For Part 2:
Space Wolves Tactica Part 2
For a Q&A:
Space Wolf Tactica 5th Ed/09 Codex: Part 2. Kind of...
Here is an (my first ever) article to help Space Wolf players with tactics, units, competitiveness and recommendations for the Sons of Russ. I will go through the units in Codex (army list section) order giving a description of the unit or character, it's quality (very good, good, average, poor), its recommended set-up, recommended use and an overview of applicable equipment. Many people see the current incarnation of Space Wolves as overpowered and over competitive, however, while it is true that it is a powerful codex it also sticks to the background (fluff) well and I wouldn't call it overpowered in my opinion. However none-the-less some people want guidance and recommendation on how to use the Space Wolves and that is what this tactica is for, so, without further ado...
- Army Use
- Special Characters
- Fast Attack
- Heavy Support
- Nifty Tactics
The Space Wolves do not fight like most other Space Marine chapters or 40K armies, in fact I would say that they play most like the Chaos Space Marines, except with more reliability and less chain-axes. I will point out now that the Space Wolves ARE NOT A CLOSE COMBAT ARMY!* Which is a common misconception, close combat is a role occupied by the Blood Angels. The Space Wolves are suited for fighting in Close Quarters, this generally means closing in to close range, unleashing with a mass of 24" weapons and then mopping up the rest. Space Wolves are capable in assault, make no mistake, however it is not their expertise (IMHO), they are best for blasting away at the enemy and then finishing off the rest, quite possibly in assault. This can be shown by the Space Wolves lack of jump infantry, close combat orientated special rules and deep-strikes.
- This isn't to say they can't work in close combat; a close-combat Space Wolves army can work very well, I just believe it doesn't come as naturally to them as close-quarters and relies on units such as Wolf Guard and Thunderwolves, but if you want a close combat Space Wolves army, it can work. Similarly, a Long Ranged Space Wolf army can rely on large numbers of Long Fangs and Razorbacks rather than a wide variety of the units available.
The Spaces Wolves area of expertise is within 24" of an enemy, they lack long ranged weapons and a particularly easy way for many of their units to get into Close Combat. However, with a mass of 24" weapons, the counter-attack special rule, transports and uber-grit (CCW, bolt pistol and boltgun) they are well suited for, as I've said (and will say again), softening up slightly and slowing down the enemy as they advance, devastating them at close quarters and then finishing them off. As such I try to orientate a Space Wolves army for this exact tactic, add in Long Fangs, Predators, Razorbacks or Shooty Dreads to take down enemy transports or priority targets, use Rhinos, Drop Pod and the aforementioned Razorbacks to close in on the enemy and bring your troops to the fore, use Grey Hunters, Wolf Guard, Dreadnoughts, Bikers, Psykers, Vindicators, Land Raiders and more to devastate them in close quarter then either the close quarters units or specialist close combat units to finish the enemy off, such as Blood Claws, Thunderwolf Cavalry, Swift Claws, Wolf Guard and tough-as-nails characters to finish them off.
In summary, the Space Wolves:
-Operate best in close quarters (24")
-Lack a variety of Ranged Weaponry
-Can use tough characters or elites to bolster the line
-Use transports to close with the enemy into optimum range
-Use specialist close combat troops to deal with tough or already weakened targets
-Excel at a counter-attack (much like their close range)
-But do have comparatively low leadership
Brief Unit Outline
Until I get round to writing adding each unit to the tactica/article, here is a brief outline of the units available to a Space Wolf army. These will be deleted as their more lengthy counterparts are added into the article.
- - Dreadnought - Good - Flexible, fairly tough and great support unit. Multimelta/Drop pod is very good. 2x Twin-Linked Auto-Cannon, Plasma Cannon/Heavy Flamer and Lascannon/Heavy Flamer are also good; providing firepower and counter-assault.
- - Ven. Dread - Average to Good - As above but much tougher and more expensive. Very much a 'Your Mileage May Vary' unit.
- - Wolf Guard - Good - Very Powerful but can get very expensive very quickly. Great way of adding some extra punch to a unit (eg. Blood Claws) or as a unit on their own. A VERY GOOD retinue for characters also.
- - Wolf Scouts - Good - Dangerous unit, not the most reliable or tough, but great for intimidation and trapping the enemy. Basilisks/Medusa's a problem? Not with these guys.
- - Lone Wolves - Average - Powerful but slow and easily overwhelmed. MotW and Wolves or Storm Shield is good. Storm Shield/Chain Fist/Terminator Armour is also good. Cheap but cheerful. Their effectiveness can be significantly improved if using an unused transport. For example, buy a rhino for Long Fangs but put the Lone Wolf in it. Great distraction/speed bump unit, but lacking in 'oomph' and mobility.
- - Iron Priests - Poor - Work well with supporting armour/vehicles such as dreadnoughts/tanks, however they take up a precious Elites slot (fixing Dreadnoughts better than an additional Dread?), aren't an IC and a liable option. However, a mechanised gunline could benefit, whilst they can also act as a mini-Thunderwolf Lord in some cases.
- - Grey Hunters - Very Good - The best troop choice throughout the entire game in many peoples opinion. Cheap, deadly firepower and close combat ability. Always use the same 2 special weapons in one squad (eg. 2x Plasma, not 1xmelta 1x flamer) and can provide some great additional firepower through razorbacks. A MUST TAKE for Space Wolves. 2 standard builds I'd recommend are: 10x Grey Hunter - Rhino/Pod - 2x Melta, MotW. OR 5x Grey Hunter - Laserback (or assault cannon), standard and flamer.
