Codex Review – Space Wolves

Welcome to our Space Wolves Codex review.  Today we delve into the codex and pick it apart, piecing together what we can find which makes the book great, and avoiding what makes the book bad. I will be covering all the shiny new combos we can find and what to consider when making a competitive list with the new book.

 Abilities

Let’s take a closer look at Hunters Unleashed and how it effects the new Space Wolves.  Hunters Unleashed is a fantastic Chapter Trait which enables even your basic infantry to hit hard.  It also allows your army to hit reliably even when faced off against enemy units which apply negative modifiers to hit in combat, which is always a nice addition. The main aspect of this ability which I want to cover, however, is the 6” Heroic Intervention!

This is potentially game changing for the Wolves of Fenris. I mean, who doesn’t love charging your opponent in their charge phase when they aren’t even near enough or interested in charging you yourself? Talk about the priceless look on your opponent’s face when they realise you can still Heroic Intervene an enemy unit if they didn’t charge themselves! Yes you can do that and yes it is as intended. This does however come down to positioning, so it is vital to position your characters correctly. You want them close enough to get in the fight, but far enough back from a screen to not get hit by enemy shooting.

A common approach we may see is Wolf Lords with Jump Packs hidden amongst Guardsman, then jumping over to counter a charge and hitting them on a 2+ with 6 attacks (I’ll explain how shortly) with their Thunder Hammer will be quite tasty.

Warlord traits

Unfortunately these were incorrectly printed, but GW have quickly responded and posted a new version on their community page.  Now, most of the warlord traits are quite useful, especially if they get their aura abilities off, but here I’m going to cover them more in-depth:

Saga of The Warrior Born: You always fight first, even if you didn’t charge. This is VERY useful. The plethora of Imperial Soups and Eldar Shining Spears hitting the scene is ridiculous. By Heroically Intervening and killing those smash captains before they get to triple attack with 8 attacks etc. is game changing. Killing those shining spears before they soul burst and wipe out half your army. Very useful! If you kill an enemy characters, then your boys within 6 can all do this which is very situational and will apply later in the game, but it’s a nice added bonus.

Saga of The Wolfkin: Add 1 to your attacks in your first combat phase. Now this one I’m not sure about. The extra attack is always something to enjoy, and it is possible to buff this by a further 1 (explained below) but I’m not sure if it’s worthwhile. I think for now this will be a staple choice, having more attacks is always nice, but what I really like is the aura that you can unlock. If you go hunting with your Warlord early, and kill 5 models in 1 fight phase (harder than you think with only 5-6 attacks), then buffing surrounding units for that extra attack will be especially nice. But the hard part is actually killing 5 models. You’d want to do it asap, as the longer it takes turn by turn then the less army you will have to abuse it. Decent overall and certainly good to take as a base choice.

Saga of Majesty: So before the change, this was simply an aura to ignore moral. Now it’s actually been nerfed to only apply to the bearer until you slay the enemy warlord with your own, which will almost NEVER happen. Let’s be honest, who the hell will let you kill their warlord with this guy unless they’ve literally thrown his little character CP farm guardsman or Yvraine in front of you, instead of hiding in the corner like the sissy he/she is and pumping out powers/orders from the edges of the board? Not going to happen. The other ability of this is, however, useful. The extra 3” to aura abilities is nice, notably on Logan Grimnar who comes with this trait naturally. His aura to re-roll hits becomes 9” which can be very useful, so something to consider when building your army.

Saga of The Beastslayer: +1 to wound against Monsters or Vehicles. Nice little bonus and helps when playing vs Knights. Having +1 to hit and wound is tasty! Hard part 9or easy sometimes) can be getting the aura off as you’d need to actually kill one of the above, and most don’t tend to be sat in front of you early. If you do get the aura ability early and still have a warlord around, then this can be amazing, effectively giving your army the Blood Angels chapter trait as well as your own +1 to hit (albeit vs vehicles or monsters but hey, that’s when you really need the +1 to wound, right?). Situational again but very useful.

Saga of The Hunter: You can advance and charge. If this was automatically an aura ability, it would be the best warlord trait and certainly give space wolves that competitive edge they need. Unfortunately, you need to successfully charge with your warlord for it to become an aura, and by that point most of your army is up field stood in front of him so he doesn’t get shot, so I’d probably not bother with this one.

