Start Competing: Space Wolves Tactics

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Do you think Vikings are just rad as hell? Do you own a three wolf moon t-shirt? Have you ever been hit on the nose with a rolled up newspaper for peeing all over the floor? Well then the Vlka Fenryka are likely the Space Marines for you! A storied chapter with roots going all the way back to the start of Warhammer 40,000 (seriously–they had the first ever Codex in 2nd edition), the Space Wolves are a chapter of hardy, Norse-like warriors who fight hard and celebrate by drinking harder.

Also big thanks to Space Wolves expert Jon Kilcullen for helping write this.

 

Army Overview

Space Wolves are space marines, but have diverged from the Codex Astartes enough to have gotten their own codex, giving them access to a large pool of different units, rules, relics, and stratagems. They tend to excel in melee combat, but have specialist units for a number of tasks. 

As with the rest of these articles, the idea is not to give an exhaustive review of every unit and option. Instead, we’ll cover each section with a general discussion of the good units, relics and stratagems, point out any traps, and then discuss how these pieces fit into a competitive army. This is primarily a review of the units and options that are specific to Space Wolves, but we’ll note any soup opportunities as well.

As always, a guide like this represents a time and place. This was written in May 2020, after the release of Psychic Awakening: Saga of the Beast (and during the global COVID-19 Pandemic).

Strengths

  • Melee Combat. Space Wolves excel at melee combat, and have some of the game’s fiercest melee units, including Ragnar, who may be the single most devastating infantry character in the game at only 120 points. Wulfen are absolute blenders in combat, and Veteran Intercessors, Thunderwolf Cavalry, Wolf Guard, and Blood Claws can all make great use of the Space Wolves’ Chapter Tactic to wreak havoc in melee.
  • Characters. Space Wolves might have more named and unique characters than any other faction, and have a host of great character options. If you’re interested in playing Herohammer at the competitive level, Space Wolves are a good way to do it.
  • Stratagems. Space Wolves have access to a strong pool of stratagems that can really boost their effectiveness on the battlefield. In addition to the standard Space Marine set, they’ve got a very good pool of chapter-specific stratagems that make units like Wolf Guard Terminators and Thunderwolf Cavalry really stand out.
  • Relics. The Space Wolves relic list is one of the strongest ones in all of 40k, with plenty of variety. There are also some exceptional choices in there like the Wulfen Stone and Armour of Russ that will show up in almost every competitive game you play, plus a few situational relics that you’ll flex in from time to time.

Weaknesses

  • Troops. The space wolves are the only Space Marines faction who can’t take Scouts as Troops choices. This isn’t the end of the world or anything–Intercessors and Blood Claws are both good units, but this can get irritating if you just need a cheap Detachment filler.
  • Missing Wargear Options. The Space Wolves have some interesting units of their own but lack some of the choices that regular Space Marines get, such as grav weapons, Centurions, or Thunderfire Cannons. These are both amazing units that all other Space Marines have access to and while you can make up for the lack of Centurions, it still hurts.
  • Shooting. Space Wolves aren’t bad at shooting by any means, and have access to almost all of the same big guns as standard space marines, plus a few of their own. They’re just not as good at it as say, Iron Hands, Imperial Fists, or even Ultramarines. When you build around the army’s strengths, you end up with a lot of good mid-range shooting and fewer options for taking down big targets and vehicles. The upside is that most of those units can kill those things in melee combat a few times over.

Competitive Ranking

Competitive. Space Wolves aren’t the strongest Space Marines army out there, but they have some great tricks, combine well with other marines, and have access to some brutally efficient melee units. They’re mid-tier at worst and while they require a lot more skill and coordination than some other marine armies, they can be absolutely deadly in the right hands.

 

Credit: RichyP

The Rules

Space Wolves have a number of special rules, having received a major update in Saga of the Beast that gives them access to Combat Doctrines. You can find Space Wolves Rules in the following books:

  • Codex: Space Wolves – the faction’s core rules.
  • Saga of the Beast – a necessary update that adds key rules to the faction and new datasheets.
  • Vigilus Defiant – includes 2 specialist detachments that are just OK.

Defenders of Humanity:

The Space Wolves/Space Marine version of objective secured.

Hunters Unleashed: 

The Space Wolves Chapter Tactic. In a turn in which a Space Wolves unit charged, was charged, or made a Heroic Intervention, you can add 1 to hit rolls for that unit in the Fight phase. Additionally, Space Wolves CHARACTERS can move 6″ when they Heroically Intervene rather than 3″, though still have to end up closer to the nearest enemy model. This is incredibly good, and got a much-needed update from Saga of the Beast to affect VEHICLES beyond Dreadnoughts.

Angels of Death

Thanks to their update in Saga of the Beast, Space Wolves now have the Angels of Death special rule, which gives them a host of other special rules! Angels of Death combines four marine special rules into one: And They Shall Know No FearBolter DisciplineShock Assault, and Combat Doctrines. The first three are always-on, but the last one only works in “pure” armies – a Battle-forged army where every unit excluding SERVITOR or UNALIGNED units has the Combat Doctrines ability. 

And They Shall Know No Fear:

You can re-roll failed Morale test for this unit. This rule is common to all (loyalist) Space Marines, and is only rarely useful. A 5 man unit needs to lose 3 models before it even has a 1/6 chance of losing another model to morale.

Bolter Discipline:

Another rule lifted from the second version of Codex Space Marines, bolter discipline expands on the ways a unit can rapid fire their bolters. Useful, but not tremendously so, as most Space Wolves units want to be in melee combat so will be moving around and not getting to benefit, if they even have a Rapid Fire bolt weapon.

Shock Assault

Lifted from the new Space Marine codex, this gives Space Wolves units +1 Attack in a turn where they charged, were charged, or made a Heroic Intervention. Combined with Hunters Unleashed, it really pushes Space Wolves toward being able to tear things up in melee.

Combat Doctrines

Combat Doctrines represents the progressive method of war which Space Marines follow – opening up with devastating long-range firepower, followed by close-range engagements, and then finally a charge into melee. The three doctrines are Devastator, Tactical, and Assault. Players begin the game in Devastator. At the beginning of battle round 2, they automatically change into Tactical. In round 3, they can choose to either stay in Tactical or change into Assault. From round 4 onwards, they must move to Assault, where they stay for the rest of the game. Each Doctrine increases the AP of a particular weapon type by 1 (i.e. AP0 becomes AP-1, AP-1 becomes AP-2, etc.)

The types are:

  • Devastator: Heavy and Grenade weapons
  • Tactical: Rapid Fire and Assault weapons
  • Assault: Pistol and melee weapons (remember, all models are considered to have a S: User, AP:0 close combat weapon)

This is a very powerful rule, particularly as it ties in with the special extra Doctrines each Chapter receives (we will discuss these in the relevant section below). While some lesser, more cowardly space marine armies want to use the benefits of Devastator Doctrine and would prefer to stay there all game, Space Wolves want to get into Assault Doctrine as quickly as possible, both because they are very good at fighting thanks to their Chapter Tactic, and because they have a special Chapter Doctrine that kicks in while the Assault Doctrine is active. Space Wolves benefit greatly from Doctrines, which improve both their shooting prior to charging and makes them much more deadly when they do hit in melee.

Keep in mind that this isn’t without downsides: Having AP-1 on your melee weapons can make it harder to leave infantry units you charge alive so you can wrap them and protect yourself – combats will be won much more decisively.

Credit: Games Workshop

Chapter Doctrine: Savage Fury

Savage Fury is a nice bonus for going pure Wolves, giving them extra punch when they get stuck in. As far as bonuses go, this is pretty minor, meaning that Space Wolves will have less of a problem souping with other Space Marine Chapters since losing this Chapter Doctrine doesn’t hurt much. In some ways Space Wolves play similar to White Scars, where both factions truly come “online” turn 3 when the Assault Doctrine is active. Thunder Hammers hitting at AP-4 are brutal, particularly when you get +1 to hit with them, and the extra bonus AP and attacks can make Veteran Intercessors incredibly nasty.

 

Psychic Powers

Space Wolves get access to their own psychic discipline, the Tempestas Discipline. This is a pretty strong set of powers that give Space Wolves psykers some neat tricks and can create a lot of value.

  1. Living Lightning (WC 6) – The closest visible enemy unit within 18″ takes D3 mortal wounds. If that unit is destroyed, the closest enemy unit within 18″ of the last model form that unit to be removed takes D3 mortal wounds, and so on until a unit is not destroyed or there is no enemy unit within 18″ of the last model in the destroyed unit. This is a very solid replacement for Smite and can be very nasty, allowing you to chain 2-3 together in the right circumstances. This one can also be boosted with the Living Storm stratagem, but that requires keeping three psykers on your roster, which will seldom be worth it. B
  2. Tempest’s Wrath (WC 6) – Pick a visible enemy unit within 24″. Until the start of your next Psychic phase, attacks that unit makes are at -1 to hit. This is a great way to shut down a key unit the enemy is relying on. The range is also great, allowing it to be deployed at a safer distance than some similar powers. A
  3. Muderous Hurricane (WC 5) – Pick a visible enemy unit within 18″. Roll a D6 for each model in the unit – it takes a mortal wound on each roll of 6. This solid anti-mob Smite replacement, but will really only pull its weight when you’re targeting a unit with at least 10-15 modelsB
  4. Fury of the Wolf Spirits (WC 7) – The Rune Priest gains a S5, AP-3 1 damage melee weapon until your next Psychic phase that makes 6 additional attacks each time the Rune Priest Fights. It’s a nice set of extra attacks, but you don’t really want to invest powers into making your Rune Priest better at fighting. B-
  5. Storm Caller (WC 8) – Until the start of your next Psychic phase, the psyker and friendly Space Wolves within 6″ gain the benefit of cover. This is really good, and useful in most games and situations. It’s particularly solid for its ability to grant cover to units that can’t easily get it, like flyers and tanks. However the big downside is that WC 8 difficulty, which means that getting this off is going to be a real chore without a lot of extra support. B
  6. Jaws of the World Wolf (WC 7) – Pick an enemy unit within 18″ that isn’t a VEHICLE. Roll 2D6 and subtract the target’s Move characteristic – the target takes mortal wounds equal to the result. Helpful because it can target, but less helpful because it’s difficult to cast and most of the time you get it off you’re only doing 1 mortal wound. But it’s got a solid chance of doing more damage if you can combine it with the Tenebrous Curse Vanguard power to halve Movement values first, where doing 3-4 mortal wounds to an otherwise impossible to reach target may be worth the set-up. C

Additionally, Space Wolves can take Phobos Librarians, who have access to the Obscuration Discipline. While potentially not as powerful as the Tempestas Discipline on a per-power basis, the Obscuration Discipline arguably does more for the Space Wolves’ primary battle plan. As of Saga of the Beast, Obscuration have changed: Now most of the powers affect <CHAPTER> PHOBOS units instead of ADEPTUS ASTARTES PHOBOS, adding a further gate to attempts to mix and match Chapter Tactics within an army. The biggest benefit to this discipline is that all of its powers have a Warp Charge cost of 6, so they’re all pretty easy to cast.

