(Be sure to check out the first part to hear about the mechs of the Imperium while you’re at it!)
Hey all, it’s Elessar here, to bring the long awaited second half of the Mechs of Warhammer 40k…what do you mean no one was waiting for it?
Part of what makes 40k so much fun to me is that different armies always have distinct visual and thematic feel to them. I mentioned that Sisters of Battle have a religious feel to them but that becomes even more evident when we move outside the Imperial armies and start to examine the aliens. The Dark Eldar (who, lacking any mechs, will not be appearing in this article) have a sleek, predatory feel to their army. The Orks, by contrast, have a ramshackle look that makes their vehicles looked like a bunch of garbage someone stapled together. Which is good, because that’s usually what they are. So today we examine some of the Xeno mechs of Warhammer 40k.
Ork Killa Kans:
Ah Orks. I’ve always kinda liked them, in a weird sort of way. It might be that they’ve got such a fun and interesting aesthetic and backstory. It might be that their technology is literally stated to work entirely because they believe it does. It might be because they seem to be the only army in all of 40k to have the weirdly dark sense of humor that Warhammer fantasy has in spades but 40k seems to lack. Whatever, I’m kind of fond of them, and I know I’m not the only one; our very own Silverwolf plays them and I know that his planned next purchase for his Ork army is a unit of Killa Kans (note: If misspellings like that bother you, you should probably avoid Orks).
Killa Kans are an interesting unit, in that unlike most mechs in 40k, they’re not actually piloted by the main species in the army (the main species being the titular Orks). The pilots are instead smaller versions of the Orks known as Gretchen, most similar to Goblins from Lord of the Rings, or perhaps Gnoblars from Warhammer Fantasy (only not as cool, because Gnoblars are awesome). Killa Kans are still pretty awesome though. I mean, just look at them, they’ve got freaking chainsaws and rocket launchers. [Note: Chainsaws are by no means a rare thing in 40k.] They’re somewhere in between the big single guy walkers and the small units of multiple walkers, so they can get so they tend to get killed pretty quickly. But if you want your troops to keep breathing, Orks is not the army for you (they tend to die by the truckload, Gretchen doubly so). If you want something piloted by an Ork though, you’ve gotta go for…
Ork Deff Dreads:
Discussion of Warhammer units is difficult, because I have to make them interesting to non-fans, hence why I can’t go too deep into tactical/rules commentary, so I can’t usually tell you why or why not someone might use a specific unit in their army. In this case however, it should be fairly obvious why someone would use a Deff Dread. I mean, just look at it.
It’s actually got a fun little background; Orks ask to be sealed inside so they can be more powerful, apparently not entirely getting that being sealed inside one of these things means you can’t get out (Orks aren’t the brightest) but really, that’s just wallpaper, because the thing looks awesome. I don’t play Orks, probably never will, but if there’s one thing that tempts me it’s their vehicles and the Deff Dread is my favorite. It really sums up the feeling of the Ork army; everything you need to know about Orks is right there on the model. Unfortunately, that leaves me without much to say about it, so let’s move on to an army I actually play.
Eldar War Walker:
Okay, this one isn’t overly interesting, but it’s a nice primer on the Eldar as a whole. Well actually, a primer on the Eldar would just be the words “Space Elves,” but moving on. Most of the Eldar stuff adheres to the tabletop rules regarding Elves: ridiculously fast, brimming with firepower and about as tough as wet tissue. The main difference is that unlike Elves in a fantasy setting, Eldar aren’t running lower tech and making up for with better troops and magic. See, while Eldar are powerful psykers (the 40k equivalent of magic, although psychic powers from 40k are to magic in Fantasy what a light breeze is to a hurricane) they actually have much more advanced technology than…well anyone.
This isn’t a good example of that though, since all the things in the lore that have great technology, such as the forcefield that protects it or the way it reacts to it’s pilot aren’t immediately evident on the model. Without that, it’s a pretty straightforward walker, the Imperial Guard Sentinel with a less protected pilot. It’s easier to shoot, but the shield can protect it and it tends to be faster, so most people use it as forward scouts. But in order to check out the Eldar’s technology, we have to look at their next mech.
A bit of background: for reasons that are too complex to explain, all Eldar have to worry about their souls being eaten by an evil deity when they die. So in order to avoid that, all the Eldar wear a gem, called a Spirit Stone on their chest that absorbs their soul when they die. Some Eldar, for one reason or another, want to keep fighting after death, so they have their stone put into a walker. Most get put in a Wraithguard or Wraithblade (which are too small to be included on this list) but particularly heroic ones can get put in a Wraithlord, which is large and tough enough that light arms fire literally cannot damage it.
This is another model I’ve always been kind of fond of, since it’s just plain an awesome looking model (plus it can walk around with 2 flamethrowers and 2 missile launchers). Unfortunately I’m not certain it likes me too much, since it tends to get shot off the board pretty quick by anti-tank fire and is less all purpose useful than a similarly priced tank. Yes the Eldar have tanks. They float. It also tends to lose out to, let’s say its older cousin.
The Wraithknight is probably one of my favorite models. At 9 inches tall, it is the largest model they make until we move up to Forge World, which is an absurdly expensive can of worms I’m not going to open here. I take every opportunity to use it, including times when it’s not necessarily advised. It too has a fun little backstory, tying into the aforementioned Spirit Stone. When one of a pair of Eldar twins dies, they install their Spirit Stone into one of these so the dead twin and the live twin can pilot it together. Evangelion ripoff? Maybe, but there are fewer references to Christianity.
This one tends to last a lot longer than the Wraithlord, as it can resist anti-tank weaponry better, and can actually have more firepower than the Wraithlord. It’s a good thing it’s more durable than the Wraithlord, as it’s nearly 3 times as tall and as a result tends to be the opponent’s number one target, which means it’s going to get shot a lot. So most people, myself included, tend to use it as a huge giant bullet magnet, because if they don’t kill it, it can and will crush anything in it’s way.
And somehow I’ve managed to go even longer than my last article on this subject, so I’m gonna cut this short. The next time Mecha Monday falls to me, I’ll finish up the normal scale mechs with the mechs of the Tau and Necrons: Space Communists and Space Egyptians, respectively.