October 2020 FAQ Update Review – Space Wolves

An article by    Gaming Hot Take Warhammer 40k        0

In advance of the upcoming release of Codex: Space Marines and as promised, Games Workshop dropped a massive FAQ update on us today (remember when we said fifteen books needed FAQs? Turns out it was more). There’s a lot to digest, so we’re poring over every word of the updates and noting what’s changed and our thoughts on what it means for the faction. In this article we’re looking at The Space Wolves and the many changes to their way of life.

The October FAQ has brought us a wealth of changes to get through, and while Space Wolves did not get majorly hit like Imperial Fists or get huge buffs like Dark Angels, there were a bunch of key changes – although overall we made out just fine. The major difference is that some old models will be coming off the shelf and some new ones will be heading back there. Let’s do this:

The FAQ opens with a very clear and direct statement that tells us, if it’s not in this index or in the new Codex: Space Marines it is gone. This means that the 8th edition codex and Saga of the Beast (which almost no one got to really use due to covid) are now dead. The only rules and units that matter are the ones featured in this FAQ.

Codex: Space Wolves will soon be replaced with Codex Supplement: Space Wolves, and will fully integrate with the latest edition of Codex: Space Marines. In the meantime, this document will allow you to wage war using your Space Wolves-specific units alongside those units presented in Codex: Space Marines, as well as use a selection of Space Wolves rules that were published in Psychic Awakening: Saga of the Beast. The rules presented in the 8th edition (printed 2018) version of Codex: Space Wolves are no longer supported, and cannot be used. Similarly, if a Space Wolves rule from Psychic Awakening: Saga of the Beast does not feature within this document, it cannot be used. When Codex Supplement: Space Wolves is released, all of the rules within that will then replace and supersede this entire document, at which point none of the rules here can be used. Some of the rules found in this section have previously been published in Psychic Awakening: Saga of the Beast. With the exceptions noted below, these rules have not been revised or altered since they were originally published, and no new rules have been added. If the wording of a previously published rule has changed, it will be due to one of the following circumstances:
• The original rule contained an error, or else an ambiguity that caused us to publish an FAQ. In either case, the rule has been reworded to incorporate any previously published errata and clarify any raised ambiguities.
• The original rule required updating as the result of rule presented in either the 9th edition of Warhammer 40,000 or the 9th edition of Codex: Space Marines, in order to function as intended with the rules and terminology presented in one of these books (Engagement Range, use of the Core keyword, etc.). Such rules have been reworded, but are functionally the same.
• If the original rule had two separate effects, those rules have been reformatted so each individual effect is presented with its own bullet point. In all such instances, the effect of the rules remains unchanged; it is simply a style and formatting change to match how such rules are presented in other 9th edition publications.

 • Stratagems have had labels applied to them (Battle Tactic, Strategic Ploy, Epic Deed, Requisition etc.) and if a rule is an aura ability, then that rule has been reworded or labelled in such a way as to make it clear it is an aura ability. None of these changes have rules implications and the effect of the rule remains unchanged – it is simply to match the style of rules that appear in other 9th edition publications. This document also contains fully updated datasheets, weapon profiles and points values for all the Space Wolves-specific units and weapons. These take into account all of the commensurate changes and updates made in Codex: Space Marines. The points values and Power Ratings presented in this document supersede any that have been previously published

What does this actually mean and how much have we lost?  We are going to take you through this FAQ in order but in the end, let’s remember that this is just a place-holder until our supplement which is coming very soon.  Do not burn your models just yet my furry friends.

 

Detachment Abilities

Savage Fury

No change here; while in the assault doctrine, an unmodified hit roll of 6 scores an additional hit. Still just as good as ever, and now with the stratagem to give a unit every doctrine this can kick in earlier than expected which is a cool new trick we have available.

Stratagems

Heading into this index we had a wealth of stratagems to draw from and for now most of them are gone. What we have instead are 7 stratagems. There are some extremely important ones in here that keep Wolves in the hunt. Also remember that we have access to all the stratagems in the Codex: Space Marines.

Vicious Executioners

This is directly word for word from SotB; its value has gone up with many units now getting the Wolf Guard keyword and units such as Bladeguard Veterans going to max unit size 6.

Pack Hunters

Another stratagem that is directly from SotB. Its value goes up slightly as you are definitely going to see more Cavalry units on the table now than you did. Still not an optimal strat though.

