Warhammer 40k’s Leagues of Votann faction is the latest new army to join Games Workshop’s flagship sci-fi tabletop wargame, first arriving on our tables in September 2022. Hardy, independent, and avaricious asteroid miners armed with some of the best guns, armour, and technology in the game, these space dwarfs are not messing around. This guide has all you need to know about the available Leagues of Votann 40k models, codex, and lore.
If you need a refresher on what the Leagues of Votann are up against on the battlefields of the 41st millennium, check out our guide to all the Warhammer 40k factions – or zoom in further with focused guides to the other Xenos races, the Imperium of Man, and the Warhammer 40k Chaos forces.
Explore our Warhammer 40k Leagues of Votann guide:
- Who are the Leagues of Votann?
- Leagues of Votann models
- Leagues of Votann rules in 10th edition
- Leagues of Votann codex
- Warhammer 40k Squats
- Leagues of Votann army set
The Votann army has had a somewhat controversial first year among 40k fans, starting off so powerful some tournament organisers banned them outright – before suffering a major nerf that soured some fans on the army.
Competitive play aside, though, the Leagues of Votann are a pretty balanced, accessible army to play, with some flavorful, distinctive model options, and (surprisingly, for a semi-reboot of an old army) some really cool, original fluff to back them up. Let’s meet them!
Who are the Leagues of Votann?
GW first announced the return of Squats as a brand new 40k army on April 1, 2022 in an apparent April Fool’s joke. But, in a magnificent double bluff, it revealed the following day that it was all real after all, the space dwarfs were returning to the game – and so we met the Leagues of Votann.
Much of the history of the old-school Squats (more on them below) has made it into Warhammer 40k’s brand new, refreshed Leagues of Votann lore. Just like the Squats, the Leagues are the descendants of early human space colonists and prospectors who settled in the hazardous, mineral-rich galactic core. But there are some important differences.
Though they resemble squat, sturdy humans, the Votann culture and even their genetic code has diverged from humankind, shepherded by the mysterious influence of their ancient Votann computers – hence the title ‘Leagues of Votann’. And, despite their common, Terran, ape ancestry, the Kin have no love at all for the Imperium of Man or the Emperor of Mankind.
The Kin who make up the Leagues are a cloned race. All the Kin are genetically engineered to be stronger, hardier and shorter than the human baseline, and generally to be resistant to the effects of the warp.
The race is divided into specialised Cloneskeins: stable mutations with traits for radiation resistance, fast reactions, or the psychic sensitivity to operate trans-Warp technology. The Kin’s genome must have been reworked at the same time human culture created the Navigator houses, but the Cloneskeins are far more stable than their Imperial equivalent.
Kin society is organised around the Leagues – powerful trade and defence alliances between several Kindreds and their Holds – and the Guilds, professional organisations of technicians, merchants and engineers that unite Kin society.
The Leagues and Guilds guard many secrets fiercely, but they’re nowhere near as xenophobic as the Imperium: indeed, the Seran-Tok Mercantile Leagues have made a fortune trading with the T’au.
Genetic manipulation, commerce with the Xenos… the Leagues would make a Monodominant Inquisitor’s trigger finger very twitchy. They also have secrets that would enthral and horrify the Adeptus Mechanicus. The Leagues practise the forbidden art of science.
Their technology is more advanced than anything in the Imperium, benefitting from working Standard Template Construct (STC) systems and years of actual research and development. This includes Ion weaponry, a technology they generously gave to the Warhammer 40k Tau Empire, and even artificial intelligence.
That’s right – the Kin aren’t just flesh and blood. Ironkin are fully integrated and autonomous members of the Leagues. The history of the Leagues have been lost to the mists of time, but the Ironkin have always been with them.
If you’ve played Blackstone Fortress, you might see a similarity between the Ironkin and UR-025, a bona-fide, pre-Imperial Man of Iron. Imperial history is in a terrible state (what with all the book burnings) but there’s some consensus that an uprising by the Men of Iron might have helped to topple the pre-Imperial human empire into the chaos of the Age of Strife…
At the heart of every League is a Votann Ancestor Core, an immeasurably powerful and ancient artificial intelligence system that contains millennia of accumulated lore and knowledge. These cores are at the centre of the Leagues’ society, the sum total of their culture and science.
To one of the Kin, no sacrifice is too great if it will protect the Votann. But all is not well. After 10,000 years of continued operation they are becoming slower and more erratic. If they ever, finally do crash, it will be the biggest blue screen of death in the galaxy.
