trukks are the predominant transport for Speed Freek Boyz, it seemed a good starting point to round up a selection of Buggies for conversion. Creating Trukks is very simple, all you need to do is omit the gunner from a buggy and fill in the hole at the back where the gun would normally sit. If you want to go a stage further a few Ork Boyz, or better still Madboyz if you have them can be stuck onto the back of the Trukk. If you want to go a stage further you can use plastic card to convert the buggy chassis into a Trukk just like the ones I have shown here. These are not as difficult as would first appear and only involve a few strips of plastic card and a sharp craft knife. In this instance I added the flooring of the Trukk first and then the front and side panels in that order. Further banding and surface detail was then added afterwards to roughly match the 40K scale version.

At first glance the Trukk looks very small compared to the Battlewagons and Gun Trukks, but bear in mind they can only carry a half dozen Orks and the 40K scale Trukk isn’t much larger than a Buggy when you actually look at them side by side. To kick of the start of my Speed Freek army I have created four Trukks, the minimum number in a Speed Freek Warband. If you are going to create an army of any decent size then you are likely going to require a lot of Trukks, so bear that in mind when deciding what to use or convert.

Every Speed Freek army is led by a Mekboy Bad Ork Biker, the exiled leader of the roving warband. This unit is free, but must be taken by at least one formation in the army. To create the Boss Mek I simply added the top half of an Ork Nob to the lower torso on an Ork Warbike. The right arm Power Claw was removed and arm resculpted to match the bike. As a final touch I removed the Warbikes plastic base with a craft knife and positioned the Mek dynamically pulling a wheelie to help the model stand out. At some stage in the future I will replace the current Bad Ork Mek with something more appropriate, such as Wazzdakka Gutsmek, but that will have to wait for another update.

Although many Speed Freeks naturally come from the Evil Sunz Ork Clan (although not all), I kept the colours to a brighter red than I would usually do and made sure the trademark yellow flames were painted at least somewhere onto the vehicles. To make up the bright red I initially drybrushed the Trukks and Mek Speedsta with a mix of Brazen Brass, Tin Bitz and Bestial Brown. I then painted the areas I wanted to be red in neat Terracotta Red. By adding increasing amounts of Blood Red to the Terracotta I built up the highlights until a final highlight of Blazing Orange was added along any edges to finish. For the flames I initially painted then wavy lines of Bleached Bone over which Sunburst Yellow was added.

If you want a fast moving force then there is little in the game as fast as the Speed Freeks, however it comes at the cost of a reduction in the number of units available to choose from. For my own Speed Freeks I will most likely keep the army small and contained to only a handful of formations for special scenarios. In the meantime however its back to painting and a step up in pace for the Speed Freeks. Next up Fighta Bommas and the Ork air assault.

Not every Ork Warboss is rich or powerful enough to have a Gargant built, some have to settle for the smaller Stompa instead. In other instances particularly cunning Meks manage to salvage enough spare parts to make their own Stompa. When they all get together you get a Stompa Mob, and that’s bad news for anyone facing them.

Big Gunz and Stompa’s

No Ork army would be complete without some big guns, which is where the Mekboy Big Gunz Mob comes in. Big Gunz mobs are nothing more than a collection of heavy weapons gathered together by a particularly bossy Mek into an artillery battery. Generally crewed by Grotz, each gun is practically unique; no two guns being exactly the same (or even close in some instances). Some come from the wrecks of tanks and other armoured vehicles, others assembled from spare parts by a particularly crazed Mek after a sudden inspiration. However they are created, Big Gunz Mobs provide Ork Warbands with some much needed light artillery.

Epic Scale Orks

By their very nature, Ork Big Gunz are an eclectic mix of quite literally anything a Mek can assemble into a weapon of destruction. This ramshackle and mismatched appearance of Ork Big Gunz makes them a fun unit to create which really helps capture the scrapyard mentality of the Orks. For the Big Gunz shown here I rifled through one of my Ork bits boxes and was surprised to find I have a sizeable number of the previous edition Pulsa Rokkits, Splat Kannons and other Ork nasties. As I had plenty to go around I decided to mount them two to a base, but this is not necessary as one gun and a couple of Grotz for crew is plenty (assuming your basing them at all that is).

