5 Jan 2015

Space Wolves - Unit Overview Part II

Greetings my fellow Scions of Fenris and welcome to the second part of my Space Wolf Unit Overview series! I'll be reviewing all of the Troops and Elites choices in this article, sections that include some of the most crucial units in the codex for several editions running. I hope you enjoy my work and find something of use here!



Troops

Blood Claws - While I'm sure most Space Wolf players will still place their faith in Grey Hunters as the staple Troops choice of the codex, those who have favoured Blood Claws in the past have finally reaped the benefits with the latest codex. Blood Claws are now the cheapest Space Marines - Loyalist or Traitor - in a Warhammer 40,000 codex (not including the Horus Heresy) and while they generally aren't quite as valuable a unit as regular Grey Hunters are, they are easily the superior close combat unit with the changes to the latter unit in the new army book. If you want to play an aggressive Space Wolves list with the exclusive flyers, Drop Pods, Thunderwolf Cavalry and so on but still want some nasty Objective Secured units to fill your mandatory Troops slots in a Combined Arms detachment, Blood Claws easily outshine Grey Hunters as they are naturally suited to close combat. Each Blood Claw has 2 Attacks base due to their paired close combat weapons, while each also benefits from both Counter-Attack and Rage, meaning they will usually have either 3 or 4 Attacks per model in the first round of a combat at Strength 4.

While their Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill are middling, the difference between Weapon Skill 4 and Weapon Skill 3 is only really apparent when facing other Space Marines or Weapon Skill 7 opponents, and even then it isn't that much of a downside considering the low price per model of Blood Claws. They exchange their boltguns for chainswords which makes them a dedicated close combat unit - and a decent one too - that thankfully still carries the standard Imperial frag and krak grenades; if you want a fire-base in your Troops slots, look to Grey Hunters instead as that is not what Blood Claws are designed for. The fact that they have seen a significant reduction in points cost per model while also losing their debilitating Headstrong special rule makes them an ideal Troops choice in a fast-paced, aggressive Space Wolf army; a unit that has improved immensely from its almost useless previous incarnation. It is a good thing that Space Wolves have some excellent, cheap transports that can deliver their many powerful melee units as Blood Claws would likely find themselves without a good role otherwise. Regardless, they are a good unit to put a few special weapons and combi-weapons on as they are so darned cheap compared to most other alternatives.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? Yes.

Lukas the Trickster - As one of the quirkier and more infamous characters in any codex, many expected Lukas to undergo some serious changes with the new codex - fortunately, this hasn't really been the case. The profile is still the same and closely mirrors that of a Wolf Guard Battle Leader, while he still wields both a Plasma Pistol and Wolf Claw in either hand giving him some decent ranged punch and a host of Strength 5 AP3 attacks with the Shred special rule on the charge. He unusually lacks Rage despite being tied irrevocably to the inexperienced Blood Claws, while he still prevents himself and any Blood Claw unit he joins - note that they are the only squads he is permitted to join at all - from using a Leadership value higher than eight for any and all tests. The most interesting aspect to Lukas is that he is still the terrifying character he was in 5th Edition in the sense that killing him with one of your own important models can lead to its' amusing death, though his abilities are now primarily catered around doing this in a challenge. This means that Lukas no longer affects every model in base contact with him but rather just a model he fights in a challenge; as a reasonably cheap character that is already adequately priced compared to a Wolf Guard Battle Leader, he will easily beat most sergeant-type enemies and can put up a fight even against the tougher foes.