  1. Shrouding (WC 6). Pick a friendly Space Wolves Phobos unit within 18″ of the psyker. Until the start of your next psychic phase, enemies can only shoot at that unit if it’s the closest visible target or they’re firing Overwatch. A strong effect, but it can potentially be at odds with the notion that your Phobos-armored units may be closer than the rest of the army. Its best use is protecting Eliminators, who are going to be high-value targets for enemy fire. B
  2. Soul Sight (WC 6). Pick a friendly Space Wolves Phobos unit within 18″. Until the start of your next Psychic phase, when that unit shoots, it can re-roll the hit roll and the units it targets do not get the benefit of cover to their saving throws. This one hasn’t changed either, but picked up more utility from Eliminators becoming even better. Works well paired with either bolt sniper rifles or las-fusils. A
  3. Mind Raid (WC 6). Pick a visible enemy model within 18″ of the psyker. It takes a mortal wound. If your army is Battle-Forged and the model is a CHARACTER, roll 3D6. If you roll equal to or above its Leadership characteristic, you get 1 Command Point. An interesting ability that hasn’t changed much, the big problem with Mind Raid is that most of the time you’re just going to have better stuff to do and getting within 18″ of an enemy character may just not be what you want your Phobos Librarian doing. C
  4. Hallucination (WC 6). Pick a visible enemy unit within 18″ of the psyker. It gets -1 to its Ld and your opponent rolls 2D6. If the result is higher than the unit’s Ld, that unit suffers a -1 to its hit rolls until the start of your next psychic phase. This is another potentially solid ability that can stack with Tempest’s Wrath to ensure that your favorite unit is well-protected from a particular enemy unit’s shooting. Runs a big risk of doing nothing too often to be reliable, though. C
  5. Tenebrous Curse (WC 6). Pick a visible enemy unit within 18″ that doesn’t have the FLY keyword. It takes a mortal wound and its Movement stat, Advance, and Charge rolls are halved until the start of your next psychic phase. Against something like a Lord Discordant-heavy Chaos army this can be extremely potent, but is also incredibly dead in others. It stacks in hilarious fashion with Jaws of the World Wolf to give you a targetable power that can fairly reliably do 3+ mortal wounds to a visible target. B+
  6. Temporal Corridor (WC 6). Pick a friendly Space Wolves Phobos unit within 3″. It can move as though it was the Movement phase. It can’t Fall Back and must Advance, and when it does, you roll 3D6 and discard two of the rolls. You can’t use this on a unit more than once in a Psychic phase. At first glance this feels like a loyalist Warptime, but the Phobos and Advance restrictions really take a lot of the wind out from under its sails. Some units can get around the Advance thing, such as a Phobos Captain with the Saga of the Hunter Warlord Trait or anyone within its switched-on aura. B

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Warlord Traits – Sagas

Space Wolves Warlords don’t have traditional Warlord Traits but instead have Sagas, special traits that, when you meet a specific condition, become aura abilities with a 6″ range at the end of that phase. Note the first printing of Codex: Space Wolves does not contain these — they were day 1 errata added via an FAQ, which you can find here. Generally, the Space Wolf Warlord Traits are just kind of OK, but they can have a lot of use as a way to tailor your army to a specific match-up. Most games your primary warlord trait will be Saga of the Wolfkin and then you’ll use the Hero of the Chapter Stratagem to take a second trait based on the match-up.

  1. Saga of the Warrior Born. You can always choose for a unit affected by this saga in the Fight phase to fight first even if they didn’t charge. If the enemy has units that have charged, or that have a similar ability, then alternate choosing units to fight with, starting with the player whose turn is taking place. Deed of Legend: Slay an enemy Character with your Warlord. This combines well with Space Wolves’ ability to Heroically Intervene 6″, which makes fighting first much more useful. Otherwise, fighting first is an ability in 8th edition that seems good but rarely plays out like you hope it will – the better version is forcing enemies to fight last, something Space Wolves can already do. C+
  2. Saga of the Wolfkin. If a unit is affected by this saga in the Fight phase, add 1 to the Attacks characteristic of all its models if it made a charge move, was charged, or performed a heroic intervention earlier in the same turn. Deed of Legend: Slay a total of five models in the Fight phase with your Warlord (keep a tally from turn to turn). This is a solid boost, easy to activate, and the default warlord trait you’re going to be taking in most games. A
  3. Saga of Majesty. If a unit is affected by this saga, they automatically pass Morale tests. In addition, if your Warlord is a Character, increase the range of any aura abilities they have by 3″, excluding Explodes, Healing Balms, Battlesmith, this Warlord Trait, abilities of Relics of the Fang and effects of psychic powers. Deed of Legend: Slay the enemy Warlord with your Warlord. This just isn’t a terribly powerful bonus, and the requirement to activate it is way to difficult for what you get as upside. C-
  4. Saga of the Beastslayer. Add 1 to wound rolls for attacks made by a unit affected by this saga that target a Monster or Vehicle.
    Deed of Legend: Slay an enemy Monster or Vehicle with your Warlord. This is a solid boost, and both easy to activate and very potent against the right army. It’s dead against the wrong opponent, but that’s exactly the sort of thing Hero of the Chapter is for. A
  5. Saga of the Hunter. A unit affected by this saga in your Charge phase can charge even if it Advanced earlier in the turn. Deed of Legend: Successfully charge an enemy unit with your Warlord. A strong bonus, and by far the easiest to activate. It’s particularly helpful for guaranteeing a first-turn charge against opponents who have gotten too greedy, or are deploying forward in an attempt to box you out with something like Infiltrators. . B
  6. Saga of the Bear. Roll a dice each time a model affected by this saga loses a wound; on a 6, that model does not lose a wound. This saga has no effect on models with a similar ability. Deed of Legend: Successfully pass a saving throw for your Warlord. This is decent, but harder to activate than it looks – your warlord will typically not be taking saves unless something has gone wrong or he’s in melee combat already. B

Vanguard Warlord Traits

Introduced in the Shadowspear boxed set, Vanguard Warlord Traits are options for characters in Phobos Armour, e.g. with the PHOBOS keyword. These will most often be something you give to a Wolf Priest in Phobos Armour.

  • Shoot and Fade: Pick a Space Wolves Phobos unit within 6″ at the end of the shooting phase. Buffed from its previous incarnation, where it could only affect the character. That unit can move, but cannot advance and cannot then charge. Anyone used to playing against Eldar will know how tricksy this can be, though the Phobos restriction does keep it somewhat in check. Still an interesting trait in the arsenal. B
  • Lord of Deceit: Lets you redeploy 3 Phobos units at the start of the first battle round. This is potentially good with Incursors and Eliminators, where you may want to reposition to pull of some nasty tricks. B+
  • Master of the Vanguard: Phobos units get +1 Advance and Charge in an aura. You want to be deep in Phobos units to make the most of it, but if you are then it’s great for making an impact. B
  • Stealth Adept: Enemy units that shoot at the Warlord get -1. Fine, but the Phobos characters kind of need to be more threatening for this to be good and you want to protect your Rune Priest more than this. C
  • Target Priority: Pick a Phobos unit in the Shooting phase and it gets +1 to hit for the rest of the phase. Good with Eliminators – this is the one thing that messes up the maths of “buff sergeant always better”, as making three Las Fusils hit on 2s is pretty tasty. However, it’s an open question if that’s “worth” the slot. B
  • Marksman’s Honours: +1 Damage to the warlord’s ranged weapons. This can be very funny on a Phobos Wolf Lord with his master-crafted damage 3 gun to make it damage 4 and potentially able to punk out even mid-tier characters in a single shot, but not necessarily the first thing you want. B

 

Beanith’s Space Wolf Intercessors

Relics

The Wolves got access to a set of new relics in Saga of the Beast, giving them an armory on par with most other marine chapters, and also gained the standard “Special-Issue Wargear” relics that other marine chapters gained, such as the Adamantine Mantle and Master-Crafted Weapons. Some of these are insanely strong and will show up in most of the Space Wolf armies you build. In fact, most Wolf Relics are really good – it’s one of the strongest lists in the game – but two of them are so good they drown out most of the others.

  • Krakenbone Sword – Replaces a frost sword with one that’s S+1 AP-4, 1 damage and can re-roll failed wound rolls. A solid upgrade on a frost sword, though likely less useful than just Master-Crafting it now – the extra damage just matters much more than the extra wounding power and AP against most targets. B
  • The Armour of Russ – The model has a 4+ invulnerable save and at the start of every Fight phase, pick an enemy unit within 1″ of this model. That model can’t be chosen to fight until all other units able to fight have done so (if it has a fight first ability, instead it just loses that ability). This is incredibly good, and works very well both offensively and defensively. It’s great for ensuring that you’ll be able to take out any target of a multi-charge before it has a chance to strike back and makes charging your warlord a suicidal option much of the time. This and the Wulfen Stone are going to be your go-to relics in most of the games you play. A+
  • Black Death – Replaces a Frost Axe with an axe that’s S+2, AP-2, 1 damage and makes +D3 attacks every time you fight, basically just netting you the extra attacks. Again, useful but probably less so than a +1 damage bonus. C+
  • Helm of Durfast – You can re-roll failed hit rolls for the model’s ranged attacks and enemy units don’t get the bonus to their saves for being in cover against attacks made by this model. This is a neat bonus but you want your Wolf Lord fighting, not shooting. C
  • The Wulfen Stone – You can make 1 extra attack for friendly Space Wolves Infantry, Biker, and Cavalry units within 3″ when they attack in the Fight phase (Wulfen and units that charged while within range of the Curse of the Wulfen Hunt ability aren’t affected, and you can’t combine this with the Kill aura either). This is stupid good, and a great way to immediately boost the deadliness of both a melee character and the unit he’s with. A+
  • Frostfury – Replaces a storm bolter with one that’s Assault 4, AP-1 and 2 damage, and if you do any unsaved wounds to a target and it doesn’t die, roll a D6 and on a 4+ it takes a mortal wound. This is a very solid gun, but it’s only S4 and you’ll get more out of the melee-focused relics overall. B

Saga of the Beast adds a host of new relics. Most of them are useful in fringe cases but having more options available to you lets you tailor your list to what you are facing more easily, which is always great. Your biggest challenge is that you’re still paying Codex Cost (1 CP for a 2nd relic, 3 CP for a third), compared to 1 per for Space Marines, making it expensive to take multiples.

  • Mountain-Breaker Helm – Infantry Character only. After you resolve the bearer’s attacks in the Fight phase but before you consolidate, you can pick one enemy unit within 1″ of the bearer and roll a D6; on a 2+ that unit takes D3 mortal wounds and if they die and the bearer is your warlord, they automatically count as having performed their deed of legend. Most of the time this is just extra mortal wounds as a bonus. It’s OK but not something you really need and other options are better. C
  • Talisman of Storms – Rune Priest only. After you resolve the first psychic power for the bearer in your Psychic phase, roll a D6 for each enemy unit within 12″ of the bearer and on a 4+, that enemy unit suffers 1 mortal wound. This is a pretty good probability shot, and combines well with Living Lightning to make some Rune Priests who are stupid good at teleporting into a situation and vomiting out mortal wounds to everything around them. C+
  • Wrymsplitter – Replaces a power axe with a S+1, AP-2 2 Damage axe that increases to 4 damage against Monsters and Vehicles (aka the big targets). Power axes are significantly cheaper than Frost axes and show up on a lot more units in the Space Wolves’ army. This combos with the Tale of the Wolf King litany to give you a character who does 5 flat damage to monsters and vehicles, while with the Assault Doctrine active it will be at AP -3 with exploding hits on 6s. That’s downright terrifying for armies relying on big monsters and vehicles, but it’s a huge investment for something that’s only going to be better than the Armour of Russ in maybe a few games. Potentially something you add via a relic every now and then and amazing in more casual games. B+
  • Stormsong – Replaces a master-crafted Stalker Bolt Rifle with one that’s 36″ range, Heavy 1, S6, AP-3, 3 damage and can target CHARACTERS even if they aren’t closest. Nifty but outclassed by other stuff. B
  • Wyrdbane – Replaces a runic sword (so a Rune Priest’s weapon), with one that S+1, AP-4 D3 damage and you can re-roll wound rolls. Plus, if you’re targeting a Psyker, the damage characteristic jumps up to 3. This can be very useful against psyker-heavy armies like Grey Knights and Thousand Sons, where you can turn a Rune Priest into an incredibly deadly threat for mowing down enemy units. Go hard on this with Touch of the Wild when you get in. B+
  • Adamantine Mantle – If the model with this would lose a wound, roll a D6 and on a 5+ they don’t lose that wound. Helpful, but you’re going to take other relics over this. B
  • Runic Armour – Gives the model a 2+ save and a 5+ invulnerable save. Best on models that can’t easily get a 2+ save and lack an invuln, like jump pack Rune Priests. B
  • Morkai’s Teeth Bolts – Modifies a bolt weapon a model has. When that model shoots they can choose to fire a Morkai’s Teeth bolt. If they do, you only get to make one attack but if it hits the target takes a mortal wound and the unit is marked by Morkai until the end of the turn, giving all units attacking it the ability to re-roll wound rolls of 1. Currently this isn’t faction-locked, which can lead to some stupid good combos. Even once it’s fixed, it can be very useful on a Terminator character dropping in with Wolf Guard Terminators and giving them a boost. B
  • Master-Crafted Weapon – Pick a weapon the model has and increase its damage by 1. This is really good, and immediately outclasses a few other relic weapon options. The downside is that it’s almost always going to be your third relic and it’s too big an investment at 3 CP to be worth it. You may occasionally find a use for it master-crafting a Wolf Priest’s power fist, though. A
  • Companion’s Blade – Replaces a power sword or master-crafted power sword with one that’s S+2, AP-3 2 damage and if you’re within 3″ of another friendly Space Wolves character you can re-roll wounds. Nifty. B+
  • Wolf Tail Talisman – When an enemy model takes a psychic test within 18″ of the bearer, they get -2 to the test. This is the easy bet for the alternate relic that’ll show up in your competitive list instead of Armour of Russ, and it’ll do work in games where you need to put a damper on your opponent’s psychic shenanigans, namely Grey Knights and Thousand Sons. Less useful against mech Eldar who can just put themselves out of range of it. B+

