Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Codex Review: Space Wolf Wolf Lord and Battle Leader

[This article is part of the Codex Review: Space Wolves article series.]

courtesy of the BOLS Lounge
Ugh! Work is kicking my butt and I have only been back for 3 days!  Depressing.  Sorry for the long delay in getting an article out to you, folks.  Because of the crazy work schedule, I am going to break the generic HQs down further and cover the Wolf Lord and Battle Leader in this article and the Rune Priest and Wolf Priest in the next.

Essentially, a Wolf Lord and a Wolf Guard Battle Leader are the same model, however, the Battle Leader is your poor man's version.  Where the Wolf Lord costs 100pt. base, the Battle Leader only costs 70pt. base.  For the 30pt. price reduction you get -1 WS, -1 attack, -1 W, and -1 LD.  This means that the Battle Leader is still a fairly decent character for his points, but if given the choice, go for the Wolf Lord.  As such, I am going to speak mainly about the Wolf Lord and then I will cover the few things that the Battle Leader alone does. 

The Wolf Lord as mentioned, runs you 100 points base.  He has WS6, BS5, marine strength and toughness, 3W, 4 attacks, I5, and LD 10.  He comes with a combat weapon, bolt pistol, frags and kraks, and power armor.  Pretty basic really.  What makes a Wolf Lord so great is the sheer weight of upgrades you can give him.  Entwined throughout the entire Space Wolf codex is the idea of epic warriors with big personalities and long lists of heroic deeds. With the equipment upgrades you can give a Wolf Lord, it is easy to make this happen.  I could literally write an entire article's worth of typing on just the equipment.  However, I won't.  I don't have the time or energy for that.  Thus, I will talk about the two basic Wolf Lord types I have seen used most often.  They are the Thunderwolf Lord and the Utility Lord. 

The Utility Lord is a cheap-ish Wolf Lord who is built to be survivable, but also to play multiple roles on the battlefield.  Generally, a utility Lord is going to have a dualistic, useful ranged weapon, a decent combat weapon, and fairly good defense.  He also will pack some sort of skill that will benefit the army.  A utility Lord that I see often is:

Wolf Lord- combi-melta, frost weapon, wolftooth necklace, runic armor, belt of russ (may be substituted with terminator armor), saga of majesty.  This guy has a melta shot, a power weapon with +1 strength, always hits on 3+ against models with a WS, a 2+/4++ save, and allow all units within 6" to reroll failed morale tests. 

I see this particular setup used most often in a podding army or to provide a reroll bubble from a rhino.  I don't think this particular character is a very fantastic option for Space Wolf armies though as there are much better option out there for fewer points and more utility (hmm.hmm.. Rune Priest...hmm.hmm..).

Before I move on to the much heralded Thunderwolf Lord, I want to take a moment to talk about the Wolf Guard Battle Leader in this setup.  The WGBL has gained a bit of prevalence of late due to the interesting FAQ/errata document for the BRB that states that an model with the stealth rule bestows that benefit onto the squad he joins.  This has given rise to the Space Wolf stealth bomb.  I have even written an article or two about it.  Basically, the WGBL takes the Saga of the Hunter instead of Majesty and give his unit stealth.  This combined with normal cover saves means that you can give a unit of power armored marines a 3+ cover save in most cases.  Combine this with a unit of mixed Wolf Guard and you have an insanely hard to beat unit that you can't shoot down and wouldn't want to risk trying to assault.  This is perhaps where a WGBL shines and only he and a Wolf Priest can take Saga of the Hunter.