Death Grip Bite

Keeping with a theme here, directly from SotB and unchanged. This stratagem’s value has now sky-rocketed as we are about to see TWC in almost every competitive list to hit the tables from now until the supplement drops. We will get to why just a little further down, hang in there!

Touch Of The Wild

The single most important stratagem from SotB has made it through the cut! It remains unchanged, our characters are still the monsters in combat that they deserve to be.

Knowledge Of The Foe

Unchanged and still just as good as ever.

Counter-Charge

Another one of the most useful stratagems from SotB makes it into the index.  This here was a really big win for Wolves; when it was previewed that Wolves lost the 6 inch HI on characters it was really in question as to if this would stick around or not. The utility and value in this stratagem is massive going forward.

Crushing Assault

The final stratagem from SotB, remains unchanged but now has a massive increase in value due to the impending TWC meta

What we did not get

This is the section where we pour one out for our favorite stratagems that did not make the cut, the big 3 that stick out are as follows:

  • Seeking a Saga Losing this stratagem really hurts Ragnar’s efficiency and for that matter any character that is under strength 8.  I normally used this several times every single game so losing it is definitely going to hurt
  • Honor The Chapter It can not be overstated how large of a blow this changing to only affect Assault Intercessors is to Wolves and more specifically to Ragnar and Wolf Guard Terminators/Wulfen.  This drastically reduces their ability to cover distance on the table (which is the real reason you spend 3cp) and as a combat army any time you remove ways to close the distance it is worrying.
  • Lone Wolf It was always a very fringe case stratagem but when you needed it to work it had the ability to shift games. It was very thematic and competitively relevant. You will be missed

Wolves lost a host of stratagems but those 3 are critical. I am sure the kitchen table gamer will definitely miss Wolf’s Eye but for the most part the rest are super situational at best. Hang in there though, all is not lost, we have a supplement coming soon and it is bound to bring a host of new and old stratagems with it.

 

Relics Of The Fang

Here is where it hurts.  Wolves lost the “Big Two” which almost every competitive list included either or both. Wulfen Stone and Armor of Russ  are both gone, this is a really big blow to both the utility builds and the combat effective builds. Wulfen stone was a cornerstone relic used to buff up a smash captain or Wolf Priest, and Armor of Russ was just such a powerful tool to be walking around the table with. Losing both will hurt at least for the next few weeks.

The only relics Wolves retain are the ones from Saga of the Beast.

Mountain-Breaker Helm

Remains unchanged except for the removal of the completed saga part due to the removal of sagas all together (stay tuned).

Wyrmsplitter

Has a minor change, gaining an extra +1 strength

The rest of the relics from SotB remain unchanged so things like Wolf’s Tail Talisman and Morkai’s Teeth Bolts are still on the table and for the most part, their value rises as the big two leave a vacuum.

 

Named Characters And Warlord Traits

If any of the named characters in this document gain a Warlord Trait, that Warlord Trait must be Beastslayer (see Codex:Space Marines).

Wolves lose all of their unique sagas and deeds of legend which is unfortunate, but hopefully in the supplement they bring it back as that was a really flavorful way of making Wolves characters stand out from the other Space Marine characters. The days of a double buffed saga of the Wolfkin/Wulfen Stone character are gone for now. This will definitely play its part in shaping the meta for Wolves but with the introduction of extremely powerful and versatile warlord traits such as Wise Orator, I am unsure if losing the other sagas will actually hurt at all.  Remember Wolves still get access the regular Marine codex, so you’re not just stuck with what’s in this index.

 

Abilities

Swift Hunters

This unit is eligible to declare a charge with even if it Advanced this turn. In addition, each time this unit makes a pile-in move or consolidation move, models in this unit can move an additional 1″

This is what Wolves have been waiting for; up until now only Wulfen had an ability that allowed them to charge (they lost it). There are several key units that are going to be immediately propelled into the spotlight thanks to gaining this ability.  Very powerful to have a way to advance and charge as a combat army, you are now projecting so much more threat from deployment onwards.  This is an immense Win for the wolves of Fenris.

Berserk Charge  and Headstrong essentially stay unchanged with the slight changing of some wording to exclude wolf guard from getting +1 attack.

 

Datasheets

Almost everything changed in one way or another so strap in this is going to be a long journey through the codex.

Logan Grimnar

His stat-line remains unchanged but his Axe Morkai changes in a couple of ways: the one-handed attack is now a sweep attack doubling your attacks but reducing the damage to 1. The two-handed attack now does not suffer -1 to hit. He gains the Chapter Master and Rites of Battle (Aura) abilities which allows him to give 1 unit full rerolls to hit and allows Core units to reroll hit rolls of 1 respectively.