In the off-chance that he loses a challenge against someone that is probably quite a bit more expensive than he, you are just as likely to kill the model that did the deed as leave that model in the hands of a player thanking the dice gods for their mercy. The fact that Lukas has a reputation for destroying Titans and other Lords of War or equivalently-priced models - even if his "range" is much more limited now - means enemies are still likely to avoid him as best they can, allowing you to dictate which combats Lukas enters. Try to issue a challenge with Lukas in each round of combat, daring your opponent to send out one of their more important characters to face him; as I mentioned previously, sergeants lacking a 2+ armour save are but a nuisance to Lukas with his Wolf Claw and good base stats, and in 7th Edition wounds from a challenge spill over into the larger combat. Another useful trick up Lukas' sleeve is that any enemy he fights in a challenge suffers a -3 penalty to their Weapon Skill value, often resulting in the opponent hitting Lukas on 5s while maximising his own damage output. In theory, this means Lukas will never need worse than a 4+ to hit an opponent, while an opponent will have to be Weapon Skill 9 to guarantee hitting Lukas on a 3+. That he lost both his Wolftail Talisman and Wolftooth Necklace is disappointing but generally not too much of an issue seeing as his Relic of the Fang will see him hit any opponent with Weapon Skill 7 or lower in a challenge on a 3+ anyway.

Seeing as he only has 2 Wounds with Toughness 4 behind his 3+ armour save, making full use of his status as an Independent Character with Look Out Sir rolls is essential as he will rarely survive return attacks from any decent opposition - but then, that is what you want, is it not? While forcing enemies to re-roll successful to-hit rolls against him was definitely a superior aspect of the 5th Edition version and restricting his "The Last Laugh" special rule to challenges does limit him somewhat, I find that challenges - especially in 7th Edition - still allow him to ply his trade better than ever as there is now no chance of Lukas killing your own models when he dies. Besides, you generally wanted him to take out an important character anyway which is why challenges may as well have been purpose-built for Lukas; the enemy either has to decline and lose all of their attacks, or accept and risk being removed from play regardless of how well they perform against the Trickster. For 60 points less than his previous incarnation, I find Lukas to be a fun and interesting choice that now has some merit in a competitive list featuring Blood Claws; just be aware that not every army runs a character worth sending Lukas at, though he generally will make his points back in a hurry if he reaches combat regardless. Still, the fact that he doesn't take up a slot - meaning he can't be your mandatory HQ choice - and doesn't provide any proper support abilities coupled with the reality that his "Last Laugh" ability is incredibly random don't really lend Lukas to a standard competitive Space Wolf force. I'm a big fan of Lukas but that you are generally better off spending those same points on a Wolf Priest or Rune Priest, as he also suffers some of the same issues that I discussed with the Wolf Guard Battle Leader in that while he may get the "Last Laugh", dedicated combat characters will nonetheless wipe the floor with him.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? No.

Grey Hunters - Once considered the most valuable Space Marine Tactical Squad equivalent in the game, Grey Hunters deservedly saw a few tweaks to reduce their inherent value and bring them in line with other 6th Edition and 7th Edition Adeptus Astartes codices. While they are quite distinct from Tactical Squads in a few ways, they nonetheless share the same meat and soul; the basic profile of a Space Marine is there with 4s across the board, while each member of the unit carries a Boltgun in addition to the usual frag and krak grenades. Priced identically to Tactical Marines in the parent Codex: Space Marines, Space Wolves' native "Chapter Tactics" manifest as two special rules; Acute Senses and Counter-Attack, both of which are decent but often situational. Space Wolves lack the consistent means to provide Outflank to the majority of their units which renders Acute Senses worthless in many cases, while Counter-Attack is only good when facing enemies in a midfield slog that actually back themselves to beat Space Marines in combat or at least tie them up. This is obviously part of what previously made Grey Hunters ideal as Space Marines are traditionally an army that operates in the midfield, trading blows with the enemy by utilizing their tougher, generalist forces to their fullest advantage.