- - Blood Claws - Poor, but Good with a Wolf Priest - Outclassed by Grey Hunters due to same cost but worse ability. However, a Wolf Priest makes them 'good' as he compensates for their low Weapon Skill. Lots of Blood Claws with a powerfist and Wolf Priest (maybe with a Wolf Guard too) in a Land Raider is very nasty.
- - Thunderwolf Cavalry - Very Good - Incredibly powerful/deadly (strength ten powerfists/thunderhammers!) and durable also, a Fenrisian Wolf 'screen' provides some useful cover. I'd recommend 4x Thunderwolf Cavalry, Storm Shield, Thunder Hammer and 1 meltabomb (265pts) as the standard load-out. One of the best close combat units in the game.
- - Swiftclaws - Average - Expensive and not very good. Can make a nice harassing/niche unit, but otherwise are outclassed in most cases. if used, be sure to take the 5pts attack bike option. I'd say marginally better than Skyclaws as they can provide a reasonable Anti-tank unit w/ a meltagun, multimelta & powerfist.
- - Sky Claws - Average - Cheap and Cheerful. Fairly deadly and the fastest assault unit Space Wolves can get. I'd recommend 10x Skyclaw, Powerfist and MotW (220pts) as your standard load-out. Only problems are WS, vulnerability and headstrong rule - but this is compensated to an extent by their speed and cost.
- - Land Speeders - Good - A great unit for Space Wolves, providing some fast firepower at low cost. If you have 2 or 3 of these on your flanks then it's a great, cheap threat that then enemy must deal with. Typhoon Missiles, Multimelta/Heavy flamer and single Multimelta are all good choices IMHO.
- - Fenrisian Wolves - Poor - Cheap, good anti-infantry but very weak. Best used for screens or distractions. If you attach a Thunderwolf Lord to them then they're great body-bags/wounds.
- - Long Fangs - Very Good - As you can guess by other peoples comments, these are one of the best units in the codex. Packing firepower that Space Wolves can otherwise lack and can engage multiple targets. And Cheap! I'd recommend 6 Long Fangs with either 5x Missile Launcher __ 3x Missile Launcher + 2x Plasma Cannon/2x Lascannon __ 2x Heavy Bolter/2x Lascannon/1x Missile Launcher
- - Predators - Good - Cheap and powerful way of providing extra firepower and armour saturation. Autocannon turret and Lascannon sponsons is the best IMHO, particularly against enemy transports and vehicles.
- - Vindicators - Good - Very powerful and flexible but only have 1 gun and are short-ranged. Good armour though and go well with the Space Wolf play style (24" combat)
- - Whirlwind - Average - Good and Cheap anti-infantry. But fragile and vulnerable and only have one use which others can do just as well or better. Not typically worth it unless you know you're against horde armies.
- - Land Raider - Good - extra ranged firepower, good armour and assault ramp. Poor synergy between assault ramp and firepower however. Will depend on your play style. Goes well with Laserbacks and Long Fangs and general 'shooty' armies.
- - Land Raider Redeemer - Good - Flexible, great transport and armour. Can take out infantry or armour (Multimelta/assault cannon) and deliver units. A personal favourite as it works well with the Space Wolf optimum range.
- - Land Raider Crusader - Good - Does exactly what it says on the tin - Delivers a whole load of Close Combat Marines into the face of the enemy. Very expensive but deadly. Commonly used alongside 15 Blood Claws and a Wolf Priest.
- - as a side note - ALWAYS give your Land Raiders extra armour. I recommend Multi Melta's on the Landraider Redeemer and Landraider Crusader also.
The Great Wolf himself, Logan Grimnar. As you can imagine, this guy is good, very good. However, like many Space Wolves characters you have to pay through the teeth for this 'goodness'; at 275pts this guy isn't cheap, almost as much as Abbadon in fact. At more than a Land Raider, unlike Abbadon, Logan's strength comes not from his close combat prowess but instead for the bonuses he provides the rest of the army/those around him. The potential layout of a Space Wolves army can change dramatically as a result of Logan; one of his main benefits enabling Wolf Guard to be taken as troops.
Possessing the statistics of a Wolf Lord, Logan is more than capable of looking after himself in close combat, combined with the Ax of Morkai, Wolf Tooth Necklace and 5 attacks Logan is plenty capable of dishing out the pain. Logan's Speciality will be taking out enemy characters, monstrous creatures and elite/heavy infantry as Logan should be able to defeat the vast majority of enemies in close combat. His 2+4++ and eternal warrior also means Logan should be capable of receiving a barrage of attacks. However, like almost any special character, Logan will work best with an appropriate retinue and avoiding being tar pitted by the enemies expendable units. Give Logan a Wolf Guard escort and you should find them unstoppable to all but the toughest enemies and characters, however he can be comfortably dealt with by close combat monsters such as Greater Daemons, Daemon Princes, Hive Tyrants and many other special characters - he's a bit old to kill too much...
As I have said, although very good in close combat, the main reason for using Logan Grimnar is his powerful special rules. He can boost the morale of all Space Wolves around him, his saga of majesty and ability to make a squad led by himself fearless can compensate for the Space Wolves otherwise low leadership.
