Codex Supplement Space Wolves: The Goonhammer Review

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With a great howl of triumph, the Sons of Russ burst onto the battlefield once more, now fully arrayed for battle. Space Wolves have joined the supplement club, adding their array of unique datasheets and tools on top of the Space Marine codex giving players a huge range of powerful options to choose from. This new round of supplements is hugely anticipated, so let’s not waste any more time – how does this book shape up?

Why Play Space Wolves?

Credit: Kevin Stillman

Space Wolves are the ideal army for players that appreciate glorious, heroic melee combat, and also for anyone who appreciates the savage aesthetic. All Marines can do this to some extent, but the unique units available for Space Wolves make them exceptionally well suited for it. Powerful unique melee units are led into battle by an unusually large array of legendary named characters, and plenty of the tools in the book give you way to hit fast and hard. They’re also great if you like to add some personalisation and character to your forces – Thunderwolf Cavalry and Wolf Guard can both be heavily customised model-by-model, your core infantry can have an elite Wolf Guard pack leader added to them, and your heroes can be given Sagas, a unique kind of warlord trait with an additional effect once you achieve a notable deed on the tabletop. If you want to tear apart your enemy while telling a great story, Space Wolves are probably for you.

What’s in the Book?

Similar to the supplements received by other chapters in 8th Edition, this book contains the following:

  • Fleshed out lore for the Sons of Russ.
  • Army special rules for fielding a Space Marine list from this chapter or one of their successors.
  • Unique Sagas, a special kind of warlord trait.
  • Stratagems, relics and a dedicated set of secondary objectives
  • An updated version of the Tempestas Discipline
  • Rules for all of their unique units.

The Five Best Things About This Book

We think there’s a lot to like here – here’s what stands out to us:

  • Finally joining the full supplement club, with all the double Warlord Traits and similar shenanigans that entails.
  • Great support for Thunderwolf Cavalry, allowing this iconic unit to really shine.
  • A revamped Tempestas Discipline offering support for multiple styles of play.
  • Some key new stratagems that let you hit hard on demand.
  • Especially awesome Crusade rules, even by the standards of what we’ve seen so far.

We’ll be doing a separate review of the Crusade rules next week, and this article will be focusing on the core matched play rules, but if you’re enjoying the new narrative play mode as much as we have been, you’re going to love what the wolves have going on over there.

Army Abilities

Beanith's Space Wolf

Beanith’s Space Wolf

The set of rules that Space Wolves now get access to follows the standard template for a Marine supplement, with the exception that along with Deathwatch they now get a dedicated set of secondary objectives for use in Matched Play. In this section we’ll talk about:

  • Successor Chapters
  • Savage Fury, a unique Doctrine to reward for playing pure Space Wolves
  • Stratagems
  • Sagas
  • Relics and Special Issue Wargear
  • The Tempestas Discipline
  • Secondary Objectives

Successor Chapters

One of the biggest advantages supplements has given to Marine players is the ability to combine the rules within them with unique Chapter Tactics built from the custom options in the Codex, and it’s good news for fans of that – Space Wolves are now on the table (having had this option oddly left out of the interim Index put out on Warcom).

The standard rules for this apply – if you choose to run a Successor Chapter, everything in this book that isn’t either a Chapter Relic or a Named Character can be used with the keyword of that Successor Chapter instead of SPACE WOLVES. Access to a single Chapter Relic can also be purchased using A Trophy Bestowed, this book’s version of the standard 1CP stratagem for this. It is important to note that Successors do also inherit the same restrictions on not being able to take certain units, so you can’t use this to get round the prohibition on Apothecaries. We all saw you thinking it (so did we, that’s why we checked).

So why might you want to take Wolf Successors? There seem to be a couple of possibilities:

  • Use Hungry for Battle and one of the combat-focused options with their powerful melee support.
  • Combine the Tempestas Discipline and highly customisable shooting units in the form of Long Fangs and Wolf Guard Terminators to cook up something more ranged focused.

Because of how many named characters they have, Wolves lose quite a bit by choosing to go Successor, and their Chapter Relics and tactic are both quite good and provide strong support for a melee plan. Despite this, more options on the table is, as ever, pure upside and we certainly wouldn’t rule out someone coming up with something spicy here.

Doctrine – Savage Fury

Source: Warhammer Community

Savage Fury returns unchanged from Saga of the Beast, and continues to be extremely powerful. Plenty of your best units can throw out a high volume of high-powered attacks, and this lets them do a bunch more damage when doing so. It’s also pretty broad in its applications, scaling your output in a way that works whether you’re trying to scythe through a horde or take out a single large target. Finally, the new version of the Wulfen Stone also lets you turbo-charge this for a unit once per game, with the effect going off on 5s and letting you brutally punt something off the table.

