I was browsing another local forum I like and found this review of the new Space Wolves codex...
First, I will start with the statement that I am looking at this review without allies being taken into consideration. This is for three reasons. 1) It gives a more pure sense of the ‘dex to explore it’s options in a singular environment, not muddy the waters, 2) There is some speculation about that the allies available to the Imperium may be changing in the 1 year future and 3) Everyone knows Space Wolves don’t trust the slaves of Terra, the Inquisition and the High Lords…
Well, like the IG ‘dex before it, this book has stirred a great hue and cry of ‘codex creep’ and ‘cheese’ and ‘where’s my vallium’. Well, people have calmed down a bit. IG were not the end of the world. They did dramatically affect the play environment, but adaptation occurred at a similar pace to the stymie-ing of Fate-crusher lists and the Snuffing of Nob Biker mayhem.
But they didn’t call ‘em Cheese Wolves in 2nd ed for NOTHING! These guys are frikkin rock hard all over again!
The best thing about this codex, is a return to the character driven wolves of old. These are the Sons of Russ. These are the heralds of his honor, the questing Norse searching for new shores and glory. These are CHARACTERS!
Let’s start with the actual unit by unit breakdown. I will preface with a statement, if I don’t go into detail it’s no different than the SM equivalents (or very little. Land Raiders and Drop pods dropped back to Transport 10 capacity though). Also, army special rules are (surprise, surprise) Counter Attack and Acute Senses, plus standard SM ATSKNF. (note; if the order of unit review seems odd, it is the order they appear in the bestiary…a format I am still not fond of, but it’ll just be easier for me).
Also, in order to not take away from the store's preview copies sense of special, I am not going into stat-line layouts, unit point breakdowns and such.
Blood Claws(trp). Simple units, applied similarly to their 3e(and up to now) counterparts. Can have 1 special wpn (flm/melt/plas) for normal costs, and if maxed out (up to 15 models) can have another free. The headstrong special rule makes shooting a difficult proposition, as they cannot shoot if within charge range (unless accompanied by an IC or Wolf Guard). +2 attk bump for being nuts does NOT transfer to counter-attack. They’re solid assault units with volume of attacks, and get the standard SM ‘port options (DP/Rhino/RzrBk). Dropping down to only 1 power wpn/fist option also slowed em up a bit. Their special character is FUN, but doesn’t count as an IC or Wolfguard, so don’t bother giving em special weapons unless you plan on buying them a character!
Grey Hunters(trp). Well Hell…what can I say. It don’t get much better than this. Someone online that saw this book before me said that they are now the best troop choice in the game. I am having a great deal of difficulty finding fault in his assessment. Same points as a basic CSM, with Bolter/BltP/CCW and ATSKNF. Buy em a Spcl Weapon, and give em a freebie if they get to Max (10) models? They can have a wolf standard in the squad (wargear for assault bumps, re-roll 1’s ONCE per game). Can have a power fist, can get mark of the wulfen on a guy AND can tune their unit function with the proper application of an IC or Wolf Guard? Ugh….these guys kick ARSE. Standard Transport options of course. These guys ROCK. Gimme 60 please!
Wolf Scouts(elite). Same function as last ‘dex. They’re special move is similar to Snikrot Kommandos, only you get to pick ANY table edge on a roll of 3+. They don’t get a power fist option, and only one special OR hvy weapon. All can have melta-bombs of course. Well rounded, but the limited special wpns and lack of granting their ability to characters (and no PwrFist) hurts them. Still will probably use them myself, but no promises on them being powerhouses.
Long Fangs(hvy). Finally, Devastators that are useful again. Cheap Hvy Wpns, Cheap unit. Fire Control lets you split fire as long as the pack leader’s alive. Pack leader can have a spcl wpn OR pwr fist/wpn. Can have up to 5 wpns. Can’t really go wrong here. Unit Cap of 6 (including the leader) makes them vulnerable to torrent, and Having to really be exposed to make em worth it still hurts…but I would buy these sometimes, I don’t use devestators anymore.
Lone Wolves(elite). Like Dwarf Slayers in fantasy, they seek an honorable death in battle. DON’T give it to em if you face em, they’ll pwn you! Eternal Warrior, FNP, Beastslayer (more on that later) and a wolfguard’s suite of gear? Biggest problem with these guys is they cannot join a squad, can’t have a transport, and will yield your opponent a kill point if they LIVE at the end of the game. Fun, not good. Convert something cool, play em every once in a while, and think of em like a Lictor that can’t deepstrike.
