I could blog for years about the Orks from the early days of Warhammer 40,000. There was so much unique and rich material from that time that got left behind with the new editions. Slowly, elements from that era have crept back, especially in the background material. But one particular unit type from that era that never returned, at least on the table-top, are the Madboyz.
|One of the Sacred Books of WAAARGH!|
The Madboyz first appeared in 'Ere We Go, one of the three Rogue Trader-era stand-alone publications dedicated solely to Orks. It's a brilliant work, one I still recommend to all true fans of the Orks. It featured a lot of new units and the Madboyz was one of them. Essentially the Madboyz are the Orks that are so insane -for whatever reason- that the "normal" Orks would rather not be around them. Here's a quote from the book that sums them up rather nicely:
"Madboys are Orks whose behaviour marks them as obviously and unashamedly mad. Of course, even normal Orks do things which a human would think insane, but Madboyz are so reckless, manic, or downright strange that even other Orks consider them crazy."
It's stated that in the game, the player has very little control over the Madboyz. In fact the unit they form is called a Madmob and once you see their rules you'll find that to be a fit title. The only thing you can do is point the models in the direction that you want them to face at the start of their turn, and roll on the chart. The Mood Chart. The Mood Chart used a D10 and broke down as follows:
You then referenced the corresponding page, as each of these conditions had a further D10 chart to roll on -which filled up an entire 8.5" x 11" page of the books! Malankolik was the exception and was only a half-page and used a D6. Rolling on these charts was insanely fun, and you NEVER knew what was going to happen next.
|The Phobiak table, to give you a sense of the possibilities.|
Your Madboyz could do anything from being terrified of the battle noises, to shooting at random terrain features, to laying about contemplating the universe. Their actions were totally determined by the charts in the book and they ignored normal rules for psychology. In one battle I heard about, a friend of mine had his Madboyz roll a result that had them decide that the enemy wasn't so bad after all and they went up and tried to befriend the closest one, in this case a Deathjester who had just gibbed some boyz with a bio-shuriken. Nothing was all the enemy was allowed to do as he was too confused to understand what was happening. (Skitzo, 'Fraternizashun wiv da enemee'). The results are far to numerous to dictate or copy for this post, but I hope you get the gist: these rules were crazy-fun!
You could influence their behavior slightly by having a Weirdboy join the unit which allowed you to re-roll the Mood Chart results. Often in the lore for Weirdboyz there will be discussion regarding their association with the Madboyz. Other factors would trigger new mood swings as well: Having the unit-size drop to less than 25% of the starting force, other units routing too close to the Madmob, units close by charging, being charged by the enemy, etc. They even summarized this in a chart (a novel concept!).
Like I said, crazy-fun! And so were the models! Brilliantly sculpted by the legendary Bob Olly, who I think did some of his best work on these guys. Each model represented one of the nine moods from the rules and they were just full of energy. So much so that some of these are 28mm tributes to kinetic energy. Take a look at the catalog page below:
|Madness for sale!|
Having said that, at least we had rules for the Madboyz. When 40k 3rd ed came around, it was "back ta basiks" for the Orks, and some of their zanier aspects were simply gone. The Madboyz would only return as a sidebar mention in the 4th ed Codex (rules-wise, arguably the best post 3rd Ed book the Orks got*) and in a three paragraph write-up in the current book. In fact so prominent is their piece in the current book that I have to wonder if GW were hoping to make new models but just didn't get to them in time? I would love to know if that theory has any merit. Since they still exist in the background as being augmenting influences to the Weirdboyz, and with the return of psykers in 40k in 6th & 7th Ed, it would have been nice to have a bit more help for the for the Weirdboyz.
|Mad Dok Grotsnik.|
* 2018 addendum: Morko Vayrynen commented that the Madboyz did reappear during 3rd edition! It was in the Ferral Ork Codex that appeared in White Dwarf and reprinted and updated in the Chapter Approved books that supported the game during that edition. They had a simplified 'Disturbed' list with only results, but considering 3rd edition's aversion to charts of any kind, this was something of an achievement.
|Madboyz entry in the 3rd Ed Ferral Ork list.|
All of the images in the post are Copyright Games Workshop and are used here for the purposes of review and not as a challenge to their individual copyrights.