You obviously want to focus on melee units to get the most out of this – which is lucky as that’s overwhelmingly what the book wants you to play. However, just like for some other Marine factions like Blood Angels, one of the upsides of this is that when the meat really hits the metal, even your units that aren’t dedicated to combat can hit just that bit harder. This is especially valuable in 9th, where close-quarters engagement is the order of the day a lot of the time. Overall, a very strong super doctrine that means you’ll almost always want to move into Assault on turn 3.

Stratagems

Stratagems are one of the key differentiators between different chapters, and Space Wolves are no exception, with some quality options here. However, there is a bit of bad news for the Wolves up front. We had assumed that any of the Stratagems featured in the interim Index would likely be show-ins for the new supplement, but that isn’t the case – only two of the seven return in any form. The losses that really hurt are:

  • Touch of the Wild – no more turbo-Ragnar.
  • Death-Grip Bite  – a blow to Thunderwolf Calvalry, though they get some tradeoffs.
  • Knowledge of the Foe – no more free CP regen.

That is going to force a little bit of re-evaluation of some units, and it definitely means that Ragnar ends up merely strong rather than the baddest man in the 41st Millenium.

Credit: Starvolt

In tradeoff, however, there’s plenty of good news to go around. The most eye-catching new option is Savage Strike. For 1CP (up to 5 models) or 2CP (6+ models) this gives a unit that charged +1 to their wound rolls for the turn. Simple but incredibly effective, and notably priced to move when dropped on 5-model Thunderwolf Cavalry units, as they get a huge number of attacks once you factor in their mounts. The expanded version of Pack Hunters is great for them as well. For 2CP in the charge phase, you can select a unit that has a Space Wolves unit in engagement range with it (which can be one that just charged), and all of your BEAST and CAVALRY units get 3d6 drop-lowest charges against it and get full wound re-rolls on their various claw and teeth attacks. This lets you reliably pile-on additional charges, and then ensures your units do their best work once engagement is joined. If you want to really mass stuff up early on, you also now have the option of Bestial Nature, which for 1CP in your command phase lets an INFANTRY, BIKER or CAVALRY unit gain the bonus of the Assault Doctrine instead of the active doctrine. The way this is worded seems to mean that you won’t get the benefit of Savage Fury, but extra AP in a pinch is great, and you have the option of Adaptive Strategy if you need to go all the way.

Next, some returning favourites get a bump in power level. Counter Charge is back, and now costs 0CP if you use it on a character, meaning that free 6″ heroics are back on the table when you really need one. This strat was already fantastic, so having it buffed to back-fill the changes to the Chapter Tactic is great. From a combat mobility point-of-view, its also backed up by new toy Relentless Assault, giving one of your units +3″ to their consolidation for 1CP, a very nasty surprise in the right circumstances. Keen Senses also gets a boost – as well as letting you ignore hit penalties, it also ignores BS modifiers and charge modifiers. You do have to activate it in your shooting phase still, so can’t pop it in response to a Tanglefoot Grenade, but if you plan ahead it’s a huge help against abilities that can shut you down, and is great against the new Necron favourite of Countertemporal NanominesCloaked by the Storm also gets a discount to 2CP (though is otherwise unchanged), and in combination with the drop in warp charge on Storm Caller, using a Rune Priest to shield some of your units seems plausibly more viable than ever. As a final old friend, Cunning of the Wolf comes back looking much the same, just picking up a wording change to give the unit the Outflank ability.

A new more esoteric toy is Deed Worthy of a Saga. This allows one of you CHARACTERS who doesn’t have a Warlord Trait to gain the aura from a Saga that they complete the condition of (more on that shortly) at the end of the phase for 2CP. This seems super interesting – while some possible uses are held back by it not triggering till the end of the phase, this opens up a huge number of possibilities on the table, and it’s pure upside in that all it wants of you is to have characters roaming around doing things, which Wolves absolutely want to be doing anyway. Sometimes you’re going to hit the trigger condition and find that the situation is exactly right to fire one of the Sagas up, and I think there’s a fairly reliable use case for activating Hunter alongside Thunderwolf Cavalry. The design here is really cool as well, and this feels like a slam dunk cool option even if it’s sometimes only “pretty good” in raw power terms.