Saga of The Bear: Nice bit of durability, 6+ FNP for your warlord. It’s a better tenacious Survivor, as you can get an aura ability on it if your warlord passes a save. But as that says, by the time you’d get to utilise it, your Warlords probably in combat and at that stage he may or may not survive long enough to utilise it for the rest of your army. I personally don’t like it over the other choices.

So there you have the Warlord traits. A few combos for you guys to think about, but overall nothing spectacular. Nice little bonus’s for a combat character which is always nice, but are they better than taking an allied warlord? That’s  for you to decide!

Relics

Well, this will be perhaps the shortest list of relics I’ve ever had the pleasure of covering. There are no fancy CP farming relics (This should apply to all armies, either every codex has one or none, by far the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen). Hopefully they will take note. Anyways, onto the two relics you should even consider taking:

Wulfen Stone: +1 attack to all models in units within 3″!!!! Yes please. This is how your Wolf Lords are getting the extra attack on top of Saga Of The Wolfkin. Great relic and actually kind of makes up for the fact that the other 4 are not even worth taking. Take this, even if it costs you an extra 1 CP. It’s well worth it!

Armour of Russ: This is a very nifty relic. Being able to stop your opponent striking first with a unit can potentially be game breaking. That unit of 20 stealers hitting your lines? Let me hit you first. That blood angels captain with 2 wounds left? Smack him down. Lots of capabilities mixed with the 6″ heroic intervention and pile in means that it is easy to get within 1″ of the enemy unit which you need to stop striking first. The 4++ is pretty useless so this will mainly be its use. Great relic and I’d consider taking this is matchups where you need to strike before a fast assault unit.

Competitive Units

I’ve collated the new units in this book and will be going over what I believe to be competitive options. There’s no point in me covering units which are available in other books, unless they become predominantly better in the Wolves book for a specific reason, which I will try to cover:

Wolf Lords: These guys are the staple of most competitive Space Wolf armies and soup armies from here-on-out. The combo for one of them becoming your warlord with Sags Of The Wolfkin and the Wulfen Stone allows them to charge or heroically Intervene with 6 attacks. Give them a Thunder Hammer and Storm shield with a Jump Pack and you are good to go. Personally I wouldn’t bother paying the extra points for the Thunderwolf as you will struggle, even with a 6 inch heroic intervention, to jump him over your screen and counter your opponent’s charge. Unfortunately, some people think 25 points is worth it for the minor suitability boost, but in reality, you lose the FLY keyword, lose 2″ of movement, and most importantly, triple the size of his base making it harder for you to abuse the Heroic Intervention and getting into the nicks and crannies your opponent may leave open for you to sneak him into combat.

He is, however, still viable for pushing forwards and actually killing 5 models in 1 turn with the extra 3 Str 5 -1 attacks he gets from the Thunderwolf. The extra 3 wounds is also nice but remember, he loses the FLY keyword making it harder for you to deal with fliers unless you already have an answer for them.  Something always to consider.

9/10

Bjorn Fellhanded: Bjorn is a beast, and what makes him more-so of a beast is his points drop and the Character keyword. He comes with 5 attacks, Str 14 -4 D6 damage which he re-rolls to wound. He gives you the re-roll 1’s to hit aura which is nice, an extra 1 CP for just being in your army and has a 5+++. What makes him especially dangerous on top of this is his 8” movement so he can keep up with the rest of your army fairly easily. He also comes armed with a weapon of your choice, Twn-Lascannon, heavy Plasma Cannon, Hellfrost Destructor or Assault Cannon. With a BS 2+ I’s consider giving him the Twin-Lascannon for some ranged support. Very nice character overall, but a bit more costly than most.

