Planetfall Cycle


gorzod kustomisation-station


Back at ’em, ladz!

It’s been time of life and so my gaming life has been tied up mostly with The Lord of the Rings and the subsequent podcasting, as well as my One Ring campaign. But after seeing some guys at the FLGS playing Conquest the itch returned and I’ve begun to catch up on the packs of the Warlord Cycle. And now that the Tyranids are announced for the first big box, I’m working my way back to a propa WAAAGH!!

So begins a series to catch up on some of the cards I’ve missed out, starting with The Scourge. Please note that I’m out of the meta loop, so I’d love to read your comments on what you’ve discovered for these new cards!

And here’s a Deff Dred to make you happy:


Wurz me squig ointment?



As if massive Ork Boyz and Nobz and Weirdboyz,  tiny grots and gretchins weren’t peculiar enough, Games Workshop threw in the Squigs just to round out the pure bafflement of the Space Orks on the battlefield. These critters come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes accompanied by a squig herder, sometimes launched as weapon. This simple Army unit is a no frills, no tricks, 4/6 for 4 cost. That’s about it. Their sizable hitpoint pool goes nicely with Nazdreg and it means they won’t be gone too quickly from a fight (longevity has always been and will always be important in this brutal game). Being so vanilla, they work as general grunt units with any deck but sadly cannot be pumped up by attachments.

Neva Enuff


Now that the Warlord Cycle has concluded, I will probably do a retrospective on all of these cards. The vote for Most Orkiest definitely goes to this card. At first glance it’s relatively unbelievable: all units? Did I read that correctly? Yes, beakie, you did. I have not had a chance to play this on the table but it screams Brutal synergy. It’s particularly useful in conjunction with other direct/indirect damage cards for picking off annoying cap units that are soaking up all the goodies during the Command Phase, or just softening up your enemies before a fight whilst boosting yours up. A card like Enraged Ork is useless at first and can be picked off pretty swiftly by bigger units, but DAKKA! DAKKA! DAKKA! (along with the myriad other damage manipulation cards seen this cycle) give those boyz a fighting chance.

Fix it right up!

med_WHK03_35Speaking of damage manipulation, here comes our Kustom Field Generator. Is that a humie typo? Shouldn’t it be ‘Kustim’? Anyways. This is yet another tool to use along with Nazdreg and your Brutal units. Because his ability is so potent, the Warboss often gets targeted first especially when there are bigger units opposing you. Having this card in play is an insurance policy and key to giving you a chance in taking a planet that might be, say, riddled with Astra vehicles or nasty Daemons or a bunch of Ranged garbage. Save your warlord (or whichever key unit is targeted) and spread the love around, beefing up your boyz. If you’ve got initiative (and, maybe, a Battle Cry) that’s a huge attack swing and might just move the battle into your favor!

So that’s a brief overview of some fun cards. Hopefully I’ll be back soon with a quick look at our cards from Gift of the Ethereals! As always, red wunz go fasta!


Bikies and Lootas!

Things have been quiet here at the Kommand: all the grots are hard at work brewing fungus beer and da boyz are fightin’ round the clock. I, sadly, haven’t gotten to play much Conquest since the game was properly released, but the recent injection of news and card spoilers (most notably from Team Covenant) from Worlds have given me a little umph and I’m excited to share some new Ork cards with you.

The first two are spoilers from the actual Howl of Blackmane pack, which was released at Worlds just yesterday. We have some lootas from the Deathskull tribe, which have an extremely powerful ability:

Reaction: After this unit damages an enemy unity by an attack, destroy a target enemy support card.

So this card is bananas. For the low, low cost of 4 resources you can (assuming they can be kept alive) readily wreck enemy supports. This includes the cost-reducing structures each faction has and really pesky ones, like Catachan Outpost, that are essential to certain units. And while we don’t yet have an option for looting enemy cards, the Deathskulls show off how destructive lootas can be with their flash gear.


The next is a card that had been spoiled, albeit unclearly, in the original announcement for the Blackmane pack. Smash ‘n Bash is an event card that reads thusly:

Combat Action: Deal 1 damage to each unit you control at a target planet without an enemy warlord to ready up to 3 units you control at that planet.