With all of these the big issue is that you’re taking the Wulfen Stone as your primary relic almost 100% of the time and then adding the Armour of Russ as a secondary relic for 1 CP in most games. But the games where you aren’t adding Armour of Russ, most of the other options don’t do enough to shift those games with the potential exception of the anti-psyker measures and so they just end up not seeing much competitive use.

 

Credit Nick Kasza

Litanies

As of Saga of the Beast, the Space Wolves have access to the standard Litanies of the Space Marines, plus their own Chapter Litany. Wolf Priests know the Litany of Hate, plus one of the following and, if they’re in a SPACE WOLVES detachment, they also know The Tale of The Wolf King and the Lord of the Deeps as a bonus.

  1. Litany of Faith – When friendly <CHAPTER> units within 6″ suffer a mortal wound, roll a D6. On a 5+, they ignore that wound. Doesn’t stack with other abilities. Very solid, but we’re mostly here for Canticle of Hate. B
  2. Catechism of Fire – Pick a friendly <CHAPTER> unit within 6″. That unit gets +1 to its To Wound rolls when it shoots the closest visible unit. A solid ability and potentially useful on something like Terminators with Combi-bolters but it’s outclassed by other abilities. B
  3. Exhortation of Rage – Pick a friendly <CHAPTER> unit within 6″. When that unit fights, unmodified 6s give you another attack with the same weapon. The new attacks don’t cause further attacks. Space Wolves already do this on their own and don’t need a second version of it, even if they stack. C
  4. Mantra of Strength – Add 1 to the Chaplain’s Strength and Attack characteristics and 1 to the Damage characteristic of its melee weapons. A decent buff, but we’re more concerned with how Chaplains can boost other units in the army. C+
  5. Recitation of Focus – Pick a friendly <CHAPTER> unit within 6″. Add 1 to the To Hit rolls of that unit’s attacks made with ranged weapons. Solid, especially on Terminators rocking Combi-plasma who want to avoid blowing themselves up, though you can use Keen Senses there to ignore the penalty if you need and Fury of the First to get another +1 to hit, making this more redundant and typically your fourth pick. A
  6. Canticle of Hate – Add 2 to charge rolls for friendly <CHAPTER> units within 6″ of this model and friendly <CHAPTER> units within 6″ can move 6″ when they pile in or consolidate. Doesn’t stack with other abilities that increase these ranges. This is a massive ability for melee armies like Space Wolves and the one you’ll most want to build around. A+
  7. Space Wolves: Tale of The Wolf King and the Lord of the Deeps – Pick a Space Wolves unit within 6″ of this model. When resolving a melee attack for that unit against a VEHICLE or MONSTER, add 1 to the damage. This can be a solid boost, and not having to take it instead of Canticle of Hate means you may actually use it after you’ve made your charges. B

The most important of these for the Space Wolves go is the Canticle of Hate. Movement is a key part of the Space Wolves’ game, particularly since a successful Space Wolves army will often view the Fight phase a second Movement phase. Having the ability to get +2 to charge distances and get 6” pile-in and Consolidate moves is game-changing and much of the Space Wolves’ game plan will depend on reliably making charges after teleporting in or outflanking.

Recitation of Focus is a big one for the Wolf Guard Terminator combi-plasma bomb.  Having access to +1 to hit rolls means when they overcharge they can never die to a roll of a 1. A very reliable way to keep yourself safe and squeeze out every bit of efficiency you can. This used to be done by using the Target Priority Vanguard Warlord Trait, but now that trait has been brought in-line with all other books and only works on Phobos units.

Credit: Richyp

Stratagems

Space Wolves share a number of Stratagems with their Space Marine cousins, but have a diverse set that give them a lot of neat tricks and extra power. Saga of the Beast further expanded on this, making Wolf Guard (and by extension, Thunderwolf Cavalry) particularly deadly.

  • Armour of Contempt (1 CP). This gives a vehicle a 5+ ignore wounds roll against mortal wounds for the duration of a phase (and can be activated in response to taking one). It’s always been a nice to have, and don’t forget that you can use it in phases other than the Psychic phase, which can be very relevant against Drukhari or Harlequins packing haywire. B
  • Honour the Chapter (3 CP). A Space Wolves unit can fight again at the end of the phase. Has always been great. Unlike the Space Marines version, only works for INFANTRY, CAVALRY, and BIKERS, so won’t give you extra rounds of combat with Murderfang or Grimnar. Still great, though. A
  • Only in Death Does Duty End (2 CP). A character can fight or shoot when they die. Always useful. Still useful. A
  • Flakk Missile (1 CP). An infantry squad using a missile launcher can shoot a special missile that does D3 mortals to a FLY unit. Fine if you happen to have a squad of Long Fangs with missile launchers. C
  • Orbital Bombardment (3 CP). Once per battle your warlord can call in an orbital strike, doing MWs on a 4+ (or 5+ for characters) within a random radius of a point you pick. This has historically not been reliable enough to be worth this many CP, and that’s probably even more true now, but could be funny against castle armies combined with launching one from an Impulsor. Nick Nanavati opened up with this against a Tau castle full of Drones in the finals of the PTT Atlanta Open, and it worked out pretty well – against less-compressed armies it might not be so relevant. C+
  • Wisdom of the Ancients (1 CP). A non-Murderfang, non-Wulfen Dreadnought gains a Captain’s aura for a turn (re-roll 1s to hit). Most Marine lists should be working around re-roll bubbles, but this is still an OK thing to have in the back pocket so that splitting your forces doesn’t hit you quite so hard. The main thing to remember here is that the good Dreadnoughts are BS 2+ and so re-roll 1s is effectively the same as a full re-roll bubble, giving you more flexibility if you need a Wolf Lord elsewhere. Also sad that it doesnt’ work on the Wulfen dreadnoughts. B
  • Killshot (1 CP). Use in the Shooting phase if you have a Space Wolves Predator within 6″ of two other friendly Predators. Those tanks get +1 to wound rolls and damage rolls for attacks that target MONSTERS or VEHICLES this phase. Deleted from the standard marines book where it was only ever useful with Guilliman’s old re-rolls, there’s never been a real compelling reason to take three Predators in a Space Wolves list. C
  • Overwhelming Impetuosity (1 CP). Use at the start of the Fight phase on a Blood Claws unit that successfully charged this turn and is within 1″ of a unit with a higher Power Rating. You can re-roll failed hit rolls for the Blood Claws’ attacks that target that enemy unit. Blood Claws have a pretty low power level all things considered and this really helps them punch above their weight. It’s a powerful effect that can let them range away from a Wolf Lord and still take on bigger targets. B
  • Cloaked by the Storm (3 CP). Use in your Psychic phase to pick a Rune Priest who successfully cast a power that phase. Your opponents get -1 to hit on ranged attacks that target friendly Space Wolves units within 6″ of that model until your next Psychic phase. It’s a powerful effect that combines well with the Tempest’s Wrath and Stormcaller Psychic Powers but the latter is pretty hard to cast and the CP cost is really high on this one. What it boils down to is that this is a good ability but you’ll often rather hide key units by holding them in Deep Strike or transports and use the CP on other stuff. B
  • Trophies of Fenris (1/3 CP). Allows you to get 1 extra relic (1 CP) or two (3 CP). You’ll want to use the 1 CP version almost every game to snag the Armour of Russ or Wolf Tail Talisman. The 3 CP version, not so much. A
  • Cunning of the Wolf (1 CP). Use during deployment when you set up a Space Wolves Infantry unit. You can set them up “on the hunt” instead of on the table. Then at the end of any Movement phase they can join the battle, coming onto the table within 6″ of any table edge but more than 9″ away from any enemy models. This is a helpful Stratagem for Infantry that can’t teleport but still want to get behind the enemy without being shot at. You’re primarily going to be using it with Wulfen, Aggressors, and Long Fangs. A
  • Mentor’s Guidance (1 CP). Use in the Shooting or Fight phase on a non-Wolf Priest Space Wolves Character within 6″ of a Wolf Priest. You can re-roll failed wound rolls for that character in this phase. This is pretty handy now that Wolf Priests are a major part of your army and helps you make sure that when you get to combat, you go as hard as possible. B
  • Lone Wolf (1 CP). Use this at the end of any phase if there’s a Space Wolves Infantry unit in your army (except for Characters, Servitors, or Wulfen) that has only one model left. That model gets +2 Wounds and it gains the Character keyword, plus you can re-roll failed hit and wound rolls for it for the rest of the game. This is a wonderfully flavorful Stratagem that will do its best work on an Aggressor. It might also be worth looking at it for a Long Fang or Combi-Plasma Wolf Guard Terminator in a pinch. B
  • Chooser of the Slain (2 CP). Use immediately after your opponent sets up a unit from reserves that is visible to a RUNE PRIEST in your army. A single friendly unit within 6″ of that Rune Priest can immediately shoot at the enemy as if it were the Shooting phase, but it gets -1 to hit. The Space Wolves version of Auspex Scan comes without a range limit but requires the unit to be near a Rune Priest, which isn’t the end of the world. This is solid with Aggressors but it’s going to do some of its best work with Eliminators accompanied by a Rune Priest in Phobos Armour where they can really make use of the 36″ range. B
  • Laugh in the Face of Death (1 CP). Use in the Fight phase on a Space Wolves Infantry, Biker, or Cavalry unit in your army that is affected by an enemy unit’s ability that modifies their Leadership. You can re-roll failed hit rolls for that Space Wolves unit this phase. This is pretty strong when it’s active, but you’re going to have to keep a lookout for the units that actually cause this, which are rare enough that it’s easy to forget about this. C
  • Overwhelming Savagery (1 CP). Use in the Fight phase to pick a unit of Thunderwolf Cavalry in your army. They can re-roll wound rolls of 1 this phase. This is helpful because your TWC units will frequently find themselves away from a Battle Leader and it’s a good boost. B
  • Howl of the Great Pack (2 CP). Use at the start of the Morale phase and pick a WOLF LORD in your army. Friendly Space Wolves units within 12″ of the model automatically pass Morale tests in this phase and your opponent has to add 1 to Morale tests taken within 12″ of that model in this phase. You will never use this, a marginal ability that is overpriced at 2 CP. D
  • True Grit (1 CP). Use in the Shooting phase on a Space Wolves Infantry unit within 1″ of an enemy unit. Models in that unit can shoot auto bolt rifles, bolt guns, bolt rifles, and bolt carbines as if they were Pistol 2 weapons and they can’t fire any other pistols in the phase. This is a great way to dump some extra damage into a unit you’ve stayed locked in combat with and can even dig you out of combat and free you up to charge in the following Assault phase. B
  • Seeking a Saga (1 CP). Use at the start of the Fight phase. Choose a Space Wolves Character that’s within 1″ of an enemy unit with a higher Power Rating. You can re-roll failed wound rolls for attacks made by that character against that enemy unit. Wolves have a few ways to get wound re-rolls and this is one of the easier ones. Be mindful of when you can activate it and use it to go hard against big targets. B+
  • In the Wolf’s Eye (1 CP). Use in the Shooting phase when a unit of Long Fangs in your army makes its attacks. You can re-roll either failed hit or wound rolls for that unit this phase (declare which when you use the Stratagem). Solid, very good for getting the most out of your Outflanking Long Fangs. Which mode you want will depend on the target but most of the time re-rolling hit rolls will be the play. A
  • Talismanic Shield (1 CP). Use at the start of your opponent’s Psychic phase and pick a Space Wolves Character in your army. That Character can attempt to deny one psychic power this phase as if they were a PSYKER. This is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s helpful for protecting key units ranging forward against the enemy without Rune Priest support but there’s a nonzero chance you could pop it and then not end up using it. C+
  • Hellfire Shells (1 CP). Use before a Space Wolves Infantry model shoots a heavy bolter. You only get to make one hit roll for the weapon this phase but if it hits the target takes D3 mortal wounds. You won’t be taking infantry heavy bolters so this doesn’t matter. C
  • Living Storm (1 CP). Use if a Space Wolves Psyker is within 6″ of 2 other friendly Space Wolves Psykers and manifests the Living Lightning psychic power. The power does D6 mortal wounds instead of D3 when it hurts things. Rune Priest-heavy builds got a lot better with the addition of Phobos Rune Priests and if you’ve got the right things in place for it, this turns Living Lightning into a power that’s better than Smite on rate even before you hit a second unit with it. Big “if” though. B
  • Datalink Telemetry (1 CP). Use in the Shooting phase before a Space Wolves Whirlwind shoots. If the target of the shooting is visible to a friendly Space Wolves Land Speeder unit within 12″ of the target, the Whirlwind’s Attacks automatically hit. Space Wolf Land Speeders may be OK, but you aren’t likely to use Whirlwinds. C
  • Keen Senses (1 CP). Use in the Shooting phase on a Space Wolves unit. That unit doesn’t suffer any penalties to its to hit rolls this phase. This is a wonderful stratagem that’s great for cutting through Raven Guard/Alpha Legion/Night Lords/Alaitoc/Flyer nonsense, giving your Intercessors/Long Fangs/Terminators/Bikers a clean volley of fire to wipe something off the table. The other big thing to note is that you can use this to ignore the -1 to hit penalty for firing both modes on a combi-weapon, making it ideal for Wolf Guard Terminators with combi-plasma who want to drop in, supercharge, and shoot both guns at something nearby without fear of killing themselves on a 1 or 2. A
  • The Emperor’s Executioners (1 CP). Use when a Space Wolves unit from your army fights in the Fight phase. Every time you make a hit roll of a 4+ against a THOUSAND SONS unit you can immediately make another attack against it using the same weapon (these don’t explode themselves). Super situational but Thousand Sons are pretty good now and it’s great for blowing through a squad of Rubrics or Scarabs that might otherwise slow you down with All is Dust. B
  • Linebreaker Bombardment (1 CP).  Use in the Shooting phase when a Vindicator shoots if it’s within 6″ of two other Vindicators. None of them can fire this turn and instead you pick a point on the battlefield within 24″ of all three of them and roll a D6 for each unit within 3″, adding 1 if the unit has 10+ models, and subtracting 1 if it’s a CHARACTER. on a 4+ that unit takes 3D3 wounds. This was marginal before Vindicators got a buff to their guns and it’s even worse now because you’d rather just shoot the Vindicators’ guns. There’s a reason this got deleted from Codex: Space Marines. D

