Who let the Dogs out? A look at Index Space Wolves in 9th ed

OWOOOOOOOOOOO! Hear the call of the Wolves. They have been loosed upon the universe. Let the Sons of Magnus Tremble. Read on to see how 9th ed has treated the Space Vikings

Space Wolves have been added to the fold, getting put in with every other flavor of Marine (excepting Grey Knights). This has added a ton of options to them, but it’s not all good news. They also have lost a bit. From the Index:

Codex: Space Wolves will soon be replaced with Codex
Supplement: Space Wolves, and will fully integrate with the latest
edition of Codex: Space Marines. In the meantime, this document
will allow you to wage war using your Space Wolves-specific
units alongside those units presented in Codex: Space Marines, as
well as use a selection of Space Wolves rules that were published
in Psychic Awakening: Saga of the Beast. The rules presented in
the 8th edition (printed 2018) version of Codex: Space Wolves are
no longer supported, and cannot be used. Similarly, if a Space
Wolves rule from Psychic Awakening: Saga of the Beast does not
feature within this document, it cannot be used.

This means, in short, that if an entry is not in this index, or in Codex: Space Marines, it does not exist for the pups.

One thing to note as well, this is indeed just an Index. A place holder until their own rules are released. If anything, I am viewing this as a beta test run.

Their Chapter tactic has also changed from Characters getting a 6″ Heroic Intervention, to now all models being able to Intervene. Yes, even Rhinos. This really makes getting near a SW army a dangerous proposition for anyone who is not wishing to play paddy cakes with them. It allows the Wolves to be very aggressive with their maneuvering, and offers up a bit of free movement to them as well.

Ripping off the Band-aid

So, what did they lose.

  • Njal Stormcaller (without Termi armor)
  • Wolf Priests (Chaplains are gained by the Pups)
  • Rune Priest (Librarians are picked up instead)
  • Killshot Strat (Which no one used anyways)
  • Overwhelming Impetuosity Strat (Blood Claws users will miss this)
  • Cloaked by the Storm Strat (Whilst losing this hurts a bit, it was not often used for it’s high price and limited use)
  • Cunning of the Wolf strat (Reserves rule is basically this for everyone)
  • Mentor’s Guidance Strat (Another Strat not used often due to the requirements to get it off)
  • Lone Wolf Strat (Losing this one hurts. It was flavorful, unique, and while not a clutch start, could be quite useful when it was needed. Hoping this one may come back in their supplement)
  • Chooser of the Slain strat (Replaced by Auspex Scan)
  • Laugh in the Face of Death Start (As this was based of enemy units trying to modify your LD, and LD shenanigans were seldom used , this strat saw little play)
  • Overwhelming Savagery Strat (While this is a loss, especially with how good Thunderwolf Calvary have gotten but otherwise it is not too big a loss)
  • Howl of the Great Pack (I doubt any SW players could even tell me what this one does…)
  • True Grit Strat (Another one that had some uses, but not very often
  • Seeking a Saga Strat (Ooff… losing this one hurt. )
  • The Wolf’s Eye Strat (This one helped give Long Fangs some more play – with Long Fangs getting replaced by Devs, this one gets cut)
  • Talismanic Shield Strat (Another one that hurts to lose, but seeing as the Wolf Tail Talisman Relic made it through, this is a fine loss)
  • Living Storm Strat (Another one that seemed neat, but was often more trouble then it was worth)
  • Keen Sense Strat (This one, with the addition of Dense Terrain, was going to be quite clutch. Perhaps it will come back in the supplement – one can hope
  • The Emperor’s Executioner Strat (I am actually quite pleased to see these type of strat go by the wayside.)
  • Honor the Chapter Strat (while this one is technically in the Codex now, it has fundamentally changed, now only effecting Assault Intercessors for 2 CP)
  • Linebreaker Bombardment Strat (another strat never used and fine to see it go)
  • Duty Eternal (Basically got hard baked into all dreads)
  • Boltstorm, Rapid Fire and Target Sighted (Rapid fire in the Codex has replaced this, having been completely changed, and for the better too) 
  • Big Guns Never Tire (9th ed has made irrelevant)
  • Fury of Champions Strat (With the +1 to hit from SW tactic, this was hardly ever needed)
  • Vicious Executioner’s Strat (Specific bonuses vs only one type of foe, is not something to build an army around and can often leave feel-bads for that foe)
  • Storm Strike Strat (This one did not doe enough for Stormfang Gunships. In all honest, Aircraft as a whole need a rework)
  • Hunter Slayer Missile (Another strat which no one took the wargear even to try and use)
  • Skyfire strat (I am willing to bet few in any people could even tell me what this did… Seeing a theme here on what got cut? Besides, Hunters and Strikers got so, so much better)
  • Vengeance of the Machine Spirit Strat (This Strat lead to some arguments over the exact wording and how it worked with Repulsor Executioners. I am glad to see it gone)
  • Krakenborn Sword Relic (It was bad anyways)
  • Armor of Russ Relic (Cry your one tear, then spend 80 points on a Judicar and move right along)
  • Black Death Relic (best thing about this Relic was it’s name. Next!)
  • Helm of Durfast Relic (Wolves were not often shooting much, especially on their characters)
    The Wulfen Stone Relic (This one it is sad to see go. Alas, it was a relic in a time before Shock Assault.)
    FrostFury Relic (A cool sounding gun that I never saw on the table top, although I do think it was slightly under rated)
  • All the Wolves Specific Psychic Powers (But for what was gained, I am all for this)
  • The Tale of the Wolf King and the Lord of the Deeps Litany (This was a miss to me. Of everything cut, I think the Specific Litanies was awesome and easily could have been a page in the Codex)
  • All specific Wolves Warlord traits, beyond the one in the codex. Any named characters, if designated as a WL, must use the new Deadly Hunter trait.

