Sunday, August 10, 2014

New 7th edition Space Wolves Codex Review - First Impressions & General Rules

Time for this blog to go back to its roots then and talk about Space Wolves again. I have to say I was pretty apprehensive about this codex. With all of the special characters having models I was at least safe in the knowledge that none would vanish like in the Tyranid and Ork books but I expected a lot of the things I loved about my Space Wolves to come under threat. The Ork book felt a lot less "orky" than the old one and I feared the Space Wolves book would be less "wolfy". I hope that makes sense? Anyway, basically all I want from this new book is some anti-air and otherwise I think the old book could hold its own.

General Thoughts
I'm still not really a fan of this new style of codex. I love the hardcover format as much as ever but the datasheets are a mistake in my opinion. I like that there's (theoretically) less flicking back and forth now but the loss of the artwork (which I was looking forward to seeing in colour) and heavily trimmed unit fluff is a big sacrifice. The images are just too big on the page and it feels lazy. I had to laugh at the picture of the wolf lord who's just made from the generic SW kit so that they can protect their IP, he looks totally underwhelming for the leader of a great company. The fluff section itself is larger than before but I'm not convinced it's worth sacrificing the artwork for. I'm also not hugely keen on every special rule being in the appendix. It's irritating to have look rules up when reading about a unit. Anyway, this is clearly the way GW are going with their new books so I suppose we have to get used to it. On the plus side I think it's easier to find things now.

As with the Ork book the 'eavy metal section feels thinner but the standard of the photos has certainly improved significantly. Obviously having everything painted in the same colour scheme isn't a big deal here as it was in the Ork book as their aren't any successors (depending on whether you think they're still alive or not).

The other thing to note is that Lords of War are again included, of course this time it's only Logan but the precedent is clearly set for when we get to Necrons, Dark Eldar etc. It's a shame for AM that their book came out just before this change.

Army Wide Rules
Nothing really changed here. Pretty much everything still gets Acute Senses, Counter-Attack and of course, ATSKNF. Acute Senses used to be less situational when it worked like Night Vision but at least GW have taken steps to make it worthwhile them having the rule as they've given options for allowing things to Outflank.

Mark of the Wulfen has gone from the book now which affects quite a few units but most notably Grey Hunters. I think basically this is because there isn't technically a model for them anymore. I never used the 13th company models anyway and my wulfen will easily merge back into the units again so it isn't a big deal. It's the start of the reduction in "wolfiness" that I was fearing though. I had a lot of fun with my wulfen with a memorable incident where a wulfen and wolf guard combined to kill Mephiston in a single round of combat. Good times.

Wolf Guard have changed quite a bit too, of course I'll discuss them in more detail in the Elites section but the way they join squads has been altered. Wolf Guard now act as upgrades for all of the squads they used to be able to lead. For some units this means the cost of the Wolf Guard has increased significantly whilst for others like the Skyclaws/Swiftclaws the cost has dropped dramatically (mostly because bikes/jump packs are cheaper mind you). This also has an interesting effect on unit size. In the past the Wolf Guard was the 11th man but now he's within the 10. This means you can take that second special weapon though in Blood Claw and Grey Hunter packs.

I must say I'm already lamenting the loss of Sagas. These were a fantastic way of building your own character without using the specials. Another wolfy thing that's gone and the warlord traits aren't same. If nothing else they're limited to a single model for a start. I'll particularly miss giving Eternal Warrior to a Wolf Lord and having a Wolf Priest outflank a squad with Saga of the Hunter (I'm aware you can still potentially outflank now). Generally it's a loss of character in the book more than the rules that upsets me. In a similar theme we've also lost the Wolftooth Necklace and Wolf Tail Talisman from the old book.

Finally, I guess this is a good place to talk about some significant army selection changes. For a start you need to use the SW specific detachment if you want more than two HQs. This gives you some extra rules of course (more below) but it's shame you have to sacrifice objective secured for it. It remains to be seen whether you'll want several HQs though I suppose.

Warlord Traits
These may have the word Saga in their title but don't be fooled they aren't particularly related to their old namesakes. Saga of the Warrior Born, for example, is a shadow of its former self and is very situational now. Otherwise their not a bad selection but you'll be grateful for the re-roll a lot of the time as some as more useful than others depending on your army list. Saga of the Hunter is probably the stand-out here as Outflank and Stealth combined make for some fun possibilities. Ultimately for me it depends which SC got which as to how useful the traits will be. You might still be better rolling on Strategic in some cases.

