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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Squats in White Dwarf 1996-2000, Historia Squataticus Volume 3

This is the third half of my adventure through the volumes of White Dwarfs to record the great achievements of the might Squat race. Like many third halves, it arrived like a Vorpal Kitten: Great fun, but completely unexpected.

The first two halves of the Historia Squataticus were based on some notes I had taken on the side about 5 years ago, while primarily looking through my White Dwarfs for Eldar material. I stopped at about issue 200 because there were no new articles with the Squats in a leading role since issue 190, and no new Squats minis since the Thunderfire for Epic. I was not yet fully possessed with the Chaos Squats Fever and did not take the time to look beyond the headline for additional writings about the Squats.

Knowing this, for Historia Squataticus Vols 1 & 2 I looked through each White Dwarf anew, for discussion or artwork involving the Squats in articles not directly about them. So Gavin Thorpe's article in WD 191 stating that the Squats were the creators of most of the Epic Ordinatus War Machines came as much as a surprise to me as to you.

This of course means that the review must continue beyond 1995's issues of White Dwarf, for completeness and because there are still important unanswered questions. When was the final appearance of the Squats in White Dwarf? From whence did the “Eaten by Tyranids” myth arise? Is a silly name such a handicap? Will Gavin Thorpe's contradictory claims about the Squats leave him in the Book of Grudges?

Part 9: Squats Fade to Black, 1996-1998

While we have pleasantly re-discovered that the written life of the Squats continued in the pages of White Dwarf long after the production of new 40K Squats models was halted. But they appeared under the names of other forces, and were declared to be Innovators and Engineers for the Adeptus Mechanicus and The Cult of The Machine God. Squats also continued their trigger-happy thousand-year march under the banner of the Eight-Pointed Star with Bolters (and worse) eternally ready for action.

But we also know that the AM Ordinatus War Machines were the last models released by Games Workshop for the Epic Space Marine/Titan Legions 2nd Edition rules. Due to the termination of this iteration of ESM, there were several planned models were not put into general release, most prominently the long awaited Eldar Exodites.

The 3rd Edition of Epic, now named Epic 40,000, would introduce many new miniatures, replacing nearly all of the previous models and infantry sprues in the late 1990s. These minis made each Epic Armies have more unified appearance, and more similar in appearance to the Warhammer 40K vehicles available at the time and those that would come. The new Chaos sprue did not include Chaos Squats.

These will be rough years for the Squats, and our best hope for their survival is in the flacts of 40K articles about other races and armies, and defiant Golden Demon entries. But that is small beer indeed.

White Dwarf 193 (February 1996) (there was no North American WD dated January 1996)
p. 73-77: “Unsung Heroes” Infantry Tactics for Epic by Adrian Wood, including Squats. Properly notes that Squat Thunderers are the best Heavy Infantry.

White Dwarf 194 (March 1996)
p. 39-43: “Converting The Mighty Abominatus, Chaos Lord Titan of Khorne”. Bow before the Blood God Made Metal! Adrian Wood's army features many converted Titans of Khorne (built and maintained by Chaos Squats), and legions of Squat troopers at their feet.

p. 83: Squat-manufactured Leviathan shown under Imperial command against Tyranids.

White Dwarf 195 (April 1996)
p. 69: Games Day Epic Mass Battle invites players to “bring one Titan or Squat super heavy vehicle”

White Dwarf 196 (May 1996)
p. 29: Games Day Epic Mass Battle invites players to “bring one Titan or Squat super heavy vehicle”

White Dwarf 197 (June1996)
p. 39: Hurrmm... “Many Imperial anthropologists and religious researchers have put forward the theory that the Ratskins are descended from the original Adeptus Mechanicus who colonized Necromunda.”

