Sunday, August 10, 2014

40K REVIEW: Space Wolves Codex Thunderwolf Cavalry Review & Tactica (updated)



Fenris has risen, Wolf Brothers!

Version: 7th Edition, 2014 Space Wolf Codex

Updated: 10/28/2014

First Impressions of a new Codex.
Some things stayed the same, some things changed a little and some things got better. I will give you a no BS impression in one paragraph.

It breaks down to these two things: Shooting has gotten a little better with Hellfrost weapons, some cheaper Long Fang weapons and of course, two great new gunships. Assault has gotten much better. Across the board the fast and aggressive units have gotten cheaper and more killy. Where to begin? Cheaper Battle Leaders, cheaper Blood Claws, better Lone Wolves, Venerable Dreads with Blizzard shields, Murderfang, deep striking Terminators, cheaper Storm Shields, cheaper Thunderwolves, cheaper Sky Claws and more. And lets not forget the new Unleashed Detachment - also good for assault armies.

So, if you like your Wolves shooty with only a dash of assault then you might be disappointed. However, if you like your Wolves charging into glorious combat, like the author does, then this is the Space Wolf codex you have been waiting for Wolf Brothers!

Presenting the new old Rock Stars of the Space Wolf Codex!

Let's Cut to the Chase, the Thunderwolves!
The Thunderwolf Cavalry (TWC) is the heart of the new Space Wolf codex - that is, if you enjoy dashing across the board and slaughtering the enemy for Russ and the Allfather! The rise of the Thunderwolf will be seen on Game Store battlefields very soon; if not entire TWC themed armies then at least one TWC per Space Wolf army. Yes, IMHO, they are pretty much a must take now. Why? Because 7th Edition demands mobility, durability and fairly good economy of points for what you pay for. All of which the TWC now bring.

Breaking down TWC into it's individual parts.

Cost: You get three TWC (one is a Pack Leader character) for a paltry Buck and Twenty cents. 

Vital Statistics
  • Type: Cavalry - This is crucial, it helps TWC get quickly into assault which is where they thrive.
  • WS/BS - Standard space marine stats here.
  • Strength - +1 from Thunderwolf mount. They hit hard.
  • Toughness - +1 from Thunderwolf mount. Key for durability.
  • Wounds - +1 from Thunderwolf mount. Again, key for durability.
  • Initiative - Standard space marine.
  • Attacks - Four attacks, five if rocking CCW and pistol. TWC are ferocious straight out of the box.
  • Leadership - Nine. Improved by one from last codex. Again, improves durability.
  • Save - Standard space marine, but 3+ Invulnerability upgrades are made affordable!

Power armor, chainsword, bolt pistol, krak & frag grenades, thunderwolf mount.

The idea to take away from Wargear is that TWC can take on just about any foe except the highest Toughness and Armor Values. And forget about ranged attacks, concentrate on getting into assault and fire your bolt pistols only if it won't hurt your charge range.

Special Rules

Standard Space Wolf special rules.

  •  Counter Attack - This is, as always, brilliant. In 7th you don't need to make a Leadership check to use it. 
  • Rending - Thunderwolf mounts give Rending to the rider. This improves upon the ferocity of the unit giving the unit, on average, about one Rending wound per two attacking TWC models. 
Also note that the TWC lost the Wolfkin special ability from last codex which is no big deal. If you wish to run Fenrisian Wolves you can run Canis to give them the Leadership buff but I don't recommend either unit.

  • May include up to three more TWC models @ Forty cents a model. - A bargain for what you get. Ten points cheaper per model than last codex and the unit is bigger by one. These are huge improvements.
  • Replace pistol for Bolter @ free - Fugget about it. A step in the wrong direction.
  • Replace pistol for Plasma Pistol @ Fifteen cents - Concentrate on assault, not shooting. Use those points for Storm Shields or Power Weapons. Skip the plasma.
  • Melta bombs @ a Nickel per model - Good stuff, try to take at least one or two of these to ensure success against vehicles and high toughness Monstrous Creatures. If you face lots of Imperial Knight players then you should consider taking more. If you have multiple TWC units then it could be a valid tactic to give one unit all melta bombs for vehicle and Knight cleaning duty.
  • Any model can take from the Melee Weapons list - This is the TWC bread & butter, spend wisely and don't over do it. 
      Melee Weapons List
  • Power weapon - Standard fare, standard price. Better choices ahead though.
  • Storm shield - Absolute steal for Fifteen cents! This is the real strength of the new TWC.
  • Frost sword/axe - Eh, why bother when the Wolf Claw and Power Fist are better?
  • Wolf claw - If you want a non-Unwieldy power weapon get this. +1 S and Shred.
  • Power fist - At a Quarter in cost you are getting S 10, AP 2. Get one per unit.
  • Thunder hammer - A Nickel more than PF; get it instead if you have a five cents laying around.
  • Two wolf claws - Awesome to have, but costly at the same price as a TH. You will need those points for Storm Shields and power weapons instead. Skip unless you have extra points to blow.
Equipping your Thunderwolf Cavalry correctly is essential to their success.

