Space Wolf Review: Fast Attack: Skyclaw

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It’s been a while since I’ve written an article and I’ve started to experience some withdrawal symptoms: shaking… the sweats… but probably the most disturbing is every time I close my eyes I get this image of Reece looking at me with a stern look… the only remedy for these frightening symptoms is to start writing again. So, let’s talk today about the Space Wolf Skyclaws – a seldom seen unit that I believe are really effective on the table top, especially if equipped reasonably and played aggressively! For more great tactics articles be sure to check out the Tactics Corner!

Wolves with Jet Packs!

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I Wish…

Alright, so let’s get going! When it comes to any of these tactics articles, I like to break everything down into reasonable and useful chunks so that we can objectively view all the moving pieces of any dataslate and dictate what abilities/options are truly “Good” or “Just Okay”. I would also like to start out by saying that this article is a unit overview and has a few experiences and tactics that I have been through/tested – I am also making the case that Skyclaws are rarely seen, but still has a place on the table and not just the shelf.

Okay then, let’s get into it!

Wargear:

  • Power Armour (Good): All Marines have this and it’s awesome!
  • Bolt Pistol/Chainsword (Good): Basic Assault Marine load out, they get extra attacks in close combat.
  • Frag/Krak Grenades (Good): Basic Marine load out… however it is important to remember that Frag Grenades protect your initiative from dropping when charging through terrain (so many people forget that during games).
  • Jump Packs (Good): Gives them the ability to Deep Strike, move 12″ in the Movement Phase, and re-roll their charge distance in assault (if they haven’t used their Jump Packs in the Movement Phase). This gives them mobility on the field and offers multiple deployment options.

Special Rules:

  • And They Shall Know No Fear (Good): All Marines have this and it’s incredible.
  • Acute Senses (Just Okay): Even though the ability itself is pretty good, it is frankly superfluous on this particular unit.
  • Counter-Attack (Good): Skyclaws have a reasonable number of attacks to begin with and having Counter-Attack gives them a layer of defense against incoming assaults.
  • Rage (Good): When the Skyclaw unit successfully charges another unit, they are given +2 Attacks instead of +1… With 1 attack base, +2 for charging, and then +1 for having two close combat weapons… the Skyclaws are given 4 Attacks a piece on the charge, more than enough to deal massive damage to almost any infantry unit you need to deal with.

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Options: When you look at a Skyclaw dataslate, their stock Wargear and Special Rules are pretty forgettable… Marines… Jet Packs… done… however, their upgrade options (and how you use them) are really what make them formidable choices for your army.

  • Additional Skyclaws (Good/Just Okay): This particular option is good and bad depending on how many points you have available to you and what, exactly, you need them to do in your army. If you plan on Deep Striking them, maybe a 10 man squad isn’t the greatest choice because of the Deep Strike footprint… however, more wounds in the unit overall will help them remain dangerous as the game continues and they lose a few models.
  • Special Weapon Upgrades (Good): The special weapon upgrades are almost all entirely useful, the unit is so cheap that you would be doing yourself a disservice by not upgrading them. The first choice is the 5pt Flamer and due to the reduced BS of the Skyclaws Flamers are a reasonable weapon to guarantee hits on your opponent’s units . The second viable option is the 10pt Meltaguns… even though their BS is lower than the average marine, a pair of Meltaguns can make even the most stoic of opponents clench up. Finally, the Plasmagun and Plasma Pistol… both of these options are not really the greatest, however you could find a place for them if you really needed the additional AP 2 weaponry that has a higher rate of fire (Plasmagun) or if you really feel like the unit is going to be in close proximity to your opponent and you need the AP 2 weaponry without losing the extra close combat attack (Plasma Pistol).
  • Power Weapon/Power Fist (Good): One Skyclaw is allowed to upgrade its Chainsword to a Power Weapon or a Power Fist. This particular option is one that I would always take advantage of for a few reasons: 1) Depending on what you need the Skyclaws to deal with on a regular basis (Vehicles or Infantry) the high strength and high AP will help you solve many problems you may encounter throughout the game. 2) The special weapon doesn’t need to be equipped to a character, this is important to remember because it means that your special weapons can’t be challenged out of striking where you want them to strike.
  • Wolf Guard Sky Leader (Just Okay): This particular upgrade can be viewed in a similar way to the Veteran Sergeant in the Space Marine Codex and I wouldn’t really recomend it – the 10pts needed to upgrade to the Sky Leader is simply not worth the stat line increase.

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Death From Above!