This card fits right along with Nazdreg‘s Brutal-granting ability, making the sting of dishing damage  to your boyz much less painful. This is hugely useful at the end of a combat round, when all units are exhausted, to ready da boyz for a massive counter attack while the enemy units are still exhausted. I dig it!

smash bash

Special thanks to the lads at Team Covenant for their coverage of all this! Be sure to check out their unboxing of The Howl of Blackmane on the YouTubes.

Now let’s talk about some bikie boyz! I previously discussed the Evil Sunz tribe and their obsession with speed, and it looks like we’ll already see them put into the game with The Threat Beyond War Pack, the first Astra Militarum warlord expansion. The Evil Sunz Warbiker is a 2 cost unit with text that reads:

This unit gets +2 ATK while it is at a planet with a warlord.

I’m not quite sure how to abstract this — why would a speed freek get a bonus for having the boss around? I’m not quite sure, but a 2 cost unit with 4 ATK is awesome. I might have preferred a special trait like Ranged or Armourbane, to show their speed and maneuverability, but this card will still see some time in my Ork deck.

warbikeNow that we are seeing the first War Pack released and the core set getting purchased more readily, I’m hoping the local scene will start stirring. More Conquest in the future! I’ll have more spoilers and previews as they arrive and, once more packs come out, hopefully some new decks! Until then, remember red wunz go fasta!

Good Old Zogwort

Yesterday Fantasy Flight announced the fourth War Pack in the Warlord Cycle for Warhammer 40,000: Conquest (I’ve heard that there is only war…) and our next contender is an Ork! In a fine episode of kismet, I was listening to an episode of Adeptus Podcastus that I’d missed and thought ‘Isn’t it about time for them to announce the next pack?’. Sure enough it was announced that evening. We’ll take a few hundred words now to see how this Oddboy stacks up and where he fits with the rest of his ilk.


Lemme Show Ya Sumfink

Runtherd is, I feel, an odd choice for such an early Warlord. Most players want to see Nobs and Warbosses with humie heads on pikes, or Loota Boyz with lots of dakka. Then again, I’m told Oddboys are quite popular amongst Ork players in tabletop. Another thought is that everyone will likely be buying these early packs, so a big nasty Nob could be a nice pull for later cycles as the hype of the new shinies dies down.

So, Old Zogwort is an Oddboy (an Ork Psyker) whose reaction puts Snotling tokens into play. It’s already been commented that Squigs may have been a better choice, but we’ve already got the Snotling tokens in the core set. His forced reaction, to keep things from getting too bonkers, destroys all Snotlings that you control.

At first I thought this sounded harsh. All the Snotlings at Zogworts planet, yes, but all the grots?! On second thought this is a clear design choice: cards like Snotling Attack, as well as the rest of Zogworts signature squad, could easily put in way, way too many tokens and create a bit of imbalance. The little runts, as I aim to argue below, can be very nasty and effective.

As a Warlord he’s nothing special, neither is he something to sneeze at: he has the usual pool of HP, the measly 1 ATK. But Warlords aren’t there to pack a whallop (yet), they’re there to do cool stuff. Let’s see how his squad helps him to do just that.


What’s an Oddboy without his Stikk? Wyrdboy Stikk can attach to any Oddboy unit (at this point, the only other one is the core set’s Weirdboy Maniak, who is not an obvious fit for this. Anyway, attach this thing to Zogwort and you can reinforce a battle that’s already happening when a grot goes down or, when his Forced Reaction triggers, get a free Snotling to use next turn. Not a whole lot else going on here besides a seriously cool piece of art.

Fall in line, ya gits!


The rest of Zogwort’s signature squad revolves around his ability by summoning even more Snotlings (imagine that)! Zogwort’s Runtherders are not much to look at. They’re 3 cost for 1 ATK, 3 HP, and 1 Command Hammer. But looking a little further their utility begins to show itself: they could easily be paired at a planet with Zogwort himself for a goodly flood of Snotlings to overrun an enemy force. Additionally, having that Command Hammer makes them a good ‘setup’ type of unit. Put them at planet 4, for example, and you could get a free command struggle and then, when the enemy decides to engage the planet with a Warlord and the Runtherd starts taking damage, you end up with extra defenders for free!

