Tuesday, October 14, 2014

40K ARMIES: Thunderwolf Spam and Analysis



A Thought Experiment & Analysis

The purpose of this list.
In my quest to build a competitive Thunderwolf army I have decided to start with the basics: to come up with a list that spams as much Thunderwolf cavalry as possible into a tournament style list. From there I am hoping to get an idea of where the weaknesses and strengths of such an army is and start to put together a stronger, more competitive list afterwards. As a side note I promise not to use any of those annoying images of Spam cans in this article.

Think of this list as a thought experiment and not as a netlist to copy and paste. I am attempting to find a solid place to begin for my competitive Thunderwolf list construction, so why not begin with the the extreme example? I have made one Thunderwolf list before, right after the new codex dropped, and you can see it here. While I like that list and I want to play that list, I'm not quite so sure that it is competitive enough for tournament play. I would love to be proved wrong though.

Let's begin.
All of my lists will be made with the Bay Area Open format in mind. That is the format our club uses, local tournaments use and it seems to be a popular format in this region. So to get the maximum amount of Thunderwolf Cavalry for my chosen format I will need to have both a Combined Arms Detachment and an Allied Detachment. That's not good enough however, I'm using freak'n Thunderwolves, so I am going to replace my Combined Arms Detachment with the Company of the Great Wolf Detachment. I won't need Troops and the +1 WS for my cavalry and Wolf Guard is just too good to pass up.

Filling out the ranks.
Might as well start with the meat and potatoes, I have four Fast Attack slots to fill up in my army. Six Thunderwolf Cavalry go into each of those slots. While naked Thunderwolf cavalry is a force to be reckoned with they need some more tools to excel. I kit out each pack with two Storm Shields and one Thunder Hammer. Ideally I'd like one more Shield for defense and a Wolf's Claw to help mow down power armor chumps but I have to cut back to save points. Besides, this load-out comes in at a cool and easy to work with 300 points. So that's four Cav packs @ 1200 on the button. That leaves 650 left to play with, not too bad.

Time to fill the required slots and make this a legal army. According to the Company of the Great Wolf Detachment I need one HQ and two Elites. For my Allied Detachment I need one more HQ and one Troop. Two Iron Priests on Thunderwolves are a no-brainer choice for this army's Elite choice. As for HQ choices I need to stay thrifty so a couple of Wolf Guard Battle Leaders will fit the bill. As a bonus they also benefit from the detachment's +1 WS boost. I like to load my Lords and Leaders out in a particular way; Thunderwolf, Storm Shield, Runic Armor and Thunderhammer. Boom. Very survivable and with a massive S 10 punch. With any leftover points I might be able to purchase them some re-roll Relics and Fenrisian Wolf buddies. Lastly, we need Troops for the Allied Detachment so I'm going minimal with a 5 man Blood Claw pack.

OK, we have all our required slots filled as well as all our Fast Attack slots like we wanted. After adding everything up I find that I only have 40 points left to spend. I'll throw the Fellclaw's Teeth relic on the Warlord to make him more killy and then buy 3 Fenrisian Wolves for the Leaders to use for Instant Death or last wound soaks.

(For lack of a better title)

 Company of the Great Wolf Detachment
 and Allied Detachment.

Thunderwolf mount, Storm Shield, Thunderhammer, Runic Armor,
Fenrisian Wolf x2, Fellclaw's Teeth
Thunderwolf mount, Storm Shield, Thunderhammer, Runic Armor, Fenrisian Wolf

Blood Claws x5 (Ally)

Iron Priest - Thunderwolf mount
Iron Priest - Thunderwolf mount

Thunderwolf Cavalry x6 - Storm Shield x2, Thunderhammer
Thunderwolf Cavalry x6 - Storm Shield x2, Thunderhammer
Thunderwolf Cavalry x6 - Storm Shield x2, Thunderhammer
Thunderwolf Cavalry x6 (Ally) - Storm Shield x2, Thunderhammer

= 1849

Strengths of the list.
So whats to like besides seeing 28 mother-beautiful Thunderwolf models on the table? How about 28 S 5 Hammer of Wrath hits? Or how about a total of 136 Rending attacks on the charge? Nearly the entire army is T 5 with decent 3++ protection and some 2+ armor for soaking up AP 3+ hits. The list is lighting fast and should only have to weather one turn of shooting before slamming into the enemy chumps for the win. I think the list might have enough target saturation to deliver a potent blow even if charging into a lot of firepower. With a list like this it is crucial to master using the 2+ saves, 3++ and Look Out Sir in an efficient manner.

Alright, let's talk assault strength because that is what this list does to win. The one thing that pops out immediately about this army is it's ability to slam enemy chumps on the charge with a total of 40 WS 5+, S 10, AP 2. Those attacks are Rending as well which could make a difference if you are attacking a superheavy. The Iron Priest attacks are only WS 4 but they hit at a whooping AP 1 making them ideal slayers of anything that rolls on the vehicle penetration damage chart.