In the more assault-oriented 5th Edition where kill points where usually the name of the game, Grey Hunters were the perfect Troops choice as they would beat most other scoring units and even some dedicated melee units in combat while punishing them from close range with their shooting attacks. With 6th Edition and 7th Edition prioritizing objectives and shooting more than anything else, Grey Hunters lost some of their lustre despite remaining the most efficient and useful Tactical Squad equivalent. While the loss of a "free" special weapon does hurt quite a bit, it serves to bring Grey Hunters in line with other Space Marines and ranks as a deserved change; the ability to take two special weapons means Grey Hunters are still far better than regular Tactical Squads as they can actually specialize for certain targets while not losing out on their boltguns just to fire a single heavy weapon. They can also take a Plasma Pistol or upgraded melee weapon on regular soldiers in the squad rather than restricting those upgrades to the Wolf Guard or Sergeant, allowing them to dish out more potential damage than other similar units without forcing the extra wargear on one vulnerable character model. The Pack Leader can even provide the unit with a Combi-Weapon to effectively give them three of the same special weapon type, allowing them to maximise their damage output against their preferred targets. With the widely available Drop Pods in the codex, taking a unit of ten Grey Hunters armed with two Meltaguns, Flamers or Plasma Guns with the Combi-Weapon to match is ideal and mixes well with their innate Counter-Attack, making them excellent options for an alpha strike.

These are traits which few other Space Marine Troops choices are capable of reproducing without investing far more heavily into them, though it must be said that Grey Hunters definitely haven't had the most pleasant transition to the new codex. The loss of the Mark of the Wulfen, free special weapon, in-built close combat weapon and changes to Acute Senses - it used to be an alternative name for Night Vision in 5th Edition - sees that the unit got more expensive for the same or less overall output in the vast majority of potential builds while having some of their unique upgrade options stripped out. I feel it is fair that Grey Hunters need to pay a few points per model for the close combat weapon as otherwise they would just be far too good compared to Tactical Marines, but it doesn't change the fact that the unit is objectively worse than it was. Keep in mind that the 1 point per model price drop doesn't make up for the more expensive, paid-for weapon upgrades; the only time this unit is cheaper than it was is if you run them naked with no upgrades whatsoever, but then you may as well just field Blood Claws who have a clearer purpose anyway. The unit as a whole is still good and will probably be the primary Troops choice for most Space Wolf players, especially with the way scoring in 7th Edition works and how good Troops choices are in a Combined Arms detachment, but to say they got better is a falsehood in my opinion.
Change? Weaker.
Competitive? Yes. 

Summary!
Blood Claws and Lukas the Trickster both improved heavily in their latest codex incarnations, though the latter is probably still one to skip in a competitive list as there are better character options throughout the codex. Grey Hunters remain the kings of the midfield they always were, though they have (literally) paid for this in the new codex.


Elites

Iron Priest - Maintaining the Space Wolf legacy of creating fancy names for ultimately identical characters to their more codex-adherent fellow Chapters, Iron Priests are the Techmarines of the codex and perform the role of repairmen quite well. While they are slightly more expensive than your regular Techmarine from Codex: Space Marines, this is justified by the fact that they have a 6+ invulnerable save and a Thunder Hammer in their basic equipment, making them far more valuable on their own than all but the Iron Hands equivalent. The downside here is that Iron Priests actually do use up a Force Organization slot whereas Techmarines don't, while the lack of the oft important cover boost to any one terrain piece hurts a lot for (admittedly rarer) static Space Wolf lists. They are a semi-reliable means of restoring hull points and repairing damage results on vehicles while providing a few Strength 8 AP2 Unwieldy attacks via their Thunder Hammer or Servo-Arm, while their 2+ armour save and Independent Character status gives them good survivability provided they join a decently-sized unit. That they are capable of being mounted on any one of a Bike or Thunderwolf turns them into melee-oriented Master of the Forge equivalents - particularly the more expensive latter mount option - at a lower price that can then easily keep up with your advancing tanks.

Alternatively, a cheap Iron Priest with a few Servitors as "buddies" can hide in a Land Raider or walk up behind a tank such as a Predator or Vindicator, seeing as the latter two vehicles in particular will rarely move more than 6" a turn while the former provides them with an (expensive) frame for them to work their mechanical expertise. The optional Cyberwolves effectively act as discount Grey Hunter Wolf Guard Battle Pack Leaders, providing four Strength 4 attacks on the charge at Weapon Skill 4 and Initiative 4. The fact that they "only" have a 4+ armour save and are more expensive than actual Grey Hunters means they generally aren't worth it for anything other than a mobile Iron Priest mounted on a Thunderwolf as feral bodyguards that are decent in an assault at a low price. As for comparisons to the previous codex, the Iron Priest himself is slightly more expensive but this is justified by repair rolls being more important than ever in an edition where vehicles effectively have wound counters. Seeing as Iron Priests and Techmarines are usually mounted so that they can keep up with your mobile vehicles, the large point decrease for the Bike and slight increase but general improvement to the Thunderwolf make him a better overall purchase for different kinds of Space Wolf lists featuring numerous tanks or one of the new flyers.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? Yes.

