9th Edition Space Wolves: First Impressions

Hello fellow Fenrisian Fanatics! SaltyJohn from TFG Radio here to bring you my first impressions of the new Codex Supplement: Space Wolves.

I’ve been a huge fan of Space Wolves for as long as I’ve been in the hobby. One of the first 40k novels I read was the first Ragnar Omnibus and my favorite Horus Heresy novels have all featured the Vylka Fenryka in one way or another. The new format GW is using for the codex supplements is actually the way I’ve wanted them to handle this for a long time. Part of me always hated how certain codices were missing things from the core Space Marine book for no real reason. Now using the new supplement format GW has it so pretty much all the units in Codex Space Marines are available to everyone and the supplements add the flavoring if you’re going to play a non-Codex chapter. So you will need both the Codex Supplement and Codex: Space Marines to play, but in the end, this is a better format.

There are plenty of places online that put together full reviews of the codex, so I am not going to do that here. Instead, I am going to lay down a few first impressions I have about what I am excited to try out and why. If you’re looking for more comprehensive reviews of the whole codex here are a few links: Striking Scorpion Review. Vanguard Tactics Review.

First and foremost the Space Wolves are an assault army. It fits with their lore in many ways and it’s how I have always wanted to play Space Wolves. While 5th edition Space Wolves had some great melee options in Thunderwolf Cavalry that’s not the build that became the most prevalent. Njal Stormcaller (non-Terminator version) Las/Plas Razorbacks with min Grey Hunter squads, with max Long Fangs with Missiles and as many Missile Speeders as you could fit became the 5th ed Space Wolf list of doom. Which was disappointing. Not that I didn’t play it, but it wasn’t what Space Wolves “should” be according to all the fluff in the codex itself and the numerous novels featuring them. This new codex supplement though makes it very different.

In reality, it started with Codex: Space Marines at the beginning of 9th when the SW Chapter Tactics were published. Hunters Unleashed is a Chapter Tactic devoted entirely to making Space Wolves better in combat, period. The Codex Supplement builds upon this in several ways. Savage Fury makes Space Wolves more potent in combat right off the bat. When the Assault Doctrine, yes SW can use the doctrines from Codex: Space Marines, is active unmodified hit rolls of 6 score 1 additional hit in melee! When you couple this with aura abilities that allow for re-rolls to hit you can really start to wrack up those hits and start to grind through units in melee.

Space Wolves seem to be an aggressive board control army they want the battle to happen in the center of the board and at close quarters where they outshine most other armies in Warhammer 40k right now. You should be doing very well on the Primary and holding 2 or more objectives a turn easily. So here is a rundown of what I am really interested in trying out in 9th Edition with Space Wolves:

