|Space Wolves / Vlka Fenryka / Space Corgis|
|Battle Cry||"For Russ and the All father!"|
|Original Name||The Rout|
|Successor Chapters||Blood Wolves
Skyrar's Dark Wolves
|Chapter Master||Logan Grimnar|
|Specialty||CQC, shock assaults, infantry, encirclement tactics, being viking enthusiasts, being furries|
|Allegiance||Imperium of Man|
|Colours||Generally Bluish-Grey and Yellow. Red, Black and White used for specific Companies.|
"Let a man never stir on his road a step without his weapons of war; for unsure is the knowing when need shall arise of a spear on the way without."
- – Havamal
"War is honest. There's no lying to it. You don't have to say sorry here. Don't have to hide. You cannot. If you die? So what? You die among friends. Among worthy foes. You die looking the Great Leveller in the eye. If you live? Well, lad that's living, isn't it?"
- – Joe Abercrombie, Heroes
The Space Wolves (also known as The Rout or the Vlka Fenryka) is a Space Marine Chapter hailing from the icy Death World of Fenris, who appreciate the value of a strong and consistent brand identity. They are known as noble, if savage warriors, who have little love for Imperial bureaucracy but will fight fiercely for its common citizens. The Marines of the Chapter are famed as experts in the art of close combat, much like the Blood Angels, but unlike the sons of Sanguinius their fighting style is less that of a maddened, blood-crazed berserker, but that of a cunning pack of hunters running down their prey.
Thematically, the Chapter draws a lot of real-world inspiration from Nordic culture, especially the Viking sagas, particularly in terms of aesthetics as well as ferocity. That said, there's a bit of a disconnect between how the Wolves are portrayed in fiction compared to how they're presented as a tabletop army.
On one hand, we have a nuanced portrayal of a proud warrior tradition that just so happens to have the Wolf as its primary totem animal, among many other Fenrisian nature spirits they worship. On the other, we have an over-the-top army of wolf fetishists that precedes most of their equipment and vehicle names with "wolf", ride actual giant wolves into battle, and are like a drunken frat party outside of it.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Recent History
- 3 Organization
- 4 Combat doctrine
- 5 Criticism
- 6 Civilians
- 7 Daily rituals of a Space Wolf
- 8 A Quick Word Out of Character
- 9 Gallery
- 10 See also
Back during the Great Crusade, the Space Wolves began as the VIth Legion, and was developed in conjunction the Salamanders and the Alpha Legion. Developed in isolation from the other two Legions, they proved to be a vicious and aggressive fighting force, but also almost impossible to keep in line by its officers. What's worse, they were indiscriminate in their slaughter, and even helpless civilians were not free from their wrath. Due to this brutal reputation, they soon became known as "the Rout", the Emprah's agents of fear and retribution.
The Wolf King cometh
The ice world of Fenris was found early on by the Crusade fleets, and the Emperor soon heard of the exploits of its so-called Wolf King, a man named Leman Russ. Raised in the wilderness by wolves, then adopted and educated by the jarl Thengir, Leman was a massive ox of a man of extraordinary strength, sharp cunning, and personal magnetism, and the Emprah was sure he was one of His lost sons. He descended onto the world in disguise, ingratiated Himself to the locals to gain access to the High King's feasting hall, and there he sought to test the Wolf King's mettle.
Depending on the version or edition, this led to the following: an eating contest, a drinking contest, and a brawl. Leman won the first two rounds, but was finally goaded into a fight when the Emprah insulted him, saying that he was nothing more than a glutton and a drunkard. What followed next was either a massive fight that wrecked the drinking hall, Beowulf versus Grendel style, or the Emprah laying out Leman with a single fabulously golden Power Fist to the forehead.
Regardless, when Leman finally came to, the Emprah revealed himself, and told him about his true origin as one of his Primarchs, as well as his role in the greater Crusade. What happened next, as they say, is history.
From the Rout to the Wolves
Leman Russ' rediscovery, and the integration of his own Fenrisian retinue, slowly remade the VIth Legion. Their ferocity was soon tempered with discipline and obedience, as the Fenrisian culture slowly spread through its ranks, and while they would still crush any traitor to the Emperor, they would at least have the good sense this time not to slaughter the innocents that just so happened to be in the area. It didn't happen overnight, but soon enough the Legion became less about punishing oathbreakers, and more on watching out for the little guy.
Oh, and if an offhand comment by Russ is to be believed, they had a hand in destroying the two so-called Lost Legions. Emperor's Executioners indeed.
Under Russ' leadership, the Wolves proved their worth to the fledgling Imperium by winning many victories and conquering many worlds, which brought them glory and even more notoriety. On one of their campaigns, they managed to recover a near-complete STC printout of a battle tank, and as a bit of thanks, the Martian adepts named it after the Legion's Primarch.
It was also during this period that the Wolves' rivalry with the Dark Angels began, a feud that still continues into the present day of the Imperium. While the specifics have been lost to myth and legend, the Dulan Campaign ended with Leman Russ and his brother, the mercurial Lion El'Jonson, in a one-on-one duel. This culminated with Leman knocked out flat on his back, the Dark Angels leaving in a huff, and the Space Wolves similarly insulted by the Lion not being a good sport about everything.
