Saturday 9 August 2014

Codex: Space Wolves Review

 Once again a new codex has come out and it’s time for my little review of it. While I do have a space wolf army it has been a long time since it has seen the light of day, so I am hoping the new dex can stir something inside me to crack it out again. We have already seen the new dreads and fliers, but let us hope there is something else to this release.

Not that I expected anything different but this codex follows the same layout as the previous release, codex: Orks with all the units getting its own data slate. While it’s not a bad idea it does come up with some oddities, such as you can take lucas the trickster on his own as a troops choice... just odd.

The Puppies of the Pack

The major new entry into the codex is the addition of Helfrost weaponry, or rather 2 helfrost weapons. The Helfrost destructor and helfrost cannon. Both of these fire in 2 modes, a blast and a single shot, and in both cases the cannon is better, as it’s either a bigger blast or has lance on the single shot. Both have a good ap (3 or 2) and will wreck most people’s days. But the range is only 24 inches so it has to be relatively close. All of the shot have the helfrost rule, meaning that if you take a wound, you must pass a strength test or be removed from play, while not amazing, it has the chance to get you an extra kill every now and then, but it’s nothing to boast about.

Looking at the new units we have I will first start with the fliers as they are the major change with the codex. First the stormwolf, this is the 16 man troop carrier that is still full to the brim with weapons such as heavy bolters, lascannons and a helfrost cannon. While I can’t say I like the look of the model its role on the battle field cannot be questioned, it will bring in troops where they need to be and bring the pain while doing it. Granted it is quite expensive (quite rightly so) but for 280 points you can have one and a 5 man unit inside, this once again is able to be taken advantage of and now we have a second air force army with good fliers being dedicated transports. While this won’t be as numerous as CronAir it will be a damn sight more resistant AND put out more fire power... well done GW you know how to sell models. The second flier, stormfang is the same points cost and loses its transport capacity but it does change its dispersed mode from a small blast to large blast, as well as being ap 2, so while I’m not a massive fan compared to the stormwolf, I can defiantly see that it has merits that can help in a game.

The only other new units are unique models (or special characters as I still call them) in the form of Harald Deathwolf, murderfang and Logan’s pimp sleigh. First a look at Harald, this is an odd one, as technically he’s not new, it’s the current wolf lord on thunderwolf model but they have just given him rules (I don’t think it’s ever happened this way round before, normally a special character loses his rules). Not only that, but his rules aren’t really his, he just has Canis wolfborn’s rules from the last codex, giving his leadership to other wolf units which leaves Canis a little different from last edition (more on that later). Over all Harald is a combat character and he will do well in it, but he is a lot of points. I would probably say his points are a fair estimation of his abilities and you wouldn’t go far wrong taking him in a thunderwolf heavy army.

Murderfang, this furioso... ahem... this space wolf dreadnaught would be more home as the blood angels death company dreadnaught special character Morair but here is he in blue instead. For less than 140 points you can a combat monster who has the potential to get 10 attacks on the charge with strength 7 ap 2 shred attacks... he ignores shaken and stunned results and generally wants to give you a rough night. However he does have a few problems, he’s still only av 12, only has 3 hull points (it will not die helps a tiny bit) and one of his special rules doesn’t do anything until both of his arms have been blown off. I take this more of a mistake by GW than anything else, his weapons have a set strength value of 7, and he has furious charge, which on the charge gives the model +1 strength, but that's irrelevant as he doesn’t use his strength in combat, he uses the strength of his weapon. So really, unless he is kicking someone after both claws have been destroyed, that rule is never going to be used.   

The other new model, Logan Grimnar and his Christmas sleigh. Such an odd idea yet still here it is, all it is a 3 hull point chariot with a 4+ invulnerable (unneeded as logan has one already, which transfers) and it down grades pens to glances. That's all well and good, but its only av 12, and its 320 points! a single wave serpent could wreck that thing for 140 and as it’s a chariot, if it dies, so does the great wolf?! What the hell where they thinking, by taking this yes it makes him faster, and god he needs to get into combat to survive otherwise he’s a dead man. In a single turn of shooting you are going to kill this thing. It’s practically a wave serpent, and while they are hard to get rid of, you can still kill them in a single turn, its only AV 12. If the rules where once it gets wrecked he walks out alive, that would be awesome.... but that's not how it works. I don’t know why you would pay an extra 70 points to make your big hitter less survivable? And as an aside he got more expensive and yet lost his two good rules, living legend (gives units +1 one attack) and the ability to give out special rules. Honestly I struggled to justify him in 5th edition, I have no qualms about where he should be in 7th.