Credit: Kevin Stillman

Saga of the Beast Additions

Saga of the Beast gave Space Wolves a bunch of stratagems that they were missing the first time around and from the Vigilus books, plus a small number of very solid new stratagems exclusive to the faction.

  • Duty Eternal (1 CP). Use when a Dreadnought is targeted. They take -1 damage on them until the end of the phase. On initial release this was half damage instead of -1 like the Space Marines Codex, but we expect it to receive errata to bring it in-line wih those changes. Even in the post-FAQ version, this stratagem obviously helps out Bjorn and Murderfang, along with a host of other punchy dreadnoughts wolves have available to them. A
  • Boltstorm (2 CP). Auto bolt rifles auto-hit within half range. An odd one. No longer gated behind Veteran Intercessors, and auto bolt rifles got better, but 2 CP is a lot for this – Marines are great at hitting things, and this is just not going to be adding 2 CP worth of “oopmh” most of the time. C
  • Rapid Fire (2 CP) Make a unit of bolt rifle Intercessors Rapid Fire 2 for a shooting phase. Similar to Boltstorm, but a lot more interesting. While Boltstorm doesn’t really “add” much this on the other hand, doubles the output of an Intercessor unit for a turn, which is particularly good if you’re getting a Wolf Lord’s re-rolls aura. The existence of this makes a unit of ten bolt rifle Intercessors at least an interesting thought exercise to look at, as especially under Tactical Doctrine they can do some serious damage. This isn’t quite as useful for Space Wolves as it is for regular marines because you don’t have access to Chapter Masters and you’ll often need to spend your CP elsewhere. C+
  • Big Guns Never Tire (1 CP). A VEHICLE can move and shoot heavy weapons with no penalty. If you have any vehicles and need to move them, this is a fantastic thing to have available. Also hilarious with a storm cannon Leviathan. A
  • Veteran Intercessors (1/2 CP). Pay 1 CP for a 5-model squad or 2 CP for more to give an Intercessor unit +1 A and +1 Ld. This looked like straight fire when Saga was released and it certainly has its merits, turning a squad of Space Wolf Intercessors into a real blender and doing extra work on a Power Fist or Thunder Hammer sergeant. The downside is that on Space Wolves it’s actually likely to be overkill and makes your investment of precious CP into squads pretty large. Also, you don’t want your opponent to feel good about killing a 5-man squad of Intercessors. B
  • Hammer of Wrath (1 CP). Use when a jump pack unit from your army finishes a charge. Roll a D6 for each model within 1″ of an enemy unit and do a mortal on 5+. This is cute, but at high levels of play when you’re making charge moves with expensive jump pack infantry it’s extremely unlikely that all (or even most) of them are within an inch at the end of the charge, as that heavily reduces your scope for pile in shenanigans. Potentially cool for Blood Claws, but sadly betrays that there’s still an occasional disconnect between how it feels like the game should play and what 8th edition actually encourages. D
  • Hero of the Chapter (1 CP). This stratagem allows you to take a second warlord trait on another character in your army. You’re still going to take Saga of the Wolfkin as your primary Warlord Trait, but Hero of the Chapter lets you tailor another character at game-time based on your opponent’s list and faction. Up against vehicles and monsters? Take Saga of the Beastslayer on your second Wolf Lord or Wolf Priest. On pointy Hammer and Anvil deployment with an opponent pushing forward with Incursors or another unit to make an early grab for center? Take Saga of the Hunter and either force them to back off or eat a guaranteed turn 1 charge. Also works very well if you’re bringing a Rune Priest in Phobos Armour and you want to combine Saga of the Wolfkin and the Lord of Deceit Warlord Trait. A
  • Fury of the Champions (1 CP). An updated version of Fury of the First from Codex Space Marines. Select one Space Wolves Terminator unit from your army. Until the end of the phase, when resolving an attack made by a model in this unit, add 1 to the hit roll. Wolf Guard Terminators got some major boosts from Saga of the Beast and this is one of them. It’s particularly good on a large unit of Terminator sporting combi-plasmas, where you can drop in and reliably fire both weapon profiles and effectively ignore the hit modifier while using the Litany of Focus to get an extra +1, ensuring that you won’t overheat. You can also use this when the Litany fails or when you need Canticle of Hate on your Wolf Priest instead. A
  • Knowledge of the Foe (0 CP). Use this stratagem in the Fight phase when an enemy character is destroyed by an attack made by a SPACE WOLVES model in your army. You gain 1 command point. Look, it’s free real estate. An amazing stratagem that costs 0 CP and plays into the Space Wolves’ core strengths, plus it doesn’t punish you for running out of CP earlier. Has the added bonus of making Tyranid players a bit more salty than they usually are as Feeder Tendrils is just a worse version. A+
  • Counter-charge (1 CP). Use in your opponent’s charge phase and pick a Space Wolves unit in your army. Until the end of the phase, you can Heroically Intervene with with that unit, and it can move up to 6” when you do so. This could be pivotal in some match-ups and really catch some people off-guard. It’s a wonderful piece of utility in the tool-box, a Swiss-army knife of sorts that can help you with aggressive play, defensive play, bluffing and posturing to keep your opponent from acting. It’s a powerful trick and the best part is that you don’t even have to use it to get some of its benefit. It’s a big part of how Space Wolves can turn the Fight phase into a second Movement phase. A
  • Crushing Assault (1 CP). Use in the Charge phase when a unit of Thunderwolf Cavalry finishes charging. For each model in that unit you can pick an enemy unit within 1″ of that model and roll a D6; on a 2+ that enemy unit takes a mortal wound. This is much more reliable than Hammer of Wrath but the downside is that Thunderwolf Cavalry come in much smaller units so your maximum output here is 5 mortal wounds and that’s if you can get all five large bases into combat distance. The 2+ keeps it from being totally worthless, though. C+
  • Touch of the Wild (1 CP). Use in the Fight phase to pick a Space Wolves Character in your army. Until the end of the phase, when that model rolls an unmodified 4+ to hit, they score an extra hit. This is absolutely wild, doing real work on a Wolf Lord with a Thunder Hammer, Saga of the Wolfkin, and the Wulfen Stone, making them able to kill everything they touch. Works wonderfully on the new Primaris Ragnar Blackmane and makes Gene-Wrought Might a bit more interesting. Also plays very well on Murderfang, giving the Character Dreadnought a real boost. A
  • Vicious Executioners (1 CP). Use in the Fight phase when you select a WOLF GUARD unit from your army to fight, until the end of the phase when resolving attacks made by a model in this unit against an INFANTRY unit, an unmodified wound roll of 6 inflicts 1 mortal wound on the target in addition to the other damage. This is a fun little Stratagem to help the Wolf Guard terminators or Jump pack dudes out. It’s not game-changing by any means, in part because of that INFANTRY restriction. Remember that Thunderwolf Cavalry also have the WOLF GUARD keyword. B-
  • Pack Hunters (1 CP). Use in the Fight phase when a FENRISIAN WOLVES or CYBERWOLVES unit Fights. Until the end of the phase, when they make attacks, if the unit is within 3″ of a friendly Space Wolves INFANTRY or CAVALRY unit, you can re-roll the hit roll. A good boost but on a unit that doesn’t get much play and probably not where you want to invest your CP. B
  • Storm Strike (1 CP). Use in the Shooting phase when a STORMFANG GUNSHIP shoots. Until the end of the phase add 1 to hit, wound, and damage rolls for its Helfrost destructor. This is a big boost for a unit that definitely needed one and with the help of Vengeance of the Machine Spirit goes a long way toward making Stormfangs playable. They’re probably still not finding their way into competitive Space Wolf armies but this keeps them from being a trap choice. B+
  • Gene-Wrought Might (1 CP). For a Fight phase, unmodified 6s to hit from a unit auto-hits and auto-wounds. If the Savage Fury Chapter Doctrine is active, then the extra attacks you generate on unmodified 6s also automatically wound. This is pretty cool – especially once you’re in to the Assault Doctrine, this lets even your regular infantry actually put a smattering of hurt on something like a Knight with T8. The extra bonus is a nice touch. B
  • Hunter Slayer Missile (1 CP) Once per game per REPULSOR (which includes the Executioner) you can shoot a D3 mortal wound-causing missile at a VEHICLE or MONSTER. Good clean fun – use it before they pop your tanks. C
  • Target Sighted (3 CP). This lets you fire stalker bolt rifles at a character, and do additional mortal wounds when you roll 6s to wound. This is much more useful now that Stalker Bolt Rifles are 2 damage, but it’s expensive and requires you run Stalker bolt Rifle Intercessors. More likely a Space Wolves army wants Eliminators instead. C
  • Skilled Riders (2 CP). Give a BIKER or LAND SPEEDER unit a 4+ invulnerable save if they moved or a 3+ if they advanced. This is great, and makes squads of actual bikes a lot more interesting. Space Wolf bikes got a lot of boosts from Saga of the Beast and are now really worth looking at. The only sad thing here is that most of the weapons on bikes are Rapid Fire, so if you want the Advance version you’re trading for shooting, but that can still be good for claiming an objective or protecting a unit that still needs to get into position. B
  • Death-Grip Bite (1 CP). Use in the Fight phase when a THUNDERWOLF CAVALRY unit from your army fight.s Until the end of the phase, that unit’s Crushing teeth and claws weapons have a damage characteristic of 2. This is a good way to get flat 3 damage from your pups when targeting vehicles and monsters (using aura abilities like the Tale of the Wolf King litany). Add in the Assault Doctrine bonus for the extra AP and this adds a lot of play to Thunderwolf Cavalry units, helping push them over the edge and making them playable. A
  • Steady Advance (1 CP). Use in the Shooting phase. A Space Wolves INFANTRY unit gets to use Bolter Discipline as if it had remained stationary. Most relevant for Intercessors hopping out of an Impulsor and combos with Rapid Fire. B
  • Vengeance of the Machine Spirit (2 CP). A LAND RAIDER, REPULSOR, STORMFANG, or STORMWOLF gets to either auto-explode, shoot one weapon at top profile or fight (lol) on death. Very cool, and a neat way to get a bit more out of your stuff as it goes down, although sadly you don’t get to double tap with the Executioner’s big gun. Still, if it’s sitting in re-roll bubbles (it probably is) two shots from the laser destroyer, or an extra Helfrost shot, is a big deal, and has a good chance of randomly punishing your opponent for their insolence. The extra bonus of working on Space Wolves flyers is a nice touch. B
  • Transhuman Physiology (2 CP). Use when a Space Wolves (non-vehicle, non-servitor) unit is chosen as the target of an attack. Until the end of the phase, wound rolls against that unit of 1-3 always fail, regardless of the weapon strength or modifiers. One of the most important stratagems added to Space Wolves in Saga of the Beast, this is critical for Wolf Guard Terminators, Jump Pack Wolf Guard, Thunderwolf Cavalry, and Wulfen. Every bit of extra durability you can get out of these units is absolutely critical when trying to consistently win games. It’s not bad on Primaris models, either. A
  • Skyfire (1 CP). A Hunter or Stalker gets +1 to hit and wound against FLY, and doubles damage on a 6. That’s an incredible boost, and makes Stalkers worth a second look since they’re cheap and have T8, though they will likely not fit into the Wolves’ larger game plan. B+