That seems like a ton of things were cut, and to an extent, they were. In fact, I would not be surprised if there were somethings that I missed in that list. However, almost everything that was cut fell into the sub-par category. And it was not all losses. In fact, I would argue that Wolves gained more then they lost, if not in length but in substance.

You lose a little, you win a little

So, what exactly did the Pups gain?

Well, for one, they are now officially part of the Space Marine codex.

This. Is. Huge.

No more waiting for 6 months for the Sons of Fenris to be remembered and updated with the new toys. Gaining access to most everything the regular marines have. Including their Psychic Powers, relics, and successor Chapters.

A note on Successor Chapters. Every data sheet in the index for SW has the <SPACE WOLVES> keyword, not the <CHAPTER> one. This means, if you do take successor, not Blood Claws or Wulfen for you. I am not sure if this is the intent or not… but as of time of writing, this is the case. Until this is corrected, you are so much better off going with the actual SW tactics. Even if that were not the case, I think successor would be a hard sell.

A point to note as well, SW can not take Apothecaries, Tactical Squads, Dev Squads, Assault Squads, nor Stern/Van vet Squads. Of all of these, only the Apothecaries hurt, and only because they have no other options.

Gaining access to things like Centurions, Terminators, and Thunderfire Cannons (which did get significantly nerfed) opens up more options to the Wolves.

In addition to the Datasheets gained, Wolves have also gotten all the normal relics Marines have access to. Teeth of Tera is a beauty of a relic, especially when put on a Wolf Lord on thunderwolf with a storm shield. Having options like this really opens up some play for team Vikings

Not that team Vikings….

What else did the pups gain? Swift Hunters as an ability

Basically all Calvary units (and Logan o his chariot gain this). While we lost Saga of the Hunter, the fact this is always on for these units, which also do not need to be near your WL to activate it, is huge. T1 charges with a unit of Thunderwolf Calvary (who can even count as being in the assault doc then; thanks new Adaptive Strategy strat), becomes a serious threat.

It is also worth noting that the Stratagems the Pups did keep are very, very good for them

Keeping all these Strats for Space wolves was a big win. Especially the Counter Charge one. Any unit can Heroically Intervene 6″, which, with the uptick in CP Wolves now have to play with, makes this a serious threat all game long.

Space Wolf Units

I want to also, briefly, look over the Space Wolf specific units. I am not going to go over every single unit, but rather take a look at certain big and iconic ones. Starting with….

Logan Grimnar on Stormrider

Just looking over his stats and weapons, not a ton has changed. He has picked up another two wounds, but otherwise his stat line is exactly the same. His weapon, The Axe Morkai, has seen a few changes. It’s one handed attack has gone down to only one damage per swing, but he gets to double the number of swings he now makes, capping him out at 12 str 6 attacks. His two handed profile has lost the -1 to swing it, but otherwise is the same. Finally, the number of extra attacks that the wolves get to make no longer degrades, but is fixed at 6.

He also has the new Captain Aura of re-rolling 1’s for CORE only, as well as the Chapter Master ability to let a CORE or CHARACTER within 6″ re-roll all hits.

The big win though, is he has picked up the Swift Hunter’s ability listed above, letting him be able to move his 10″, advance, and charge. This added mobility makes him quite a threat.

