Warhammer 40,000 is home to lots of strange and peculiar factions, beyond the realm of its poster-child Imperial zealots in the Space Marines. There’s haughty Space Elves of both the standard and goth varieties, there’s hive mind Xenomorph knockoffs, there’s Space Orks (not to be confused with regular old Orcs), and more demons than you can shake a chainsaw-sword hybrid at. But none of them compare to the weirdness of the game’s latest returning faces.
On April 1, Games Workshop posted a reveal alleging that one of 40K’s oldest — and, for a very long time, retired — factions, the Space Dwarves, also known as “Squats,” would be returning to the venerable skirmish game. Players laughed it off, and went on their way, until this week Games Workshop said “well, actually, we’re not joking.”
The Space Dwarves will be reborn as a new Warhammer 40K faction later this year called the Leagues of Votann — a subspecies of humanity that was cut off from the bulk of the race that would transform into the Imperium of Man, shortened over generations of colonising gravity-dense environments and flourishing with their own mercantile society outside of the Imperium’s fascist, religious dogma. They share the same heritage as the Squats did when they were introduced way back in the very first edition of Warhammer 40K, when, as a spinoff of Games Workshop’s fantasy game, the miniatures maker took fantasy trope races like Orcs, Dwarves, and Elves, and turned them into sci-fi counterparts in a game called Rogue Trader.
Originally more of a joke than a serious faction — the Space Dwarves were, for all intents and purposes, roaming biker gangs of diminutive space-Viking-esque warriors — the faction disappeared from Warhammer 40K by the third edition of the game, released in 1998, and since then, have largely been consigned to Easter egg references in lore. Twenty years after they faded from official rules, just two models for the faction have released — and even they were one-offs for the spinoff gang warfare game Necromunda, rather than a standalone faction.
That’s all changing this year, however. Reimagined for the current ninth edition of 40K, the Leagues of Votann will update the Space Dwarves’ old aesthetic — and ditch the derogatory Squats name — as well as turn the hardy race into a fully fledged faction in the game, with its own rules and, of course, an entirely new range of models. Only one has been revealed so far, ditching the old biker-gang aesthetic in favour of… Dwarf-sized power suits? Hell yeah.
It’s a fun way to expand the current state of Warhammer 40K, bringing back and modernising something weird and silly from the game’s earliest roots while still embracing some of that inherent peculiarity that 40K has strayed from as it leans into its “grimdark” tone. Plus, it gives players who’d like to play a human-esque faction that doesn’t involve caping for the obscurely-veiled satire of the Imperium’s fascism, and if you get to do that while also being plasma-gun-toting dwarves in power armour? That’s great.
The Leagues of Votann are set to arrive in Warhammer 40K later this year.