Friday, January 14, 2011

Thunderwolves Part 2: Wargear Choices

I've managed to clean up all the models and they're ready for a spot of green stuff. The question now is: what shall I equip them with? The plan all along was to make one of them into a Wolf Lord which will leave the remaining 4 as standard Thunderwolf Cavalry. Let's start with the lord.

Thunderlord Wargear
With thunderwolf mount he's got a pretty impressive statline. WS6, BS5, S5, T5, W3, I5, A5, Ld10, 3+. Even without any upgrades that's pretty formidable. His base cost is 145pts with the thunderwolf which doesn't seem bad but we'll definitely need more. Obviously any character is going to get more than his fair share of low AP and power weaponry thrown at him so an invulnerable save is essential. We've got two options, either the Storm Shield's 3+/3+ for 30pts or the Belt of Russ' 3+/4+ for 25pts. I think the extra 5pts is a bargain for a better invulnerable save so we're up to 175pts. It's worth noting that, unlike the shield, the belt can allow the Lord to get a bonus attack but since he's already got 6 on the charge I'm not too worried.

What do we put in his other hand then? Well he's got an impressive initiative of 5 which will come in very handy against MEQ and Eldar. It seems a shame to waste it by giving him either a thunder hammer or power fist. It would also be a waste to give him any kind of gun. Yeah he's got BS5 but he should never be relied upon as a shooty unit! So we're left with three options power weapon (15pts), wolf claw (20pts) or frost blade/axe (25pts). Since we're already rending thanks to the wolf the power weapon alone doesn't give much benefit so it's a straight decision between +1S or re-roll to hit/wound. Most of the time we'll be fighting T4 and in that situation a re-roll is more much more useful, it should even be better at T3. It also happens to be 5 points less so that's a winner to me! Bear in mind with the rending we'll have a reasonable shot against vehicles so strength isn't too much of an issue. That brings out total to 195pts.

In terms of the other equipment I don't think any of it is essential. Melta bombs aren't needed because we're rending and obviously neither is MotW. I'd throw in a Wolftooth Necklace because the Lord is probably going to be used to target enemy characters who'll have decent WS and it's a nasty combo with the wolf claw. If you've got Rune Priests in your army then I don't think the wolf tail talisman is necessary but if not then it's handy, particularly against Nids. Finally, if you're taking the wolf on his own then I think it's absolutely essential to have two fenrisian wolves with him. Ablative wounds are always nice and if you're playing Tau they can be life savers. It's debatable if they're necessary if he's going to be accompanied by some cavalry but if you've got the points then why not. That brings us to 225pts (205pts without the fen wolves) so it's really getting pricey now.

Last but not least, we need to choose a Saga. Do we really need one? Probably not but it gives him more character and since he's already expensive it would seem a waste not to. Anyway, Beastslayer isn't really necessary with the stats and equipment we have and isn't useful against many targets. Majesty can come in handy but since he'll be charging forwards it might not find itself in range. Warrior born can be amazing but it's very situational and expensive. That leaves Saga of the Bear and Saga of the Wolfkin. If you could be sure you're playing an army with S10 weapons (i.e. Tau) then Bear is all but essential or if you've got fenrisian wolves in your army I5 from Wolfkin can make them more threatening. If you've only got the 2 fenrisian wolves then go for Bear every time. We've got the following then:

Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf with Storm Shield, Wolf Claw, Wolftooth Necklace, 2 Fen. Wolves and Saga of the Bear = 260pts (or 240pts with Wolfkin)

He's not cheap then so I don't think he'll see much action in low points games. I'm intending to use him as a DIY special character in place of Ragnar or Logan.

Thunderwolf Cavalry Wargear
Let's start off by saying that just for the basic 4 models you're already paying 200pts so we'll try and be frugal with our wargear. The key thing here is wound allocation. If you've got two of the same model then you only have to take two wounds to lose one of them. If all your models are different then you'll have to fail 5 saves before one falls. Doesn't make them invincible but should help keep them alive until they get into combat. Again shooting weapons are a waste of time. To avoid a long winded discussion:

1. Thunderwolf Cavalry with storm shield and CC weapon = 80pts
2. Thunderwolf Cavalry with power fist and bolt pistol = 75pts
3. Thunderwolf Cavalry with chainsword, bolt pistol and melta bombs = 55pts
4. Thunderwolf Cavalry with no upgrades = 50pts
GRAND TOTAL = 260pts (coincidentally the same as our Wolf Lord!)