There are a few other minor utility options, and all the “standard” supplement strats are now here. You get Go for the Throat, the standard army-side extra AP on 6s, here for Assault Doctrine, Warrior of Legend, allowing you to take a double-traited warlord (likely to be used heavily to mix Rites of War or Imperium’s Sword with some from here),Thane of the Retinue to hand out a piece of wargear to a Sergeant/Pack Leader (potentially excellent for giving a Frost Weapon to a Bladeguard or Thundercav unit leader) and A Trophy Bestowed to give Successors access to a Chapter Relic.

All told, there’s a bunch of good stuff here. Losing a few old staples sucks, no two ways about that, but some of the new toys seem extremely potent, and give you plenty of options to play with on the table.

Sagas (Warlord Traits)

Returning from the 8th Edition Codex, Space Wolves get a fancy additional mechanic on top of their Warlord Traits – Sagas. They have six traits to choose from like any other supplement, and they all have an effect on the character that takes them from the word go. Each also has an associated Deed – a trigger condition that can occur in the course of the battle. At the end of a phase in which this condition is met, the character gains a 6″ aura that applies to Space Wolves CORE units, generally giving them access to part of the warlord trait associated. The Saga effects can also be activated using Deed Worthy of a Saga as discussed above – so even if you aren’t planning to take these it’s worth knowing about them.

The list here is good – all of them plausibly have some amount of use – but I think three of them stand out as the ones likely to be taken.

Beastslayer is the trait for Wolves seen in the main codex, giving +1 to hit and wound and +1A against Monsters and Vehicles. Here it gets a Saga as well, which activates when the Warlord destroys one of those targets and the aura then bestows the +1 to W. Against some opponents this is really, really good, as the wound bonus is probably the most important part of the effect in terms of letting you punch up. That also makes it worth thinking about trying to line this up with the strat in Vehicle heavy matchups, even if you haven’t picked it outright.

Hunter gives the character +1 to Advance and +1 to Charge, and lets them Advance/Fall Back and still charge. This is a decent choice on a Bike Chaplain, one of the best units in the Marine Codex, as it lets them join Thundercav in zooming into combat. The Saga has the very easy trigger of making a charge, and grants the Advance and Charge aura. That seems weak initially given you’ll be running this alongside Thundercav a lot of the time – but if a unit in the aura already has Swift Hunters they gain the fall back and charge instead. Triggering this suddenly makes that big block of Thundercav impossible to pin down, or alternatively lets your other units do a White Scar impression by advancing around smashing stuff. It might turn out that this is overkill, as a lot of your units will delete what they touch, and the Chaplain has a bunch of other Warlord traits competing for this slot, but it’s interesting.

Last of the really interesting ones is Resolve of the Bear. This gives the model a 6+++ and stops the opponent re-rolling hits or wounds against them, making them considerably tougher. When they do lose any wounds, the Saga triggers, and they gain a 6+++ aura. The extra resilience on the front half here is real, and since Space Wolves can’t get Apothecaries it’s nice to have a way to get access to this effect. It’s also one of the easiest to just randomly turn on sometimes with Deed in a situation where it would be good.

The other three tend to be less flashy, but all still have potential uses. Wolfkin gives you +d3A instead of +1 when Shock Assault is on, and makes Shock Assault always on (which is also the aura). The extra attacks are nice, and fine if you want a turbo-murder smash characters, but those are a bit less good than they used to be and Shock Assault should be nearly always on anyway. Warrior Born is a Fight First both for the character and the aura. This one’s tough – Fight First is a weak effect on a single character, but extremely good in this army once it’s applying in bulk via the aura. Whether it’s better to take this on a character or aim to activate it via Deed is an open question, but it’s definitely true that if it does go up any opposing melee army is in a pretty terminal spot. Finally, Aura of Majesty boosts litany and captain/chapter master ranges and grants a fearless Aura. It’s fine, especially as morale now matters to Marines a lot more than it used to, and if you take it on Grimnar (it’s his fixed trait) he even gets to have the aura active straight away, cause that man has nothing left to prove.

Everything on this list feels like it has at least some plausible use case and some look really good – a great list of traits overall.

Relics

Two Space Wolf relics have always stood head and shoulders above the rest, and both are back in slightly changed forms.

The Armour of Russ gets pretty much a straight upgrade – it still gives a 4++, still lets you make one enemy unit fight last (now using the same wording as the Judiciar) and also now gives you a 2+ base save. The last point is a genuinely neat boost, as many of the likely wearers of this already have a 4++, and can be combined with a Storm Shield for a very durable character. Already good, now even better.

