25 Jan 2015

Space Wolves - Unit Overview Part V

Hello there everyone and welcome to the fifth and final addition to my Space Wolf Unit Overview series! This set of miniature reviews is designed to compress my thoughts and competitive rating of each unit in a codex so that I can cover the more recent releases without falling even further behind than I already have. So far, I've been displeased with the rate at which I put out articles but I guess I'm satisfied when it comes to the content; as long as I get back on track before another new rule-set comes out, I'll be one happy war-gamer. In this last Space Wolf oriented article for a while at least, I have elected to cover the Lords of War, Formations, Relics of the Fang and Warlord Traits; I hope you find my random musings either entertaining or helpful!

Lords of War

Logan Grimnar - Comparing the Old Wolf to his prior incarnation reveals some interesting advantages and disadvantages, though generally I feel Logan has generally remained about the same in terms of overall effectiveness despite all the changes. First off, his profile has now been brought more in line with a Chapter Master as he now has 4 Wounds rather than a "paltry" 3 Wounds, though he still retains his unique 5 base Attacks. His special rules and equipment are mostly the same with a few notable exceptions that are most noticeable in terms of what he lost in the transition to the new codex. For starters, Logan's Frost Blade profile of the two profiles for the Axe Morkai now provides a greater Strength boost than it previously did, though as before you will often find the Power Fist profile to be of greater use overall because of the greater Strength bonus and AP2. He also allows friendly Space Wolf units within 12" to re-roll failed Morale and Pinning tests per his Warlord Trait rather than just specifically Morale tests in 6" like his old version, but otherwise he no longer provides a single useful special rule to himself and his unit per turn and nor does he dole out a bonus Attack to all friendly units within 18" once per game.

He lacks anti-psyker capabilities and the ability to always hit opponents on a 3+ in combat with the removal of both the Wolftail Talisman and Wolftooth Necklace from the new codex, but as compensation his points cost has been reduced by 25 points. He is also now a Lord of War and thus can still be your Warlord but cannot fill your mandatory HQ slot(s) in a Combined Arms detachment or the Wolves Unleashed detachment, further reducing his value - especially as generic Imperial Lords of War are well worth using that slot for when not playing with an Unbound list! While the extra Attack definitely isn't as useful now as it would have been in 5th Edition, losing that and all the other bonuses to instead gain an extra Wound and allow your units to stick around more reliably is arguably a bad trade for the Old Wolf. While he's not strictly as good a unit-buffer or damage-dealer as he was, he is even more difficult to kill with the extra Wound and the optional Stormrider mount. What sways me into saying Logan is about as good, if not better than his previous incarnation is ironically his much maligned "space chariot" Stormrider as the benefits it provides for such a durable character are just insane, even if it does raise his total points cost to 45 points higher than his 5th Edition codex form. I feel that Logan is less worthwhile on his own merits because of all the "losses" he suffered, but this is mostly negated by the extra Wound and price reduction and entirely turned on its head once Stormrider is accounted for.

Stormrider - Though this is technically part of Logan Grimnar's unit entry and is effectively a Dedicated Transport for him, I felt Stormrider deserved its own mini-review seeing as the new Logan Grimnar model is mounted atop it anyway. Given how amazing chariots are in 7th Edition - especially if the rider is survivable on his own merits which Logan Grimnar definitely qualifies as - and that most competitive Space Wolf lists tend to be extremely aggressive in nature as befits their fierce Primarch, paying the listed points cost for Stormrider considering its' base profile is reason enough to include it. That it treats penetrating hits as glancing hits, has a 4+ invulnerable save and moves 12" in the Movement Phase make it a hugely worthwhile option for the Old Wolf. That you can choose whether most hits are resolved against either Logan or Stormrider as necessary ensures they make for one hilariously durable pair, especially seeing as Logan has 4 Wounds and a 2+ armour save. Stormrider also provides a massive boost to Logan's combat capabilities even before considering the increased movement speed, with D6 Strength 6 AP- Hammer of Wrath hits on the charge as well as 4 Strength 5 AP- Rending Attacks at Initiative 5 that use his Weapon Skill value; these are made in each Assault Phase rather than just on the charge. If you want Logan to lead a more mobile force or don't have a suitable unit for him to join, Stormrider is a great option at well under 100 points and well worth considering.

Formations and Unique Detachments

The Wolves Unleashed Detachment - While this detachment uses an almost identical Force Organization chart to a standard Combined Arms detachment in terms of units, the focus is definitely on characters as it not only has 2 compulsory HQ slots, but a whopping 4 optional HQ slots as well. It provides the Warlord with a re-roll on the Space Wolf Warlord Traits table if the detachment is your Primary Detachment - a more specific buff than the similar effect provided by a Combined Arms detachment - that also provides a random chance for each unit in the detachment to gain the Outflank special rule. While this bonus is more likely to work for Troops choices than for the others with the +2 modifier to the result of each dice roll, ultimately I find it to be a questionable benefit because it is just far too unreliable and random to really make up for the loss of Objective Secured. It just seems like a token method of trying to justify the army-wide Acute Senses even though the vast majority of units in the army can't Outflank at all; heck, many Space Wolf units would prefer to just enter from Reserves, Deep Strike or deploy normally anyway. Unless you have a specific plan in mind with the utterly unreliable Outflank addition or the 6 HQ slots which I find completely unnecessary anyway, Space Wolf armies are far better served sticking to Combined Arms detachments - especially when they are taken as the Primary Detachment. Of course, if you have either of the Space Wolf Flyers in abundance then the automatic success for one Reserve roll per turn after the first can help to ensure you get them on quicker, but like the other benefits I feel it doesn't really justify taking this Detachment over the standard rulebook variations.

