Warhammer 40k’s Leagues of Votann are a brand new faction for the 40k tabletop game, with a range of new models finally fully revealed by Games Workshop in August (and due out in September). Hardy and independent, wise, vivacious and avaricious, ‘The Kin’ (as the Leagues term themselves) are the descendants of asteroid miners and prospectors who settled the ultra-hazardous galactic core regions long before the rise of the Imperium of Man. Here’s all you need to know about the Leagues of Votann models, army set, codex, and lore.
Though they resemble squat, sturdy humans, the Kin’s 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’. With advanced weaponry and peerless armour, they have the strength and fortitude to stand against the horrors of the Cicatrix Maledictum and the Dark Millennium… but their many secrets may pose a terrible threat as well, for they dabble in technology the Adeptus Mechanicus would proscribe as heretical.
Games Workshop first announced the new army back in April, and we’ve seen more and more Leagues of Votann models and lore details revealed since then – but August 31’s Nova Open preview livestream spilled the beans on the full model range and army set. Read on, and we’ll explain all you need to know about the League of Votann’s models, army set, codex, lore, and the history of Warhammer 40k Squats.
Here’s what to know about Warhammer 40k’s Leagues of Votann:
- Leagues of Votann army set
- Leagues of Votann models
- Leagues of Votann codex
- Leagues of Votann lore
- Warhammer 40k Squats
Leagues of Votann army set
The Leagues of Votann army set went live for pre-order on Saturday, September 17, and release for purchase on Saturday, September 24.
During its Nova Open preview livestream on August 31, GW revealed the full contents of the army set, which (like the Chaos Knights and Black Templars sets before it) is intended to be a starter army for the faction, as well as the very earliest opportunity to get your hands on the codex and datacards.
The Leagues of Votann army set will include:
- 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
We don’t know how much it’ll cost, but it’ll likely be in the same range as the Black Templars army set, which was priced at $199. We can’t be sure until we see pricing for the individual units when they come out – but the set’s likely to represent a decent saving over buying the kits separately.
Leagues of Votann models
Games Workshop has been previewing shiny new Leagues of Votann models since April 2022, when it first announced the new faction was on the way. In GW’s Nova Open preview live stream on August 31, though, we finally set eyes on the entirety of the new model range.
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’ with Mk X Power Armour.
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.
Apparently built from the same kit as Ûthar, but with a few varying weapon and bits choices, the Kâhl is your main HQ character 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 – will form the core of their armies. Squads of up 20 hardy warriors will be led into battle by their Theyns. Their void armour is reportedly the match of Astartes power armour, 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 Fast Attack unit, the Hernkyn Pioneers ride to war on hovering motor-trikes, toting shotguns, saddlebags and sweet dustcoats. They look to 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’. We don’t know quite how they work yet, but we’re pretty sure the grenades go underground.
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 looks to be your second HQ character choice. We don’t know how he works yet, but we’re pretty sure it involves running very quickly into a fight and squishing/chopping things.
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
Apparently 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. We don’t know when it’s coming out yet.
Leagues of Votann codex
The Leagues of Votann codex was revealed in GW’s Nova Open preview stream on August 31, alongside the Army Set, which will itself be fans’ first opportunity to get their hands on this book. While the Army Set went up for pre-order on September 17 and releases on September 24, GW says the standalone codex is scheduled for “Autumn” – so presumably by the end of November. As usual, the Army Set’s advance edition of the codex has its own special cover art.
It’s 104 pages long, according to GW – and will presumably include all the stuff we’ve come to expect from 9th edition codexes: a chunky section on faction lore; a model showcase; army and subfaction rules; stratagems, warlord traits, relics, psychic disciplines; all the unit datasheets; and a set of special rules for playing in the narrative Crusade mode.
GW revealed details of key rules for the five main Leagues of Votann subfactions on September 22.
Leagues of Votann lore
We know that 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 mineral rich galactic core. But there are some important differences.
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 T’au, 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.
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 inhabitable planets at the centre of the galaxy had 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…