The Wulfen Stone gets a much bigger shakeup. With Wulfen losing their +1A aura the old version of this seemed unlikely to stay, and that has, sadly, panned out. In its place, this now gives you a 6″ re-roll charge aura for CORE units, and once per battle lets you choose a single unit to get exploding 5s rather than exploding 6s from Savage Fury. That latter effect isn’t limited to CORE, so you can drop it on a character if you need some of the old Touch of the Wild magic back, or on Wulfen if you want to punt something into the stratosphere. With both halves of this looking good, this is still likely to be a popular choice.

A few other Chapter Relics return, with the Mountain Breaker HelmStorm’s Eye (a straight replacement for the Talisman of Storms) and a slightly improved Black Death all being present. All are cute, but probably none beat out the good stuff. Fireheart is a new addition, a comically up-gunned relic Plasma Pistol  with always-on flat damage 3, but very much lands straight in the “cool but not good enough” bucket.

The Chapter Relics are completed by the Pelt of the Balewolf, which gives one of your characters -1 to hit and -1 to wound against them. I feel like there’s a plausible combo here with Resolve of the Bear – a character with both of those is absurdly difficult to kill, especially one on a wolf or a bike who’s on T5. Wolves love their herohammer, and this is an interesting option for it.

Over in Special Wargear, all the standard choices (Master-Crafted, Adamantine Mantle, Artificer Armour and Digital Weapons) are here. The Morkai’s Teeth Bolts also return, an remain one of the best special bolts out there, giving wound re-rolls of 1 that aren’t even limited to CORE.

Frost Weapon is a powerful alternative version of Master-Crafted, giving a more limited list of weapons +1D and +1S. This is obviously flat better than MC on the weapons it can apply to, and notably can stack on top of weapons that already have Master-Crafted in their name. That gives a whole bunch of characters a way to get a S6 D3 power sword, and the same can also be done for a Bladeguard Sergeant via Thane of the Retinue. It’ll also probably be very popular on a lightning claw Thundercav pack leader. Librarians can alternatively take a Runic Weapon, giving +1S and +1 to denies. Sadly, the +1S here is a lot less good than it would have been before the global wargear changes, as it means you’re going from 5-6 or 6-7, neither of which is a super-critical break point (Corrode: with the obvious exception that S5-6 is very relevant in a meta heavy on Custodes and Gravis Marines). Finally, a revised version of the Wolf’s Tail Talisman shows up, giving a 4+++ against psychic mortals – probably not enough to get there.

Some real winners here overall – Armour of Russ and the Wulfen Stone remain great choices in a lot of lists, and Frost Weapon and Pelt of the Balewolf feel like they have use cases. Combined with the choices from the main Marine book, more than enough to play with.

Psychic Discipline

Credit: Starvolt

Space Wolf Librarians once again gain access to the Tempestas Discipline, with returning versions of five powers from the 8th Edition Codex, and one new one replacing Fury of the Wolf Spirits. All the powers except Jaws of the World Wolf have WC6, and Jaws is 7.

Starting off with the Witchfire Powers, both wolf options have been simplified. Living Lightning is just a smite that arcs to a nearby unit for 1MW on a 2+ and d3 on a 5+, while Jaws of the World Wolf rolls a dice for each model in a unit and deals a MW on a 6+, but has an extra upside over a lot of similar ones. If the casting roll was 9+, you add 1 to the rolls, which suddenly switches this over to being extremely deadly against hordes. That makes it a plausible-ish choice on a Chief Librarian, because if you do get a big cast it’s still OK even against a 10-model unit.

If you like messing with your opponent, you have some decent Malediction options. Murderous Hurricane is completely changed, now preventing a unit from firing Overwatch (unless they’re hunkered down in terrain) and also making them not eligible to fight until after all Space Wolf units from your army. With your melee options being so very vicious, this is really really good – an enemy melee threat with this dropped on them is going to really struggle to operate safely, as they risk taking serious damage from your units before they get to strike. Tempest’s Wrath returns unchanged, still just giving -1 to hit to a target.

Finally, you have buffs. Storm Caller gets a big boost from its Warp Charge dropping to 6, meaning it’s far more consistently castable and thus something you can actually build into your strategy. The last on the list, however, might be the most exciting of the lot – Instincts Awoken lets you pick one of your units, and until your next psychic phase the Assault Doctrine is considered to be active when they attack or if the Assault Doctrine is already active they get an extra point of AP on a 6 to wound. From the wording used here (same as Adaptive Strategy), I believe this turns on Hunters Unleashed and taking everything together this is phenomenal – Wolves will often get into combat turn 1 when they go second and will definitely be in a fight on turn two, so being able to activate Assault Doctrine early without spending CP, and still having access to a relevant effect later on, is really great.