Canis Wolfborn

Picking up two extra attacks (really one, since his Weapon no longer gives an extra attack) and making said weapon bump up to two damage, Canis is ready to lead the pack. Like Logan on the Chariot, he has the Swift Rider’s ability. He has lost his re-roll aura, but now the extra wolf attacks is for all Space Wolf Beast, Chariot, and Calvary models, not just for Thunderwolves. He retains the 6″ Heroic Intervention ability, now as a special rule for him, and when fighting vs Characters, he always fights first.

While not anything new to him, he does retain the Wolf Guard keyword, which opens up some interesting play with the Vicious Executioner’s strat. At 120 points, this guy is a solid buy.

Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf

No real changes here.

Other than picking up Swift Hunters

And being able to be effected by normal SM psychic powers… like Might of Heroes

Or picking up the Imperium Sword WL trait…

Or getting the Teeth of Terra relic…

Seriously, nothing* to see here – move along

*by nothing, I mean, fully buffed up, able to move 11-16″, with a re-rollable charge, and make 10 str 7 attacks, at ap – 3 and 2 damage a piece, exploding on 4+ and double exploding on 6’s, for 110 pts.


Now, here is a place that I am going to disagree a tad with much of what I have read already. I don’t believe Wulfen are dead. The poor pups have been kicked a bit, but they are not out.

Stats wise, they go up to an 8″ move, and T5. They lose the ability to advance and charge. They also lose the ability to buff the number of attacks nearby units get. They retain their Death Frenzy rule, but it is now quite different. No longer do they have a 5+++. They still fight on death, but now only if they did not already fight in this fight phase.

They also have a new ability so that they always count as being in the Assault Phase and always get the bonus attack for shock assault.

This changes their role. They are no longer the forward units to smash into opponents lines. Rather, they are the counter charger unit. Using the Counter Charge Strat on them to hit a unit, they can not be shut down. Even if they are killed before they swing, they get to attack. A minimum squad of 5 will put out 26 attacks with Wulfen Frost Claws. Not to shabby. Their role has certainly changed, and they are not as good as they once were, but they are by no means out of the fight.

It is also worth pointing out their fight on death does not stop them from benefiting from a Chapter Banner. Not sure if this is the intent or not, but while it is an option, go for it.

Other noteworthy points

  • Following the same trend, Thunderwolf Calvary also pick up Swift Hunters
  • Blood Claws and Sky claws both gain a wound
  • Lukas the Trickester now lets Blood Claws and Sky Claws re-roll all hits while within 6″ of him. Furthermore, his Pelt is now a permanent Transhuman ability (can’t be wounded on a 1-3) instead of -1 to hit him, which is much more helpful. 
  • Arjac Rockfist (AKA Thor) has had his hammer on both profiles go to a flat 3 damage, which increases to 4 when hitting a vehicle or character. He keeps his 3++, but loses the -1 to be wounded part of the shield. He also loses the +1 attack for Wolf Guard units he had. 
  • Wolfguard Terminators went up to 3 wounds a piece, although their leaders did not move to 4 wounds
  • All the standard SM changes to war gear, such as Storm Shields, Chainswords, etc apply here as well

Overall, the Index does a good job of bringing the pups up to line. The extra units and abilities gained by joining in with Codex SM is huge. As is no longer needing to wait for their own updates when marines get changes. There are a few things I would like to see fixed / cleared up in the suppliment.

  1. Give them back their Wolf Priests. Having Wolf Priests be both Apothecary and Chaplain was really a neat feature. Simply state that they can not be upgraded to both Master of Sanctity and Chief Apothecary in the same model
  2. Fix the key word issue. Honestly, I don’t think I would ever see running a SW successor, their main trait is just too powerful. That being said, I do thing it stinks a bit that if you go successor, you can’t even use Thunderwolf Calvary. 
  3. Give them back access to their own Psychic powers and special Litany. Right now, all the Litanies in Faith And Fury are still active, but SW and DA both have lost theirs (although it hurts DA a lot more than it does SW). 

All that being said, things are looking up for the Vikings. I look forward to seeing what combinations and army lists arise from this new codex and their specific index.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



2 Responses to “Who let the Dogs out? A look at Index Space Wolves in 9th ed”

  1. Bomb squig October 10, 2020 10:30 am #

    Space wolves cannot take apothecaries. Codex pg 124

    • Faitherun October 10, 2020 11:26 am #

      You had me confused for a bit there, as I know I said as much in several places. I found where I incorrectly stated they could and have fixed it. Thank you

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