In the recent Warhammer 40K campaign in Hong Kong this past Sunday, I got a really good chance to battle some races that I have never played before. It’s in events like this that really have your wheels turning as to what sort of lists to bring that can handle the most amount of unknowns, very similar to the hypothetical scenarios you present yourself with when writing ‘ard boyz & tournament based lists.
Since writing 3 battle reports would be rather boring I want to instead talk about which squads in my army are very stable performers and their pros and cons.
Below you will find a brief squad analysis as to why I bring which units to the table. Now I know there will be units left uncovered but the ones I did write about are the ones that have been play tested and these squads are the list of contenders I would choose to take depending on who or what I am up against.
Some may think by writing unit analyses I am revealing my under-belly to my foes but this blog is about sharing my experience and if eventually my combos do get cracked, it will push me to field more different combos to test their mettle. Here goes…
-x4 Terminator Wolf guard w/ twin wolf claws
-x1 Terminator Wolf guard w/ TT/SS
-Drop pod delivery
For my drop pod assaults, I have found this unit is definitely the hardest hitting unit. Since Logan’s Axe of Morkai attacks can either be counted as a powerfist or a frost blade, its very important to have a significant number of attacks that can strike first or at the same time as your enemy. The terminators with twin wolf claws are to fill this role. Wolf claws can allow you to re-roll hits or misses, Logan can further stack preferred enemy and on top of this, he can give everyone within 18” +1 attacks once per game. The thunder hammer/Storm Shield terminator is there to take wounds and die first. No need to really worry about assaulting mech units either as Logan can opt to make his attacks as a powerfist. When using this squad you want to protect logan and the terminator wolfguard with claws so that they can continue on their rampage.
Pros: This combo will most likely chew through anything thrown at them, their durability should not be an issue either as these guys are in terminator armor. With a drop pod delivery system, they shouldn’t have to spend too much time idle being shot at. I have found this squad most effective by dropping them into the hottest sector of battle.
Cons: This squad is a huge point sinker! Model counts will usually be low and unless the game size is also big, it is very hard to field a wolf wing army. When model count is low, it is also usually very hard to come up with a contingency plan. I rarely take named characters in my games as I think they really spoil your ability to think fast by being too overly powerful.
-Rune Priest w/ chooser of the slain
-Wolfguard w/ power fist
-x5 Grey hunters, melta gun & mark of wulfen
This squad is the core for any space wolf list I write with the only variation being the squad size. Any space wolves player will tell you how versatile grey hunters are. While other space marine tactical squads can bring heavy weapons, we have other goodies like an extra close combat weapon, counter attack which means you still get the +1 attacks if you get charged and mark of wulfen which can potentially give you D6+1 rending attacks if you roll 6’s. Essentially, you can really rush these guys into the enemy and expect them to hold their lines and if they don’t, its usually at a very high cost at the enemy’s expense. The Wolfguard is there to beef up the close combat attacks with his power fist while the grey hunters provide ablative wounds if need be. The power fist attacks coupled with the mark of wulfen attacks are usually ample to overwhelm most multi wound units (tyranids inclusive).
As for the Rune Priest, I embed him into greyhunters for 3 reasons: psychic protection, sniping, and area control. I would argue he is one of the best psychic attack/defensive assets in the Warhammer 40k universe. Firstly for psychic protection he cancels out any psychic ability cast against his team by rolling a 4+ if the psyker is within 24” range. For sniping purposes, living lightning stacked with chooser of the slain means you hit on 2’s and wound on 2’s. This attack has unlimited range and requires no line of sight which makes this perfect for rolling along with rhinos so that you can soften up targets before you charge out and rip them a new one. As for area control, I swear by the Jaws of the World Wolf. In a nutshell, the ground opens up and swallows most of everything barring tanks if within a strait 24” line from the Rune Priest. When this line is drawn, each model the line passes must make an initiative test, all fails result in the model being removed from play. This is the best way to quickly deal with multi wound characters. Yes, characters can be targeted.
Pros: This combo of Rune Priest, Wolf guard & Grey hunter can be tooled to any amount of points you can afford. They have excellent attack characteristics in both ranged and assault. Normal tactical squads can have heavy weapons but that means they can’t move and shoot, you can combat squad them but that greatly diminishes their endurance. The Rune Priest shooting attacks can effectively cover anywhere on the table while still being able to shoot and move. Wolf guard to power fist the enemy’s face should they be too arrogant, Grey hunters with melta gun to tank bust and mark of wulfen to rend really tough enemies. With the space wolves force organization chart, each slot basically allows the space wolves to take 2 units per slot so you can have up to 4 HQ’s as rune priest and spam this as your army. Basically its like having 4 mini armies within 1 army.
Cons: As grey hunters are there to be ablative wounds for your steam rolling attacks, squad endurance is the issue of concern. To preserve the survivability of the Rune Priest and Wolf Guard I never take less than 5 grey hunters. Any less, it will begin eating into your squad’s endurance as more and more enemies decide to pick apart that squad.
Squad 3: Long Fangs
-x5 long fangs
-x2 missile launchers
Long fangs are the best devastator squads. They can split fire, to engage up to 2 different targets with devastating results. Many space wolves players roll with all missile launchers, against nids with relatively weaker armor, I would do the same but for most cases, I bring in 2 lascannons for the extra punch. For the best results, I always fire my 2 missiles first. If the missiles score wounds then great, but if not, I still got 2 lascannons to shoot depending on how big of a threat the target is. Against horde armies, I usually throw out 2 salvos of frag missiles to force saves on my opponent.
Pros: Can engage 2 different targets. Some players lead their Long Fangs with Wolfguard in terminator armor/cyclone missiles for that extra punch in shooting and assault defence. They also have counter charge so you can expect they will do a bit better than conventional devastator squads when being assaulted.
Cons: Most fragile of all space wolves infantry units.
Squad 4: Thunderwolf Cavalry
-x4 Thunderwolf Cavalry, Thunder hammer/Storm Shield
This squad almost guarantees to be in assault in their first turn if played correctly. This unit does everything a cavalry unit is supposed to do in every sense. They basically smash in on the flanks of your opponent and work their way through. To do this, I always keep these units in reserve while baiting the enemy into mid field range. This shouldn’t be too hard as 5th edition is mostly fought over the middle ground. Once in combat, depending on what you are charging you may want either the thunder hammer storm shield rider or a basic rider to die first depending on how squishy the unit you are assaulting is. For very squishy units, they will usually be in a horde and since the thunder hammer attacks last anyways, his shield can come in handy at weathering attacks. If the enemy is really hard, you will want the basic riders to take one for the team surviving the thunder hammer attacks to do most of the damage. Always take a thunderhammer/storm shield for all around offensive and defensive capabilities!!! Every time I run this squad it has not failed me. Since GW still hasn’t released any official models for this unit, it can be said that not many opponents will expect to face them.
Pros: Extremely effective against arrogant players whom you’ve successfully baited. They are very fast and hit with a very high velocity. Toughness 5 with 2 wounds makes them extremely survivable when unleashed at the right time. Aesthetically, they are most space wolves themed units period…
Cons: at 50 points/thunderwolf these are very expensive. They are relatively hard to use as everything comes down to timing and target priority for this unit.
Thats it for now folks... I hope this was helpful and provided some insight to the inner workings of a space wolves army. I'll be putting up more unit tacticas in the near future so be sure to look out for them. Do you play space wolves? Do you have any tricks you would like to share? As always, questions and comments are welcome!