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Friday, December 31, 2010

Squats in White Dwarf 2000-2004, Historia Squataticus Volume 4.1

Introductory Mea Culpa. It is the end of another earth year, and Hungry Ghosts has exceeded his target in only one area: number of surgical operations. 4 instead of 2! And somehow I have 30 Squats and Scrunts in various stages of completion and have not actually finished the 1500 point army minis. Attention deficit! Then hours snuffling through the internets trying to figure out if last name is Croatian or Ukrainian, instead of finishing the White Dwarf Squat Review. Blown off course, but think last name is Croatian for 'person from the small cave'! Freakishly accurate description of Hungry Ghosts in his basement apartment full of Dwarfs!

Too Many Puppies! Listen to Primus!

Anyway, here is the last post for 2010, which covers Squats in White Dwarf up to the coming of Warhammer 40K 4th Edition. It will necessarily be more impressionistic and oblique in its analysis, given the low frequency of our quarry. Another dwarf pun! It's going to be quite the ride.

Part 11: Blackout for the Squats in the Black Age, 2000-2004 (Issues 241-295)

Now the Squats are barred from passing the Cadian Gates into the Warhammer 40K 3rd Ed rulebook, it is a Black Age for the Bearded indeed. But the real reasons I have named this period the Black Age, in contrast to the Red Period and the Great Green Period of the 1990s, are largely non-Squat related. Just like the Red and Great Green Periods.

The Black Age was brought about by changes in printing technology that allowed cheaper publication of glossy black inks on lighter paper than before. GW took advantage of this, filling the pages of White Dwarf, the Rulebook, and the Codexes with black backgrounds and grey-scale or computer-green text. The blister package card stock adopted the dominant black/grey/metallic scheme as well.

The minis became darker as well. The Imperial Guard went to drab tones and camo-schemes, and 1000 flavors of grey-scale tanks. This was a move away from the Ultramarine Mordian Army and Sunburst Yellow ammo clips for Cadians, and toward natural environmental toned Valhallans, Storm Troopers, and Catachans. The focus in the Space Marine world turned to the Black Templars, Grey Knights, Black Dragons, and Salamanders, while the shade of the Dark Angels and Blood Angels dimmed. Chapters like the Space Wolves and Ultramarines were given the Cadian treatment, abandoning the bright yellow and red accessories for metal and fur.

On the Xenos side, Ork Klans were strongly de-emphasized, resulting in lots of black armor and dark silver weapons. Similarly, the variation among Chaos Powers was reduced, putting more emphasis on Chaos Undivided, which used largely the same colors as the Orks (Iron Warriors) to avoid any sense of allegiance to a particular patron. Dark Eldar adopted a similar dress code. Only Imperial Fists and Eldar Harlequins dared to wear bright primary colors.


Watch our spines fade to black...

White Dwarf 241 (February 2000)

The first half of this issue introduces the refreshed Imperial Guard. Remaining on the army list are slow-witted thugs and butterball thieves, and fracking fur-hatted horsemen. But not the technological adept and highly honorable Squats. Is that the kind of Imperium you want to live in? Do you really think that you can use prayer to repair your Rhinos?

This issue also tells of glorious actions of the Guard. One tale involves the Valhallans invading a planet already occupied by Demiurg (p. 27-28). The Valhallans exterminate the Demiurg by making a surprise attack with vastly more troops and better equipment after plenty of orbital bombardment. And they sustain terrible casualty rates despite these advantages. This sounds barely competent, not glorious. And from an Imperial propaganda source as well. The true losses must have been catastrophic.

And we will note, as GW has made clear several times, these Demiurg are not a new version of Squats anymore than Tau are. Though they are said to be squat in stature compared to humans and to engage in mining activities, they are also poor mountaineers and bad at close-quarters combat.

***

White Dwarf 242-243 (March-April 2000): none

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White Dwarf 244 (May 2000):

This issue introduced the Skulz program of buyer rewards. Yes, my Beardlings, once upon a time, a time that lasted until the mid-2000s, Games Workshop was a company that held sales prices for new releases and store openings, and had a reasonable buyer loyalty reward program.

Included was a set of Adeptus Mechanicus miniatures (2 of the 9 shown above, the Magos and his Assistant). In response to a reader letter, it is reported that the Adeptus Mechanicus set was made as part of an attempt to develop the Ad.Mech as an army that was stalled indefinitely.