The realm shame, though, is that all of the damage manipulation that would help make these guys even more useful (Cybork Body in particular) is that they’re all tied to Nazdreg. So another option to beefing these guys up and getting more tokens out of them would be allied attachments like Rune-Encrusted Armor and Hostile Environment Gear.


Oddboyz need a place to live, too! I love how Zogwort is assuming the role of the strange Ork hermit wizard type. Is there something in one of the codices that I’m not aware of?

Anyways, I like this Support card because it effectively gives Zogwort the same ability as his Runtherders: a free Snotling when defending. This is even better though because it’s not when he takes damage but when he defends, so even if the damage is shielded we still get the free grot. When he does start getting shot on the Hovel will make him a natural target for planet Iridial to clean him off and start again. A swarm is coming…

launch-da-snotsRounding out this Gretchin-filled signature squad is Launch Da Snots! Played correctly, this card goes from okay to straight flashy! Let’s say all the wheels are moving for the deck: Zogwort has committed and even attacked once; the Runtherds have taken some hits, as has the Oddboy, and you have the hovel in play. Trigger this is to let Zogwort, or a Goff Nob or a bloodied Rugged Killa Kan, swing for easily +5 ATK. That’s an instantly blooded Warlord, or a dead Daemon; whatever needs killin’ is killt. It takes some setting up, certainly, and may end up discarded as a shield, but there is massive potential for destruction with this card.

Dat’s Grots’ work, dat is

The question lingering, I’ll wager, is the real utility of having all of this Snotling manipulation. The little runts are only 1/1 tokens, right? Anyone who has played Snotling Attack at a planet with a vehicle or beefy Space Marine or Daemon knows the value of these little guys and that is tying up big units (or any units for that matter). Even if you have a hulked out Fire Warrior Strike Team, or whichever beefy unit gives you fits, they can only exhaust to kill one unit per round. That one unit exhausts to kill one Snotling, then he’s got X more Snotlings taking little bites out of him. It’s a ‘real death by a thousand cuts’ scenario or, if you like, death by nasty little goblins with guns. Of course the depth of Conquest is what we love and there would be lots of other cards to consider before making such a move, but it can and will work. So if Zogwort is cranking these little guys out it’s bad news for small enemy squad. Couple it with buffs like Catachan Outpost and Battle Cry, and you have some big plays in your deck.

The great weakness, of course, would be AOE units and planet effects. That’s where the real brutal cunnin’ (or is it cunning brutality…) comes into play. Use initiative to your advantage, set things up ahead of time, use your stronger units early.

Once it hits I will be the first to throw a Zogwort deck together. Thematically he is not my favorite. I much prefer the monstrous, well armoured, gun toting Nobs and Boyz we see in every good WAAAGH!!, but mechanically this kind of deck is going to be very fun. We get a brief foretaste of it with the core set Astra Militarum deck. Those little Guardsmen tokens can be very annoying. Now multiply that irritation by about 10 and I think you have the feel of the Zogwort deck. It’s also very cool that each Warlord is going to, almost automatically, change the theme of your factions’ deck. Zogwort is almost nothing like Nazdreg and that is a very exciting prospect.

Old Zogwort by HobbyV

Old Zogwort by HobbyV

The Core Set Deck(s)

bigga-is-bettaAfter some weird issues with WordPress, we’re back!

Though we are still a week from the full release of the Warhammer 40,000: Conquest core box, I figure it’s about time to talk decks. Building a deck with a single core set is not at all easy. Well, let me rephrase: it’s easy because there are really no options. Building the deck you want, however, is difficult, if not impossible. In the next few weeks I will release some deeper, more fine-tuned options, as if you’re building a deck using multiple core sets (or just playing on Octgn — buy a box before you do that!).

Let it be noted that I am far from an expert of deck-building. Even in my beloved Lord of the Rings LCG, which I podcast on and have been playing for years, my hair-brained ideas rarely flesh out to become killer decks. So as I post decks I will look to you, dear readers, to keep me straight and get the discussion going.