Putting it all Together.
Thunderwolves are here to stay. Any Wolf Brother assembling an assault list will find TWC the all-stars of assault. 

When putting together a TWC unit I recommend Storm Shields for half the pack, one Power Fist (or Thunder Hammer) and one Power Weapon or Wolf Claw if you have the points. Melta bombs are good, at least equip one model with them. Beware points bloat - it is easy to do. Don't make your TWC a liability by over-pricing them into oblivion. 

Taking a minimal, no upgrade TWC pack is a real option. They are cheap for what you get, hard to deal with and can take heat off the rest of your TWC packs. Buy one a Storm Shield and make them even more of a nuisance.

Thunderwolf Cavalry Pack Leaders.

Harald Deathwolf, Wolf Lords (on Thunderwolf) and Wolf Guard Battle Leaders (on Thunderwolf) all lend themselves nicely to leading TWC. Harald is a no brainer with his Furious Charge buff. I talked about Harald some in an earlier article here. Take Harald if your army is rocking multiple TWC packs.

Having a rock solid Independent Character (IC) leading your TWC makes them arguably one of the best assault units in the game. If using a ThunderLord or Battle Leader then give them a Storm Shield, Runic Armor, a Power Fist or Thunder Hammer or Wolf Claw and a Thunderwolf mount. The Armor of Russ (relic), Black Death (relic), Helm of Durfast (relic) and the Fangsword (relic), all from the codex, all compliment the ThunderLord/Battle Leader very well and are worth the investment if you can squeeze in the cost of one of them. The Wolfenstone (relic) is worth a look if you don't have Harald in your army and are rocking a large Wolfstar.

Potential Thunderwolf Cavalry Pack Builds.

120 points
Thunderwolf Cavalry x3.

A cheap and ferocious unit for distraction and screening. Because the enemy can't afford to ignore them they can take some heat off of other TWC units. Add in a cheap Storm Shield for extra durability.

Four Pack
220 points
Thunderwolf Cavalry x4. Storm Shield x2,  Melta bombs x1, Power Fist.

This unit should make your opponent sweat. Lead them with a ThunderLord or Harald and your opponent has a major threat on their hands.

Five Pack
275 points
Thunderwolf Cavalry x5. Storm Shield x3,  Melta bombs x1, Power Fist.

Getting expensive at this point. Drop a SS if you need points. But also, an extra power weapon in this unit is worth the investment. Lead this unit with a IC and you are entering Death Star territory.

Six Pack
315 points
Thunderwolf Cavalry x6. Storm Shield x3,  Melta bombs x1, Power Fist.

Not too much more expensive than the Five Pack. Lead the six pack with an IC and you have yourself a snarling and growling Death Star.


Champions of Fenris Supplement.
Some good stuff in CoF for Thunderwolves so I will go over those.
  • Relics - Worth consideration for your Thunderlord/leaders is the Krakenborne Sword, Morkai's Claws and Fellclaw's Teeth. At the very least pick up the Fellclaw's Teeth to re-roll misses. The sword makes your Thunderlord a beast in challenges with his I 5, S 6, AP 2 attacks. And those claws? They magically turn your character into a Thunderwolf mounted lawnmower!
  • Company of the Great Wolf Detachment - I'm paraphrasing here so be sure to read the actual rules in the supplement. What this detachment brings is the following: ICs must accept and issue challenges but they also have Preferred Enemy in challenges. Re-roll warlord trait. Wolf Guard, Wolf Guard Pack Leaders, Wolf Guard Terminators and Thunderwolf Cavalry gain +1 WS. Force Org: HQ 1-4 Troops 0-3 Elites 2-6 Fast 0-3 Heavy 0-3 Fort 1 LoW 1. As you can see this detachment is perfect for a TWC list for two reasons. First is that sweet +1 WS for regular TWC models (not ICs on Thunderwolf mounts). Second is the fact that you don't need to buy any Troops so you can spend all your points on TWC and ICs. You can fill your 2 mandatory Elite slots with Iron Priests on Thunderwolves which is a good bargain for what you get!

Happy cavalry charging into glorious battle, Wolf Brothers!

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