Wolf Guard(elite). Holy Grud….I think I wept. They brought em back. They made them good again. And they are REALLY gonna piss off Deathwing players. Get all the good stuff SM termies get if they upgrade to termie armour (3+ SS, double shot Cyclone) and can be troops if you choose Logan. Attach em to Grey Hunters/Blood Claws for Ldr bumps and interesting gear/abilities. Make em monster squads of variegated DOOM. Upgrades are individualized, as they can be split off from their packs to be leaders. Also, a pack can have a dedicated LR variant as a ‘port. These guys add up FAST though. Be wary, unless you want to bring a death-star unit, you can wind up spending too much too quickly and suffer. Their upgrade character Arjac can throw his Thunder Hammer, the rumors were true…6” str 10….OUCH!
Fenrisian Wolves(FA). Fun, cheap, FAST(beasts). If you have them, use em for point fillers, flankers and infantry movement blockers. Otherwise, meh…fluff, which is good but not good enough to spend money.
Thunderwolf Cavalry(FA). When I first really started looking at these guys, I though ‘bloodcrushers for the Imperium…ROXOR!’…then I costed them out. These guys are great…great stats, wounds and resilience. But in order to make them truly equivalent to the Bloodcrushers, you need to spend more than they are worth. Base rending helps, but not enough. Combined with only the one model being made (the character) and he in metal? If you plan on spamming them, pay the loadout for storm shields across the board, try to make em unkillable! Expensive, but unkillable! Again, they are a fun unit but not a key one.
Swiftclaw Bikers and Skyclaw Assault packs(FA) are just bloodclaw equivalents with Bikes or Jump packs. Stuck with only 1 spcl weapon each, fluff…not powerful, just the old roles revisited.
Standard Vehicles are LR/Redeemer/Crusader, Land Speeders (not the storm), whirlwind (std ammo from SM), Vindicator, Drop Pod, Razorback, Rhino, Predator, Dreads and Venerable Dreads. I miss the Ironclad (not necessary with Bjorn) and the speeder storm.
Wolf Priests(hq). Oath gives them and the unit they join preferred enemy against a unit type (ie;infantry, monst creatures, etc etc). Fearless is also granted. Otherwise, typical chaplain.
Runic Priests(hq). Well, all my librarians just got staff envy…force staff envy. Runic weapons. Negates any Psychic power within 24” on a 4+, yes please. Force weapon, of course. Wounds all daemons on a 2+, yes please! Throw in the familiar that marks a point on the table that no enemy can deploy infiltrators within 18”…good lord. But wait, there’s more….and we’re gonna handle that under psychic powers!
Psychic Powers(hq). Well, I cried a little more. Jabeebus! Large blast St 3 hit centered on the Librarian that only hits enemies? How about a power that forces all models touched in a straight line 24” long from the Libby that fail an init check are just ‘removed from the table’…can we say 4 dead carnifexes in a turn? How about Nob Bikers? Broadsides? UGH! There’s more. Gotta read it to believe it thoug!
Iron Priests(elite). Really fairly standard Techmarines, with access to Sagas and Wargear. Useful, but fighting with better choices.
Wolf Lord(HQ). The meat of any SW army. A chapter master without the bombardment, but access to all the gear (non-psyker/priest specific) and sagas they have. Can be just SICK! Totally tailored to your flavor of fangy-goodness!
Special Characters. This is where the army really takes off, and falls down. They are in constant competition for one another for slots and points. But OMIGAWD they’re worth it. It’s almost painful, almost. Till you realize nobody else out there has this level of HQ/IC/Upgrade MADNESS! Be careful, these guys can be difficult to balance…but there is a HUGE gimme.
Bjorn the Fellhanded(HQ). The most survivable Walker in the game. FAV-13, 5+ invuln AND venerable? Monster statline and attitude. Throw in re-rolls for dep zone, and this guy is worth his +200 pts. Gotta love the beast that remembers his primarch! Watch out though, if he goes down it could be bad…almost dead ethereal bad.
Ulrik the Slayer(HQ). Nice variant on the wolfpriest. He and unit allocating attacks against t-5 reroll hits and wounds. Stat bump to one character on your side. Morale boost localized AND a death-mask like ability. Good, but honestly overpointed for what he does and his survivability.
Arjac Rockfist(wlfgrd upgrade). Skulltaker in Wolf Form. He’s a character killer. If he lives through to his initiative (thunder hammer), he gets to re-roll misses against IC’s and MC’s. Throwing the hammer 6” is just a bonus! A bit expensive for an Upgrade Character, but at least he doesn’t use up a force org slot!
