Saturday, August 16, 2014

40K TACTICA: Space Wolves Thunderwolf Hammer and Anvil 1850 Army List

Unleash Your Inner Beast:



By Uktena
South Mississippi Gamers

Welcome to my first Thunderwolf list, it was a long time coming and the new codex has made it well worth the wait. Thunderwolf armies have come into their own with a points cost drop, cheap Storm Shields and an HQ choice that improves their effectiveness. I have already discussed in detail a Review and Tactica for Thunderwolf Cavalry if you would like to take a look at that.

So why Thunderwolf Cavalry?
Since their introduction the Thunderwolf Cavalry (TWC) have come to symbolize the ideals of the Space Wolves themselves; aggressiveness, individuality, anti-authoritarian and glory in battle. The models themselves look great and touch a sense of nostalgia that harks back to a time when warfare was heavily romanticized. A time when no solider was more revered or more idolized than the stoic cavalryman, proudly sitting up high on his expertly trained mount as he bravely galloped off to war.

Maybe that wasn't the best of comparisons, Thunderwolf Cavalry are a snarling rage of fur, fang and steel - but it works for me. As for play styles I enjoy assault armies, shooting armies just annoy me. If one wishes for a Space Wolves assault list then one should look no further than the Thunderwolf Cavalry.

Enough already, now on to the glory of battle!



Detachment Type: Company of the Great Wolf
(From the Champions of Fenris Supplement)

Harald Deathwolf
Wolf Guard Battle Leader
    Thunderwolf mount, Fellclaw's Teeth (relic), Runic Armor, Storm Shield, 
      Thunder Hammer

     Venerable Dreadnought, Blizzard Shield and Fenrisian Great Axe, DROP POD
     Venerable Dreadnought, Blizzard Shield and Fenrisian Great Axe, DROP POD
Wolf Guard x5
     Bike x5, Melta bombs x1
Wolf Guard x5
       Bike x5, Melta bombs x1

Blood Claws x5

Thunderwolf Cavalry x5
     Storm Shield x3, Thunder Hammer x1, Melta bombs x1
Thunderwolf Cavalry x5
     Storm Shield x2, Thunder Hammer x1, Melta bombs x1
Thunderwolf Cavalry x4
     Storm Shield x2, Power Fist x1, Melta bombs x1

Total = 1850

Hey. Where are the troops?
The Company of the Great Wolf detachment requires you to take NO troops but three Troop slots are optional. In my opinion, if you are going to play your Wolves for assault then you need to be 'all in' for it. Obviously there are better options than Blood Claws or Grey Hunters when you need fast and aggressive assault units. Also, in this detachment, the Troops do not get the Objective Secured special rule so that's just another reason not to bother with them.

The Stratagem. The Hammer and Anvil.
It is a tactic as old as warfare itself. The Hammer and Anvil strategy is rather straightforward. First you need an anvil, hard as steel, to hem in the enemy and block their escape. Then you need the hammer, swift and powerful, as it comes slamming down on the enemy from the front and squashing them against the unmovable anvil. It sounds very aggressive,  like something the Space Wolves would do - so let's put it to practice!

The Anvil. Show them no hope of retreat.
Drop those Venerable Dreadnoughts right into the enemy's chili; behind them, inside their lines or at the flanks - wherever you can find an advantage. Your Dreadnoughts need to survive at least one round of shooting so finding them cover from some lines of fire is helpful. Be sure to get as close to a choice unit as possible for a next round assault and be sure to keep the enemy facing towards the Dreadnought's front because side and rear shots will skip the 3+ Invulnerability.

Two Venerable Dreads with Blizzard Shields is going to make your opponent sweat bullets. Why? Well first it is two Dreadnoughts with frick'n 3++ saves and Strength 10 close combat attacks and the Vens can re-roll on the Vehicle Damage table. This is huge, couple that with the ability to ignore 2 out of 3 glancing/penetrating hits and you have a hard to remove threat in your opponent's face.

The Dreadnoughts mission is not only to wreak havoc but to hem the enemy in and show them that there is no place to run, making the job of taking down prey easier for the charging Thunderwolf Cavalry. As threats, the Dreads will be soaking up shooting, because they can not be ignored, and so taking some heat off of your vital cavalry units. You may very well lose a Dreadnought (or both) but it is worth it to draw fire away from your cavalry.

