Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Codex Review: Space Wolf Heavies

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

We have finally made it to the other end of the force organization chart.  Again, Space Wolves are really spoilt for choices in this slot like their others (aside from the troops slot).  We are looking at land raiders, predators, whirlwinds, vindicators, and long fangs.  Of the selections, four are universal across all of the marine codexes and one is unique.  Hmmm.....which one do most people take, I wonder?

Let's blaze through the vehicles.  To start with we have the 3 land raider variants.  You have a regular land raider (godhammer), crusader, and redeemer.  The only reason I see people take a land raider is if they need a sizeable transport to transport a deathstar or terminators (sometimes termiantors are the deathstars). They are rarely if ever taken as just ranged support options.  That said, I think in Space Wolf armies, like in other armies, the godhammer is passed over for more aggressive variants that will deliver combat units into the heart of the enemy. 

from eldaraddict.blogspot.com
That said, I rarely see deathstar units in a Space Wolf army that aren't Thunderwolves (who don't need a transport).  If I do, they are almost always running around in a crusader or redeemer.  I personally prefer the crusader as it can lay down heaps of fire when it is in close.  (1 multi-melta, 4 TL assault cannon shots, and 12-24 TL bolter shots).  This is the perfect tank for delivering a hammer unit into an opponent's lines, then using it's guns to blast supporting units outside of tanks. 

I feel the redeemer is less useful if only because you can rarely get both flame templates onto the same unit.  The way around this is to PotMS the second flamestorm cannon into a second unit. 

All things considered, I think until we get better vehicle damage rules protecting more heavily armored vehicles, land raiders will continue to see little to no action in a Space Wolf army.  Our army is better suited for light mech and drop pod transports if not just walking across the table. 

Next we will look at the true long range support vehicles: predators, vindicators, and whirlwinds.

If you have read any of my past posts, you will know that I don't prefer whirlwinds.  Ranged support with only AV11 has a huge target on it's head.  That said, being able to drop a large blast template via barrage for 85 points is pretty sweet.  Especially since one of the templates a whirlwind can fire ignores cover and is S4 AP5.  That can really mess over a unit of kroot or other lightly armored units that rely on cover saves.  Though, for 85 points you can also get a dakka pred that has front AV13. 

So, let's talk about predators.  Generally, you see 3 variants.   All bullets (dakka pred= autocannon, heavy bolter sponsons), all lascannons (trilas-TL lascannon, lascannon sponsons), and autolas (autocannon, lascannon sponsons).  For some reason you just don't see TL lascannon, heavy bolter sponsons.  Probably because it doesn't truly make sense.  The lascannon has low rate of fire and an extremely long range while the heavy bolters have higher rate of fire and shorter range.  They also have less S and thus can't pen armor like a lascannon.  The other variants seem to be better pairings of weapons. 

from tabletop-archetype.blogspot.com
When I first started playing 40k, I quickly learned a rule called, "1 is none, 2 is one."  Basically, it means that if you take only one of a unit, it becomes a target and is easily dealt with.  If you take two or more, it is harder to eliminate the overall threat.  This principle is huge when it comes to ranged support in the form of a tank.  If you are going to take one, you have to take two just to insure that they can fire. A single tank is easily dealt with.  Predators are a great example of this.  So, if you want to take one, you need at least two.  This eats into your important heavy slots.  I am also of the opinion that if you take one, you might as well go ahead and fill all of the slots with the same thing.  It builds in redundancy and it spreads the threat even more so.  One of the reasons taking whirlwinds isn't great is because you generally only want 1 which makes it a target.  Preds are viable in triplets.  At 85pt. for a dakka pred, they don't take up too much space in your army either.  However, they can be shaken and stunned or just outright destroyed with a lucky shot. 