Great Company Formation - Sharing the exact same benefits as the Wolves Unleashed Detachment but coming with more specific unit requirements as befits its status as a Formation rather than a proper Detachment, the emphasis of the Great Company is squarely on Troops choices - forcing you to take a minimum of five Troops choices via squads of Grey Hunters. Throw in a mandatory unit of Wolf Scouts and up to three Blood Claw squads of any type as well as the Wolf Guard Battle Leader and distinct Wolf Guard regiment, and this certainly makes for a plethora of infantry that all but high points games simply don't require. Many of the units are just unnecessary even if most will likely pop up in your list in reduced numbers, though admittedly providing both Fear and Furious Charge to each included squad does make it a more enticing option than the Wolves Unleashed Detachment. If your regular army list fields a similar wealth of infantry then the Great Company Formation is easily worth it, but otherwise I feel a standard Space Wolf list should probably just stick with the standard Combined Arms detachment and other Formations.

Relics of the Fang

The Armour of Russ - If you are designing a character to dominate in challenges then the Armour of Russ is definitely a Wolf Lord's best friend, even if it might be better served on another character. When considering that a Wolf Lord already has a 4+ invulnerable save from his Belt of Russ, you essentially pay 15 points to impose a massive Initiative penalty on your opponents in a challenge if you don't opt for Runic Armour instead. Whether it is really worth it or not on a Wolf Lord seeing as he should win most challenges anyway is questionable, though oddly enough the Armour of Russ seems tailor-made for Wolf Guard Battle Leaders. They don't come stock with a 2+ armour save or invulnerable save and thus he pays a mere 10 points over Runic Armour for a greatly improved invulnerable save and the Initiative penalty inflicted on opponents in a challenge. Put them on a Thunderwolf with the Armour of Russ and they become a very frightening and survivable lesser Wolf Lord equivalent. This is a good piece of kit for sure as most scary characters in a combat are Initiative 5 or higher, while the -5 penalty means that even Initiative 10 opponents will strike at the same time as your own character; just be aware that you might be better served taking one of the other Relics on a Wolf Lord that wastes the 4+ invulnerable save provided by the Armour of Russ.

The Bite of Fenris - A modified bolter with two profiles, the Bite of Fenris is an inexpensive way to add Helfrost into a Space Wolf army while doubling as a decent anti-infantry tool for clearing out units in cover. While its Rapid Fire profile means it is somewhat wasted on melee-oriented characters that lack the Relentless special rule, it is perfect for Runepriests, Iron Priests and so on. While it is unlikely to really do anything of particular note in a game, the fact that it is so cheap is what makes it a nice addition to almost any character - even a melee character will often shoot it a few times before charging, so there is some inherent value in taking it just about anywhere.

Black Death - Effectively an enhanced Frost Axe packing an additional special rule at the cost of a handful of points, the Black Death is the perfect melee weapon for a character that aims to survive behind 2+ armour and 3+ invulnerable saves while dishing out unbelievable amounts of damage. Combine this with a Thunderwolf for maximum devastation and mobility, annihilating entire units of 2+ armoured enemies with pitiful ease due to the plethora of Strength 7 AP2 Unwieldy attacks. If you ever consider taking a Frost Axe on one of your characters, pay the extra few points for the Black Death instead as the bonus 3 Attacks when out-numbered are easily worth the extra 5 points; the only exception to this rule is a Terminator Armoured character seeing as they get a huge discount on Frost Axes but not the Black Death.

Helm of Durfast - This is a very nice item for any kind of damage-dealing Space Wolf character as the re-rolls on To-Hit rolls apply to both Shooting and Melee attacks, maximising the bearers' combat capabilities. Seeing as each Space Wolf character can only choose a single Relic of the Fang, determining which benefits a challenge-oriented Wolf Lord best is quite important seeing as Thunderwolf mounts make such characters incredibly potent for their cost. The Helm is arguably your best bet seeing as a simple Thunder Hammer is almost as good as the Black Death in terms of overall damage output, especially when you have the re-rolls to hit and Concussive instead of the bonus attacks. Of course, a Helm of Durfast build plus an optional melee weapon will usually prove more expensive, especially if you make use of the fact that any ranged attacks made with the Helm also have Ignores Cover.