This leadership boosting ability and the Living Legend special rule (Living Legend also applies to allies, not just Space Wolves!) enable Logan, providing you keep him at the center of the action, to change the face of the battle and really press the advantage upon the enemy. If you were to, for example use his Living Legend ability and multiple Grey Hunter wolf standards in one go, a Space Wolves army could decimate the opponent in one round of close combat, something particularly useful against horde armies or to clear objectives in the dying moments.
Logan's The High King special rule makes him tactically flexible and even more deadly, with the ability to choose from multiple special rules he can enable a squad he is leading to act in a way most needed. Logan and his retinue facing a tricky opponent? Enable Preferred Enemy (even combined with Living Legend) and his squad will almost certainly rip the enemy in two. Need a tank dealing with? Simply enable the Tank Hunters rule and let rip. However in most cases however you will find the Fearless (he already has stubborn, ld10 and saga of majesty) and Relentless (likely leading terminators and the Space Wolves lack of heavy weapons) useless.
Finally, what to many is Logan's greatest ability, he enables Wolf Guard to be taken as troops. This means the you can have a very elite (even 10 man at 1500pts!) or TDA equipped army and more! One of the best things about this is it enables the Space Wolf player to use Terminators as troops, however in this case I wouldn't advise doing this to the entirety, unlike, say, Deathwing. Instead I'd mix squads of TDA (Terminator Armour) and PA (Power Armour), to something like a 3TDA:4PA ratio, as this combines the durability of TDA with the numbers of PA and also ensures you have those 5-man squads to equip heavy weapons or MotW. I would personally advise having a Space Wolf army with 1 or 2 strong squads of Wolf Guard (one led by Logan) at its core with Grey Hunters and more specialist units to support, rather than having a solely Wolf Guard army, as once again this provides ability with numerology.
- Can create an all Terminator Army or an army with a strong selection of robust troops to support the more numerous Grey Hunters etc.
- What I feel to be a very powerful ability is that his Great Wolf rule enables what is effectively an uber-tough Wolf Guard Battle Leader to capture objectives. Being able to take Arjac Rockfist (and other termies, often with SS's) as troops can create a real and very tough thorn in your opponents side.
- I would recommend having Logan leading a squad of Wolf Guard (or even Grey Hunters) embarked in a Land Raider in the centre of your army. This means the with AV14 he will hopefully make it to the enemies line where, he and his retinue should be able to take almost anything down in a fight and his leadership-boosting and Living Legend abilities means he can provide massive support to your other, nearby, units and turn the tide of a battle. Above all, KEEP LOGAN IN THE CENTER OF YOUR ARMY TO MAKE THE MOST OF HIM.
- With the ability to provide his squad with the relentless special rule, Logan can drop pod into the battle with a squad of long fangs, enabling them to fire with their heavy weapons on the turn they land; particularly devastating when using multi-meltas against a mechanized army. This is however an almost 'one trick pony' as Long Fangs aren't the toughest of squads and not usually who you want within reaching distance of the enemy, however if you were to drop pod them in with a unit of Grey Hunters or two, then they should have ample support to deal significant damage as Logan can Tank Hunter the long fangs or support the Grey Hunters. A tactic made even more deadly with other units closing in such as vindicators, blood claws, wolf guard and rhino's.
- However, Logan is VERY EXPENSIVE and can significantly reduce the potential size of the rest of the army. As such I'd generally avoid using him in games at 1500pts and less.
A blast from the past (he wasn't included in the last codex), Njal has made a welcome return and is now arguably one of the most powerful psykers in 40K! Combining good leadership, good close combat ability and devastating (FREAKIN' MENTALLY GOOD - I'll admit they're more powerful than they should be) psychic powers, Njal is a force to be reckoned with. Once again though Njal is not cheap by any means, potentially costing as much as Logan himself, Njal is not an investment to be taken lightly.
Although not as good as, for example, ALL the other Special Characters, Wolf Lords and even Lone Wolves, Njal is still good in close combat. Obviously Njal's strong point is his crazy-good psychic ability but he can still hold his own in assault - vital for anyone at his points cost. With a Force Weapon, Wolf Tooth Necklace and 2+ save Njal is quite capable in assault, his necklace compensating for an otherwise low WS5 and his force weapon capable of dispatching most enemies Njal is powerful, however with I4 and 3 attacks, he's not going to blow the enemy away in assault although his staff can occasionally provide a welcome surprise. Njal also has Nightwing, a cyber-crow that can cause a massive D3 Str3 hits! (Yes that was sarcasm). Once again, although a quite nice addition, Nightwing doesn't really provide much in assault but once again, he too can occasionally provide a nice surprise. As I've said, Njal is good in assault, but he's not that good, he will hold his own but don't rely on him in assault, a suitable retinue can help however but generally I'd try to keep him just behind your lines and supporting rather than leading. However, due to his Saga of Majesty and psychic powers, Njal is best kept in the center of your army, supporting where he's most needed.
(I figured, I'd include Njal's psychic powers under the special rules category. Any complaints; talk to my agent)
As I've said, Njal's best area is his psychic powers (hereby referred to as PP's). Being able to cast any two PP's a turn Njal is both flexible and very potent and arguably better than taking two Rune Priests.Njal has a significant advantage in that he can pick and choose which power to use and when, whereas standard Rune Priests have to choose pre-game and cross their fingers. This means Njal is much more flexible and effective, for example, although I wouldn't recommend usually using Storm Caller as a standard priest as other powers are much better, Njal can use this when he needs to, whereas a standard priest may never use this PP and focus on a better one instead.