The Heresy Dawns
The Space Wolves are infamous for their role in the burning of Prospero, the homeworld of the Thousand Sons Legion. Though they were initially ordered to bring in Magnus the Red alone for both going against the edicts of the Council of Nikea, as well as accidentally breaching the defenses of the Imperial Webway, their orders were changed by Horus (who they were unaware was already full-hog traitor at this point) to instead burn the planet and its inhabitants to the ground.
This blind adherence to orders, not helped by the fact that Leman wanted to confront his nerd of a brother for his shenanigans, was the final straw. Prospero was literally and figuratively put to the torch in the ensuing battles between the Legions, as well as Leman's Adeptus Custodes and Sisters of Silence babysitters. When Magnus finally joined the fray to save his sons, Leman met him in one-on-one combat, and while the Wolf King was badly mauled over the course of the duel, Magnus was broken and forced to flee with the surviving Thousand Sons.
In the end, Magnus was forced to throw his lot with Chaos in order to survive, and his Legion followed suit, joining Horus in his rebellion.
The battered Wolves were not allowed any respite however, as they were soon hounded by a massive Alpha Legion fleet, and forced to flee into the Alaxxes Nebula. While a breakout was eventually executed, the Space Wolves fleet eventually found itself cornered. As they prepared for a last stand, unexpected aid arrived in the form of a Dark Angels fleet. With the Alpha Legion driven off, Russ was left to ponder what to do next.
Eventually Russ and a small contingent of his men managed to find their way to Terra, while the rest of the Space Wolves fleet continued to harry the Traitors. He sponsored an expedition to Molech to see if Horus could be taken down, but this just resulted in getting dozens of Knights-Errant killed. Afterward, in a council with his brothers Rogal Dorn, Sanguinius, and Jaghatai Khan, Leman decided to forego Dorn's plan in delaying the traitors at the Battle of Beta Garmon, and instead returned to Fenris to try and divine a way to take away all those juicy Chaos boons that were supercharging Horus.
The Wolf King and the Luna Wolf
In what amounted to be a spirit quest (where, among other things, Russ met a possible version of himself who stayed on Terra and never grew up on Fenris), Leman decided that he would confront his brother Horus one last time. For this task, he would need to use the Spear of Russ (yes THAT Spear of Russ, that Ragnar Blackmane would use many millennium later), a weapon that he absolutely hated (because it gave him the literal heebie-jeebies) and actually tried to get rid of multiple times, but which somehow always managed to return to him.
It turns out that the Spear was a massively powerful artifact invested with a fragment of the Emprah's power, with the ability to reveal the "truth" of whatever it pierces. Although the chance was slim, Leman hoped to use it to convince his brother to return to the Imperial fold and let their father heal him; if the Warmaster remained undaunted, Leman would then use the spear to slay the traitor for good.
Leman knew that it was a suicide mission, and indeed made it clear to his assembled Wolf Lords that their participation was voluntary, but none of them refused to join their Primarch. If their death was to come, then it would be together with their Battle-brothers.
The Battle of Trisolian 4A
The Forge World of Trisolian -- where a young and cheeky tech adept named Belisarius Cawl and his buddy were taking what amounted to their internships -- had just surrendered to Traitor forces, and was in the process of hosting the Vengeful Spirit and its escorts. Then all of the sudden, this absolutely massive fleet (made up of around fifty ships of the line from the various Traitor Legions) found itself under attack.
Taking advantage of the gravitational interactions of the Trisolian system's three stars, the Space Wolves fleet had snuck into the sector, and threw its vastly-outnumbered ships at the gathered armada. As the ships of the Rout tried to make as much as a ruckus as it could, Leman confronted the Vengeful Spirit with his own flagship, the Hrafnkel, and as the latter's barrage collapsed the former's void shields, Leman personally led a massive assault unto his brother's flagship using everything he still had -- boarding torpedoes, assault boats, teleport deep-strikes, and even gunships.
As thousands of Space Wolves ran wild inside the Vengeful Spirit, Leman personally tracked down Horus in the heart of the corrupted ship, while down below Cawl managed to make sure his master met an "accident", and took control of the Mechanicus forces to aid the Space Wolves. The Wolf King eventually found the Warmaster, and was disgusted at what he beheld -- Horus was wallowing in Chaos corruption, and was half-mad as a result. When words didn't work, Russ attacked his brother, knowing too well he was outmatched.
Then the Spear managed to pierce Horus' side. The wound was not fatal, though it could have been, had Leman not hesitated, but it was enough -- the madness cleared from Horus' eyes, and for the first time in what seemed to be forever Horus' mind was clear. Despite this however, the Warmaster would not be swayed; he was in too deep to stop now, and of his own free will this time, still decided to continue the fight against the Emperor.
Horus continued his assault on Leman, and had mauled him gravely. Before he could finish him off with Worldbreaker however, one Space Wolf, followed by dozens, which were then followed by scores of marines, interposed themselves between the Warmaster and their Primarch. Horus cut them all down all the same, but their sacrifice bought Bjorn the time he needed to drag the injured Leman Russ to a Stormbird, and then back to the Hrafnkel.