Leagues of Votann models and units
Games Workshop spent much of Summer 2022 previewing shiny new Leagues of Votann models – starting in April, when it first announced the new faction was on the way, through to November, when the Votann’s standalone model kits started rolling out into stores.
We first set eyes on the entirety of the new model range during GW’s Nova Open preview live stream on August 31, 2022 – and since then the Leagues of Votann army has entered the 40k mainstream. Here’s a handy table of all the Leagues of Votann units currently available:
|Kâhl / Ûthar the Destined
|Hekaton Land Fortress
Lore nuts and fans of the old-school Warhammer 40k Squats will find much to get excited about in these miniatures. Some of it’s obvious, like the Hernkyn Pioneers referencing Squat Trike riders.
Subtler nods include the mirror shades and earrings on some Hearthkyn heads giving them a Rogue Trader ‘hairy biker’ look, or the rounded carapace of Hearthkyn Void armour that recalls egg-shaped Squat Exo-Armour.
There are allusions to existing models that use pre-Imperial technology. The domed head of the Ironkin resembles the curvy bonce of Adeptus Mechanicus Kastelan Robots. The Hearthkyn’s Etacarn Plasma Beamer has a lot in common with Belisarius Cawl’s ‘new’ range of Plasma weaponry, and the curvy panels and circular joint-covers of Hearthguard Exo Armour look at lot like his ‘innovations’ in the Mk X Power Armour worn by Primaris Space Marines.
Meanwhile, the modular design of Kin weaponry, and the layered armour plates of Exo Armour, resemble technology we’ve seen on House Van Saar models, something the Necromundan gangers can only create using a secret, highly radioactive, STC system.
Here’s a breakdown of all the models:
Ûthar the Destined
So far the only named character in the Leagues of Votann army, Ûthar the Destined is a storied Kâhl (leader) described by GW as the “most accomplished hero of the Greater Thurian League” (the largest of the army’s League subfactions). His neat sword is called the Blade of the Ancestors.
Built from the same kit as Ûthar, but with a few varying weapon and bits choices, the Kâhl is your main Leader unit, somewhat equivalent to a Space Marine captain. They’re the nominated war leader of a given Kindred (specific, named groups of Kin within a larger League).
Hearthkyn Warriors – the first Leagues of Votann models ever to be shown off – form the core of their armies. Squads of up 20 hardy warriors are led into battle by their Theyns. Their void armour is tough, and their weaponry is better than the finest creations of the disciples of Mars. Though they are adapted and trained for war, unlike Space Marines, the Hearthkyn have lives outside of battle.
Hearthkyn squads can be transported into battle on Sagitaur all-terrain-vehicles. Acting in pairs, they pack heavy armaments, supporting their passenger infantry squads with anti-tank or anti-personnel fire once they disembark.
The Leagues’ key outriders, the Hernkyn Pioneers ride to war on hovering motor-trikes, toting shotguns, saddlebags and sweet dustcoats. They come in squads of three, with one of the trio carrying a choice of medium-heavy gun.
These are your punchy melee fighters. Cthonian Beserks wield high-tech mining equipment like heavy plasma axes and concussion mauls, which they use to destructive effect in close combat.
Interestingly, the Beserks also field Ironkin-aided sapper teams armed with ‘Mole Grenade Launchers’ that fire grenades under the ground.
In the heavyweight category, Einhyr Hearthguard wear Exo-Armour suits that make Terminator and Gravis armour look like a light windcheater. These folks are very good evidence for the idea Warhammer 40k is all about mean looks and big shoulders.
Described by GW as “living battering rams” clad in “modified exo-armour fitted with mass-drivers”, the fearsome Einhyr Champion leads the equally heavily armed Einhyr into battle.
Expert forge workers kitted out for war in awesome exo-frames, the Brôkhyr Thunderkyn are your dedicated heavy gunners, armed with the very dangerous-sounding SP Conversion Beamer.
Every good dwarf faction needs a master of the forge, with a big ole hammer – in the Leagues of Votann, this role falls to the Brôkhyr Iron-master, who comes to war accompanied by an Ironkin Assistant and a flock of ECOG repair drones.
Do the Leagues of Votann have psykers? Yes! The Grimnyr is kind of like a techno-psyker; they have a particular cloned trait that lets them interact with the warp, but they also use ‘barrier technology’ (including special AI drones called CORVs) to do it more safely. It’s also the job of each League’s Grimnyr to interface with its Votann Ancestor Core using arcane technology.
