What’s big, stupid and wears an Imperial uniform? No, not your Commissar’s mum. It’s Ogryns! These guys have been around for a long time, and they never seem to get much credit. This article aims to address that injustice.
A Bit Of History
When Games Workshop initially set out the outline of humanity in the Grim Darkness of the far future way back in 1987, they took into account that 38,000 years is a long time and that evolution might have a hand in changing a few things. True, actual evolution is more something that occurs over millions of years rather than mere millennia, but what with all the nonsense happening between here and then (and wanting to port Ogres over from Fantasy), we can take it as read that there may have been some acceleration involved.
This was the first ever Ogryn (called an Ogryn Champion) and along with Ratlings and Squats, they made up the Abhumans (a early 1980s punk band name if ever I heard one). When I started researching this article, I was amazed that Ogryns have had models since almost the very start of this game but that guy above comes all the way from 1989, which puts him up there with some of the game’s legends in terms of longevity. More appeared either side of the 1990s and Bob Olley’s early sculpts inspired their looks for years to come.
I also like to think this guy had something to do with it. Andre the Giant was huge back then (you know what I mean) starring in The Princess Bride and the WWF (for you youngsters, the WWF became the WWE). If any superstar inspired the look of Ogryns in any way, my bet’s on 7’4″ Andre.
Ogryns have had a number of releases over the years, and their look has changed a lot too (more on that later). I loved the mid-nineties release but I could only one find one image of the Eavy Metal ones online (at least I think it’s them – kudos to the artist if not) but I fondly remember their big square bases and hefty Ripper Guns. Nowadays though, you have more options for weapons, and you can even have the extra tough tough, heavy armoured Bullgryns too.
Let’s Get Fluffy
When humanity took to the stars, they settled on many different worlds, and when said worlds were harsh and barren, there evolved Ogryn. They’re not the sharpest tools in the box (think lump mallet instead of scalpel) and they tend to smell atrocious given that the world’s they come from aren’t really abundant with spas, beauty parlours, deodorant or even ground water to wash in. It’s not like they can nip down the chemist to pick up a can of Brut.
They are also huge, tough and very strong, making them excellent recruits for the Astra Militarum (which is good because many abhumans are just killed for being genetically heretical but usefulness is a good bargaining chip with the powers that be). Put a ripper gun or grenade launcher in their club like hands and watch them run unflinchingly into enemy fire, assured in their minds that as they will be bigger than everything else, nothing else can hurt them. This, unfortunately, is not true. And when they do encounter something bigger than them, they tend to trample to death the poor Commissar or psyker who is valiantly following them into battle. Most notable of all fighting Ogryn is the irrepressible Nork Deddog. Loyal to a fault, unusually intelligent for an Ogryn (he can count higher than 2), Nork is one of the Imperial Guard’s true heroes and one of their few genuinely likable characters.
Those Ogryn that don’t take to the battlefield can be found working heavy machinery and doing the heavy lifting in Manufactorums, Imperial Cruisers or anywhere where your average human can’t (or can’t be bothered to) lift something very heavy. It’s not a glamorous life for an Ogryn, but Ogryns don’t really care about glamour so they seem to be fine with it.
Time To Talk Tactics
The term ’Meat Shield’ gets bandied about a lot in this hobby but these guys are pretty much the ultimate meat shields (because there’s so much meat). Bullgryns even make pretty good meat shields for tanks given their sheer size and their big shields (add camo netting to you AM tanks, roll ‘em up behind a wall of Bulls and that cover save becomes pretty useful).
That is just one facet of their usefulness though. Bullgryns are pretty useful with their good saves and hammer of wrath attacks. Smash them into smaller units of ork boys or assault marines/raptors and watch them clean house. Alternatively, stick them in a transport (and again, around the transport) with your boss HQ and you can really upset your opponent if he’s going for Slay The Warlord objective by sucking up all those wounds.
For Ogryns though (rather than Bullgryns) it’s a sadder story these days. Between the Bulls and all of the Astra Militarum’s available allies, there just isn’t much call for them at the moment. If you do want to take some, bring a Psyker too and try to get them into assault as quickly as possible, in front of other units. Again, they can suck up wounds and if they make it, they can still do a bit of damage too. Other than that though, there are better options out there.
If Looks Could Kill…
Ogres. As said earlier, it was any easy port, and some of those earlier sculpts were essentially just Ogres in 40k boxes and blister packs. But the lasting image of Ogryns (for me at least) comes from the 90s when they looked like a cross between Andre The Giant and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in Predator. Their hulking frames put them head and shoulders above Space Marines and you could easily imagine one of them having a fist fight with Deff Dred. I’m not such a fan of the newest sculpts but they still have some of that brutishness about them.
Their stupidity also comes through the sculpts. The small forehead and larger jaw puts one in mind of a neanderthal. They conjure up images of those scary guys in the pubs you don’t go into unless you know you’re a local. The guys who can drink 12 pints and if someone were to punch them on tuesday they’d feel it on thursday afternoon. They exude toughness, and brawn, and a complete lack of brains.
We should also mention the amazing work Forge World have done with Ogryns. From the Plague Ogryns of Vrax, to Renegades and even the new Solar Auxilia guys, Games Workshop’s sister company has reimagined these hulks in brilliant ways and extended their appeal to many.
Ah, The Memories…
An Ogryn once almost got me kicked out of GW Reading, back when in was located back on Cheapside all those years ago. One of my earliest “conversion” jobs was to take the base of a shokk attack gun, glue about 25 lasguns all over it, and then mount it on an Ogryn. The guy in the store who worked for GW (who wasn’t that nice anyway) got unusually upset when I tried to shoot at his orks with 25 lasgun shots. I’m sure he was sick of dealing with brats like me all day (was about 11 at the time I think), but in that case, maybe working there wasn’t the best idea. Anyway, I shall ever remember that Ogryn. I might even try to recreate it one day. 😉
Ogryns have survived where other abhumans have not, and I hope they continue to do so. From the lead minaitures of the Rogue Trader era to the latest box set, they’ve been whooping butts from Terra to the Ghoul Stars and back again for a long time. Where so much of the oddness and unnecessary variety that makes this game so fun has gone from the shelves, these guys are still at the Imperium’s front lines, doing the heavy lifting and firing their ripper guns into the massed enemy ranks. Long live the Ogryns, those glorious, hulking idiots. Onwards!