Old dogs, new tricks?

We have had a fair amount change with current models in the codex, but nothing too major so I thought I would just go over a few of them here with you. First of all the staple of many a space wolf force, the grey hunters, they lose their combat weapon as basic but have become a point cheaper. You can buy it back for them but it will cost 2 points, making them more expensive than last codex. While some can argue that's fair, i can’t help but feel it should only be 1 point as it’s more a circumstantial thing that won’t get used every game, but I’m not a games designer now am I. We have lost mark of the wulfen from the book so they can’t take it anymore and the wolf standard is one per detachment now, which fluff wise is right. All it does now is grant the unit +1 attack, and let units within a distance re-roll moral. It’s just like everyone else’s flag now. It’s only a subtle change to the troops entry but it will probably have one of the bigger impacts on players.

Wolf scouts, became a point cheaper, lost everything special about them, still an elites choice. While I understand space wolf scouts aren’t the newbies every one else’s are you have to show that or make them troops, as right now, being an elites choice, and no longer having anything special about coming on from reserve, they are pointless and will never get used. Honestly I’m baffled, snikrot can still turn up behind you, why can’t these guys?

AS games workshop are really pushing their new dread kit at the moment you can all see the new model for the space wolves venerable dreadnaught with its big impressive shield, which gives the guy a 3+ invul to the front. Having venerable is quite useful when using the shield however as it can stop that pesky immobilised result which just makes the model a laughing stock.

Cains wolfborn, now has been relegated to the role of dog walker now Harald is in town. He rules have been lost save his bonus to attacks which is now rampage and he has a new rules, born of wolves which lets any unit of fenrisian wolves he joins re-roll to hit when they charge... yer. He still has an impressive state line, so maybe some people will still use him.  

Psychic powers, I was rather surprised to see that the space wolves get their own powers the Tempestas discipline, which is really just a large number of witchfire attacks. None of them really stand out, but you still have all of the old favourites, even if they have been reduced a little bit. One change I like it that living lightning now has ‘shock’ *cough tesla cough* so any 6’s grant an extra 2 hits, but it is only assault 3 instead of D6.

Wolf claws deserve a mention as well, as they have changed from their stupid form they used to be, and are now +1 strength lightning claws which I feel are a lot better than the awkward chose to re-roll to hit or wound. Just a little thing that I like.

Hunting like a pack

As with the Ork codex we get a single formation and an alternative detachment. Let’s start with the formation: Great Company. This formation represents when a whole company of space wolves go to war, it consists of a wolf lord, wolf guard battle leader, a unit of wolf guard, 5 units of grey hunters, 3 units of the blood claw variants, 2 units of long fangs, wolf guard and scouts. And for taking all of these units you gain a few little upgrades. Your warlord can re-roll warlord traits, like everyone else, and as long as your lord is alive all space wolves get fear and furious charge. The major advantage of this is that before the game roll a D6 for each unit, on a 6 it can outflank. It’s quite an interesting little thing, and it gives the space wolves a reason to still have acute senses. But this formation is probably massively expensive and you don’t really get much out of it bar furious charge.

The detachment is called the wolves unleashed, it’s practically just a combined arms force but you can have up to 6 Hq’s, and you must take a min of 2. Now this detachment doesn’t give you objective secured or anything like that, it gives you the same benefit the formation does with the outflank ability. While it doesn’t give you furious charge it is a lot easier to use. You can’t really plan your force around outflanking it is a nice detachment, if not only for the 6 hq’s.    


Over all this codex doesn’t really have anything bad with it, we have a few new fliers and some of the units have been updated to fit more in line with 7th edition. But I feel therein lies the problem, it just feels like a slight update, nothing has really changed, just minor tweaks. While some of you feel this might not be a bad thing it does mean that another force (which could be in more need of a update) has been pushed back. Now that’s not really a fair comment on the codex itself, why should it get punished for its maker’s decisions? Well it shouldn’t but with the 2 white dwarf magazines with rules in, that's all the old codex really needed, the space wolves probably would have been happy with that and just carried on playing.

