That’s right, your bone rattlin’ stick-tossing, runes-reading, psyker-hating psykers of Fenris have returned. The Space Wolves roll into 10th edition with an Index detachment called Champions of Russ that appears to be aimed at making the faction unique while still holding to some of its old rules and abilities (even if they are extremely toned down). The focus here is on shifting power from the units to the units leaders and finding ways to make it work. Tenth edition offers an interesting shift for Space Wolves, as it moves characters back into units and we’re the chapter with the most characters to work with. That said, it might be time to grab a flagon of mead and read through the changes, which aren’t as kind to the puppers as I’d hoped for.
Note that the Space Wolves also use rules from Index: Space Marines.
Before we get started we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a preview copy of the Space Wolves Index for review purposes.
The Space Marine faction rule is Oaths of Moment, which is a slightly differently named version of Seal of Oaths that the Ultramarines used for two editions. In your Command phase you select an enemy unit and your ENTIRE army re-rolls all hits and all wounds against the selected target. This really helps out factions like wolves where they do not actually have much in the way of high-strength weapons and have to rely on re-rolls to fish for lethal hits or devastating wounds. This is a wild ability to just have all the time for free and I can not imagine it stays in this form long; it skews far too much math in marines favor.
Detachment Rule: Champions of Russ
The Space Wolves use Space Marine Army Rules but have their own Detachment they can choose instead of the Gladius Task Force. If you choose this detachment rule, you pick up a couple of restrictions. One being that you can’t have ADEPTUS ASTARTES units from any other chapter but Space Wolves, and your army can’t include Tactical Squads, Assault Squads, Devastator squads, Command Squads, or the Primaris Apothecary.
Deeds Worthy of Saga
The Champions of Russ detachment rules revolve around Sagas. These are in some ways re-tooled versions of similarly named warlord traits from 9th edition. Saga of the bear, Saga of the warrior born, Saga of majesty, and Saga of the beastslayer. Rather than being Warlord traits these now are just abilities in which you activate army wide when you complete the deed of legend related to the saga. At the end of each battle round, you an pick one of these sagas. If you completed that Saga during the battle round, you get the associated bonus for the rest of the game.
- Saga of the Bear: If an Adeptus Astartes character from your army is reduced to below half its wounds remaining and survives to the end of the Battle Round this deed of legend is completed. The effect is your marines now have a 6+ feel no pain for the rest of the game.
- Saga of the Warrior Born: If an Astartes character from your army destroys one or more enemy characters during the round this deed of legend is completed. The effect is your marines now have [SUSTAINED HITS 1].
- Saga of Majesty: If you controlled one or more objective markers in your opponent’s deployment zone and one more Astartes CHARACTER models from your army was within range of those at the end of either player turn, then this deed is completed. The effect is you increase the OC of your Adeptus Astartes models by 1.
- Saga of the Beastslayer: If an Astartes character from your army destroys a VEHICLE or MONSTER this deed of legend is completed at the end of the battle round. The effect is your marines now have [LETHAL HITS].
There’s some decent stuff here and you can pick which one to gain after you know you’ve gained it, i.e. you kill an enemy vehicle with a character, THEN pick Beastslayer, but these pale in comparison to to what you get for being in the Gladius detachment. Yeah, it’s cute that you get these for the rest of the game but getting there takes time (they aren’t likely to happen turn 1) and require you to jump through big hoops in order to activate them.
Of these Saga of Majesty really stands out as the most important one to focus on achieving early as it allows you to really control the board, but getting into your opponent’s deployment zone that early requires a planned, concerted effort. For Saga of the Beastslayer you need to be very careful with how you allocate attacks using characters attached to squads to make sure you get the vehicle kills or character kills with a specific model so you can activate these abilities. Stacking several of these bonuses at once can really juice up your army… but doing this just isn’t reliable or consistent, unlike the benefits from the Gladius detachment.
Wings: Sadly I have to agree here – this is super cool, but it’s all conditional, whereas Gladius gives you extremely powerful effects whenever you need them most.
Space Wolves have six Stratagems available to them, one of which has been repeated from Task Force Gladius. They all cost 1 CP and four of them combo off of completed Sagas, giving you an additional bonus if you’ve completed the associated deed.