Hekaton Land Fortress
A modern reimagining of the Squats’ trademark Land Train of old (check that bad boy out below), the Hekaton Land Fortress is a chonky void-armoured heavy tank with one big high-tech gun, several extra weapon turrets, and a 12-model transport capacity.
Leagues of Votann rules in 10th edition
The Warhammer 40k 10th edition Leagues of Votann rules – as laid out in the free, 10th edition Leagues of Votann index cards – are pretty close to how the army functioned at the end of 9th edition, after nerfs cut back on some of their more overpowered core abilities.
Leagues of Votann army rule – Eye of the Ancestors
A lot of the unique Votann mechanics make the jump to 10th edition 40k more or less intact, such as the ‘Eye of the Ancestors’ ability. You’ll track a number of Judgment tokens for each of your opponent’s units, gaining buffs against units that attract your ire.
In 10th edition, enemy units will only gain a Judgment token when they destroy a Votann unit – that’s a lot more miserly than in 9th edition, when tokens were handed out like party treats.
The effect of the tokens is also restricted. Votann units get +1 to hit enemy units with one Judgment token, and an additional +1 to wound targets with two tokens. Those are great buffs, but compared to 9th edition, when enough Judgment tokens turned half of your hits into automatic wounds, they’re not so impressive.
Leagues of Votann detachments
Like the other 40k factions still without a 10th edition codex, there’s only one Leagues of Votann detachment on offer: Oathband.
It’s not all nerfs. The first Leagues of Votann detachment, Oathband, will allow you to select an enemy unit at the start of the game and give it two Judgment tokens. What’s more, you’ll earn a bounty in Command Points for destroying that target, earning more points the sooner in the battle you annihilate it.
Leagues of Votann Stratagems
As per the other factions, the Oathband Index detachment has six stratagems to play with, as follows:
|Improve your unit’s melee attacks’ AP by 1 for each Judgement Token on the target unit
|Your Shooting phase
|Give one unit’s shots [SUSTAINED HITS 1] for the phase – or [SUSTAINED HITS 2] if the target unit has any Judgement Tokens
|Their Shooting phase, after an enemy unit with Judgement Tokens shoots at one of your units
|The unit that was just shot at can immediately shoot back at the same unit with Judgement Tokens that shot at it (as long as it’s eligible)
|Your Movement phase, after falling back
|Until end of turn, target unit can shoot and declare a charge even though it fell back
|Their shooting phase, or Fight phase after an enemy unit finishes attacking
|If target enemy unit just reduced one of your units to below Half-strength with its attacks, put a Judgement Token on it. If your damaged unit includes your Warlord, place 2 tokens instead
|Their shooting phase, or Fight phase after an enemy unit selects targets
|Pick one of your units that’s being targeted – worsen the AP of all attacks against it by 1 until end of phase
The 2CP Reactive Reprisal stratagem is a particular stand-out winner, allowing a Votann unit to return fire after it’s shot at by any enemy unit with Judgment tokens on it. Watch out for this being used on big blobs of Einhyr Hearthguard, with their dual-wielding plasma guns and shoulder-mounted grenade launchers; the resulting retaliatory barrage can be devastating.
Void Armour might not be the mega-powerful, faction-wide passive survivability buff it was in 9th edition – but worsening incoming attacks’ AP is crucial to protect your elite infantry (and even your tanks, in a pinch), so you’ll find this 1CP is a regular staple.
Powerful ranged weapons still feature heavily in the Votann armoury. The dreaded Heavy Magna-Rail Cannon remains lethal, with S18, AP-4, dealing D6+6 wounds, and ignoring armour saves on to-wound rolls of six.
This datasheet, as well as the weapon stats for the dwarf-portable SP Conversion Beamer, also reveal the new ‘Conversion’ Weapon Ability. Weapons with this key-word will inflict Critical Hits on a to-hit roll of 4+ against targets 12” or more away.
Critical Hits are used to trigger other weapon abilities, which in the case of the SP Conversion Beamer is an additional D3 hits from its Sustained Hits D3 ability.
The Votann’s basic Hearthkyn Warriors retain their swiss-army knife of special weapons but gain T5, as well as some twists to their toolbox of gear: the Comms Array now gives them a chance to refund one CP when they use a Stratagem, and the Medipack grants the unit a 6+ Feel No Pain.
Objectives that the unit claims remain claimed even after they move off it, continuing a pattern of 10th edition battleline units having strong interactions with scenario victory conditions.