Moving on brings us to the next and last tank, the vindicator.  Vindicators are hilarious in that they have a nasty reputation for the very little they do.  With a max range of 24" they are hard pressed as they have to come into range of most guns to be effective.  Again this is where taking triplets or at least two other AV13 tanks helps a lot.  That said, when a vindicator is on target and nasty, it causes horrendous casualties and can even do a good job of popping tanks due to it's S10 shot and ordinance rules.  It's big weakness is that it is useless if you roll on the damage chart most times.  Any turn it is shaken or stunned it is useless.  If it is immobilized outside of range it is useless.  If it suffers a weapon destroyed result it is useless and of course if it is wrecked or explodes it is useless.  So, I would consider vindicators a big risk, big reward vehicles.  I generally only see them taken in threes in armies as they are too easily dealt with on their own. 
That leaves us with Long Fangs, the one unique unit of the Space Wolf heavy slots.  Long Fangs have the reputation for being one of the best heavy support options in the game.  Why?  Diversity, added abilities, and cost efficiency to name a few reasons. I have gone over this before, but Long Fangs are devestators, but run cheaper, can do more and defend themselves better than most devestator units.  Of interest, Long Fangs can be taken in units as small as 1 heavy weapon and 1 pack leader.  What makes them cool though is that they can take a maximum of 5 heavy weapons, which isn't repeated anywhere.  The majority of devestator type units can only take 4 max heavy weapons.  Long Fangs are also cheap.  They can take a unit of 5 with 4 missile launchers for a cheap 115 points.  This is amazing as you can fit 12 missile launchers that can fire on 6 targets into your army for 345 points.  That is solid.  Finally, Long Fangs have counter attack so they aren't too shabby in a fight against light squads.  Don't expect them to do wonders though.  If you couple them with a Wolf Guard pack leader in terminator armor with a cyclone missile launcher, they put out even more ranged punch and are scarier in combat.  The beauty I find in Long Fangs as well as other devestator units is that they can better use terrain for cover and can't be stunned or shaken like a tank. 

courtesy of GW
Now you will notice that I only mentioned missile launcher Long Fangs due to their cost efficiency.  The beauty of Long fangs is that they can fire at two targets when they have a pack leader (which they come with).  This means that you can take two sets of weapons and split them to provide a more diverse threat. 

The bottom line is that Long Fangs are a bit more versatile and cheaper for the type of arsenal they carry.  They don't suffer the pitfalls that tanks do such as being shaken or stunned.  They can spread their fire across multiple targets as well which ultimately makes them scary to mech armies.  I love taking three units to fill my heavy slots. 

There are your heavy slots.  The vehicles are all the same as your standard marine fare.  Land Raiders are not currently making the rounds with the overall metagame being what it is.  However, when they are fielded, they are generally a means to get a meaty combat unit across the board and into your opponents' lines.  Whirlwinds suffer from low AV, but can hide and shoot barrage, large blast templates around the table of which one style of template can ignore cover with AP5.  They are also cheap, but you generally only want to take a single one and that makes it an easy target.  Preds and vindicators are the more commonly taken tank and they generally need to fill up your heavy slots in order to be useful as if you take just a single tank, it will be prioritized and dealt with quickly.  Of these tanks, you generally only see the dakka pred, trilas, or vindicators on the fields.  They can put up a nice AV13 wall for transports and infantry though your preds generally don't want to move to make full use of their armament.  Finally, we have Long Fangs.  The hands-down, most used choice in the Space Wolf heavy slots.  They can fire at multiple targets, take cheap heavy weapons and take one more heavy weapon max that most other heavy weapon units in the game. They generally are a better form of devestator.  Most Space Wolf armies you see take three units of Long Fangs in their armies. 

That wraps up our Codex Review for the Space Wolf codex.  I hope I touched on everything, at least a little bit.  Thanks for all of the great comments.  They have provided me with a lot of thought and really helped to refine how I look at Space Wolves.  Feel free to look back over the articles and comments and add your own as well.

Other Space Wolf articles:
Codex Review: Space Wolf Wolf Lord and Battle Leader
Wolves take on the greater good
Puppy Pics

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1 comment:

Student Teacher said...

A couple of comments to add to this great article (and great series).

First, one of the reasons you pretty much only see Long Fangs is that Space Wolves get boned when it comes to Land Raiders. First they cannot be taking as a dedicated transport as they can with the Blood Angles, second is that the carrying capacity is nerfed for Space Wolves. Add these two together and it makes my three Space Wolf Land Raiders (yes, I'm THAT guy) very sad pandas (wolf pandas).

Another thing I'd like to point out is about Long Fangs is the fact that we can only ever take at most 6 dudes (seven if you throw in a Wolf Guard) so we don't have the ablative wounds that the rest of the space marines have. That means as soon as you start taking casualties, you have to start making some hard decisions. Do you lose the ability to split fire, or do you start losing long range firepower. Personally I drop the squad leader as he isn't there for Leadership, and my dice usually suck enough that I throw the entire squad at a single target.

Just my $0.02

Keep up the good work.

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