40K: Wanna Play Squats? Here’s How

GW has given players all the pieces they need to bring great looking squats back to the tabletop.

For decades now, players have lamented the loss of 40K red-headed stepchild – the Squats.  The only full army range to be ret-conned out of the game has been a sore sport for years.  But all the ingredients for their triumphant return are now here.


First the Background – Squats/Demiurge

Let’s take a quick lok back at the past and present of how the squats fit into the 40K universe.

Squats (Homo sapiens rotundus) were short, stocky and tough abhumans. Of all the abhuman types, they most closely resembled humans. Squats were the descendants of humans who colonised the worlds around the galactic core in the far distant past. These worlds are some of the oldest in the galaxy, formed when the laws of physics had yet to be stabilised.

The Squat ancestors were human colonists that reached the mineral rich worlds around the galactic core, during the time of the initial expansion beyond Earth’s own system, long before the emergence of the Emperor. The colonisation came at the right time, as Earth’s own mineral wealth was depleted. The worlds at the galactic core were rich in rare and unique minerals, but in terms of life were barren and unsuited for colonisation. These worlds are dark and bleak. Their gravity is great, usually two or three times that of Earth. Their atmospheres are either thin or non-existent. Even those planets with atmospheres are blasted by tremendous storms.

These planets became Mining Worlds. Colonists were forced to become self-sufficient, providing their own underground grown food. Due to the completely hostile nature of the surface the colonists formed underground societies. During the long isolation of the Age of Strife, the Squat race developed, evolving to suit their environment, becoming tougher, more resilient and physically shorter.

Some say the real history of the Squats begins in the Age of Strife when their worlds were cut off from Terra and the race developed, but their actual origins begin much earlier during the Dark Age of Technology, or as the Squats called it, the Age of Founding.

The Demiurg are a race of short, semi-humanoid traders and miners allied with the Tau Empire.

During the Great Crusade, they came under the notice of the Imperium of Man who learnt that they are a technologically advanced race that maintain cordial relations with several xeno cultures. They rarely enter the territory of mankind but by this era they maintained a clandestine mining installation at Tenebrae 9-50 with its existence not being widely known by the Imperium. Their once rarely sighted vessels began to be seen within increased frequency in the Ultima Segmentum in recent centuries. Imperial fleet strategists postulated the link for the increased Demiurg presence to expansion of the Tau Empire in the Eastern Fringe. There are three sightings of Demiurg among Tau and Kroot fleets around the Damocles Gulf. Some, however, believe that these activities are simply the result of Demiurg attempting to capitalize on the disruptions caused by the Tyranid hivefleets.

It is currently unknown if the Demiurg are full members of the Tau Empire, or allies, or mercenaries, but they are involved heavily in trading and economic relations with the Tau. They are said to be a race principally consisting of miners and traders.

The Demiurg appear to have no homeworld, or at least have abandoned it in favour of spacecraft. They are known to avoid Imperial space unless invited in, making them a very uncommon sight, and are described as defensively-hostile and non-militaristic, though the number of sightings in the Ultima Segmentum has increased over recent centuries.

The Demiurg are organised into “Brotherhoods”, though any further information on a Brotherhood is unknown, beyond the rumours from Rogue Traders that one Brotherhood is typically present upon a Bastion Class Vessel and two to three upon on a Stronghold Class Vessel. At least two brotherhoods, the Srry’Tok and Thurm, are known to have joined the Tau Empire.

Although the Demiurg normally live in enormous space-bound starhips, they are known to colonise worlds unusually abundant in minerals, such as the worlds of the Poretta system.

Classic Squats, circa 1980s

The Rules

You have not one but two options for these fellows.

40K – Astra Militarum

This is the easier of the two options.  Just kick up a list using the Astra Militarum codex.  A heavy emphasis on infantry and bug industrial/heavy vehicles should do the trick.  Luckily for you there are Superheavies and tanks aplenty to make this happen.

30K – Imperial Militia

Here is where you have some custom made Squat rules.  Using the Imperial Militia  army list found in Horus Heresy V – Tempest, you take the following two doctrines:

Abhuman Helots – This increases your model’s T by 1 and lowers their I by 1. They are said to represent the hardy labour classes of afflicted Imperial worlds. Sound familiar?

Survivors of the Dark Age – These high tech cultures have their armor saves increased by 1.The Advanced Weapon options give all their las-weapons +1S. Perfect for Squats.


The Models

Here is where it’s easy.

For your infantry, you have the new Kharadron Overlords. Their infantry looks the part.  Just compare some of the standard walking models with some of the old models for comparison:

Original plastic Squats – 40K Rogue Trader


Demiurg – Concept art – GW

Now look at the new Karaphon Overlord infantry:

For conversions I would add in a mixture of Genestealer Cult mining weapons on the models with Genestealer Cult transports to represent the Industrial nature of the army:

Counts-as Chimera

Just waiting to be filled with pissed off Squats/Demiurg – and some industrial bits.

And you have the basis of an army!  I think GW went out of their way with the Kharadron Overlords army to make the infantry techy enough to work in the Grimdark as well as the Age of Sigmar.  I think the armored balloon ships are a bridge too far for the Grimdark, but the basic walking models work great.

You may even be able to get away with using the single “balloon infantry” as a grimdark replacement for the old squat bikers:

I fully expect to see full-conversion Squats/Demiurg armies showing up at tournaments in the next few months.

~I’m game for a modelling challenge – are you?



  • Donald Lindsey

    I was more thinking counts as space marines.

  • memitchell

    They don’t even need conversions for 40K. Hard to believe that is an accident. Also hard to believe GW means to sit back and leave the reintroduction of Squats/Dimiurg/Kharadrons to chance and circumstance.