Psychic Powers
This was going to be a big deal for everyone who wanted to know what would happen to Jaws. For anyone who's been victim to it over the years I'm sure they were hoping it got nerfed to hell and back. The powers have mostly retained their names and are at least similar to their former versions. Having Living Lightning as the primaris is nice. It's now limited to 3 shots rather than D6 though but frankly most of the time I seemed to roll a 1 anyway. It's also had it's range reduced from infinite to 18" which is somewhat unbelievable! It does get a little version of Tesla though and the fact that it doesn't work on Snap Shots gives me a glimmer of hope for the same in the Necron book.

Storm Caller is now just the psyker's unit rather than a bubble but having Shrouded can be handy a lot of the time. Tempest's Wrath is again limited to single unit rather than everything in range but giving -1BS could be great in the right situation. The range of Thunderclap got a lot better but it lost its AP value for the gain of 2D6 hits. It's certainly no Cleansing Flame but could be awesome against the right target.

The rest of the powers are all WC2 and with the rune priest only being ML2 it might be a struggle to get them off. Murderous Hurricane has been boosted to S4 and gained Rending but lost the difficult/dangerous effect and will probably score a lot less hits now. I really don't see why it's WC2 but GW seem to think blasts are better than they actually are. Fury got a boost to range, strength and number of shots but I'm not sure again that's all worth WC2. It'll get used when you want something offensive but a lot of the time you'll be saving your dice to get other powers off.

Finally, the elephant in the room, Jaws. The old version was effectively a Beam with a range of 24". This version is now just a Focussed Witchfire with a range of 18" and Monstrous Creatures are now immune. That means Tyranid players will be breathing a collective sigh of relief but I actually think it's still extremely potent. The old version was often used to try and snipe single models anyway and it's still going to be devastating to lose your 250pt tooled up warlord to a single initiative test! Certainly not as good as it was but still awesome I reckon.

Relics of the Fang
For starters The Armour of Russ is pretty awesome in my opinion. Having 2+/4++ is great but then getting -5 to Initiative in a challenge as well is a great bonus. Especially if your character has a fist or hammer. I'm thinking it'll work nicely on a thunderlord and it's pretty cheap when compared to terminator armour for example. The Bite is the seemingly obligatory upgraded boltgun that seems to be in very marine codex but this one is nothing special. Helfrost is obviously nice to have but you're probably giving up an attack in combat to use it.

Black Death is very situational I'd say but could be useful on a solo thunderlord perhaps. The Helm of Durfast is a nice little upgrade but pricey. The Fangsword is another interesting upgrade but I can't see it being that widely used. Finally, the Wulfen Stone is basically Furious Charge for a unit and massively overpriced for it too.

Generally speaking a pretty underwhelming set of Relics, especially when some of the recent codices have had some real gems. Like the Ork book you can only take one per character too which doesn't help to make them more appealing. Of course there'll be combinations that arise but generally speaking they're a bit, well, meh.

Formations & Detachments
Another bit of 7th edition that I'm not sure what to think of yet. Generally I think it's an extra level of complication that the game didn't need but whatever. The Wolves Unleashed detachment in this book allows you to take up to six HQs (!). That's gonna be a hell of a lot of points sunk into those 6 models though. You get the obligatory re-roll on the warlord trait but also the Cunning of the Wolf special rule. This gives you a kind of Red Thirst equivalent where rolling a 6 before deployment gives you Outflank for the unit with Troops containing an IC getting it on a 4+. I wouldn't be a fan of this but for the fact that you can guarantee to get at least one of the units turn two which mitigates the risk of having potentially a large amount of points in reserve. It's a nice way of using Acute Senses properly and probably what GW intended when they changed the rule in 6th. Not 100% sure it's worth losing Objective Secured for but time will tell I suppose.

There'll undoubtedly be more formations coming in Champions of Fenris but for now I'll just talk about the Great Company formation in the codex. You need quite a prescriptive list to make the formation with some of them being units I wouldn't necessarily bother with. You have to take a Wolf Standard too which is useful to be fair but not something I'd take every time (more on that later). Basically it's the same as the Wolves Unleashed detachment but you also get Furious Charge and Fear for the whole army. That's pretty awesome really but it comes down to whether you want to run those specific units. At lower points limits you'll need to run MSU to afford the units of grey hunters and claws too. Definitely a formation I'm going to try out but I'm interested to see what the supplement brings too. Generally speaking I think formations are just a way of getting you to buy specific models but whatever.

