Who Let the Dogs Out? A Space Wolf Codex Review

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Hello ladies, it’s your favorite Nights at the Game Table writer here to talk to you about the new Space Wolves and what they have to offer!

One of the tough things for Games Workshop to get right when designing codices is to make sure to give Space Marines, Dark Angels, Blood Angels, and Space Wolves enough unique attributes to help each army stand out from their brothers in different colors, whilst making sure to take great care not to make one chapter the clear winner, competitively speaking. Only time will tell if they’ve succeeded in this effort, but I do think Space Wolves offer some really interesting aspects that are definitely worth exploring while not being overpowered. For this codex review I’m going to talk about potentially very powerful units unique to Space Wolves and what they have to offer, and then potential uses for them within the context of other armies as well. Finally, I’ll give a sample army list that’s pure Space Wolves, to give you guys an idea of what I’m thinking for them.

Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf or Jump Pack–  Generally speaking, this guy is nothing overly impressive, and he pales in comparison to his Slamguinius brother the Smash Captain, but when you consider his with a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield and Saga of the wolfkin in the midst of a ton of blood claws you can start to wrack up an army with an insane amount of attacks. Charging him into an initial screening type unit and swinging with 5 attacks hitting on 2’s rerolling 1’s (even with his thunder hammer) and wounding on 2’s potentially rerolling at -3ap and 3 damage should very easily get you to 5 kills. If somehow you messed it up, and you went with the Thunderwolf variation you even have an insurance policy with the three mount attacks. Once that gets going of you’ll be charging in with 4 attack blood claws hitting on 2’s rerolling 1’s. That can start to overwhelm an enemy very quickly.

Rune Priests– Space Wolves are known for many things, their incessant need to prove their manliness, living in harshly freezing climates because tropical weather is overrated, their love for puppies, and apparently their psychers? Who knew Rune Priests were apparently the emporer’s finest book nerds. Seriously, these guys have access to some pretty amazing spells like Temepst’s Wrath, Fury of the Wolf Spirits, and Living Lightning but that’s not even the reason to take these guys! There are two stratagems which just make these guys complete auto includes: Cloaked by the Storm and Chooser of the Slain.

Cloaked by the storm can very easily turn into army wide -1 to hit, or when coupled with a some of the wolf fliers or even the iconic rhino rush with smoke launchers -2 to hit.

Chooser of the Slain is the Space Wolf version of intercept, but there are two key differences between it and the Space Marine version. 1, The only stipulation is that the rune priest needs to have line of sight to whatever you’re targeting, meaning there is no setting up 12.1″ away and being safe. And 2, it affects ANY friendly unit. You heard me right. Intercepting Castellans inbound. One can only hope this was an oversight and will quickly be errata’d away, so I wouldn’t start jumping around screaming about how the world is ending just yet, but until it is inevitably changed, Imperial players rejoice.

Wulfen- Wulfen have quickly become a very iconic unit for Space Wolves, and a powerful one at that. They are deceptively fast with their advance and charge coupled with their ability to reroll charges. Additionally they hit like a ton of bricks. When you sprinkle in some storm shield and thunder hammers there’s little they can’t kill or survive. Their weakness is definitely small arms fire power due to their lack luster save of 4+ and mortal wounds in the form of smite. I think on the highest levels of competition these guys will prove to not be up too snuff, but they look like a ton of fun, and can really make for some enjoyable more casual games. If I were to run them I’d run them in multiple units of 5 with 3 thunder hammers/storm shield and 2 frost claws.

Long Fangs- These guys are quite literally the only devastator-esque unit across every codex I don’t absolutely hate. For those of you who know me, that’s saying a lot. Their ability to combine different stratagems to get immense value from them is just too good to pass up. You could very easily reserve a unit of 6 with 5 heavy bolters or missile launchers and set them up safely in cover with perfect line of sight in your deployment zone, and ensure they get the first strike. Not only that, but you can also combine their ability to reroll 1’s to hit, with strats to reroll wounds and ignore all hit modifiers. We all know how scary guilliman + guns is, well this is basically that but way more cost effective and less committal!