 

Space Wolves Units

Like their brother chapters, Space Wolves have too many datasheets, though there are more chaff selections than Space Marines owing to Space Wolves having a few unique units and the faction having a more focused purpose than general marines. While we’ll focus on touching on as many units as we can, we will by no means be comprehensive, skipping over or only briefly touching on units that don’t make sense in a competitive list. We’re also going to be compressing a few datasheets – there’s no pressing reason to look at all seven datasheets for a Captain separately, as they’re 90% similar – rest assured that we’ll call out the important variations. Note that several of the Phobos units in the list have the “Concealed Positions” rule, allowing them to deploy on the table anywhere more than 9″ from the enemy deployment zone or enemy models, as do Scouts. We will often shorthand refer to this as “infiltrate.” We’ll also be touching on Forge World units, but focusing only on those that see regular successful competitive play.

Credit: Kevin Stillman

HQ

Space Wolves have a lot of HQ options. This is a character-heavy army, and between this and the Elites slot, you have a lot of options if you want units with auras.

Logan Grimnar

Santa Claus himself comes in two flavors: Classic Terminator flavor or the larger, VEHICLE version riding on Stormrider. Both are capable combatants carrying the Axe Morkai, but Stormrider makes Grimar terribly vulnerable, where he ends up being a kind of poor man’s Lord Discordant. Grimnar’s biggest upside is his Chapter Master full re-roll, but it’s the old version that only works on failed hit rolls (meaning it won’t help as much against modifiers to hit). Grimnar’s OK but he’s outclassed by some of the other melee options you can take, he’s not priced to give you a discount and he doesn’t have the WOLF GUARD keyword, which has become much more relevant. The bottom line for poor Grimnar is that there are cheaper aura options and stronger melee options to look at.

Ragnar Blackmane

An absolute nightmare in melee combat, Saga of the Beast gave Ragnar a huge boost, giving the Berserker Rage ability which gives him +3 attacks when Shock Assault is activated instead of 1 and ability called Battlelust that allows units within 6” of him to consolidate an additional 3”. This is huge for a combat army – movement is life and every single inch you can get, you need to take advantage of. This will reliably allow you to get into places you need to be in and wrap secondary or even tertiary units you did not declare charges against. Rangar can get up to an astronomical number of attacks fully-buffed; math-wise he can drop Magnus in a single Fight phase. And at 120 points, he’s priced to move. Ragnar is a whirlwind, open-palm slam into every competitive Space Wolves list.

Arjac Rockfist

Arjac Rockfist. Credit: Jon Kilcullen

Arjac is your go-to Terminator named character and who Grimnar wishes he could be on the battlefield. He’s incredibly difficult to remove thanks to his Anvil Shield that gives him a 3+ invulnerable save and reduces incoming damage by 1, he’s got S5 base, giving him S10 attacks with his Foehammer, and he gives nearby WOLF GUARD an extra attack in the Fight phase, plus he re-rolls failed hit rolls against Characters. He’s got a Battle Leader’s aura (re-roll wound rolls of 1 for units within 6″), and he’s priced to be a very efficient replacement for a Terminator Battle Leader. Arjac is a great accompaniment to a group of teleporting Wolf Guard Terminators and works great with Ragnar, where you can mitigate his slow speed. The only downside to Arjac is that he’s often going to be your second footslogging character in a Space Wolves army and not every army wants that.

Njal Stormcaller

Credit: Starvolt

A special character Rune Priest with options both in and out of Terminator Armour, Njal’s best asset is his Lord of Tempests special rule, which gives him +1 to Psychic Tests, smoothing the difficulty curve on some of the Tempestas Discipline’s more difficult-to-manifest powers, making him a key unit if you’re going to build around casting those powers. If you’re going that route, you’re going to want to bring another pair of Rune Priests along to help supercast Living Lightning, and you’ll want one of them to be a Phobos Rune Priest. Terminator Njal has the good model but don’t feel like you have to take him if you don’t think you’re going to need to teleport in.

 

Wolf Lords

Credit: Patrick “theKingslayer” Richard

Wolf Lords still have a strong place in the Space Wolves list, and that’s as smash captains. Strap a jump pack on their backs, give them a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield, put the Wulfin Stone on them and Saga of the Wolfkin, and let them loose. Have them take out big targets and lend their re-roll 1s to hit aura to nearby Wolf Guard units. The Thunderwolf and Terminator versions aren’t nearly as useful, in part because you have better special character replacements who have the WOLF GUARD keyword, and the Primaris version can’t take Jump Packs to improve their mobility.

Rune Priests

Rune Priests come in a variety of different configurations but the best of them is the Rune Priest in Phobos Armour, who has access to the Obscuration Discipline and the Vanguard Warlord Traits, making him a good outlet for both. If you’re taking Eliminators or Incurors, the Phobos Rune Priest also makes a good target for Hero of the Chapter and the Lord of Deceit Warlord Trait to redeploy those units. If you’re taking Rune Priests, you’ll want at least two, but some cast-heavy builds will have you running three to turn them into missiles and lightning the crap out of everything around them.

Wolf Priests

Thanks to Saga of the Beast, these guys are absolute rock stars in the Space Wolves book. They’re good for regular marines, they’re amazing in a combat-first Space Wolves army. Every army wants at least one for Canticle of Hate to enable charges, and many armies want two or three to add in Exhortation of Rage to proc extra attacks and Litany of Faith to protect units. They have the added bonus of being able to heal nearby INFANTRY/CAVALRY/BIKERS once per turn as well. These also come in a variety of flavors, but the primary way you’ll want to run them is with Jump Packs so they can be anywhere on the table you need and in position to activate their litanies at the start of the battle round. They can help Wolf Guard Terminators teleporting in make their charges by activating the Litany at the start of the battle round, then moving to where the unit will teleport in (Advancing if necessary), and lending the aura to the unit once it arrives.

Haldor Icepelt Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Haldor Icepelt Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Battle Leaders

The Space Wolf version of Space Marine Lieutenants, valuable for their aura that gives friendly Space Wolves the ability to re-roll wound rolls of 1. Primaris Battle Leaders are the better play here, owing to their extra wound and attack making them better to have along in combat, which is where they’ll need to be if their auras are doing work. Give one a power axe and have him tag along with your Intercessors in an Impulsor.

Canis Wolfborn

The Thunderwolf Cavalry HQ Character, Canis checks almost all the boxes you want – he’s got T5, the WOLF GUARD keyword, a Battle Leader re-roll for wounds and he’s an absolute blender in melee with support from the Space Wolves’ Chapter Litany and the Death Grip Stratagem. I say “almost” though because well, he has no invulnerable save and on a 100-point character that’s really bad. He’s got a lot of upside, but with no invuln he’s going to be shot off the board by Eliminators a lot.

The Other Guys

  • Bjorn the Fell-Handed is the Dreadnought HQ option for Space Wolves. He got better with the addition of Duty Eternal in Saga of the Beast and Touch of the Wild but if you want a character dreadnought who packs a punch in your army, go with Murderfang instead.
  • Ulrik the Slayer is the Space Wolves’ Character Chaplain and potentially a Master of Sanctity. He might be worth discussing if they every update his datasheet to allow him to use litanies. As-is, he just sucks.
  • Krom Dragongaze is a Wolf Lord who gives nearby enemy units -1 Ld and doesn’t give you any wargear or warlord trait options. The only upside is he’s technically cheaper, but you lose so much value that it doesn’t matter.
  • Harald Deathwolf is the Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf character option and comes with a special Frost Axe and an extra morale aura plus a storm shield for a 3+ invulnerable save. The aura is pretty worthless and Harald isn’t offering enough as a combat threat to overcome the fact that he’s a whopping 135 points.
  • Iron Priests are Techmarines with Thunder Hammers and special pistols but even with these they’re still the cheapest HQ you can field. Though that’s a lot less valuable for Space Wolves, where HQs are a primary source of strength and not a slot you need to fill cheaply.

