[WH40k] Squats

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[WH40k] Squats

Postby Ashtagon » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:45 am

I came across this little tidbit on why Games Workshop dropped their space dwarfs

http://web.archive.org/web/200601290024 ... hichpage=3

I know I shouldn't get drawn on this... but... can't... resist :)

Seriously, a couple of points just so you can have an informed debate based on the real reasons that Squats are no longer available. Be warned, it is going to be hard reading for people that like the Squat background.

First of all, Squats were *not* dropped because they were not selling well. There were then, and are now, plenty of other figure ranges that sell in the sort of % quantaties that the Squats pulled down, especially when you look across all of the ranges produced by GW rather than just those for 40K.

No, the reason that the Squats were dropped was because the creatives in the Studio (people like me, Rick, Andy C, Gav etc) felt that we had failed to do the Dwarf 'archetype' justice in its 40K incarnation. From the name of the race (Squats - what *were* we thinking?!?!) through to the short bikers motif, we had managed to turn what was a proud and noble race in Warhammer and the other literary forms where the archetype exists, into a joke race in 40K. We only fully realised what we had done when we were working on the 2nd edition of 40K. Try as we might, we just couldn't work up much enthusiasm for the Squats. The mistake we made then (deeply regreted since) was to leave them in the background and the 'get you by' army list book that appeared. With hindsight, we should have dropped the Squats back then, and saved ourselves a lot of grief later on.

Anyway, the Squats made it into 2nd edition, and since we were doing army books for each of the races, we started to try and figure out what to do with them. Unfortunately we just couldn't figure out a way to update them and get them to work that we felt was good enough. The 'art' of working on an army as a designer is to find the thing that you think is cool and exciting about an army, and work it up into a strong theme. This 'muse' didn't strike any of us, and so, rather than bring out a second-rate product simply re-hashing the old background, we kept doing other army books instead, with stuff we did feel inspired by.

Now, while this was all going on for 40K, we were actually doing some rather good stuff for the Squats in Epic. On this scale there was a natural tendancy to focus on the big 'hand-made' war machines the Squat artisans produced, and this created an army with a feel that was very different to the biker hordes in 40K. However, this tended to reinforce the problems we saw in the Squat background rather than alleviate them, underlining what we *should* have done with the Squats in 40K.

In the end (and it took years to really get to the roots of the problem) this led to a realisation that we were going to have to drop the Squats in their 'Squat' form from the 40K background. There was little point having a major race that we weren't willing to make an army book for, and their inclusion in the background meant that people kept asking us when we'd do a Squat Codex. Instead we decided that we'd write the Squats out of the background by saying that their Homworlds had been devoured by a Tyranid Hivefleet. This would give us the option in the future to return to making a race based ont he Squat archetype for 40K. This race was given the name of Demiurg, and a certain amount of preliminary work was done to get a 'feel' for what the race would be like. At present the only hint of the Demiurg in 40K is the Demiurg spaceship for BFG. However, we do have this race 'in our back pocket' as a possible new race for 40K, or an interesting character model in Inquisitor, or whatever. So far the Demiurg have lost out to other projects, and it may be that their time never actually comes, as they will have to win through on their merits, not simply because we once made some Squat models in the past. At present, I have to say that it is more lilely that they *don't* make the cut than do, as there is a certain predudice these days to simply taking races from Warhammer and cross them over to 40K like we did in the early days, so it may be that the Squats/Demiurg end up remaining a footnote in the history of the 40K galaxy. Only time will tell...

The second point I'd like to make is about 'old moulds'. In the past, Mail Order in the UK and US used to be the place that we kept all of the retired moulds for Citadel Miniatures, and we used to offer a service where you could order any Citadel Mniature ever made from MO. However, there are now so many of these 'back catalogue' miniatures that it is simply impossible to keep all of the old moulds in Mail Order and offer this service. Instead, we pick and choose which back catalogue miniatures are kept available. At present we're still struggling to produce special catalogues for these ranges (in the US there is the 'Phone Book' catalogue with everything in it, while the UK has special 'collectors guides' that are themed round a race). Once we've ironed out the kinks in the way we deal with the range of collectors models we want to keep permenantly available, the plan is to offer up other parts of the back catalogue for limited periods of time. In effect this will divide the back catalogue into three parts: a range of classic models that are permenantly available, a range of classic models we dip into and bring out for a limited release, and a range of retired models that will no longer be sold either because we've decided that they are embarrassingly bad, or because we are no longer allowed to sell them due to licencing agreement changes. So far we're still slowly working on deciding which classic models we want to keep permenantly available, and its going to take several years to work through just those. The old Squat range is most likely to end up as retired models, I have to say, though there is a good chance that the Squat war engines they could simply into the limited release classic range. Once again, only time will tell...

I'll finish off by saying that whatever we decide to do 'officially', there is nothing stopping players with Squat armies from using them, either in Epic or 40k for that matter. There is no GW 'rule' against using old Citadel Miniatures, as long as you use them with exisiting army lists and in a way that won't cause confusion for other players. I recommend taking a positive stand by saying "Have you seen these cool old models? They're called the Squats and GW used to make them back in the late eighties/early nineties. I love 'em, so I count them as Imperial Guard and use them with the current rules..." Put like this I can't imagine that anyone would stop you from using your army.

