Space Wolves Formation Review: Wolfkin

Hello everyone SaltyJohn here from TFGRadio bringing you a new review of a unit that might rival my Librarius Conclave review for salty comments. Today I review the Wolfkin formation! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!

The Space Wolves live up to their name when it comes to units. Unlike the various Angels, who don’t have any real Angels, the Wolves of Fenris use actual wolves in their Chapters Great Companies when they go into battle. These take three forms, Thunderwolves, Cyber Wolves, and Fenrisian Wolves. With the release of Curse of the Wulfen we gained some great formations, and a few new units, for Space Wolves. One of these formations utilizes Fenrisian Wolves and allows a player to field a single, massive unit, of Fenrisian Wolves when normally the unit would be capped at 15 models. This unit has given rise to a new super list the Wolftide. No, it isn’t called Bark Star.

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Overview: The Wolfkin formation allows a player who takes it to combine all of the units of Fenrisian Wolves from the formation into a single super unit. On the surface 45 to 75 Toughness 4, Strength 4, single wound models, with a 6+ save, and one attack base doesn’t sound very good. The unit becomes a gold mine when you start to add characters and/or psychic shenanigans to it. It’s a fairly cheap Auxiliary choice for the Wolf Claw Strike Force weighing in at just 80 points for the 2 minimum squads. It can be buffed up to some meaningful size with 45 wolves at just 360 points and with the full 75 Fenrisian Wolves you reach a near insurmountable tide of wolves at just 600 points.

how-do-wolves-protect-themselves_028f4325-e514-4aa8-a912-9a242db6a8b9Formation:

  • 2-5 Units of Fenrisian Wolves.
  • Restrictions: None

Special Rules:

  • Monster Hunter
  • Outflank
  • Alpha Pack: If you wish all of the units in the Wolfkin formation can be deployed as a single unit known as an Alpha Pack. Add 1 to the attack characteristic of all Fenrisian and Cyberwolf models in an Alpha Pack whilst there are 20 or more models in the unit. (Note it says models in the unit so if you are down to 15 Fenrisian Wolves and 5 attached ICs you still get +1 Attack on the Fenrisian Wolves!)
  • Call of the Wolves: If the formation is within 12 inches of the left or right table edge they can call outflanking Space Wolf models onto the battlefield from that edge instead of rolling for their outlfanking edge.

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Tactics:

Like I said above, on paper this unit doesn’t seem like much to begin with. It is also only really worth taking in two situations. The first is if you want a cheap way to fill in the Auxiliary tax for a Wolf Claw Strike Force. This is a perfectly legitimate, and cheap, way to get your auxiliary unit taken care of! It is also of great use to Space Wolf decurions that want to utilize Outflanking units as part of their main strategy. With Call of the Wolves you now have a great way to make sure those Outflanking Space Wolves come in on the correct board edge. If you’re expecting the Wolfkin formation to do much more than act as a lure, and small harassment unit, in a Wolf Claw Strike Force then you’re going to have a bad time.

The second situation in which you’d want to run the Wolfkin formation is if you want to run the vaunted Wolftide. This list is mean. Wolftide uses the Wolfkin formation and allied Independent Characters to buff the 45-75 Fenrisian Wolves to demi-god like stature. Let’s look at this approach to using Wolfkin by doing two things. First let’s list a weakness of the formation, then let’s explore how to fill those gaps and create the Wolftide in all it’s fur laden glory.

  • 6+ Save

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Here the answer is fairly easy. You ally in Azrael, as your Warlord, for a 4+ Invul save on the unit then choose the Hold At All Costs Warlord Trait so the unit has Feel No Pain when within 3 inches of an objective. Now you have 45-75 models that have a 4+5+FNP. I don’t like this build personally, although it is admittedly the most popular. I prefer to go heavy psyker tech with my Wolftide; so to beef them up I do the following. First I take an allied Librarius Conclave, you could also try Grey Knights librarians, Ultramarines Chapter Tactics because I love Tigurius but taking White Scars is common as well. You want to roll on Divination first to get Forewarning (4+ Invul Save) and Prescience (re-roll to hit). Once you have those fish for Veil of Time for re-rolls to failed saves. After that go for Endurance to get 4+ FNP, Eternal Warrior is nice for all those attached ICs. You could also fish for Sanctuary to get +1 to their Invulnerable save. If you shoot the moon you could end up with a unit of 80 models (75 wolves + 5 Librarians) that have a re-rollable 3++ followed by a 4+ FNP. Nasty and arguably harder to deal with than the couple unkillable 2++ re-roll stars out there due to the sheer size of the Wolftide. Azrael certainly gets you something similar and if you ally in some Mastery Level 3 Grey Knight librarians you have a decent chance at getting Veil of Time and Sanctuary. Honestly it’s personal taste at that point.

