Thursday, January 10, 2013

Space Wolves in 6th Edition

Firstly, as you may have noticed, the blog has a slightly different look to before. Most obvious is the new banner which I've been meaning to change for a while. It's certainly still a bit amateurish but I'm fairly happy with it and it least it points out that this blog isn't purely about Space Wolves anymore. The blog is also a bit wider to incorporate a second side bar. Anyway, despite literally just saying that this isn't a purely SW blog anymore I want to talk about them today.

In the comments section for my battle against Jamie, Sentinel asked for my thoughts on the state of the Space Wolves army in 6th edition so that's what I'll talk about here. Before I do though I'd like to mention that Sentinel has his own blog here (it's also in the Recommend Reading on the right) and also give a bit of a shout to Dominic and his Dark Angels blog (which will be my New Year New Army project - more to come).

State of Play at the End of 5th Edition
After a period of being one of the strongest books out there the Space Wolves started to see a bit of a decline in popularity towards the end of 5th edition. With new books from Dark Eldar, Necrons and Grey Knights they were no longer "flavour of the month". Whilst you could still produce a strong list with them they struggled against the likes of massed fire from Necrons or the initiative 6 attacks of the Grey Knights.

What remained constant, however, was that Grey Hunters were still arguably the best Troops choice in the game. The reasons are simple. For 15pts you get two CC weapons, a bolter, grenades, ATSKNF and Counter-Attack. Throw in some cheap upgrades like a Wolf Standard, a special weapon or two (also damn cheap) and attach a wolf guard and you've got a genuine Swiss army knife. Time and time again my Grey Hunters are the only thing left in my army yet they still achieve victory.

So let's look at 6th edition, the main things that've changed and how the Space Wolves army can deal with them. I'll also look at allies and what they can offer the wolf player.

The first and most obvious problem for Space Wolves in 6th edition is trying to take down those pesky flyers. My first reaction was to just ignore them. At the start of 6th there were very few lists that had a ton of flyers and the odd one or two didn't really affect my plans that much. Most of them end up needing to hover at some point and that's when you start to take interest by either shooting them down or charging in for the kill. However, with the newer books arriving and ever increasing numbers of flyers appearing on the table at tournaments this approach won't cut it anymore.

There are a few options in the book for taking them down, some more effective than others. Rifleman dreads might get a 6 or two thanks to twin linkage but with S7 they'll struggle against the likes of Stormravens etc. Not to mention they'll be an early target and with AV12 and 3HP they aren't the toughest vehicle around. The go-to-guy for dealing with flyers for most armies is the Aegis line with quad gun. The trouble is that though they're better than a rifleman they still need someone to be static to man them which means something sitting there for the whole game trying to deal with flyers. Add in that you can only take one and it isn't difficult to take down and you can start to think of better ways to spend your points.

My current favourite plan for taking them down is with long fangs. Whilst ideally they'd get some flakks they can do some damage with their krak missiles. I like to throw in a Divination rune priest to give them Prescience. This means you should score at least one 6 with a standard squad. A 5-man unit with a priest is 215pts though which isn't cheap. However, you aren't throwing points into dedicated anti-flyer weaponry as they're just as effective at killing MCs, vehicles and hordes too. Not to mention having a 4+ psychic denial is always good. Still if your opponent has 3 or more flyers they still aren't an option.

This leaves a final solution that we haven't discussed - allies. They're the most effective way for a Space Wolves army to get anti-air support but of course it depends on how you feel about diluting your army.

Looking at the rulebook matrix our options are everything but CSM, Daemons and Nids. We'll also have to avoid Orks, Necrons and DE if we don't want to worry about One Eye Open. That leaves all the loyalist Space Marines, IG and Tau.

With DA about to get a new book with flyers and flakk missiles in they may be an option for us but fluff-wise it's a bit of a touchy subject. The question we need to ask ourselves is what do wolves lack that allies can provide? Anti-air is a good start but also massed, mobile firepower. The best options in my opinion are vanilla SM and Tau. SM for the stormtalon and Tau for broadsides and crisis suits. I've had a reasonable amount of success using wolves as allies for a Tau primary detachment with the wolves hammering the enemy lines in close whilst the Tau pound them from range and pick off flyers. This leaves the fire warriors free to swoop in and claim objectives from their currently tough as nails transports.

Vanilla marines are harder to work into the army as essentially you swap wolves HQ and Troops for their inferior counterparts. I suppose a scout squad could make a difficult to shift unit on a home objective and maybe there's some librarian power that could be useful. The problem is I don't really know enough about the army and essentially I just want a stormtalon!!

To avoid rambling too much I'll have a quick rundown of the units in the codex and whether I think they're useful in 6th. Bear in mind this is only my opinion. I'd love to hear a counter argument to anything I've said. Quick assessments like this will always be generalisations and people will still find a use for most of these units.