Soo.. some human homeworlds emerge from the anthropocentric Dark Age of Technology and Age of Strife with a superior physique and an advanced technology, go on to supply the Imperium with the critical technology and the blood of many battle-brothers to allow it to survive the Horus Heresy and a thousand thousand Waaaghs, and get declared “silly.” Others emerge living and dressing like Skaven and are somehow “cool”. Book of Grudges for you, Ratskins Gang. Book of Grudges.

p. 94-107: “Reign of Fire” Epic 40,000 battle report using new objectives rules (Greenskins vs Red Smurfs). Picture for Rescue objective shows a Squat Colossus (p. 94)

White Dwarf 198 (July 1996)
p. 55-59: Necromunda Scavvies, Scalies, Pit Zombies rules by Andy Chambers, 'Eavy Metal pictures of same and Pit Slaves.

“The most common Human sub-species in the Imperium are the abhuman races of Ogryns, Ratlings, and Squats [as if a Squat would mate with aught but another Squat]. The Scalies are another such sub-species.” (p. 57) Scavvies and Scalies, and the Squats cry “who has the silly name?” into the Ash Wastes...

White Dwarf 199 (August 1996)
p. 10-19: Introduction of the 2nd Ed 40K Chaos Codex, in which the Chaos Gods were considered to be of differing power, with Khorne the most powerful, then Tzeentch, Nurgle, and finally Slaanesh. (p. 14)

Also nicely converted World Eaters Marines from Fred Marcarini's army (p. 26-7), and introduction to Abaddon the Despoiler (fluff & stats, p. 69-72), but no Squats (but we know who is engineering the Titans of the Black Crusades).

White Dwarf 200 (September 1996)
p. 21-25: “Faith in the Emperor” 40K article about designing armies with fluff in mind, p. 22 has John Blanche illustration on Inquisitor with a (probably) Squat Servitor

p. 78: Squat Cyclops by Shawn Gleason, 3rd place for Epic Titans Category

White Dwarf 201 (October 1996): Khârn the Betrayer Arrives, but no Chaos Squats follow him. Too fat of foot.

White Dwarf 202 (November 1996)
p. 5: News that Epic Space Marine/Titan Legions and their supplements will be removed from shelves on 30 Sept 1996, in anticipation of new rules and miniatures releases. It is not clear whether the existing Epic models were removed from circulation as well. This may be the date when sale of the Epic Squats line was ended, or perhaps removed to Mail Order only.

White Dwarf 203 (December 1996): None. Note that by this time the NA and UK White Dwarfs have become out of sync by a month. I'm not sure when it started, but my copy of 203 is the UK edition and dated November, same as the NA issue 202. All dates used have been, and will continue to be, the North America publication dates after the NA/UK date-disturbance.

White Dwarf 204 (January 1997)
p. 89 Index Astartes (of WD articles) includes Squats in Epic category (for Cyclops in WD 170)

White Dwarf 205 (February 1997): None

White Dwarf 206 (March 1997)
p. 23-27: “Small is Beautiful” by Adrian Wood, about small battles in 40K, p. 27 refers to battling Nick Davis's Squats.

White Dwarf 207 (April 1997)
p. 66: Epic 40,000 introductory article mentions Squat Army in previous edition of Epic

White Dwarf 208 (May 1997)
p. 8-15: Second Epic 40,000 introductory article points out that Rules Books in boxed set contain all the army lists for all of the races in this edition; planned are Chaos, Eldar, Imperial, Orks, and Tyranids. While we all know that GW's palantiri show things as they will be, might be, or may have been, but nonetheless this casts a Great Maw shaped-shadow over the Land Train depot.

p. 117: Epic Battle Report refers to Leviathan, but as an Imperial vehicle. The Shadow Grows.

White Dwarf 209 (June 1997)
p. 57: The Emperor's propagandists once again claim the Leviathan as an Imperial Guard vehicle.