With their Primarch secured, the Space Wolves fleet made a fighting retreat, but all seemed lost as the Vengeful Spirit and its cohort seemed to be catching up... Then one of its magazines exploded, crippling it enough to allow the Wolves to escape.
The Wolves would fight another day, but the price was too high. Of the Wolves that went into Trisolian, only one-fifth managed to make the escape. The VIth Legion effectively stopped being an effective fighting force from that point on, and had to be eventually rescued by the Primarch Corvus Corax and his Raven Guard after the fleet was cornered by Abaddon's forces at Yarant.
The Wolves would sit out the remainder of the Heresy, and would be still trying to recover as the Siege of Terra came and went, and Horus had his fated showdown with the Emprah.
The Fate of Leman Russ
Of Leman Himself, you ask? Well he stuck around during the Great Scouring, and while he groused about Roboute Guilliman's reforms, he eventually caved in, and begrudgingly agreed to split apart the remains of his ravaged Legion into Chapters.
In theory anyway.
In practice however, due to the massively reduced numbers of the Rout, only one Chapter was ever created -- the ill-fated Wolf Brothers. The rest of the survivors remained Space Wolves, opting instead to stick with their semi-independent Great Companies, as one small snub to the stuck-up Roboute.
Barely a century after the end of the Scouring, Leman Russ just ups and vanishes from Imperial History. Legends state that after a great feast, He said unto his warriors:
"Listen closely Brothers, for my time is short. . There shall come a time far from now when our Chapter itself is dying, even as I am now dying, and our foes shall gather to destroy us. Then my children, I shall listen for your call in whatever realm of death holds me, and come I shall, no matter what the laws of life and death forbid. At the end I will be there. For the final battle. For the Wolftime."
And so, Leman departed, with his closest retinue... No, not you Bjorn... Some say he searches for a means to revive His God-Emperor.. But despite the efforts of the Great Hunt, Leman remains beyond the reach of Man... Who knows what great feats of Heroism he undertakes...oh right Kaldor Draigo,
Oddly enough, it seems that Magnus the Red, of all people, has an idea about his brother's fate, but he's not telling anyone, and is far too fond of slaying Leman's get to even care.
The Siege of Fenris
Much like the rest of the Imperium, times had been rough for the Space Wolves by the time the end of M41 rolled in. Magnus in particular still had a massive hateboner against the Sons of Russ, and finally put his long-prepared revenge plan into motion. The rebuilt Thousand Sons, plus their Chaos Daemon and Traitor Legion allies, put the worlds of the Fenris system to the sword. Not even the Space Wolves homeworld was spared, and it took the combined effort of the Chapter and a Grey Knights Brotherhood led by Brother-Captain Stern to slow down the massive daemonic incursion that followed.
Then the Dark Angels arrived above Fenris with The Rock, and leading an Imperial task force of fourteen assorted Space Marine Chapters, titans, knight houses, and Imperial Guard, intent on cleansing the system of Chaos filth. Unfortunately it quickly became apparent that the Sons of the Lion were duped by The Changeling, who then proceeded to mass-summon Daemons into the Rock itself.
Things took a turn for the worse when Magnus himself arrived on Fenris, its spiritual nexus already under assault by Thousand Sons covens trying to corrupt them, and what was a hard but possibly winnable fight against a massive invading force turned into a desperate battle for survival. It says a lot that the Iron Priests had to awaken all of the Dreadnoughts of the Fang to fight alongside Bjorn, plus whatever Wulfren that could be found, and even then it wasn't enough. Magnus was far too powerful, and the Daemon Primarch swatted aside Dreadknights with ease, and even pulled down whole Imperial Battlecruisers from the upper atmosphere, just so he could detonate their cores and irradiate the skies above Asaheim.
Magnus would not have his victory however, as through Egil Ironwolf's sacrifice Logan Grimnar was able to wound the Daemon Primarch with strikes from both the Axe of Morkai and the recovered Spear of Russ. With his concentration broken, Magnus was then banished from the Fenris by Grey Knight Purifiers. With Magnus gone, the Thousand Sons and their daemonic allies quickly followed, but the damage had been done. The worlds of the Fenris system were almost all ravaged beyond recovery, and what's worse, due to their populations bearing witness to a massive daemonic incursion, their people had to be liquidated by the Inquisition. Unlike the aftermath of the First War of Armageddon, the Great Wolf didn't make a fuss, as the Chapter was too mauled and weary to oppose them.
The Fall of Cadia and the Era Indomitus
Despite the drubbing they experienced at the hands of Magnus, the Space Wolves were still able to send two Great Companies to Cadia's defense, and while that world eventually fell, they made a good accounting for themselves, with Sven Bloodhowl contributing to the demise of the Blackstone Fortress, while Orven Highfell fell in the defense of Kasr Kraf. As the Great Rift formed and the Imperium was torn in half, and the age seemed to become all the more desperate, the Wolves fought on, but when news of Roboute Guilliman's revival reached the Fang, a small contingent of Wolves braved the long warp journey to Ultramar to confirm it.
