Monday, September 5, 2011

Codex Review: Space Wolf Fast Selections

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

Well well, back to the codex review grind.  In my last article, Codex Review: Space Wolf Troops, I talked about the two troop selections and why you are more often better off just taking Grey Hunters.  This week, I am going to take a look at yet another packed force org slot that has a lot of fluffy and appealing options. 

To get started, I am going to lump together the Swiftclaw Biker packs and the Skyclaw Assault packs.  Both are essentially Blood Claws with either jump packs or bikes.  As such, they suffer from most of the same issues that regular Blood Claws suffer from. Ultimately, they are easily exploited by a canny opponent and thus less reliable. 

Before I go too far into detail, I wanted to point something interesting out about the Skyclaw Assault Packs.  I actually discovered this from reading Student Teacher's blog, Three Color Minimum.  Basically, Skyclaws alone of the infantry squads, cannot take a Wolf Guard pack leader to lead them.  This makes them severely unreliable and even though they can take melta, for the ability to pop tanks, they can't shoot if they get into melta range (6") because then they have to succumb to their berserk charge rule.  It really is sad. 

Another interesting thing that I noticed about both Swiftclaws and Skyclaws is that they can take a plasmagun for 15pt. or a plasma pistol for 15pt.  I think the point costing of some of their weaponry is poorly done. 

Swiftclaws are essentially biker squads that can take 3-10 bikes and can add a single attack bike to the squad with either heavy bolter or mutli-melta.  They can take all of the special ranged weaponry and a power weapon or power fist.  Again though, if they get into range to use most of their special weapons they will have to charge and not shoot per berserk charge.  Thus, if you want them to be a melta platform you either need to just use the multi-melta attack bike and get in that 7-12" range or take a Wolf Guard pack leader, which is pretty expensive (53pt base) just to babysit the unit.  These guys are pretty fluffy, but not all that useful on the battlefield as a fast melta platform.  Their best use would be to tie up units using their T5 and 4 attacks on the assault to keep them from shooting or something else. 

Skyclaws really are a wreck.  They come in units of 5-10.  They have the same weapons options as the Swiftclaws (without the attack bike options of course) and the ability to take mark of the wulfen.  However, I just can't envision using them since they can't have a Wolf Guard pack leader and taking an IC just to babsit them is ridiculous and a waste of points.  Leave these guys at home unless you are playing an apocalypse game and have no other options. 

courtesy of Table Top Geeks
Next on the chopping block would be our speeder squadrons.  These are your typical choices. They are generally taken in two varieties, the typhoon with heavy bolter or the tornado with multi-melta/heavy flamer setup.  On occasion you might see a double heavy bolter speeder.  This particular speeder is usually deployed outright and fulfills two purposes.  First it is used to lay down 6 S5 AP4 shots per turn.  Second, it is used to block lanes of advance for various mech.  With a 3+ dodge save, they are hard to ram and can block something like a land raider from moving into position.  All of this for 60pt. 

The other two options, though, are more prevalent.  The Typhoon is deployed normally and supplies additional missile support.  This speeder is an integral part of the missile spam list that Space Wolves are infamous for.  It comes in at 90pt. and delivers 2 frag or krak missiles along with 3 heavy bolter shots.  It is ideal for cracking open mech and then shooting the content to pieces at range.

The final option is the tornado with multi-melta/heavy flamer.  For 70pt. you get a fast melta platform that can also barbecue annoying infantry squads.  It is great at taking out light infantry that has a 4+ or less save.  Generally, it is deepstruck onto the board to protect it from enemy fire and works very well in tandem with wolf scouts.  Together, they can grind an opponent to a halt in anticipation of the melta threat they will bring to the board. 

I like the idea of Landspeeders, but I have never had good success with them.  I simply can't manage to protect my AV10 speeders for long and more often than not, my luck causes them to miss on the turn they deepstrike and need to make something happen which ultimately means they are 70pt. targets for my opponents in the next turn.  Otherwise, I think they are a good use for their points no matter how you use them.

