With all this talk of orks flying about the blogosphere, you’d be forgiven for thinking Sophie’s the undisputed head of greenskin-related activities in this household. Well, despite a dearth of inspiration on my part, I’ve finally taken the plunge and started getting my own orks in order!

I’ve been collecting and playing with the green meanies for as long as I’ve been involved in gaming. When I first got Space Crusade (at an age when I was far, far too young to actually appreciate it!) I thought the chunky green guys with big guns were the coolest part of the set. They just looked badass.

If Space Crusade had run a TV advert with an ork as gimpy-looking as the orc in the Hero Quest ad, my life might have taken a whole different path…

So anyway, when I picked up a copy of White Dwarf some years later, I was as delighted as a geeky eight-year-old could be when I saw that these orks weren’t just a one-off. They had a whole army! Crazy colour schemes, mental weaponry, vehicles aplenty – what wasn’t to like? Thus began a hell of a hobby journey.

The real problem, though, is that I’ve never considered myself a painter. I’m far from the only one in this boat; I got into the game because I loved the background and the mechanics. Sure, I wanted to have a lovely painted army or three, but the gap between the amazing miniatures in the pages of White Dwarf and what I perceived as the sensible limit of my abilities felt like a yawning abyss. This is a tale I told countless times in my years as a Games Workshop staff member, whenever anyone said “I could never paint like that”. I’d point at the models in the cabinet, explain that I’d painted them, and related the tale as an example of the fact that, with a couple of easy-to-learn skills, anyone can paint to a decent standard. Unfortunately, my local GW store was quite a drive  away, and any visits I made there were time-limited affairs where the aim was to buy what I wanted and get out, so I never had a wise, Jedi-like mentor to shepherd me into the flock of People Who Paint Their Armies.

As a result, It wasn’t until I joined the company and got taken under the wing of a few rather talented individuals that I began to paint properly. By that point, though, I’d amassed such a pile of unpainted models that I didn’t know where to start. Procrastination and the discovery of other hobbies (the internet! Roleplaying! Not much else!) stood in the way of me becoming the Beard Bunkeresque painting machine that I might otherwise have been.

I also blame my intermittent lack of beard.

So here I stand, some twenty-odd years after picking up that first White Dwarf magazine, and I’ve probably got about three painted armies to my name. They’re not massive forces, either. There’s my Imperial Guard, which I painted for a doubles tournament about eight years ago, and have added to in dribs and drabs since, which amounts to about a thousand points. My Empire army (as featured in the Dark Hills campaign!) stands at about 750 points. My Skaven (which were painted for the Island of Blood release in my store) are around a thousand, give or take the odd unit. And, of course, I’ve got about a thousand points of orks painted. Well, actually, it’s considerably more than that, but a thousand points is roughly what I’d feel happy putting on the table. The army was a bit of a Forth Bridge project for several years. I’d paint a batch of Orks, but as I was learning so much about painting at the time, I’d get to the end and realise that the newest ones looked way better than the oldest ones, so I’d restart them. This would happen several times over; there are orks in my bitz box that have been resprayed so many times they’re just unfit for table use.

But as a great man once said, when tasked with eating an elephant, the key to success is as simple as starting with the trunk and working backwards. So here I go.

I plan to have a fully painted, awesome-looking ork army by November, in time to take part in the Planetary Empires campaign at Warhammer World. Sophie, Chris, Andy and myself are all going for it. We’ve all got ork armies on the go. Everyone else has got a head-start, but I’m not letting that slow me down! Thankfully, I’ve got a load of stuff already built, and I’ve just spent two days getting everything else together for the first five hundred points. I didn’t deliberate as much as Sophie did on my choice of clan; I’ve always been a Freebooter at heart, but over the years the thrill of speed has called to me, and it took scant moments to decide that the only way forward was to do an Evil Sunz army. Red things! Bikes! Fast stuff! (Vroooom Dakka Dakka Dakka Waaagh!!!)

All they need is an awesome backstory and several cool names. To the 2nd edition codex!

The plan is for everything in the army to be mounted. Also, I’d love to have everything in a fast vehicle, but I don’t think the force organisation chart is going to allow it, so I might have to settle for a few battlewagons and looted wagons. We’ll see how it goes! Either way, the adventure starts here. I’m going to be competing against Sophie’s mega-armoured Bad Moons; it’s not really a competition, but obviously I want to get mine done first! It’s a motivation, which is exactly what I need to get an army actually painted.

Just think. Two and a half thousand points. Painted. By me.

I might just knock my own socks off.