For his part, Guilliman brought much needed reinforcement for the Sons of Russ, in the form of squad upon squad of Primaris Space Marines. This brought the Space Wolves Great Companies back to fighting shape, and while the Firstborn initially looked upon these newcomers with suspicion, once they had braved the initiation rituals of Fenris, those who survived were fully welcomed into their brotherhoods.
Another thing that the Lord Commander brought was even more welcome -- thanks to Belisarius Cawl's efforts, the Space Wolves can now found their own Successors again, and immediately formed strong ties with the first of these Primaris Wolves -- the Wolfspear. While it hasn't quite gotten rid of the Curse of the Wulfen (you don't get it unless you really lose it, and its still better than falling to Chaos), but it was still better than the alternative.
The Space Wolves ignore the organizational restrictions recommended by the Codex Astartes, and instead forms itself around the Great Companies. These are twelve semi-independent battle groups that are the rough equivalent of a Codex Battle Company, but are functionally much larger in size, with many featuring upwards of more than a hundred fifty battle-ready warriors on top of their support serfs and equipment.
Each Great Company gains much of its character thanks to their Wolf Lords preferences, as well as its tactical preferences -- see Egil Ironwolf's predilection for tanks and heavy artillery, or Ragnar Blackmane's hardon for massed planetary assaults. A long-serving Wolf Lord will definitely leave his mark on a Great Company, and it might take a while for it to reinvent itself under his Successor should he inevitably fall in battle.
Although no Great Company ranks above their fellows, all eventually must defer to the current Great Wolf's Great Company, as it holds both the his household as well as the Chapter's greatest warriors. When the Great Wolf Speaks, everyone must listen.
The "classic" organization of the Space Wolves is partially based on experience, with the hot-blooded novices starting out with the Blood Claws, before they battle-hardened enough to become Grey Hunters, etc. There's also a bit of meritocracy here, as a Blood Claw who did a particularly heroic deed might "jump ranks" straight into the Wolf Guard/Thanedom (*coughs* Ragnar *coughs*). It's somewhat implied in some of the text regarding long fangs such as "Their former Packs, whittled down to but a handful of Veterans" that Blood claw squads are not reinforced and as the members gain experience they are promoted to Grey Hunter then to Long Fang as a unit.
The arrival of the Primaris has put a slight wrinkle into this however, but the Wolves are, if anything, adaptable.
- Great Wolf: Also known as the High King, he is the equivalent to the Chapter Master of other Chapters. The Great Wolf is also effectively the First Captain of the Space Wolves, commanding an elite Great Company that includes the members of the three Priesthoods and the Chapter's Dreadnoughts. Logan Grimnar serves as the current Great Wolf.
- Wolf Lord: Also known as Jarls, they are the equivalent of the Brother-Captains of a company in Codex Chapters. Wolf Lords lead their Great Companies; likewise Great Companies owe a lot of their personality and tactical preferences to their Wolf Lords.
- Wolf Guard: A cross between Veterans and Honour Guard, Wolf Guards (Thanes) serve as the body guard of the Wolf Lord and leading packs in battle, serving as the Space Wolves version of a Brother-Sergeant. They also get Terminator armour. In Second Edition they also got to take any weapons they liked and could be built from stock parts with an Assault Cannon and Cyclone Missile Launcher. This led to many games being won as Assault Force Dickhead rampaged across the table murdering everything.
- Wolf Priest: Combining the role of Apothecary and Chaplain, the Wolf Priests do the standard roles of preaching and medical duties, but are also charged with recruiting Aspirants for their companies. Plus they have a secret role on the battlefield, trying to prevent their battle-brothers from turning into Wulfen.
- Iron Priest: The Iron Priests serve the role of Techmarines, overseeing the motorpool and equipment of the companies they belong to.
- Rune Priest: Taking the role of Librarians in Codex Chapters, Rune Priests are the psykers of the Space Wolves. However, instead of seeing their powers as coming from the Warp, they hold that their powers come from the world spirit of Fenris, and consult the runes in a means to divine the future. Trying to explain to the Rune Priests that they're drawing power from the Warp, and that they cannot "draw their powers from Fenris" while being half-Galaxy away from it will usually result in the non-Space Wolf getting a month's stay in the Apothecarion. The ultimate irony of this is that they are, in reality, Sorcerers, the very thing they denounced the Thousand Sons for being. Whether they are psykers or not. Besides, if Fenris has a world spirit, it is something akin to a Daemon World (or an eldar maiden world)...
- Wolf Scouts: Each Great Company will have members who shun their pack brothers and are shunned in return, preferring the company of more somber individuals, Wolf Scouts serve to scout out enemy positions and terrain. As opposed to the regular codex, Wolf Scouts tend to be veterans of battle able to rein in their savage rage.
- Lone Wolf: Space Wolves who are the last of their pack. The loss of their brethren drive them to seek a glorious death in combat at the hands of some form a fell enemy. Think of Dwarf Slayers only a few meters tall with powered armour and weapons of doom and destruction. Often the only way out of the Lone Wolf lifestyle is managing to kill something that the individual shouldn't have survived killing and being elevated into the Wolf Guard. They sometimes take part in a small pack of Wolf Scouts, being lonely wolves in company of other lonely wolves, which technically should defeat the purpose of the analogy.
