When Games Workshop first announced the Crusade rules, one of the first things I found myself wondering was what they’d do with the Space Wolves. Not that I was looking to play them, but there’s something appropriate about a long-form narrative campaign for a bunch of glory-obsessed Viking taxidermy enthusiasts whose goal in life is to have the coolest stories told about them when they’re dead. But when they announced that they’d be folding the Space Wolves Codex into the new Codex: Space Marines like the rest of the marine chapters, I was worried that the unique options available to the Wolves would be lackluster in order to allow them to combine well with the rules in the Codex.
Thankfully, I was worried for nothing: this supplement is packed full of incredible options that any Space Wolves player can have a ton of fun with. Not only do they carry through the characterization and personality of the VIth Legion that we’re all familiar with, they build on it in ways that only make me more excited to see what’s coming in future books. Read on to see what’s on offer and how you can use it to make your own hunts even wilder than before.
The supplement introduces 5 new agendas, all of which push the Space Wolves’ themes nicely, even if some are a little less interesting than others. Circling Wolves and A Worthy Trophy are your pretty standard options here. The former lets you chose 3 or 4 Space Wolves units from your army, and if each one is wholly within 9″ of different corner of the battlefield, they all get 2XP. The latter gives a unit 3XP if it kills one of the 3 models in your enemy’s list with the most wounds. Both of these fit right in with the Space Wolves’ themes, but there’s nothing really unusual going on.
Show Them How We Fight is a neat one – whenever a Wolf Guard model from your army destroys a unit, choose a Blood Claws unit within 6″ to gain 1XP. One thing to keep in mind is that it applies to Wolf Guard models, not units. This means that not only can you gain experience from killing stuff with Wolf Guard units and Battle Leaders, but if you shove a Wolf Guard Pack Leader in your Blood Claws squad and he picks up a kill, that gives his own squad 1CP. If you’re running a lot of Blood Claws, this could be worthwhile and is an interesting way to double dip on kills if the Pack Leader goes off.
Next up is probably my favorite thing in the entire book. I know I said in our Necrons focus that the Dynastic Epithets are the coolest rule in 40k. And while I was right at the time, and they’re still incredible, little did I know that GW was merely one release away from topping themselves in a way I didn’t think possible. An Audacious Boast is an absolutely amazing agenda that is dripping with flavor, has a really cool “push your luck” aspect, and gives you a great way to cram experience on a character model you love, something Marines often have trouble with (other than Apothecaries, anyway). The way it works is simple: pick a character. He then gets really drunk on Fenrisian Mead – or whatever unreasonably toxic beverage Space Wolves break out when it’s time to party – and starts telling all his buddies about all the incredibly cool shit he’s totally gonna do the next time they hit the battlefield. There are 10 boasts to choose from, including “Never Back Down From a Fight” which requires the character to Heroically Intervene every time it’s allowed to, “Leave Behind a Trail of Corpses“, which requires him to kill 10 or more enemy models, and the particuarly audacious “…Without a Scratch“, which sees your chosen champion to end the battle with all of their wounds remaining. You pick as many of these boasts as you want, write them down, and if your character completes all of them, they gain 1XP for each completed boast. There’s just one catch: if your character fails to live up to even one of his boasts, he gets nothing. That risk/reward factor is really cool, and I’d be hard-pressed to think of a rule that suits the Wolves better than giving your characters the chance to write their own sagas.
Finally, A Glorious Death rewards you for running your Lone Wolf models into the thick of things. If your Lone Wolf dies to a Character, Vehicle, or Monster, rather than making an out of action roll, you can just remove him from your roster entirely. If you do, every other unit in your army gains 2XP as they’re inspired by his valor and bravery.
Those of you who’ve read our Codex review are probably wondering how you can even use A Glorious Death now that the Lone Wolf stratagem is gone. Don’t worry – Lone Wolf has now become a 1RP requisition that you can use when one of your units with 2 or more models takes a Battle Scar. If you do, remove it from your Crusade roster and replace it with an appropriate Lieutenant model (or a Wolf Guard Battle Leader in Terminator Armor if it was a Terminator). Your new Lone Wolf keeps all the XP his squad had before their untimely end, gets the appropriate number of Battle Honours for himself, and picks up an all new ability that lets him re-roll hit rolls in melee.
Another one that’s almost familiar is The Wolf and the Lion. For 1RP, you choose an Infantry or Biker model (not unit) that isn’t a Character to gain an extra attack. As a bonus, if you take him to fight Dark Angels, that model get +1 to hit and wound in melee. Neat, but ultimately pretty niche. If you just really want to dumpster some Dark Angels (and, really, who doesn’t?) this might be worth a look, but your RP are probably better spent elsewhere.