Photo cred: Jon’s santa

Logan Grimnar on Stormrider

Santa has come to town, after an entire edition of riding the shelf, he has arrived in a big way. I fully expect santa to see play at the competitive level and be a terror at the home game level. His data sheet gains +2 wounds bringing him to 14, his power level drops from 10 to 9 and he comes in at 180 points. He has all the same abilities as foot Grim but gains Swift Hunters – yes, he now can advance and charge which dramatically increases his potential. Surrounded by the correct units it will present real target priority issues for your opponents.

Njal Stormcaller

Njal’s datasheet stays the same but what is missing is tactical armor Njal which means he is now dead, Terminator armor Njal is now the only option. His bird Nightwing changes from assault D6 to Assault 3 and his staff Staff of the Stormcaller gets a solid buff with +3 -2 D3 damage.  This is an increase of 1 strength and 1 AP.  His abilities do not see any change and he picks up the keyword: Chief Librarian.  Unfortunately right now taking Marine psykers is just giving up potential easy secondary points, so for now Njal probably will not see much play.

Bjorn The Fell-Handed

The stat-line sees a slight nerf dropping Bjorn down to a 6″ Movement, a couple of the ranged weapons get slightly better (Hellfrost cannon). As far as his abilities go, he loses Ancient Tactician but gains Duty Eternal.  He drops 2 power level as well, but overall in an edition that puts HQ slots at a premium it will be hard to justify this (now slower) walking pile of bolts. Let the poor old guy sleep a bit, it’s all he wants.

Arjac Rockfist

Foehammer gets substantially better, going from D3 to flat 3 damage and giving +1 damage vs characters or monsters. His 1v1 brawling definitely becomes more deadly. Champion of the Kingsguard  which is one of his biggest reasons for seeing play at all is changing and is super unfortunate now that many more units are gaining the Wolf Guard keyword.  Now CotK just allows him to reroll hit rolls vs characters, which seems pretty sub-optimal when he sits at a 2+ weapon skill (1+ on the charge).  He keeps his Anvil Shield which allows him to retain his 3+ invulnerable save but he loses the damage reduction.

Ulrik The Slayer

Slayer’s Oath has changed and now if Ulrik kills a character or monster, you no longer have to roll for litanies, they just are automatically inspiring. Ulrik loses Healing Balms and gains Master of Sanctity.  He now knows 3 litanies and can cast 2.

Ragnar Blackmane

The only real changes here are to some minor wordings which add Core restrictions to all of his auras. Ragnar is still a very powerful character though he definitely suffers from several stratagems being removed or changed, specifically Seeking a Saga, Honor The Chapter, Only In Death Does Duty End.  

Krom Dragongaze

Essentially unchanged except for his Wyrmclaw which got quite a bit better gaining 1 point of strength and AP and going to flat 2 damage instead of D3

Harold Deathwolf

Harold is being brought into the light of day for the first time in many editions. He benefits from the same buff that Logan did which is gaining Swift Hunters allowing him to advance and charge now.  He benefits from the storm shield change against low AP single damage fire as his base save is now 2+ and Mantle of the Troll King now reduces damage by 1 to a minimum of 1 which really helps vs all of the flat 2 damage weapons floating around.  He loses Expert Hunter but gains Outflank which is slightly worse but still nice to be able to outflank him if someone felt the need. With Ragnar suffering from needing a ride and Impulsors taking several nerfs, Harold is really looking like a good stand-in. He has a lot of potential if you find Santa just is not working out for you.

Canis Wolfborn

Canis stat-line sees an increase of 2 attacks to a total of 6, his wolf claws go from 1 to 2 damage which is definitely a good buff when you factor in his 2 more attacks.  Just like all the other Cavalry characters he gains Swift Hunters which is, as covered above, very helpful.  He keeps his Born of Wolves ability which really increases his value now that we have see the buffs that have been hitting cavalry units.  He loses Alpha Predator so he can no longer reroll failed charges.  He also loses Champion of the Deathwolves which is unfortunate as it lowers his utility slightly but as a duelist he gains Martial Superiority and Honour or Death which allow him to fight first vs characters and to heroically intervene 6 inches. He also gains Company Champion keyword.  Overall he has a lot of play now and the only thing holding him back is his base save (3+)

Wolf Lords/Wolf Guard battle leaders

The only changes we see here is the cleaning up of the wording on their aura abilities and the guys on Thunderwolves gain the Swift Hunter ability.