Finally, on to the two fairly useful AND fluffy Space Wolf fast choices.  I will start with fenrisian wolves as they generally have a single purpose.  Bodyguard duty.  Fenrisian wolf packs are great in groups of 10 when you add a Thunderwolf lord or two to them.  That is often how I see them used.  Put together 2 scary Thunderwolf Lords and join them to a unit of 10 fenrisians to get them across the table and into combat.  You can further beef the unit up by adding 2 fenrisians per IC as equipment. 

Fenrisians are beasts per the BRB.  They come with WS, S, and T4.  They have 2 attacks apiece and a 6+ save.  Their LD is an abysmal 5, but they should usually have LD10 Wolf Lord riding with them.  They do have a rule, called Supernumerary which states that they cannot hold objectives under any circumstances (Canis makes them troops.).  They have an interesting upgrade of being able to take one cyberwolf for an additional 8 pt.  The Cyberwolf gets T5, 3 attacks, and a 4+ save coupled with LD6, but this generally isn't a good choice.  Just leave them plain.  The only time you want to take cyberwolves is when you can take 4 with an Iron Priest on Thunderwolf.  That makes a fairly decent harassment unit. 

The bottom line here is that fenrisians are ablative wounds and only should be taken as a fast slot when they have 2+ Thunderwolf Lords to go with them.  They then become a Wolf Lord delivery system. 

Thunderhooves, Ho!
Lastly, we have the big bad.  Thunderwolf Cav are perhaps one of the most heinous units in all of 40k.  Essentially you have Marine cavalry with a natural S and T 5, 4 attacks, two wounds, and rending.  It is the two wounds that makes them really killer as you can kit out each individual TWC to make a completely differentiated unit of 5 that can take copious amounts of damage and still not lose any models.  Considering that they are a natural T5 (unlike bikers), they can handle high strength heavy weapons fairly well being able to take everything S9 and down on the chin and still pound faces in.  To top it off, TWC count as cavalry, so they can cover a maximum of 24" in a single turn including an assault move, due to fleet and cavalry charge range.  6" move, D6" fleet, 12" assault range.  This means they put out a large threat bubble which ultimately can shape the battlefield for you. 

TWC are 50pt base, but worth every point.  Aside from an awesome stat line, they have access to a nasty array of close combat implements such as storm shields, power fists, wolf claws, frost blade, and thunder hammers, though only one model per unit may take a special combat weapon.  That's fine because TWC have rending regularly.  Also because they are naturally S5, you have S10 power fists and thunder hammers that can pop even AV14 more regularly. 

I personally am a fan of either the minimalist approach or going full on.  I regularly take single thunderwolf cav with fist/storm shield or thunder hammer/storm shield.  These cost 105pt and 110pt respectively, but are great units to run in tandem with a Grey Hunter pack.  They can hide behind a razorback or rhino and come out during the assault phase. That said, if I had the models, I would be tempted to run a couple of 5 model units led by Wolf Lords that are fully differentiated. These would then go across the board killing anything in their way. 

Here's the deal.  People either seem to rate TWC and love them or not really care for them.  I love them.  I think they make Space Wolves unique and are an excellent assault unit.  They can take punishment and stay combat viable.  They can handle combat after combat and keep munching through unit after unit.  They provide a lot of wonderful combat potential for the army and relieve a lot of the pressure that Grey Hunters take on as our generlist unit.  Bottom line, if you want a good combat threat that can soak wounds and keep going, take ThunderWolf Cav.  They are great. 

Those are the fast selections.  I think Swiftclaws and Skyclaws are worthless for the most part, unless played for theme.  Speeders are fairly solid and good all arounders.  Nothing new there.  Fenrisians are great bodyguard units for Thunderwolf Lords.  TWC are where it's at.  These are the most heinous combat unit Space Wolves can produce and chomp most things up with relative ease. 

Next article will wrap up this review with a look at our Heavy choices. 

Other Space Wolf articles:
Go Lone Ranger or Take the Whole Posse?
That's no moon...that's a space station! Part 2
The Templar Wolves Ride Again: The Severe Beating of A Blood Angel Army

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