Fangsword of the Ice Wolf - Just like the Black Death before it, the Fangsword is an improved Frost Wolf that provides the same basic benefits with a single unique bonus at the cost of a few extra points; in this case, Helfrost is the main attraction. The new special rule unique to various Space Wolf weapons is pretty darned nasty for the most part, enforcing characteristic tests with the penalty for failure seeing the affected model being removed from play entirely. That the Fangsword is Rending as well allows the bearer to fight 2+ armoured enemies or even vehicles to a certain extent, though if you take a Thunderwolf mount you will get this nice extra anyway as well as well as another +1 Strength bonus. A mess of Strength 6 AP3 Rending attacks striking at Initiative is perfect for allowing even Wolf Guard Battle Leaders to tear through regular enemies like a blender, though I feel the Black Death is still the superior option of the two weapons because of the extra attacks, guaranteed AP2 and improved Strength bonus it provides for the same points cost. Helfrost functions only against multiple wound models and such opponents usually have good or high Strength values anyway, meaning the Black Death's extra attacks make it better for clearing enemy units and characters outside of perhaps those crazily survivable Strength 4 Space Marine characters. After all, Strength 3 characters are usually Toughness 3 as well and thus will suffer Instant Death from Strength 6 attacks anyway, unless they are among the rare few that possess Eternal Warrior such as the Phoenix Lords.

The Wulfen Stone - As the most expensive Relic of the Fang, the Wulfen Stone is the sole option that provides benefits to the bearer's unit rather than just the wielder exclusively. Not only does it give whomever wields it the Rage special rule and thus an extra bonus attack on the charge, but it also provides both him and his unit with the Furious Charge special rule. This is obviously suited more for a Wolf Lord or Wolf Priest that joins a unit of Blood Claw equivalents or Thunderwolf Cavalry to maximise the number of attacks those units dish out, rather than sitting in a more defensively oriented unit. I'm a fan of the Wulfen Stone even though one can reasonably argue that it might be a bit too expensive for what it provides, but to those claims I say that it is more efficient than any of the other Relics when you put the upgraded character in a larger unit of Blood Claws leaping out of a Stormwolf - that many Strength 5 attacks on the charge will wreck almost anything! Ultimately, it depends on where you want to place your character and whether or not you want them to be as terrifying as possible in combat.

Warlord Traits

1) Saga of the Warrior Born - Designed specifically for a Wolf Lord built as a combat monster - ideally with the Black Death - that provides one of the main benefits of the Helm of Durfast for free. This is especially nice in 7th Edition seeing as unsaved wounds can spill over out of a challenge, something that a tooled up Wolf Lord will likely accomplish!

2) Saga of the Wolfkin - If you have numerous Fenrisian Wolf or Thunderwolf units and your Warlord is mounted on a Thunderwolf, then this Warlord Trait is certainly very handy even if the latter of those two squads has little real need for Stubborn seeing as it almost never loses in combat. On the other hand, the Furious Charge bonus is extremely good for either of the two units and justifies keeping this Warlord Trait.

3) Saga of the Beastslayer - Where the Saga of the Warrior Born is a specific benefit just for the Warlord, this is a great benefit for a unit and rolling it up while also lacking a Wolf Priest gives you a great reason to field your Warlord with any of your heavy ranged units such as Long Fangs.

4) Saga of the Bear - A nice little defensive bonus for a unit that also works for any Warlord that doesn't happen to be a Wolf Priest or Ulrik, the Saga of the Bear isn't as nice a defensive boost as army-wide Stealth in Ruins but it is handy nonetheless.

5) Saga of the Hunter - One of only a few ways to generate Outflank in a Space Wolf army, that it provides Stealth to the Warlord and thus his unit is probably the more generally useful aspect of it. Outflanking even one character or unit gives you some nice tactical options but you will often find you don't have much use for it.

6) Saga of Majesty - One of the better Warlord Traits in the codex because it is useful for every unit in the army rather than providing a specific or limited boost, it is very useful solely for helping to ensure your forces will remain under your control throughout the game. It essentially means you are far less likely to flee from combat, unwillingly Go To Ground or run of the table at a bad moment.

Overall, the Space Wolf Warlord Traits are fairly decent but I feel they are less impressive for a Space Wolf army specifically than, say, the Ork traits are for Orks and so on. A few of the benefits can be had just with army specific wargear or certain characters, while the widely available Command and Strategic Traits are still better for Space Wolves overall.

Thank you for reading the closing article on my shortened Space Wolf Unit Overview series! I hope you enjoyed this miniature set of reviews and look forward to hearing your feedback on whether or not you prefer this kind of content as opposed to my more detailed and time-consuming works. Please have a lovely day and be sure to leave a comment detailing any critiques you may have for me; thanks again!


  1. Thanks for taking the time to do these. They've been great.

    Wolves are great and even though a bit simpler/blander than previous codexes, they still have a good amount of wolfy flavour and fun.

    Are you planning on doing a Champs of Fenris review too? An all-WG or all-Dreads army is pretty cool, even if others might do it a little better (Deathwing and Iron Hands).

    1. Hey mate, cheers for the feedback!

      I'll have to look through my bookcase but I don't think I own any of the 7th Edition codex supplements unfortunately, I may be wrong though!

  2. "Fangsword of the Ice Wolf" sounds like a prog-metal track, one of those ones that's seven minutes of guitar riffs while the bass does the same three-note progression over and over, with the drummer whacking his ride cymbal with a rolled-up magazine.