    • Emprah

      Yeah like demons they feel they go the vibe to be useful in both games.

    • NNextremNN

      Well they look a bit too steampunky for the 40K grimdark at least in my opinion.

      • memitchell

        True-ish. But, they remind me more of 40K than do the Tau.

        • NNextremNN

          Well we don’t know how Tau technology work and while not that grimdark it is possible in that universe.

          But even in the grimdark future you would need magic to make these metal balloon abominations fly. And we all know Magic is heresy.

          • memitchell

            NOTHING that flies in the Grimdark is aerodynamic. Generally, anti-grav technology gets the credit. Can’t speak for AoS, but, in my 40K imagination these balloon abominations make use of anti-grav gas in the metal balloons. 😉

          • NNextremNN

            The Tau Barracuda is quite aerodynamic.

            and sure … anti-grav gas … in the metal balloons … all I hear is heresy heresy in heresy heresy ;-P

          • memitchell

            So, your admit the Tau have the ONE aerodynamic flier that does NOT fit the entire rest of the Grimdark? While denying the obvious truth of anti-grav gas balloons? And, hide behind accusations of heresy!

            All to often, when it comes to accusations of heresy, “Who dealt it, felt it.”

          • NNextremNN

            Yes among some other rare exceptions. Yes and also yes and obviously I’m defending tau which is of course heresy.

            I still don’t like those steampunk dwarfs, those naked fire dwarfs, Squats or dwarfs in general. Did I mention I don’t like dwarfs? (seriously I never liked dwarfs in any fictional universe) but I still think that those steampunk dwarfs don’t fit into 40K I’d rather have real squats back.

            Still to whoever likes them have fun with them.

          • memitchell

            Here’s my confession. I NEVER liked Squats (or Dwarfs).
            Short people
            Got no reason to live.

            But, if these Balloon Boys looks as good in person (in plastic?) as they do on the monitor, I’m all in.

            They got grubby little fingers
            And dirty little minds
            They’re gonna get you every time.

          • Brettila

            They got quicker hands and quicker eye
            Better balance for their size
            They eat much less food, they breathe much less air
            They’re much smarter with their money
            Only pay half fare…

  • Jim Cook

    Space Marines, easy peasy. Those boarding troops would do nicely as assault scouts, and the balloon guys as jump pack assault marines. I guess it depends on eventual cost, for me.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    The Slann were also a full faction in Rogue Trader and were retconned out.

    My first armies: Slann and Squats. Gave up on GW for a decade after that experience.

    • Me


  • Carey_Mahoney

    Rules-wise, Squats should be unable to run. Would create a bit of coherence with their background / their squat appearance.

  • grim_dork

    You’d have to lower the railings on the Goliath a bit so they could see over the top, and whoever drives is going to have to be sitting up on a phonebook.

  • tyrannic

    Can we stop with Squats…?

    • Graymantle

      Why? People like ’em. Does that ruin your hobby experience?

    • no.

  • surfpenguin

    Oh, for the love of…
    The Squats are not coming back.
    No amount of dead horse-beating will ever bring them back.
    Get over it.

    • Graymantle

      The article wasn’t really asking to bring them back, but how to use the new models in 40k if one were to have interest. But why should anyone get over their own personal interests? And are you the authority on future developments at GW? I think given their current trends, along with the new Duardin models and the imminent arrival of 8th ed, it could be very likely to see squats return.

    • David Leimbach

      They’re simply a WD codex away from coming back. Then again, why am I replying to a penguin?

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      they have already come back in 30K.

  • Sara

    I think I would actually do counts-as Inquisition. You have good infantry with pistol and cc weapon options for stock henchmen, take the carapace armor option, and that one hero model could be run readily enough as a malleus inquisitor with terminator armour and a nemesis force hammer. Plus there are all sorts of oddities you can mix and match for the weird and wacky weapon options in the kits.

    Plus there’s the engineer-looking model that you could do as a counts-as jokaero.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      good idea.

  • Chaosrex

    No…squats was the most stupid idea they had, i know it was the 80’s and the glue back at GW wasn’t only for the models back then, but no…

    • Commissar Molotov

      Squats were awesome, period.

      • Brettila

        I hate to rain on parades, but Squats hella sucked. They were slow Ig, with +1 BS and half sized squads. Their bikes were a fragile joke, and they had 2 Marine vehicles as that was all that ezisted. They had 1 v or 2 OK spells and bubkis else.

        • Commissar Molotov

          You missed exo-suits. And don’t forget:

          CHAOS SQUATS.

  • Hakon

    For 40k use the chaos rules and give them all the nurgle rule.
    (Chaos spawn can be berserkers)

    For models use mantic games forge fathers.
    And mantic games space rats vehicles (mole machines) from warpath.

  • spla5hmummy

    I’d go the route of removing those balloons and adding jump packs. Which jump packs though is the issue.

  • NNextremNN

    Can we please stop comparing Squats with Demiurges? Yeah they both are related to fantasy dwarfs but GW made them ascetically very different and they worked/work for different factions.

  • Manuel Bateman

    you should read more BolS 😀
    those are perfect minis for squats:

  • Eldanesh

    How is it that Space Orcs, Space Elves, Space Halflings (Ratlings), Space Ogres (Ogryn), Space Undead, Space Beastmen, Space Daemons, Space anything-else-Tolkein-produced are all great ideas, but Space Dwarves,…no thats “a stupid idea and everyone knows it”?

  • jmaximum

    wait, the squats/demiurg look like The Violator in clown form?? yikes.