Servitors - As one of the more unusual units in the codex that hasn't changed at all since I last reviewed them in Codex: Space Marines, I'll keep this blissfully short by saying that Servitors are the best models for maximising your chances of an Iron Priest successfully repairing a vehicle each turn, but are generally unnecessary otherwise. You can give them heavy weapons - of which they pay more for a Heavy Bolter than they did in the previous Space Wolf codex - to turn them into discount Long Fangs, but generally you want your repairmen hiding with the Iron Priest by advancing up behind a vehicle or remaining stationary in its rear arc to safely repair the tank of choice. Leave these bare and attach a Wolf Priest to them so that they don't get stuffed over by their newly introduced (for Space Wolf Servitors anyway) Mindlock special rule. With no other real changes to speak of other than the greater importance of repairing vehicles in 7th Edition, I guess I would label them as slightly weaker than they were, but with the note that they have barely changed at all in that sense. I'm a firm believer in mounted Iron Priests but seeing as they don't have the Iron Hands' bonus to repair rolls, they will usually only successfully repair a vehicle twice in an standard six-turn game assuming average rolls. This gives Servitors a place despite being fairly mediocre on their own, though they are at least a fun unit to keep inside a transport to keep it running at optimal efficiency if there is no better squad to place inside that transport.
Change? Weaker.
Competitive? Yes.

Wolf Scouts - This unit often confuses me as to whether it really improved or not in the latest codex as ultimately this will depend on your perspective of how Wolf Scouts should be employed tactically. The squad is strictly worse when Outflanking with no option to appear on the opponent's table edge which was generally considered their main draw, but to compensate the cost of the unit has decreased by a point per model while many of their options are cheaper as well. If you are a fan of Sniper Scouts then the new variation on Wolf Scouts definitely has the upper hand on the old codex, dropping a significant three points per model when upgraded as such. The unit can now also take Camo Cloaks which, when combined with Sniper Rifles, make them similar in price to classic Tactical Marines from 5th Edition codices. If you don't want to use the squad in an Outflanking role then they are now better in almost every way. Ultimately, however, Wolf Scouts are mostly very similar to regular Scouts and essentially pay a few points per model solely for a boost to both Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill. The innate Acute Senses and Counter-Attack are very helpful as a "Chapter Tactic" for aggressive builds, particularly those that Outflank, but otherwise this is a Troops choice turned Elites choice - which is a pretty big trait to miss out on with Objective Secured - that arguably doesn't receive enough tangible boosts to justify that change.


Still, they are a respectable unit that can ply their trade at range or in combat well enough but one should understand that they only worth it over identically priced Grey Hunters - or cheaper Blood Claws - if you make full use of their innate mobility via the Infiltrate, Move Through Cover and Scout special rules. You never need to bother with a transport for Wolf Scouts which gives them an important advantage over other Infantry choices, but at the same time you do need to consider their inability to get more than one Special or Heavy weapon in a unit - unless you count a Combi Weapon - does limit their uses. The fact that they cannot take a Locator Beacon or Teleport Homer like regular Scouts also limits their usefulness when paired up with friendly Reserves, while their role can generally be filled by Objective Secured Blood Claws or Grey Hunters in Drop Pods anyway. In a perfect world for Wolf Scouts, Drop Pods wouldn't exist and invalidate their biggest advantage over all the many Infantry squads in the codex, and with that in mind I would say they are decent on their own merits but ultimately a bit too limiting in regards to the generally superior Troops choices. The lack of a Land Speeder Storm in the codex is also a blow to their competitive chances as it is such a useful and fast transport in the hands of any scoring unit, particularly ones usually suited to close quarters fighting.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? No.

