As Olly is a serious Space Wolf buff and master of all things wolf related he has offered to share his wisdom and exploit some of the new nastiness of the new codex and what it do! For more of Simon, check out his blog over at 40K Brawl!
Space Wolves get the most bad ass t-shirts
Ok, so let’s get a one thing out the way before we begin. What follows is by no means to be taken as gospel and for all intents and purposes is nothing more than the uninformed ramblings of a self confessed Space Wolf fan. No lists have been written, dice rolled or games played. These are my (hastily written) initial thoughts based solely on having read the new book, playing Wolves (and 40k in general) since 5th (just over 2 years now) with varying degrees of success and reading every Space Wolf novel currently available. As such, I fully expect (and in some cases hope) to be proven very very wrong! That being said, let’s get in to it…
It’s important to get started on a positive so; this is a very pretty book. The cover art is awesome. Yes, it does conform to the new (apparently now standard) look for 40k codexes, which includes all special rules at the back and data sheet style entries for each unit. I’m aware that this new layout has taken a lot of flak online but I personally don’t see what all the fuss is about, was it unnecessary? Yes. Will it ruin the game? Safe to say no, so lets not dwell on it.
And on to the rules…
Thunderwolf Cavalry – Maybe the unit that got the biggest boost. Starting with a necessary points decrease, access to cheaper wargear (Storm Shields now cost HALF what they did before!) and now ALL models in the unit can take melee upgrades (shields/fists/hammers etc.) Combine this with the new wording to Thunderwolves, which seems to suggest that even if they take additional melee weapons they get to keep Rending and these guys are now cheaper, more resilient and pack an even better punch than before. Win, win, win. Expect to see a lot more Thunderwolf Cavalry on tables in the near future. Combined with other elements from both the SW and SM dexes there is definite deathstar potential here. (A side note here for Thunderwolves: Buying one as an upgrade now also grants the rider an additional WOUND on top of all the bonuses from the last dex.)
Iron Priests – He may have seen a tiny points increase, but is definitive proof that a little change can make a big difference. Iron Priests are now ICs, allowing them to join units. He also benefits from the new Runic Armour (6+ invun vs. everything) and retained the ability to take a Thunderwolf mount. This guy just became a lot more viable, being able to provide a nasty clout to any unit for a very reasonable price. He’s not quite as good as a Wolf Lord and as such won’t be able to fill the same role, but I expect to see them used in addition to a mounted Wolf Lord in TWC units.
Grey Hunters – Surprised to see these guys in here? Me too. But the more I look at it the more I have to admit that there were SOME positives in the changes to our long standing “best” unit. They did technically get cheaper by 1ppm. And thanks to the new method of adding Wolf Guard to a unit, you can still take your additional “10 man bonus” special weapon PLUS a combi on the Wolf Guard, meaning these guys come packing 3(2) special weapons. This allows them to be even more specialised and destructive in their first round of shooting.
Flyers – FINALLY after much begging, whining and bargaining we got our air-support. And they are awesome! I’m excited to see the Stormwolf and Stormfang in action. Both variants bring considerable fire power (vs. Tanks AND infantry) and resilience (AV12 all round, 3HP). All at what I would call a fair price, especially when compared to other similar flyers such as the Storm Raven, which I would say doesn’t have the same damage output. Going out on a limb I’d say you can expect to see more Stormwolfs than Stormfangs. The slightly lower cost, ability to be taken as Dedicated Transports and hold up to 16 models, whilst still putting out a good amount of fire make appear the superior choice. (It is also worth noting that it is an assault vehicle, but has to go into “skimmer mode” to utilise this so I’m sure how big an impact that will have.)
Logan Grimnar – Dude is a BAMF (-look it up), his new model is awesome, he is a TANK and now he can take a chariot! PULLED BY THUNDERWOLVES! Did he lose some (all) of his buffing rules? Yes (“booo…”) and have GW continued their campaign to shoe-horn us all into using their new rules by making him a LOW? Yes. But seriously, try not liking this guy, I dare you. (Want more reasons to love this guy? Go and read “The Emperor’s Gift”.)
Blood Claws – 3ppm cheaper, can still take a 2nd special weapon at 15 and lost their stupid “Headstrong” rule which stopped them shooting if the enemy got to close AND gained the Rage special rule so they still get their +2 attacks on the charge. They are both considerably cheaper and more reliable than before, to the point that they are now a very viable alternative to Grey Hunters.
Sky Claws – Like Blood Claws, another unit that last codex was never really considered at all, so what changed? They too got cheaper by 3ppm but the big change is their potential damage output. A 5 man unit can now take 2 special weapons and then the Wolf Guard Leader can take a combi. Giving these guys the ability to Deep Strike in, (maybe taking advantage of Drop Pod locator beacons…?) and pump out 3 special weapon shots, I’m thinking flamers or meltas. This load-out does start to make the 5 man unit a little expensive and chances are they won’t survive the turn after the drop but they are capable of doing a job and (if kitted out with Meltas) are more than likely to recoup the points you spend on them.
Relics – New to Space Wolves and for the most part they seem reasonably priced and not obviously overpowered. I expect to see the Bite of Fenris (a bolter with 2 fire modes: one which has Hellfrost, the other Ignores Cover) and Helm of Durfast (bearer re-rolls all misses and has Ignores Cover) put to good use. I can also see the Wolfen Stone (bearer gets Rage and Furious Charge, unit gets Furious Charge) seeing play with various TWC builds.