White Dwarf 210 (July 1997)
p. 108: Bitz and Archive minis now available in North America, making Squats easier to get there

White Dwarf 211 (August 1997): None
White Dwarf 212 (September 1997): None.
White Dwarf 213 (October 1997): None
White Dwarf 214 (November 1997): None

White Dwarf 215 (December 1997)
p. 61: Squat Thudd Gun shown in the collection of Master Model-Maker Dave Andrews. Dave Andrews has been an inspiration to Hungry Ghosts through his many excellent dioramas and hundreds of expertly converted miniatures; a man who makes full use of the Citadel bitz catalogs and beyond.

A Decade in the GRIMDARK Future

We are now approximately 10 years after the release of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader and Epic-scale 40K. This is a shameful period of decadent barbarism for Games Workshop: Warhammer 40K 2nd edition comes with the foul Orks. Epic 40,000 comes with the vile Greenskins. And GorkaMorka spews forth, allowing the GW staff to revel in the Orky orgy of destruction of self-destruction and their shamefully barbaric attempts at engineering war machines. The corrupt Ork-fever even leads to the creation of a gang of humans who worship Orks as their technological and cultural superiors (the Diggas).

Table 37: Imperials and Eldar Welcome Orks as Allies but Not Squats!

Much is made of the Infamous Red Period of the early 1990s, but less is said about this Ork-Dominated Great Green Period that followed in the later 1990s. In addition to the growing hordes of Orks in every game possible, the 40K and Epic table-tops have become traffic-snarled pits of green Imperial Guard tanks and infantry in sensible camouflage patterns. The Great Green Period also featured a Bad Moon Nob's Teef number of Dark Angels Space Marines articles. A pox-wagon full of Nurgle followers (Great Unclean One, Plaguebearers, Nurglings, Plague Marines) would start off the redesign of the Chaos Daemons. The 40K and Epic Leaf-Muncher studio armies are painted in the green and white colors of Biel-Tan. Meanwhile in the new WFB 5th edition, the Old World is dominated by Lizardmen and lush jungle terrain.

There may have been some Bretonnians as well, but they dress like Harlequins and are not to be taken seriously. Nor was WFB 5th edition, which would soon be replaced with a 6th edition set featuring Orcs. Later, a 7th edition would be released featuring Goblins. And then those awesome Jungle Trees appeared in the Warhammer 40K 3rd Edition boxed set....

During the Great Green Period, even GW Staff wore GorkaMorka Green Shirts!


White Dwarf 216 (January 1998): None

White Dwarf 217 (February 1998):
p. 2: Editor's Soapbox reports that “What's happening with the Squats?” was the most common concern from meetings with US retailers. No response is given, report moves to other topics.

White Dwarf 218 (March 1998): None
White Dwarf 219 (April 1998): None
White Dwarf 220 (May 1998): None
White Dwarf 221 (June 1998): None
White Dwarf 222 (July 1998): None

White Dwarf 223 (August 1998)
p. 56: The Chaos Army arrives for Epic 40,000 with a new improved sprue of daemons and marines. Sadly, Chaos Squats were not on the sprue, and designers Tim Adcock and Aly Morrison are treading dangerously close to occupancy in The Book of Grudges. Yes, they had to get rid of the Space Trolls with Warp Clubs and the Warp Minotaurs with Space Axes on the old sprue, but bearded berzerkers with bolters and beer are beneficial on any battlefield.

White Dwarf 224 (September 1998)
p. 72-75: “Lords of Battle: Titan Tactics for the 41st Millenium” by Iain Compton. Mr Compton's article reflects the power of the Great Green Period by focusing on Orks, Imperials, and Eldar, all of whom use much green on their titans. So great is the pull of the Great Green Period at this time that Mr Compton reports that only Imperials and Orks build Imperator-size Titans, a claim demonstrated to be false by the presence of the mighty Abominatus of Khorne shown on page 101 of this very issue.

p. 100-101: Adrian Wood's Epic Khorne Titan Army from WD 194 reappears in ad for Epic Titan Bitz. Chaos Squat Troopers may be seen providing infantry support.

White Dwarf 225 (October 1998): None

Part 10: Welcome to the Memory Hole, 1998- 2000.