 

Troops

Thanks to the Hunters Unleashed Chapter Tactic and the addition of Combat Doctrines, Troops are also a point of strength in the Space Wolves codex. They may not have the cheap detachment filler option of scouts, but Space Wolves lists can more than make up for that by building on a strong foundation of Intercessors and Blood Claws, each of which can be brutal melee threats.

Intercessors

Beanith's Space Wolf

Beanith’s Space Wolf

Intercessors are now the workhorses of the Space Wolves army, capable of delivering withering hails of fire in Tactical Doctrine then shifting into a punishing melee threat when the Assault Doctrine is active. Space Wolves Intercessors almost always want to be in Impulsors, with a Pack Leader carrying either a Power Fist or Thunder Hammer to give them extra melee punch. Despite this, for Space Wolves Intercessors are as much about positioning and board denial as they are damage output, and can be thought of as the anvil to the hammer of Wolf Guard/Bloodclaws/Thunderwolves in a list, acting as a second wave of “stuff getting in the way” after their transports fall. Used in this fashion, you’ll be keeping them in the Impulsors until they absolutely have to disembark, allowing the Impulsors to block enemy models’ retreat and funnel movement until they’re destroyed, at which point the Intercessors can continue the job.

Blood Claws

With no Troop Scouts, Blood Claws are your cheap detachment fillers, but unlike Scouts, Blood Claws are much more specialized to a melee combat role, and can do some real damage in the Fight phase once the Assault Doctrine kicks in and they’re able to combine a large number of attacks with +1 to hit and AP-1. They can take a Wolf Guard Pack Leader, who adds an extra attack and Ld 8 and makes a good target for a power fist addition to the squad. Blood Claws can either hold objectives or you can get much more aggressive with them, placing them in Drop Pods and pushing them into the enemy’s face with Canticle of Hate, though they’ll work better in more of a counter-charge role if you’re running squads of 5.

Incursors

Incursors are an interesting middle ground between Infiltrators and Intercessors. They’re a bit better at melee then basic Intercessors, but they don’t have access to power fists or thunder hammers on their Sergeants. Their guns are a bit worse than bolt rifles, but they do ignore hit modifiers (positive and negative, which is weird, and Wolves can already ignore negative modifiers fairly easily) and cover, and they’re also packing paired combat blades which do an additional hit on an unmodified 6 to hit – not bad when you consider they’re throwing out 16 attacks on the charge and getting additional hits on 6s in Assault Doctrine if Savage Fury is active. They don’t have the Omni-scramblers rule like Infiltrators, but they can still infiltrate and keep the Smoke Grenades rule. For fast, aggressive melee-focused builds, they make powerful forward troops and can focus on wrapping up key enemy units on the opponent’s front line for a turn or two before your army arrives and delivers its full strength.

Infiltrators

Infiltrators came into being with the Shadowspear boxed set released in March 2019. They are the baseline Phobos-armored Troops, and like other Phobos units they’re able to infiltrate onto the board, similarly to Scouts. This gives them great utility for setting up on the table wherever they’re needed most. They are quite pricey, but like the Phobos Captain they have the Omni-scramblers rule, which means that units cannot deep strike within 12” of them. This makes them good for boxing out Genestealer Cults, Orks, Warp Talons, and other deep striking nasties. That’s much better in a standard marines army where you aren’t one of the deep striking nasties yourself.

Grey Hunters

The Space Wolves version of Tactical Marines. They can’t take heavy weapons but can take 1 special weapon per 5 models in the squad. The big upside is that you can give each model a Chainsword for 0 extra points, making them better at fighting than Tactical Marines. They’re OK at holding objectives but they don’t really have a place in an army that tends to want either Intercessors or Blood Claws.

 

Elites

Beanith's Space Wolf Dreadnoughts

Beanith’s Space Wolf Dreadnoughts

Space Wolves have some great Elites choices. Wolf Guard in particular are a strong contender for showing up in many competitive lists, whether you want them with Jump Packs or in Terminator armour.

Murderfang

The big strong Gallant to Bjorn’s Goofus, Murderfang is a combat monster, a double-clawed beast who can re-roll charge rolls and gets +2 attacks on the charge (+1 more for Shock Assault). Thanks to Saga of the Beast, Murderfang can now shrug off wounds with Duty Eternal and absolutely shred enemy units in melee combat with Touch of the Wild. Murderfang can’t use Wisdom of the Ancients for hit re-rolls, but he can use Armour of Contempt to shrug off mortal wounds and pairs well with a Smash Wolf Lord to re-roll hit rolls of 1. Murderfang’s 8″ Movement is also very relevant, helping him get into combat much more readily. Sadly, he can’t get the Advance and Charge bonus from Ragnar, being a VEHICLE.

Wolf Guard

Wolf Guard got a huge boost from Saga of the Beast, and Jump Pack Wolf Guard are worth consideration. Armed with Power Fists and Storm Shields, Jump Pack Wolf Guard can pack a powerful punch, and be where you want them when you need them. Use Transhuman Physiology to further protect them when they take fire from bigger guns, and consider leaving a few as “ablative wounds,” giving them a Storm Shield and Chainsword (instead of a power fist), since it’ll be rare that all 10 of your Wolf Guard will make it into combat. A Wolf Lord Smash Captain and a Jump Pack Wolf Priest can travel with these guys and help maximize their value – the Priest can either help them make a long charge or you can look at something like Litany of Faith to make them more resilient. Their one downside is that being T4 1W makes them fragile.

Wolf Guard in Terminator Armour

Credit: Starvolt

The other option for Wolf Guard, and just as nasty, but in a different way. Terminator Wolf Guard will be teleporting into battle, typically to meet a Canticle-chanting Jump Pack Wolf Priest, but before they smash anything in melee combat, they’ll be obliterating targets with shooting. The primary way to do this is with combi-plasma. A large squad of Wolf Guard Terminators with combi-plasma can put out a frightening number of shots and in Tactical Doctrine, having AP-4 plasma and AP-1 bolters double firing is going to be incredibly nasty. You can use Keen Senses to turn off the -1 to hit from firing both weapons, and use Fury of the Champions for an additional +1 to hit to ensure that you’re A. Hitting on a 2+, and B. unable to roll 1s when super-charging the plasma, so you can unload at full force without worry of losing a model to overheating (the 1s still miss, but they don’t kill you). Put a storm shield on their other hand to make them real jerks to kill and consider giving one or two a storm shield + chainfist to take out big targets in melee. The standard combat weapon profile is fine for the rest.

Wulfen

Wulfen are just complete bastards in melee combat, able to tear something apart with ease and anyone who has ever played against them will tell you that killing them is no picnic, either – their ability to fight again at death frequently means they just end up taking out whatever attacked them, making them just as big a pain to charge as be charged by. Wulfen also have some great auras that make nearby units – especially Blood Claws – much deadlier, by letting them re-roll charges and giving them +1 attack in the Fight phase. The biggest downside to Wulfen is logistics, however: There just aren’t any good ways to deliver them to combat – although they can Advance and Charge in the same turn, they have bad armor saves (4+ with no invulnerable save unless you give them storm shields), meaning they die too easily to bolter fire and they can’t be transported in Drop Pods, Rhinos, or Razorbacks. This means you either have to outflank them with the Cunning of the Wolf Stratagem or put them in a Stormwolf. Neither is a great option for actually getting them to the fight, and when it boils down to it, you can get more than enough combat value out of the army’s other options to make up for not having these. If they were T5 and a bit cheaper, maybe. But currently Wulfen are sitting on the outside of competitive viability, trying to claw their way in. They can still kick ass in higher level casual play, though.

Aggressors

Aggressors are a sort of Primaris halfway house between Terminators and Centurions. They’re T5 but only S4, have 3 wounds and 3 attacks, and a 3+ save. They only move 5″. They tote flamestorm gauntlets or boltstorm gauntlets and fragstorm grenade launchers. The flamestorms are bad and you shouldn’t take them – you lose out on the fragstorms, so you’re trading 6+d6 shots for 2d6 shots with a shorter range. Aggressors can advance and fire Assault weapons (i.e. all their weapons) with no penalty, or if they stand still or are Overwatching they can fire twice. That is a lot of gun. Since Space Wolves don’t have Centurions, Aggressors are the next-best thing and they’re only OK. They can do some damage outflanking with Cunning of the Wolf, and can be pretty dangerous if they manage to wade into melee combat. They’re also excellent targets for the Lone Wolf Stratagem.

Invictor Tactical Warsuit

Newly added to the Space Wolves’ Roster in Saga of the Beast, the Invictor is like a large stealth dreadnought, with the ability to infiltrate and be up in your opponent’s grill on turn 1. However note that it is NOT a Dreadnought, and so can’t benefit from Stratagems like Duty Eternal. The Invictor is a very good unit, as seen by all the work it has put in for marine armies over the past six months. The big knock against it lacks an invulnerable save (and it’s too big to hide reliably), and because it’s a VEHICLE it isn’t affected by Ragnar’s aura to re-roll charges. There’s potentially some kind of mad play for these that involves combining a pair with a large squad Wulfen waiting to happen, though.

Credit: Patrick “theKingslayer” Richard

The Other Guys

  • Wolf Scouts – Put in the Elites slot of Codex: Space Wolves for fluff reasons, this leaves Wolf Scouts with no real niche to fill. You’re going to opt for Incursors or Infiltrators over them almost every time.
  • Lukas the Trickster – A Blood Claw unique character, Lucas basically gives you a Blood Claws-only Battle Leader aura, a 2-damage lightning claw, and the potential to take a target out with you when he dies. He’s only OK and doesn’t do enough for you to be better than your other character options.
  • Wulfen Dreadnought – The non-character version of Murderfang loses the ability to protect itself from being shot at and can’t use Touch of the Wild to create an insane number of attacks, making it not worth your time.
  • Reivers are pretty disappointing on the whole. They’re expensive for what they’re offering, and what they’re offering – being an infiltrating melee unit with chainsword-equivalent weapons – isn’t particularly useful to Space Wolves, who aren’t lacking for better melee options.
  • Dreadnoughts – Are generally not going to fit your strategy of “broad board control and strong melee combat,” at least, outside of Murderfang. Contemptors are still pretty good however, and efficiently-costed for what they can bring to the table. They’re good units that don’t have as much of a use in a Space Wolves army as they do for other marines.
  • Company Champion – A combat character in an army flush with better options.
  • Ancients – Ancients are much better options for gunline marine armies where the ability to fire a weapon as though it were the Shooting phase when you die goes a lot further than making a single melee attack. They can be a fine accompaniment for Long Fangs, but you’ll often want to outflank Long Fangs with Cunning of the Wolf.
  • Wolf Guard Cataphractii/Tartaros Terminators – These are cute, but you don’t need them.

 

Fast Attack

Credit: Patrick “theKingslayer” Richard

Another big boost thanks to Saga of the Beast, Space Wolves can now make proper use of Thunderwolf Cavalry and Swiftclaws.

 

Thunderwolf Cavalry

Thunderwolves are back, baby! Well, not entirely, but they definitely have a role and you can build around them now without it being a complete waste of time and energy. Thunderwolf Cavalry come with T5, 3 wounds and 2 attacks each, and extra attacks from their Thunderwolves at S5, AP-1, D1 that can be upgraded to 2 damage with the Death Grip Stratagem. You can give the entire squad Storm Shields to make them more resilient, and arm any number of them with Thunder Hammers to turn them into the hard-hitting monsters you need. One of the big advantages of Thunderwolf Cavalry is that they all have the WOLF GUARD keyword, meaning they can be affected by the relevant Stratagems, meaning you can buff them even further. You can’t teleport Thunderwolves in, so they’ve gotta hoof it. Paw it. Whatever.