But Why Not Murderface Murderfang?
Why not drop in Murderfang instead of one of the Venerable Dreads? Because Murderfang is still just a normal Dreadnought on the outside, Armor 12 and 3 Hull Points. He does not have an Invulnerable save at all and he can not tell the opponent to re-roll those bad Damage table results. This means that Murderface is about three times more likely to take a dirt nap than a Ven Dread. For Hammer and Anvil to work we need a durable Anvil - not a homicidal rampaging lunatic with a glass jaw!

The Distraction. Hell on Wheels.
Yeah, those Wolf Guard on the bikes? They volunteered for the suicide mission to be the bullet magnet. In a classic TWC list the distraction job would fall upon the Fenrisian Wolves but you don't have any Fast Attack slots left to spare. That's ok, because Bike Guard are better at the job since they won't wither up and die from small arms fire. And don't worry about losing them - it is their job to take heat off the Cavalry.

Zoom them forward and turbo-boost in front of the Thunderwolves as a screen then taunt your opponent that you are about to ram your WS 5 (because of the detachment rules), T 5 Wolf Guard with three attacks each right up into the their grill next turn. If that doesn't work, taunt your opponent by telling him that you have a melta bomb and that it is headed straight for their shiny, expensive vehicle. Got the idea? Good.

Like everything else in this list the Bike Guard can't be ignored, however, a smart opponent might do just that and concentrate fire on your most important units - the TWC. If that happens use your Guard Bikers to make them pay next turn, then, if the Bike Guard are still alive you can use them as a highly mobile objective taker or as a unit for Independent Characters to join.

The Hammer. It's Wolf Hammer Time.
Let's break it down. It's wolf hammer time. But seriously, do you need me to tell you that the TWC is the best assault unit in the new Space Wolves codex? If you are reading this article than you probably already know how ferocious they can be so I shall spare you with all the boring mathhammer details.

To complete the Hammer and Anvil strategy you charge into the enemy, trapping them between the TWC and your Dreadnoughts. If you can not reach the enemy on turn one then use the terrain for cover, your cavalry are the units that you do not want to be targeted; hide them behind buildings, ruins or whatever you can. If you are going second you certainly want hide them during deployment to avoid the first turn shooting fest.

Turn two you should be engaging the enemy with your cavalry, if not then do your best to keep fire off of them. Ram your surviving Bike Guard into the enemy and drop your Blood Claws in as a distraction. When the cavalry do get inside of assault range it might be wise to send in any surviving Bike Guard first to soak up the overwatch, especially if you are playing sissy Tau. Charge multiple units with the bikes if you have too, remember that the Bike Guard are there to soak up damage so don't fret making them a bullet sponge - it is their job.

Once you get the TWC into assault you are golden. If you are fighting MSU spam or weak, sissy units like Xenos then consider breaking off your Independent Characters and launching them into a rampage of slaughter by themselves. This tactic can be risky so be careful and don't let them bite off more than they can chew.

If you get enough of your TWC into assault, without getting terribly shot up in the process, then you are probably winning and will roll up the enemy ranks. If you encounter tough melee units or are playing against an assault themed army then you still have some work left to do before claiming victory.

Each pack has the tools to deal with a wide variety of threats. Thunder Hammers deal with vehicles, high Toughness and Instant Death anything lower than T 6. Melta bombs help against high armor vehicles, especially those pesky Imperial Knights that keep popping up everywhere. Even non-upgraded TWC models can be deadly because they have Rending and a high number of attacks with a WS 5 (thanks to the detachment special rule).

Leaders of the Pack.
The list has two Independent Characters (IC) in which to lead your Cavalry charge. Join one IC to each of the TWC packs with two Storm Shields.

Harald Deathwolf
Harald Deathwolf is the go to guy for Thunderwolf Cavalry and he is the obvious choice to be the Warlord. At first glance you'd think he looks like a typical Wolf Lord on a Thunderwolf mount but he's even more of a bad-ass when leading TWC into glorious battle. Harald is a force multiplier for your cavalry because of his Saga of the Wolfkin Warlord trait. It grants all Beasts and Cavalry of his faction the Stubborn special rule, and better yet, all of those type units within 12" of Harald get the Furious Charge special rule until the end of the Assault phase. This makes placement of Harald very important on the turn that you assault. Any TWC pack assaulting with Harald's help will be a force to be reckoned with, they will be S 6 and can even threaten T 9 on the charge.

Harald also brings two other tricks, Outflank and Lord of the Wolfkin. Outflank is good and all but you can't assault on the turn you arrive from reserves, bummer. But there might be times you do want to use this special rule like when facing a Drop Pod army. Typically you want Harald's pack charging into battle with the rest of the TWC so they can all benefit from his Furious Charge.

