Warhammer 40,000/5th Edition Tactics/Space Wolves
Why Play Space Wolves
- Why you should play them: Awesome Space Vikings with a thing for wolves. They told both Girlyman and the Inquisition where they can stuff it, value individuality and heroic antics above all, distrust Psykers and their warp-craft and specialize in close combat.
- Why people actually play them:
They're cheaper Speehs Muhrines with arguably the single most broken psychic power in the gameA whole lot of reasons:
- Special Wargear and units unavailable to any other marine variants.
- Powerful HQ characters, both special and standard.
- All the close-ranged firepower you expect from marines, backed by excellent h2h ability.
- Motherfucking SPACE VIKINGS!
- All the Wolf you could ever wolfy wolf wolf.
- And if someone calls you a furry, you can rip their fucking throat out.
Note: Unlike other armies, Space Wolves can take two HQ units per HQ slot, giving them access to 1-4 HQ units in a standard force organization chart.
- Wolf Lord: This guy is pretty much a Space Marine Captain, with an extra attack, and better (more expensive) wargear and options available to him. He can be tooled out to be a total hand-to-hand combat monster, but gets expensive very quickly. Be careful not to go overboard. You're often better served with "boys over toys" (Taking a cheaper HQ to allow for more troops).
- Wolf Guard Battle Leader: Cheaper, weaker, version of the Wolf Lord (with a few less options). Make's a serviceable HQ for low-point games, but you might as well just use a Wolf or Rune Priest. He does offer 1 more attack and 1 higher initiative than the Wolf Priest, and, as such, is slightly better on his own in combat. The Squad-enhancing abilities of the Wolf Priest (and his free wargear) will typically make him a better "cheap hq" choice though.
- Rune Priest: These are your Librarians. They don't have many wargear options, and most of their psychic powers are shooting attacks. One of which, "Jaws of the World Wolf" is useful for character and Monstrous Creature sniping, and is responsible for more than its fair share of wolf-hate, while "Living Lightning" has unlimited range and can land as many S7 AP5 hits as a Fire Warrior squad. Their non-shooting psy-powers (Tempest's Wrath and Storm Caller) provide some nice utility, but you really take these guys for the force lightning. They also give you access to a "Rune Staff" which is a slightly-improved version of the Psychic hood. The "Chooser of the Slain" Upgrade is well worth considering for the RAAAAGE it will make infiltrators feel. In short, a tough character with access to three of the most broken psychic powers in the game.
- Wolf Priest: This guys is, for all intents and purposes, a Space Marine Chaplain, with more options. The Sagas are the only really note-worthy options available to him. (Though a Wolf Tail Talisman can come in handy). Oath of War isn't as useful as Liturgies of Battle on the charge(as it doesn't apply to everything) but you do get its bonus beyond the first round, so it's about even. In the end, he's not that useful, not being as killy as the Wolf Lord nor providing for the whole army as the Rune Priest.
The Space Wolves also have access to several special characters:
- Logan Grimnar:
The Greatwolf himselfOBLIGATORY 200+ PTS. NAMED CHARACTER. He is pretty great. Lets you take Wolf Guard as Troops (should you so desire), Gives everyone within 18" +1A once per game, gives a bonus (that you can choose each turn) to the squad he joins, and is a pretty nasty h2h fighter, complete with good gear, Eternal Warrior, and the ability to let nearby friendly units reroll failed morale, an ability quite useful to the painfully-average LD units of the Space Wolves. He is quite expensive though, more expensive than two discount characters, and good at little beyond bashing people in the face, so consider him carefully...
- Bjorn The Fell Handed:Poor old Bjorn. On the one hand he's an Armor 13, Venerable Dreadnought with an Invulnerable Save. On the other hand he's within a handful of points from the most expensive characters in the game, becomes an objective when killed, and cannot be put in a drop-pod. At first glance this makes him look like an overcosted dread that's bad at doing a dread's job, but Bjorn's real value is in bolstering/defending a shooty-wolf army. Ancient tactician means you go first 75% of the time, which is huge. Saga of majesty means he can chill with Long Fangs and fire off a plasma cannon while giving them rerolls on leadership and being in a good position to defend against assault units. He tarpits like a motherfucker and even if he does manage to get himself killed (somehow) being near your gunline means his death will be at worst a minor inconvenience or at best a positive benefit.