Swiftclaws

A surprise unit with a lot of utility, Swiftclaws have suddenly become much better the addition of Combat Doctrines, to the point that take a unit of bikes can give Space Wolves a lot of punch. You probably don’t want 15 of them, but taking a squad of 10 with chainswords and a Wolf Guard Bike Leader (plus power fists on the two leaders) can be a real serious threat, and capable of protecting itself with Skilled Riders as it gets into position. The only big downside to these guys is having BS 4+, but the upside is the extra attack on the charge that makes them a deadlier melee threat. There may even be a spot for the Attack Bike, just to get the extra wounds and attacks.

Skyclaws

The Blood Claw version of Assault Marines, these sacrifice Ballistic Skill (which they don’t need) for an extra attack on the charge (which they very much want). They’re much better now that Assault Doctrine can boost them to AP-1, but they’re outclassed by Wolf Guard with Jump Packs, who can do the same job but better and add additional durability with Storm Shields. Skyclaws aren’t terrible, but they’re not quite punchy enough to be your hammer and not quite cheap enough to be a unit that doesn’t do enough damage.

The Other Guys

  • Fenrisian Wolves and Cyberwolves are cheap Fast Attack slot fillers that you don’t really need
  • Suppressors were first introduced in Shadowspear and added to Space Wolves a little later, Suppressors give you mobile, air-droppable heavy weapons fire. They’re OK but only really have a purpose in Iron Hands lists where the ability to mitigate the penalty for moving and shooting and give them an extra AP-1 in Devastator Doctrine made them much better.
  • Land Speeders are cool conceptually, where having a unit of three getting 20″ movement is neat. But for literally no reason, Space Wolves Land Speeders cost nearly double what other marines pay for them, making them completely worthless.
  • Wolf Scout Bikers cost 6 points more per model than Swiftclaws, only have a 4+ save, and trade off the extra attack to get back the BS 3+. It’s not worth it.
  • Inceptors also don’t have a real strong role in the Space Wolves army; they’re a better fit in other marine forces.

 

Heavy Support

Credit: Starvolt

Long Fangs

The Space Wolves’ unique Devastator Squad option, Long Fangs come in squads of five (but can add 1 more model or a Wolf Guard pack leader). They come with their own re-roll 1s to hit ability against a specific target unit each Shooting phase, but have limited weapon options compared to their marine cousins and lack the ability to fall back and shoot if they get caught and they’re an expensive unit. This strongly limits their competitive playability, where you’ll often just be better off taking a Repulsor Executioner instead. If you are going to take them, use Cunning of the Wolf to outflank them and Keen Senses to have them shoot without penalty the turn they arrive, plus In the Wolf’s Eye to get re-rolls on your wound rolls so you can maximize their output. The downside is you’ve just spent 3 CP to make them “work” and that’s not amazing, plus they’re really fragile, having only a 3+ save.

Eliminators

Now we’re talking. Eliminators are extremely good, and a great compliment to what the Space Wolves want to do, deploying forward, controlling the board by limiting character movement, removing key force multipliers, and generally being very annoying to deal with when your opponent has to also be thinking about the rest of the threats rushing up the board toward them. Eliminators come income in two flavours, bolt sniper rifle or las-fusil. Bolt snipers have three different firing mods, all of which can target characters, while las-fusils are like short-ranged, slightly lower strength, but guaranteed-damage lascannons. The bolt sniper version is overwhelmingly more popular, and with good reason. All three profiles are 36″ range and Heavy, and can target CHARACTERS indiscriminately, with the rest being:

  • Executioner – 1 shot, S5 AP-1 D1. Can shoot out of line of sight at +2 to hit, and ignores cover.
  • Hyperfrag – D3 shots, S5 AP0 D1.
  • Mortis – 1 shot, S5 AP-2 Dd3. A wound roll of 6+ causes a mortal wound in addition to other damage.

This is a basically perfect set of profiles – there should never be a situation where your Eliminators have nothing worth targeting. Besides the guns, Eliminators have camo cloaks by default, which means they’re +2 to their save in cover. Like other Phobos units they can infiltrate. They also have a couple of unique features – the “Guided Aim” rule allows the Eliminator sergeant to give up his own shooting and give the other two models in the unit +1 to hit and +1 to wound. This is generally worth it unless you’re already hitting and wounding on a 2+, especially if you’re firing the Mortis rounds where this can mean you cause mortal wounds on a 5+. In Raven Guard this can even get down to a 4+ with their unique doctrine! Additionally, the Sergeant can swap their bolt sniper rifle for an instigator bolt carbine, which costs 5 points but allows the Eliminators to move immediately after firing Overwatch, which means that they can flee from units that try to charge them. The gun is a strict downgrade from a bolt sniper, but if your Sergeant isn’t going to be shooting anyway in the Shooting phase, then 5 points is a fine trade for e.g. being mostly unchargeable from deep strike.

Repulsor Executioner

With the ability to throw out a metric crapload of firepower and blow up some enemy threats on turn 1 when you’re stuck waiting for Devastator Doctrine to roll forward, there’s a real case to be made for taking a Repulsor Executioner in a Space Wolves army. You’ll want the heavy laser over the Plasma Executioner.

The main difficulty for the Repex is that it has so much strapped to it and has so many rules that it’s kind of unfocused, and pays a lot of points for a defensive profile that isn’t that great – 25% tougher than a Tank Commander for 70% more points I think is the right number. They’re also massive, and those aerials can be hard to hide even in theoretically good terrain. This means that despite being a massive lump of ceramite they’re actually quite fragile for their cost, and they’re also not that quick with a mere 10″ move. The basic Repulsor probably has more immediate value for Space Wolves since it can transport Intercessors – something Space Wolves want – and is even better at clearing out hordes and making a path for your other units to charge through.

Leviathan Dreadnought (FW)

The Leviathan is the big daddy of dreadnoughts. Toughness 8, 14 wounds, 2+ armor save, 4+ invulnerable save. Enough firepower to level a building. Expensive, and bad in melee (which isn’t great), but this thing has so much Overwatch that assaulting it is a scary prospect. Good in pretty much any Marine army, where you’ll typically want to give one dual storm cannon arrays. They’re very scary shooting threats, albeit at a somewhat short range, and you want to keep them from being charged at all costs, since they have no ability to fall back and shoot, but they can be scary good short-range fire support.

The Other Guys

  • Hellblasters look much better on paper than they are on the tabletop, where they tend to be pretty fragile and quickly make you regret paying the points for them. You can make them a bit better with Keen Senses and the Recitation of Focus Litany, though.
  • Hunters and Stalkers provide anti-air fire and of the two the former is better thanks to being cheaper. If you’re going to take a Hunter, ignore most of what it does and treat it as a cheap harassment/board control option that happens to have T8 for no reason, similar to how White Scars use them.
  • Land Raiders are terrible, even with the points drops. You’ve got many, better options for transports that don’t cost a fortune and have more even more guns.
  • Predators don’t really fill a role you need, and if you want a gun vehicle the Repulsor Executioner does a much better job with its two dozen guns and even bigger cannon.
  • Whirlwinds fall into the same boat.
  • Vindicators also fall into that same boat. It’s a big boat, this “boat filled with units that are OK in other armies but don’t really help Space Wolves do their thing much.”

 

Dedicated Transport

Credit: LordTwisted

Space Wolves’ strategies rely on careful movement and positioning to block off parts of the board, direct traffic, and clear the way for melee units. Dedicated Transports are a big part of that game plan, particularly Impulsors.

Impulsors

Absolutely necessary in the current meta for Space Wolves, who need a durable but relatively inexpensive transport for Primaris marines that can help control large areas of the table while protecting Intercessors, who can pop out when it’s destroyed and continue to control that area. The Impulsor fits that bill well, offering a solid transport platform with the ability to disembark after moving and a shield dome that gives it a 4+ invulnerable save. Movement is the most important part of the Space Wolves’ game plan, and Impulsors are a key part of that. Most Space Wolves armies want at least two Impulsors full of Intercessors and some armies want as many as six.

Repulsors

The standard Repulsor has transport capacity for Intercessors (and more of it), and has a ton of weapons that make it great for clearing out hordes with volume of firepower, two things Space Wolves very much need that feed into the game plan. They’ve been kind of usurped by Impulsors as transports, which hold fewer bodies but do their job eating up space much more cheaply.

Drop Pods

Despite a huge rules upgrade with the release of the new Codex: Space Marines last year to allow them to land on turn 1, Drop Pods haven’t quite made the leap to competitive play, primarily because of what can go in them. Or rather what can’t go in them, i.e. Primaris marines. This limits their usefulness in regular, lame marine armies that don’t have good non-Primaris marines to work with. For Space Wolves, Drop pods can be good delivery vehicles for Blood Claws, Njal, Wolf Priests, or Long Fangs, putting them into good position on turn 1 while also claiming a chunk of table or being put within 3″ of an objective with their big, stupid, open doors.

Terrax Pattern Termite Assault Drill

Potentially the most underrated unit in 40k right now, the Terrax Termite Assault Drill is the rare transport that delivers your units via deep strike and then becomes an actual massive threat after it does so. The thing has 6 attacks at WS 4+ S14, AP-4, 3 damage and anything that doesn’t die from those starts taking additional mortal wounds on a 2+, then a 3+, then a 4+, and so on until you fail a roll or kill the model. Basically, it demands an opponent deal with it just as much as the unit it delivered. The downside is that it can’t hold Primaris, Jump Pack, Wulfen, or Terminator models but it’s a fine way to take a unit of Blood Claws or Long Fangs to the party.

The Other Guys

  • Rhinos are the mobile delivery methods for small marines and they’re just not as useful, durable, or big as Impulsors.
  • Razorbacks trade off transport capacity for shooting on a Rhino body but aren’t shooty or durable enough to be worth their cost.
  • Land Speeder Storm. Not as inexplicably overpriced as regular Space Wolf land speeders, but doesn’t carry anything you care about (Wolf Scouts).

 

Flyers

Credit: Mann

The Space Wolves have some interesting flyers – there used to be a “flying circus” list making the rounds that ran a bunch of them well before Combat Doctrines – but none that really

 

Stormfang Gunship

The recipient of a strong update in Saga of the Beast, Stormfang Gunships can’t carry enough Wulfen to hold a full squad, so they kind of have to be worth it on just their shooting. Which… well, they don’t quite get there. You can use the Storm Strike Stratagem to make the Helfrost Destructor pretty nasty, especially in dispersed mode, where it’s firing 3D3 shots that do 3 damage apiece and hit at AP-3 in Devastator Doctrine, but the rest of the guns leave a bit to be desired and it’s an expensive unit to field at 175 points before you start factoring in its other guns (80 for twin multi-meltas if you go that route, another 42 for stormstrike missile launchers).

Stormwolf

The only real transport option for Wulfen, the stormwolf can carry 16 models (or 8 Wulfen), and trades off the Helfrost Destructor for a twin Helfrost Cannon that is significantly less powerful. The other options are the same, but the Stormwolf is actually more expensive – despite the base model being 10 points cheaper, the Helfrost destructor costs 0 while the twin helfrost cannon costs 25 points. That’s a big miss for a model that’s already overpriced.

The Other Guys

  • Stormhawk Interceptors are good anti-air flyers that come with a fair amount of guns but aren’t really something Space Wolves need.