There’s enough power here that taking a Librarian is definitely tempting. Between Instincts Awoken and Murderous Hurricane you can massively stack the deck of the fight phase in your favour in the early/mid-game, really helping you take control of the game.

Secondary Objectives

This was a bit of a surprise to us – Marines already have a set of Secondaries in their Codex, which Wolves have access to, but it looks like the new supplements are going to add even more. Just like the ones from the Marine book, you can select one of these instead of one from the core list, and they still belong to one of the objective categories within which you cannot double up.

There’s a real mix here – two are extremely flavourful choices that work around your warlord that will probably be hard to reliably max, one that’s brutal against certain armies and then one that’s pretty fantastic a lot of the time to finish up. I will say that between these and the ones from Deathwatch, I’d wager the chances of these getting banned in some competitive events is increasing rapidly – handing some armies some extreme gimme options in some situations isn’t great.

Let’s start with the two Warlord ones. A Mighty Saga (No Mercy, No Respite) is awesome flavour-wise but probably not reliable enough for serious use. Each battle round, you can get up to 5VP for achieving mighty deeds with your warlord, including wounding and/or killing MONSTERS or VEHICLES, slaying characters or holding objectives in your opponent’s deployment zone. The nature of the Deed options means that it’s really only going to be active if you’re up against a lot of relevant targets and you have an extremely murderous Warlord, and even then it asks you to skew your plans significantly to get a high score, and has a gigantic failure case if your warlord dies early. It is stackable with Bring It Down, Assassinate and Titan Hunter, so if you’re really sure your warlord is a bad enough killing machine to punk one relevant target a turn, feel free to try it, but I’m not convinced the risk is worth it.

An alternative, and maybe even more flavourful is Heroic Challenge. You and your opponent each pick a CHARACTER, and you get the maximum 15VP if your character slays theirs in melee. Crucially, however, you have backup options – killing the target at all gives you 5VP, and anyone killing them in melee gives you 10VP. How good this ends up being is going to depend a lot on how much of opponents’ armies Wolf lists tend to end up going through – if you’re frequently managing near-tablings this becomes a relatively safe 10VP, and you can easily build characters that are actively good at this to shoot for the 15VP.

Moving out to wider choices, Glory Kills sits in Purge the Enemy and gives you a hybrid of Assassinate and a monster-specific Bring It Down. You can get various points, up to 5VP each battle round, for wounding and/or killing Characters and Monsters. This basically ends up giving you a pick you could plausibly take when there aren’t enough of either type of target to max out their dedicated objective, but there are enough when totalled up to let you score the points.

Finally, the one that seems quite strong (especially if you build a go-second/counterattack list), Warriors’ Pride. This gives you 3VP at the end of your turn either for having two of your units in engagement range of the enemy or have made successful charges this turn. Since you basically want to be accomplishing these goals most turns anyway, this feels like a comfortable 9VP for doing stuff you were going to do anyway that will commonly climb to 12VP and sometimes 15. Seems good, and having secondary options that you can build a list to reliably score most of is very powerful!

Several of these seem eminently usable, and are good tools for Wolf players to have in their pockets.

Units

Credit: Richyp

Space Wolves have accumulated a tonne of specialised units over the years, and this datasheet section is unusually massive for a supplement. That remains true even after a few entries have finally been discarded – Iron Priests, Wolf Priests and Rune Priests are no longer separate datasheets, so there’s no longer any functional difference between them and their mainline equivalents. The units here are thus a split between the huge roster of Named Characters that Wolves have access to and the more unique wolf-themed units that make their armies so distinct.

It’s worth saying also that if you’re an active Wolves player who has already deep-dived into the Interim Index there’s almost no changes here – the only updates are an extra rule for Grimnar that interacts with Sagas, Njal switching to the Tempestas Discipline and the addition of the Hounds of Morkai. The big changes in this book are elsewhere – this section largely just gets the rules we already had into print.

Special Rules

There are a few rules shared by a lot of Space Wolf units:

  • Wolf Guard Pack Leaders: several units (Grey Hunters, Bloodclaws, Skyclaws and Long Fangs) can take a Wolf Guard Pack Leader, an extra squad sergeant with a wide wargear list. For the three footslogging units, you can also take them in Terminator armour. The most powerful use of this is likely to be to add a model with a storm shield to a Long Fang squad, helping them soak up firepower.
  • Swift and Deadly: All the Thunderwolf Cavalry and Fenrisian Wolf units gain this ability, which lets them Advance and Charge, and move an extra 1″ when they pile-in or consolidate. This is, obviously, really really good, and is part of why Thundercav units look really great.
  • Berserk Charge: Common to Blood Claws, Skyclaws and granted to Swiftclaw biker units in Wolf detachments. This gives them +1A when they charge, making them substantially nastier on offence.
  • Headstrong: The same set of units as above have to include the closest target in any charge they declare unless they have a Wolf Guard Pack Leader.