Nightwing can further boost the effectiveness of these powers (BS5) also. Njal is also very capable at nullifying enemy PP's, arguably better than Eldar in some cases (this too may be over-powered) so it is even more useful to have him in the centre of your army.
Finally, but by no means least, Njal's Lord of Tempests special rule is AWESOME. Unlike PP's, this cannot be nullified and will only get better as the game goes on. This special rule once again emphasizes the Space Wolves focus on close quarters (not close combat!) and the need to keep Njal in the center of your army. Although Driving Gale and Living Hurricane are useless if you've got 2nd turn, the numerous and powerful powers that this rule creates can be devastating. It's hard to see weakness with this rule, it works in the range where the wolves work best, it gets better as the game goes on and what it does it does bloody well. Combine this with his PP's and well, you can see why he's good.
- Njal's terminator armour is a worthy investment, effectively giving him a belt of russ.
- NJAL IS BEST KEPT IN THE CENTER OF YOUR ARMY WHERE HE CAN HELP YOU THE MOST AND HINDER THE ENEMY THE MOST - so important it's in capitals!
- However, the main problem with Njal is his deployment. Generally, foot-slogging's inadvisable and using a Land Raider means he can't 'zap' out of the top like he can on a rhino. A razorback suggests that he won't be moving to the front where he's best and a rhino has low AV for a 245pts character. If you can afford it, you could put him in a Land Raider, however this alone puts him at about 510pts without escort or terminator armour and he can't cast powers from it.
The other (and best IMHO) option would be to place him in a rhino with a Wolf Guard or Grey Hunter escort. This means he's maneuverable and hard-hitting, however AV11 isn't the best. A drop pod is also a good idea as it allows him to close with the enemy VERY quickly, however if you use this method make sure, for the love of [insert name here] make sure he has ample support as he's not the toughest guy ever and you don't want to throw away 245pts of goodness.
- Njal's flexibility of PP's means he can be used for almost anything. Combine this with his Lord of Tempests rule and he can devastate any enemy. It's not often you get both flexibility and power in 40K so make the most of it.
- It is arguable whether Njal is better than two rune priests. I'd argue that he is, by virtue of having all the PP's, Lord of Tempests rule and Saga of Majesty, better than two Rune Priests. however two rune priests would be cheaper, potentially better at nullifying enemy PP's and have more overall wounds. I'd say in lists of 1750pts+, Njal's a better choice.
The youngest but arguably deadliest of all the Wolf Lords, Ragnar's stat's seem to do him justice. While lacking the flexibility or army-influencing abilities of Logan Grimnar, Ragnar is an absolute close combat monster and can still benefit those around him with his War Howl special rule. However, whilst cheaper than Logan and Njal, Ragnar is still expensive at 240pts although he can compensate this by leading a Grey Hunter squad, his abilities making them fearsome in combat.
As I have said, unlike Logan who can completely change the set-up of an army, Ragnar's speciality lies in his own (and any squad he leads) close combat ability. Whilst I generally wouldn't recommend Frost Blades on models with str4, Ragnar's (permanent) furious charge ability means that on the charge he can amass, on average, 7 str6 in6 attacks. Combined with a weapon skill of 6 and his wolf tooth necklace, Ragnar should be able to deal with most characters and heavy infantry. Add to this his Saga of the Warrior born and that any squad he leads also has furious charge and Ragnar goes from being a good close combat character to an amazing close combat character. Providing his squad has a powerfist or two and you should find Ragnar nigh-on-unstoppable. However, due to having PA, a toughness of 4 and a 4+ invulnerable save, when compared to his offensive capability Ragnar is slightly fragile as powerfists and monstrous creatures could quite possibly instant death him, the best way to avoid this is with multiple ablative wounds *ahem* squad/retinue.
Ragnar also possesses some fearsome special rules and abilities, which make him incredibly powerful and can also enhance those around him. His War Howl ability can, like Logans Living Legend, change the face of a battle and really turn a close combat phase into a massacre. I have already stated the enhancements furious charge could give Ragnar but when you can give furious charge to every Space Wolf unit in 12" it becomes messy. Although this can only be done for one turn, it can change the face of the battle, providing Ragnar has enough support when he goes into assault then the Space Wolves should really rip the enemy to shreds. Each Thunderwolf Cavalry (TWC) model when under the effects of War Howl will strike like an Assault Cannon and more. This means a basic 4-man squad of TWC could have the effect of 5 assault cannons! Add this to the number of attacks Blood Claws or Fenrisian Wolves can amass or some Wolf Guard's own Frost Blades and capability and it becomes a slaughter. Even the humble Grey Hunter is significantly boosted by this rule.
His Insane Bravado special rule can make Ragnar even more deadly (albeit unpredictable), granting D3 extra attacks on the charge can greatly increase the output of any squad he leads. As I have said, combine this to his Saga of The Warrior Born and base characteristics and Ragnar can amass a ridiculous number of attacks, as can a squad he leads. This ability can also work particularly well when combined with a Wolf Standard (of a Grey Hunter pack) as it could allow him to re-roll a roll of one for Insane Bravado, further ensuring a large number of attacks. However this does make Ragnar very headstrong and in cases, uncontrollable as you can lose control of who he charges. However, unlike for say, Blood Claws who may bite off more than they can chew, Ragnar and his retinue will likely make mincemeat of anything they may charge. If you place Ragnar in something such as a Land Raider then you can often compensate for his being Headstrong as you can decide where he charges.