Conclusion
I've had a general flick though the book and I think it'll be pretty powerful. It won't be the new power codex but there are some strong builds in there. My first impressions aren't particularly good mind you as I think it's been made to feel more like just another SM book than the old one which was pretty different. Sure there's units that are unique to the Space Wolves but little things like losing wulfen and some of the other upgrades do take away some of the character. It's a simpler book to write lists for if nothing else I suppose.

Anyway, as ever I'll be going through the codex section by section and reviewing every single unit as I do. I hope you all find this useful again. Finally let me remind you that if you find the series of posts particularly helpful you can always donate using the button on the right. Not for a second saying you have to but it's always nice to feel like the time I put in is appreciated.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy the next few posts which will be coming up throughout August. Hopefully GW won't be releasing GK as soon as the rumours say as I'll struggle to keep up if they do!

12 comments:

  1. Funny but I have had a complete opposite reaction to you on this codex. I love it! Full of flavour and some great new additions. I felt the old codex had alot less and was actually quite boring, 3x5 long fangs check, lots of grey hunters check, rune priests check. That was it really in alot of lists but now I can see so much more variation coming out of this dex. Very excited to be a wolves player

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    1. These are only my first impressions remember. The old book had a lot of variation but no one ever bothered. There are certainly options here but I think a lot of the flavour has gone.

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  2. too much bitchin' on this review ...

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    1. I'm not bitching just missing a lot of the stuff. First impressions are always a knee jerk reaction and I normally come around towards the end of the review

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    2. yeah, i was bitching about the new eldar codex as they changed it up alot. But a new book is always a knee jerk. how do u think orc players felt when lootas went in a h slot??????/

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  3. I haven't seen the codex yet so I can't comment, but I agree with you that GW seems to be going out of its way to purge a lot of the flavour out of codexes for aparent (and imo poorly thought out) business purposes. As a guard player it was sad to see a lot of rules, characters and units disappear simply because they do not have specific models (and in some cases they did!). As a SW player as well I'm seriosly annoyed to see mark of the wulfen disappear, and the wolf upgrades. Its not all bad for imperial guard (sorry astra militarum!) and I'm sure its not for SW either but they do seem to be giving with one hand and taking away with the other, dare I say as per usual?

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  4. For me, the Scouts becoming regular Marine Scouts instead of the Wolf Scouts of old and the Army wide rule of "Acute Senses" still being there for the off chance that I CAN Outflank... If the could ALWAYS outflank, great. But feels like I just paid extra for something that may or may not work... "Eh". Giving night vision might have been "too powerful", but at least I would feel like I could use it almost every game... Still not seeing anything that would realistically allow me to compete with a well constructed Eldar army, so really nothing changed... MAYBE I can break out my ancient Jump troops that have not hit the table since 2nd edition, but...

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  5. I lament the loss of "Behind enemy lines" for Wolf Scouts who are my favorite unit in the whole game for fluff reasons.

    Now they are just Bs/WS4 scouts with some extra toys. :(

    But on the other hand this is very much codex Thunderwolf IMO and the fact that TW mounted characters can now join ANY unit will create some nasty units (White Scar/Dsark Angel Biker Command Squads with 2-6 TW Characters?) :D

    Had a game today with it and Ulric the Slayer is a bad ass now.

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  6. Not looked at this new dex at all.. so some rumor control: is there anything to the free drop pods rumours? and are the flying wolf head (shoe) transports assault? To be honest I saw SW being the alpha assault army bar none. Will I be jinking AV12 flying shoes of death to assault termies into the tau gun line any time soon? Big delivery (i.e. SW don't teleport so here have a doorstep anywhere turn 2 melee bazookah)

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    1. The flyer is +200pt, and SW gained teleport. Their drop pods can also take locator beacons for 10pt. So you can deep strike a huge chunk of pods with bodies, and then the next few turns deep strike TDA units in with them. Lone wolves too (who don't take force org for each troop/WG unit you have.)

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  7. Urik will get the job done, he became the main character in my 7th ed view, im really happy for him and Grimnar is a fat ass useless santa-looking piece of expensive plastic, meh

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  8. First, thanks for the great review as always. I am looking forward to the detailed review.

    I am upset about the sagas, I loved the idea of giving them to my characters, and that they had a downside; it increased the point of having an army of heroes instead of just marines. I am also not happy with the lose of the wulfen. They added color and interest to the army, and the 13th company minis were great.

    Now, gaining teleport goes against the fluff, but is something you can choose to use or not. I think the idea of deep striking a lone wolf on the face of a MC makes sense; why bother killing troops? They want a glorius death against the biggest guy possible.

    Psychic powers are crap. we are better with biomancy or divination.

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