 

Playing Space Wolves

Space Wolves are, at their core, a melee-focused army. You can play them with more of a shooting focus, but doing so means leaving their best strengths behind and if you’re going to do that, you may as well put on your bone-colored robes and go back to cowering in the corner with the rest of the Dork Angel cowards. Being a melee army means that movement and positioning are your lifeblood, and you will live or die on your ability to get your units into the right positions and restrict enemy movement, wrapping enemies when you engage them in combat.

With the addition of combat doctrines and litanies in Saga of the Beast, Space Wolf units arriving from Deep Strike are always immediate and massive threats, and being able to charge with a +2 bonus (and a CP re-roll) makes it a dependable action – your chances of a 7+ on 2d6 are 58% before the CP re-roll and increase to about 84% if you factor one in. Against armies with weaker melee options and low ability to escape combat, your major focus will be getting into combat, since once you start, it will be difficult to dislodge your units. Against armies that are more mobile and harder to wrap like Grey Knights, you’ll need to focus on killing everything you can quickly, fighting multiple times as you’re able and hoping you can dramatically reduce the strength of any counter-punch the opponent can deliver. Against Knights and vehicle-heavy armies you’ll be able to rely on the Chapter Litany and Saga of the Beastslayer to deal with threats quickly (though watch out for Noble Sacrifice and the like – if you over-commit you can find yourself on the wrong end of a bad explosion). Against Tau you’re still in for an uphill battle, especially since their MONSTERS can shrug wounds onto shield drones. You’ll just need to focus on clearing out drones as quickly as possible using bolter fire and getting in against the bigger targets.

Impulsors are a core tool in the Space Wolves’ toolbox, allowing them to create a modern-day Rhino rush strategy. Jon Kilcullen is fond of saying that Space Wolves play “Passive-Aggressively,” and there’s a lot of truth to that–competing with Space Wolves is less about immediately throwing everything in your opponent’s face and more about a Hammer-and-Anvil approach, controlling the table and eating up space with the Impulsors, funneling targets toward your major combat threats. The Impulsors are more about getting in the way than they are delivering threats (though they do deliver Ragnar, the biggest threat), but the goal is to let the characters and whatever your secondary threats – Wolf Guard, Swiftclaws, Thunderwolves, even Wulfen if you’re engaging bravery mode – do the real heavy lifting.

In the ideal scenario, when an enemy unit wants to drop in and charge you, they only have a single space where they can charge your units without declaring an Impulsor as a target for the charge. They make the charge and now you can spend the CP to Heroically Intervene with said Impulsor using the Counter-Charge Stratagem and base every single model in the unit so they can’t pile into your castle and double fight into the characters moving up behind your Impulsor screen. Now you can control the situation and take care of them as needed. Simply knowing this is an option can make opponents play much more defensively, allowing you to control the middle of the table, making for easy hold/hold more scoring.

 

Credit: Starvolt

Sample Lists

Here we’ll be looking at some sample lists. While tournament data on post-Saga of the Beast Space Wolves is presently scarce, I’ve asked some of the game’s top Space Wolf players to jot down some lists they’re working with and how they might play those and adjust them with testing. These should give you a good idea of what some of the competitive approaches to Space Wolves look like, and get you started thinking about your own lists, whether you copy what’s already been done or build something completely new.

Swiftclaws in Action

This list make a go of it with Swiftclaws, using them as a key hammer unit along with a Wolf Guard Combi-plasma bomb.The Impulsors filled with Intercessors control the board and block movement lanes while the Swiftclaws can circle an enemy’s flank and act as a dual shooting/melee threat with the tactical/assault doctrines active.

The Wolf Guard Terminator Plasma Bomb is accompanied by Arjac, and drops in to deliver an insane burst of dual-plasma, dual-bolter fire using Keen Senses and Fury of the Champions to fire both profiles and supercharge without fear of deaths to overheating. Meanwhile, the Jump Pack Wolf Priest can meet them where they land and help them make an immediate charge with the Canticle of Hate. The remaining Blood Claws fill out the second battalion and can hold objectives.

Space Wolves Battalion

HQ: Ragnar Blackmane
HQ: Arjac Rockfist

Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist
Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist
Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist

FA: Swiftclaws x5 w/Chainsword, PL w/Power Fist, SGBL w/Storm Shield

DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome
DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome
DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome

Space Wolves Battalion

HQ: Wolf Lord w/Jump Pack, Storm Shield, Thunder Hammer, Warlord (Saga of the Wolfkin)
HQ: Wolf Priest w/Jump Pack, Power Fist, Storm Bolter, Canticle of Hate

Troops: Blood Claws x5, WGPL w/Storm Shield
Troops: Blood Claws x5, WGPL w/Storm Shield
Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist

EL: Wolf Guard in Terminator Armour x10, 2w/Chainfist + Combi-plasma, 6 w/Storm shield + Combi-plasma, 1 w/Combi-Plasma + Thunder Hammer, WGPL w/Combi-Plasma, Thunder Hammer

DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome

+++ 1,993 Points +++

Murderfang, Murderfang, Murderfang

As soon as Jon told me he had a Murderfang army that worked I wanted to include it. Murderfang is easily the coolest dreadnought character in 40k with the dumbest name, and the new Saga of the Beast rules make him a complete monster in melee. Right away, you can tell it’s a Jon Kilcullen list because it runs 5 Impulsors, and those two Intercessor squads without power fists aren’t leaving their transports until the things blow up or unless they absolutely have to. This is herohammer plain and simple, with the list’s 8 melee characters doing all the real work (6 jump pack characters!) while the rest sit back and hold objectives and block off movement lanes.

This list takes not one but three Jump Pack Wolf Priests, giving them The Canticle of Hate to grease the wheels on charges, the Litany of Faith to protect key units, and the Exhortation of Rage to maximize the damage characters can do in melee by letting them proc additional attacks.

Space Wolves Battalion

HQ: Ragnar Blackmane
HQ: Wolf Lord w/Jump Pack, Storm Shield, Thunder Hammer

Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist
Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist
Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist

DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome
DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome
DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome

Space Wolves Battalion

HQ: Wolf Guard Battle Leader w/Bolt pistol, Jump Pack, Storm Shield, Thunder Hammer
HQ: Wolf Guard Battle Leader w/Bolt pistol, Jump Pack, Storm Shield, Thunder Hammer

Troops: 7x Blood Claws, PL w/Power Fist, WGPL w/Bolt Pistol, Storm Shield
Troops: Intercessors x5
Troops: Intercessors x5

EL: Murderfang

DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome
DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome

Space Wolves Supreme Command

HQ: Wolf Priest w/Jump Pack + Power Fist
HQ: Wolf Priest w/Jump Pack + Power Fist
HQ: Wolf Priest w/Jump Pack + Power Fist

+++ 1,999 Points +++

A More Rune-Priest Heavy Approach

This list, currently the brainchild of Robbie Triplett and and Daniel Yeh, takes a different approach, planning to nuke enemy units with Living Lightning and the Living Storm Stratagem and using a similar Intercessors-and-Impulsors approach to controlling the board, but the Drop Pods filled with Blood Claws (plus Njal and the other Rune Priest, ready to just vomit out lightning everywhere when they meet up with their phobos buddy), and the Jump Pack Wolf Guard provide a different type of threat to drop in on an opponent. The list is rough and still needs testing, but there’s a lot to like here.

Something that may change over time is the inclusion of Grey Hunters – They may end up optimized out in favor of more Blood Claws or Intercessors, while the Wolf Guard may drop a Power Fist or two in favor of chainswords, since the Wolf Guard will rarely arrive in melee combat with a full 10 models. They may also find they want another Wolf Priest instead of a third Rune Priest, but it will be interesting to see how it evolves with testing.

Daniel and Robbie’s List

++ Space Wolves Battalion Detachment ++

HQ: Rune Priest [6 PL, 90pts]: Bolt pistol, Runic axe
HQ: Wolf Lord [6 PL, 143pts, -1CP]: Jump Pack, Saga of the Wolfkin, Storm shield, Stratagem: Hero of The Chapter, The Wulfen Stone, Thunder hammer

Troops: Incursor Squad [5 PL, 190pts]: 9x Incursor w/Occulus Bolt Carbine, Incursor Sergeant
Troops: Intercessors x5 w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Pack Leader w/Thunder Hammer
Troops: Intercessors x5 w/Stalker Bolt Rifle, Pack Leader w/Thunder Hammer

DT: Drop Pod [5 PL, 65pts]: Storm bolter
DT: Drop Pod [5 PL, 65pts]: Storm bolter

++ Space Wolves Battalion Detachment ++

HQ: Rune Priest in Phobos Armour [6 PL, 101pts]: 2. Lord of Deceit, Camo cloak, Runic sword, Talisman of Storms, Warlord
HQ: Wolf Priest [6 PL, 99pts]: Bolt pistol, Jump Pack, Power fist, The Armour of Russ

Troops: Blood Claws [6 PL, 85pts] x5, Wolf Guard Pack Leader w/Power Fist, Storm Shield
Troops: Blood Claws [6 PL, 85pts] x5, Wolf Guard Pack Leader w/Power Fist, Storm Shield
Troops: Grey Hunters x5 w/Boltgun

EL: Wolf Guard x10 w/Jump Pack, Power Fist, Storm Shield, Pack Leader w/Thunder Hammer + Storm Shield

DT: Impulsor [6 PL, 97pts]: 2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome
DT: Impulsor [6 PL, 97pts]: 2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome

++ Space Wolves Supreme Command Detachment ++
HQ: Njal Stormcaller [7 PL, 115pts] HQ: Primaris Battle Leader [4 PL, 70pts] w/Power Axe and Bolt Carbine
HQ: Ragnar Blackmane

++ Total: [112 PL, 10CP, 1,991pts] ++

 

Wolves in Soup

Of course, as we mentioned earlier, Space Wolves can also work well in soup lists, where they can be the combat arm of a mixed army. This list uses Space Wolves as the third, melee threat portion of an Imperium list running Astra Militarum and Adeptus Mechanicus. This list combines the best units across several factions, using Ragnar and the Jump Pack Wolf Guard as melee threats with the Impulsors to control movement up front, while the Skorpius tanks can provide long-range fire support. The Tempestus Scions are the best they’ve ever been thanks to repeated buffs, and can drop in and harass the enemy from various directions.

Astra Militarum Battalion
Regimental Doctrine: Disciplined Shooters, Gunnery Experts

HQ: Tank Commander w/ Battle Cannon + Heavy Bolter
HQ: Tempestor Prime

Troops: 5x Tempestus Scions
Troops: 5x Tempestus Scions
Troops: 5x Tempestus Scions

Adeptus Mechanicus Spearhead
Forge World: Stygies VIII

HQ: Tech-Priest Enginseer

HS: Skorpius Disintegrator w/Belleros Energy Cannon
HS: Skorpius Disintegrator w/Belleros Energy Cannon
HS: Skorpius Disintegrator w/Belleros Energy Cannon

Space Wolves Battalion

HQ: Wolf Guard Battle Leader w/Jump Pack, Storm Shield, Thunder Hammer
HQ: Ragnar Blackmane
HQ: Wolf Priest w/Jump Pack, Power Fist, Storm Bolter

Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist
Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist
Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist
Troops: Intercessors x5, PL w/Power Fist

EL: Wolf Guard x8 w/Jump Pack, 3 w/Power Fist + Storm shield, 4 w/Chainsword + storm shield, PL w/Storm Shield + Thunder Hammer

DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome
DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome
DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome
DT: Impulsor w/2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome

+++ 1,999 Points +++

 

The Wrap-up

That wraps up our look at the Space Wolves, a storied chapter of drunk murdervikings hellbent on tearing the galaxy apart in search of good sport. Hopefully you have everything you need by now to start your transition to a more competent competitive level of play. But as always, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or head over to r/competitivewh40k to discuss. Or send us an email at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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