The reasoning is pretty straightforward the storm shield gives them smoe more survivability but it's too expensive to take two. The power fist is to help out against vehicles/walkers/high toughness and the extra five points for a thunder hammer is a waste as has been discussed elsewhere on the interwebs (although hammers look much cooler than fists!). The melta bombs are a cheap option for wound allocation and will give you a good shot against land raiders, against other vehicles it's probably better to rely on rending. 260pts then for 8 T5 wounds, 14 S5 rending attacks and 4 S10 attacks on the charge/counter attack. You can take them in smaller squads in lower points games but I'd always use a storm shield. Either way they're going to be a source of great annoyance to your enemy. They'll draw (and soak up) a lot of firepower that will protect your transports and other troops and if not then they'll be a full strength when they hit your opponents lines which isn't going to end well for him!

It isn't all rosy though. Power weapons really aren't your friend and especially hammers or fists. but this is true of any Space Marine unit. Anything that's S10 will give you real headaches. Mephiston dispatched a lord and two cavalry on his own at Freebootaz for example! It's not like S10 is a regular feature in many (non-Tau) armies though so I wouldn't worry too much. Finally, Leadership 8 isn't exactly brilliant so attaching the Lord will come in handy.

A Note on Fenrisian Wolves
As I've mentioned I also bought 10 fen wolves to give them a try out. A lot of people dismiss them because they're competing with other Fast Attack choices (including the TWC) but I think they're very much underated so I wanted to try them for myself. They're not much more than a cover save for your other units but that's a good enough reason to take them I reckon. 

If the full squad made it into combat, and with 19-24" charge range they've got a good chance, then they'll cause as many wounds as vanilla grey hunters. Sadly they aren't going to survive the attacks back because of their 6+ save and Ld5 but if your Lord has Wolfkin they'll have I5 and Ld7 which should help out. They're a Space Wolves exclusive unit too which makes them worth a go in my opinion! Compare them to Ork Boyz and they essentially trade a gun for a 12" charge range and permanent fleet for 2 extra points. I wouldn't go basing your army around them but if you fancy trying something new then why not!


  1. If you have a special Close combat weapon of any kind you TW model lose rending! (pg 2 of the SW Q&A) :(

    I think you should always take the Fenrisian Wolves with a TW Lord, just to give him that bit more survivability when closing the gap.

  2. I tool up my thunderlord too much.

    Runic Armour
    Thunder Hammer
    Storm Shield
    2 dogs
    saga of the bear

    Makes him a machine.

    but he does hold up a lot, Thur night 5 crisis suits and a commander charged him 5 turns later he only had one wound left but so did the commander

  3. Really nice article.

    I agree with you equipment idea on the wolf lord. Lots of people go with the thunderhammer, but the lightning claw is better for killing infantry. After all it's better to rely on long fangs, las/plas razorbacks & landspeeders to de-mech the enemy, leaving the thunderlords to best and kill infantry very quickly.

    I'm still undecided about storm shields on thunderwolf cav, as they cost 2/3 of another thunderwolf. Your 4 man unit is eqipped nicely with all differently equiped models, but for 25 pts more you could have a unit of 5 equiped as follows:

    Bolter and Meltabombs
    Standard Guy

    No invunverable save, but one extra guy. Also if they advance near cover of behind any advancing rhinos they will get a 4+ cover save.

    Bolters mean 2 models have 1 less attack, but they are always to the first to be killed, plus the unit still has more attacks than the 4 man unit.

    Lastly being 5 models they don't have to take a morale test after the first casualty.


  4. @MC Tic Tac I'd forgotten about that. Ah well. Some of the squad will still have it.

    @Simo I thought about runic armour but decided it was a step too far.

    @rathstar avoiding the ld test would be handy but assuming I'm grouping them with the lord then I'll still have 5 models.

    I don't think bolters are worth losing an attack for. I can't really see a time when I wouldn't be running anyway.

    Keeping them in cover would be fine but it means then that they can't act independently and go after big targets that you wouldn't want the rest of your army getting close to.

  5. Oh and I've only got 5 models so I've pretty much got to have a squad of 4!!


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