Logan Grimnar - now that his weapons have been clarified he's still pretty brutal especially in a challenge. All of his old benefits are still decent and having 2+/4++ makes him even more survivable than before thanks to weapon changes. Points cost is the main issue here though so unless you're wanting terminator troops he probably isn't worth the cost.
Njal Stormcaller - despite having an incredible 3+ psychic cancel its still difficult to see why you'd spend so much when you can get two rune priests that do pretty much the same for cheaper.
Ragnar Blackmane - same as always really. With foot-wolves becoming more popular he could make a large pack pretty devastating but will struggle in challenges if he can't kill something with a power fist before it almost certainly kills him. Not decided on his effectiveness yet, need to try him out some more in 6th, but again pretty expensive.
Ulrik the Slayer - pretty cheap as SCs go. Making a unit fearless and able to deal with most MCs in combat is great but as with all chaplains it depends on your opinion of the power maul being AP4. Could make it difficult for him in challenges.
Canis Wolfborn - difficult to find a place for him as a thunderlord often does better and gets an invuln save.
Bjorn the Fell-Handed - suffers thanks to the Hull Points rules. Venerable doesn't really help him and it's a lot easier to get cover for vehicles now making his invulnerable save less valuable. AV13 is still nice with people taking less melta these days but he's still too expensive and restricted to footslogging.
Wolf Lord - most common use for these guys is still on the back of a thunderwolf. I'm still a fan of the claw/shield combo and even solo can be incredibly deadly. New cavalry rules have helped a lot (see TWC).
Rune Priest - still provides one of the best psychic defences in the game and with more psykers around this is still valuable. Divination powers give him some great utility thanks to how awesome Prescience is. Jaws is still effective and storm caller is more useful now especially if Night Fighting. Murderous Hurricane isn't as good though thanks to terrain rule changes.
Wolf Priest - Fearless is excellent now and Preferred Enemy helps shooting too so worth considering. There's also some nifty shenanigans with Saga of the Hunter (see below) but as ever it's the choice between wolf and rune priest that settles the matter.
Wolf Guard Battle Leader - never found a use for these guys in 5th and still struggle to see it. Main benefit is low cost if you're going to be using your Space Wolves as allies for another army and need a cheap HQ. Cheap way of getting Saga of the Hunter.

Wolf Guard - still good for accompanying grey hunters with a cheap power fist but can be challenged which can limit effectiveness. More likely to use them now they're foot-slogging and bringing a 2+ tank for your grey hunters helps. Terminators are obviously better thanks to AP3 power weapons but will likely lose out to rival terminators with power fists/hammers.
Arjac Rockfist - still my favourite special character in the book. Disgustingly cheap for how effective he can be and there's nothing cooler than throwing your hammer and blowing up a vehicle!
Dreadnought & Venerable Dreadnought - hull point changes mean they'll struggle whether footslogging or drop-podding. Venerable isn't as useful as it was too. As mentioned above, rifleman could be some use against flyers but still unlikely to see much action.
Iron Priest - never found a use for these guys either and with less mech around these days they're even less useful
Wolf Scouts - really suffered thanks to the rules forbidding assault from reserves. Still some use for delivering melta to a gun-line but ultimately will turn up and get heavy flamed or otherwise gunned down before assaulting.
Lone Wolf - as useful as they ever were and more survivable in terminator armour. Probably one of the first things to go to free up points for allies though.

Grey Hunters - as mentioned above, still probably the best troops in the game. Cheap and flexible. Think we'll see more full strength packs with plasma guns than we did before.
Blood Claws - always going to lose out to Grey Hunters but good fun to use when not worrying about competitiveness
Lukas the Trickster - with Blood Claws rarely seen Lukas isn't going to see much use but he's reasonable in a challenge thanks to his Pelt and wolf claw.

Fast Attack
Thunderwolf Cavalry - new cavalry rules mean these guys get to the enemy a lot quicker with 12" move and then run in turn one followed by Fleet charge in turn 2 they're more effective than ever. Still going to be hit and miss but also still a lot of fun to use.
Swiftclaw Bikers - mine are going to become ravenwing bikers but I'd still be interested to try them out. Obviously struggle thanks to BS/WS3 but anything that increases mobility could be interesting.
Skyclaws - put simply other assault marines do it better and they're only slightly more likely to be taken than fenrisian wolves.
Land Speeders - when taken alone they're going to be shot down pretty easily with bolter fire now. Difficult to persuade myself to take one anymore.
Fenrisian Wolves - gorgeous new models but their low points cost is about the only thing going for them.