Best regards,

Jervis Johnson
Head Fanatic


From what I recall, WH40K space dwarfs ("squats") had a big focus on biker-gang style heavy trikes, extremely heavy armour analogous to space marine terminator armour, and a mining/industrial aesthetic.

Other games that have "space dwarfs" generally just call them that, and leave them virtually unchanged from tehir fantasy counterpart (Spelljammer, Dragonstar).

Have there been any really good unique approaches to space dwarfs? How could GW have done it differently?
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Re: [WH40k] Squats

Postby Big Mac » Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:20 pm

That looks interesting. It's a shame that Epic Armageddon has gone. Does Jervis Johnson still hang around with fans?
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Re: [WH40k] Squats

Postby night_druid » Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:51 pm

To be honest, I'm not sure why they didn't just fold them into Imperial Guard as they did with Ogres/Ogrens & ratlings/halflings Just give them 2-3 units (miner levies, heavy armor unit, etc) and be done with it. Or heck, the Genestealer cult units (particularly their mole-miner tanks) would be good as squat equipment.

Given how lately they've branched out into armies I thought I'd never see (Mechanicum, Genestealer cults, Imperial Knights), and that they now have more than 4 tank chassis (lemun russ, chimera, rhino, & land raider), now would be a good time for the squats if they hadn't already wiped them out. They could do some really creative things with the right creative minds.
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Re: [WH40k] Squats

Postby Ashtagon » Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:33 pm

It's much too late now to effectively bring them back; they've been thoroughly written out of the background tehse days. In current canon, they didn't even get wiped out by tyranids; they literally never existed. I think a number of things would need to have happened around the 1e/2e switchover for them to be viable today:

The name: Make it so that "squats" was the eldar name for them and that it stuck for a time because the eldar were the first intermediaries between the imperium and the dwarfs. They go by something a bit more dignified. Maybe just revert back to "dwarf".

The Trikes: Limit their access to these. They take away one of the core aspects of what makes dwarfs dwarfs in Warhammer - their slow speed. In 1e and 2e, they were far too accessible, and as the only "cool" unit for the squats, overused. These should be specials, and their owners regarded much the same way that WFB slayers are, or perhaps the way modern bike gangs are by mainstream business. These should still be kept in, along with other "crazy dwarf invention" stuff, such as a 40K equivalent to WFB's gyrocopters.

The Ridiculous Body Armour: Keep that.

Hatred of Orks and Animosity vs. Eldar: This is pretty much compulsory for GW dwarfs. Keep it in.

The next big issue is what makes dwarfs unique within the context of 40k. Marines have the "awesome ott sci fi armoured soldiers" vibe going. The Imperial Guard has heavy armour and enlisted soldiers in a world of hurt going for them. Canonically, dwarfs have miners and guilds as their hat. It'd be easy to make them the "armoured tank" race, but that eliminates a great deal of what makes dwarfs distinct from humans in the setting. However, another way to go is to make them the guys who aren't afraid of technology, and don't see it as magic. Perhaps the dwarfs could make heavy use of robots in their armies (revive those old rules in WD100 that got thrown into one of the 1e supplements); canonically the imperium has banned research into AI. The immunity to psychology aspect of robots also makes for a nice synergy with the stoic tropes associated with dwarfs.

For the STC vehicles, perhaps the dwarfs could have modified these in their own ways, making them slower, but heavier armoured. Maybe have a mole tank variant to drive through the ground (in game terms, it would be able to deploy anywhere on the map, but delayed).
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Re: [WH40k] Squats

Postby combatmedicreturns » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:04 pm

I liked the Squats as is, including the name and the biker stuff.

But I've only ever played W40K Rogue Trader.
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Re: [WH40k] Squats

Postby Havard » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:18 pm

I like Squats. I would use them in a campaign if I started one :)

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Re: [WH40k] Squats

Postby Big Mac » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:29 pm

Ashtagon wrote:The Ridiculous Body Armour: Keep that.


Have you got any good examples of that ridiculous body armour?
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Re: [WH40k] Squats

Postby night_druid » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:59 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Ashtagon wrote:The Ridiculous Body Armour: Keep that.


Have you got any good examples of that ridiculous body armour?


From what I understand, squats had armor roughly equal to that of space marines. Maybe even termy armor. Basically they had hazardous environment suits that were adapted for battle. Sorta like those deep sea scubba suits that are more humanoid subs than fancy wetsuits, only much more mobile, flexible, and designed for deep-earth excavations. That's how I understood it, anyways.
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Re: [WH40k] Squats

Postby Ashtagon » Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:07 pm

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Re: [WH40k] Squats

Postby night_druid » Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:26 pm

<sigh>With a little creativity and a modern makeover, the Squats could be a pretty sweet-looking army. I could see something along the lines of this:

Levied Miners - cheap unit, basic infantry, sorta like conscripts in IG
Hearth Guard - basic infantry unit, roughly on par with IG infantry squad, with options for heavy weapons (mortars, plasma guns, etc)
Trikes - fast attack, give them a futuristic overhaul, anti-air/anti-infantry unit options
Exo-armor - heavy armored unit, probably on-par with marines or even terminator armor but slightly weaker (marines get more training so better statlines)
Mole tank - take the genestealer tank, add some armor and dwarven decor.
Guardian - take the ork stompa, give it a dwarf makeover
HQ - some pyskers, warlords, and various named characters

You now have an army just as varied as say genestealers or mecanicus. Ah well.
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