A standard Gunz Mob consists of five units, which is pretty much what I have here. In addition I have added an insanely large Ork Oddboy Soopa Gun, in this instance a ‘Zzap’ variant to really make my opponent pay attention as these things can be devastating. There are two Soopa Gunz in the set and it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include the second one here also, although in a tournament of course you could only take one per formation.

The final couple of units I still have to add are some Nobz to keep the Grotz in check and a Flak Wagon to deter Imperial Flyboys from picking off my Gunz. Job done, a few more Big Gun units and I can’t really start to pound those defences in true Orky fashion.

Ork Stompa Mob

Most Stompa Mobs consist of three Stompa’s, however like many Ork formations few things are predictable about them and its not unusual to see Stompa Mobs with more Stompa’s, a Supa-Stompa or even horde’s of other units like Dreadnought’s and even Guntrukks. The ones shown here are all from the new “Stompa Mob” boxed set released by Fanatic and are first class models. Replacing the previous ‘waddler’ variant with the tracked, armoured monstrosities you see here was a stroke of genius in my book and the new Soopa Stompa in particular is a great unit to have due to its potential of taking three Soopa Guns giving the overall Stompa Mob a surprisingly high firepower factor.

Epic Scale Orks

Painting Stompa’s is no different to painting any other vehicle, or even Gargant for that matter. In the case of the Mob shown I first dry brushed a mix of Brazen Brass, Tin Bitz and Bestial Brown over the entire model, over which I lightly dry brushed Boltgun Metal. The armour plating was then randomly picked out in a variety of colours to create a patchwork effect, although the main colours were predominately either Red or Black. To finish the models a few details were added such as glyphs or markings and the base was dry brushed Graveyard Earth and Bleached Bone. For the detailing you could simply paint markings directly onto the armour same as I did here, however it is also possible to use a number of Ork transfers from a 40K Ork Warbike transfer sheet.

Not counting the lumbering Ork Landa, the Fighter Bommers of Ghazghkull’s “Fighta Skwadrunz” are the only true flyers at the Orks disposal. Crude looking, yet deadly efficient Fighter Bommers achieved almost total air dominance over Armageddon skies in a matter of days through both overwhelming numbers and the sheer ferocity of their speed crazed pilots. Each aircraft is almost as individual as the pilot that flies them, the displaying of glyphs, icons or flame patterns on the wings and fuselage highly common. Every opportunity to coerce or bully a nearby Mekaniak into tweaking the engines or weapons that bit more is gleefully taken, as is the opportunity to take to the skies and satiate their desire for speed and noise.

The squadron consists of aircraft from two ranges; Forge Worlds resin Ork Fighter Bommers and Ork Bommers, and a number of ‘Kustom’ conversions made and painted by Dave Stone based on the current Specialist Games Ork range. The three Kustom Fighter Bommers were based on an idea I picked up from the Epic Playtesters Forum last year, which was whether parts from the Epic Thunderbolt could be used to convert the smaller Ork Fighter Bommer. I mentioned this to Dave who then set about creating three fantastically unique conversions based on parts from both the Ork and Imperial range of Flyers as well as other bitz and copious amounts of green-stuff.

Epic Scale Orks

Whilst Dave set about painting the Kustom Figher Bommers, I painted up the first of the Forge World flyers which would form the bulk of the squadron. Starting with a mix of scab red and terracotta red I block painted the base colour before adding increasing amounts of blood red to the mix for each successive highlight. The engines and lower fuselage were painted with a 50/50 mix of tin bitz and boltgun metal as was the canopy frame and guns. The leading edges of the wings were then repainted black before adding the Orks characteristic chequered pattern in skull white. For the flames I mixed bronzed flesh with golden yellow and then highlighted them by adding bad moon yellow to the mix. For the flying stands I simply used a length of brass rod that was pinned through a small 40K 25mm base and textured with PVA glue and sand.