Heavy Support
Long Fangs - still awesome and even more so when given Prescience by a nearby rune priest. Lack of flakk missiles mean they're not great against flyers though.
Predator, Whirlwind, Vindicator - grouped these all together because they have the same problems. Glancing hit changes can prevent them from being rendered useless quite so quickly but will die a lot quicker too thanks to HPs. Long fangs are more durable and reliable.
Land Raiders - a lot of points and with Necrons and the like being able to easily glance them to death it's tricky to justify the expense. Can't see me using them much.
Rhinos/Razorbacks - there's been a bit of a shift away from these but if people change their armies because they aren't expecting to face mech then mech-spamming could be the way to go for a surprise for them.
Drop Pods - still a fan of throwing one of these into a list to get some grey hunters/terminators into the thick of it but otherwise not much has changed. Taking an entire army of them is still difficult.

Interesting New Tactics - Foot Wolves
There's been a lot of talk about footslogging armies so I've been keen to try them out. I'm not totally convinced that abandoning vehicles completely is good for all armies but Space Wolves might be able to cope. I decided I wanted to stick to a pure wolves list for this so here's what I'm currently testing out:

1,850pts of Space Wolves
Rune Priest (Runic armour) - Jaws and LL but usually swap for Divination
Wolf Priest (Runic armour, plasma pistol, Saga of the Hunter)

3 Wolf Guard (CM/PF) - to go with Grey Hunters
5 Wolf Guard (Arjac, 4 terminators with claws & 2 combi-plas, 2 combi-melta) in Drop Pod

3 x 10 Grey Hunters (Standard, MotW, plasma, flamer)

4 TWC (Shield, fist)

2x 6 Long Fangs (5 MLs)

Pretty simple stuff really. The core of the army is two of the grey hunter packs with long fangs in support and TWC hitting one of the flanks. With 11 men in the hunter packs they're likely to make it across the field intact most of the time and their flexibility allows them to deal with a lot of different threats. The long fangs hammer targets as they always have done and help keep the grey hunters alive. The rune priest casts Prescience to give them a hope of taking down flyers and with 2+ runic armour gives them some protection. The TWC simply charge forward and smash into a valuable target. I've toyed with the idea of dropping one of them and throwing a cyclone wolf guard into the other long fang pack but we'll see how this list goes first. The long fangs are still needed to taking out whatever vehicles or MCs my opponent will bring.

The interesting parts of the army for me though are the drop pod full of terminators and the outflanking squad. With only a single model in the unit needing Outflank, Saga of the Hunter allows the wolf priest with an 11-man pack in tow to appear on an enemy flank. Acute Senses actually has some use here in allowing a re-roll to almost guarantee you getting them where you want them. The combination of Fearless and Preferred Enemy with a large unit like that means they're pretty lethal. Runic armour helps protect the priest in a challenge too. Arjac and his terminators will do what they always do and go looking for something to smash up.

The general idea here is that since the two core grey hunter packs will be slogging it they need some distraction from the TWC, drop pod and outflankers to keep them alive to claim objectives at the end. This list is a little light on troops for 6th edition but hopefully the strength of this list will destroy enemy troops so it won't be an issue.

I hope this article has made people think about their Space Wolves in 6th edtion so they'll still have a home in the game. I'd love to know what you think about what I've said here and I'm more than happy for you to disagree completely with what I'm saying.

I think, as with all of my armies, I'm finding myself revisiting the codex a lot to see if there's any tactics that weren't any good in 5th but now find more use in 6th so I might come up with more soon. Ultimately, the codex still offers 40K players a lot. There are very few armies that wouldn't benefit from a couple of allied grey hunter units and a rune priest. The strength of the codex though lies in it's flexibility. There's no need to field a mono-build for success. At the point in 6th edition things are changing all the time. I'm sure the DA codex will be a catalyst for further change to the meta. All armies have had to adapt to 6th edition in some way and its down to players to look again at units they'd previously dismissed.


  1. I had some success against CSM with a similar build for the Grey Hunters. 10-men, 2 meltas, Standard, Wulfen and Power Sword, followed by a Wolf Guard also carrying a Power Sword (since Chaos Termies aren't too popular). They had Razorbacks as a mean to control the opponent's charge lanes.

    Anti-air was exactly as you said: full squads of Long Fangs (one CML Wolf Guard), backed up by a Divination Rune Priest and a couple of Riflemen. It was still a pain to take down the Heldrake (Grey Hunters managed to take the last Hull Point by shooting at its back armour).

    The toughest threats were the Chaos HQs with their Daemon Weapons. I don't think this will be a trend for other 6th ed. codices, though.

  2. Great Article! Finally someone put something up for us wolves players haha. One thing I'm a bit curious about though is why you passed over IG so quickly? I see them as an extremely viable ally option. They have super cheap scoring units, and even though they may not be that great, you can level the playing field model count wise. Also you can tailor them for your style of play easier than any other army out there IMO.