Lone Wolf - While many Space Wolf players swore by these in the 5th Edition codex more for their slick rules and nasty anti-vehicular capabilities on a cheap, sacrificial model, Lone Wolves are likely to be a bit more restricted to themed lists in 7th Edition for a few reasons. Chief among these are the inability to take both a Chainfist and Storm Shield for optimal vehicle-hunting capabilities, the removal of their awesome Beastslayer rule to instead be replaced by the far more limiting but still handy Monster Hunter special rule and the inability to be scoring in a 7th Edition context. The idea behind a Lone Wolf is solid but the fact that he can't score in an edition that is more about objectives than ever before limits his competitive uses, especially as he is nowhere near as good at destroying tanks as he used to be in an arena where doing so is very important, what with Titans and Super Heavies running around in standard matches. AP2 shooting and massed quantities of ranged attacks are in vogue with 7th Edition, serving as an indirect reduction in the Lone Wolf's survivability. Still, the Lone Wolf is cheaper in most configurations than he used to be; while Terminator Armour is slightly more expensive, the weapon upgrade costs have been mostly reduced as a result of this change. Seeing as Space Wolves now have "empty" Drop Pods in the Fast Attack slot that are pretty much mandatory for a heavily Reserve-based lists to guarantee more units arrive on turn one, the low cost of a fully-equipped Lone Wolf - ideally you want Terminator Armour, a Thunder Hammer and a Storm Shield - coupled with the fact that he can solo entire squads and destroy most vehicles with ease is enough to justify his inclusion in many a Space Wolf list.
Change? Weaker.
Competitive? Yes.

Dreadnought - I've reviewed Dreadnoughts too many times to want to repeat myself once more, but the general gist of the unit has changed somewhat in 7th Edition; the most recent rule-set has been most favorable to these ancient warriors with the reduction in effectiveness of all monstrous creatures and the improvements made to the vehicle damage chart. Throw in a 10 point decrease - though technically it is 5 points as Smoke Launchers are no longer part of its' basic wargear - to the standard Dreadnought as well as reduction in price for most of the options and you have yourself a winner; the only variant that is more expensive than before is a Dreadnought armed with an Assault Cannon, though the difference is cancelled out once other upgrades are factored in. Extra Armour is cheap enough to justify once more, while building the Dreadnought as a "rifleman" or a suicidal "melta deliverer" remains as difficult a choice as always seeing as Drop Pods are just so good in 7th Edition. The removal of some unique Space Wolf wargear options does hurt, but this is made up for with access to Shred on the Dreadnought's melee attacks for a mere handful of points via the new Great Wolf Claw as well as the all-new and very deadly Helfrost Cannon.

The Venerable Dreadnought is a whopping 45 points cheaper and received a huge buff with the changes to the vehicle damage chart with the Venerable re-roll effectively ensuring it will never be subject to an Explodes result, or at least only once in a blue moon. The Venerable version also benefits from the new Fenrisian Great Axe and Blizzard Shield combination, providing it with one re-roll to hit in combat via the Master-Crafted special rule in addition to an awesome 3+ invulnerable save against all attacks directed at its' front armour value. While I'm not entirely sure this is worth the points in many cases because it eliminates all of the units' ranged capabilities while also paying greatly for a saving throw that doesn't work on the side and rear armour values, it is undeniable what such a model is capable of if it reaches an assault. In any case, this is a unit that is easily better than it used to be due to both indirect and direct buffs while it actually has a place in competitive lists now, even if only to serve as an additional tool in a Drop Pod shock list.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? Yes. 