- Njal Stormcaller: Expensive, fragile, potentially game-changing. He's a good psyker, but his real power comes from his "Lord of the Storm" rule. Read it carefully, most of the effects require him to have LOS to his targets (with the recent FAQ, he can't hide in a bawks and use his rule anymore). Njal also suffers from the inherent randomness of his power, it may well do nothing for the first two turns, by which time it may be too late for it to impact the game in any meaningful way. Keeping him in reserve (perhaps by Drop Pod) can help keep him alive until his power can get over a 3, and actually do something of note. He does also comes with the very useful Saga of Majesty, and a significantly improved psychic hood, which adds to his value.
- Ulrik the Slayer: He's a Wolf Priest with the Stat-line of a Wolf Guard Battle Leader, who allows any friendly unit that can draw LOS to him to re-roll failed morale tests. Handy, may-or-may not be worth his points. Your mileage may vary.
- Canis Wolfborn: Yes, his name really is "Dog Wolfborn". He also dual-wields Wolf claws (a weapon unique to the Space Wolves) while riding a gigantic thunder Wolf , and wearing a Wolf tail talisman, and a Wolftooth necklace. He may also be accompanied by up to 2 Fenrisian Wolves. He is marked with the Saga of the Wolfkin (Notice a pattern yet?) and is responsible for at least 80% of the Space Wolf rage threads on /tg/. He's quite nasty in hand-to-hand combat (for his point cost) and has an interesting special rule: Lord of the Wolfkin - This rule allows all units of Wolves within 12" to use Canis' leadership.
- Bran Redmaw (Forgeworld): A new special character added in the latest Imperial Armour book. For 210 points you bring home a common Wolflord with Rune Armor, Wolftooth Necklace, a Belt of Russ and a special +1S power weapon that rerolls to wound. Also, he gives a single Grey Hunters pack Infiltrate and Behind Enemy Lines, and has a special Saga of the Hunter that extends to any Fenrisian Wolves unit he joins, but that's not why you take him. His main selling point is the "Curse of the Redmaw". From turn 2 onwards, before movement, you must roll a d6 and add the number of friendly units locked in combat: on a 6+ (reduced by 1 each turn, until you need only a 3+), he transforms into the big daddy of all Wulfens. He gains a Mephiston-like statline, counts as a Monstrous Creature and keeps the Necklace and all his old special rules, plus Fleet, Eternal Warrior, Feel no Pain and Furious Charge. Yup, you can still Outflank him. Yup, you can stick him in a normal unit to ensure nobody will ever want to charge it. Yup, your opponent will do the impossible to blast him off the board before he goes all werewolfy on his ass.
- Ragnar Blackmane: A Wolf Lord who was promoted straight from Blood Claw to Wolf Guard, and the youngest Wolf Lord ever, Ragnar is an all or nothing h2h unit. He boasts an impressive stat-line, has a Frost Sword, gives his unit 1d3 extra attacks on the charge instead of the original 1, gives his unit Furious Charge, can give every unit within 12" of him Furious Charge, and has Saga of the Warrior. In exchange, however, he wears simple Power Armor, and has a 4++ save, and doesn't have Eternal Warrior, making him extremely fragile. He will also probably be the focus of your opponents h2h attacks, so don't expect him to live very long. He will wipe out shooty units in a single turn, but against lots of power weapons (I'm looking at you, Grey Knights), Ragnar will go down. But he will probably take a few models down with him. Either you love him or hate him.
- Wolf Guard - Your Veterans. They can take all sorts of wargear, from simple power swords and plasma pistols up to Frost Blades and Terminator Armor. You can even stick them in bikes or on Jump Packs. However, their most unique ability is to second themselves off to another unit, such as Long Fangs, Grey Hunters, and Blood Claws, albeit one per squad. Versatile, powerful, customizable. You can't go wrong. Or a good squad of these with a wolf lord and wolf priest can take any land raider as a dedicated transport.