White Dwarf 226 (November 1998)
p. 12-37 : Warhammer 40K 3rd Edition is released in time for Christmas, a time when we gather in our torture chambers to worship sadistic pointy ear bastard races, as we have done for centuries past.

That was a joke. This is not a joke:
“The new Warhammer 40,000 book includes full army lists for all of the major armies – Space Marines, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Imperial Guard, Chaos Space Marines, Orks, Tyranids, Sisters of Battle, and Heroes of the Imperium [i.e., the freak show that became the Witch Hunters/Daemon Hunters in the early 2000s]” (p. 14)

Here the Dark Eldar are instantly invoked as a “major army” while Squats are erased from existence by GW's Thought Police. This Newspeak tidbit would earn GW the scorn of both Squats enthusiasts and Dark Eldar freaks, who would have to twist and writhe for over a decade before the next codex for their so-called major race.

To twist the truth further: “Now I can't guarantee that someone, somewhere won't have a specially converted Aspiring Champion of Khorne riding a unicycle with a warp banner that they can't use in the new lists, but 99% of the miniatures people have already collected will still be useable.” (p. 14)

Here we have a straw-man argument, one which manages to fall into both the class of “damn lies” and “statistics” in the “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics” scale of truthiness. Aside from the Squats, and many of the Chaos Renegades and Champions alleged otherwise right above, no longer useable miniatures would include Eldar Harlequins, Exodites, and Guardians armed with las weapons. No longer useable would be the many Imperial Army troopers and Space Marines with exotic weaponry (Webbers!) or vehicles (Imperial Jetbikes!). Also killed was the diverse bloody toothy froth that was Orky Kultcha....hundreds of miniatures released before 1991 were rendered useless.

Such is the Price we pay for “4 Complete Jungle Trees.”

The smoke-and-mirrors show continues as Andy Chambers shows us how easy it will be to tweak existing armies for 3rd Edition by using his Blood Angels (p. 20-21). A non-challenge in a game molded around maintaining Space Marine Fever, further eased by the fact that the 3rd Ed Blood Angels Codex was already pretty much done at the time. (p.27)

At least on p. 32 Jes Goodwin admits that the 2nd edition plastic Space Marines were terrible.

White Dwarf 227 (December 1998): None

White Dwarf 228 (January 1999)
p. 87: 40K 3rd Ed Questions & Answers reveals the great length to which GW would stretch its Myth of Model Usability put forth in issue 226:

Q: “In spite of reassurances that old armies would be compatible with new 40K, I've discovered that my Eldar Guardians can no longer have lasguns. Do I need to change their weapons to shuriken catapults?”

A: “Obviously you're confusing the alternative pattern shuriken catapults which have long been misidentified as lasguns by Imperial scholars. While the weapons carried by some Eldar Guardians bear some superficial resemblance to Imperial lasguns, closer examination reveals a number of differences... etc, etc. Just as with the power swords question above, it's not really necessary to change your models, simply make it clear what's going on at the start of the game. Of course since all Guardians use shurikens these days, there's nothing for the opponent to get confused about.”

The “I can't use my power swords and axes” problem was resolved with a recommendation to re-paint them as normal swords and axes or tell your opponent to ignore their high-tech appearance. The “what happened to Ork Clans?” concern was dismissed by saying you can paint your Orks whatever color you want but they will all be the same in game terms.

In the new Millennium, only the color of Space Marines would matter.
White Dwarf 229 (February 1999): None
White Dwarf 230 (March 1999): None
White Dwarf 231 (April 1999): None
White Dwarf 232 (May 1999): None
White Dwarf 233 (June 1999): None
White Dwarf 234 (July 1999): None?
It seems that I somehow have the southern hemisphere's version of White Dwarf 234. It contains substantial local material, including an excellent highly converted and diverse World Eaters Army belonging to Ian Dearie of the Perth region. But no Squats here, and probably not in any other versions of WD 234.
White Dwarf 235 (August 1999): None
White Dwarf 236 (September 1999): None
White Dwarf 237 (October 1999): None
White Dwarf 238 (November 1999): None
White Dwarf 239 (December 1999): None.