- I'd advise putting Ragnar at the heart of the offensive/attacking portion of your army. I have already outlined his own capabilities and the effect his War Howl and placing him in the centre of where the action will likely be will make the most of this, providing him with sufficient enemies to keep him killing and nearby squads to boost. I wouldn't however recommend him for a counter-attacking role in an otherwise fire-power dominated army as 240pts is a bit much and a waste of his talents.
- Unlike Logan who is best leading Wolf Guards, Ragnar can be served equally well by Grey Hunters (who make good retinues to characters normally), his Insane Bravado rule compensating for their lack of attacks whilst Furious Charge can boost the offensive capability further. Add a powerfist and/or Wolf Guard with a similar weapon and they should be able to take on anything and protect Ragnar from walkers and monstrous creatures. However, obviously there is no problem with Ragnar leading Wolf Guard; making them stupidly good, just Grey Hunters can do a great job for less.
- Depending on how you use him I wouldn't usually recommend using Ragnar's wolf companions, Ulgir and Svangir. Although they have characteristics better than that of normal fenrisian wolves, they still take up 2 slots in a transport and can generally be trumped by a standard space wolf. I also wouldn't recommend having Ragnar lead Blood Claws as they ideally need a Wolf Priest instead/also and they dont benefit as much as some other units from his special rules.
- As ever the case, Ragnar is best served when mounted in a Land Raider. This can ensure he and his squad make it to the front line and that Ragnar gets the oh-so-important charge. Although, unlike Logan Grimnar, Ragnar could still use a rhino if points are tight.
- Ragnar is best used when supported by other Close Combat experts such as Blood Claws (led by Wolf Priest of course), Thunderwolf Cavalry or similar as his War Howl ability makes then even more deadly and will improve the charges of any supporting squads of grey hunters.
- However, like many Space Wolves characters, Ragnar isn't cheap and can take a large chunk of points. However, as he can be mounted in a rhino, a Land Raider, although recommend, is less necessary and can compensate for his high points, as can leading a squad of Grey Hunters rather than Wolf Guard.
Ulrik The Slayer
In terms of background and character, Ulrik may well be my favourite special character. However, his stats and abilities fail to do him justice and leave him as an over-priced, sub-par character that has way too limited a use to be competitive. He possibly deserves 'poor' rating in terms of what you get and what you maybe should get instead, he's sadly just not good enough, he can only really compensate with a fairly good combat potential. I'll say why:
I'd argue this to be Ulrik's only real strong point, but even then it's nothing to be amazed about. Possessing the same weapon skill, ballistic skill and iniative as a wolf lord and being equipped with a power weapon and wolf tooth necklace, Ulrik can potentially dish out the pain, particularly to toughness 5 targets. However, Ulrik doesn't have a vast amount of attacks or wounds and is therefore not too able to look after himself. However, re-rolling wounds and hits and possessing a Plasma Pistol Ulrik can potentially cause some pain, but with 2 wounds and a 3+/4++ save, he's not hugely capable of receiving it, particularly as his pistol might (slim chance, but still could) over-heat. Like most characters, Ulrik does best with a suitable retinue to compensate for his potential fragility and lack of attacks whilst also benefiting from the special rules he confers. In combat, Ulrik is good, however don't expect him to amaze you or really exceed himself - no wonder Angron gave him his approval I guess - he'd be on the receiving end of Ulrik.
Now this is where Ulrik really lets himself down, possessing two OK and one crap special rule in my opinion. Slayers Oath (the crap one) I believe to be worse than the standard Wolf Priest rule Oath of War. While re-rolling hits and wounds is lovely, it being limited to T5+ enemies is a major downside as this severely restricts the use for this rule. I believe preferred enemy would be better. This rule is only really useful if you know what kind of army you are facing. For example, it will do well against Death Guard, Biker Marines and Monstrous Creature tyranids, but most other armies will have few if any units that have T5. If he leads a squad with multiple frost blades/powerfists or other weapons that could threaten toughness 5 and higher in the 1st place then you will find that his unit excells hugely against these opponents. However they're simply too rare to be a useful ability in my opinion.
Mentor is an OK ability, boosting a single models weapon skill isnt a major advantage in all honesty, the main candidates for this would be: Rune Priests, Wolf Guard Battle Leaders, Ven. Dreads, Lone Wolves or random squad members that have special weapons, eg. that Thunderwolf with the Thunder Hammer. Otherwise this will have limited use in most circumstances and like a lot of things with Ulrik, won't blow you away. I feel the best use is with those well equipped models with Thunder Hammers/ Runic Weapons and the like, or a Lone Wolf to enhance his character-hunting abilities, effectively making him a 20pts Wolf Guard Battle Leader but better!
Finally, the Wolf Helm of Russ is the only thing that can really blow you away with Ulrik, however often it simply won't. Allowing (most) Space Wolves to re-roll leadership tests is good, no doubt about that. However this can be negligible due to ATSKNF and Wolf Guard and other leadership boosting Space Wolves, however Space Wolves do generally have a low leadership so it's nothing to complain about. The ability to potential reduce an enemy character to 0 attacks can however be very good, but most of the time these characters will be fearless or have a high leadership and therefore pass the required test and fight as normal, meaning that usually this will do nothing, absolutely nothing. However occasionally (very occasionally) it can work a treat.