- Arjac Rockfist - One Wolf Guard per army can be upgraded to Arjac Rockfist, a Terminator Wolf Guard with a Storm shield and a S10 Thunder Hammer that he can throw before he charges. He's great at popping vehicles and mashing Independent Characters and Monstrous Creatures, but he's only useful in melee; make sure you stick him in a Land Raider to make sure he gets into combat safely. Still, a WGBL with the same wargear is significantly cheaper,
- Dreadnought - It's a Dreadnought, it's not much different from Dreadnoughts of other Marine armies. A good way to put some mobile heavy weapons on the field, and a close combat monster with its Dreadnought CCW.
- Venerable Dreadnought - 60 points more than the normal Dreadnought, has 1 WS/BS more, and forces your enemy to reroll vehicle damage, and can take the Saga of Majesty, but is otherwise identical to the standard Dreadnought. Horribly overcosted, and generally not worth the point tax. If you go for this you might as well take Bjorn.
- Lone Wolf - A 20-point kamikaze model (seriously, he gives your enemy a kill point if he survives the battle, but not if he dies) with Eternal Warrior and Feel No Pain, that can take pretty much any wargear he wants. Great for drawing retarded amounts of fire away from your other units. Load him for bear (TDA+SS+Chainfist), send him against the biggest enemy you can find, and hope he goes down swinging.
- Iron Wolf - Your Techmarine. Can be useful on a Thunderwolf running around with Cyberwolves as a mini-Thunderwolf Cavalry squad of sorts.
- Wolf Scouts - For some reason, the Space Wolves are the only army where the Scouts are Elites. They're also more expensive, but have WS/BS 4 because they're experienced warriors rather than neophytes. In addition, they can take flamers, meltas, and plasma guns, in addition to plasma pistols and/or power weapons. Good for surprise attacks against a vulnerable flank, but they can be overwhelmed easily thanks to their light armor. Also make very good snipers because of the extra BS skill. Give them a meltagun, a Power Fist + Combi-melta Wolf Guard Pack Leader, and hope you don't get 1 or 2 on the outflank roll.
- Grey Hunters - Ultrasmurfs wish their infantry were as good as these. Mostly the same as regular Tactical squads, minus a heavy weapon, but so much more nasty in Close Combat. Their basic profile gives them a close combat weapon and a bolt pistol along with their bolter. Yes. They get TWO weapons for close combat. Also they can get one special weapon and if you have ten you get one special weapon for free so 2 meltas for only 5 pts and plasma for 10 pts and flamers for FREE.
- Blood Claws - Unlike Grey Hunters, they gain +2 Attacks instead of the usual +1 on the charge (which unfortunately does not stack with Counter-Attack), but must forgo their shooting and charge if they are within 6" of an enemy unit (unless a Wolf Guard is seconded to them, so do this if you can). Get a squad of 14, give them a fist and a meltagun. Attach a Wolf Priest. Load them up in your Land Raider Crusader, and then send this neat little package of violence at the nearest enemy. If you don't have a Land Raider of any kind, don't bother with the Blood Claws. They're not worth using in any other way, and even then, one Land Raider can be easily delayed (just park a Land Speeder in front of it).
- Lukas the Trickster - One Blood Claw per army may be upgraded to Lukas, who comes equipped with a Wolf Claw and a Plasma Pistol. Attacks against Lukas (only Lukas himself, not his squad) must be rerolled if they hit, and he can suicide-bomb if he's removed as a casualty for whatever reason, taking out whatever he's in base contact with, including Titans (yes, it's an instakill, not even the "D3 structure points" rule can save them) and transport passengers, according to the FAQ. Good stats and a nice way to put some more special weapons in your Blood Claws, but his points cost and negative effect he has on Leadership make him a dicey proposition- much like his personality in the fluff, really.
- Fenrisian Wolf Pack - Cheap beasts, but not super-killy compared to other units in the list and can be gunned down easily due to their terrible 6+ save. They're basically tarpits to use to tie up big units in assault until your Terminators or Thunderwolf Cavalry can get to them. Also, cannot hold objectives ever. Taking Canis Wulfborn makes them troop choices. No, they're still not going to hold objectives. Really, they are not that great, just ally if you need a horde of squishies.