Lukas the Trickster(bloodclaw upgrade). Best last laugh of all. The main reason to take bloodclaws, get him and his unit stuck in and watch the fun. Is he worth his points? Doubtful. Is he worth the look on your opponents face when he removes an IC and retinue from play (just removed, no save/eternal warrior…nuffin) because he died? HECK YAH! Just take him for fun, and really tick somebody off!
Njal Stormcaller(HQ). If you want to win, don't agonize, just take Njal. You could have charged another 50 points (taking him over 300) and he still would have been worth it. He’s just wrong. All the psychic powers. Runestaff negates enemy psychic powers on a 3+. Uses 2 powers a turn. Has a Weather effect that devastates your opponents shooting/movement phases without any effort on your part (other than keeping him alive of course). He’s just sick. Game winning sick. This is a character that MUST die if you are fighting against him. Just must.
Canis Wolfborn(HQ). Can have a number of attacks = to models in contact. Can make Fenrisian wolves troops. Meh, he’s fun. I equate him with thunderwolves.
Ragnar Blackmane(HQ). Another almost ‘gimme’ character. The unit boost he gives makes him key to any first strike assault strategy. Do NOT waste him on bloodclaws. With their equipment bump, his abilities, and the flexibility of the unit, I think he is better served with a Grey Hunter squad. If you want a serious ‘death-star’ assault unit, and keyed up Wolf-Guard squad will work as well. This guy is LETHAL. +d3 attacks to him as his unit on the charge is just part of it.
Logan Grimnar(HQ). The old Wolf himself. He loans old veteran skills to his unit. Gives every friendly unit within 18” +1 attack once per game, and makes wolf guard count as troops. Combine that with an awesome statline, fluff background and the Axe Morkai? AWESOME.
Wargear is fairly standard, with some wolf specific flavor and tweaks. Brings it in line with the fairly ‘standardized’ feel we are getting from the current SM based ‘dexes. The exception is the ‘Sagas’. From sagas that grant eternal warrior, allows a character to join scouts outflanking and re-roll failed to hits vs monstrous creatures. Each is described with vibrant poetic quality, akin to poetic ‘sagas’ of old…with oaths that should guide a player in how he runs the characters so affected.
I also note a plethora (okay, a few) things that negate/ignore Eternal Warrior. I think GW may be trying to correct the handing out of this ability like candy.
Space Wolves suffer and benefit from ‘super-unit’ syndrome. Keyed around certain categories (elites and HQ’s specifically) there are just too many GOOD choices. I know it sounds like hypocrisy to complain about this, but it muddies the choices. You have to choose wisely, and with the points investments in these categories, one wrong move and you are into the diminishing return category.
They also suffer from a lower than average leadership for troop units. You are EXPECTED to take wolfguard to compensate, which brings the unit point investment closer in line, and competes further with force org slots.
Wolves can do minimum model count, normal marine count, or something in between. We can simulate Deathwing better than DA can, but Ravenwing/Doublewing is beyond us. We can simulate Vulkan THSS/Land Raider/Melta doom, but without the focus. We can even simulate Khorne Berserker charges, and bloodcrusher walls. But we cannot do any of these as cheaply as our counterparts, and any of these foci will fall to their counters more easily due to our cost.
Focus on Grey Hunters, mobility, and sudden brutal assault. Focus on free special weapons and goals for units. Focus on supporting the character/Saga/flavor you are moving toward. If anything else, be a better space marine than your astartes bretheren, and howl at the moon….for it is WOLFTIME!
(note: I didn’t go into excessive detail, because I didn’t want to spoil all the surprises. Statlines, unit point breakdown and totals are things that shouldn’t be in print. Tidbits and direction, feels and such are there for you to get an understanding of where things fit. The rest of the story can be had, just come down to the store and see if you can wrest the book from whoever has been bogarting it most recently!)
I missed wolfguard battle-leaders.
They are what the old scaled down space marine captain was, a cheap filler character for unit bump/extra CC power.
With this 'dex, and the sagas, they can fill other roles. Extra Wulfen like models, A boost to scout firepower, or cheap control for your Bloodclaws. Overpointed slightly, but their roles make them a possibility when you just need that extra combi-melta for your scouts, power fist nasty for your grey hunters, special equipment wolf rider or just your own little up-and-coming wolf lord! Just because everything around them is so awesome, doesn't mean they don't fit the bill for some roles if you've already dumped a lot into something like Njal.