Between Dave’s characterful conversions and the Forge World style aircraft, the squadron is already starting to shape up nicely. In time I will add the second half of the squadron along with a few extra ancillary units, but that’s for a future update.

Ork Reinforcements

Whilst putting together the Ork Flyers I knew I had a game coming up with a friend and after checking the Ork army I wanted to field realised there were a few gaps in a couple of the Formations. A quick root around one of the Ork boxes produced three more Gun Trukks, a Battlefortress and some Deth Koptas; all which were needed to complete my Big Kult of Speed and Big Blitz Brigade. After painting them up I noticed just how well the old range, new range and Forge World models work together look wise in Ork armies leaving no excuse not to pull out any older models you may have lurking around.

The Ork Landa is a Ballistic Entry Vehicle that in many ways is similar to the Space Marine’s Thunderhawk Gunship, which is most likely where Ghazghkull got the idea. The Landa may not be as attractive as the Thunderhawk, or as well equipped, however it is not to be underestimated. Like most Ork craft the Landa’s armour is thick and the hull is studded with heavy guns and rokkits making it a very capable Landing Craft and a critical part of Ghazghkull’s invasion plans.

The Ork Landa was introduced specifically for Epic Armageddon and is one of a number of new Ork models released to celebrate the games re-launch. Although it does rather tongue-in-cheek resemble Thunderbird Two, the Landa is a great looking model and is very easy to assemble. The lower jaw is in fact the exit ramp and slides down a track either side of the main cargo hold allowing the Orks within to disembark through the jaws so to speak, a rather nice touch. The Landa’s on the right are the first pair from a squadron of three I have added to my main Ork force. Slightly larger and bulkier than the Thunderhawk Gunship, the Ork Landa comes with a set of extra gun turrets which can be added to the fuselage making it a veritable gunboat. In this instance I have left most of them off as I felt they rather spoiled it’s simple but striking shape.

Epic Scale Orks

As the Landa is a Ballistic Entry Vehicle I felt the paintwork should look even more worn and distressed than usual (even for Orks!) and based the scheme on a cross between my more recent Battle Fortresses and the Landa seen in the rulebook. To create the worn paintwork I started by dry brushing the entire model with a mix of tin bitz and boltgun metal. Ove this I then lightly dry brushed chainmail silver and gave the entire model a wash of black ink mixed with terracotta red. Once the ink wash had completely dried, I then began the red by painting a thin mix of scab red and terracotta red over a few of the panels. To create the chipped and weathered look the trick is to paint only small areas of armour leaving the metal colours showing around any edges or rivets. I then added blood red to the mix and over painted the armour I picked out initially leaving some of the darker colour showing around the edges. I continued to add red to the mix each time painting a smaller and smaller area of the armour to create the worn paintwork seen above. The second Landa was painted using the same palette of colours with the exception of adding a few patches of green to help keep the two looking different.

For detail I simply picked out a few panels to paint either brass, such as around the cockpit, or black and white check pattern. As a final touch I painted the cockpit glass dark green with a scorpion green highlight and the ‘teeth’ ghostly grey with a skull white highlight. To finish the Landa’s were then mounted onto a flying stand made from a 40K round base and heavy brass rod.

Oddboy Soopa Gun Fortresses

Epic Scale Orks

An interesting, but surprisingly little know fact is that the Oddboy Soopa Gunz shown as part of the Big Gunz Mob are actually designed to additionally fit straight onto the Gun Fortress upgrading it to an Oddboy Character (or Soopa Gun to the rest of us). No converting is required, it simply fits straight onto the hull where the main tower/gun would normally sit. The two shown above were very quickly put together from some spare Gun Fortress chassis I had in the bits box and a blister of the new Soopa Gunz. A few more Battle Fortresses and Ghazghkull’s Horde is starting to fill out nicely.

