Orcs are known as the most warlike of all races though they usually lack the discipline and organization one would assume from a standing army. Instead a common pack behaviour is known to dominate their decisions on the battlefield showing only a minimum of coordination among one clan. Thus it is nearly impossible to put orcs from different clans or even tribes into one fighting unit because they'd rather turn against each other for honour and loot than fight the enemy. On more than one occasion disputes among rivaling clans and leaders have saved the day for a human, elven or dwarven army and made close to defeats glaring victories.

Orcish Armour

View picture in full size Picture description.The typical light orcish armour of the Noruck-chmer (Skirmishers), consisting of hides and leather. Image by Faugar.

Nevertheless though looked upon by all other races orcs in battle are not respected as equal in any way but certainly they're feared.

To overcome the lack of a central leadership, a general of sorts, some tribes - like the Losh-oc or Ashz-oc - at least agreed to elect warlords for certain times and a certain task. However these warlords are still not seen to be equal to a general. In fact they're more the head of a war council consisting of all clanleaders which means that in the end they still can only depend on the warriors of their own clan. In even greater campaigns these warlords lead their own armies to the battlefield and again form some kind of council to decide what to do together.

While this system has proven to be surprisingly stable it is also the reason that orcs never make any clever battle plans. In the vast hierachies of clan relations and alliances it would be nearly impossible to force one clan to stand back as some kind of relief force or sneak up from behind while others gain all the fame. This has also proven to be the key weakness of most orcish campaigns because when fighting in their very own clan they are nearly unmatched in the way they fight together.

Organization. The orcish way of war is very clan-based. The warriors of one clan are generally the smallest orcish fighting unit which consists of between 50 to 300 warriors. This is usually enough to commence raids, scouting and smaller engagement but for a fullscale campaign one clan is generally too weak so several clans ally for a common goal and rally their troops.

For this purpose warlords are elected. They already lead whole armies of 1000 to up to 6000 warriors and command them in agreement with the participating clanleaders. In even greater campaigns, where different parties join for a common goal these warlords only coordinate their moves in councils but stay mainly independent from each other. Such occasions are only very rare, the last time such a huge orc army has been seen marching together in the south was in the Third Sarvonian War.

Otherwise it can be said that you have various orcish armies that only contact each other about their plans when necessary and coordinate attacks only when the odds force them to do so.
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Tactics. The smallest unit among orcs represent their clans where family bonds force them to stay rather disciplined and they're willing to watch each other's back in battle.

A clan usually attacks in a triangular formation to break the enemy line as quickly and as lethal as possible. Orcs - except the Osther-oc - don't have a great feel for battle formations and subtle tactics. Their favourite battle plan is an overwhelming frontal assault that either breaks the enemy lines or ends in many small skirmishes. This would be an easy to dodge situation for any well-trained army when the different clanleaders wouldn't lead their warriors independently on the battlefield, everyone of them seeking a good opportunity for their attack. For the opposing side this means that orcs usually hit them in waves from different sides, at different angels, in different strength endangering any battle formation to fall in total chaos, a situation orcs know best to exploit.

While there are no exercised battle formations most orcish clans nevertheless follow a certain order in battle.

The Battering Ram

View picture in full size Picture description.The black Orcristh Orcs of Nybelmar operating a battering ram to breach fortifications. Image of the game Mystical Empire, used with friendly permission, drawn by Quellion.

Classes. The Sarvonian orcs share very similar categories of warrior classes among the different tribes, supposedly as they all share a common language and all have a common heritage. Some tribes will lack certain classes due to limitations in build or in equipment but nevertheless they at least know the purpose of certain warriors:

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