Guy Haley’s Orks: An Old Army for a New Edition

Guy Haley describes himself as a “Word Goblin”, and he’s produced thousands of them for Games Workshop over a long career writing with us. From the Horus Heresy to Warhammer Age of Sigmar’s Realmgate Wars, to Dark Imperium, Guy knows Warhammer inside and out – so it’s no surprise that he’s as excited about the new edition of Warhammer 40,000 as the rest of us. We caught up with Guy to talk about how he’s getting started in the new edition with an old army.

Guy: 8th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 is here, and it’s time to dust off my Orks. Quite literally. They have got a bit dusty.


I have always loved greenskins. For three decades I’ve tried to break the habit. Rogue Trader’s advent saw me buy a load of Eldar which I barely played with before I blew two month’s allowance on… Orks. I have a The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyTM Strategy Battle Game Mordor™ Orc force. I have boxes full of Warhammer Age of Sigmar Moonclan Grots. Recently I’ve been concentrating on my Nurgle army for Warhammer Age of Sigmar, but one of my other armies for the game is Orruks. I am sure you can see the pattern here.I’ve come up with a number of reasons why I like Orks, none entirely satisfactory. I was a pretentious young ‘un. I hated sport (more because of the so-called sportsmen rather than the games). I regarded myself as a cultured reader rather than a football-loving oik. So it was hard for me to justify why I was attracted to such a rambunctious, stupid, sometimes downright evil lot of green space monsters. I used to say that it was an ironic outlet for my repressed thuggish instincts. But I’ve always had an anarchic streak, and that fact I spend so much time fencing suggests I like a good scrap as much as the next greenskin. I suspect my early hypotheses are just so much teen posturing. I probably like orcs because at heart I am a goblin, and all goblins look up to their big green cousins. Dat’s da troof.

My first Space Ork army, as they were then, were Death Skulls. Gorkamorka’s release (I loved that game!) furnished me with new vehicles. I’d always enjoyed Warbikers, Wartrakks and Warbuggies, so when the Ork Boyz kit came out in 2000, I switched to collecting Evil Sunz/Speed Freeks. I’ve used a lot of red paint since then.


After 16 years of collecting my, ahem “new” Ork army, the total of my painted miniatures comprises the following:

52 Ork Boyz

4 Trukks

3 Warbuggies and Wartrakks

1 Dakkajet

5 Deffkoptas

2 Battlewagons

Looted Basilisk

8 Warbikers

5 Meganobz

1 Mek

3 Zzap Guns

1 Killa Kan

10 Nobz

1 Flakk Gun

1 Warboss

I admit that’s not loads of models. More dedicated hobby types would turn the same number out in a few weeks, but I have also painted a lot of other armies in that time, so I do hope you’ll let me off. It is far more than I could field in an average game. I have choice. Like any good hobbyist I have a great many other models waiting for a lick of paint. Six more Killa Kans, for example. A unit of Burnaboys. More Warbikers. A third Battlewagon. More everything.

Ork armies offer great scope for conversion, but it has to be restrained. There are three things I actively dislike in the hobby. Wacky Ork armies are one. In my opinion, Orks can be funny, but never silly. My own conversions are fairly subtle. I’ve given the really old stuff new crew figures, I customised all my Trukks, and altered a number of Orks to run. That’s it. No monster trucks, HUGE guns or circus antics for me.


You might be asking what I intend to do with my Orks now the new edition is out (well, even if you’re not, I need to posit this rhetorical question to move this article onto my next point, so shush). Well, it doesn’t actually make a great deal of difference to my Ork army.

My impetus to collect particular models has rarely been dictated by the rules. I’m not a competitive player. As a writer, I’m far more interested in replicating particular in-universe formations rather than looking for a way to win at all costs.

I’ll admit I’ve had some time away from 40k, so what the new edition does mean is that my Orks will get played with again. The balance of the rules and factions is so finely honed and the speed of play is phenomenal (ah, I remember the days of 2nd edition hop-splat field guns. It took twenty minutes to fire just one). I had my first game last week. Wary of the length of time it took to play the last edition, my opponent Steven and I took small armies with a power rating of 50. The game played so quickly even with us plodding through the rules, we were done in an hour and a half. Faster than a bouncing squig.


I lost owing to poor army selection and bad decision making. I took a patrol, and so missed out on command points. There was one particular moment where, having rolled a 4 for a charge – sufficient for some of my unit to reach their target – I opted to use the Orks’ charge reroll special rule to get more boys into battle. I rolled 2, didn’t make the charge and my entire unit got gunned down in the next Shooting phase.

The new edition is fun and furious. Finally, it accommodates players like me, who prefer the narrative side of things, and die-hard tourney players in the same space. This mismatch of player expectations is hard to bridge in any wargame, but the team have done a near perfect job here. Armies can now be true to the background and effective on the battlefield, and that makes Warhammer 40,000 the cinematic experience I crave.


Well, WAAAGH!!! after I rebase everybody.

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