Additionally, MoSSBerG at TeamSandrawla has posted some cool decks already and I highly recommend scoping out his work.

As I said, building an Ork deck with a single core set does not leave one many options. You can either take all the Ork cards, all the neutrals, and all the non-loyal, non-signature cards for Astra Militarum, or you can take all the Ork cards, allt he neutrals, and all the non-loyal, non-signature cards for Chaos and slap them together. I prefer Astra, so that’s what this deck is made of.

Total Cards: (51)

1x Nazdreg (Core Set)

Army Unit: (29)
4x Nazdreg’s Flash Gitz (Core Set)
1x Assault Valkyrie (Core Set)
1x Bad Dok (Core Set)
2x Burna Boyz (Core Set)
1x Crushface (Core Set)
1x Enraged Ork (Core Set)
2x Goff Boyz (Core Set)
1x Goff Nob (Core Set)
2x Infantry Conscripts (Core Set)
2x Ratling Deadeye (Core Set)
2x Rogue Trader (Core Set)
1x Rokkitboy (Core Set)
1x Rugged Killa Kans (Core Set)
1x Sanctioned Psyker (Core Set)
1x Shoota Mob (Core Set)
1x Sniveling Grot (Core Set)
1x Stalwart Ogryn (Core Set)
1x Tankbusta Bommaz (Core Set)
2x Void Pirate (Core Set)
1x Weirdboy Maniak (Core Set)

Attachment: (5)
1x Cybork Body (Core Set)
1x Hostile Environment Gear (Core Set)
2x Promotion (Core Set)
1x Rokkit Launcha (Core Set)

Event: (10)
2x Bigga is Betta (Core Set)
1x Battle Cry (Core Set)
2x Fall Back! (Core Set)
2x No Mercy (Core Set)
1x Snotling Attack (Core Set)
1x Squig Bombin (Core Set)
1x Suppressive Fire (Core Set)

Support: (7)
1x Kraktoof Hall (Core Set)
1x Bigtoof Banna (Core Set)
1x Catachan Outpost (Core Set)
1x Ork Kannon (Core Set)
2x Promethium Mine (Core Set)
1x Tellyporta Pad (Core Set)

Dumping all the Ork cards with all possible Astra cards and all neutrals yields 55 cards, leaving amed_WHK01_93 bit of wiggle room, so I cut out Elysian Assault Team, Penal Legionnaire, Imperial Bunker, and Mordian Hellhound. The Ogryn and Psyker made the cut because they help fill in what the Orks lack: command hammers. Still  that’s a bit boring, don’t you think? Let’s have a look at an Ork/Chaos deck and see how the two compare.

Total Cards: (50)

1x Nazdreg (Core Set)

Army Unit: (26)
4x Nazdreg’s Flash Gitz (Core Set)
1x Bad Dok (Core Set)
1x Burna Boyz (Core Set)
1x Chaos Fanatics (Core Set)
1x Crushface (Core Set)
1x Enraged Ork (Core Set)
2x Goff Boyz (Core Set)
1x Goff Nob (Core Set)
1x Khorne Berzerker (Core Set)
1x Possessed (Core Set)
1x Ravenous Flesh Hounds (Core Set)
2x Rogue Trader (Core Set)
1x Rokkitboy (Core Set)
1x Rugged Killa Kans (Core Set)
1x Shoota Mob (Core Set)
1x Soul Grinder (Core Set)
1x Splintered Path Acolyte (Core Set)
1x Tankbusta Bommaz (Core Set)
1x Umbral Preacher (Core Set)
2x Void Pirate (Core Set)

Attachment: (6)
1x Cybork Body (Core Set)
1x Dire Mutation (Core Set)
2x Promotion (Core Set)
1x Rokkit Launcha (Core Set)
1x Rune-Encrusted Armor (Core Set)

Event: (11)
2x Bigga is Betta (Core Set)
1x Battle Cry (Core Set)
2x Fall Back! (Core Set)
2x No Mercy (Core Set)
1x Promise of Glory (Core Set)
1x Snotling Attack (Core Set)
1x Squig Bombin (Core Set)
1x Warpstorm (Core Set)