- Skyclaws: Skyclaws are the trouble makers among a Chapter of trouble makers, forced to wear Jump Packs. The Space Wolves view Jump Packs as an insult, reasoning that if the Emperor wanted them to fly, he would have given them wings.
- Thunderwolf Cavalry: Space Wolves who function in a manner similar to a Bike Squad, but instead of actual bikes, they use Thunderwolves, which can be the size of a small car, and biologically more akin to Terran rhinoceros than actual oversized wolves.
- Long Fangs: Taking the role of Devastators, Long Fangs are veterans who have grown long in the fang. No pun here - Space Wolves' teeth actually lengthen as they age, as an effect of a mutated Betcher's Gland.
- Grey Hunters: Having the role of Tactical Marines, Grey Hunters are those Marines who have survived long enough as Blood Claws to quell the worst of their ferocity and blood lust (read: wear a helmet in battle). Their new found experience and control allows them to shoot and fight better than their younger brethren.
- Blood Claws: Neophyte Space Wolves who serve in the Assault Marine roles of Codex Chapters. As mature as a buncha punks that just discovered a Metal band and think the life of a Marine is fucking Chaos’ shit up and killing stuff. Unsurprisingly, the survival rate among this guys is not that high. Something to point out, is that it is perfectly possible for a Blood Claw to stay on this rank for his entire life if you are not seen as someone to trust in a higher rank.
As of the new Codices, the Primaris Marines seem to have slotted seamlessly into this, though the Primaris neophytes don't start out as Blood Claws, and instead join the line as Intercessors, etc.
- Intercessors: Space Wolves intercessors seem to have gained a rivalry with the Grey Hunters, as steadfast gunlines that can anchor a flank. This rivalry manifests in typical one-upsmanship via drinking and eating contests, and other feats of strength outside the battlefield, and kill counts during firefights.
- Inceptors: The most impetuous of the Primaris, Inceptors are always aching for ways to prove themselves. Of those who arrived with the Indomitus Crusade, the Inceptors were the most eager to take the Trials of Morkai, and seemed to have fully bought into the boisterous Fenrisian customs.
- Aggressors: The most bro of the Primaris Wolves, Aggressors are friendly and boisterous, to the point that they could be heard laughing heartily during combat. For all their loudness however they're not headstrong or impetuous -- far from it, as they make sure they're deployed to the places in the line where they can make the most impact.
- Reivers: The opposite of the Aggressors, Reivers apparently make for poor drinking buddies, but more than make up for their effectiveness of their terror tactics. Its no surprise that they've become best buds with the Wolf Scouts, who they're often also partnered with in patrols.
- Hounds of Morkai: A unique cult of edgy reivers who envision themselves as standing by the gates of Morkai. These marines are specially trained to hunt down witches, focusing more on melee and adorned in runic totems that blunt the effect of psykers. They also have special vox-emitters made specifically to interfere with casting.
- Hellblasters: Surprisingly fatalistic, Space Wolf Hellblasters believe that their sagas are tied with their plasma weaponry, and while they relish bringing ruin to the enemies of the All-Father, they also accept that, if they need to, they will go out in blazes of glory that will definitely put a fiery climax to their sagas.
The Space Wolves have several bits of equipment that differentiate them from a "generic" Codex Chapter.
They have their own equivalent to power weapons, the so-called Frost weapons, the most famous is the Frost Axe. With their blades made from either diamonds or crystals native to Fenris, they shine like cold ice once their fields are active.
Speaking of native crystals, these are used for their Helfrost weaponry, which fire subzero blasts of cold that can freeze its target in place. These are either man-portable, or mounted on their many vehicles.
While the Chapter has its own complement of bike squads, they also have heavy cavalry in the form of the ferocious Thunderwolf Cavalry. These warriors form a close bond with these apex predators, who then allow themselves to be use as mounts.
Space Wolves heroes also are able to bring with them regular wolves into battle, much like Leman Russ before them. These wolves are treated less like pets, and more like family and fellow warriors, and many Wolf Lords owe their lives to these faithful packs.
On the subject of Leman Russ; prior editions allowed the Space Wolves to use the heavy tank of the same name, their codex being the first sighting of the Leman Russ Exterminator but past 3ed edition this was quietly dropped.
Rather than the Stormraven and its variants, the Space Wolves rely on the Stormwolf' to airlift battle-brothers to key locations, and the Stormclaw as a dedicated gunship. And yes, they're very wolfy in profile.
"The best way to defeat a Space Wolf is to wolf his wolf. You must be careful, though, because if the Space Wolf wolfs your wolf first, then your wolf is wolfed."
- – Leman Russ himself On the Weaknesses of the Space Wolf Doctrine later Quoted by Wolf Rider Volk Wolfclaw,
"A good way to get into a state of pure wolfness, would be that you shall wolf the wolf until the wolfing wolf wolfs. Then, when the wolf wolfs your wolfness, the wolves of the wild will wolf your wolf up. Wolf!"