Being able to boost leadership, Ulrik can often be of use. However, almost all his other abilities are of such limited use that you really need to know what you're facing before you include him in your army, although he is cool!
- As I said, if facing either fear-inducing or armies with lots of T5+ models then Ulrik could well be a godsend. (however, see final point)
- He can work well leading, for example, a Wolf Guard unit that possesses Thunder Hammers/Frost Blades/Fists that would excel against T5 creatures, or other squads that may well fight against T5+ opponents, but that's about it.
- Ulrik's not really worth taking on his own skill and mentor ability alone...
- However, being the cost of almost 2 normal wolf priests and lacking in 'awesomeness' Ulrik is generally underwhelming.
The new boy, games workshops poster boy and the only man known to dodge road tax through riding a giant wolf. Canis is one of the cheaper special characters available to the Space Wolves and unlike Njal and Logan for example, he lacks any special gimmicks and is simply, very 'killy'. Although he lacks an invulnerable save, Canis can be a devastating character, excelling in killing just about everything that isn't a monstrous creature or having a initiative higher than 5. Although some people believe him to be ineffective, I shall show why I believe otherwise.
Canis is quite simple and easy to use, unlike Njal and Logan who can require careful placement and use of special abilities, Canis' best use is simply ripping through anything squishy in your enemies army. With a weapon skill, strength, initiate an attacks characteristic of 5, Canis can really bring the pain, this even going to 7 attacks on the charge, all that ignore armour saves. Now this in it's own right it good, but then you have the option of either re-rolling hits, re-rolling wounds or rending, making Canis even more deadly. Canis even has a toughness of 5 and 3 power armour wounds, meaning he can also take a fair amount of damage, however I'd recommend keeping him away from particularly juicy characters or massed power weapons as Canis lacks both an invulnerable save and eternal warrior, but with 3 toughness 5 wounds he will trounce the majority of the enemy with even powerfists not instant-deathing him. Whilst his weapon skill of 5 and no invulnerable save means he can struggle against particularly deadly characters or monstrous creatures, he will devastate the rest of your opponents army and with rending (vs. rear armour) he will also be able to take out vehicles. His 12" charge should allow you to have Canis avoid these aforementioned threats and focus on sending him against masses of front-line infantry, which is where he will excel, something only emphasised by his Wrath of the Savage special rule. In laymans terms, Canis is best in combat against front-line and heavy infantry and even take on 'weaker' characters, vehicles and monstrous creatures.
On top of his own close-combat ability, Canis also has some powerful special rules. I'll start with the most powerful rule and the only one that directly affects Canis himself; Wrath of the Savage. As I've said, Canis is best fighting masses of enemy infantry, Wrath of the Savage can only help this (and is optional!). Wrath of The Savage means Canis can have more attacks than the opponents he's facing, combine this with re-rolling misses and he will cause a serious mess. This rule serves to emphasise the recommend use for Canis, at the heart of the enemy's lines, supported by either Fenrisian or Thunder wolves. Never has the term 'strength in numbers' been more inappropriate; the more enemies Canis is surrounded by, the more attacks he gets - "hello Orks!".
His other Special Rule, Lord of The Wolfkin, once again shows Canis' nature - at the heart of a pack of wolves who would be themselves at the heart of the enemy lines. Generally, the main weak-point with Fenrisian Wolves is their leadership (and lack of armour) and Canis compensates for this. While he himself (and therefore wolves within 12") is only Ld8, he still has ATSKNF and this is the basic leadership of Space Wolves anyway. Fenrisian Wolfs are further boosted in an army led by Canis through his Saga of the Wolfkin, making at 8pts, Fenrisian Wolves a steal and, like Canis himself, best against the infantry of an enemy army.
Finally, while criticised by some (Gwar! springs to mind), The Wolf King (allows Fen. Wolves to be taken as troops) as it MAKES a non-scoring unit a troop choice, I believe it to be handy for freeing up the Fast Attack slots for more Thunderwolves and Land Speeders. Space Wolves only really need 3-5 troop slots in 1500pts so Fenrisian Wolves taking up a couple of these isnt going to hurt and it means you can have even more Thunderwolves, fitting the theme of an army with Canis in it. Fenrisian Wolves make not only great horde-killers, but also meat-shields as well and your expensive Thunderwolves will need the extra protection. Due to this rule you can fit in 2 units of both Thunderwolves and Fenrisian Wolves in an army led by Canis, rather good in my opinion.
- Above all else, Canis is best fighting vast amounts of enemy infantry where he can easily make back his points. Generally try to keep Canis away from opponents with a higher weapon skill or toughness than him and he should be fine.
- Like most characters, Canis is best with a retinue, however unlike most, his has to have four legs. While Canis can lead a squad of thunderwolves making them go from very good to... well... still very good, I believe Canis is best with Fenrisian Wolves as it will remain a reasonably-priced unit which will all have a 12" charge range, enough bodies to avoid casulties and therefore leadership tests and a mass of high-initiative attacks to better rip apart the enemy.
- Canis can change the shape of an entire Space Wolf force. An army with Canis is usually best served with atleast 2 good-sized units of Fenrisian Wolves and atleast on unit of Thunderwolves. Happily, Canis almost forces you to stick with the fluff and take an army suited to Harald Deathwolf.