Support: (7)
1x Kraktoof Hall (Core Set)
1x Bigtoof Banna (Core Set)
1x Fortress of Madness (Core Set)
1x Ork Kannon (Core Set)
2x Promethium Mine (Core Set)
1x Tellyporta Pad (Core Set)

Astra compliments the Orks well in that they are all about massing small units. While Ork units are obviously not as wimpy as those little humies, Orks are still about buffs and so the two can easily find common ground. Chaos has some of the same themes, but really all factions have upgrades of one kind or other. To me, Chaos are really about dealing damage and bringing out big, nasty armies. Unfortunately the central trick to greasing the wheels of such a deck, Cultist sacrifice, does not help the Orks much. To make an Ork/Chaos deck really shine one would need to dominate the Command Struggles early on to feed the expensive units. Once fielded, however, those big, nasty armies pair nicely with Nazdreg’s ability.

So who was cut from the team? First was Virulent Plague Squad because I could not see the justification for keeping him around when Brutal makes it much easier to buff other units. Next was Murder Cogitator, as this is an Ork deck and pulling out the Chaos boys is simply not important enough to yield the real estate.To bring it down to an even 50 I also cut Sniveling Grot and one copy of Soul Grinder. As much as love the little guys, Chaos has a few little chumps of its own and so the Grot had to go to make way for the Cultists. The extra Soul Grinder also seemed superfluous as I already have quite a few big units.

The other thing to note about Orks in general, as I said, is that they suffer during the Command Struggle, doubly so with a single core set. The main unit to win those struggles is the Mad Dok and only having one of him in the deck makes cards like Promotion a really big deal. It also makes cheap units like the various Cultists clutch for the early game.

Comparing the two, I like the Astra option more, thematically speaking. My favorite Ork tribe are the Blood Axes so the military-esque nature of the Ork/Astra deck suits my taste. There are also some good options for beefing up units via the HEG and Catachan Outpost — especially when your opponent forgets about that little support hanging around on your side of the table. But Chaos have a lot going for them as well — big units with Cultists to help pay for them (who double as Command Struggle winners) and large pools of hitpoints to make good on Nazdreg‘s ability. Direct damage like Warp Storm also suit the theme of damage manipulation really well — Ork Kannon, Kraktoof Hall, Dire Mutation, and Warp Storm are a nice bundle of brutality.

With the launch date for Conquest set for 3 October I’ll be able to pick up a second Core Set soon. After that I may have some more deck ideas for a pure Ork build. Until then, red wuns go fasta!


Evil Sunz

Each faction in the grand world of Warhammer 40,000 takes its own way to the various necessities of war gaming; their own highway from the theme to the meta. This goes from infantry to power armor to vehicles to space travel to the base motivations for waging war in the first place.

For the Orks, it mostly boils down to genetic disposition, which I’ve discussed before. In terms if vehicle use, a tank or trukk is just a means to blow things up faster or arrive at a fight more quickly. But for some it becomes a matter obsession. If each of the Ork tribes are focused on one facet of combat, for the Evil Sunz it is all about vehicles.

motivator5758120It should come as no surprise, then, that it is from the Evil Sunz that most Speed Freeks come. The Speed Freeks are that bizarre sub-faction within the Orks, restricted to no particular clan or tribe, that is absolutely obsessed with going faster, no matter the cost. Among them are the warbikes, which simply must be represented in Conquest at some point. These are the Orks who subscribe to the popular wisdom that says ‘Red wunz go fasta!’ This returns us to the mystery that is the WAAAGH!!, that battle cry/psychic field that makes stupid Orks into bloodthirsty warriors, holds Orkish technology (that should explode) together, and actually makes red things go just that much faster.

So the Evil Sunz use more vehicles than any of the other Ork factions and they also have the highest number of Mekboys per capita. The Mekboys are the engineers, the builders, the ones who keep the fight going when all the good bits break down; and you need lots of Meks to keep an Evil Sunz army moving.

