Space Wolves Fast Attack Review: Thunderwolf Cavalry

Hello everyone SaltyJohn here from TFGRadio bringing you a new review of another much hated, but widely used unit, Thunderwolf Cavalry! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!


The Space Wolves, Vlka Fenryka, the Emperor’s Executioners. Many are the names held by 6th Legion Astartes and many are the honors told by the Skaalds of Fenris when the Wyrd of the Sons of Russ are recited by memory in the halls of the Fang. The Space Wolves have eschewed the edicts of the Codex Astartes for millenia, with 12 Great Companies, no Tactical Squads, and large packs of giant wolves at their disposal to name just a few of their schisms with the edicts of Guilliman. The Wolves of Fenris have safe guarded the citizens of the Imperium of Man and acted as the Emperors’ executioner; called upon when the Emperor needed to sanction the most powerful of his warriors, the Space Marines themselves. It should come as no surprise then that the Vlka Fenryka have unique weapons, and large numbers of them, that can cleave through ranks upon ranks of Power Armored super-humans. Of these unique weapons perhaps the most unique is the Thunderwolf Cavalry. Alluded to in multiple Black Library novels as Initiates who succumbed fully to the Canis Helix and are now ridden into combat by members of the Space Wolves themselves.oW73uywThunderwolf Cavalry came about with the 5th edition Space Wolf codex and were part of the dark times when GW would release rules for units with no models available. Before the times of Chapter House, before the law suits, and the pro-bono law firms who bested the legal juggernaut of GW. A highly controversial unit fluff wise when it came out, it quickly became a highly kit bashed, 3rd party produced mother load as the absolute insanity of the unit on the table top became apparent. Now in 7th edition the unit is seeing a huge comeback as one of the crucial units in several popular Super Friends and Death Star builds.


Generally speaking Thunderwolf Cavalry are used as a massive Hammer unit. They are fast, hit extremely hard, and with only a few psychic buffs can easily run roughshod over the vast majority of low to mid-upper level lists in the competitive environment. Even without a ton of psychic buffs the unit on it’s own can be a monster in Close Combat and a significant threat that will normally take 2 rounds to clear off the table. Resilient, relentless, and ridiculously powerful the Thunderwolf Cavalry are an unsurprisingly popular choice among Space Wolf players. At only 120 points base for 3 models with 6 wounds, T5, 3+, and 18 Str5 rending attacks on the charge, the unit in it’s basic set up is good. Add in a bunch of goodies and a few Characters and suddenly you have something real special. When you give these guys a little bit of kit however they become close combat monsters. The most common is to give 1 or more, even all, powerfists for strength 10 swings. With 4 attacks base that many strength 10 swings can really put the hurt on anything in the game and can double out most other armies characters without Eternal Warrior.



  • Power Armor (3+ Save)
  • Chainsword, Bolt Pistol (+1 Attack, don’t forget it!)
  • Frag and Krak Grenades.
  • Thunderwolf Mount
    • Cavalry
    • Rending
    • +1 Strength, +1 Toughness, +1 Attack, +1 Wound (accounted for in the profile of TWC alread)
200237_md-Pre-heresy, Space Wolves, Thunderwolf Cavalry, Thunderwolf Cavalry Conversions

Long before GW released models for TWC we had to resort to this. These are my TWC from 5th edition made from Chaos Knights and a ton of SW, SM, and Fantasy Bits. At the time I was quite happy with them.

Special Rules:

  • Acute Senses
  • Counter Attack

I’m glad I can just buy TWC kits now…

Tactics: Thunderwolf Cavalry, TWC, tactics are relatively simple. You build the unit to smash face, point it in the direction of the enemy, and smash face. As usual though there is more to it than that and a plethora of options on how to do this. There are a few problems with TWC, survivability is one of them surprisingly enough. the other major problem is the potential for the unit to balloon in cost from it’s paltry 120 points base to well over 500 points. Overall the unit is great but normally requires some help to keep it going. Wolf Lords, Wolf Guard Battle Leaders, and Iron Priests (HQ and Elite versions) can all take a Thunderwolf Mount. They also all add some survivability and increased damage output. Below I am going to go through the basic Thundercav builds and you’ll find any of the three characters mentioned before will not only mix well with the build but may even be 100% necessary for it to succeed.

