My Warhammer 40k Deathskulls Ork army

After doing some serious noodling the day before, on November 9th, 2020, I decided to start a second 40k army to paint alongside my beloved Blood Angels — and following some (decidedly un-Orky) careful consideration, I chose Deathskulls Orks. It’s early days, but they still need an omnibus page to keep me on track (this one, as it happens).

And as of November 14th, they have a name: Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas!

This is a long page, so here are links to jump right to different sections: my initial army list, Orky plans, color guides, and unassembled kits.

If you enjoy this page, you might also like my other 40k pages: my Blood Angels army and my 40k terrain.

“Moonkrumpa” Grutnik and his Grot Oiler (assembled November 16, 2020)

Space fascism vs. actual fascism

This is more applicable to the Blood Angels, but there are enough douchebags in 40k fandom that it bears repeating here: I don’t take anything about the Warhammer universe seriously, but in real life? Fuck Nazis, fuck fascists, fuck bigots, fuck racists, fuck sexists, fuck misogynists, and fuck hatemongers of all stripes.

40k should be an inclusive hobby, diverse and welcoming for all — except for bigots and other hateful fuckwits. And as Games Workshop says, if you disagree you will not be missed.

Why Deathskulls?

Lots of reasons! Some are purely practical, like not wanting to paint a second red army (ruling out Evil Sunz) and having some reservations about painting yellow (striking out the Bad Moons), but most are all heart.

One, blue looks like fun to paint and isn’t the color I see most often on other folks’ Orks. “I like painting red” was a gut-level motivator that helped me pick Blood Angels for my first army, and it absolutely applies here as well. And two, I love these filthy looters and their fascination with stealing, using, and converting other factions’ stuff — so many opportunities for kitbashes and character!

There’s also a sentimental reason, one that I didn’t even realize until I’d already mostly made up my mind about my clan choice: White Dwarf #121, from 1990.

My copy is in storage, so this stand-in image will have to do

More than perhaps any other single factor, this issue of White Dwarf is responsible for me starting my first 40k army — albeit on a 30-year time delay. (It’s also a big reason why I dreamed about Space Hulk for that long, and eventually painted my set — which is what got me properly into miniatures.) It features many of my favorite models in the 40k universe, and I spent literally hours poring over this issue as a wee lad — heck, I even brought it places, like the theater, so I could read and reread it while I was supposed to be paying attention to other things.

Look who’s on the cover. Deathskulls Orks! Thirty years later, it was meant to be.

Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas

Warboss Moonkrumpa’s claim to fame is that he once krumped an entire moon. He originally wanted to steal it, naturally, but it was too large. So he krumped it instead, blasting it into huge chunks, and then looted the largest pieces. Moonkrumpa and his Mekboyz hollowed those moon-chunks out and turned them into a fleet of Roks.

As the story of “da moon wot got krumped” spread, more and more Orks wanted to fight under Moonkrumpa’s banner — and a Waaagh! began to take shape.

Moonkrumpa’s original tribe was the Blue Handz, and their tribal identifier — painting one hand blue — has become a mark of membership in his Waaagh!.

(If you want to read a bit more about Moonkrumpa’s name, I wrote a blog post about it.)

“Wot, this? Naw, I’ve had this for ages. Of course the paint’s still wet, it’s me favourite. Sell it to ya if you like. One careful owner.”

My initial 2,000-point army list

I can’t will an entire Waaagh! worth of painted Orks into existence, of course, so mechanically Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas will start out as a warband, eventually growing into a tribe and then into a Waaagh!.

This list is a work in progress, mostly just a way to keep track of things I’ve firmed up as I plan my army. Right now, depending on wargear choices, it’s ~1,600 points (which leaves me room to make some choices once I start painting). For now, bold means I own that kit and italics means I don’t own it yet.