While the Bad Moons will use their teef on the flash-est of shootas and battle gear, the Sunz only go in for bikes, trukks, tanks, anything to get the to the fight faster (no footsloggin’ here!). So in at least one sense they are the most orky of orks, but don’t tell the Goffs. They are the fastest and most eager to get to the fight, and who can argue with such orkiness?warhammer-40000-dawn-of-war-20040623021555596-000

I really hope to see a Big Mek Warlord in the near future with some kind effect on vehicles, as I said in my post on Loot. The Evil Sunz are the obvious target for such a warlord, with some kind of global boost on vehicles and lots and lots of attachments. Another on my wish list would be some warbikers with ambush! Zooming in with some bikey boys in the middle of a battle is something I really want to happen.

Well there are only a few Ork Tribes left to go! Hopefully we will see some more represented in actual cards by the time I’m done. The core set should be released in just a few weeks and then the Warlord Cycle begins soon after that! WAAAGH!!


To Arkhona

I meant to enter this story in the short story contest put on by the folks making Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. Sadly I didn’t get it done in time to meet yesterday’s deadline, hence the abrupt ending. So! I’m putting it here for your Orkish enjoyment.

To Arkhona

The darkness of space does not welcome life. It is void, unsustainable, hopelessly bleak and cold. Space-faring people face this hostile vacuum and cross it when they must, but black nothing does not suffer well the living. Some peoples, however, fare better than others in this colorless star-sea, especially when the promise of battle and glory goes before them.

And thus Snaga waited on some seat or other, somewhere in the Kharon sector or somesuch, scratching his flanks and looking at his shoota. It was cramped aboard the Krooza Kill Kutta, and so work — something struck him and he fell to the side.

‘Oy! Mind yerself, ya git!’ cried the thing that had struck him.

Even its brawling opponent stood to the side, fists on hips, looking belligerent. ‘Yar! Dere’s fightin’ here!’

The moment having seemingly passed, the Choppa Boy who’d crashed into Snaga drew surreptitiously and dove at his opponent, blade waggling. They would fight for the next hour or so, with another two outraged interruptions when they would inevitably crash into more Orks.

Conditions were tight aboard the Krooza, and so Snaga had barely the time to keep his shoota polished, but it was worthy work. If nothing else it gave him time to reflect. He’d always been the living definition of a ‘runty grot’, if it ever applied to an Ork. Whereas the gretchin and grots were actually tiny, Snaga was only tiny for an Ork; standing at about the same height as your average Guardsman. The fact of his survival was largely a matter of a decent shooting eye, cowardice, and pure luck. But this trip had caused some doom to fill his tiny mind: he was not going to survive it.

‘Where’s we goin’ again?’ he thought aloud.

‘Crama or Charna or some uvva hole out dere. Bleedin’ stink-pit, morelike,’ said another shoota boy to his side.

‘How’s dat, den?’

‘Ain’t nuffink down ‘ere for all I’ve ‘eard. Prob’ly end up ambushed by beakies or the like.’

‘A propa fight, den!’ Snaga said bravely.

The dissenting Ork,  pale green and covered with scars and markings in the shape of an oblong star, shrugged. ‘Ain’t just humies, I fink. Reckon dere’s Chaos boys and panzees an’ worse. One krooza ain’t winnin’ dat fight.’

This was the wrong time for such talk as many orks passed here and there, monitoring the fight which looked to incorporate more rowdy boys into the fray. A towering shadow overcame Snaga and his companion; a rather sharp voice cut through the racket.

‘Wot’s all dis, den? Two weedy runts afeared uv a little fightin’?’

The shoota boy, small to begin with, seemed to visibly shrink with the Nob looming over him. ‘Nuffink like dat, boss!’ he squealed, ‘We’s just havin’ a joke, right Snaga?’

A blank look was Snaga’s reply. It was show enough of his quality that his shoota didn’t fall from his shaking hand at that very moment.

‘And yer a lyin’ little grot, too, ain’t ya?’ bellowed Rafgraf, the nastiest and meanest Nob on the ship.

The shoot laughed a bit too nervously, ‘Nar! We’s just–’

A deafening, ‘YEEEEEEEEEEEEOW!’ preceding a ‘WAAAGH!!’ shattered the low din of Ork voices in the main chamber of the krooza. The fight had ended…or just begun. That was never quite clear. The shout was like a charge through the body of Rafgraf and he grinned a horrible grin, spiky teeth springing from his mouth.

