|This article is about the in-universe phenomena, for the book see Waaargh: Orks|
The Orkish term Waaagh! refers to four related phenomena.
Waaagh! as a Psychic Field
A gathering of Orks generates a psychic field known as the Waaagh!, which allows Orks to instinctively recognize who is "bigga" and therefore in charge.
The Waagh! also seems to warp reality to fit Orkish beliefs, allowing their ramshackle technology to function properly. If Orks are convinced that their designs are sound and functional, the Waaagh! makes them so. Other races have found that many Orkish devices simply do not work unless wielded by an Orkoid.
Similarly, it is an article of faith among Orks that explosives become more powerful when they're painted, and that their vehicles go faster when given a Red Paint Job. This may sound nonsensical, but because the Orks believe this to be true, the Waaagh! makes it true.
Waaagh! energy can also be manipulated by the Weirdboyz in an array of deadly psychic powers.
Waaagh! as an Event
Waaagh! also describes the rare occasions when Orks stop fighting amongst themselves and band together against other races. This undertaking combines the aspects of a mass migration, a holy war, a looting party and a pub brawl, with a bit of genocide thrown in for good measure.
In a typical Waaagh!, millions of battle-hungry Orks invade their target and stomp everything in their way flat. Just who is invaded is a matter of supreme indifference to the Waaagh!; battle is battle.
Waaagh!s naturally gain in size and impetus as long as they're successful and have something to fight. As the Waaagh rages on, more Orks will hear of the fighting and travel to where the action is. Thus, the longer a Waaagh goes on the more numerous it becomes.
- See also: List of Ork Waaaghs!
Waaagh! as a Group
The third use of Waaagh! is the name for the massive horde of Orks gathered under a single Warboss - an individual Ork who is invariably the largest, most dominating and physically intimidating, and therefore able to unite different warbands of Orks into a horde, almost always for the purpose and duration of undertaking a Waaagh! in the second sense of the word. Very often the Waaagh! is named after this warboss.
A Waaagh! is typically dispersed at its defeat, the death of its Warboss or simply when it runs out of enemies. The combined warbands and tribes will then break up through infighting and inter-clan rivalry. Exceptions do occur: a particularly dominant Warboss occasionally manages to hold his boyz together, forging a small empire for himself. The best example of this is the Ork empire of Charadon, which has survived for thousands of years under the rule of successive Warlords.
Lastly, "Waaagh!" is the near-universal war cry roared by Orks in battle.
Variants and Revisions
When used as a war cry, the length of the term used can vary, usually indicated in print by a greater number of "a"s.
In earlier Games Workshop publications, the term Waaargh! is used.