Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Space Wolves in 6th Edition - Thunderwolf Cavalry

In my last post I talked about tanking in 40K i.e. using 2+ save models at the front of units to soak up damage. In this discussion I briefly touched on thunderwolves as an example. In this post I thought I'd take a look at thunderwolves in a bit more depth to study how they've changed in 6th edition.

As regular readers will know I'm a bit fan of thunderwolves. There's no doubting they aren't as reliable as wave after wave of grey hunters but they're certainly more fun. In my experience of them in 5th edition they were either totally devastating or else a damp squib. The games where they devastated my opponents were some of my favourite 5th edition battles.

Let's have a quick look at what's changed in 6th edition then. The most noticeable change as far as TWC are concerned is the new rules for cavalry. The main problem I had with TWC in 5th was getting them to my opponents lines relatively unscathed. They had a massive charge range but with only 6" move followed by D6" run it wasn't too difficult to keep away from them. In 6th edition they can now move 12" and still run D6" (but not charge).

This is a big deal, in early turns they can now move 6" further than before. Now granted they can't necessarily charge as far but with Fleet re-rolls they should be getting 9" or so most of the time (I'm sure someone will mathammer this at some point). These guys aren't slowed by difficult either when moving or charging and thanks to difficult terrain allowing a save it really isn't an issue any more. Obviously their threat range is still 19-24" as before but covering more ground in the movement phase is better than charging further in my opinion.

The other bonus that Cavalry have gained from 6th edition is Hammer of Wrath. Not only is this a cool name but getting an automatic S5 hit for each thunderwolf at I10 is pretty nice particularly against units with I6 or better. TWC already have a sickening number of attacks anyway! A standard 50pt model now puts out 7 attacks on the charge!

In 5th edition it was important to equip each model differently to make the most of wound allocation. This is no longer necessary in 6th. This means no more 5pts wasted on melta bombs! As I discussed in the tanking post, wound allocation can still be achieved with LOS rolls on a wolf lord.

Here's how I'll be using my TWC in 6th:

Wolf Lord w/ Thunderwolf mount, wolf claw, storm shield, runic armour and Saga of the Bear
4 Thunderwolf cavalry (1 storm shield, 1 fist)

Coming in at 505pts it's hardly a cheap unit but with the runic armour tank it should be pretty resilient. As in 5th edition this unit will be a huge distraction for your opponents. The other advantage here is that the power fist model can't be challenged like the wolf guard in a grey hunter pack (more on that later). This unit puts out 33 attacks on the charge, 5 of which will hit automatically at I10. There aren't many units that can stand up to that.

However, in 5th edition I'd have had no concerns about charging terminators with my TWC. In 6th I'd certainly think twice. Whilst Rending as remained at AP2 my Thunderlord is now AP3 and therefore can't think out the terminators at I5 before they strike. The terminators on the other hand can still hurt my wolves with lightning claws and hammers alike. I recently took them against Scott's BA and bounced off a hammer/shield unit of terminators having failed to kill any of them!

Overall though I think the TWC have been boosted by 6th edition. They're a lot more reliable than before and with the thunderlord as a tank they're tougher too. I hope we see more of them in tournaments but I suspect that as before they'll be ditched because of their high points cost and WG terminators will be taken instead.


  1. From having played about 8 or 9 good games with them now I'll share a thought or two on T-wolves. Firstly I think the Lord needs a Hammer or Fist, in combat he's going to be challenged out probably by something with a 2+ save and he needs to be able to punk em. I've mainly just relied on the Lord to tank the hits coming into the unit using his 2+ save as you've mentioned. If he can't pop 2+ he's going to get tarpitted big style.

    As for the Wolves I've gone for a big 5 man pack with 2 Storm Shields a melta bomb and a powerfist bringing the units Str 10 attacks up to 10 with the Lord. With bikers being toughness 5 it's nice having a unit that can double tap them out and it also helps punk vehicles seeing as they are hit on a 3+ at worse.

    I've also added a single Fenrisian wolf to my Lord so I can send the dog up into ruins to drag units down who think they are being clever by hiding on the first/second floor, combat range in ruins is 6" on different levels so this works really well.

    You are right though mate, I think they have got a nice boost in 6th and now they are fast enough in the movement phase to pick their fights and bully weaker units whilst being able to avoid nasty stuff.

    1. Thanks for the comment mate. To be honest I've barely used my SW in 6th edition as I've been having great fun with Dark Eldar. I'll have to give those things you've suggested a whirl and see how I get on.

      Never liked the hammer lord in 5th but as you say with challenges it's all but essential. Guess I can give the power fist guy a wolf claw instead. Just a shame to waste the lord's higher initiative.

      Really not a fan of the challenge mechanic.

  2. i have only once played against Space wolves but Now I REALLY dont ever want to face them again ever unless i got my big old leman russ with meh.

  3. I would like to try something like that:

    Three packs of TWC, each consisting three riders and one hero.

    All heroes have runic armour, frost sword (Lord have claw&WTN) and o course big, nice wolf mount, and two additional wolves.

    One squad will be used to swift attack, thanks to the wolf guard battle leader with sage of the hunter.

    Another one will be used to take down monstrous creatures, they're really nasty now. Three TWC with wolf guard battle leader having beastsleyer saga.

    Third squad is dedicated to ASSAULT. Lord have claw (to wound re-rolls) and WTN for better to hit rolls. Also he have saga of the warrior born.

    That comes with four five man Grey Wolf packs. Each with plasmagun.

    Tactic is to attack weaker enemies, avoid good close combat units and attacking them by two squads at once.

    TROOPS will look for cover and oppurtunity to use plasma.

    Well, I think that will be quite fun army, with lot of brave, insane cavalry charges!

    Also I simply preffer how frost blades looks, it is why wolf guard battle leaders do not have frost axes.

  4. Saga of the Hunter can only be taken by an INFANTRY unit in Power Armor. So no outflanking TWolves with a hero in Runic Armor.

    1. Since writing this post (nearly a year ago) I've realised this but thanks for pointing it out.

    2. It doesn't say it has to be infantry (just not on a bike or with a jumpack). All you have to do is drop the runic armour to power armour and all is fine.

    3. First line of saga of the hunter says "Infantry only". TWC changes unit type to cavalry therefore you can't so it.

  5. Question: I found a loadout for thunderwolf lord with powerfist and ccw, belt of russ, runic armour. It says, this way the lord can mix and match his attacks among S5 rending at I5 and S10 AP2 at I1, just like Logan with his weapon.
    Is this a good loadout, or would you prefer the 3++ invulnerable of the shield over the 4++ of the belt?

    1. If it comes down to the shield vs the belt then there isn't all that much in it really. If you're using him solo then you might want the shield for the extra protection but in a squad he'll have some Look Out Sir protection anyway.

      I'd have to check how it works with different CC weapons but in principle the idea of using him with both weapon profiles is appealing.


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