- Armour of Contempt (1 CP) – Is used in the Shooting or Fight phase to let a single unit worsen the AP of incoming attacks by 1.
- Go For the Throat (1 CP) – is used in the Fight phase to improve the AP of melee weapons in a unit by 1. If you completed Saga of the Beastslayer, they also get [LANCE].
- Runic Wards (1 CP) – Used in your opponent’s Shooting or Fight phase to gain a Feel No Pain 5+ against mortal wounds and Psychic Attacks. If you completed Saga of the Bear, you get a 4+ FNP instead.
- Death Howl (1 CP) – Used in the Fight phase when you destroy one or more units. Your unit can Consolidate up to 6″ instead of 3″ as long as you end up in Engagement range of an enemy unit. If you completed Saga of Majesty, then after this move every enemy unit within 6″ has to take a Battle-shock test.
- Relentless Assault (1 CP) – Used in the Movement phase after Falling Back or Advancing. Your unit is still eligible to shoot. If you completed Saga of the Warrior Born, you’re also eligible to charge.
- Warrior Pride (1 CP) – Used in the Command phase on a character. Pick a Saga that hasn’t been completed by the army and until the end of the turn models in that CHARACTER’s unit gain the Saga benefit.
There’s a legitimate question here on how Warrior Pride interacts with the other secondary objectives – as written it does not appear to give a unit the secondary effect of the Stratagems (since your army has not completed the saga), which means it doesn’t let you create the kinds of interesting combos these seem to hint at. If the Stratagem ends up allowing that via FAQ, then there’s some real power in combining Warrior Pride with Relentless Assault and Go for the Throat to shoot powerful Wolves units at your opponent one at a time like missiles. But as-is this ends up being more of a tool box of different effects to keep you on the table and get a minor boost to damage.
Wings: Worth saying that easy access to Mortal resistance is one of the better assets Wolves get from this Detachment – this is one of the easiest and most flexible routes to it out there.
Enhancements act like your warlord traits or relics from previous editions, but now you pay points for them and can have up to three, with no more than one going on any character (excluding epic heroes).
- Frost Weapon gives the bearer’s melee weapons [PRECISION] and improves their AP and S by 1.
- The Pelt of Balewolf forces enemy units in Engagement range to take a Battle-shock test at the start of each Fight phase.
- Black Death gives your melee weapons [ANTI-MONSTER 4+] and [ANTI-VEHICLE 4+].
- Wolf Tail Talisman reduces the damage of incoming attacks by 1.
The Frost weapon seems to pair the best with the above detachment rules as you really need your characters to get in and delete enemy characters so adding a weapon that now has Precision seems like it’s going to be your go-to. Pelt of the Balewolf also has some value here turning off enemy Fight phase Stratagems and can be used to steal an objective at turn’s end from time to time.
Wings: Wolf-Tail talisman on a Thunderwolf Character also looks neat, it makes them pretty potent.
Wolves share a lot of the core Marine datasheets, but also get plenty of their own to play with, including a host of named Characters. Note that the Space Wolves Index only includes the wolf-specific units, so if you’re planning to play Space Wolves you’ll likely need this and the Space Marines Index to play. We’re not going to cover every unit here but here are some of the highlights:
The Five Coolest Units
- Murderfang: He took a break during 9th but now in 10th he has awoken. Tons of attacks with high damage combined with a rule that allows him to fight or shoot (depending on the phase) every time someone attacks him. Things could get spicy using Rapid Ingress from Strategic Reserves to get somewhere you need to be then combining it with either the Assault Doctrine or Go for the Throat. Murderfang is officially an EPIC HERO now and is the most likely unit in the army to get you Saga of the Bear thanks to a 2+ save and a 6+ feel no pain.
- Ragnar Blackmane: Wick is back and ready to make the sequel. Still coming in with a bucket of attacks and multi-damage (8A at S6 AP-3, D2), Ragnar is one of the best characters in the Index. Ragnar allows his unit to to advance and charge, and hits like a truck.