It wouldn’t be an Ork Waaagh! if there weren’t Gargants present. Bristling with heavy weapons, power field generators and belching black smoke, these parodies of Imperial Titans are at the heart of the Ork horde. Built by Mekaniaks as literal manifestations of the ork gods Gork and Mork, their deceptively simple looks disguise what are very effective and deadly capable war engines.

Epic Scale Orks

The Great Gargant in the centre of the picture was assembled and painted way back in 2001 for Epic 40,000, hence why it is on a slightly different base to the two others. I originally painted it using what at the time was my basic ork palette of colours of distressed metal, black and red. This however did look a little too dark so when the two additional Gargants were done earlier in the year, I took the opportunity to brighten up the red and add a few additional colours to help tie all three of them together better.

Gork and Mork

Epic Scale OrksFor a bit of fun I decided with the two Gargants to divide them up between myself and Dave Stone; getting him to paint one of them for a bit of variety. I didn’t give him any detailed brief other than to make it suitably ‘Orky’ and blend in with the rest of the force. After checking out the rest of the Ork army done so far, and bearing in mind he had also done the Fighta-Bomma conversions, Dave produced a ‘Death Skulls’ Clan inspired Gargant with a trademark blue head. Having a similar painting style to mine, Dave started with a boltgun and tin bitz dry brush over the entire model before picking out some of the highlights in brazen brass and silver. The whole model was then given a number of washes and inks to dull and distress the metalwork before block painting in the panels in reds, greens and blue.

Once I had received the finished model back, I then did some additional final light work to blend it in with the other two Gargants, more of which I will cover later.

Epic Scale Orks

The second Gargant I painted myself and knowing in advance that Dave had equipped his with a Supa-Zzap-Gun and Mega-choppa, I kept the handy close combat weapon, but instead chose an additional Soopagun for the left arm instead to give an extra couple of barrage points.

Note: Before somebody emails me to point out the obvious, yes, I do know in the rulebook it states that the Zzap gun and Mega-choppa are either/or options and not both. However, as it is unlikely to be included in any kind of official tournament in the future, I am not really overly concerned that Dave’s includes both weapons. Anyway, it’s just plain ‘Orky’ so its all good as far as I am concerned and just adds further variety.

After adding a few additional details to the base from the Epic infantry bases sprue, I used exactly the same approach as Dave and heavily dry brushed all of the Gargant with a combination of tin bitz and boltgun metal. A lighter dry brush of brazen brass and silver was then applied to pick up the raised details before giving the entire model a wash in devlan mud and chaos black.

For the red I started with a 50/50 mix of red gore and terracotta to which I added blood red and finally blazing orange for the highlights. Add this stage I also painted on the ork glyphs on the shoulders to match with those Dave had painted on his and also some using ork decals from warbuggy and bike kits.

Tip: Blending in decals

The trick to making the decals appear natural is to first of all paint the panel you are going to apply them to in gloss varnish. I used a Windsor and Newton acrylic gloss in this case which you can get from most good art or hobby retailers and left it overnight to dry properly. This help stop air getting trapped behind the decal and reduces ‘silvering’ where you can see the decal film clearly on the model surface. Once the decal was fixed in place I then sealed it using a matt varnish which both protects it and helps further blend it into the model. The reason I apply the decals at this stage is so I can then apply all my weathering over the top of both the model and the decals making them appear a part of the paintwork underneath all the dirt and grime rather than something stuck over the top at the end as an afterthought.

To help tie all three models together I gave all of them a final wash of devlan mud and a very light dry brush of bleached bone over the base and up the lower half of each of the models. This helped mask any subtle differences in painting approaches between Dave and myself and help reinforce the appearance that all three Gargants were part of the same army. Along with the even older ‘Stomp Smash’ seen here, my Epic ork horde was starting to grow nicely and I could see it being time soon to add some seriously larger mobs of boyz.

Until next time, happy gaming.

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