I was asked recently why I put so much effort into Gorkamorka and our ongoing project to create an expansion pack for it, something which I thought might be worth posting on here.
To explain I have to take you on a journey through a few periods of my personal history, explaining a few things along the way. If you’re not interested, turn back now, you have been warned.
Gorkamorka was my first tabletop game, having discovered it shortly before breaking my left arm in 1998. I was faced with a Summer mostly on my own with my arm in a cast. Whilst this was a little awkward, it wasn’t too devastating. In fact I barely remember it because of the great enjoyment I got out of Gorkamorka, having been given the boxed set. One thing that did upset the young me was what I was told when I visited Games Workshop, having constructed my mob; that I was not allowed to play the game in store.
Seeing as this was my first game, I was devastated, or at least quite miffed. Why would they sell it and have a whole shelf dedicated to products one was not allowed to use in their store? I don’t remember what they might have told me then, but I think a small part of me died that day. Yes, that’s absurdly melodramatic, but back then I was only 11 and considerably more sensitive than I am now.
It was that Autumn that I started a new school, my first and only boarding school, where I was thrown into an environment where we were expected to grow up quickly. Gone was the playground of the previous school, but in its place we had sport by the afternoon full. However, as I had only just had my cast removed, I was “off games” for the first half of the term, giving me lots of time on my own, which I spent working on my miniatures, one of the only bits of escapism I had in an otherwise relatively hostile environment, at least compared to my previous schools.
Despite this and a few friends interested in the hobby, I never got to properly play Gorkamorka, something which was always a source of disappointment for me. A year later I got to play Necromunda, which was great, but I had to put my desire to play Gorkamorka on hold indefinitely. That was how things were for over ten years, during which time I got into Warhammer 40,000 (3rd Edition) and Mordheim, eventually shelving my models having been mistreated by Games Workshop for the umpteenth time and deciding that enough was enough.
Then, in 2009, now firmly established in Edinburgh, I decided to see whether there were enough people in the local area to play a tabletop skirmish game with. Initially I planned to play Mordheim and took the time to finish painting my Mordheim warbands (on my to-do list since the year 2000..) and spent a little while designing and building some portable Mordheim terrain. What I discovered doing this was that not only did I still have the skills I used to have, but that I was actually significantly better at building and painting than I was when I was younger. I also found that I had much more patience with painting, making it far more tolerable, often enjoyable (when I was younger I would paint to have them painted, although not purely for functionality, I had standards).
With this knowledge I decided to try to arrange a Gorkamorka campaign amongst friends and to try out a rebel grot mob. Back in the day there were metal grots, of which I had a few, but now there were excellent, and more importantly cheap, plastic gretchin for sale. A couple of packs from somewhere like Wayland Games and my old bitz box resulted in a Rebel Grot Mob with a Big Lugga and two Cuttas.
Whilst they didn’t do too well in the tester game or two they played in, they did rekindle the hope that I might at last get to play in a Gorkamorka campaign. Fast forward a year and I find myself in a campaign with four other players and nearly twice as many mobs. It may seem silly, but this makes me incredibly happy. It may have taken over a decade, but I’m finally getting to play a game I fell in love with as a child. Every minute I spend playing, painting, writing, planning, or talking about it with other enthusiastic players makes my heart soar.
Eventually I imagine I’ll be ready to put the game to rest for another few years, at last sated, but for now at least I’m going strong. Hopefully this can adequately explain my love of Gorkamorka and all its silliness.
Is it as good as I hoped it would be?
To be honest, I can’t say I remember how I hoped it would be, all those years ago. What I can say is that it’s far better than my current self could have hoped it would be, something which makes me incredibly grateful to the friends that make it possible for me to play it.