Small Men + Big Guns

It all started as an April fools bluff…

The Leagues of Votann are basically space dwarves re-imagined for the modern age. After being a shorthand for any army at risk of being removed from the setting, Squats are back on the menu, as GW have ushered in another new faction for Warhammer 40k.

Having seen a lot of these little guys around the internet in recent months, it has got me thinking as to whether I’d want to collect any of them, as well. I have models for ten full armies already, with a correspondingly massive backlog of stuff to paint, so I don’t really want to start yet another new army as I do have a lot to be getting on with. But I do really like the look of them, I have to say!

I’ve been reading up on the WarCom articles that I’d missed over the last five months, and I’m quite intrigued by the lore behind them – specifically, how the whole Dwarf thing has been brought into the far future. The whole cult of the ancestors thing is there in glorious technicolour, as we learn that they jealously guard their “Votann”, a type of super-computer that holds all the wisdom of the centuries. It’s fascinating, in its way, because it’s definitely on-theme for the sort of future that Warhammer 40k represents. A people that has developed a way to collate all of their wealth of knowledge and protects it in true isolationist fashion.

The startling thing, I think, is that all of the kin are cloned – not identical clones, but it seems to be a bit like they had reached a perfect level of society, so stopped at that point and just started to clone themselves rather than reproduce normally. Reminds me a little of Dorsk in the Jedi Academy trilogy and later, Darksaber.

The space dwarves have some very interesting tech, for sure. Hover trikes?! Blimey, I never thought I’d see the day. It seems to stem from the fact that the Votann contain, among other things, a set of fully-functional STCs, which means they are able to fabricate much better weaponry than their Imperial cousins. They also do not find themselves constrained by the Adeptus Mechanicus and the taboo on trying to improve on their designs. As such, they have all sorts of crazy stuff going on, and as this has been translated to the tabletop, it has already been called out for being slightly ridiculous.

There are a few stratagems that have been officially shown that seem to be ridiculous, from the bikers ability to shut down re-rolls to the strat that rolls what would be two or three effects for other armies into one. All for a single command point. I am a bit salty about that, even while considering collecting them! I don’t think that designing rules to sell these models was necessary, given the reception they’ve had so far, but I suppose we already have stupid possibilities in space marines, which turn off the fun in any game where you’re going up against them. If only the rules writers thought as highly of literally any xenos race!

Something that I’ve found particularly confusing is the new type of weapon, HunTR, which I suppose can be thought of as a basic gun – you can’t run and shoot with it, you can’t double-fire at half range, it’s just a gun that you can shoot things with, but which is still affected by other rules for shooting. That said, it’s a stupid name for the weapon…

At least it doesn’t ignore invuln saves and the damage doesn’t overspill through a unit. That’s just oppressive and unnecessary (except to sell new models).

The rules feel stupid and a blatant case of power-creep, possibly the worst we’ve yet seen. I’ve complained before about how oppressive it can be to play against space marines, but these little chaps are doing things which might well exist within the lore they’ve established for the race, but because it’s brand new to the setting, it’s like some other game has been imported into 40k. Sure, they aren’t constrained by AdMech prohibitions on tech development, but neither are the Tau, who also have an established thing for developing new weapons, and having experimental weaponry etc. But they don’t have the stupid overpowering rules these guys have. It’s probably great to sell the models, but the models look good regardless, so they don’t need the ability to put out 20+ mortal wounds per turn, in addition to all the shooting and stuff they’ll be doing. It feels like a bit of a mess, and I’m now seeing rumours online that the faction has been banned in some tournaments because of their as-yet-unreleased codex. It’s just stupid.

But the models!! The models!! The more I think about these little guys, the more I kinda feel like getting my hands on some. They do look like they would be fun to paint, with some interesting contrasts between the armour plate, the leather, and the undersuit. The little details like the shades and the wrist comm things do just make it even more interesting.

I think the hover-trikes look a bit funny, but they have some good looking vehicles in the garage, such as the Sagitaur (above) and the Hekaton land fortress (below).

These things somehow manage to give off that rugged miner/prospector vibe while also being credible vehicles of war, rather than the way the Genestealer Cults look like they’ve gone into battle with what they’ve got. I suppose part of that is due to the lore of being isolationist, and prepared for hostile encounters as they move on to start plundering new areas.

One of the models that most impresses me is the psyker, the Grimnir. I think anybody who strides into battle in a leather robe with his floating gun-buddies gets my vote! A lot of these models are taking a lot of design cues from the Primaris range, when you look at the rounded greaves or the multi-layered plackart, which specifically calls to mind the Gravis Captain. This guy is fairly similar, at first glance, to the Phobos librarian, too. It also strikes me that it’s becoming a thing to have units that consist of a character with retinue, and here we get the psyker but also the techmarine-analogue coming with his mates, as well.

Some of the models are a little silly though. There are some very weird and wonderful things coming up for the new force, I can’t imagine if I were to start a new army of these guys, I would be getting everything from the range…

Yet other models look like they might be worth picking up regardless, as it’s always good to have multiple options for ranged and melee combat. I would put the bikes in this category as well, because they look a bit daft, but by the same token they look like they should be useful on the battlefield. They also have some amazing details in there, too, which makes me think they would be a lot of fun to paint up.

It all started with the Squat Prospectors for Necromunda, of course, and the more I’m thinking about it all, the more I’m thinking it might be a better idea to get the gang box and be done with! I mean, I really like the basic troops for the Kin, but I like the Ironhead blokes better

Due to the rules controversy, and given how many projects that I currently have on the go, I should probably think long and hard about it before I go ahead and buy anything else, though…

One thought on “Small Men + Big Guns”

  1. For me the new squats are a really mixed bag. Some of them, the core troops especially, I love. A lot of it doesn’t really float my boat though, and I wish they were a little more in keeping with the squats of old. I think I’m talking myself into getting a box of the hearthkyn and making some kind of Kill Team, and then using the spare bits to kitbash with my Necromunda squat gang.

    I’ve got to say though, the controversy over the rules is frankly ridiculous. I’ve got no doubt the rules are terribly overpowered, the sky is falling on our heads and competitive 40k is officially ruined forever (cough*no loss there*cough). However that’s something that happens whenever GW releases anything, and has been for many, many years – for GW making over/under powered rules and then “fixing” them is part of their sales strategy, and for the competitive 40k scene complaining about GW is 9/10th of the fun! What bothers me is the vehemence and aggression we’re seeing here, and the way so much noise is being made about banning squat players from tournaments or even gaming clubs and stores. I’ve got friends who’ve had their careers ruined by cancel culture so maybe I’m just a bit sore about it, although I think any right-headed person is, but I think it’s disgusting that so many people are willing to drive others away from the hobby and tell the kid who walks into the store and says he likes the space dwarves that he’s a terrible human being, rather than just make a little more effort to win games for a couple of weeks until GW releases the next FAQ. Those are the people who deserve lifetime bans – not the poor old squat players. Warhammer is for everyone – even people who like squats!

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