Monday, September 12, 2011

5 Minute History: Squats!

The Squats have been out of the current games and model production by Games Workshop since the 1990s. The release of the third edition of Warhammer 40,000 in 1998 marked the removal of the final elements of the Squat rules from the game. The last miniatures to be released by Citadel were the Epic Squat war engines (such as the Goliath Mega Cannon) in 1994, though the release of Warhammer 40,000 scale had stopped some four years previously in 1990. Though no new models were released, sales did continue at a low level through retail stores and through Mail Order for several years until they were eventually discontinued completely.

In terms of the game background, the Squat Home Worlds were attacked by the Tyranids of a hive fleet. However, the few Squats not on the Home Worlds stayed isolated, typically as either pirates or members of the Imperium's armies. As no actual Squat-specific background material was published after 1993 this pivotal moment in the race's history has only ever been briefly mentioned or referenced, and so not much is known. One can assume however, that as they did not "fit" well as a race into the Imperium, they have been all but removed by a convenient Tyranid Hive fleet, in rather the same way that the Zoats were disposed of.

It is generally believed that they are the major victim of Games Workshop's attempts to make Warhammer 40,000 a totally original setting and not just Warhammer Fantasy in space. The Squats had thrived in early Warhammer 40,000's dark but slightly silly atmosphere - where characters and planets were named after pop singers and cake manufacturers. Games Workshop's official stance, however, is that the Squats were dropped because they felt dissatisfied with their established background and army design.

Squat miniatures go for relatively high prices on eBay and fans reportedly bombard the games developers regularly with what is called "the Squat Question". Many other model making companies have been producing space dwarf models for a long time, though certain companies do not match the quality of Games Workshop miniatures. Some players have written their own rules for Warhammer 40K so Squat armies can be played. However popular this trend has proven to be, the official ruling from Games Workshop is that only 40K miniatures can be used in GW stores and GW-sponsored tournaments.

A statement on why the Squats were dropped was given by games designer Jervis Johnson on 28 July 2004. In a Squat-themed thread on a popular Warhammer 40,000 message board, he posted an official response to the Squat Question. Summarizing, Johnson said the race was removed from the Warhammer 40,000 universe for the following reasons:
  • The designers felt that they "had failed to do the Dwarf 'archetype' justice in its 40K incarnation", and that the Squats were more of a joke race.
  • There existed a design disparity with the Warhammer 40,000 and the Epic-scale renditions of the race, which prevented there being a cohesive vision of the race.
  • Despite the efforts of the design team, they were unable to think up ways to revitalize the concept.
Jervis Johnson's statement also confirms that the Demiurg began as an effort to re-think the concept of Squats, after their annihilation, and that the concept might one day be expanded on.

Some people still use Squat models in their armies, adapting the rules of one of the game's supported races in order to play with them. Although Squats are no longer in the game, traces of them can still be found in Warhammer 40,000 fiction. Squats are mentioned in the current Ork codex, though only by nickname.

Squats also get a small mention in Dawn of War Tempest, Where it describes a librarian carrying an unusual force-axe that was recovered from the planet Dorian Prime, a world lost for millennia behind warp storms, where once normal human citizens had become stunted and malformed by gravitational effects, their metal working skills were beyond compare. The planet has been lost to the galaxy again, due to warp storms. The trilogy The Inquisition Wars also features a motor-tricycle riding squat named Grimm as part of the retinue of the protagonist, Jaq Draco.

A complete history of the Squats in Warhammer 40K as they were presented in White Dwarf, the Citadel Journal, and other Games Workshop materials at the Hungry Ghosts Chaos Squats website.

still practicing_


P.S. clock reset


  1. Great summary! I do find it criminal that you didn't actually link to the Hungry Ghosts Chaos Squats site. That page rocks!

  2. Because I knew the best way to get you to post would be to leave it off ;)

    Thanks for adding that link, that escaped my mind when I put it together!

  3. I have been thinking of doing a Squats guard army, using the Mantic Dwarves, the Iron Guard, or whatever the shooty dwarves are called, they look pretty good. Mantic might save me the trouble of converting though if the Warpath minis are any good. Forgefathers as Space Marines seems pretty natural.

  4. I've really enjoyed all the 5-minute History articles you've done. As a 20+ year vet (non-stop from Rogue Trader to today) they always take me back to my early days in the hobby. Case in point, oh how I lament the Squat Household I'd owned way back in the day. Definitely looking forward to seeing the wider range of Mantic minis, chances are nearly 100% that I'll end up picking up a mess of them for use as Squats in 40k. Keep up the great work!

  5. Wow, thanks for all the kind words guys, I appreciate it!

    @counter fett, did you see all these pain job examples of those guys?

    Some great stuff in there!