The Grand Warlord Returns…

This month’s White Dwarf is so packed with content, they couldn’t quite fit all of it in, but we decided to step in and lend a hand and host some of the extras we particularly liked – an extended interview with Adi Wood about the best ways to get started with collecting Orks. If you’ve been looking to begin a Waaagh! of your own, this could well be the perfect time…


To long-standing readers of White Dwarf, Adrian Wood is known by another name: the Grand Warlord. A former member of the White Dwarf team himself, Adrian’s ’uge Ork armies were a regular fixture in the magazine through the 1990s and 2000s. His many Battle Reports are some of the most famed in White Dwarf’s history, and his sheer enthusiasm and typically Orky antics as the Grand Warlord inspired thousands of other budding warlords while also earning the (grudging) respect of the Orks’ many foes.

There’s some Orky business in January’s White Dwarf (you can read all about it at the end of this article), and that’s sure to have veteran readers reminiscing about the Grand Warlord and his legendary Waaagh! So, White Dwarf Editor Matt Keefe decided to catch up with Adrian, who is nowadays part of the Black Library team, for Warhammer Community to get his thoughts on all things Orky. Here’s what he had to say…


Matt: Your Ork armies were already famous by the time I started reading White Dwarf myself in the mid-1990s, Adrian. When did it all start?

Adrian: I’ve been collecting Orks since 1990, with the original metal miniatures. A couple of years later I came here and started working in the studio and everyone was saying “Ooh, look, an Ork player!” – for some reason, I was the only one around here at the time! I actually also played Aeldari [back when they were just “Eldar”], and I did have a Space Marines army, too, but as time went on the Orks become more and more my favourites. It was funny coming to play in the Studio initially because every Battle Report I lost (or it seemed that way at the time!), which was highly amusing for everybody else but me. After about five years, though, with a change of rules and with me learning to make use of the Orks’ strengths much more, things swung the other way and suddenly my Orks had the reputation as this steamroller that destroyed all before it! Part of that was just me learning to use the Orks and their concentration of fire and that kind of thing.

Adrian’s Orks appearing in White Dwarf 201, way back in 1996!

Matt: What is it you love particularly about the Orks?

Adrian: Even with the oldest Ork miniatures, there was just an unusual quality to them. They’re the ultimate humanoid monster to me. I love the hunched look, I love the huge head, all of that. When Brian Nelson did the ‘new’ sprue of Orks (which must have been twenty years ago now), they were more brutal and more barbaric than before, and for me, that’s really what Orks should look like. I see the Orks as changing from being caricatures – how the Imperium sees the Orks, a bit of a joke, a bit inept – to what the Orks are really like. If one of these things comes running towards you, you run away, very quickly, and he’s probably going to overtake you and kill you anyway because they really are that dangerous. I just remember being so struck by how Brian had captured that in those new models. And I can honestly say, 20 years later, that you can give me a box of Ork Boyz now, and I’ll be as excited to put them together now as I was 20 years ago, looking at the bits on the sprue and thinking “Wow, these models are amazing.” I think in total I must have put together between 500 and 1,000 Ork Boyz.

Matt: Yeah, and it’s a really huge range now, isn’t it – and you can see that look and feel across all of it…

Adrian: Brian Nelson’s original plastic Orks are so inspiring, and the way they’ve added more and more plastic models – the Battlewagons, and the Dreadnoughts, and all those things that we’ve added over the years – it’s just made them one of the best ranges there is. There’s such a natural built-in variety, and those models look so authentic.

I look at Orks and I think “If you’re living in the 41st Millennium, everything the Imperium has told you about Orks is a lie…”. People are told their technology’s rubbish – it’s not true! They have a robust society, their grasp of technology is far superior to humans, in many ways. Humans have STCs, but they don’t understand them, and they can’t make these things any other way, whereas the Orks will build a Trukk – they’ll all be roughly the same size, they’ll all run roughly the same way, but the Orks can build them out of anything, and they’ll be thinking about how they can tweak them to get more power out of it. I look at the Trukk model and just think it’s fantastic – I look at it and think “That thing could really run!” It’s got suspension and gears that look like they could work. Same with the Dreadnoughts and the Mega-armour – because of the way it’s built, it just looks so convincing. You look at it and you can see how an Ork knows it’s going to work because a Mek’s put it together and you can see how he’s thought about how it’s going to work. I think that’s why I like them so much.

Matt: Some of your most famous exploits as the Grand Warlord have been in White Dwarf Battle Reports, of course. What is it you love about playing games with Orks?  

Adrian: There are different ways of playing with Orks. I’ve had a Trukk mob army where everything’s in Trukks and it’s about getting them into combat as fast as possible. I’ve also had a shooting army, where most of the army was Shoota Boyz, where you can use massed fire to obliterate your enemies. I’ve played with Orks in lots of different ways over the years. Sometimes they’ve won and sometimes they’ve lost, but generally speaking these tactics all work well because there’s a shedload of them! Because there are up to 30 Orks in a mob, their weight of numbers is always the thing that makes them a challenge for their opponents.

I love the variety of ways you can play with an Ork army, but the thing that’s the coolest about them is the way it’s always based on those big mobs, those big numbers, getting as many models in there as you can. I enjoy that – I enjoy that difference between the Orks and, say, a Space Marines army.

Matt: Did you ever get tired of being known as the Grand Warlord?

Adrian: I never got tired of being called Grand Warlord, but it’s a funny thing – I’m happier with it now that I’ve maybe been able to live up to the title a little bit – in the beginning, it was a bit of a joke amongst the White Dwarf team, calling me Grand Warlord when I lost all the time! (As if we’d have done that… – Matt) It’s nice to have gotten to the point where I live up to it a bit more. I play in bands and I’ve had people walk up to me at gigs and say “Are you Adi Wood, the Grand Warlord from White Dwarf?” I think that’s crazy! But it’s great.


If you’re tempted to throw in your lot with the Grand Warlord and start your own Ork Waaagh!, January’s White Dwarf includes the first of a new regular feature, ‘Getting Started With…’, full of top tips on how to do exactly that – and this month, fittingly, the spotlight is on the Orks. On top of that, for further Orky inspiration, this issue also features a huge Ork Waaagh! painted by Iain Gonzalez. Pick up the January issue (out now) for this Orky fun plus a ton of other stuff besides, and head over to the White Dwarf Facebook page if you want to see more of Adrian’s exploits from the White Dwarf archive (or just to let them know you want to see more Orks in White Dwarf!). You can check out the full Ork range here.


Thanks, Adi! January’s White Dwarf will be available this weekend – in the meantime, kick off your Ork collection with Start Collecting! Orks.

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