- However, it is worth pointing out that Canis' job of ripping apart infantry can be performed as well, if not better by thunderwolf-lords, who could also gain access to invulnerable saves. However, a Lord with Thunderwolf, Frost Blade and Storm Shield would cost about 200pts, and that's without the special rules or extra wargear. Lords can do a better job in close combat that Canis, they do however cost more and don't benefit the rest of the army either. Generally, I feel that if you are intending to include other wolf-related units then Canis is the way to go. However if you want some proverbial meteor of destruction then why not choose a Wolf Lord?
Bjorn The Fell-Handed
Back from the dead - much like any dreadnought, people were ecstatic to hear Bjorn was back in the Space Wolves Codex, however most found his rules to be lack-lustre and sorely missing in several options. To an extent I agree. When used properly, Bjorn can be good, however other times he's very average; Particularly at the cost of more than a Land Raider. I was unsure what 'rating' Bjorn deserves most, sometimes he's a barrel of awesome-ness, other times he's very underwhelming. generally however, I will say he's more good than he is bad.
I'd argue this to be Bjorn's best aspect, however it wouldn't justify Bjorn's point's by itself. With a Front Armour of 13 and the Venerable and Ward of the Primarch rules, Bjorn is generally very tough and will shrug off the vast majority of firepower directed at him. However, like most vehicles Bjorn can be killed with a single shot and is vulnerable to meltaguns, however these can still be shrugged off by his special rules whilst most long-ranged firepower would struggle against him. Bjorn is at his deadliest in assault; with a WS6 (and wolf-tooth necklace) and striking at strength 10 (or 7) with 4 attacks, Bjorn can really dish out the hurt in assault, mashing apart almost anything, be it characters, vehicles, elites or monstrous creatures, although, like most walkers, he can potentially be 'tar-pitted' by cheap infantry, although his numerous attacks and Heavy Flamer can make up for this. However, Bjorn's assault potential is limited as he cannot arrive [close to the enemy] via drop pod and could easily be out-manoeuvred by most enemies. Your best chance to get Bjorn into assault is to walk him up the board, firing or running as he goes and using your other units to slow/immobilise/trap the enemy's to enable Bjorn to get his [Fell] hand's on em'. Spearhead deployment can work well for Bjorn here.
Bjorn, although quite deadly at range, is nothing amazing in terms of firepower. I would recommend using the Plasma Cannon as it's arguably the deadliest of his options and works well with his flamer (and makes the most of his BS6), whilst the assault cannon is also a good option. However I would thoroughly advise against the TL lascannon; it makes him more expensive, won't do too much damage and with a BS6 he doesn't really need it twin linked.
I'd say Bjorn has a mixed bag of special rules, a couple of good rules with a pretty average rule. As I said, combine Venerable with his Av13 and Bjorn can be very hard to take down, however this can be a mixed blessing as without the option of extra armour, whilst he won't be getting destroyed, he stands a large chance of spending a lot of his time stunned or shaken. The Ward of The Primarch special rule also adds to Bjorn's survivability and can be very effective should any nasty results get through the venerable rule. While both these rules make Bjorn extra-tough, this can be further increased through a near-by Iron Priest who will further protect Bjorn, who, being a dreadnought, 270pts and potentially an objective/multiple kill points, will attract A LOT OF ENEMY FIRE, however, as I said, he should be able to ignore most of this incoming fire whilst it is very handy for a HQ to also provide armour saturation.
A good rule is his Ancient Tactician (a nod to last codex's venerable dreadnoughts) rule which enables you to re-roll the dice for who deploys first - often linking to who gets the 1st turn - a rule that can be most effective if you're using an Alpha-Strike army or one that possesses lots of stationary firepower (Long Fangs for example) as it will enable you to optimise your lines of fire; crippling the enemy before they can strike. Then again, at other times this can have little effect on the game.
Bjorn also has a Saga of Majesty, which alongside the Living Relic Special Rule, emphasises a need to keep him at the centre of your army; to make the most of his leadership boosting capability and incase anything goes wrong (e.g. Death is pretty sub-optimal) as well as increasing his chances to engage with the enemy. Although under-rated, you'll likely find Saga of Majesty to be effective, combating the Space Wolves generally low leadership.
Finally, the Living Relic rule is the most controversial and potentially weakest rule that Bjorn has, the Living Relic rule is very much a mixed blessing, if a blessing at all. I'll cover the good stuff first, for this rule to come into effect, Bjorn will need to be destroyed - something unlikely to happen due to his toughness and wealth of defensive special rules. However, should Bjorn be destroyed, all Space Wolves become fearless, Happy Days, although, this can occasionally be a problem to due wound allocation/combat. Finally (for the good part), Bjorn will now count as an objective which is often good as it is likely you - rather than the enemy - who will have most models nearby, a major boost in most missions and can easily win you the game. However, as I have said, being Fearless isn't always good and whilst becoming an objective can help you, should the enemy take it, then well... Finally, in kill point missions, Bjorn could potentially sacrifice you D3 kill points unless YOU (not even if the enemy has) have a model in contact with Bjorn, as you can imagine this can be a game destroyer, along with his potential to be an objective. This also can merge poorly with Bjorns excelling in assault; meaning he could be in the midst of enemies when he dies. Finally, this also relies on Bjorn actually dying which I'd imagine you'd be trying to avoid. Thanks to Venerable however, it can be influenced so he does kick the bucket at an opportune moment for you, such as late-game and surrounded by your own troops - giving you a free objective! As I said, this rule can potentially be great, however it can also be very bad. Then again, Space Wolves are all about risks, right?
