Orcs of the North

Orcs of the North

The orcs of the north have developed a combat formation that they call a "body". Unsurprisingly, it is composed of a "hand", a "back", and a "fist". Sometimes, there is a "belly" at the center of it.

The hand is the probing group of the formation. The quick and far-sighted fighters are part of it. If enemy contact is probable, two hands are organized. The signalling instrument of a hand is the whistle, made of wood or of bone.

The back is the core of the formation, it's where the heavy fighters are located. It's called back because they're supposed to carry ammo, supplies, and hopefully loot. More successful tribes have porters or pack animals. The signalling instrument of this element is the drum.

The most honourable echelon is the fist. It's where worthiest warriors walk. Actually, it's the reserve of the formation, it's the hammer to the anvil that the back may become, and it delivers a punch to the target the hand grips. Its signalling instrument is the horn.

Most of the warfare of these orcs revolves around raiding and looting in the woodlands of the north. Line of sights are short, and they rely on sound signals. Signalling instruments are used for calling the fist for help. It's unsettling for those orcs to hear the horn, since it means the fist is in trouble.

Those sound signals are for when contact is engaged, else runners are used. Some tribes are faking bird calls, but it gives one's position away to those who also know the woods and it may not fit the season. There are some orcs that know a wide range of bird songs, their skill is valued, and there is even informal contests between those singers. Some of them even trick birds at time.

A formation may include a belly, it's a reference to the chief's belly, a well-fed chief is a successful chief. The element comprises a few guards, a shaman, and a team of runners. It usually moves along with the back, but can quickly move towards the hand or the fist to assess the situation and/or control execution.

The combat formation was originally devised for hands and fists of 8 to 12 warriors. The back would line up 15 to 30 warriors. Lately, with the intensification of conflicts, back and fists have tripled in size, hands stay small, but they do multiply. Orc chiefs nowadays feel safer with at least two hands guarding their advance.

The northern orcs have mostly been fighting in their native woods. One favourite tactics of their adversary has been to draw them out of their forests into the prairie and corner and exterminate them their. There are reports that this tactic has had its run. A few orc tribes have acquired poneys and have developped the necessary skills. Let's hope their archery doesn't improve.