Lord of the Wolfkin is another force multiplier for your TWC as any Beast or Cavalry within 12" of Harald uses his Leadership value of 10. Couple this with Stubborn and your TWC are rock solid and very unlikely to retreat from losing a close combat round.

Oh, and if Harald's pack is charging an enemy unit with flamers then put him in front, he is immune thanks to his Mantle of the Ice Troll King.

Wolf Guard Battle Leader
The Wolf Guard Battle Leader is no slouch, he's rocking 2+/3++ saves, swinging a Thunder Hammer and re-rolling all failed to hit rolls in close combat thanks to his relic. If you are feeling ballsy you can run him in front of his pack to soak up fire with his 2+ save. If an AP 1-2 or S 10 Wound comes in then Look Out Sir the Wound off of him and to a Storm Shield model.

There is nothing subtle about the Battle Leader, with his relic and Thunder Hammer he is bringing on a pain train of about three S 10 AP 2 Wounds per close combat round and four Wounds on the charge.

Pack Leader and Character Challenges
Because this list is a Champions of Fenris army, all your Characters must accept and issue challenges. Very Space Wolf, I like it. Now here is the advantage that we get for having to do those challenges - the Battle Leader, Wolf Guard and Thunderwolf Cavalry characters all have the Preferred Enemy special rule in challenges. Boo-Yah! Watch those sissy Xenos characters run as they try their best to dodge your leaders all game but ultimately fall prey to battle-hardened Wolf steel.

But seriously, watch out for S 10 and Force weapons; you are only one failed save away from getting punked by one shot.

The Obligatory Third Drop Pod.
It is exactly that, obligatory, but important to Deep Strike both Venerable Dreads on turn one. Blood Claws are cheap and good for the points so at a minimal five models and with a dedicated Drop Pod they are only ninety five cents. I could have gone with a tiny Long Fang unit to save some points but the Claws are more useful - place the pod down on to an objective then send the Blood Claws towards the next closest one. Blood Claws love to fight so stick them into close combat if needed, they will thank you.

Weaknesses of Thunderwolf Hammer & Anvil 1850
Flyers. This list has nothing that can deal with flyers because it is 'all in' for the assault phase and ignores sissy Xenos things like shooting and psychic powers. Luckily flyers have been decreasing in use and you can just ignore them for the most part and get away with it.

It is not all doom and gloom when facing lots of flyers because you do have a couple of defenses against them. First, if your units are all engaged in close combat the flyers can't target you. And second, all your units are going to be on the opponent's side of the table so it will be hard for flyers to get shots on you when coming in from reserves. Unfortunately, flyer strong armies will give you fits, I'm looking at you Necron Air Force. But like I said, flyers are rarer these days so it is possible that you will just not see very many.

Glancing back over the list you may notice that it has a low model count. You will have to learn how to best utilize each and every one of your models through practice because this can be a very unforgiving list. Once you make a mistake, and lose a lot of models without any gains to show for it, then you might not be able to rebound.

High torrent of fire is often the bane of assault armies; either enough of your models survive the opening rounds of shooting and win the game or enough of your models get shot off the board that you can't mount an effective assault. Use the terrain to your advantage and don't let your opponent skimp on placing it on the table before the game begins. A fair battlefield will have some lanes of blocking terrain because otherwise, why play anything but shooty armies?
Alternative Thunderwolf Cavalry Models
Games Workshop makes some fine TWC models but I figured that I would go ahead and list a couple of alternatives in case you want to see what else is available out there.

Heroclix makes a Fenris Wolf model that is found on Ebay for around $10 on average. It isn't the prettiest model but it sure does look like a Thunderwolf and it is the right size too. You will have to fix it onto a proper sized base and give it a new paint job (unless you want to keep the drab stock black). I have a couple of these models, they came with a small Space Wolf lot that I had acquired from Ebay some years ago. With a little bit of modeling expertise you can kitbash a Thunderwolf rider together with leftover parts from your Wolf bits bin.

A popular alternative for TWC is the Mr.Dandy Battle Wolf War Mounts. These are competitively priced with the GW version and very nice looking models. Some people call them 'cartoony' looking but I don't see it. What I do see is that they are not quite the same caliber as the GW models. That being said, they do give you five fresh and dynamic poses.

In Closing
Is this list competitive? I'd like to think so but honestly what do I know? Actually I do know this: I will have an absolute blast playing my dream list and I hope that you will too if you decide to give it a try.

Fenris has risen, Wolf Brothers!
Let us ride together and taste the sting of glorious battle!
For Russ and the Allfather!

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