- – Attributed to Wolf Master Jonal Wolfhand, "The Call of the Nightblizzard
"Wolf wolf wolf wolf wolfity wolf. Wolf wolf, wolfo wolfy wolf wolf wolf. Wolf? Wolf!"
- – Attributed to Wolf Lord Egil Ironwolf, On the Intricacies of Tactical Wolffare
Jokes aside, Space Wolves doctrine normally builds their strategies around a "Pack" -- a group of unusually close battle-brothers that have very often been together since they were Blood Claws. While a Wolf Lord will generally set some broad strategies in a campaign, by and large he leaves the actual details and implementation to individual Pack Leaders. This... sort of works, as each pack's competitive nature eggs them on to one-up their buddies, but not so to the detriment of the campaign. This means that most of the time multiple packs will work together to accomplish a particular goal.
Space Wolves in general love a good scrap, and many will find that their "tactics" involve getting as close in as possible to their enemies and punching their lights out. Even the more sensible Long Fangs, who often roll their eyes at such youthful bravado, still indulge in the occasional brawl.
That said, all of this is still tempered by the Wolf Lord in charge of the Great Company. For example, Erik Morkai prefers stealth and very brutal ambushes, hence his preference for Wolf Scouts (and likely Reivers), while Engir Krakendoom likes going to war in all sorts of armored transports while escorted by Swiftclaw outriders.
As many on /tg/ will happily tell you, (and Magnus won’t stop raging about) the Wolves are far from perfect. Where the Imperial Fists are inflexible and stubborn, the Dark Angels are unreliable and austere, and the Raven Guard are aloof and brooding, the Wolves are boisterous and arrogant. During the Heresy (and/or when Chris Wraight is writing them) they were incredibly brutal toward those they saw as oath-breakers, even if the oath-breaker in question was a fleeing, defenseless civilian.
The Ragnar Blackmane books further emphasize this and also portrayed the Chapter as willing to ignore the misdeeds of their heroes in spite of the importance they place on honor. This, combined with the Wolves hating the Thousand Sons for being psykers while also using psykers led many to label the Wolves hypocrites, especially since the Space Wolves pick a fight with the Flesh Tearers for killing civilians in spite of their own troubled history in that regard.
Now, everyone including Wolves players admit that the Sons of Russ are entirely too short-sighted and prone to making enemies for their own good. During the Heresy, almost nobody liking them bit them in the ass at Alaxxes Nebula, but fast-forward to M41 and they're happily pissing off the Inquisition, Ecclesiarchy, Dark Angels, Ultramarines, etc. During Warzone Fenris, the galaxy at large is only too ready to write the Wolves off as heretics. Fans and detractors alike also note that it's arguable whether being so quick to make enemies and disobey orders to save civilians really saves more people in the long run, especially at Armageddon, where the Wolves' actions backfire badly.
Of all the inconsistently written aspects of the Chapter, this is by far the worst offender. Sometimes, the Space Wolves are written as brutal and merciless, giving zero fucks about collateral damage or civilian casualties. On the other hand, sometimes the Wolves put their lives on the line to protect the innocent. This can induce Rage in just about any fan, because some people get into the Space Wolves seeing them as heroes while others prefer their more savage, bloodthirsty tendencies.
The best fluff attempts to find a middle ground by presenting them as violent and pragmatic, but disciplined during the Heresy and increasingly heroic over time. By M41, the Wolves actively stop the Flesh Tearers from murdering Imperial civilians at Honour's End, disobey orders so they could protect the settlers at Thressiax, and play chicken with the Inquisition to save the people of Armageddon; this example is particularly notable, because the Wolves didn't just attempt to save the civilians from the Inquisition, for the first few months of the conflict they did so with passive resistance, defending civilian transports with the shields and hulls of their own ships, never firing back. This paints a picture of a Chapter that actually becomes MOAR independent and heroic as the galaxy goes to shit around them. Or perhaps, they've remained the same and the galaxy has gone so grimdark that the Space Wolves now appear heroic in comparison.
Then Warzone Fenris happened. In it, the Wolves pretty much abandon their allies to focus on the Wulfen.
Daily rituals of a Space Wolf
08:00 - Early Risers - Most of the Wolf Scouts and Reivers, having avoided the last rounds the previous evening, wake from their quarters. They give each other quiet nods of approval, before heading for the festhall for an early breakfast.
08:30 - Morning Firing Drills -- The Wolf Scouts and Reivers take advantage of the otherwise unoccupied firing range to get their drills in. The Lone Wolves are appreciative of the Primaris Vanguard stealth training, while Primaris marvel at Lone Wolves sniper marksmanship.
9:00 - Wilderness Training - Wolf Scout squads leave for their regular wilderness patrols, while Reivers try to stalk them. Most of the day will be filled with one trying to track down the other, or stalking a particularly worthwhile prey.
13:00 - Wake Up with Hangover - The majority of Space Wolves battle-brothers awaken by this point.
13:10 - Morning Piss - The Space Wolf empties the alcohol that has accumulated in his bladder(s) in the Sacred Alcohol Excretion Grounds. (Doing so anywhere else is hazardous as space wolf urine is capable of corroding ceramite)
13:11 - Morning Fart - The Space Wolf empties his intestines. Pissing without farting is like going to a holy site without praying to the Emperor, which is heresy.