White Dwarf 240 (January 2000)
This is the issue that spawned forth the lies about the extinction of the Squats, in the Mailbox page (p. 97). The letter and response are below.

Letter from Concerned Squats Commander:
Sorry, I just assumed this was how most people have been reacting since the Squats were dropped from the 40K universe. This race was the reason I joined the Games Workshop family in the first place. If I was so impatient back in mid-2nd edition and started collecting my second choice army (Space Marines), I would have quickly lost interest and never became the obsessed freak over the game that I am today.

The history and characteristics of the Squats are interesting and unique in the 40K universe. In the 2nd edition rules they were a mix of Orks, Imperial Guard, and Space Marines... with a grudge! The honor, toughness, and excellent weaponry (I would have loved to see a Mole Mortar in action) were the big draws to this under-appreciated army. Also, something very cool about the 40K universe was the fact that it was a sci-fi mirror of the Fantasy world. Nearly every race from Fantasy had its high-tech cousins represented in the 'far, distant future', and that's how the people liked it! Would you even consider robbing the Fantasy world of Dwarfs. With their wonderful weapons and bitter-sweet rivalry with the Elves? I don't think so! Nor should we players of 40K have to do without. Just the humble opinion of one dedicated fan. Tim Gutierrez”

Response from Games Workshop:

“Would you believe they were all eaten by the Tyranid invasion? Or, due to the Squats biker life style, everyone of the was arrested for disturbing the peace and sacrificed to the Emperor. Where do you think they get all of those souls anyway? All kidding aside, it doesn't seem likely the Squats will ever again see the light of day. When they were out they never seemed very popular, showed up at our stores, or tournaments, and didn't sell on top of all that [Note that this claim is directly contradicted by Jervis Johnson in 2002]. Their look was really outdated compared to the hundreds of other great Warhammer 40,000 models. Don't send us hate mail, it's just the cold hard facts of the 41st Millennium.”

Commentary from Hungry Ghosts:

Would you believe you sound like a huge dick? All kidding aside, this is a flippant and disrespectful response to a devoted and enthusiastic customer about a favorite product. Comments like this are why there is so much Internet Hate for Games Workshop.

But let's make it clear: the “Eaten by Tyranids” comment is not Warhammer 40K Canon. It is just an asinine comment by an unidentified GW employee who does not understand:
1. Squats (very few of them have a Biker lifestyle, and the comment about the lifestyle is insulting to actual real world human bikers),
2. GW's business (Squats were not selling poorly),
3. or customer service (the sarcastic tone of the response).

Let us also make it clear: Based on our source above, there is an equal chance that “The Emperor Ate All The Squats” as “The Tyranids Ate All The Squats”.

Conclusions for Volume 3
Just a month before the Squats letter, WD issue 239's Mailbox page provided a terse, no-explanation notice that GW were no longer actively developing the Gorkamorka or Epic 40,000 games (p. 30, poor little games didn't even make it to 3 years old).

At this point, GW says they are redirecting their energies to developing their Black Library literary products (p. 27-29), the burnt ruins of Mordheim and the blackened pages of its Town Cryer (with a 26 page pull out in WD 239), and the blackness of space with the recently-released Battlefleet Gothic game. A new Black Age for both the colors of GW's upcoming products and for the fans of those games swept aside.

Comments like those in WD 239 and 240, combined with the lies and back-peddling about just how many models would remain useable in 40K 3rd Edition armies in earlier issues are not acceptable business behavior. It seems at this point, Games Workshop has lost the distinction between Fiction and Lies.

With this disgusting slaughter of miniatures and their mythos, we will stop to mourn, and to fill the pages of the Book of Grudges. Then the sharpening of Axes.