- Land Speeder squadron - Basically the damn same as the Land Speeders in the Space Marine codex. If you run one, run two, same as other vehicles. Do not squadron them up if you have slots to spare (you die on 4+ in a squadron). The key feature of these fuckers is that you can speed 'em around the field fast enough that they always get their 3+ cover save from moving flat out. If you're lucky, you can get people to waste a turn or two shooting at these while your real vehicles are getting shit done un-impeded. Of course, if your enemy ignores them, then you probably get a chance to pop something with your Multi-meltas, so you might win either way. Deepstriking also works, providing there is space for that. Outfitting them in a way other than MM/HF or HB/Typhoon ML is heresy.
- Skyclaw Assault Squad - Blood Claws with jump packs, good for delivering a power fist into the enemy and generally being a damn nuisance. However, their low WS/BS means they could be overwhelmed by more elite assault units; make them go for weaker targets, where their mobility and sheer number of attacks will hurt the most.
- Swiftclaw Biker Squad - Blood Claws on bikes, with all the WS/BS 3 goodness that implies. Because they have a close combat weapon and a bolt pistol, they get +1 Attack compared to other Marine bikers, and twin-linked weapons help to offset BS3. An attack bike with a multimelta will help with any tank problems you might have. Like Skyclaws, these guys are great at keeping your enemy distracted and making attacks of opportunity. Just avoid getting them bogged down in melee and they'll be fine.
Note: On average, all of the *claw units are not worth it if you want to win, as they're overcosted. Use them in fun/casual games only.
- Thunderwolf Cavalry - These are probably the best-in-slot for Fast Attack choices. Kit them out for wound allocation (one with a meltabomb, one with a thunder hammer, etc.) and they're basically Nob Bikers with a potential 19-24" assault threat. Remember to bring a couple of Storm Shields along to cope with those pesky melta/lascannon shots.
- Land Raider - Schizophrenic AV14 box. You should take a Crusader instead.
- Land Raider Crusader - The golden cow of Land Raiders. Pintle-mounted Multi-Melta plus the sheer bullet rape spewed out by this thing will lay a hurt on squishy things in its way, or stupid Guard or Ork drivers who decide to pull up next to it.
- Land Raider Redeemer - You're better served by a Crusader. While they burn MEQs, this variant suffers from not doing anything before it reaches the frontlines, and it needs to be in melta-range to fire. Melta = death, so take a Crusader instead. Also, it's a pain to use both their flamers simuhltaneously
- Long Fangs Pack - Take Devastators, get rid of the regular Bolter Boys and give the heavies Split Fire. Long Fangs are the most popular tank-hunting choice of the Space Wolves Heavy choices, and are easily paired up with the more mobile Dreadnoughts to bash in the METAL BOXES. Running them with Missile Launchers is recommended, with an occasional Lascannon thrown in if you have points to spare.
- Predator - It's a Predator. Duh. Not worth it in a Space Wolf army, you'd better served with Fangs instead. If you, for some reason, want to use one, keep it cheap and arm it with HB sponsons. Sit back and pound the enemy, or provide AV13 for your bawkses.
- Vindicator - It's a Vindicator. Low side armor, single hull-mounted gun, short range and a possibility to scatter on your own Wolves. Bad, bad, bad.
- Whirlwind - It's a Whirlwind. Not much else needs to be said.
- Rhino - 35 points for a metal box that keeps your Grey Hunters safe, makes them a lot more mobile, and meltagun tanks out of the top hatch...hell, why not?