  • HQ
    • Warlord, “Moonkrumpa” Grutnik, Warboss of Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas (Big Mek in Mega Armour), accompanied by 1x Grot Oiler
    • Warboss, “Bigtoof” Skragga (Warboss Grukk model; Kombi-Rokkit, Power Klaw, Attack Squig)
  • Troops
    • Boyz, Skrudd’s Krumpas — 9x Boyz (Slugga and Choppa) and 1x Boy with Rokkit Launcha, led by 1x Boss Nob, Skrudd [mob glyph: Krump]
    • Boyz, Thragg’s Deff Ladz — 9x Boyz (Shoota) and 1x Boy with Heavy Weapon, led by 1x Boss Nob, Thragg
    • Gretchin, Runt-Eata’s Grots — 10x Gretchin led by 1x Runtherd, “Runt-Eata” Gurk (Squig Hound)
  • Elites
    • Meganobz — 2x Meganobz led by 1x Boss Meganob
    • Nobz — 4x Nobz led by 1x Boss Nob, 1x Ammo Runt
    • Nobz — 4x Nobz led by 1x Boss Nob, 1x Ammo Runt
    • Mek — 1x Mek (Kustom Mega-Slugga, Choppa)
  • Fast Attack
    • Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy, Facepeela — 1x Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy
  • Heavy Support
    • Battlewagon — 1x Battlewagon (Deff Rolla; looted Rhino conversion)
    • Lootas — 4x Lootas led by 1x Spanner
    • Killa Kans — 3x Killa Kans
  • Dedicated Transport
    • Trukk — 1x Trukk
    • Trukk — 1x Trukk

Lore-wise, this army is composed of elements of Moonkrumpa’s original warband (mainly the heavily armored units) and Warboss Bigtoof’s warband (mainly the Nobz and Boyz). Logistically, the whole army is part of Moonkrumpa’s Waaagh!.

Orky plans

Like much of this page (for now, anyway), these notes appeared first in a blog post; it makes sense to me to collect them here.

Deathskulls blue

Based on a Warhammer TV video, I’m going to test out this recipe for armor and “hard” goods:

  • Macragge Blue base coat
  • Agrax Earthshade pin wash (not my usual all-over wash)
  • Chronus Blue drybrush
  • Weathering with Rhinox Hide, dots of Leadbelcher, and possibly Typhus Corrosion and Ryza Rust (not all at once, of course)

My plan is to keep things interesting by using other blues, too: war paint with Caledor Sky as its base color, looted Ultramarine pauldrons, etc.

Ork skin

I’m going to randomly vary the shade(s) of green I use for my Orks’ skin, so that across the whole army there are a variety of shades of green. I still need to experiment with how and at what stage of the painting process, but that will come with time.

Weathering

For weathering, White Dwarf #457 has a guide that looked out of reach for me a few months ago, but which now looks like a lot of fun. It’s got a couple steps I’d never have considered, like doing a post-wash drybrush with the base coat color in order to reestablish it after shading.

It also seems like the lower-status the Ork, the worse his gear — so Gretchin and Boyz would be more likely to have rusty, more weathered wargear, whereas Nobz and Flash Gitz (etc.) would have shinier stuff (because they can just krump some Gretchin until they polish it all it up).

Mob differentiation

Per the Codex, mobs use distinctive glyphs. I’m going to freehand those, either on their purpose-sculpted back plates or somewhere else on figures that have that bit covered up.

“Waaagh! identity” — what makes these Orks my Orks — is painting one hand blue. That’s consistent across the entire army (although the shade of blue might not be).

Conversion and kitbashing ideas

In no particular order:

