Sunday, December 26, 2010

Squats! Orks!

If you had a fully-realized collection of Warhammer 40K Squats sitting in front of you, what rules would use to represent them?

The first problem is that the Squat profile has no match in the current roster of 40K armies. Setting aside their low speed (they moved 3” per turn instead of the standard 4”), 2nd edition Squats were Toughness 4 and BS3 with armor 6. Their leadership was high, at 10.

Fifth Edition armies don’t cover this profile very well. Space Marines have T4 and a good Ld, but also a BS of 4 and, or course, armor 3. And the Witch Hunters are totally wrong, with their T3 and armor 3. Of our Imperial options, the Imperial Guard seem to be the closest fit. They have the right BS and armor, but the wrong Ld and toughness. The difference is huge – not only are you wounding the Squats more easily than you should, but they’re running away more easily.

...and these boys ain't runnin'.
You might forgive these shortfalls, owing to the Guard’s defensive mindset and heavy tanks. If the Guard don’t line up with the Squat profile, at least they match in function. Or do they? Any player of 2nd Edition Epic (the game called “Space Marine,”) will tell you that the Squats were a dauntingly aggressive force. They had their heavy vehicles – the infamous Land Train and their use of the Imperial Guard's Leviathan come to mind. But in this game they were an army of speed, with massive formations of bikes and trikes, and flyers in the form of fighters and dirigibles. Their heavy weapons were not typically on tanks, like the Guard, but on foot, in Thunderer squads where every man had a heavy weapon. There were no Leman Russ tanks, Chimeras, or Basilisks anywhere in the Squat arsenal, even in a game where such models existed and could have easily been co-opted for their use. Such a move would have made narrative sense (since the Squats were part of the Imperium with only a semi-autonomous government) and financial sense to GW (since they could have sold the existing Epic Imperial Guard tank range to the players of two armies). That these weapons were not used by the Squats means that GW saw them as something very different from the Guard.

So where is the nascent Squat army hiding, if not in the Guard codex or anywhere else in the Imperial stable? If we have to look outside the Imperium, then let’s turn the Heresy-meter to 11 and look at the Orks.

There are a few immediate problems with using the Ork Codex to represent Squats, so let’s address them first.

Orks, of course, have their abysmal BS of 2. Squats pride themselves on their gunnery, so this is a problem. Orks also have a Ld of 7, which hardly represents the steadfast Squats. And players generally consider Orks to be a close combat army. Despite their speed, this doesn’t line up with the Squat backstory.

But these problems have solutions – or at least some wrinkles that mitigate the issues.

Regarding the BS, it’s true that the Slugga Boy is a bad match. But a Shoota Boy is actually MORE accurate than BS3. Ten imaginary Squat riflemen with BS3 would land five hits. Ten Shoota Boys with their Str4 AP6 Assault2 shootas get 20 shots, 6.6 of which (1 in 3) hit. You can explain that accuracy through sheer volume of fire (as the Ork codex does), or perhaps as skilled gunners taking careful aim (as the Squats could). Orks have a Str4 gun instead of the Str3 lasguns the Squats used to carry, but remember that Squats always had the option to upgrade to a bolter. These “Squat bolters” are AP6 instead of the proper AP5, but they give that up in exchange for their higher “accuracy” mentioned above.

The Ork Ld of 7 is out of step with the traditional view of Squats, but this disregards the power of Mob Rule. Large Ork mobs are famously hard to stop. The Orks keep coming at you because they feel safe in numbers, but you could just as easily see this as stubborn Squats refusing to run in the face of danger.

Finally, can Squats work if they are using a close combat army? Fortunately, Orks don’t have to charge in, so neither do the Squats. Anyone who has faced a shooty Ork army, filled with Lootas and shoota boyz, can tell you that these armies work.

From here the correlations roll: Lootas become Thunderers, Koptas become Gyrocopters, warbuggies become trikes, (bikes stay bikes, nicely), The warboss is now a warlord, and his ever-present nobz become the Hearthguard. Put them in Mega-armor and viola!, you have exo-armor. Perhaps the Shokk Attak Gun becomes artillery, with the 2-wound Mek becoming a 2-man crew. Squats have plenty of techno-savvy, justifying the use of such varied Ork machines as dreads, kans, and stormboy jump-packs.

If I had some Squat models left, and if I wasn't already in possession of a sizable Ork force, I would be sorely tempted...


  1. I like it. I think your assessment is solid on the feasibility of using Squats. Meganobs would make great Exos. The Gyrocopters would easily convert and look amazing and have the same profile. The kans and dreads I think are awesome too. I'd love to see a Squat exo army from small (meganob) to big (dread).

    Great read as usual D'Ork!

  2. As a former devotee of the squats, I like it! Exo armor squats were hilarious models. Eggs with feet. You could even put them on trikes. Ahh... the days.

    Wait - did this post just re-set the squat clock?

  3. I forgot about Exo trikes...even the Orks can't do that.

  4. A way to get more orks, and to use your old models again. Great idea, brilliant... I have a buddy who uses his as chaos marines, it's a hoot when we play. And if you like orks and would like to read a book written about an ork only so that humans can understand check it out at