13:20 - Morning Piss Ends - The Space Wolves have finally finished urinating. The surrounding landscape is scorched with a aura of menace resembling nurgle’s rot.
13:30 - Ritual of the Hair of the Dog - The Space Wolf now cracks open his first cold one of the day. The first of many. Cheerios may be consumed as well.
13:45 - Firing Drills - The Space Wolf consumes another liter of alcohol before going out back and shooting empty beer bottles with his bolter. This takes place far away from the Alcohol Excretion Grounds, after that one time Brother Brynjolf accidentally lit his own piss on fire. an entire company had to spend 6 months in the sickbay until their hair grew back and they were thus fit to be seen in public again.
14:00 - Freeze your Balls - The Space Wolf sheds his armor and most of his clothing to wander around Asaheim for an hour.
15:00 - Feeding of the Land Raiders - Space Wolf observes a feast with his brothers in honour of the chapter's revered battle machines. Blood Claws are still wandering around outside naked in the snow not grasping that the Long Fangs and Grey Hunters beelined for the chow hall as soon as the claws were out of sight.
15:30 - Boozing of the Land Raiders - No feast is complete without metric fucktons of liquor. Fenrisian Ale, beer, and if available bylestim blend are poured and scrubbed all over the most honoured of the chapter's war machines. Many still have bullet holes, sometimes allowing beer to get into the exhaust ports and make for kickass explosions later. Blood Claws are still wandering around outside naked in the snow.
16:00 - Wolf your Wolf - Grey Hunters and older Space Wolves take this time to play with their favourite 4-legged companions. Any Blood Claw who's showed up by now is made a Grey Hunter.
16:30 - Save the Blood Claws - Blood Claws are brought in from the cold. Most are frozen blue or black - and hungry for more.
17:00 - Evening feast - Eat. Drink. Start brawls. The usual non-warzone Space Wolf thing.
18:00 - Try to wake up Bjorn.
18:10 - Give up, try to find something fun on the Vox Saga.
19:00 - Night shitter break.
20:00 - Night firing drills - Much to the Iron Priest's dismay, the Space Wolves practice writing their names in the snow with bolters. In runes. In the dark.
21:00 - Ritual Intake of Narcotics and Purging of Testicles - bitches and blow.
05:00 - Daily Rest - The Space Wolf passes out.
A Quick Word Out of Character
The true reason for all this, is that, we at /tg/, in our pathetic, low-reaching mastery of comedy, have seen how idiotic it is that every goddamn Space Wolf codex unnecessarily uses the word "wolf" as a prefix or a suffix every 3rd sentence (similar to the Tyranid codex shoe-horning the prefix bio- into every 3rd sentence). Since /tg/ is an easily angered monster, not unlike an Angry Marine, we furiously attempt to link Space Wolves to furries (it's really fucking annoying), as we are as fucked up as Chaos Pretty Marines.
It has been established in the Horus Heresy series that the VI Legion doesn't employ the word "wolf" as much as they appear to do. Wolves are readily apparent in their motifs, such as Leman Russ's titles as "Wolf-King" and "Great Wolf," as well as in the formal name of the Wolf Guard, but it's not as overblown as it's made out to be. Apparently, whoever did the Fenrisian-to-Gothic translation made a few errors. First off, they don't call themselves "the Space Wolves." When speaking formally, they refer to themselves as the Vlka Fenryka, which we can look at a few ways. "Fenris" is easy, a reference to Fenrir from Norse mythology. "Vlka" has a couple options; if you walk it backwards through the Germanic Volk you get "Folk of Fenris". This supports a common theory on 1d4chan where a bunch of colonists landed on a planet, bred giant dogs from their great, great, grand-children (more on that in a minute) then thought, "You know what's better than planet Unicorn? Planet fucking Fenris". So the the Vlka Fenryka are literally the folk of Fenris. Alternately Vlka can be translated from Slavic to get the "Wolves of Fenris" again.
No matter what you conclude on, you get Dan Abnett using linguistics to reinforce his theme that the Space Wolves are misunderstood by the rest of the Imperium - calling the Space Wolves because of a mistranslated word. One could even argue they are actually called "Space People", would make sense since Ragnar referred to them as "Star warriors" in the William King novels and their Fenrisian Kaerl auxiliaries call them "sky warriors," but the lore from these novels has been left by the wayside so take that as you will. When speaking informally, they refer to themselves as "the Rout", solidifying their purpose as the Emperor's executioners (self-proclaimed)/snowflakes. Additionally, the post of "Wolf-Lord" is also a mistranslation, as they refer to their Company commanders as Jarl. Finally, they don't call their fortress-monastery the Fang, but rather the Aett, which can be literally translated as "clan home." There's also this in-universe meme "there are no wolves on Fenris." At all. This was started by one of the primarchs remarking that they should be called xenos, because they're natives of an alien planet, and it quickly morphed into a joke. As it turns out, this is literally true.