    One idea I am tinkering around with is to take the WP w SotH, throwing him with a GH squad w 2 plasma guns, and adding either Arjac, or a WG w a storm shield to absorb the fire they're going to get after they come in. And the kicker, taking a platoon of guard with Cptn Al'Rahem which gives them "stalk the enemy". so basically you have a mob of 40ish cheap models backed up by the GH coming in on their side of the board and trapping units out of position. Also he gets to issue 2 orders per turn which includes: "First Rank Fire Second Rank Fire!" which would up the odds of the outflanking guardsmen hitting something, and "Like the Wind!" which allows them to take a shot and run D6 into cover. Oh and did I mention he has a plasma pistol and an instant death power sword?

    I haven't had time to play a game of 6th yet so idk if this is feasible, but throw a cheap primaris psyker in there for the hq and an infantry platoon with a platoon command squad w Al'(throw them 4 flamers since they're going to be close, it auto hits and cheap.), and 4 squads (flamers in each, and you could even mob the whole group into one squad to outflank), and a mobile vet squad w 3 plasma in a chimera or even a valkyrie for your second troop, and your looking at roughly 500 points or so which still gives you 1500 pts in a standard 2000 pt game for your wolves.

    Worth trying?

  3. Another anti-air option is forgeworld, as they seem to be allowed in most tournaments.

    Wolves can have the immobile turret which effectively has a twin-linked skyfire and interceptor krak missile. It's a bit expensive at 35 pts (especially compared to a long fang with a missile launcher), but it comes as troops. 2 of them, plus a quad gun could really help against flyers. Alternatively there's the dreadnaught that gains skyfire if it doesn't move.

    Also regarding the quad gun, long fangs are good to man it. The pack leader can fire the quad gun, and he can use his split fire rule to fire at a flyer while directing the rest of the squad to fire at something else.


  4. Great article. Just one minor point: you cannot take runic armour with saga of the hunter; power armour only.

    1. Yeah I realised this at midnight on the day before I was due to go to the GW doubles with a list containing a wolf priest with runic armour. Bit of a strange rule but glad I remembered!

  5. Hi quick question. As you cant take saga of the hunter with runic armour what would you suggest would be the best option to take with your wolf priest. Take power armour and keep SotH or keep the runic armour and take a different saga?

    1. Stay tuned to the blog. After my reports from Target Sighted, where I took SW, I'm going to run through some more ideas I've had.

  6. Like the article! I wanted to add an anti-air option, and give a little props to the Wolf Guard Battle Leader here. 70pts, with Ballistic skill 5. Take an Aegis Defense Line, and a Quad cannon. Keep your long fangs behind the line, but have the WGBL man the cannon. Hitting on 2's, and re-rolling misses, basically guarantees you 4 hits, and with the interceptor rule, you'll have a good chance of taking out a flyer when it enters, or at least hitting it with a couple of hull points. And if there are no fliers, fire away at infantry or other light vehicles. Keep that thing firing every turn, and the 120pts (70 for WGBL, 50 Quad Cannon) will pay for itself in no time!

  7. Only issue I have with that is that you're basically paying 70pts to do something the long fangs can do pretty well anyway with the squad leader on the gun. He's got an 88% chance to hit versus the 97% of the WGBL. Personally I don't think it's worth it. A quad gun isn't all that great at taking down flyers even with BS5.

  8. Also if the long fangs are accompanied by a rune priest with chooser of the slain he's bs5 anyways right?

    1. Pretty sure that's only for psychic shooting but I could be wrong.

  9. I'm a purist when it comes to sw. I believe that you shouldn't have to take an ally to win games against flyers and it bugs me that the game is forcing us to. my new tactic is going to be 4x 10 gh's w/drop pod and 2 flamers. 2x 10 skyclaws with pf and flamer accompanied by one wolf priest with combi-flamer each making them fearless, preferred enemy, and able to ignore headstrong,, 2x 6 lf's w/ml's, and lastly 2 land speeders with double heavy flamers. taking advantage of the drop pods targeting I can get right up next to units and mass flame them. ignooring flyers for the most part and putting as much hurt on my enemy as I can as fast as I can.

  10. * wolf priests have combi-meltas

  11. In your 1850pts list you have 5 HQ choices, x3 WGBL (with the grey hunters), wolf priest & the rune priest. Arnt space wolves only allowed upto 4 HQ choices on the field??

    1. Those are just a pack of 3 plain wolf guard who split up to join 3 grey hunter packs.

      They're elites but become troops when they join squads. My list has no WGBLs at all. Only has two HQ.

      The list is wrong as the wolf priest has runic armour. I don't run quite the same list now though.

  12. I dont think you can fit all that into 1850 points

    1. Have you actually tried before commenting because I'm 99.9% sure you can.


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