Tac-marine variants

All of the Grey Hunters, Blood Claws, Wolf Guard, Long Fangs and Skyclaws gain the Core keyword. Skyclaws also gain the Melta Bomb keyword.  All of them increase to 2 wounds each which is a nice little buff to the old boys of the legion.

Lukas The Trickster

The Trickster gains +1 attack to his stat-line while the rest remains the same.  Blood Claws Hero is now much better, allowing Blood Claws/Swiftclaws/Skyclaws to reroll the hit roll while within 6 of Lukas. Master of Mischief has basically been split up into 2 different rules (Master of Mischief/Rebellious Presence). Pelt of the Doppelgangrel got a very nice change which now allows Lukas to run around with essentially Transhuman Physiology. This little dude really can cause a lot of trouble for everyone around him now and definitely has the potential to be a strong addition to a tac-marine style list.

Wolf Guard Terminators

They gain 1 wound going up to 3 and get the core keyword.  They suffer a lot from now not being able to use Transhuman Physiology, or Honor the Chapter.  

 

Robbie Triplett’s Wulfen

Wulfen

Wulfen get a stats boost going to 5 Toughness but even with this they are definitely one of the biggest losers of the index since they really needed to gain a wound to stay competitive at all. Wulfen lose their FNP from Death Frenzy and additionally the wording has now been changed to prevent Wulfen from being able to swing on death if they have already fought in that phase, in line with the changes to Only in Death Does Duty End. They now have the Bestial Rage rule which states that they can not perform any actions. Thunder hammers changed their AP from -3 to -2 and storm shields went from a 3++ to a 4++ . The one buff they did receive was Savage Killers which means they are always treated as if they are in the assault doctrine and always have Shock Assault active. They do not have the Core keyword which is the final nail in the coffin.

All of this adds up to a massive hit to our little werewolves. Combine this with the loss of several combat stratagems, the loss of any aura support and finally the loss of Bounding Lope means these guys are completely dead.  Do not worry though, a new option rises up to fill the role.

Unique Dreadnoughts

Wulfen dreads and Murderfang both got Duty Eternal and Bestial Rage.  The Wulfen Dreads see a slight change to their Cleave attack going from D6 to D3+3; they also do not get the Core keyword which seems to be a theme for anything Wulfen here.

Small Wolves

Very little changes here except that they also gain the ability Swift Hunter.  Do not think it will be enough to really push these models into competitive play.

Thunderwolf Cavalry

We have arrived at the big winners of the FAQ. Right off the bat they gain +1 wound, going up to 4 wounds this combined with the storm shield change helps them survive the incidental fire while having enough wounds to require real dedication to put down. They now get access to the Astartes Chainsword which is base -1 AP, the Crushing teeth and claws also gain an extra AP, going to -2AP base. Now we see that they also get Swift Hunters, which means they have immense threat projection and now fill the role that Wulfen used to fill. The final key addition to their datasheet is the Core keyword which now allows them to be buffed from all the various characters and benefit from litanies.  The entire article so far has been building towards this moment, it is clear that GW has a real focus on this unit now. Bring out the Cav!

Stormfang/Stormwolf Gunship

Various guns are changed, the most frustrating one being the removal of the twin multi-melta and the addition of a Melta array. This is annoying because it gets around the new melta buffs so you lose a lot of reliability but also went up in points. Kind of a head scratcher here.

 

The Points

Arjac 120 points up from 115 which seems a bit weird considering he lost the most important aura ability he had. 120 is just too much for what he now does not offer.

Bjorn 175 points down from 190 but he benefits from upgrading his assault cannon to las or hellfrost as both of those got considerably cheaper. He lost his free CP so its nice to see him drop in points but he still just does not do anything of real value in a competitive wolves list.

Canis 120 points up from 110 points which is fine considering he can now advance and charge and his wolf got better along with his claws.

Herald 140 points down from 145 which is all value at this point. He is definitely worth a look and slots into the new wolf theme list extremely well. You will see him in competitive play.

Krom 100 points up from 90, this is a big question mark.  Why on earth is this guy going up in points when he is one of the most useless characters in the book? Keep warming the shelf.

Logan Grimnar 155 up from 150 which is alright since he gains the chapter master ability but he loses a lot of value in not being able to give rerolls to everything around him so the increase is probably a bit uncalled for.