Murderfang - If you thought Bjorn was disappointing, just wait until I compare him with the newly introduced Murderfang, an Elites choice special character that will utterly annihilate anything short of a Land Raider or similarly armoured Super Heavy in an assault. Much like Kharn the Betrayer, Murderfang sacrifices survivability for unbelievably good offensive capabilities that are definitely too good considering his points cost. The fact that Murderfang is just so much better than Bjorn and is somehow almost half the price is hugely disappointing given that the latter is one of the most revered Space Wolf warriors in their extensive history, as well as a fan favourite amongst players of the faction. About the only real issues I have with Murderfang are that he is as easily killed as a regular Dreadnought - It Will Not Die isn't all that helpful on an AV12 vehicle with three hull points - and he has little to offer in the Shooting Phase, particularly against flyers. Of course, that really is the extent of Murderfang's negative traits as he is just so insanely good considering how inexpensive he is. One of the most important aspects of a melee walker is the ability to ignore Crew Stunned results, something which Murderfang has innately - he even cancels out Crew Shaken results, though as he lacks a proper shooting attack this barely deserves a mention - meaning you can only stop him getting into combat by destroying or Immobilizing him.

Seeing as most anti-tank shooting is geared at removing hull points in massed quantities rather than relying on penetrating hits, this generally means Murderfang will usually only fail to reach combat if the opponent focuses a lot of attacks on to him; they cannot rely on "stun-locking" him. That he has access to a Drop Pod as a Dedicated Transport means you can take the inexpensive Murderfang, drop him behind enemy lines and get your points' value back instantly; either he reaches combat and destroys whatever he touches (typically), or the opponent focuses on him extensively as they are highly likely to be terrified of him. This is a tactic with similar impact to air-dropping an Abrams tank into a shanty-town, or alternatively a warrior such as Abaddon into the centre of an advancing enemy force; it can be hugely demoralizing as it presents a threat that must be dealt with immediately, allowing your army to keep moving unmolested. As for Murderfang's actual combat capabilities, all I can really say is "prepare to be amazed" as few units can reliably stand up to him without being at least twice his price at best. This is because Murderfang has an impressive five base Attacks at Strength 7 that are AP2 and re-roll failed to-wound rolls, while he also benefits from two separate re-rolls to-hit due to having a pair of Master-Crafted Murderclaws. Due to the hastily released Space Wolf FAQ, Murderfang benefits from Furious Charge and other Strength modifiers with the Murderclaws which means he will strike at Strength 8 on the charge, inflicting Instant Death on most characters and multiple-wound models while wounding the majority of units in the game on a 2+.


However, it is the number of attacks for which Murderfang has become famous; his five base due to having paired weapons are enhanced by a +2 bonus when charging due to the Rage special rule, while he receives an additional D3 in any combat in which he is outnumbered. Considering that he is a single model that can charge into nearly anything by himself and win, the chances of him benefiting from Rampage are extremely high; the net result is that Murderfang will have anywhere from eight to ten Strength 8 AP2 attacks on the charge. He will scythe through entire units at a time with hilarious ease, cut down even six-wound Monstrous Creatures without difficulty and destroy most vehicles that he manages to close distance with. That he is Weapon Skill 5 and Initiative 4 means he will strike around the same time as most enemies, while he will never need worse than a 4+ to hit enemies and instead hits rank-and-file foes on a 3+. If that wasn't enough, Murderfang can deal with infantry units outside of combat rather easily due to having both a Heavy Flamer and a Storm Bolter, even if his Ballistic Skill 3 does reduce the general effectiveness of the latter weapon. Honestly though, the Heavy Flamer is good enough as it even helps Murderfang with Overwatch while also allowing him to clear out hordes before they can even attempt to tarpit him - not that such a tactic would ever work, mind. For just 40 points more than a standard Dreadnought or 15 points more than a Venerable Dreadnought, Murderfang packs in insane value to the walker chassis while providing you with one of the best combat characters in the game in terms of raw damage output.
Competitive?