Leagues of Votann codex
Games Workshop hasn’t revealed the Leagues of Votann 10th edition codex release date yet – but it won’t be before Summer 2024, as GW has confirmed the Codex releases up until Spring.
For more details, read our full, up-to-date guide to 10th edition Warhammer 40k codex release dates.
Mind you, if you want, you can still buy the 9th edition Leagues of Votann codex from some retailers.
Warhammer 40k Squats
The oldest, wrinkliest wargamers will remember the Warhammer 40k Squats‘ origins in the game’s very first edition: Rogue Trader. Rogue Trader took every trope from Warhammer Fantasy Battles and launched it all into the far future.
Orcs became Space Orks; Ogres became Ogryn; Elves became Eldar; and Dwarfs became… well, the first box of plastic models was just called Space Dwarfs! These short spacefarers were quickly renamed the Squats.
The Squats were descendants of early human colony ships that had settled in the galactic core. Life on the mineral rich, high-gravity, barely habitable planets at the centre of the galaxy made them hardy, self-sufficient, and short.
Their society was based around their underground mining Strongholds which allied together for trade and mutual defence into the 700 Leagues. Binding this society together were ‘Guilds’ of scientists and technicians, whose understanding of technology outstripped the Adeptus Mechanicus. Long-lived, the oldest squats developed a psychic connection with the spirits of their forebears, becoming wise and puissant Ancestor Lords.
The Squat model line contained infantry, elite warriors in egg-shaped Exo-Armour, heavy weapons teams, and squat bikers on motorbikes and trikes. In 6mm scale Epic they had a range of unusual vehicles, including the massive Goliath mega-cannon artillery piece, Cyclops super-heavy tank, a Land Train with an armoured engine hauling heavy gun carriages, Gyrocopters, and even a battle Zeppelin.
Rules for squats made the transition to the Codex Imperialis booklet in the 2nd edition Warhammer 40k box set, but they never again received a Codex or new models. Jervis Johnson wrote on the Specialist Games Forums that the design team simply weren’t fired up enough by the narrative behind the Squats to design a new Codex or new models. Soon enough, the squats were cut from the lore. Their fate was rather ignominious – their homeworlds were eaten by Tyranids.
There was a hint of what the next Dwarves in Space might be in the spaceship wargame Battlefleet Gothic. The T’au faction in Battlefleet Gothic made use of alien auxiliary forces, including the Demiurg: a short, stocky, humanoid race of traders and asteroid miners who piloted hammerheaded ships. But, when support for Battlefleet Gothic ended in 2013, all mentions of the Demiurg disappeared.
The Squats subtly returned to the setting in 2012. Appendix 1 of the Warhammer 40k 6th edition rulebook contained an Imperial treatise on Abhumans. This describes the Squats, a.k.a. Homo Sapiens Rotundus, as one of fifteen abhuman strains still alive and sanctioned by the Adeptus Terra.
It wasn’t until 2018 that we finally saw what a modern squat looks like. Grendl Grendlsen is a Squat bounty hunter for the skirmish wargame Necromunda. With a padded jacket and mirror shade helmet, Grendl channels the same energy as his Rogue Trader ancestors, updated with modern sculpting techniques.
Since then, the Iron Head Prospectors Squat gang has been released for Necromunda, and we’ve learnt more about their history. Necromunda’s Squat population are descendants of an entirely distinct, non-Imperial, space-faring culture that provided technicians to the Imperium to help rebuild Necromunda in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy. Some settled and adapted to Imperial life, but their relatives are still out there in the void…
Leagues of Votann army set
The Leagues of Votann army set went live for pre-order on Saturday, September 17, 2022 – and was released for purchase on Saturday, September 24. It was priced at $200 / £120 RRP. It’s no longer available from GW direct, though you may still find it in stock at independent retailers.
During its Nova Open preview livestream on August 31 2022, GW revealed the full contents of the army set, which (like the Chaos Knights and Black Templars sets before it) was intended to be a starter army for the faction, and was (of course) fans’ very earliest opportunity to get their hands on the codex and datacards.
The Leagues of Votann army set included:
- Kâhl (or Ûthar the Destined) x 1
- Einhyr Champion x 1
- Hernkyn Pioneers x 3
- Hearthkyn Warriors x 20
- Leagues of Votann codex (with special edition art)
- Leagues of Votann datacards x 1 pack of 50
- Leagues of Votann transfer sheet x 2