- I believe Bjorn really needs to be used by a skilled player to be at his most effective; many of his rules can be very risk/reward based and unlikely to benefit if he's used poorly. However, as Reecius amongst others have shown, when used well Bjorn can be very effective; being a beast in assault, a very durable target and a huge benefit for firepower based armies; use him well and you'll love him, use him poorly and you'll hate him; quite simply really...
- As I said, due to Bjorn's Living Relic, Saga of Majesty, tendency to attract fire and that he needs help to reach the enemy, Bjorn is best kept at the centre of your army (like most characters). Above all though, make sure you have one unit (I'd recommend Grey Hunters) to watch over him in case he's destroyed and being (now) fearless this unit should be hard to shift.
- Generally, try to get Bjorn into close combat, this is where he really excels; being more than capable of taking on almost any enemy and more. However, getting him into close combat isn't as easy as it could be so you'll want to use other units to assist Bjorn in this by slowing down/trapping enemies until Bjorn gets there. On the other hand, if destroyed in combat then Bjorn will likely be surrounded by enemies and therefore likely to provide them with an objective/kill points - Bjorn truly is a mixed blessing, it is a trend you may have noticed throughout Bjorn's section
- If you locate Bjorn near other ranged vehicles (other dreadnoughts, Long Fangs or predators), a squad or 2 of Grey Hunters in Razorbacks and even an Iron Priest then you can form a very effective and durable fire-base. All these units can pack serious fire power whilst Bjorn deals with anything that gets too close. The Iron Priest can then repair Bjorn and any vehicles that need it, the Grey Hunters secure any objectives (including Bjorn himself) whilst Bjorn, Predators, Dreadnoughts and Razorbacks provide significant supporting fire.
- Feel free to use Bjorn as a fire-magnet. Whilst he is very expensive for such a role, he is very good at it, arguably being the toughest non-apocalypse, non-monolith vehicle in 40K.
- At 270pts Bjorn is very expensive and therefore best reserved for games of higher points, however, unlike many special characters Bjorn doesn't really require a retinue and can therefore, in essence, cost less points as he doesn't require a support unit. None-the-less, Bjorn is expensive and potentially very powerful or even game-destroying (not necessarily in a good way).
- It's well worth pointing out however that a skilled tournament player 'Reecius' uses Bjorn to good effect in his tournament lists, as Bjorns own durability and ability to seize the first turn seem to benefit his 'shooty wolves' enabling them to unleash a mass of firepower before the enemy can even strike back. I'd argue however that you almost need to build the list around Bjorn however, but Reecius is happy to provide advice on him and will know the ins and outs of Bjorn a LOT better than myself.
Bjorn the Fell-Handed, expertly made by Beamo.
Space Wolf Psychic Powers
As I have said, the Rune Priest's main strength is his Psychic Powers - possessing some of the best in game - so here is a list of my (accurate IMHO) view on the Psychic Powers available to a Rune Priest:
- - Thunderclap (Poorr) - Best used when surrounded in assault or amidst lots of enemy infantry. however, you'll likely find that Murderous Hurricane is better in most, if not all, cases.
- - Living Lightning (Very Good) - arguably the best PP, it's high strength makes it effective against characters, monstrous creatures and - most of all - enemy transports. Combine this with its range and rate of fire and this can harm almost any unit. A Great Power. GREAT!
- - Storm Caller (Average) - although a 5+ cover save is very helpful, cover is abundant in 5th ed and a 5+ save isn't that amazing. If you really need a certain unit to stay alive, then this can be worth your time, however I find the offensive powers to be of more use.
- - Tempests Wrath (Good) - This is of limited use, however what it does it does well. Being very dangerous to Chaos Daemons, Eldar, Dark Eldar and Blood Angels, this is perfect for slowing them down and leaving them at your mercy and can significantly restrict Deep Strike deployment. Once again, the more offensive powers are often a better choice however.
- - Fury of the Wolf Spirits (Average) - like thunderclap, this is best used against infantry (of all types) but is largely outclassed by Hurricane. It is however particularly good against enemies with low leadership and although I wouldn't recommend it on a normal priest as other powers are better, Njal can use it when need be!
- - Murderous Hurricane (Very Good) - Great against infantry of all types, terminators and particularly threatening baddies. The sheer amount of hits it can cause can negate armour and slow down threatening enemies. Almost always worth taking, particularly against enemies such as Orks or Imperial Guard where the sheer amount of str3 attacks can really take its toll.
- - JotWW (Very Good) - Great against monstrous creatures, Orcs, Necrons and clustered infantry. Being able to [better than] instant death anything is a huge boon, particularly against enemies with a low initiative or expensive characters that will really be missed if you get a lucky dice roll. It can also work well against massed infantry as it can potentially cause a massive amount of hits. This power is great for making the priest points-effective, removing a Carnifex for example (its best target) can more than make up the points, as can killing several low initiative enemies. Combine with a Jump Pack or Rhino and you can line up some devastating shots. Jaws can also be used to snipe enemy models; such as removing an Ork Nob with a Power Claw from a mob of Boyz. You could then charge a Dreadnought into this mob without fear.