With regards to the Fenrisian wolves, the origin a little more freaky than expected: they're not wolves, but descendants of human-wolf mutants. Back when Fenris was first settled, the colonists had the Canis helix added to help them adapt to the harsh environment by adding wolf genes to their genetic-makeup. Unfortunately, it worked a little too well--the canix helix caused a number of settlers to degrade into wolfmen and wolfwomen. Following this, they bred and produced a new strain of wolf into the environment. So there are no wolves on Fenris. They're just the descendants of human mutants. Which might explain why, post-Heresy, only Fenrisians can become Space Wolves (assuming that's why the successor chapters couldn't handle Russ' gene seed).
So yes, naming the planet after the wolves means we really do just end up all the way back at Wolves of Wolves after all. Whelp.
Of course, that means that the Space Wolves are wearing pelts made of human skin, but lets not dwell on that - after all it's fairly common in the Imperium to wear human skulls... WolfyWolfWolf *BLAM*.
The Wulfen issue aka "Fucking Furries"
The blatant author favouritism annoys fans of the other chapters with "Dark Secrets". GW's treatment of the Wulfen makes it effortless for fans of other chapters to hurl Mary Sue accusations at them, unlike the Blood Angels and Dark Angels. The Wulfen are now out in the open; once they were exposed they get little (arguably no) punishment while the Inquisition and Grey Knights just "kept one eye open". The aforementioned chapters on the other hand have to keep their secrets from being found out by the Inquisition and the Imperium at large.
Despite the fact that Fallen Angels were paraded around on Terra, many would assume they were Ravenwing without their fancy bikes. While any claims of Dark Angels being the real traitors from the Fallen would have Guilliman retort back that they are full of shit (with more and longer words), as he knew exactly what The First was up to during the Horus Heresy with the exception the events that caused the destruction of Caliban. Of course, the Unforgiven would also be pissed if they found out if one of the predecessors of the Grey Knights killed a Dark Angel and were part of the reason their homeworld was destroyed and would demand censure.
The Blood Angels on the other hand have an infection similar to the Wulfen without mutating into some kind of half-human man-beast. The Red Thirst. The Blood Angels and their successors organize the afflicted into Death Companies who are lead by their Chaplains into killing Xenos and foul traitors. If they somehow survive the mutated Blood Angels are *BLAM*ed. Both chapters send their traitors/mutants into battle to be used as cannon fodder. A much more grimdark action that would be in character for Space Marines. They wouldn't be the only chapters to have done this either. Instead of treating mutants as fellow warriors. Inserting noble bright into the setting where it doesn't belong. The same reasons that so many players also hated the Tau until GW retconned them into being more grimdark.
Making this all the more strange. In all likelihood Guilliman himself wouldn't see a problem with using mutated Space Marines as cannon fodder. Because he did so himself when he created the Moritats after combat exercises with the Raven Guard. So chances are he would side with the other two former Imperium Secundus Legions. Due to not only favoritism but he and the rest of the Imperium at large would find it strange that the Space Wolves do not.
Why people hate the Space Wolves, tldr version
One user on reddit summed it up with this. (fixed for grammar somewhat)
"The Space Wolves remind me of a 13 year old’s first D&D character: very cool, special, powerful barbarian hero who is morally flawless but doesn't listen to authority and always does the right thing but don't you dare cross them. They get away with shit because they're so special and the rules don't apply to them, guys. They got to wage war on the Inquisition with a slap on the wrist, while the Celestial Lions were slaughtered for merely questioning the morals of the Inquisition. They get a free pass on mutation in a setting where that gets chapters purged. They drink and party while other chapters lose hundreds of brothers on meaningless, forgotten battlegrounds. They aren't even Vikings! The White Scars are Space Mongols. The Black Templars are Space Teutons. There are Space Rome. Space Egypt. Space Iroquois. But Vikings? No. They don't raid. They don't pillage. They don't terrorize. They don't explore, chart, map, and push boundaries. They just fuck around, being special, unique perfect little dudes who don't suffer in GrimDarkness.
They exist in the wrong game."
So basically Space Wolves now have the same problem as the Tau did a few editions back.
- Bjorn the Fell Handed
- Space Wolves Tactics
- Warriors of Chaos - With whom they get into bar brawls and drinking contests to see who is moar Viking
- Skyrar's Dark Wolves - Before calling your Dark Angels brothers traitors read this first to understand theirrage.
- Legion Consul - The old "Commissars" of the VI legion.
- Space Wolves theme song
|Forces of the Space Wolves|
|Command:||Wolf Lord - Wolf Guard|
|Priesthood:||Iron Priest - Rune Priest - Wolf Priest|
|Troops:||Blood Claw - Fenrisian Wolf - Long Fang - Skyclaw |
Swiftclaw - Thunderwolf Cavalry - Wulfen - Grey Hunter
|Walkers:||Dreadnought - Space Wolves Dreadnought |
|Vehicles:||Bike Squad - Rhino - Razorback |
Land Speeder - Predator - Vindicator
Whirlwind - Land Raider (Land Raider Crusader
Land Raider Redeemer - Wrath of Mjalnar)
|Flyers:||Stormfang - Stormwolf|
|Spacecraft:||Boarding Torpedo - Drop Pod |
Space Marine Landing Craft
|Allies:||Space Marines - Primaris Marines|