  • Low Leadership

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If you’re going the Azrael route this isn’t as big of a deal as Grim Resolve means the unit will be Stubborn. However that means you will have a game every now and then where an opponent will cause enough wounds turn 1 to force a morale check and suddenly you’re off the board when you blow the Ld10 check. It happens, it’s rare, but it happens. The resurgence of horde armies and Eldar Warp Spider spam has seen a shift in the competitive meta toward a lot of Artillery based armies, or at least armies that cause a massive number of wounds per turn. If you’re going second and haven’t gotten the psychic buffs up on your Azrael led Wolftide then you could blow the Ld10 check and be gone. This is another reason I eschew the Dark Angels build and instead go for a more pure Space Wolves. I like to get a Chaplain, or Wolf Priest, into the unit to make them Fearless. A Fearless squad will never blow that random Ld10 check turn 1 and lose me the game before I get a chance to play. If you’ve allied in that Wolf Priest you’ve also gotten the Wolftide a 6+ FNP. It’s not a 5+ from Azrael or the 4+ from Endurance but it is another layer of protection.

  • Low Strength

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There are three basic ways of dealing with the relatively low strength of the Fenrisian Wolves. If you’re playing the DA build you have Azrael choose For the Lion as his trait and then he and his unit have the Furious Charge Special Rule. Though you’re giving up the 5+ FNP. This is arguably the better choice when running Wolftide with DA. Again, I disagree and find another way around. In my psyker heavy build I am already reliant on psychic powers to buff the Wolves survivability so that route is out. Not to mention there aren’t a lot of great options for buffing an entire units strength through psychic powers. Here again the Space Wolves codex comes to the rescue. Since you are already taking a Wolf Priest to make the Wolftide Fearless you can take the Wulfen Stone (suitably named, get it? GET IT!?) for 40 points and now the Wolf Priest and his unit have the Furious Charge special rule.

  • Low Toughness

This, you’re not getting around. You’re best bets are to stick with one of the two ways we get around the terrible save above.

  • No AP Value on their attacks

Again, you’re most likely not going to get around this one. Volume of attacks will usually get things done for your Wolfkin, when built and taken as part of the Wolftide, but you can try to get Rending. If you went the Conclave route you may have rolled Misfortune already while fishing for Forewarning. If so you can now grant your Wolfkin rending against a single enemy unit. Not too shabby. If you hit a Stormsurge or Wraithknight with just 30 Wolves from the Wolftide that is going to be 90 attacks, re-rolling to hit from Prescience, at Str 5 from Furious Charge, and Rending from Misfortune! The real low AP value hits will come from the Axes on your Conclave members (you really need to read my conclave article if you’re not taking force axes still). I personally like to run my Wolftide alongside a Thunderlord or two for some nice S10 powerfist attacks.

Azrael

The Azrael Wolftide versus Conclave Wolftide debate can go on and on. I’ll leave you with two lists for Wolftide, using the Wolfkin formation obviously, and give you a bit of homework. Look through the rules for how all the units work with one another, the benefits conferred etc. Then decide for yourself. I truly feel that how the Wolftide is built depends more on personal preference and play style than anything else.

Space Wolves Heavy Wolftide:

SW CAD: HQ– Wolf Lord, TWM, Fist, Shield. Wolf Priest, Wulfen Stone. Elites- 3 Iron Priests, on TWM Troops- 2x 5 man Bloodclaw squads in Rhinos.

Wolfkin Formation: 3x 15 Wolves

Ultramarines Librarius Conclave: Tigurius, 4 Mastery Level 2 Librarians on bikes with Force Axes.

Azrael Wolftide

DA CAD: Azrael, Sammael, Troops: 2x Scouts Fast: 4 Black Knights

Wolfkin Formation: 5×15 Wolves

Grey Knights CAD: 2x Grey Knight Librarians with Daemon Hammers, Level 3. Troops: 2x 5 man Strike Squads with 1 Psycannon each.

The Wolfkin formation is an enigma in my opinion. It can be both a throw away tax choice for a SW Decurion or the basis for a fearsome Death Star in the form of the Wolftide. There is no real middle ground on this one. If you want a preview of what I’ll be taking to the Hammer of Wrath GT this weekend, you can find a similar list here.

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My Blackmanes dropping in on a DA/GK/Wolftide. I killed a lot of Wolves but not enough!

As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.