Even with the updates though, there is nothing new or exiting, and if anything I feel it’s been watered down to be more in line with codex: space marines. Yer that's fine, if you want to roll all marine dexs into one, a la black Templers, but down pussy foot around and make the others less flavoursome if you keep them separate. What I want to know is why has some of the more iconic rules for the space wolves been removed while some which no longer made sense, been kept? By this I mean, they still have acute senses which only affects outflank. Instead of saying, it’s a bit stupid now let’s drop it (they should have done that) they come up with this stupid possibility of outflanking. They do that but then when everyone has the chance to outflank they water down the scouts, who have always been the wolves elite units for scouting and operate behind enemy lines for weeks at a time, they just get normal outflank? You would have thought they would have stressed their super ability to outflank but no, it just gets dropped. Instead of keeping acute senses why not have hatred (thousand sons/mark of tzneetch)? It’s common now for units to hate certain aspect of chaos, so why not give that to the wolves who have had a deep hatred for the thousand sons since the heresy? Nah fuck it lets just keep acute senses...

It’s really silly but it’s irritated me anyway, space wolf terminators can now deep strike, while practically this isn’t a massive deal, it is from a fluff perspective. They don’t trust teleporting technology; they use drops pods and thunderhawks, and stormwolves now apparently. It’s just another little dig at saying screw the space wolves individuality, let’s make them marines.

On another little side note, why don’t space wolves have access to centurions/hunters/stalkers? Why can 6 of the original marines have them but not wolves? i don’t get it, if you are watering down the wolves just give them a few new units like that while you’re at it.   

Let’s just finish off here, the codex Is ok, and it can probably be abused with flier spam, and indeed I guarantee it will be. Space wolves are here now and will make a mark, chances are my mech combat force will suck but I can see a build or two that will do a lot of damage. If any of you have any questions feel free to ask and I will try to answer them as quickly as possible.

Hope you enjoyed.      


  1. CSMs have had to pay 2 points to get a CCW, boltgun and bolt pistol, making grey hunters pay the same cost is IMHO balance.

    1. I would say that it should be 1 point for CSMs as well, not that it would make a vast difference to anything.

  2. And when shot with a chariot you can choose to take on rider or chariot so 2+ save Logan can eat wave serpent hits!

    1. Looking over the rules for chariots you appear to be correct, this thing is a lot more survivable than i originally though. However in combat, i'm not so sure.

    2. doesn't it say all hits are glancing hits no penetrative hits?

  3. Invul on the chariot is needed as nowhere in chariot rules does it say rider invuls confer to the chariot...

    1. The chariot actually has its own separate 4+ Invun. GW want you to buy this thing.

  4. Not a rules question, but how would you assess the fluff, is the art and writing on the same level as the last codex, is there any new content or is it mostly a rehash of previous stuff?

    1. Looking over the codex we get a bit of new stuff, such as a much more expanded information on fenris itself and about the different wolf lords. However its GW and they need this is be accessible to new players as well as old so we still have the majority of things we all ready know.

  5. Good review, pretty much how I feel about it. Watered us down some what, added some dreads and fliers. At least Rune Priests are now even cheaper, and TWC are back in the running. I think they've tried to make all the HQ's/Elites slightly more appealing whilst reducing GH's and LF's. BC's now have a place also which is good.

    I don't think our termies can deep strike though. Though the fluffy justification no longer seems to be in the book, they do not have the deep strike special rule listed in the 'dex so I think that still stands across the army.

    I like the new outflank chance with the detachment. RP's in Rhino's would get it on 4+ I guess?

    1. Under the rules for terminator armour it says that a model wearing ut can deep strike. So unfortunately they can now. Under logans rules it also states that if he buys his chariot he can no longer deep strike, so its not a mistake.

    2. Space Wolf Terminators used to be able to Deep Strike all the time. It was 5th which introduced that fluff, despite earlier fluff specifically having them teleport into battle.

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