Santa 180 up from 165 which again is fine since he gains the ability to advance and charge along with the chapter master abilities. He is right on the edge of  being competitive or not being competitive. He definitely has the potential to be very impactful and in the right list surrounded by other equally dangerous hard to remove targets.

Njal no change which is probably still a bit too much for him in the current state of the game.

Ragnar 130 up from 125 this is definitely a shock to no one as at 125 he was criminally under-costed for the immense damage he put out. He has been toned back due to several stratagems leaving the game so 5 points seems pretty fair.

Ulrik 110 up from 100 which seems kinda crazy since he just has not ever seen play in any meaningful way, and while he is a master of sanctity there is just no real good reason to not take a Primaris wolf priest on bike instead.

Wolf Guard battle leader on Thunderwolf 95 up from 90 which is great value for what you get, the shield went up and the hammer went down so over all this model could for sure see the table again.

WGBL in Terminator Armor 88 up from 85

Wolf lord on Thunder wolf 110 up from 100 which is a bit more than the wgbl but still a fair price but when compared to Harold it does not seem like it would be worth it to take the lord.

Tac-Armor Marines 18 up from 15 across the board which seems perfectly fine considering they doubled in wounds.  I know there is a traitor version that wishes they could pay 3 more points for double the wounds.  There could be some very strong lists build around Lukas and pods using tons of models to control and pressure the board.

Lukas 80 down from 85 this is pure value here, he realistically deserved a points increase but thank you GW.

Murderfang 150 up from 135 which sucks pretty hard.  Definitely not worth the 150 he costs especially not in an edition that punishes having more than the absolute bare min amount of characters.  Duty Eternal does not make up the difference here.

Wolf guard remain the same but double in wounds, seems like GW just forgot about them but definitely some more thought is required on these guys.  Them combined with the Stratagem to auto-pass a litany means you can guarantee having a reliable charge when you really need it.

Wolf guard terminators 33 points up from 23 which is a tough blow to a unit that has already suffered from this FAQ.  They did increase to 3 wounds and gain core keyword so they are not dead but there are better units to do the same roll at this point

Wulfen 25 down from 28 which most likely is just not even close to enough of a point decrease to make them viable.  Realistically they are now just a tac marine with a bad attitude who refuses to do any actions on the table and then dies to a stiff breeze.  Probably should not cost much more than blood claws at this point.

Wulfen Dreadnaught 120 up from 105 so it appears dreads in general are getting a point hike due to duty eternal.  Not really justified

Small Wolves No change in points for either

Skyclaws Points stay the same but they increase in wounds.  Still are not even close to useful.  Imagine what that says about their late 8th and early 9th pointing.  God damn GW, these are not good, please do not point them as if they were.

Thunderwolf Cavalry points stay the same which is a win considering they gain 1 wound and now can advance + charge.  This is mostly a win, they were pretty over-costed until they got the new rules, probably still a bit too expensive by like 5 points but still very good.

Stormfang/Stormwolf 300 up from 180 yes you read that right.  The flying dumpster is now a flying dumpster fire.  When fully kitted out it comes in at 325 points as opposed to the old version at 280 (twin multi melta was 100 point upgrade) essentially the model got a much worse melta gun and went up 45 points.  WHY???

 

The List

Big Woofs

Space Wolves Battalion Detachment (1,995 Points, 11 CP)

Harold Deathwolf

Wolf Guard Battle Leader on Thunderwolf (power fist/storm shield) (Saga of the beast slayer)

Primaris Wolf Priest on Bike (warlord wise orator, master of sanctity, relic crozius)

Incursor

Incursor

Incursor

Aggressors x 5

Blade Guard Veterans x 5

Blade Guard Veterans x 5

Blade Guard Veterans x 4

Thunderwolf Cavalry x 5 (4 powerfist/storm shield, 1 chainsword/storm shield)

Thunderwolf Cavalry x 5 (2 powerfist/storm shield, 3 chainsword/storm shield)

 

Final Thoughts

Wolves got pretty lucky compared to some factions like Imperial Fists or Blood Angels. The top tier meta wolf lists are all dead on arrival with this FAQ but that is not a bad thing, it’s the nature of competitive play. October marks the rise of the Thunderwoofs. Space Wolf players should be optimistic about the future of the faction as a lot of what we see here mixes things up and gives us great diversity in our choices going forward whether you want to run primaris or you want to run the old boys in tac armor. Today is a good day to be a Space Wolf player!

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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