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About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

35 Responses to “Space Wolves Formation Review: Wolfkin”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius August 10, 2016 1:01 pm #

    The Bark Star is so, so, so lame, lol

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn August 10, 2016 1:12 pm #

      The name or the build?

    • Vercingatorix August 11, 2016 7:59 am #

      Maybe if they’re all converted to orks I can run it as how the green tide should have been.

  2. Logan valentine August 10, 2016 1:31 pm #

    I see your lists and raise you this:
    Lions Blade Formation:
    Battle Demi Company #1 – 480
    Company Master – Power Fist, Jump Pack – 130
    5 Tac Marines – Pod – 70
    5 Tac Marines – Pod – 70
    5 Tac Marines – Pod – 70
    5 Assault Marines – Razorback – 70
    5 Devastator Marines – Razorback – 70

    Battle Demi Company #2 – 440
    Chaplain – 90
    5 Tac Marines – Razorback – 70
    5 Tac Marines – Razorback – 70
    5 Tac Marines – Razorback – 70
    5 Assault Marines – Razorback – 70
    5 Devastator Marines – Razorback – 70
    10th Company Formation: 55
    5 Scouts – Bolters – 55
    Inner Circle Formation: 215
    Azrael – 215
    Wolfkin Formation – 304
    38 Fenrisian Wolves – 304

    Ultramarines Conclave – 355
    Tigurius – 165
    Libby – ML2, Axe, Bomb – 95
    Libby – ML2, Axe, Bomb – 95

    I think my version is light years better because it can actually play the game, while still having a massive, essentially invulnerable unit.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn August 10, 2016 1:37 pm #

      Very nice.

    • Heldericht August 10, 2016 3:36 pm #

      I’m not sure about that. The whole point of the Bark Bark star is to have way too many wolves for it to matter how many you kill before they reach you and crush your heavy stuff with weight of numbers on attacks. You have less than half that number and if you lose them, your only backup is a barebones battlecompany. Doesn’t seem as scary.

      • Vercingatorix August 11, 2016 8:00 am #

        yeah, what happens when you go second against 4 wyverns, They’ll erase the wolves.

        • SaltyJohn
          SaltyJohn August 11, 2016 8:51 pm #

          Those types of match ups are the rock to this scissor. Absolutely true!

        • Logan Valentine August 12, 2016 6:14 am #

          In NOVA format you’d roll for Invis, hope to go first. If going second spread to max 2″ coherency, which means lots of the hits will only be 1 model. In ITC format, go first, roll veil of time and laugh as wyverns bounce off. Azrael can also take FNP in order to give the wolves a 4++/5+ vs the Wyverns, essentially a 3+. There are a lot of ways it goes really bad for the Wyverns and you aren’t even taking into account the Gladius that is there, sure the Marines are bare, but they are obsec and there are a ton to kill, every turn spent shooting the barkstar is a turn the Gladius gets to position for objectives. Annoying list, I don’t think unbeatable, but I think a tough matchup for just about any army. Renegades is prob the worst matchup and even that, if I roll Veil, I feel pretty comfortable as long as I can absorb turn 1.

          • Vercingatorix August 12, 2016 10:12 am
            #

            Well obviously if you go first you’re fine. but if you go second then the wyverns should probably get 1-3 hits per shot, call it an average of 1.5 to be safe. That’s 24 hits, 18 wounds, 9 dead wolves.
            huh, pretty stupid how little that does.
            That being said, I still think its a much weaker variant because the lack of hit and run. If you play against someone that has the ability to tie up the dogs with something relatively cheap then you might be in trouble.
            What does the army do against a wraithknight? Can’t it remain pretty safe in combat with the dogs, assuming they don’t get the charge?

  3. Heldericht August 10, 2016 3:26 pm #

    What can even beat this?

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn August 10, 2016 8:48 pm #

      A lot can beat it. Nothing is unbeatable. It fairs poorly against Knights, or even a single Knight in a well designed Renegades list. Battle Company is hard for it to beat in missions because it’s not amazing at popping all those vehicles and the unit saturation from BC is a lot to overcome in just 3-4 turns. You’re not getting past turn 4 with Wolftide against BC.

      • Vercingatorix August 11, 2016 8:01 am #

        Does the unit have hit and run or am I missing something?

        • SaltyJohn
          SaltyJohn August 11, 2016 8:52 pm #

          It depends. That’s why I said some people like to take a White Scars conclave instead of Ultras. Some lists have the DA detachment as a CAD taking both Sammael and Azrael to get H&R.

          • Vercingatorix August 12, 2016 10:15 am
            #

            you need hit and run against daemon players I think. 3 summoned screamers buffed to a 2+ rerollable don’t really care how deadly your star is or how durable. They’ll just tie you up until judgement day.