 8/10

Rune Priest: These guys have received a welcome buff from numerous locations. First of all, they gained the ability to cast 2 powers rather than 1. A greatly appreciated change! They have some spicy abilities from the Strategems themselves. The capability of giving a unit within 6″ to intercept an enemy unit coming on via deepstrike/reseve etc. which is awesome! Next, is the powers themselves:

  • Unfortunately, Storm Caller is now required to be cast on an 8 making is rather difficult to cast (how is this the same casting value as Soulburst? I’d love to know) but hey, its a nice power to have. I’d consider taking Njal who I will cover next if you want to use this power.
  • Other noteable powers is Murderous Hurricane which you roll a dice for every model in the enemy unit and on a 6 they take a mortal wound. Nice bit of anti-horde. Especially with upcoming Genestealer Cult and Orks we may see this power used more often than now.
  • Next is Living Lightning. This needs a special mention, as you can potentially cast this with the use of a stratagem and instead of D3 mortal wounds, it causes D6! The downside is it’s only 18″ range, only the nearest enemy unit (like smite) and you need 3 Rune Priests (or Njal) within 6″ of one another!! That’s a lot to invest, but is it worth it? If you kill the unit it bounces on and can continue to do so if you keep killing units. Situational and a lot of points for something which can be blocked by chaff.
  • Next with have Freki and Geri, which gives the Rune priest an extra 6 attacks at str 5 -1 1 D which is nice. Not sure if it will be staple in most choices but nice little boost for combat.
  • Tempest Wrath gives you a nice little debuff, -1 to hit to an enemy unit.
  • Finaly, Jaws Of The World Wolf which is very situational, roll 2D6 and minus the opponents movement value, you take that many mortal wounds. Great against slow armies but how many important units out there in competitive armies move slow? Orks? Death Guard?

Personally if I had a Rune Priest, my 2 top choices would be Tempest Wrath and Living Lightning. They give you some damage, debuff and can be used in almost every game in a singles event. With these and the chance to deny enemy powers, he is a staple choice in most of your Space Wolf armies.

8/10

Wolf Guard Battle Leader: Well these guys got b*tch slapped and the wolf lords had decided they were not worthy enough of standing toe to toe with the big boys. They now come with a base of 3 attacks….yes that is the same as a buffed up catachan guardsman…and an ork. Why do Space Marines always get a small number of attacks when they are meant to be heroes I will never understand but this has hurt them. They also lost some options i.e to be taken on a bike or thunderwolf, so now I think these guys are going to be simply taken for the re-roll 1’s to wound. Not much else to say, for combos just read the Wolf Lord entry above, or keep them cheap just as a buffing character.

5/10

Njal Stormcaller: Well this guy is basically a slightly more expensive Rune Priest, does not have access to a Jump Pack like the Rune Priest does, but does get +1 to cast. I would consider taking him if you do want to cast Storm Caller more reliably in your games, otherwise stick with the faster jump pack Rune Priest. Don’t bother with the Terminator version as you are just gaining the deep strike ability but he is far too much to make it worth it.

8/10

That’s it’s for the HQ units, let’s move onto the Elites:

Wolf Guard: I really like these now they have a slight points reduction. For the cost of a characters storm shield you get a model with 3 base attacks (with a chainsword) and the options are endless. You can throw in a few storm shields, thunder hammers, combi weapons and storm bolters. Now with most armies we expect to see people taking Arjac as he is awesome, and his attack buff benefits these even more, giving then 4 attacks which is awesome. Combo that with the wulfen stone you now have marines with 5 attacks each. Orks, beware! Nice combo but remember, they are just marines still with 1 wound so stick them in rhinos or outflank using the strategem.

7/10

Muderfang: This guy received a fantastic buff. 7 attacks on the charge and retains the character keyword. He can also re roll charges. So moving him up in-between your army then counter charging him with heroic intervention or naturally gives you 7 str 12 re rolling to wound attacks which have a flat 3 damage. Very brutal! Fair amount of damage output for a decent amount of points. Not a must have but the option to take him is there. Unfortunately he gives no aura buffs like other characters so he is very 1 dimensional.

7/10

Wulfen: These guys are back with a plethora of options. Unfortunately though, like before, they are still hard to deliver. When they hit, they hit hard, and you can equip them with str 10 thunder hammers and give them some survivibioity with the storm shield, problem is they are now 49 points each which is a lot considering they still need to get to combat. They can be transported in the storms GS but take 2 slots which means you can’t fit them in the gunship (only one worth taking in my opinion) so you’d have to outflank them or utilise good terrain. Without it they die fairly quickly. I would take a mix of 2-3 TH SS, 1-2 great axe and the pack leader with the claws. One thing to note is they don’t benefit from the wulfen stone or their own ability to gives other units an extra attack but they do get to re roll charges and can advance and charge so they are still fairly quick.