  • CAD: Taking Thunderwolves as part of a Space Wolf CAD is fairly common, although a Space Wolf CAD is not. When you’re playing a Space Wolf CAD you almost certainly want to look at ThunderCav as a way to supplement your force with serious close combat potential. Space Wolves really suffer from a lack of Grav and a lack of the real “ShootingStars” like GravCents supply. You really need to think of Space Wolves differently when attempting to build a CAD. When you need to take out a GMC, MC Unit, or Deathstar your best choice will be a unit of Thundercav, possibly with some character back up like a Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf Mount (TWM).
  • Super Friends/Champions of Fenris: This is probably the most popular way to run Thunderwolf Cavalry, but without the Thunderwolf Cavalry unit itself. I debated back and forth if this even belongs in this article but ultimately decided it should. This list usually involves 2-4 Characters on Thunderwolf Mounts. Wolf Lords are expensive so many players will forgo the Lord in exchange for a Wolf Guard Battle Leader. In Champions of Fenris you must take 2 Elites choices so Iron Priests on TWM are a great way to fill that requirement. Essentially here you’re going to have a large unit of uber Thunderwolf Cavalry in the form of multiple Thunderwolf Mount riding Independent Characters. The SuperFriend aspect comes in when you ally in some outsiders for things like Hit and Run and/or psychic shenanigans. Buffing a unit like this with a re-roll to saves via Veil of Time, or Eternal Warriors with 4+ FNP through Endurance can be huge. A common ally for all these different Thunderwolf builds is a Conclave on bikes or jump packs. That ally choice becomes even more popular if you’re running Champions of Fenris and the IC Thunderstar.

Credit to jstncloud on Deviant Art. Iron Wolves on Thunderwolves, good times.

  • Deathpack/Wulfen Murderpack: The Space Wolves “Getting Started” box set was awesome in two ways. First it got you a lot of models you actually want and a special formation that you want to field. The Deathpack is 1 Wolf Lord, 1 Unit of Thunderwolf Cavalry, and 1 unit of Grey Hunters. Their special rules let you either re-roll to hits when shooting or allow you to run and assault. That second one is great when you’ve got Thunderwolf Cavalry and a Thunderlord as part of the formation. Giving you a potential 30″ threat range. Move 12, run 6, charge 12. This becomes potentially more ridiculous when you also take a Wulfen Murderpack with 3 units. A Murderpack gives a bonus to the already great Wulfen rules. One a roll of 7+, 50% chance of that with 3 units of Wulfen, units affected get to make an additional move. So now your Thunderwolf Cavalry and Lord from the Deathpack can Move 12, Move 12 again, run 6, and potentially charge 12 for a 42 inch threat range! This is really good; add to it the fact that Wulfen units on their own shred units in Close Combat and you have a nice compact killing machine in the army that is threatening your opponents from turn 1 and have a great chance at a devastating turn 1 charge. Even with out the Deathpack if you take a Wulfen Murderpack with any Thunderstar you’re looking at a 36″ threat range.

Somebody get that Lord a Thunderwolf!

  • Great Pack: The Great Packs brought to us in Curse of the Wulfen are some of the coolest Space Wolf formations to run, and the Wolf Claw Strike Force can be built into a formidable Decurion. TWC are available in the generic Great Pack and several of the Legendary Great Packs. The only exceptions are: Fire Howlers, Ironwolves, and Drakeslayers and they are a compulsory choice for the Deathwolves (surprise!).

There are a multitude of ways to run Thunderwolf Cavalry which makes them a really great choice in a Space Wolf army. Whether you want to buff them psychically into wolf riding demi gods of the 41st millenium, send them screaming across the board with the rage of the Wulfen, or just have a solid Close Combat unit in your CAD the unit can be tooled up for any situation at almost any points level. In the limited tool box of the Vlka Fenryka the Thundercav are shining stars.

13937764_1038894156223753_3056832910059272773_o - Copy

Thunderstar con Conclave. Yummy.

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



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.

3 Responses to “Space Wolves Fast Attack Review: Thunderwolf Cavalry”

  1. wintertalon September 12, 2016 9:27 am #

    You need four units of wulfen to get a 50% chance of double movement. The first wulfen unit doesn’t count for the +1. Other wise a good article.

    • SaltyJohn September 12, 2016 7:30 pm #

      My bad! Math isn’t my strong suit. I teach History. 😀

  2. Axis of Entropy September 15, 2016 1:24 pm #

    No mention of Storm Shields?

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