‘Seems ter me you needs a reminda of what a real fight is!’ he said.

The shoota stammered, Snaga waited nervously, then like a pouncing animal the Nob swung, and connected, and the Shoota Boy flew. It was nothing to make a Rokkit Boy proud, but far enough to send him crashing into the bulkhead.

‘WAAAGH!!’ bellowed Rafgraf and strode forward to finish the fight.

As if in answer the bulkhead shook and the rest of the ship rattled with it and all present fell over. Bins full of bolter rounds and ammo clips and choppas and shootas fell with their owners and a poor, lone case of fungus beer tipped over. The gretchin present cried in woe. And then all was still, even quiet, for a moment and there was silence until Rafgraf broke it.

‘Wot’s all dis den?!’

‘Dunno, boss,’ said Snaga quite honestly.

A voice came through wall-mounted speakers like tin. ‘Oy! We’s bein’ boarded ya grots! Get da lead out!’ It was Verrt, Big Mek and the right hand of the Warboss. When he jumped all the other Orks jumped their highest, and Rafgraf was a fine jumper.

‘On me, ya runty squeaks!’ he said. Three dozen boys fell in instantly: Shootas, Choppas, Lootas, even a ‘Ard Boy or two clamored and shoved their way to the fight. The Nob screamed unintelligibly and ran in the direction he deemed the most fighty. Snaga kept at his heels and they charged for what felt, to an Ork, like days. When no fight appeared there was grumbling: was this some ruse, some training exercise by the Boss until the real fight began on Arkhona? Ork physiology does not lend itself well to such thoughts, so it was a stroke of good fortune that the corridor to their left exploded.

Through the gaping hole poured more Orks and a few large men. They gave no battle cry, but engaged the fight straightaway. The disdain of Rafgraf was palpable. ‘Soddin’ freebooters! Send ‘em packin’, lads! WAAAGH!!’ And battle was joined. Rafgraf and his crew crashed into the invaders like oil and water colliding, a chaotic swarm of red and green and fire. Pistols shot, blades flew, limbs were severed. To the untrained eye, the tactics of the Orks were no more than the mantra many of them repeated: ‘Shoot! Chop! Shoot! Chop!’ But in fact they worked as one, each intuitively sensing his mate’s next move; a well-oiled machine that soon surrounded the boarding party. The freebooters were pushed back, almost to the sealed gangway by which they’d come, until Snaga felt the tide of battle shift. Another mob of pirates, these mostly humans in mismatched armor, turned the corridor to their left and opened fire. A wall of boys dropped like bricks and more soon followed.

The blam-blam of heavy fire cut into their flanks, forcing the rearmost Orks to break away and charge the pirates. They too were cut down. Rafgraf, and Snaga with him, were caught between the hammer and the anvil; stuck in, hand to hand against one company with another blasting their sides. Then, like the cry of an avenging angel, Snaga heard sweet music.

‘Bring on da dakka! Shoot! Shoot, ya gits!’

It was Gutlug, their resident Flash Git, and the rest of his boys bringing up the rear. The chorus of dakkadakkadakka matched the bleating of their guns; the clanging of shells against the hard floor of the ship wondrous percussion. If the din of battle was loud before, it was now deafening. But the effect was achieved and the void pirates who hadn’t been cut to ribbons fled back the way they came. Rafgraf and his lads, spurred on by the joy of battle, messily finished the others in a slaughter of fire and choppa strikes.

The battle lasted less than an hour after that, but Snaga wanted more. He felt power surging through his green body, battle lust calling him to kill and kill again. When the last shot was fired Verrt was heard almost immediately on the communication system.

‘Bit o’ turbulence dere, lads, but a fine bit o’ sport afore the real fight! We’s going to Arkhona and we’s takin’ dat rock for da Orks! Bring on dem pirate boyz or humies or whateva. Wurr da Orks and we fight and we win!’

When the ubiquitous ‘WAAAGH!’ came and threatened to break apart the already tired hull of the Krooza Kill Kutta, Snaga was the first and the loudest.