HQ

The HQ section is absolutely massive here, packed full of named characters. You start with the standard suite of Chapter Master, Master of Sanctity and Chief Librarian, in the form of Logan Grimnar, Ulrik the Slayer and Njal Stormcaller.

Logan can either take to the battlefield in Terminator armour or on a Wolf Sled. In either form, he boasts a nasty melee punch, able to both eviscerate single targets with two-handed swings or scythe infantry down with a sweep. Although he’s shootable at range on his sled, the army is likely to pack plenty of tempting targets for guns and you really want him to be able to keep up with Cavalry units, and in the brief window of play with the Index this build has seen use. Getting to Advance and Charge really is a huge improvement here, and makes the Santa Sled of Death seem super powerful.

Ulrik and Njal are both souped up versions of their standard role. Ulrik probably won’t get too much play simply because he’s stuck foot-slogging, but Njal is potentially interesting now that he gets Tempestas powers. The Discipline seems really good, and you are essentially getting a Terminator Chief Librarian at the same price with the +1 casts, extra stats and a special weapon baked in. If your list wants something that looks a bit like this, Njal is probably at the front of the queue.

If you want melee killers, Ragnar and Arjac are both still around. Ragnar continues to have an eye-watering statline, but he’s lost a lot from changes to available strats – the ones he really abused are mostly gone, both here and in the Marine book. He’s had a short, wild ride at the top of his game, but is probably going to go into hibernation for a bit. Arjac has the cute upside of being one of the few units we’ve seen to keep a 3++ in a new book, and a comically over the top weapon, but again probably doesn’t really find a place any more, especially as he no longer buffs Wolf Guard. In general, there’s a lot more draw to use your character slots for models that amplify your other units, not just killers.

The shift in priorities means that the two Wolf-mounted named characters are both worth a real look. Harald Deathwolf has a great statline at a not unreasonable price, though may struggle with the competition with a vanilla mounted Wolf Lord thanks to the greater configurability of a basic one. He is absurdly tough, however, which is a reasonable upside – you can’t really build a Wolf Lord that resilient. The real winner here is Canis Wolfborn, who is both a vicious killer in his own right and provides a powerful boost to various wolf units by increasing their attacks.

The last two NCs are Krom Dragongaze and Bjorn the Fell Handed. Krom, bluntly, does not have a slot – he doesn’t do anything impressive enough to make you want a random footslogging character. Bjorn is hilariously tough, but extremely slow and hard to fit into a list. If a more shooting-based list did somehow arise he could maybe fit into it, as he adds to a gunline’s output, provides a charge deterrent and acts as a Captain, but in aggressive push lists he can’t keep up.

Last but not least in this section you have the two “generic” Wolf-mounted characters, the Wolf Lord and Battle Leader. These are great and will both see a lot of use, as you want buff characters that can keep up with your forces and these can be configured with whatever powerful traits and relics (e.g. Rites of War) that you want.

Lots of good choices here – some powerful named characters and two generic options that will see a tonne of use.

Troops

Space Wolf smallmarines come in two unique flavours – melee focused Blood Claws and more tactical-like Grey Hunters. Of these, the Blood Claws are the big winners. The addition of Astartes Chainswords, the extra attack from Berserk Charge plus the ability to take a configurable Wolf Guard Pack Leader means you can actually build these to be slightly nastier than core Primaris options in a fight, at least putting them in the conversation. You lose access to some Primaris strats, but gain the ability to benefit from Lukas the Trickster and ride in things like Drop Pods, so these have some game.

Grey Hunters, sadly, come out a lot less well in the comparison to Primaris Marines. Being able to give them an Astartes Chainswords for a point each makes them look nice compared to tacticals, but Intercessors have a lot to recommend them on most other angles.

Elites

Credit: Starvolt

Over in Elites, Wolf Guard Terminators remain an excellent option and jump pack Wolf Guard join Vanguard Veterans as major winners from the overall Marine changes. Both units are enormously configurable and can be lined up for a huge variety of roles, with the Terminators in particular having vastly wider options than their regular cousins at the cost of only losing access to Teleport Homers. Both of these units are powerful assets for list building.