Wolf Guard - If you are considering taking Wolf Guard, ask yourself the following question; is it worth spending an extra four points per model over Grey Hunters to gain a single extra base Attack and a slightly higher Leadership value at the cost of Objective Secured in a Combined Arms detachment? In most cases, the answer would likely be a firm "no" and it bears mentioning that Wolf Guard are incapable of taking both a bolter and close combat weapon to truly capitalize on their base two Attacks. Of course, if Wolf Guard were a replica of Grey Hunters in all other aspects then they wouldn't be a distinct unit choice or have any reason to exist besides theme considerations; they have an incredible array of options, allowing them to diversify their role on the battlefield like few other units in the game. If you want to pop a tank then equipping five or seven Wolf Guard with Combi-Meltas or Meltabombs and putting them in a Drop Pod is a sure-fire way to do so, or you can pull the same trick against infantry by loading up on Combi-Flamers instead. If you want more damaging Bikers for your army then paying a mere 5 points per Wolf Guard more than Swiftclaws is a smart idea as the extra point in Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Attacks and Leadership are all actually worth the price difference in this case. While the Swiftclaws do instead have Rage and are capable of adding Attack Bikes and proper Special weapons to their arsenal, they can't match a Wolf Guard unit for sheer versatility with unit-wide Combi-Weapons and Power Weapons as a possibility if you so desire. Of course, why you would spend that many points per model on power-armoured Wolf Guard and not terminator-armoured Wolf Guard is beyond my understanding; there are very few instances where I would favour the former over the latter in the new codex.

An interesting note is that Wolf Guard can be upgraded with Jump Packs and encroach on the domain of Skyclaws, but they end up being 6 points per Wolf Guard more expensive in this case and as such aren't quite as valuable as they are with Bikes. Still, there's little to really separate Wolf Guard from Veterans in other codices aside from those above two "mount" options which replace the availability of Special or Heavy weapons, and this means that they aren't quite as worthwhile overall as their respective less experienced counter-parts. Paying more points for buffs to their melee prowess and Leadership are often not all that worthwhile except in the case of perhaps the Swiftclaws, and the comparison is quite terrible where Bloodclaws are concerned; you pay for an extra Attack at all times, even though the Bloodclaws have the same amount on the charge and are 6 points less expensive per model. More points-efficient Deep-Striking suicidal units can be had with either Grey Hunters or Skyclaws that abandon their Jump Packs for a Drop Pod, while power-armoured Wolf Guard make for a horrendously over-priced elite melee unit. As is the case with Space Marine Veterans, I feel Wolf Guard pay a bit too much for additional abilities or stats that simply aren't all that beneficial. The fact that you can no longer separate them and attach each individual Wolf Guard to a squad and provide them with cheaper Sergeant equivalents than other codices reduces the effective uses of the unit by a not insignificant margin, though based on their own merits as a squad they also got hit hard by the points increase for Combi-Weapons. While many of their other upgrades have decreased in cost - in the case of the Jump Pack and Bike, significantly so - it is no doubt that the primary reasons to field Wolf Guard are either no longer valid or not as assured as they used to be, sadly. They are still decent generalists in the Elites slot and they can perform some specific roles better than your other units, but they aren't nearly as good as they really should be.
Change? Weaker.
Competitive? No.

Wolf Guard Terminators - While their power-armoured brethren most definitely saw more negatives than positives with the new codex, Wolf Guard Terminators either improved or remained similar to their prior incarnation depending on the build. Just a few points more than a Chaos Terminators gets you better equipment choices such as the Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield in addition to special rules like And They Shall Know No Fear, Counter-Attack as well as Drop Pods for cheap transportation. Without additional equipment they are a good 7 points cheaper than other Loyalist Terminators and are not forced to take unit-wide weapon configurations, allowing you to tailor the squad to your needs and ensure they can remain a threat to any enemy. In their preferred role as efficient Combi-Weapon delivery units, Wolf Guard Terminators remain superior to standard Wolf Guard seeing as they pay half for their own Combi-Weapons as their "little brothers" do; the points differential per model between the two units when equipped as such is a mere 10 points. When you consider that Terminators get a 2+ armour save, 5+ invulnerable save, a Power Weapon, a Storm Bolter and the in-built ability to Deep Strike, it is quite obvious which unit is the most points-efficient.