  • Use an Age of Sigmar Warchanter or Weirdboy Shaman as my Weirdboy.
  • Convert Boyz to Kommandos (avoiding the resin kit) using the barrels and munition crates from the Battlezone: Manufactorum Converters kit (which is readily available, unlike the Armoured Containers kit). Each Boy is “hiding” inside a barrel, with his arms and legs sticking out, or inside a half-open crate (vertically or horizontally).
  • Use lots of looted wargear from other factions. I love the idea of a whole mob of Boyz wearing pauldrons as helmets, repainted blue or with big blue X marks over the Marine heraldry.
  • A Trukk where the body is the Ork kit but instead of tires it rides on two Space Marine Assault Bikes. (Or if I wind up taking Squad Caedes to a full 10 battle-brothers, leaving me one leftover bike, maybe it’s tires on one side and a bike on the other.)
  • A Trukk made from a partially blown-out Rhino, facing backwards because it’s funnier, and possibly with one end dragging on the ground (using treads or bare wheels) and the other supported by tires.
  • The Goliath Truck/Rockgrinder, Taurox, Skorpius Dunerider, and Leman Russ kits also look ripe for Trukk conversions. Heck, most Militarum vehicles seem like good options. Here’s a fantastic looted Taurox conversion (and the finished product) that looks like something I could pull off.
  • This awesome Battlewagon (see also posts two, three, and four) uses the stock kit as its baseline, including the bed and wheels/treads, but converts the cab to be 2/3 of a Rhino. I’ve seen many other cool Battlewagon conversions, but they all involve extensive sculpting, plastic card pieces, etc. that look entirely outside my skillset. This one seems like something I could attempt and it doesn’t involve chucking most of a $65 kit, as it’s primarily the actual Battlewagon model.
  • Age of Sigmar Orruk Ardboys look ripe for the bits box, with alternate heads, cool bits of armor, etc. Based on a White Dwarf article on converting Orks that I read, they should be readily compatible.
  • I saw a post where someone created a warband that was obsessed with the Blood Angels, so all of their looted gear was BA stuff. That could be fun to implement as a one-off for a melee-oriented mob of Boyz.
  • There’s an Ork converted to use the guitar and parts from a Noise Marine in White Dwarf #454, and it’s stupendous.
  • I’ve lost track of where I saw it, but in a comment about a mini composed of Nurglings in a Tempestor trench coat (pretending to be a human) someone mentioned trying it with Grots. I dig it.

Lore and guiding principles

Still very much TBD, but:

  • Every model has one hand painted blue (war paint on models with hands, and whatever hand-analog makes sense on those that don’t)
  • Pupil-less red eyes; green lips; teeth, horns, and nails are visually identical
  • The shade of green for their skin varies randomly across the Waaagh!
  • Every base includes at least one small scenic element, usually a rock or tuft (but less stuff than my Blood Angels’ bases)
  • No two figures are exact duplicates (even with identical poses, at least one thing is different)
  • All “special” figures, unit leaders, and mobs are named
  • Wargear is WYSIWYG to a reasonable standard
  • I follow the rule of thumb that 90%+ of the mini is GW parts

Color guides

My color guides are largely based on Citadel’s studio guides and Warhammer TV videos, with some tweaks. Washes are in italics, and techniques other than “put paint on it” (drybrushing, sponging, etc.) are called out as applicable.

  • Bases, including terrain, rocks, and tufts

Unassembled kits

No Waaagh! is every truly complete.

This list helps me keep track of my future Orky plans, figure out what I’m missing, and avoid accidentally buying duplicate models.

  • Battlewagon Upgrade Pack (mainly a Deff Rolla)
  • Gretchin: 10x Gretchin, 1x Ork Runtherd
  • Killa Kans: 3x Killa Kans
  • Ork Battlewagon: 1x Battlewagon (or Gunwagon, I think?)
    • Rhino: for conversion; use my Razorback kit
  • Ork Boyz: 11x Boyz, one of which can be a Boss Nob
  • Ork Lootas: 5x Lootas or Burnas, one of which can be a Spanner
  • Ork Mek: 1x Mekboy
  • Ork Meganobz: 2x Meganobz remain
  • Ork Trukk: 1x Trukk
  • Ork Warboss Grukk’s Boss Mob:
    • 1x Warboss Grukk
    • 5x Nobz
    • 1x Ammo Runt
  • Start Collecting: Orks:
    • 1x Painboy
    • 1x Deff Dread
    • 5x Nobz
    • 1x Ammo Runt
The first Boy I hit with paint, one of Skrudd’s Krumpas (November 2020)