Where Wolf Guard gain big, all flavours of Wulfen (footslogging, dreadnoughts, Murderfang) look less attractive than they used to. The storm shield change was a huge blow to Wulfen, meaning that they just won’t last as soon as anything is pointed at them, and without being CORE it’s difficult to get their accuracy high enough to reliably do the damage they need. They do still get to fight on death if they haven’t fought yet, which is very useful in 9th’s missions, but the price just seems too steep on them now.

Wulfen Dreadnoughts and Murderfang are a bit closer to being OK, with Wulfen Dreads being able to take a blizzard shield for a fairly durable wrecking ball and Murderfang getting LoSir shielding and being a nightmare if he connects. However, neither is CORE, making it harder to buff them up, and while they aren’t going to be terrible on the table it feels like there are better ways to spend your points a lot of the time. 3x Wulfen Dreads with the axe and shield running up the table does present a pretty scary threat at a not unreasonable total of 375pts though.

Hounds of Morkai were shown off on Warhammer Community and…eh? They’re really good at bullying psykers, no argument there, but it’s tough to tell whether it’ll be justifiable to blow 110pts on a unit for that role only. They do keep all the REIVER keywords, letting them make use of the tricks available to them in the main book, making them a bit more useful in games against non-psykers, but ultimately they probably won’t do enough unless the metagame shifts significantly towards psykers. Ask again when Thousand Sons or Grey Knights get their 9th Edition updates.

Skulking at the back, we have Lukas the Trickster – and honestly, he’s pretty great. If you’re planning to bring any flavour of Blood Claw in any serious number you should bring him – he’s priced to move and is a strong force multiplier for these units.

Fast Attack

Fast attack is now an incredibly important slot for wolves, with Thunderwolf Cavalry being one of their very best units. These got a veritable avalance of upgrades all at once, and now pretty much any 5-model configuration packing storm shields is great, especially when you bring the practically mandatory Rites of War to go with them. We’ve seen units with hammers and fists for maximum threat and units with lightning claws for consistency already, and this book only makes them better. Access to Savage Strike really pushes these even more over the top, and expect to see these dominating list building.

Fenrisian Wolves also shouldn’t be ignored – being able to flood the board with large units of inexpensive models is something most marines don’t get access to, and the Wolves have the additional upside of actually being able to kill stuff in melee, especially buffed by some of the new strats. Not every list needs them, but they’re genuinely useful in some builds and worth paying attention to. Since what you’re looking for is cheapness here, Cyberwolves are unlikely to get the nod in bulk, but solo-model units of them can be good for hacking secondaries.

Finally, Skyclaws – Blood Claws, but in the sky! Unfortunately, they’re only a single point cheaper each than flying Wolf Guard, and the vastly higher configurability of that unit means they’re probably preferable.

Heavy Support

Only one entry here, Long Fangs, but there could be some play from these. Backing up a melee army with a few powerful, easy to deploy ranged threats is a tried and true tactic in 9th, and these are just flatly better at being lobbed out of a drop pod than regular Devastators. Over and above regular devs, Long Fangs can take an extra heavy weapon model and a wolf guard pack leader with a Storm Shield as some ablative wounds. Add in Keen Senses letting them ignore the move/shoot penalty, and you have an honestly-slightly-better version of drop devs than most chapters can put together so there’s probably play for them somewhere.

Flyer

John “JackMann” Beattie

Space Wolves get two dedicated Flyer options, both of which combine guns and transport capacity. Unfortunately, the brief window where some builds of these were super undercosted has gone past – for either of these you’re looking at 300pts minimum, and more if you want the best guns. Bluntly – these are not tough enough for these prices. They have a nasty array of weaponry, moving some smallmarines round is cool, but these are T7 14W vehicles, and putting one of these in your army is begging for your opponent to pop them out of the gate and cost you a whole bunch of points. I don’t love just writing units straight off like this, but the costs here just seem off – the Chapter Approved price was way too low, but this is way too high – couldn’t we have met in the middle?

Our Thoughts

How They’ll Play

Wings: Space Marines have an incredibly broad range of units and configurations thanks to having access to (now) 8 supplements, so whenever we’re looking at a new one we have to look at what stands out. For Wolves, those things are:

  • Thunderwolf Cavalry. There’s nothing else quite like them with the CORE keyword, and there’s a tonne of powerful synergy for them.
  • Highly configurable elites – both flavours of Wolf Guard are strong units that can be loaded out for lots of roles.
  • Adaptable on the table – multiple options to shunt units into the Assault doctrine plus powerful Doctrine synergy lets your units switch to a melee mode whenever needed.
  • Fenrisian Wolves – other Marine armies just don’t get anything quite like this.