Using Skyclaws can be a little on the tricky side, but ultimately you need to get them up-close and personal with your opponent as soon as possible for them to be truly effective (much like many of the melee-based units)… but the question is “how?” Well, I have found that the best way to get the most out of these units is not by including them in a basic Combined Arms Detachment, but by taking advantage of the additional special rules awarded by Space Wolf Formations. War Zone: Fenris is going to be your best friend in this regard, considering many of the Formations contained within it allow Skyclaws to be used. Here are a few of the highlights!:

  • The Firehowlers: Even though the special rules on the Skyclaw’s dataslate are decent enough on their own, the Firehowlers exponentially increase their efficacy. All units in The Firehowlers gain three additional special rules: Bloodcurdling Charge, Eager for Combat, and Rising Fury. Bloodcurdling Charge makes it so that enemy units that do not have Fearless or And They Shall Know No Fear must pass a Leadership Test to roll fire Overwatch. Additionally, The Firehowlers cause Fear during on the turn they charge. This rule seems really good at first glance, but because units with And They Shall Know No Fear are immune to the Overwatch denial AND the effects of Fear, it basically cuts out half the armies in the game – which is unfortunate. With that being said, it is a great tool to use against Xenos Factions (Eldar, Orks, Tau, Etc…). Eager for Combat makes it so that all Firehowlers get to re-roll failed charge rolls, this is an incredible ability for Skyclaws because it lets them take advantage of their Jump Pack movement of 12″ and also reliably reach combat in almost every assault phase. Finally, Rising Fury gives the Firehowlers Furious Charge if they roll 10 or more to determine an assault distance (which is much more likely to occur thanks to the Eager for Combat special rule). How this is used effectively on the table is by using the Skyclaws to add additional pressure in tandem with an already aggressive board presence. For example, by using Grey Hunters in Drop Pods/Rhinos to form the core of your army, the Skyclaws can move quickly to brush units off objectives and can keep up with quick and pesky units that usually command the objectives that sit around the table edges (Eldar Jetbikes being a prime example). The Grey Hunters at the core of the Formation can command the center of the board in Drop Pods and Rhinos whilst the Skyclaws command the table edges, moving 12″ in the movement phase and re-rolling charge distances to reach their targets. **See “Firehowlers Example List” below.**
  • The Deathwolves: The Deathwolves gain three additional special rules: Outflank, Peerless Hunters, and Run to Ground. This Formation is more subtle than the Firehowler list above, however it has a ton of power that can really come out of nowhere. First of all, the entire Formation gains Outflank, which you can mitigate with the Space Wolf universal ability of Acute Senses. Peerless Hunters makes it so that the entire Formation comes on from reserves with the success off one reserve roll, which the Formation allows you to re-roll, and it also gives Stealth to every unit that comes in from Reserves. Finally, the Run to Ground allows you to roll two dice when making a Sweeping Advance roll and pick the highest – making it much more likely to sweep away enemy units. This Formation makes it so that you can respond to your opponent’s movements, maelstrom objectives, and key army units in a way that conventional deployment doesn’t allow. Skyclaws benefit particularly from these special rules due to their quick movement, 12″ off of the table edges with a set of Meltaguns can let you get around to weaker armor values easily, get into melta range for buildings, or strike weaker, back-line units that your opponent is depending on to babysit objectives. When the Skyclaws bust off the sides of the table, they also present a continuous threat entirely based on their movement – even though you can’t assault with them the turn they come in, their presence is a threat that must be dealt with because of their in-game potential. The idea of the Deathwolves is to present a tactically flexible threat overload for your opponent to try and navigate. **See “Deathwolves Example List” below.**

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“The Firehowlers Example List”

Wolf Guard Battle Leader w/Space Marine Bike, Runic Armor, Power Fist, Storm Shield

Wolf Guard w/5x Space Marine Bikes, 2x Power Weapon (Swords/Axes) (155)

Skyclaws w/ 2x Meltagun (95)

Skyclaws w/ 2x Meltagun (95)

Skyclaws w/ 5x Additional Skyclaws, 2x Meltagun, Power Fist (195)

Skyclaws w/ 5x Additional Skyclaws, 2x Meltagun, Power Fist (195)

Grey Hunters w/ Drop Pod, Meltagun 115

Grey Hunters w/ Drop Pod, Meltagun

Grey Hunters w/ Drop Pod, Meltagun

This list is a really basic way to utilize the Skyclaws in a few different ways, the 5 man Melta-squads can be used to Deep Strike later in the game and deal with armored targets with their Meltaguns while the 10-man units can jump to the edges of the board and control those outlying objectives. The 10 man squads are also a really strong reactionary force to help your back line if your opponent Deep Strikes in. The Grey Hunters in this situation support the center of the table while the Skyclaws bully their way around the table. This setup also weighs in around 1250pts (give or take), so you are able to add a few different things to supplement these units. People may also argue that the Swiftclaws are a better option, however it is important to note that you get more wounds in the unit with Skyclaws for cheaper and the Skyclaws can use their Jump Packs to travel over impassable terrain and interveening units, making them a more cost effective and mobile choice.