Now, my favorite.  On to the Thunderwolf Lord.  This takes me back to the old days of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  Take thunderwolf cav and give them steroids on steroids and you get a Thunderwolf Lord.  He takes all of the utility mentioned above via equipment and combines it with the enchanced abilities that a thunderwolf provides (+1 S, T, A, and cavalry movement) to make a heinous IC.  Most Thunderwolf Lord are kitted to be, as a friend of mine and long time Wolfenstein 3D fan would put it, death incarnate.  Generally, a Thunderwolf Lord comes with runic armor and a storm shield for a solid 2+/3++ save.  Then you see a few variations.  The popular ones I have noticed are a powerfist or thunderhammer and Saga of the Bear (eternal warrior) for MC and Dreadnought killing power, or wolf claw or frost weapon and Saga of the Warrior Born (additional attack on the assault equal to number of kills from previous assault) for infantry killy.  Either way this guy is nasty.  As mentioned with either, he has 6 attacks on the assault (more if Warrior Born kicks in), Is wounding just about everything on 2's or 3's and has T5 and a 2+/3++ to keep him safe. Now, this guy does come in at a hefty price tag, generally around 250 pt., but the amount of raw killiness is worth it.  This really is the best way to run him in my opinion.  Again, this is due to the fact that for generic HQ choices, you can go both cheaper and for better utility. 

The final thing I want to talk about with Wolf Lords and WGBL is their ability to take up to 2 fenrisian wolves for 10pt a piece as wargear. These are awesome because they effectively are wound soaks. This effectively boosts a Lord to 5 wounds and a WGBL to 4 wounds.  Should a wound be vicious enough to cause ID to your Lord (S10 or just outright ID) don't risk it, kill a dog.  I especially recommend these models on a Thunderwolf Lord as they mesh well with the large movement of the thunderwolf. 

Bottom line:  I don't see Wolf Lord on foot much at all.  When they are taken as such, they usually are taken for some sort of gimmick or niche role for the army be it the Majesty bubble, beefing up a drop pod unit, or bringing stealth to a midfield harassment unit.  On the other hand, when Lords and WGBL are taken they usually come in the form of Thunderwolf Lords.  These guys are just plain nasty with the ability to take on most things and come out with nary a scratch on them.  But, we careful.  Thunderwolf Lords are expensive and quickly become cost prohibitive in an army that is seeking to take an all comers approach. 

Other articles from this article series:
Codex Review: Space Wolf Named Characters, The ehh...
Codex Review: Space Wolf Named Characters, the Decent
Codex Review: Space Wolf Named Characters, The Awesome


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Lord Rao said...

I understand why you would want to keep this post a little short, as the options are just mind-boggling. I do, however, feel that this is just a little TOO short; the options you've discussed now are the absolute no-brainers and won't give many readers any additional information. Maybe you could expand on at least a couple of alternative builds?

For instance: many people seem to swear by the WGBL on TWC and save the points a Wolf Lord would cost. You don't. Care to explain? What successes have you have with these builds? Anything to make it just a little less generic.

Dave said...

Thanks for the comment, but as I stated, I don't think there are many builds that efficiently use points for Space Wolf HQs. Generally, their HQs either need to be fully kitted to kill tons or they need to provide benefits to the army. The WGBL just doesn't do that as well as the Lord and the Lord isn't the best utility character. The reason I only included the two builds is because, in my mind, those are the best uses for that particular HQ slot.

In regards to a Thunderwolf WGBL, I think you are kind of doing it halfway. Essentially you are paying and extra 100pt. or round abouts there for a thunderwolf cav with +1WS, +1I, and +1LD. All of his other stats are the same as thunderwolf cav.

So, he is only mildly better at killing infantry than regular thunderwolf cav, while worse at taking on ICs than a Lord. That is why I don't rate the thunderwolf WGBL.

Dave said...

Lord Rao brings up a good point, though. Does anyone play a nontypical Wolf Lord or WGBL? Comment with your preferred load out and describe how you play him. Lord Rao this is your chance to show us some of your ideas.

Lord Rao said...

Well, that's the difficulty. I fully agree that the two you mentioned are the go-to HQ choices.

I've found against some armies I really like a TWC Lord with TH/SS rather than a WC/SS and give him Saga of the Bear. This wroks especially well against very fast troops and armies with aton of MCs, but it's much more situational. It can also be approximated by simply buying several TWC units of one or two, and arming them with TH/SS. Hardly an eye-opening HQ choice though.

In smaller points games the Biker lord (or even biker WGBL, for that 2Wound max in combat patrol etc.) really comes into his own. You don't need the killing frenzy of the TWC and can really use the extra speed. T4(5) tends to be enough against practically everything anyway.

Contrary to the challenge put out by Dave, I understand that neither of these choices are that great/revolutionary/eye opening.

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