Thus ends the Great Green Period. Now comes the Black Age of the New Millenium.


  1. Reading that GW employees' response to the Squat player was infuriating... such a dick! Not only was that a horrible way to treat a customer, speaking on behalf of many other loyal customers, but also a pretty pathetic note on which to end the Squats. I'm glad to see there were more than a few stubborn Squat players who refused to give in and listen to that crap. May the Hungry Ghosts have their revenge!

  2. Sadness, such sadness, and growing bitterness. Oh, the untruths and hurt done. Dark Elves but no Dwarves, Apocalypse with no Squat superheavies but a stolen leviathan. The greenness I could handle, but the blackness..? So much cast into the cold void. What did GW become?

  3. no squats please , let them dissapear into the void

  4. It's sad that they're gone, and I've never really bought into the BS that they weren't popular or didn't sell well. And to say that the mini's looked 'dated' compared to the new stuff? Um... that's because you haven't bothered to update them at that point. I suppose when the current marine line starts to show its age, we'll just dust-bin that entire army as well? Then the bit that has stuck in my craw for years now, they want add a race. Hmmm... how bout some pseudo anime looking guys we've never mentioned before. But we'll give them the Kroot, which have been around since Rogue Trader to lend them legitimacy. The Squats would fit much better into the 40 universe than the Tau... hell the Hrud would've made more sense! I'd have even taken the Jokero... who doesn't want an army of blinged out oragutans wearing digital laser rings!?!

  5. Somewhat ironically, the deletion of the squats from the game may have saved the DE from a similar fate.

    Apparently they too were facing becoming a lunchtime snack at the hands of an approaching hive fleet at one time - but GW didn't want a repeat of the backlash from the removal of the stunties. Instead they got their most talented designers to put all their energies into a re-imagining of the DE. Oh, what might have been :(

    Thanks a lot for this post though, your efforts are definitely appreciated! :)

  6. I think that part of the problem was that GW wasn't that good at being a company at the time. During the 1980s they were creating the basic games that brought them popularity and salaries. The 1990s seems like a time where the goals were to increase the popularity by offering easier ways into the hobby while pursuing their creative urges by making endless variations on the Warhammer world. I don't think that Games Workshop really thought about things like customer service and organized marketing and distribution using internal company data until the 2000s.

    So the Squats get the axe at right about the time when GW was transitioning from a gamer personality to a business personality. From the Game Master who won't let you roll up your own new character because he has all these awesome NPCs to the Corporation that does not discuss anything negative unless prodded by outside forces.

    You would hope that the Case of the Missing Squats would be used as a lesson internally about how much the company and its customers can invest in a product before it becomes a problem to terminate it.

    And with the Dark Eldar, I think there were just far too many out there from starter sets to even about erasing them from the mythos, not matter how bad so many of the mini sculpts were received. Even still, it took years to redevelop the army. And even though it seems to be proving quite popular, I am still split on the minis. I like the ones that look like Chaos Eldar and not so much the ones that look like S&M Eldar.

    And I think the Jokaero was meant to be a one-shot joke before he went back to his regular job at the Unseen University Library in Ankh-Morpork.

  7. Double posting on my own petard...

    As I meant to mention, I think that the new Space Hulk vs. the old Space Hulk is another example of GW learning how to balance their resources while impressing their customers.

    The first time around, Space Hulk was treated as an open-ended project (like just about everything else was (even the "Trolls" series of children's boardgames)).

    Space Hulk v.2 is a self contained entity. You can add to it with the old stuff if you want, but its not necessary. And it continued the Space Hulk tradition of giving interesting new plastic minis that complement their 40K kinfolk.

  8. I have never been more interested in starting a squat army than I am now having completed this article... This is an amazing bit of lore, a bitter mistreatment, and a worthy grudge.

  9. Fantastic artile, mate, and great research.

  10. I believe like most of you i would drop a nice chunk of change to start a squat army!!! Good article well writen!