Codex Orks – A Review

warhammer-40000-logoThe first Codex of 7th Edition and one so sorely deserved, the Orks having been passed over during the 5th & 6th edition iterations. I have no idea why it took so long for the Games Workshop to give the Orks an updating although I must confess the likes of the Dark Eldar did need it more. Because they were shit.

So the warbosses of the world can rest a little easier on their piles of teef and loot, safe in the knowledge that they’ve finally got a new Codex. And it’s really quite good…

CodexOrksENG copy

First up the background is a cracking read. It’s the first time in ages I’ve felt really engaged by the background. Perhaps waiting so long between the iterations has given the design studio plenty of time to mull things over. Whatever the reason the Codex feels more coherent and more complete than it ever has before. Whilst not every page is original content everything has been tidied up and the expansion of the background around Ork society is incredibly interesting to the point that I went from having no interest in collecting an Ork army to really wanting to collect an Ork army. And I hadn’t read the army list yet.

An awful lot of effort has gone into making the Orks feel like a civilisation rather than a vague, mindless conglomeration of tribes that sort of maybe invade places and are sort of maybe a problem. The downside of this big zero gravity moon step forward in the background is that it goes too far the other way. Much like the rule book it beats you over the head with the utter hopelessness of humanity’s situation which is irritating but the writing around it is strong enough that you push it to one side. What isn’t awesome about the writing is the…you guessed it…typos! It ran great guns for the first half of the background but then mistakes started to creep in and one sentence just made no sense. Literally none. And that’s pretty shonky editing.

That aside, the background is fantastic and really well presented along with the rest of the book with some ace new artwork and klan descriptions that really help you to understand who you could be collecting rather than just the cool shit you can justify taking. It still justifies it of course but in a far more interesting way. But best of all the background reintroduced Freebooterz in a such a manner that I can see players actually taking an army of them now. They’re no longer a 30-year-old foot note, but a viable army thanks to having something concrete written about them.

No Codex would be complete without the photo section which, like the Galaxy at War book is a little thick but beautifully shot. As I flicked through the pages I did feel slightly taken for a ride (a) because there was lots of photos and (b) they were only of one klan. Which means supplementary codices, which is a bit of a con if you don’t want to paint you Orks yellow.

The army list has a streamlined layout which personally I’m not wild about. In previous Codices the book would describe each unit in turn, detailing special rules etc then provide you with a handy-dandy army list at the back with all the points values so it was all tidy. With the new Codex Orks all the information is on the single page. This makes for a lot of page flicking made worse by the fact that the weapons and upgrades are all at the back in the traditional format. Whilst it’s not the end of the world and leaves space for more fluff, more units and more upgrades, it’s a less efficient way of working an army list as units in the same part of the organisation chart were all on the same page, or as much as possible.

The main changes to the army list revolve around the special rules. Ere We Go makes up for the changes to Furious Charge, making it far more likely Orks will make it into combat thanks to a re-roll. The Mob Rule has also changed much to non-Ork players’ delight. It was far too powerful and was massively open to abuse. Now it feels more like the Animosity roll from Warhammer but instead of your mobs doing feck all they count as rallied but it may result in a few Orks being stomped into the dirt. So very much a two-edged sword. I suspect this’ll be toned down in the next edition because it does seem a tad heavy-handed.

Obviously the big and exciting new entry to the Codex is the mandatory walker model. Although the Orks get two. Because…well because fuck you basically. The Gorkanaut and Morkanaut are big, nasty and expensive. But the bigness comes with big shooty weapons and armour 13 to the front and sides. And as one would expect from a new Ork unit, it has weapons of one stripe or another bolted to every surface. Throw in the fact that they have a transport capacity and the Morkanaut can take a kustom force field and it makes for Orky levels of lethality. Flashgitz too have had a tweak to make them worth taking with a reduction of points and some shiny new models and further allows gamers to take a themed Freebooterz army.

Indeed the book is full of dakka related lethality and whilst the naming convention behind Da Dead Shiny Shooter or Da Finkin Cap may not be everyone’s cup of tea there’s no denying the new and exciting ways in which to inflict misery on your opponent. The Orks as an army seems to channel the most fundamental rule of wargaming: rolling lots of dice is fun. Things like the Deffstorm mega cannon which allows you to roll 3D6 Strength 6 shots a turn.

The only thing that counts against the army is the sheer volume of unit options. There’s tonnes of them and you’ll never be able to take everything you want within the usual force organisation structure which is a bit of a downer but with some careful planning you can take most of it. But I suppose the point of the Orks is that they have a solution for every enemy. By having a strong core to your army and a few options in the Elite, Fast Attack and Heavy Support slots you can simply swap one unit for another depending on who you’re going up against. Granted this is good news for the Games Workshop but as you’ll need hundreds of models for your army anyway, what difference does another 20 or 30 make? And the fact is they’re all useful. There’s nothing in the Codex I wouldn’t take. Sure there’s stuff I’d take over the others out of preference but there’s nothing in there that makes me question its place in the army.

Codex Orks is immensely fun to read. The background is engaging and genuinely a huge leap forward from where the Orks were. The army list is varied and whilst some of the rules have been changed or toned down a bit the green menace is still exactly that. The book has found the perfect balance between presenting the Orks as being the ‘fun’ army and being a force that will simply smash you to bleeding bloody chunks. All this adds up to a great book and an army that I’m so sold on I’m going to start collecting them.

Codex Orks is available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00

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