Hero of Renown takes advantage of the Space Wolves’ unique “Saga” mechanic and lets a character in your roster always count as though they completed the Deed associated with their Warlord Trait. Normally, it costs 1RP, but if you take it after a battle where you actually did complete the Deed, it’s free. This is a particularly interesting one, as it not only provides a strong narrative hook with the RP discount, but if you’re new to a campaign or find yourself in need of a little more punch from one of your characters, you can spend some RP to get yourself caught up a bit.
The last new requisition here is Pack Bonds. For 1RP, when you mark a non-character Infantry, Biker, or Cavalry unit for greatness after a battle, you choose two buffs from a list for them to take into future games. There are a lot of great choices here, from a 5+ invulnerable save, to increasing pile-in and consolidate moves by 1″, to allowing the unit to charge after falling back. This is one all you GMs out there might want to be careful with – there are a handful of combinations here that could get out of control if you’re not watching it. However, given that you can get a handful of these through other routes for at least a turn or two, it probably won’t throw the balance of your campaign too far out of whack.
Just like every other faction we’ve seen to date, Space Wolves come complete with a selection of Battle Traits for various unit types. Wolf Priests get two options, one for each “half” of their job. Wise Healer has the same effect as Master of Physiology in the Codex, allowing a single non-Vehicle or Beast unit to ignore a failed out of action test after each battle. On the other hand, Chooser of the Valiant sees your Wolf Priest leaning into his Chaplain-y duties, giving him +1 on roles to see if his litanies go off. Both are interesting effects, though Chooser of the Valiant is more immediately and consistently useful – turning litany rolls into a consistent 2+ could be really good.
Cavalry units can choose between becoming more dangerous or more resilient, either adding 1 to the Damage of their mount’s teeth and claws with Deadly Predators, or submitting to Bionic Enhancement to get a 6+ ignore wounds. Beast units can track enemy reinforcements with the Perceptive Companions trait, allowing you to use Auspex Scan for free if enemies set up within 12″ of your hounds. Otherwise, they can learn to make a Coordinated Hunt and give free re-rolls on charge rolls to friendly units that try to charge a target they successfully charged that turn.
Finally, non-vehicle characters get three new traits. First, the Mark of the Wulfen adds 1 to their Attacks, or 2 if they’re within 6″ of any friendly Wulfen. Runic Tattoos gives your character a chance to ignore mortal wounds in the Psychic phase on a 4+, making them a lot more durable against enemy psykers. And Alpha of the Lone Hunt lets them take their pets for a walk, giving +1 attack to friendly Space Wolves beasts within 3″ and making the character untargetable in return.
Deeds of Making
Instead of Masters of the Chapter, Space Wolves characters can choose from this list of 14 options when they would gain a Battle Honour. Each comes with a sort of mini-epithet – things like Wyrdmeet and Stormstride and Blackhowl – and a unique ability. Some of these are what you’d expect – Wyrdmeet allows the model to automatically pass out of action tests – while others are more interesting. Scarstruck imposes a -1 penalty to wound that character in melee, while Murkstalker gives the model the Outflank ability. While some options are stronger than others (Stormstride gives Teleport Strike, which is just flat better than Murkstalker‘s Outflank, for instance), nearly all of them have a place in your list, especially when you consider that you can only have one of each in your Crusade roster. Any of your characters will be able to make use of one of these, and with how easy it’ll be to get your character up to 6XP with some judicious boasting, you’ll probably find yourself putting one on every character sooner than you might otherwise expect.
This is the one area in the book that falls kind of flat for me. There are only 2 options here, one at Heroic rank and one at Legendary. The Wyrdmaker’s Helm gives the character who has it a 4+ invulnerable, and lets them re-roll a single hit, wound, or damage roll each turn. It’s neat, and having another way to get a 4+ invulnerable on a Lieutenant or Battle Leader is always welcome, and the re-roll is obviously useful, but the fact that you have to make it to Heroic before getting access to it means that if you really needed the invulnerable, you’d probably be looking at one of the other relics you can get out of the gate. The other crusade relic here is the Spear of Russ, which is incredibly weird. Once per game, you can declare in your command phase that the model who’s carrying it is going to use it. For that battle round, you get to use the spear, which hits for 6 damage if it connects within 18″ at range, or for 3 damage for each attack that gets through in melee. With Sx2 and AP-4, it’s a great one-off trick to carve through something you need to be as dead as possible as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it comes with a catch: friendly Space Wolves units within 6″ get a -1 penalty to hit in melee. Shove this on a slam captain and watch him completely ruin whatever you point him at, just be careful with your positioning so you don’t accidentally wind up rendering your other units less useful.
Write Your Own Saga
The Space Wolves Crusade supplement is chock full of new and exciting rules for you to tell the story of your Crusade force’s campaign through the deadliest battles of the 41st millennium. Of all of them, the Crusade Relics are probably the least obviously interesting, but there’s a case to be made for them on the right unit. And no matter how you wind up building your roster, the agendas and requisitions do an absolutely incredible job of capturing the essence of the Space Wolves.