I’m a competitive gamer. I don’t mean that I fly out to the various tournaments held across the US and prove my worth against a room full of 40K players. I would if I could. No, I mean that I enjoy competing. I enjoy the challenge and regularly attend tournaments at the LGS. I have a competitive nature, as we all do to varying degrees, but I compete locally.
I read a lot of blogs, a good number of them deal with the national, and even world wide, competitive scene and army building. Being that I don’t compete nationally you could say I found it surprising that Orks are regarded as a lower tier competitive army. At the LGS Orks do well. There’s three of us who play them regularly, four if counting Kamui who attends tournaments as he can. One of those players is RippedDragon, the best Ork player at the shop and one of the best players overall.
Why is it that Orks do well locally but are looked down upon in the larger scene? We have our fair share of competitive gamers, and good ones at that, so I don’t believe it’s that the Ork players are just better players than the others. It could be the local meta but I’m not convinced it’s that either. I’d say a good 2/3 of the players are power armor, ranging from: Vanilla Marines, Space Wolves, Blood Angels, Sisters and Chaos Marines. We also have some IG players. The rest are the Xenos: Tyranids, Tau, Daemons, Eldar and Orks of course. Overall every army is represented and most by at least two different players. It’s not as though the Orks are facing off against their skumgrod (Ork for favorite enemy).
I feel Orks do well locally for a few reasons. The people who play them really enjoy them. Think about it, have you ever met someone who plays Orks and hated playing them? Every Ork player I know enjoys the hell out of them and converts, acts all Orky during games and laughs at their random misfortune. When you thoroughly enjoy your army you will do better, plain and simple. You know the army intimately and can be thrown against any opponent and have a plan. Players who run with the flavor of the month army to be competitive may do well, no arguing that, but they may lack the passion someone else has with their army. They aren’t interested in the army’s back story, creating their own fluff, etc. They’re interested in a competitive army build and the most point efficient units. I am generalizing a bit here. Some people jump to the new flavor and find they genuinely enjoy the army. Other people do it purely to win.
You can’t quantify a player’s enjoyment of an army when evaluating competitive armies and that’s why I pay little heed to the opinions of the wider world. Not all armies are created equally, some are in desperate need of updates. Passion for an army alone won’t win you tournaments. That being said, you combine a good player with a current army who is driven and enjoys his/her army, well you have a competitive player and a competitive army no matter what anyone else says.
The other reason I feel Orks do well locally is most of them don’t give a shit what the internet thinks. I can safely say that for at least three of the four of us, possibly the fourth person as well. If I cared then A) I wouldn’t be playing Orks and B) I wouldn’t be playing Kult of Speed either. I value the opinions of many people out there. There’s some great advice to be found. However, I treat it as such, as advice. It may influence some of my choices and get me to think about something in a new way but it damn sure isn’t dictating my choices and views.
The last reason I feel our Ork players do well is experience. It’s another quality in a competitive gamer I feel is left out of the equation. A net list in the hands of an inexperienced gamer will only go so far. That same list in the hands of an experienced gamer will do much better naturally. A list a player has fine tuned and polished over years of gaming with an army is an accomplishment that trumps all in my opinion. The gaming scene will change and the list will evolve but this player is drawing from experience in the list creation and that is a value all its own.
The best list creators out there who open a codex to simply create a list, or to evaluate the codex, that aren’t experienced with the army can only do so much. The way something looks on paper and the way it plays is not always the same. The only way to learn that is through experience. A completely underrated unit can perform wonders in the hand of an experienced player. That experienced player will have learned synergies that these list creators fail to see. That player will know how to maximize each and every unit beyond theoryhammer.
I used Orks as an example but this all holds true for any army. In the end it really comes down to doing what you enjoy and all the advice and opinions in the world can’t teach you enjoyment.