“The Deathwolves Example List”

Wolf Guard Battle Leader w/ Thunderwolf Mount, Storm Shield, Runic Armor, Power Fist

Thunderwolf Cavalry w/ 3x Storm Shields, Power Fist

Skyclaws w/ 2x Meltagun, Power Weapon (Axe)

Skyclaws w/ 2x Meltagun, Power Weapon (Axe)

Skyclaws w/ 2x Meltagun, Power Weapon (Axe)

Grey Hunters w/ Rhino, Meltagun

Grey Hunters w/ Rhino, Meltagun

Long Fangs w/ Razorback, 2x Additional Long Fangs, 2x Lascannon, 1x Heavy Bolter

Wolf Scouts w/ Meltagun

So, the inspiration for this list also revolves around the idea of a threat overload – The entire Formation is given the choice to remain in Outflanking reserves and I would recommend holding most of it back – with the exception of the Long Fang team, pretty much everything will serve you well if help back – the chances of it all coming on during the second turn is rather high, remember that it all comes on with one re-rollable reserve roll. By keeping everything but the Long Fang team in reserve, you are able to use Acute Senses to dictate where on the table your forces come on from and really use that ability to your advantage. Additionally, by moving the Skyclaws on 12″, the chances of them being able to crack armor with their melta weapons on your beta strike turn is really high. This list also has a built in “lightning rod” for your opponent’s attention with the Thunderwolf Cavalry – many players will ignore the 5 man squads of Skyclaws and turn their attention to the Thunderwolf Cavalry, not realizing that the smaller units of Skyclaws present just as much of an issue, it is just more subtle. Now, again many people will argue that the Swiftclaws are better, however the same reasoning as above (cheaper cost, more mobility, etc…) is still valid but more so, the Swiftclaws aren’t able to take two special weapons where the Skyclaws can, making them a much more reliable source for damage. Finally, this list doesn’t necessarily require all of the Skyclaws to have Meltaguns… it would also be totally reasonable to use Flamers instead, it would cost less points and be a reliable way to hit with them in the shooting phase – it all depends on what else you have in your army. This Formation weights in around 1150 points… plenty left over.

It is also important to note that both of these Formations are Core choices in the Wolf Claw Strike Force from War Zone Fenris.

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Cool Your Jets!

Even though I am a big fan of these guys… you just can’t argue your way around the fact that they are just Space Marines… they play like Space Marines and die like Space Marines… The downfall of basic marine type units is that you pay a premium price for great special rules and war gear but they still only have one wound… you can’t pass 3+ saves forever. These Space Marines are even less so because of their diminished stat-line, they have less BS in trade for being cheaper and having Rage, for me it is a reasonable trade off but it drives many players away. This unit requires a lot of thinking on the part of the player: using terrain in conjunction with their mobility to hide them from LOS, using their Jump Packs to hop around walls and other units, etc… They are a potent weapon but need to be used properly.

Jet Packs and Beards!

I’ve really enjoyed getting back into the swing of article writing and believe I have found a reasonable use for a unit that is seldom seen. With that being said, I challenge you all to test out the Formations I’ve mentioned here and then find your own way to bring these bearded jet packs to the table top! If you want to give these bad boys a try, remember that you can get your GW product at up to 25% off from Frontline Gaming!

Thanks!

Scuba Steve, Signing Out

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3 Responses to “Space Wolf Review: Fast Attack: Skyclaw”

  1. Vankraken December 13, 2016 9:35 am
    #

    Skyclaws are one of my favorite units in the SW codex and probably the best assault marine unit in the game. Cheaper than vanilla assault Marines, rage = more attacks on the charge, and the hidden power weapon in the unit can be nice for when you need to hit hard or piece armor but don’t want your heavy hitter getting challenged out. On top of that they are a claw unit which means Wulfen make them go feral from 12″ away and with their jump packs means they can pull off some turn 1 charges. Great units for chasing down shooting units who have lots of bodies to mow through and you don’t need to use your expensive thunder cav to wipe out. One thing to note about comparing them to swiftclaws which is that swiftclaws only have 1 pistol or CCW so they don’t get the extra attack from having 2 melee weapons.

    Firehowlers greatpack are amazing for this unit and you can easily have 40 Skyclaws juiced up on Digganob cocaine flying across the battlefield for lots of potential turn 1 charges and they throw buckets of dice at the enemy in Melee. Personally I don’t like giving them special weapons due to BS3 and it potentially hurting my chances of making a charge but I could see smaller squads act as flamer assault units.

  2. WestRider December 13, 2016 1:47 pm
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    I’ve really been thinking about using them in a DeathWolves Army. With either Flamers or Meltaguns, they’ve got an astounding threat range off the board edge, and they remain a significant backfield threat after that. I need to make some more, tho, I’ve only got 10 of them right now.

    The one thing I’d really say about the DeathWolves concept you present is to make sure that you’ve got enough on the board that you can’t get Tabled Turn 1. A Razorback and 4 MEqs is pretty trivial for some Armies to clear off.

  3. Panzer1944 December 13, 2016 3:05 pm
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    Will be having fun running them at a Kill Team Tournament this weekend. Not sure if I like them in Deathwolves formation as having an assault unit that can’t change until at least turn 3 really doesn’t feel right.