Don't be like me and forget about your Hammer of Wrath attacks - with so many you are probably going to get some Wounds put on the enemy before they even have a chance to swing back. Out of your Cav's normal attacks you get a grand total of 96 on the charge @ WS 5, S 5 and Rending. Impressive. In the end I think this list can handle just about any threat, the problem is getting enough models into assault and keeping the pressure on.

Weakness of Thunderspam.
This year I have pretty much switched my play style over to assault oriented armies. In that time I've had the hardest time playing against Tau and Eldar (serpent spam). Even hiding in or behind cover won't help you that much against either of those races shooting. Plus they are both very mobile so it is hard to keep them hemmed in. I'm not quite sure how this list would perform against them, however, I'm guessing it might be able to weather a decent amount of shooting with the 2+ and 3++; every model you lose hurts when you only have a total of 33 models in your entire army.

Unlike a Wolfstar pack you don't have nearly as many Independent Characters to rely on to split off and take objectives and kill important targets. What you do have is four Thunderwolf packs and I suppose you could view them as Characters themselves because they are big, bad and hard to kill. And just like all Thunderwolf armies you have to manage your limited number of models well; don't fall for traps, be sure to target prioritize and don't move any pack to far out of position to make it useless next turn.

Controlling objectives is going to be a problem. My Redstone Rumble list had this same exact problem, especially since the normal mission objectives were mixed with Maelstrom objectives. My list went 3-2 but out of five games I never won the Maelstorm mission but I did tie it twice. From this I gather that most all-out assault armies have the same problem: a weak backfield. The Thunderspam list has only a single Blood Claw pack for such duties. In an objective heavy game a Thunderwolf pack (or two) and maybe some ICs will have to be redirected for objective grabs/guard duty.

Flyers will, of course, be a nuisance. The meta right now seems to be light on flyers so this list has a chance to flourish. About all you can do with this list against flyers is to linger about cover and objectives and wait for the flyers to come down to skimmer mode (if they can), because they can't score while flying. You will just have to concentrate on cleaning up everything on the ground and hope you can get those flyers later in the game if they come down.

Conclusion and looking forward.
Actually, for a thought experiment, I like this list. I don't know if I will ever have enough Cav models to pull it off but I just might play this list one day. I love the speed and power output of the list but I feel it needs more 2+ and 3++ saves. Looking forward to my competitive list I will, sadly, have to drop some numbers from the Cav packs so I can add a Wolf Lord and at least one or two more Independent Characters. I do not want to go the Wolfstar route, I want to instead have multiple big packs with multiple ICs so to spread the love and destruction around.

I'm going to need more objective takers/sitters because once the Thuderwolf tide has washed over the middle of the board I'd like for them to concentrate on keeping the pressure on. I have thoughts about some Wolf Scouts with camo cloaks sitting on a backfield objective. Sprinkle in maybe another Blood Claw pack or something fast like a minimal Wolf Guard Jump or Bike pack. I don't think Drop Pods will work very well with what I have in mind. I'd love to put some distraction/screening units in the list but I know I won't have the points. I will just have to hope that my plan of having multiple strong packs will be target saturation enough to see me through and into assault.

Anybody have any thoughts on the list or how I can change it for the better?


  1. Nice idea, very nice.

    I am still a Blood Claw but I really get in love with the TWC, so I started in hobbie based on Harald's Deathwolf Company!

    For your list how about taking out the Thunderhammer and the FellClaw's Teeth and use the Krakenbone Sword? And maybe 1 Iron Priest for a pack of Sniper Wolf Scouts? Well in my first match my thunderhammer died and only killed one blood claw... Why? A horde of skyclaws and blood claws didn't let me a chance for a hit! (Also lack of strategy for my part but, c'mon, it happans!) The Krakenbone Sword is AP 2, +1S and Master-Crafted, also if you like more "chances", ¿Digital Weapons maybe? And the Wolf scouts could help for hold an objective and fire at long distance so you don't have to assign a TWC to specially guard, better let them go for the hunt! Also you can add a Missile Launcher with Flakk (something vs aircrafts is better than nothing) or maybe a Heavy Bolter only because it's fun... xD

    Thanks for your tactica and until Morkai's come... remember Prospero and Vlka Fenryka!

    1. Hi Gerardo! I see you have a blog also, I am going to get around to checking it out soon and add it to my blogroll.

      Well, you read my mind about the sniper scouts. I have a wolf scout tactica I'm going to post in the near future and I wrote about wanting to test out snipers for a backfield holder. The Krakenborne sword is sweet and I'm certainly going to test it out but having S 10 is so, so good. Yeah, get some Flakk if you worry about flyers. My local meta seems to be mostly without flyers so it's not so much a concern for me. Anyway, a TWC army can't do everything so make it sure it does what it does best.

      Thanks for posting, Brother. Happy Hunting.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hey thanks for that! I will also add you to my blogroll.

    I will test a list and the scouts next sunday so hope to write something next week.

    Happy Hunting brother!

  3. Hi your allied detachment is illegal since it has to be a different faction... :(

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Wow where did you get that thunderwolf model for your wolf lord??