Painted pictures of this interesting and intricate series of minis can be seen at the link below.
http://solegends.com/citle/citle2000/Skulz/skulzadeptus/skulzadeptus.htm

***

White Dwarf 245-252 (June 2000-January 2001): none

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White Dwarf 253 (February 2001):

This issue introduces the 3rd edition Tyranids. There is no mention of Squat-eating or much else other than the famous assaults on Ultramar and Iyanden. Plus any Tyranids that ingested Squat genetic material would have beards and Bone Axes, not Bone Swords. The Tyrant Guard are reported to be evolved from eating Space Marines (WD 255, p. 5): Where are the bearded Nids?


Troll 37, March/April 2001
***

White Dwarf 254 (March 2001):

The letters page of this issue informs us that the WFB Dwarf Goblobber is another item now considered too silly to be coming back for 6th edition (p. 55).

***

White Dwarf 255 (April 2001):

The Imperium has had close combat with the H'rud since the Horus Heresy and still can't produce a description of the buggers (p. 20-21).


GW also embarks on what will ultimately be another half-hearted effort to promote Epic-scale 40K on p. 106.

***

White Dwarf 256 (May 2001):

Here we have an ad for the 2001 Games Day in Baltimore, which shows off the limited edition model from a new army. This fellow is a Birdman called a Kroot Shaper, whose race learned to fly by eating Orks. He is the Lord High Ambassador of Silly Names. You can almost hear Terry Jones in horrid drag screeching "then 'e brought 'ome the Kroot Shaper! Wot am I to do with a Kroot Shaper? 'e won't sit on the sofa and keeps after my DNA."

And what is up with GW and its fetish with flesh-eaters? Seriously Games Workshop. Hungry Ghosts is a psychologist and can help you. Yes, the Hungry Ghosts are flesh-gnawing revenants, but they are doomed to chew but never swallow, and are under the medical supervision of Doc-Bot KillMaim666-74445369 and Snotling Nurse Dammit.

GW, the first baby step is to stop referring to the mail order staff as “long pigs”.

Also in this issue, the White Scars Space Marines take over the non-Greenskin Bad-Ass Biker niche formerly occupied by the Squats (p. 78).

***

White Dwarf 257-261 (June-October 2001): none

***

White Dwarf 262 (November 2001):

The Skulz program ends and the Adeptus Mechanicus will never become a real army. Also Lord of the Rings comes into town, which brings us to a new stage of Games Workshop short-attention span theater as they try to juggle 3 Core Games as well as the Specialist Games. And Black Library fiction, video games, movies, ccgs, Forge World etc..

***

White Dwarf 263-269 (December 2001-June 2002): none

***

White Dwarf 270 (July 2002):

Once again GW would like you all to stop asking about Malal (p. 24). Who's Malal? Call the Mail Order Trolls and ask to speak with Kaleb.

***

White Dwarf 271-272 (August-September 2002): nein

***

White Dwarf 273 (October 2002):

While discussing the new 40K Chaos Marines codex, Andy Chambers mentions reviewing “a scarily precise, unpublished treatise on the nature of Chaos written by Rick Priestly in the late '80s” (p. 103). What is this mystery treatise and what secrets does it hold? Damn Harlequins. “You must be this tall for a Black Library card” my ass.

***

White Dwarf 274-283 (November 2002 - August 2003): nyet


***

White Dwarf 284 (September 2003):

The article "Index Malleus: The Lost and the Damned" reports:

Across the widely spread legions of the Emperor's crusade new allies were welcomed for the aid they could render in the great task of freeing Humanity. Even mutants of particular strains judged stable enough were permitted to prosper and fight in the rank of the Imperial Guard. This is a practice which remains to this day, although under drastically tighter constraints of genetic purity than was once the case. (p. 99-100)

Good enough to battle side-by-side with the Emperor, but not good enough for today's Guard? This reeks of hubris. Inquisitor, inquisite thyself!

GW would also like you to stop asking about Space Skaven (p. 62).

***

White Dwarf 285 (October 2003):

A second report of the allegedly glorious, yet drastically lop-sided, victory of the Valhallans over the Demiurg, a word-for-word repeat of the content in issue 241. As we can see, this new Demiurg race is really getting hit with the GW Development Stick. (p. 95)

***

White Dwarf 286-287 (November-December 2003): guess!