6/10

Chapter Ancient: no funky banner like marines and dark angels but the ability to get back up and shoot before dieing on a 4+ is still invaluable and a great ability to have for marines.

5/10

Aggressors: No different but the biggest thing for space wolves is you can outflank them. This does delay their output especially if you need to get rid of chaff for your characters to get into combat early, but they still function well when they can’t be alpha struck and still perform their role. Put pressure on your opponent when moving their army up midfield.

6/10

Next, troops. I will cover all the options as there are only 3:

Grey Hunters: not been changed since the index, given no double special weapons for 5 man squads which baffles me as they don’t gain access to heavy weapons like space marines. They do still get a bolter and Chainsword which is nice but options are limited and they are still, for some reason, 13 points. Why? No idea. Not worth it, move on.

2/10

Blood Claws: Same as above but actually may have a place. You lose options but gain added combat power when charging, gaining an additional attack. They shoot on a 4+ as they are still feral, but hitting on 2s when they charge makes up for it. Keep them cheap and throw them into combat with a terminator pack leader tanking hits. Could be cheaper but a better choice than Grey Hunters.

4/10

Intercessors: No different. Still bad.

2/10

Possibly soace wolves least interesting role, Fast Attack:

Thunderwolf Cavalry: I was soo hyped for these guys to hit the tabletop again, but at their cost I will still be leaving them at home. They are so big that every big gun in your opponent’s army will wipe them off the board before you get a chance to use them. No shooting options, minimal durability compared to other codex combat options, can’t fly to ignore intervening blocking units. They just arnt up to scratch. They still hit hard when they do get in but I was hoping they would at least have been given an extra attack.

5/10

Fenrisian Wolves: After chapter approved there was scope to take them as a cheap screen. They have a 6+ save, no gun but are fast and a terrible LD even if you take more than 10. For some reason they were knocked up in points and are now the same cost as 2 guardsman who can move just as fast and have potentially 8 shots. Seems fair! I still like these but wish they were still cheap.

6/10

Finally I will combine heavy support and fliers together:

Stormfang Gunship: with the change of points (or the literal deletion) for the helldrake destructor this flier becomes very valid. It comes base with 4 heavy bolters, 2 stormsurge missile launchers and the hellfrost destructor. The range of it being only 24 hurts but it’s damage capacity is very nice. 3d3 str 6 ap-2 2 damage or 3 str 8 -4 d6 damage both very good options. I would personally upgrade the stormstrikes to lascannons for 8 points more as it’s worth it. Keep the heavy bolters to give you some ranged anti-infantry and keeps the flier flexible. With a 6 man transport capacity it is also helpful at reducing drops. Great choice.

9/10

Long Fangs: Great little ranged support unit. With the exceptional strategems they now have available you will likely see them on the table more often than not. The unit naturally can pick an enemy unit and re-roll 1s to hit against it which is very nice as most of your wolf lords giving that aura effect will be on the front lines smacking down th big stuff with his hammer.

What makes these guys stand out to the rest is the strategems, 2 in particular. 1 allows them to ignore all modifiers to hit so you can hide them behind a wall, move out and still hit on 3s against that eldar flier. The other is the ability to either re roll all hit or wound rolls (always go for wound rolls) making them a great anti tank unit! I’d expect to see at least one unit of these in most wolves armies. Unfortunately they are still just marines but you can spend around 40 points and take a terminator pack leader to tank hits!

8/10

So that’s the overview of all the units. I think there are options for the space wolves but I don’t think there is anything exceptionally strong or broken. That’s a good thing, but when other armies have something exceptional or amazing combos but the Wolves are a breath of fresh air for marine players who wanted something new.

If you guys have any ideas of your own or spotted an interesting combo then please feel free to leave a comment. Remember to follow us on our Facebook and Twitter page for more updates!

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