Drop Pods – Saving the “best” until last we have Drop Pods, now seemingly available for purchase as a Fast Attack option. Why is this important? Because when purchased in this way they are NOT Dedicated Transports and as such allied Battle Brother units can now embark into our “spare” pods before deployment and arrive from reserve using them. The internet is already on fire with talk of Centurions, Paladins and even Sisters looking to take advantage of this. Am I psyched that (at least until the same is done in the Blood Angels and Marine books) our Drop Pod builds received a big boost? Hell yes. But the idea that we are going to be relentlessly whored as allies so players can pod in their power units, which cannot buy their own pods, does not fill me with joy.
Lack of FOC changers – Another of GW’s latest attempts to force us to play the game their way means that there is no way to make any elite units (Bikers, TWC, Skyclaws and Wolf Guard etc.) into Troops.
“YOU WILL ALL PLAY UNBOUND!!!” – GW R&D 2014
Sadly this does limit some of our options with regards objective secured units and is one significant disadvantage Wolves face compared to their Vanilla Marine brethren.
Grey Hunters – Yeahhh, sadly the changes to these guys were as bad as they were good. Wolf banners (as we know and love them)? Gone. Mark of the Wulfen? Gone. Free special weapons? Gone. The truth of the matter is that your once standard Grey Hunter load out really does not exist anymore and any attempt to recreate it will not only be less effective but more expensive. The real kick in the nuts though? For as long as anyone can remember Grey Hunters have gone in to battle bearing their bolters/ccw and so players have always modeled them as such, the new rules could see a lot of people having to “alter” a good number of their existing models. Very annoying.
Psychic Presence – Yes Rune Priests got cheaper to bring them in to line with other psychers but that’s about it as far as the positive goes here. In exchange they lost pretty much every decent ability they had in the last book and now have to pay extra just to get a standard Psychic Hood. We have no real potential for generating a good high number of warp charge and really at this point I can’t see why we would want to. Our Codex powers are… underwhelming as a whole. Fury of the Wolf Spirits is nice but outside of that the options aren’t too exciting and the Primaris isn’t enough to make it worthwhile rolling on Tempestus. Jaws of the World Wolf (I think the fact that they’ve kept the name is solely to taunt us) has been nerfed into obscurity. Yes we knew it was coming and yes it was overpowered before but now it is essentially useless unless you’re facing Necrons. It only targets one model and it no longer effects MCs, I mean seriously what are you going to target with this? Any character worth killing has Initiative high enough to dodge it or you’re wasting it on something you could probably kill more efficiently another way. Most likely we will just see Rune Priests used as Divination providers.
Njal Stormcaller (The former Lord of Tempests) – Ok so basically all the Space Wolves named characters got points reductions and most of them either remained as good as before or slightly better. All bar, and it pains me to say this as I went in with such high hopes, Njal. He did get a points reduction, but he lost his “Lord of Tempests” special ability, his special runic armour (now a standard 2+/6++) and in exchange can re-roll ONE failed psychic test per turn. Stand this guy next to Tigurius (who is CHEAPER) and the comparison is laughable.
Sagas – All but gone. Yes they still exist but have been toned down and are now our Warlord traits, meaning only you Warlord can take them and you have basically no control over which one he gets so it is impossible to build an army strategy around them.
A few units/changes from the book that I like but can’t decide whether they are “good” or not!
Dreadnaughts – Yes they all got cheaper (inc. Bjorn), we picked up some cool variants (if you can get over the fact Murderfang’s murder face is hanging out of his murder chassis in a murderous rage) and they have potential in Drop Pods but I’m just not sure they received enough of a boost to make them viable in a COMPETITVE build.
Fenrisian Wolves – Can now claim objectives! But sadly can no longer be made Troops…
Herald Deathwolf – Packing a Frost Axe, Storm Shield, Thunderwolf and stats to rival a SM Chapter Master. The big thing here is that he gives he has Outflank which makes him a valuable addition to any TWC unit. That said, with no more assault from reserves his usefulness is limited in a combat orientated unit.
Wolf Lords – Cheaper, now with a built in 4++ as standard and access to mostly cheaper wargear options. But still in my opinion, inferior to Space Marine Chapter Masters. Disappointing given the hero saga fluff which is constantly churned out about Space Wolf Lords by GW at every opportunity.
Overall, after a month of nervously wading through all the rumours, I am relieved to say that I’m happy with the new Space Wolves codex. Yeah I’m bummed that my beloved Grey Hunters took a hit and that we lost some of the fluffier rules (Logan’s force multipliers, Njal’s tempest, Wolf Tail Talisman’s etc.), which helped make Wolves unique. But I think the question it is important to keep in mind at all times is “Competitively, are we in a better position now than we were with the old book?” And at this point I feel the answer is a resounding “Yes.” The buffs to TWC, addition of very nice flyers, Drop Pod options and the additional special weapon for Grey Hunters means we not only added some new options but also remained strong in some areas where we already excelled. Now, are Space Wolves going to be top tier? Ehhhh I honestly do not know, but there is definite potential. I don’t see them being as good as Eldar and their Serpents or producing a build as strong as the Dark Eldar Beastpack, but I do think they can rival Marines and IG for that spot just below the very top. In the short term, I do think we’ll see a healthy dose of Wolves as allies to gain access to our fliers and FA Drop Pods. So relax Wolves players, you are much better off now than you were a week ago and you’re set up pretty well for the future too.