With these things in mind, you’re aiming for board control and pressure – you have an incredibly central push unit in Thunderwolf Cavalry once you’ve given them ObSec with Rites of War, and all the other factors here let you build a list to protect and support this core. There’s quite a bit of flexibility in exactly how you do this, and a bunch of options worth trying, but if you want to start out with Space Wolves in this environment, you should probably build from a base of 2×5 Thundercav, some sort of Wolf-riding Wolf Lord and a Bike Chaplain. Iterate around that, and you should find an option that works for you!

Jon: We did not have to wait long for this book, and while all of the Saga of the Beast stratagems were lost to the warp, this book packs a serious punch and helps streamline this faction with the rest of the various shades of power armor out there. The amount of tools and options this supplement offers is quite good, managed by a good player this will be a terrifying force to line up against. The stratagems, warlord traits, and psychic tree all flesh out the army in a way that make them feel as thought they play thematically while keeping them very competitively relevant.

Army Lists

To close things out, Jon has put together two lists to show off what this book can do – one showing off a strong, down the line competitive build, and one indulging Wings’ desire to watch giant robots kill stuff with axes.

Winter is Coming

Battalion

HQ

Logan on Sled (extra Warlord trait) (Aura of Majestry)

Primaris Chaplain on Bike (warlord) (Master of Sanctity) (Rites of war) (Canticle of Hate, Exhortation of Rage) (Wulfen Stone)

Njal Stormcaller (Murderous Hurricane, Tempest Wrath, Instincts Awoken)

Troops

5x Infiltrators

5x Infiltrators

5x Infiltrators

5x Incursors

Elites

7x Wolf Guard w/ Jump pack (1 Thunder hammer 5 Fists 1 chainsword 6 shields)

7x Wolf Guard w/ Jump pack (1 Thunder hammer 5 Fists 1 chainsword 6 shields)

Fast Attack

5x Fenrisian Wolves

5x Thunderwolf Cavalry (2 Thunder hammer 3 Lightning claws 5 shields)

5x Thunderwolf Cavalry (2 Thunder hammer 3 Lightning claws 5 shields)

This list hits fast and hard, starting with strong early board presence from all of the phobos units, having the TWC able to quickly join them, and the Wolf Guard units skulking in mid-board terrain somewhere ready to zip out and murder something. The TWC and WG units should both be capable of mowing down pretty much any target they go into while taking a hefty punch in return, putting your opponent on a very short clock to clear them out before it’s game over.

Wulfen Dreadnought Rush

Credit: Starvolt

Jon: Wings told me it was good list concept

Wings: This is true – you can blame me for this one.

Space Wolves Patrol

HQ

Wolf Guard Battle Leader on TW (Armor of Russ)

Wolf Lord on TW (extra warlord trait- Saga of the Hunter) (Wulfen stone)

Troops

5x Infiltrators

5x Infiltrators

Elites

Wulfen Dreadnought (Axe/Shield)

Fast attack

5x Thunderwolf Cavalry, thunder hammer (pack leader), 2 power fists, 2 lightning claws, 5 storm shields

5x Thunderwolf Cavalry, thunder hammer (pack leader), 2 power fists, 2 lightning claws, 5 storm shields

Space Wolves Patrol

HQ

Njal Stormcaller (Murderous Hurricane, Tempest Wrath, Instincts Awoken)

Primaris Chaplain on Bike (Warlord) (Master of Sanctity) (Rites of War)

Troops

5x Infiltrators

5x Infiltrators

Elites

Wulfen Dreadnought (Axe/Shield)

Wulfen Dreadnought (Axe/Shield)

Fast Attack

5x Fenrisian Wolves

Look, I just really like monster mash lists, and what’s the point of having editorial powers if you can’t demand the odd army list written to indulge your whims? On a more serious note, the aim here is for threat saturation – just like the previous list you have two terrifying units of TWC that your opponent has to deal with or get wrecked, and rather than the Vanguard Veterans as a second wave you have three Wulfen Dreads lumbering up the board. With their 4++ from the shield and always-on Duty Eternal they take some serious killing, and they hit hard enough to threaten to trash any vehicles or elite infantry they go into, while having a sweep mode to deal with hordes. Clearly, the first list presented is a better competitive build, but for some fun with another iconic wolf unit this looks spicy.

Wrap Up

Space Wolf players should be very happy with this book – they now have a great package of tools that gives them a flavourful, powerful army with some genuinely unique capabilities in their area of expertise. This update should be more than enough to get them operating on the top tables, and we look forward to seeing what choices players put to the best work. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, let us know at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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