- Razorback - The best friends of your Long Fangs. LasPlas, while the most expensive, is THE shit, since it has two good guns (so Weapon Destroyed won't cripple it) that punch through medium armor and heavy infantry alike. Take three-four or go the whole cog (aka Razorwolves, famous for fielding 8-10 LasPlases at 2k pts)
- Drop Pod - Drop Pods are your best friend from high school who married your sister and parties with you every weekend. Okay, maybe I blew the point, but Drop Pods and Space Wolves are a classic combo. The Drop Pod Assault Special rule means that half of your pods have to deploy in your first turn (round up if you have an odd number of pods). This has a few different uses: Mess with your enemy's head by Deep Striking Grey Hunters in a place where it's not expected. Deep Strike Long Fangs or Dreadnoughts into prime places for popping enemy vehicles. Deep Strike your HQ, his squad, and several supporting squads to put a heavy hammer somewhere. FYI, the other half of your pods come down normally. Make sure you keep this rule in mind when you're writing the army list, so you can figure out how you want to deploy for best effect and capitalize on it when you are at the table. Again, it is better to either mount up all your squads in Pods or none, as one-two Pods can be easily countered and made useless by a good player. (DISCLAIMER: GTFO AND AWAY FROM THE DROP PODS IN A KILL POINTS GAME. DROP PODS CAN EXPLODE WHEN SHOT AT AND DEAL HEAVY DAMAGE TO YOUR INFANTRY IF THEY ARE TOO CLOSE.)
Building your Army
Start with a Battleforce and a spare box of Space Wolves or Space Wolves Terminators to make your HQ and Wolf Guard. Rune Priests are easily made from plastic parts, and with the new SW stuff, the same goes for Wolf Priests (if you field them, which you shouldn't). If you can, exchange the Drop Pod sprue for a Rhino, as with Gay Knights around Deep Strike is at best unreliable. Better to go with an old-fashioned Metal Bawks. Buy another one when you can, and that will net you 2 mechanized Grey Hunter squads and some support. Taking hold of meltagun and missile launcher bitz is paramount, as the SW Pack box only comes with two Plasmaguns. With these core units, you may then proceed to buy anything else you wanted. A good idea is to buy a Space Marine box (or even a Battleforce) and use your remained bitz to make Marines wolfy. Dem vanillas (speaking Tactical Squad) also have sum good bitz (and more bolters/bolt pistols for your Hunters), and a Missile Launcher/Flamer to boot.
In a short time, you will need armor support. Dreadnoughts are a better and cheaper early investment than Predators, so one or two Dreads to carry your heavy guns (twin Autocannons or Multi-meltas) should do you well until you learn what exactly you want to do with your army. You may skip this part, of course, if you managed to get enough Missile Launchers so you can build a decent number of Fangs.
Space Wolves' strength is not in close combat, but rather in spamming shooty units and using assault defensively; making big expensive CC units is fail. Their Terminators are too expensive, and while you can easily build an army to use big units of Thunderwolf Cavalry their Ld8 sucks wolf-cocks when it comes to getting Tank Shocked repeatedly and their 3D6 Fall Back move means they're likely to run out of play if there's anything nearby to stop them regrouping.
Instead of shitty combat units, bring a few small Grey Hunters packs with a single Meltagun, a Wolf Standard and a Rhino to ride in, some Wolf Guard with Combi-Meltaguns to lead them, a Rune Priest HQ to shit on Blood Angels flying Dreadnoughts and Grey Knights' magic tanks, then spend the rest of your points on Missile Launchers, Lascannon/ Plasma Gun Razorbacks, and Land Speeders with Multimeltas. The Meltagun Grey Hunters and Land Speeders go forward, everything else is fire support.
The basic gist; shoot big guns at tanks until infantry falls out, and when infantry falls out use Rapid Fire Boltguns, Frag Missiles, Plasma turrets, Rhino Storm Bolters, and anything and everything else to drop them. Thanks to Counter-Attack your units are as good when defending as they are when attacking, which means where other Space Mehrens need to work out how to get their dumb asses into combat from the back of a Rhino, your Hunters can quite happily roll up to some schmuck, Rapid Fire him with their Boltguns, then sit beside their Metal Bawks and eat the charge next turn, at which point you pop your Yiff Standard and beat face.
What Spess Wulfs in this configuration don't have in any real form is mobility; at least not beyond the 12 inches your Rhinos can take you. Then again, who the fuck needs mobility when you have 15 Missiles, 5 Lascannons, 8 Meltaguns, 10 vehicles and 50 Marines? At 1500 points. Fuck you and your Dreadknight.