***

White Dwarf 288 (January 2004):

GW would really like you to stop asking about 40K Skaven (p. 81).

At this point, we must suspect that GW is publishing multiple letters about Space Skaven because they provide a jokey way to reduce their guilt over the Squats. Clearly White Dwarf received responses to the comments about the Squats in Issue 240's letter page, and does not want to face the issue directly and responsibly.

***

White Dwarf 289 (February 2004):

In a biography of Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, the Green Monster is reported to have inscribed upon a fallen Warlord Titan tales of his victories and power. Thraka claims that his army "crushed the stunties on Golgotha" and had done so despite the intervention of Commissar Yarrick. The article reports that the whole of Golgotha Sector was lost to the Imperium. (p. 108)

So Games Workshop does remember the Squats, and remembers where they live as well. But strangely only Thraka refers to the Squats, while the article refers to "tech-adepts" in "heavily defended strongholds" (p. 107).

To hide a shameful defeat by an alleged hero of the Imperium, the existence of the race that instructed the Imperium in the art of crafting War Machines, was denied. The only testimony is that of an Ork. Way to twist the knife in the back, GW, and please set us on fire next!


Even this idiot one-eyed fungus with a gun can see the Squats!
***
White Dwarf 290 (March 2004): nope.

***

White Dwarf 291 (April 2004):

In a Chapter Approved article about alien critters and Xenos mounts, the H'rud are reported to have "conducted highly effective hit-and-run attacks focused on destroying ammunition and fuel stockpiles." (p. 81)

This firmly establishes the H'rud as not Squats in disguise. Because those disguises would just make their poor hit-and-run attempts more fumbly. And because Squats take your ammo and fuel for their stockpiles, they don't waste it.

***

White Dwarf 292 (May 2004):

More playful denials of Space Skaven in the letters page (p. 71). You can suppress it all you want, but you cannot forget what you did.

***

White Dwarf 293 (June 2004):

The Warhammer Fantasy Battle world has also been cruel to the Chaos Dwarfs as well, with just a crummy Ravening Hordes pamphlet army list. This month sees the release of the Chaos Hellcannon with 3 Chaos Dwarf Crew, the first Chaos Dwarfs in a long time. (there have also been sporadic mentions of the popularity of Chaos Dwarf armies in the tournament scene).

These fellows are a nice combination of 1980s Chaos Dwarf helmets with 1990s Chaos Dwarf beards.


***

White Dwarf 294 (July 2004): none

***

White Dwarf 295 (August 2004):

A history of Warhammer 40K in advance of the release of the 4th edition rules doesn't mention Squats at all. (p. 84-91)

***

We end this volume with sadness.

The Imperium has attempted to erase from history their best and oldest allies.

It has attempted to relieve its guilt with avoidant chatter about Space Skaven several times.

One gets the feeling that there was a ban on any references to the Squats during these years, with Thraka's comment surviving because it used 'stunties' instead of 'Squats'.


All 1s on the Plasma Guns for the Squats in the 2000s

As time goes on, we will see GW become a bit more relaxed about their crimes, and allow the small shoots of a Springtime for Squats poke their hairy little bulbs through the snow. But that will be a story for next year.

5 comments:

  1. The superb analysis we've come to expect, exhaustive and insightful. I'm interested in this Springtime of which you write, and suspect the same. The time is coming at long last!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, Springtime in Kamchatka at least. But another reason why I stopped at this point for a break was not just that 40K 4th edition was coming out, it was also the time when Jervis Johnson finally wrote about the situation in GW's Epic Forum (28 Jul 04). That's a pretty big step from Code of Silence that seems to have existed for the previous 4 years.

    ReplyDelete
  3. There were GW hosted forums once upon a time. It seemed to be a place where mindless Trolls wandered and the native tongue was gibberish. Where this becomes relavant is that at one point the GW moderators threatened to ban anyone who uttered certain words. One of those words was "Sqaut".

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's a dangerous game to play: Control-Freak Dungeon Master vs. Internet Free Speech Activists. I'd bet me own beard Malal was on that list too.

    I wonder what the 3rd most hated fan question is after "Where's the Squats?" and "Who's Malal?". I mean, 3rd now that Forge World is making some Chaos Dwarfs. Dogs of War? Exodites? Space Skaven?

    ReplyDelete
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