- Logan Grimnar: This is the best character to attach to a Wolf Guard Terminator brick. His once-per-battle ability provides full hit re-rolls in the Fight Phase (and re-rolled charges) and affects the entire army, which seems pretty wild even if it is just for one turn. Logan gets this ability whether you take him on Stormrider or not, though on Stormrider he can join a unit of Thunderwolf Cavalry instead of Terminators.
Wings: I’ll add a couple more:
- Ulric the Slayer: Provides an exceptional melee buff for his unit against one target a turn, either re-roll hits and wounds of 1 or full hit and wound re-rolls against MONSTER, CHARACTER or VEHICLE units. With the way Leaders work in 10th, this will be fully active a lot of the time, turning pretty much any squad (probably foot Wolf Guard or Blood Claws) into a turbo-blender.
- Thunderwolf Cavalry: Pretty tough, and fairly nastly looking on the charge. There are also enough interesting buff options from the various wolf characters that I think you can make a play here. In particular, in a Gladius Task Force, I really like a big brick with a Battle Leader. He lets them move d6″ after getting shot once per turn, including into engagement range, so you can combo this with Squad Tactics to essentially make these inescapable if they’re in Tactical – move 6″ in your opponent’s movement phase, close enough to the nearest enemy that has already moved that d6″ is guaranteed to get them in, then your opponent better really hope that their first shots kill a lot of them.
Rob: I’ll add a sixth BONUS unit:
- Stormwolf: The Stormwolf might be back. It’s got the crucial ability to HOVER so it can start on the table, and it holds 16 models with the ability to hold Gravis, Wulfen, Terminators, and Centurions. It comes with some solid guns – the twin helfrost cannon can drop out a nasty D5 twin-linked shot or some Torrent D2 shots, plus the twin lascannon and multi-meltas offer a powerful anti-vehicle punch. And while it doesn’t have an Assault ramp like the Land Raider, it comes with the Into the Foe rule, which lets units which disembark from it before moving Advance and Charge in the same turn. That’s a solid benefit, and having a T10 14W frame isn’t anything to sneeze at, either.
The Five Biggest changes from 9th
- Loss of the successor chapters: Losing double exploding 6s to hit and your choice of a second trait will certainly take time to get used to as Space Wolves are now basically just blue marines with a Viking fetish.
- Having access to Advance and charge in several different forms: Having to take Thunderwolf cavalry or smol wolves in order to increase threat ranges turn 1 was pretty dire in 9th. Now wolves have several ways to get the ability and threaten larger ranges and keep opponents on their toes. Unfortunately a lot of that raw power is gone in this edition, so those same opponents have less to worry about.
- Vanguard Veterans and Wolf Guard Changes: Wolf Guard with Jump Packs were a cornerstone unit of wolves through the entirety of two editions. I am currently looking at a shelf of 100 vets which are now basically useless. Removing these Wolf Guard was rough, then having them also completely nerf Vanguard Vets in the marine book essentially makes them not worth fielding until they allow some kind of upgraded weapon options again.
- Epic heroes Are Back: It’s been a long time since you really looked at these characters and thought about using them in a serious list. I am hoping this is the sign that hero hammer is on its way back, this was how wolves played most successfully in 8th edition. Wolves have so many heroes and having them be viable again opens up a lot of fun options in list design.
- The Chapter-Specific Units Have More Play: On that note, there’s a lot to like about the chapter-specific units this time around and that’s a good thing at least. The character buffs help with that a lot, but generally speaking it’s good that we’re more excited for the units unique to the chapter than what we can do with Space Wolf rules layered on top of standard marine units.
Unfortunately, though there’s some interesting stuff here, what made wolves feel unique and rewarding has mostly been removed from the book and the core rules, and until the Space Wolves codex drops it will feel a lot like playing ultramarines with Epic Heroes and units from Wolves tossed in for flavor.
Wings: …and some of the heroes are very good in a Gladius, which I think JONK is correct in saying is the best way to play this.
Enjoy playing Logan and Ulrik! It has been ages since you could field either and do anything with them. I have been sitting on my Ulrik model for 2 editions, it is by far my best painted model and you better believe he will be in my early lists. The Index could definitely have been MUCH better but we could be Votaan. Nothing you can do about the index at this point so go forward with what we got and see how it plays out, I for one have a list I can’t wait to field. Until next time keep seeking that saga!
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