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Caledonian Deathwatch Network

House Ordos Project Blog – Mission 4

Howdy Blog Fans! You lot are probably sick of me not actually getting to the painting piece of this project yet… well….. that’s still a way off. I am working hard to try and get started on it soon though, but this is project is a marathon not a sprint! Instead i’m going to talk about the dreaded “F” word that is maligned by many 40k enthusiasts. That’s right folks… this update is a fluff piece!

So I have actually had a couple of comments asking me about what the heck IS House Ordos? I will try to answer that question in this edition. How many of you remember Westwood Studio’s “Dune II – The Battle for Arrakis?” (or alternatively “Dune II – The Building of a Dynasty?” The original Ordos Mentat was Ammon.

 

Dune II was probably what many consider to be the “Granddaddy” of Real Time Strategy. You could select one of three factions:

  • House Atriedies
  • House Harkonnen
  • House Ordos

Fans of the book and movie will no doubt be familiar with the first 2 Houses, but House Ordos was invented for the sole purposes of being an additional playable faction in this game. They unfortunately have no official standing in any of the Dune novels, but they are listed in the Dune Encyclopedia.

The background of House Ordos is one of paranoid technologists. They are widely reputed as having failings in military strength, but make up for this in either buying the arms/soldiers they need, or utilising outlandish (often forbidden) technologies. In the first reboot of Dune II, Dune 2000, the Ordos Mentat is an Artificial Life-form, Edric-O (defying Imperial decrees that AIs are outlawed):

 

 

I think personally this is one of the things which intrigued me most about House Ordos. In the Dune series, Mentats are meant to be human (or Ghola) “supercomputers” – processing layer upon layer of data and tactical analysis. It was a very interesting twist to see the game designers scorn this particular standard.

The House hails from an Icy planet called Draconis IV, an icy, inhospitable planet. They are extremely wealthy, smuggling illegal Ixian technologies and weapons, as well as making deals and contracts with other houses. It is also clearly stated that the House’s true power lies with sabotage and trickery, which I realise makes them an odd choice for an Imperial Knight army – but i’ll talk more about that later.

One of my favourite quotes about House Ordos is from Emperor: Battle for Dune – “In the language of the Ordos, there is no word for Trust. There are over 300 for the concept of profit.” The mentat this time around was Roma Atani:

 

 

Another interesting facet of the Ordos, is their leadership structure. In the Dune series, you have the iconic Duke Leto and Baron Vladimir (although the game series is not afraid to shake up these roles) for the Atriedies and Harkonnen respectively. The Ordos though have a ruling council, known as “The Executrix”, and telepathically make their will known via a creature known only as “The Speaker”:

 

 

While in the Dune universe you have such creatures as gholas and guild navigators, this still stood out to me as a truly unique way of characterising a faction. Who were these mysterious council members? It’s unfortunately a question that would never be answered in the game series, but it does allow for some future extrapolation and interpretation in terms of army design.

Whereas the Atriedies are obviously noble and trustworthy, and the Harkonnen are brutal and without mercy – House Ordos offered a very interesting middle ground between the two. Indeed, even in the games it was difficult to win with House Ordos using “conventional” warfare. Stealth had to be utilised via the Saboteur, and the allegiance-shifting Deviator tank was a needle to be threaded in tough combat situations. It also meant that winning battles with them was ultimately more rewarding, and it encouraged other tactics akin to the classic “Zerg Rush” that i’m sure many of you are familiar with!

 

 

So, with all that said, what the heck does this have to do with the good old Grim Dark? I think that Dune and Warhammer 40,000 have a lot of similarities, and I think it’s probably fair to say that Dune inspired much of what you see in 40k (in terms of the Imperium):

  • A God Emperor (this also happened in Dune)
  • Elite Troopers / Sardukar
  • Navigators / Guild Navigators
  • Mankind Scattered throughout the Galaxy
  • A human Imperium and Emperor
  • Noble Imperial Houses

I think that a Dune / 40k crossover is actually quite fitting. And to be perfectly honest, i’d have shoehorned in the Ordos theme to whatever faction I decided to start.

So in terms of the army I’ve chosen, I still have some decisions to make. I haven’t decided yet whether I will base my units to be snowy like Draconis IV, or sand/dusty as if fighting on Arrakis. I am also debating picking up some shield captains to act as an alternative to the small Astra Militarum force that I have already, just to give the collection I have a bit more variety and flavour.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the Ordos History lesson! Next up I promise I will get back to doing stuff, and build my Dominus class Castellan!

 

 

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