  4. westrider August 10, 2016 4:04 pm #

    Stop it, son, you are doing me a frighten! 😉

    You can also go completely ridiculous with it by replacing the CAD in the SW-heavy example with a Company of the Great Wolf, and just filling in with more Iron Priests or Battle Leaders, for literally 0 Models not in the Star.

  5. Quinn August 10, 2016 4:04 pm #

    My build comes from a bit of a different direction, since I prefer to keep my Space Wolves pure. Basically I run Harald in the Alpha Pack to give the Fenrisians stubborn and furious charge without having to ally in. I run 2 units of TWs (both 6 strong all with SS, Leader with Wolf Claw and 2 PFs per unit) and then a Wyrdstorm Brotherhood with 5 Runepriests on bikes (2 level 2s and 3 level 1s) one of the level 2s has the Helm of Durfast and is the primary caster for The Living Storm. I can use various psychic powers to buff what I need depending on powers of course. This might not be an ideal build but it’s fun and flexible to add or subtract formations (I own a ton of wolves) and pure which appeals to me.

    • Quinn August 10, 2016 4:12 pm #

      To be clear Harald, the TWs and 2 servitors are Champions of Fenris with Harald as the Warlord.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn August 10, 2016 8:49 pm #

      That seems pretty good too!

  6. Logan valentine August 10, 2016 4:28 pm #

    The dog unit in my list is definitely way less big and durable but it doesnt die very quickly at all, I usually gun for veil of time, or invis if the opp has a lot of blasts. It is mostly a big distraction, by tarpitting and soaking up firepower.

  7. BBF August 10, 2016 8:41 pm #

    Wow this is really super lame-o

    Q_Q

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn August 10, 2016 8:50 pm #

      Tell us how you really feel!

    • Vercingatorix August 12, 2016 10:16 am #

      It honestly doesn’t seem all that different from the thunderwolf star. Okay, its way more models but it still works the same way? psychic buffs, tons of ablative wounds, and hit and run.

  8. wintertalon August 10, 2016 11:26 pm #

    Is there any list using the wulfen Murderpack formation that’s been doing well? I have yet to see a list with them as the center star. seams to me they would make a good DeathStar as well.

    Wolf tide or bark star have some hard counters as any list does. A certain assassin comes to mind.

  9. Dakkath August 11, 2016 2:47 am #

    Would you believe this is the first time I’ve actually found an explanation of what makes the barkbarkstar a thing? I mean sure the hundreds of points worth of ICs was a given, but not what they were attached to.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn August 11, 2016 8:55 pm #

      That’s because you have to google “Wolftide” to get an answer. Not BarkBarkStar. 😉

  10. Griffter August 11, 2016 4:54 am #

    this looks nasty. Has anyone run into the curse of the wulfen formation that allows thuderwolves to move twice, run, and then charge on the first turn? All those thunder hammers on turn one are hard to deal with. I have been struggling to build a list to counter it.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn August 11, 2016 8:56 pm #

      I played against it with a Blackmanes list. It was potent but not insurmountable. The game came right down to the wire and a roll for Turn 7.

  11. Chaosquo August 11, 2016 6:28 am #

    Why could you not add a DA chaplain to the CAD with Azrael and run a librarius conclave with it? It seems to me you really want to make the Azrael version look bad when it was all over the place at ETC 2016 last weekend. Granted they had a fourth detachment to work with, but it was mostly used for gravy on the top.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn August 11, 2016 8:54 pm #

      I came right out and said I feel the Azrael V. Tiggy conclave builds comes down to personal preference in my opinion. I’m not trying to make anything look bad, I also don’t follow the ETC usually and I was unaware the 2016 ETC had a lot of Wolftide Azrael builds.

  12. Yoshi August 11, 2016 8:02 am #

    4 attacks at s4 re-rolling to hit (if you take a Chaplin) per dogs will blow up a lot of rhinos

    • westrider August 11, 2016 10:05 am #

      3 Attacks per dog, or you’re not going to be blowing up many Rhinos because you’re only Charging one per turn. Gotta go for those Multi-Charges, despite the Disordered Charge penalty.

  13. Vercingatorix August 11, 2016 8:04 am #

    I haven’t run this but I was a long time green tide player. My experience was that you very rarely get to use the furious charge because you’re always multi assaulting. I think if I was running it I would take Azrael, give them the extra move and charge distance or fnp depending on the mission, then roll everything on sanctic for sanctuary and hammerhand. a 3+ invul should be plenty to keep them alive and the strength 6 is absolutely brutal.
    Is there any silly space marine relic that can be attached for more attacks?

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