Wolf Guard Terminators also fill the role of elite melee units far better than standard Wolf Guard could ever hope to; a power-armoured Wolf Guard with just a Power Weapon is the exact same price as a stock Wolf Guard Terminator and loses out on all but the Power Weapon in the list detailed prior. The only true downsides to Wolf Guard Terminators are that 2+ armour saves aren't nearly as valuable now as they used to be with massed AP2 available in almost every codex, while they end up being more expensive than other Loyalist Terminators when equipped with any of the three primary melee load-outs; paired Wolf Claws, a Power Fist and Storm Bolter, and a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield. Considering that Power Weapons are usually all the unit will need to beat most enemies in combat while you can always just sprinkle a few Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields throughout the unit as necessary anyway, this isn't much of a downside. The basic Combi-Weapon spam builds are still undeniably the best when it comes to Wolf Guard Terminators and they do it far better than any other unit in the codex. While you annoyingly can no longer take a Chainfist and Storm Shield combination - to the mass dismay of all Lone Wolf users - they pay significantly less for the patented Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield pairing, as well as two of the three Heavy gun options and many of their other melee weapons. While 2+ armour saves are more vulnerable than ever outside of combat - though the changes to Power Weapons means they are safer in combat - the fact remains that this unit either stayed the same price-wise or got cheaper with almost all of their potential builds, not to mention that they can now Deep Strike without the aid of a Drop Pod.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? Yes.

Arjac Rockfist - If you want a budget combat character that stands a good chance of beating down characters that are twice his points cost, I would probably recommend Lukas the Trickster but Arjac Rockfist is pretty darned useful as well. Having seen a huge points drop from his 5th Edition unit entry, Arjac has undergone some modest changes that don't take away too much from his cost reduction much at all. While he can no longer claim an extra Attack in the first round of a melee with his unique Storm Shield, he has gained a Strength 5 Hammer of Wrath attack; whereas Monstrous Creatures and Characters no longer provide him with re-rolls to hit, he still benefits from those re-rolls if he is fighting in a challenge. Even though his Thunder Hammer is now AP2 when thrown rather than AP1, the addition of Concussive to the ranged profile gives it greater use against Monstrous Creatures and other multiple-wound models that can manage to survive a Strength 10 AP2 blow. He still retains the Eternal Warrior and Stubborn special rules while packing in the absolute best saves available, and the fact that he is both Weapon Skill 5 and Ballistic Skill 5 makes them a very reliable attacker. The only true downside to Arjac is that he must always issue and accept challenges in a melee, but given the buff to challenges in 7th Edition this really isn't much of an issue seeing as Arjac - unlike Ragnar, for example - should beat down on the majority of foes that cross his path. Ultimately, the slight reduction in his combat effectiveness is well offset by the lovely 73 point price cut and he is yet another fine example of why you should skip a Wolf Guard Battle Leader in place of the similarly priced named alternatives. I feel that the 2 Wound character is now firmly worth his points cost as he is one of the nastier "challengers" in the game despite being less costly than most of his inferior competitors.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? Yes.


Summary!
While most of the units here did improve with Wolf Guard Terminators and the new Murderfang being the stand-outs, some did get worse through minor tweaks or some more significant changes; still, like with the HQ slot, I can't point to any unit being truly "bad". 


Thank you all for taking the time to read this second part of my Space Wolf Unit Overview! I am really excited about what Space Wolves are capable of in the competitive scene with their latest codex, a book that has hugely boosted their credentials at that level with some much needed additions and tweaks. Thank you again and I hope you have a lovely day - be sure to leave any feedback you have in the comments section below!

6 comments:

  1. did you forget about the dreadnought with the friggin storm shield?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, check the Dreadnought review mate. I talk about it for a good two sentences!

      Delete
  2. It's almost like they had two different people writing the codex, and one said "okay, they told us to scale things back a bit, so we'll nerf Bjorn a bit" and the other said "hey I have this idea for a really cool new dreadnought character, we'll make him as good as Bjorn", and then they saw what got published and were all "wait, what did you DO"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pretty much my thoughts exactly, at the very least they should have made Bjorn count as an Objective for Space Wolf players when he dies as he used to, that would have helped a bit.

      Delete
  3. Isnt it Wolf claws that Wolf Guard termies rather than lightning claws as the +1 strength might be why theyre more pricey than their codex brothers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right you are, and fixed! Cheers :)

      Delete