Edit (31st of august 2017): if you read the previous version of this post you’ll notice some changes in the theme of my army. For many reasons my idea evolved but I am pretty confident my Waaagh would look even better than before now that I made these changes. I’ll have to repaint some models (not many) and I have a lot more options for new units, so all is for the best!
Now let me introduce you to one of my cherished armies: my WH40K Waaagh. Let me introduce you to the lovely Greenskins of « Da Western Klan ».
Where does the idea comes from…
If you went there you already know that I started painting and playing minis with plastic soldier from historical ranges. The first I played with, with my father, were American Civil War soldiers. Since then I never stopped reading and learning more about the Civil War era, always remembering my first wargames (if you are interested in this era you must have this).
Since I started WH40K (I played Eldars in high school) I dreamed about a « historical themed » army. Of course I thought about a WWI Imperial Guard army. I mean the Death Korps of Krieg is great (more than great) and FW did a tremendous job on the designs, but a whole FW army is a bit expensive for me and I wanted something more personal.
It was an old idea and I let it rot in a dark corner of my mind (with a bunch of other hobby ideas). Then a few years ago I fell back into WH40K with some friends. I wanted a new army, something really different from my old beloved Eldars. I chose to start a Waaagh because I wanted a heavily converted army and I never had the occasion (or a big enough bitz box) to scratchbuild and kit bash stuff before. And maybe I could have my « historical themed » army at last.
That was the first step…
Home made fluff and the long road to perfection
I like playing wargames but I think I like building stuffs and painting minis even more. And in fact what I like most is to tell stories with my minis. If I was any good, I would perhaps write short stories instead of hobbying, eventhough I find minis very powerful to express an atmosphere and emotions. Anyway…
I like fluff armies. To paint a mini (or a bunch) I need a backstory, names and adventures. Orks are great for this because you can do anything and stay « orkish » in designs & spirit.
I wondered, what could my Orks be? They could be pirates (free booters) but that already exists right? I thought about WW2 Orks (Kromlech has a great range – I did not know at the time -). Once again I wanted something more personnal.
Then it hit me (at least I thought it did): remember my interest for the American Civil War? There you go: my waaagh would be an ACW army!
As a matter of fact I hesitated a bit. At the very beginning I wanted a bunch of orkish Hell’s Angels, that is why my waaagh started as a « speed kult ». As I started working, the project changed and I got more ambitious, as always. So the idea became an ACW waaagh. The problem with an ACW is that you have to pick a side. As I prefer working grey than blue I toyed with the idea of using confederate uniforms and iconography for my waaagh. I also wrote some fluff, in order to have a story, names, etc… For many reasons I was not satisfied with this idea.
Sticking with the strictly aesthetic reasons I was not satisfied because I tended to stick to close to my subject. The story of my Klan was more or less a story of the Civil War… I got trapped by my own idea. I wanted to convert orks Zouaves, but they are symbolic of the Union army (eventhough there were Zouaves in the confederate army), so I couldn’t… I was always at the same time too close and too far aways from an historical range of models to be satisfied.
I am all for using historical hints in fantasy universes. I loved the « world that was » of WHFB for that exact reason and I think « good » Sci-Fi & Fantasy talks more about our world than any other genre, but to be interesting hints need to be subtle and the historical material has to be re written to create something new. You have to get the reference without feeling like the story is only the ones in history books. My work at that point was not subtle and I wasn’t creating anything personnal or new.
On top of that I had more and more difficulties to « bond » with my cute little orks. Since my idea was iconographic and not in any way an endorsement of what the symbols of the confederacy stand for I was ill at ease with the army as a whole. I did not want the pictures of my armies to be taken as a political manifesto that was not mine, I did not want to be taken for somebody using the hobby as a propaganda tool.
But I liked my idea and did not want to bin my waaagh…
Let’s sum up. At that point I needed to identify what was really at the core of the project, that still appealed to me ; find a way to get more creative freedom ; and get a fresh start.
Getting it right by knowing what you really want
Then, he came to my rescue…
What I really fancied was the whole iconography, symbolic and feeling of the late XIXth century United States. Of course it encompassed the ACW, but it was something broader that appealed to me: the myth of the Far West, the legend of the Frontier. I craved the freedom such a theme offered, the infinite conversions opportunity, the strong characters I would be able to build… So my project evolved one more time.
I changed the names of the characters and of some units (I kept their regimental standards, because I love flags in general and american States flags in particular) and decided to create « Da Western Klan », an orkish waaagh looking like a bunch of cowboyz, former soldiers from both the Union and the Confederacy, gold diggers, mexican bandits and indian sorcerers. I want my waaagh to come right out of the set of a 1950’s western movie. Well, I want it to look that way, because its story will be mine to tell (and I want to keep the orkish touch of it all).
I think it will be great because the myth of the Frontier suits very well orks in my opinion and because I’ll be able to create many side stories and specific units (from feral orks to banjo playing grots, from steampunk orkish machinery to bikerz speeding trhough furnace hot deserts – yeah, I am not affraid of anachronism, all of this is set in the 41st millenium remember? -).
What can I tell you about them right now? Well not much, the idea is still very fresh and more or less in the making (it came to me this morning). The only thing I can tell you is that the Western Klan was discovered by the Imperium recently. It emerged on a quite backward system, but it quickly became a threat for its sector (and neighbouring ones). To Imperial observers it seems to expand in only one general direction (as much as orks can tell and as much as it is possible in a 3 dimensional galaxy) which the member of the Klan call « West ». Why is that? The best Imperial Xenos experts are studiing the question: are the orks responding to a psychic beacon? Do they have a long term objective? In any case it is worring for the Imperium since previsions seem to indicate that the waaagh, if left unchecked, will expand in the direction of Terra. According to the orks themselves the explanation is far more simple: one day General John Waynork, Warlord of the Klan and Supreme Commander of the United Waaaghs told his boyz: « Go West! ». Since then, the Boss being the Boss, the boyz go « West », expanding the territory of the United Waaaghs and looking for a good fight.
I’ll try to keep you posted on all of this. My goal is to publish posts with pics and the story of each unit but also some general background for the waaagh. I’ll start with the units I completed and then, when I get back to work on the greenskins, you’ll see the waaagh grow.
You read all this ? You deserve some pics…
And now, a preview of the waaagh! Hope you like it.
The first version of this post was published on may the 6th 2017, but it was heavily modified in the 31st of august edit (which is the date of the « today » in the post).
Banner picture is by Pigeon du Canal, the picture of John Wayne was found on the web, the others are by me.