My Ragnar and some buddies, waiting to hit the tabletop soon.
  • Ragnar Blackmane: Ragnar is an absolute beast in combat. When you couple his special rules and weapons with the core Space Wolves rules and have some Core units around to benefit from his powerful Auras and you have an almost auto-include option for most Space Wolves army builds. Unless you’re planning to run a shooting Space Wolf army you probably want Ragnar around to help get your units into combat, help them cleave through units in combat, and then kill a unit perhaps all on his own!
  • Assault Intercessors: If you’re running Ragnar then you probably want some Assault Intercessors too! Taking a few 5 man Assault Intercessor squads in Impulsors and having Ragnar and a Wolf Priest (Chaplain) along too and these guys can get out and start chain-swording their way through enemies and taking those center field objectives. The Astartes Chainsword is such a great addition to the game from a Space Wolves perspective so packing those into a SW army would be smart.
  • Blood Claws: I am a little partial to Bloodclaws, and while the mini Marines are not as sexy as the new Primaris stuff these guys are still worth it in my opinion. You can take 15 in a unit, but you have 1 Leader plus you need to take a Wolf Guard leader to avoid the Headstrong rule. In combat though, when buffed by a nearby Character or two like Ragnar, these guys have a massive number of attacks. With 2 attacks on the charge instead of 1 they will mulch most infantry units out there, clearing objectives with ease. Getting them to the enemy might be difficult at 15 men in the squad without a Land Raider Crusader, which I am sure everyone wants to run… Still, these guys look exciting.
I loved using these Skyclaws with some Character support in 5th Edition.
  • Skyclaws: If you like the idea of Blood Claws then you might just love the idea of Blood Claws with Jump Packs! A unit of 15 jump pack equipped Blood Claws, Sky Claws, helps to solve a bit of that problem we discussed with Blood Claws which was getting them into combat. This might not be the most point efficient unit in the Codex but it looks like a lot of fun to play with.
  • Thunderwolf Cavalry: These guys are going to be good. Again. They are tough with T5 and 4 wounds, and you have the option of keeping them cheap with just the Astartes Chainswords, which are excellent base weapons, or going super resilient and adding Storm Shields and Thunderhammers or Power Fists. They are Core which means character Auras will be helping them, you may want to consider how to best synergize some fast-moving characters to work in concert with these units. 1 or 2 units of these will be scary, but with the price tag, they will require you to build your list around them for sure. Really though, there isn’t much more iconic in the range than these guys.
  • Canis Wolfborn: Why do I like Canis? Well, he is a whirlwind of death in combat with his Wolf Claws and six attacks base. But I really like the way he will boost the number of attacks Thunderwolves and Fenrisian Wolves that are within his aura. If you’re going to run Thundercav or even a screen of Fenrisian Wolves he might be a good choice, I know I plan to try him out in a list featuring Thundercav and Fenrisian Wolves with a standard Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf for good measure.
I soured on the original Canis model when the other Thundercav units came out. Canis’ wolf just looks like a chonky internet meme cat instead of a feral wolf in comparison. So I made my own.
  • Dreadnoughts. ALL the Dreadnoughts: If you want to run a Dreadnought centric army then I suggest you look at Space Wolves. With Bjorn as a HQ choice in Space Wolf armies and Murderfang as an Elite character, you have a great base for a dreadnought army that can both shoot and reap units in Assault as it moves inexorably up the field. Wulfen Dreadnoughts with Axes and Shields are also amazing units to have in a list. They are resilient and hit like a ton of bricks. With Murderfang and two Wulfen shield dreads moving to get into combat you can have Bjorn bringing up the rear with some Heavy Support dreads. Contemptor Mortis dreads or a Leviathan would be nice to shooting platforms to support. Even with all those units you still have room for basic Space Wolves to help out!
  • Wolf Guard Terminators: Space Wolf Terminators are demonstrably better than any other Chapter’s terminators. With access to multiple different weapons for every terminator you take and the benefit of being slightly cheaper and better now that previously these units can provide a real threat. You can kit out these units to be a threat in both shooting and assault, or you can key them into being excellent at just one or the other. Besides the benefit of being a Terminator you can also take Storm Shields for more protection and, unlike regular Marines, you aren’t tied to the expensive Thunderhammer. You can add in a mix of Powerfists, Poweraxes, swords etc to go with your Storm Shields. You can also give every member of the squad a combi-weapon. I have two basic builds for Wolf Guard Terminators I am currently playing around with. 10 Wolf Guard with power axes and combi-flamers, and 10 Wolf Guard Terminators with Storm Shields and a mix of Hammers and Fists. The ability to customize these units to your personal playstyle is a very fun part of playing Space Wolves, and it has been for a long time.
5th edition Loganwing was a lot of fun!

There’s a lot of potential in this codex supplement. With options that can allow you to make your opponent fight last, and ways to get some more protection through psychic powers we’re looking at a viable codex with a few builds. It even makes the old Rhino rush of Blood Claws, backed up by Thundercav a real possibility. We could even see the return of Loganwing!? Now, that, would be fun. I hope you enjoyed, my first impressions of the units I am excited about from Codex Supplement: Space Wolves. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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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.

2 Responses to “9th Edition Space Wolves: First Impressions”

  1. Avatar
    GUSTAVO HERNANDEZ AVILA December 2, 2020 2:06 pm #

    One question: the Wulfen say in their savage Killers rule that it counts as if the entire army were in assault doctrine. And it is understood that they can make constant use of the superdoctrine: savage fury.
    Now in power instincts awoken or the generic Codex marine adaptive strategy, it doesn’t specifically say that it counts how the whole army is in assault doctrine.
    It means that they would only have the -1 to the penetration, and not the savage fury (super doctrine) ???
    Thanks

  2. Avatar
    Brennan P Mulcahey January 21, 2021 2:46 pm #

    I have been playing the Space Wolfs army since the 2nd edition and this the worse codex I have ever seen. Where are the listings for Iron, Wolf, and Rune Priests or the Swiftclaws? I am very disappointed in GW. Heck, they could at least brought back the Leman Russ Annihilator for us to field.

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