Thunder Wolves and Fenrisian Wolves– In my opinion neither of these units are bad, but they also wont be seeing much play at the top tables. Despite the coolness factor of giant wolves, they lack two important keywords which really hold them back: Fly and/or infantry. I mean when was the last time you saw a successful assault unit that didn’t boast at least one of those two key words? 7th edition unfortunately. Their inability to bypass screens or interact with ruins really ruins them. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

These are the units that stuck out to me as very interesting and useful in the Space Wolf arsenal, though that’s far from exhaustive. I think the bread and butter of a Space Wolf army is much more likely to be Blood Claws in rhinos with tons of character support. Unfortunately, I think the most common use of Space Wolves in the competitive scene will be as an additional ingredient in Imperial soup. Rune priests with the -1 to hit power, living lighting, and most importantly intercept on a Castellan scream “take me!” And, Wolf Lord with Jump packs, thunder hammers and storm shields aren’t a horrible replacement for the classic Smash Captain, due to their ability to hit on 2’s with their hammers and heroically intervene 6″.

But enough about how to add puppy’s to a soup, this is a Space Wolf Codex Review after all! If I were to seriously consider running space wolves as a primary army, I’d definitely start out by testing something like this.

Space Wolf Battalion
Wolf Lord- Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield 129
Wolf Guard Battle Leader- Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield 114
5 Blood Claws- Power Fist 77
5 Blood Claws- Power Fist 77
5 Blood Claws- Power Fist 77
Rhino- 2 Storm Bolter 74
Rhino- 2 Storm Bolter 74
Rhino- 2 Storm Bolter 74
Space Wolf Battalion
Wolf Lord- Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield 129
Njal the Storm Caller 138
5 Blood Claws- Power Fist 77
5 Blood Claws- Power Fist 77
9 Blood Claws- Power Fist 129
Rhino- 2 Storm Bolter 74
Space Wolf Spearhead
Rune Priest- Jump Pack, Runic sword 112
Vindicator 125
Vindicator 125
Vindicator 125
6 Long Fangs- 5 Missile Launchers, 1 Wolf Guard Terminator, storm shield, cyclone missile 267

 

So, what makes this list tick? Well, for starters it boasts 7 vehicles, which is a lot for anyone to deal with. The vindicators might stick out like a sore thumb, because who runs vindicators, but they serve two purposes in this army. First off, they act a distraction carnifex for my rhinos full of death, if you don’t handle my vindicators quickly you may fall victim to their powerful linebreaker stratagem. They’re also T8, which means killing them the hard way might prove to be fairly difficult. Aside from that, your rhinos can all drive full speed ahead into cover and then combine the rune priest stratagem with smoke launchers on your first turn to become -2 to hit. Going first this army will being 4 -2 to hit rhinos full of angry marines, 3 vindicators bombarding you with mortals, and 4 powerful jump characters in your face. Now, that’s some threat overload.

Each unit includes a power fist as well, because Space Wolf power fists ignore the -1 to hit effectively. A blood claw pack leader with a fist and saga of the wulfkin active will charge in with 4 power fist attacks hitting on 3’s rerolling 1s, and rerolling 1’s to wound, while each other member of its unit swings with 4 attacks each hitting on 2’s rerolling 1s. These guys completely shred infantry and vehicles alike.

Not today!

Lastly, we have the ling fangs, and with the addition of the terminator they will now boast 7 missile launcher shots or 7d6 frag shots, all out flanking then hitting on 3’s rerolling 1’s with no penalty and rerolling to wound. Not to mention that terminator boasts a 2+ armor save, a 3++ invulnerable save and two wounds to help tank for the unit. Between sitting far away, standing in cover, and the termie guy, these long fangs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

If you’re interested in more break downs and in depth discussions on Space Wolves or any army that interests you I strongly urge you to consider joining Nights at the Game Table PRO! It’s my personal coaching program for 40k, and has taken players who’ve never even won a game at a big tournament to 4-1 at ITC majors!

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