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Friday, September 10, 2010

How To: Hybrid Space Wolves Part 1

Space Wolves are one of the most popular armies out there today and for good reason. Whilst the internet forums may encourage you to believe these guys (alongside IG) stand head and shoulders above every other army list out there, this is not the case. Space Wolves are an excellent and competitive army but so are a lot of others. What Space Wolves do really well compared to others though, is Hybrid builds. This offers a lot of variety in builds which is great for competitive and hobbyist gamers a-like. Whilst SW are capable of doing competitive full foot and mech lists (though done better by SM/BA), this two part series will focus on how Hybrid Space Wolves work.

A quick glance at the Space Wolves codex shows you there are a ton of options which can run as mech, foot or both. Long Fangs, TWC, Scouts, Lone Wolves, Wolf Lords, Fenrisian Wolves, etc. are all great on foot whilst the age old Grey Hunters, Dreads, Razorbacks and Rhinos all add some armor to the field. Add in Allies such as Imperial Storm Troopers and support elements like the Rune Priest and Iron Priest and we’ve got a whole bunch of units, with a whole lot of options. Thanks GW for making 5th edition and your new codices. It’s like you understand what we as the competitive gamer want whilst still providing some great modelling and fluff opportunities.

First things first, decide what type of list you’re going for. With Space Wolves some kind of Hybrid is your best bet or a pure foot list. Leave pure Mech to SM and BA; they just do it better. You then need to decide what style you’re going for. Do you want to get in the enemy’s face early and pound face with TWC variants or put more firepower onto the board and run around with counter-assault units. Either way there are going to be two main-stays for each SW army: Long Fangs and Grey Hunters. How you use your Grey Hunters will largely determine how your list plays out around them.

Before we get into the Grey Hunters (which have been compared to other MEQ troops before), why Long Fangs? They are a lot cheaper than SM Devs but this was fixed in the BA codex where ablative wounds can be had (split fire is also covered through combat squadding). Whilst Long Fangs may not have the body count and durability of BA Devs, they are significantly cheaper whilst still being able to split fire (and you can get 5 missiles). This means you can buy more weapons to shoot your opponent with through min-sized units (MSU). This is a hallmark of Space Wolves Hybrid lists and one of the reasons they do so well in 5th edition. Anyway, Long Fangs provide cheap fire saturation and suppression. For a measly 345 points you can fire 12 missiles at 6 different targets all on BS4/T4/3+ platforms which cannot be shaken or stunned. Count me in thanks.

Long Fangs are an integral part of any Space Wolves army because of their efficiency, even if running a combat oriented army. How then do Grey Hunters define the rest of the army? Thanks to the rest of the Space Wolves codex, Grey Hunters can operate on foot. This does not mean you need 60 Grey Hunters but rather in a list designed around TWC, your Grey Hunters don’t need to ride in Rhinos. So, if your Grey Hunters are on foot your army needs to be very fast and have minimal mech, ergo a foot army. Easy peasy. They’ll generally run with double meltaguns and an assortment of combat upgrades such as power weapons, mark of the wulfen and wolf standard and provide a bunch of solid bodied back up to your main assault units. What about putting your Grey Hunters in mech though? Here’s where we get a bunch of options and really defines how Hybrid SW goes.

There are two transport options for Grey Hunters. The Razorback and Rhino. Both are excellent choices but one is noticeably more expensive than the other (we’re going to presume LasPlas on the Rback) and holds less models. Whilst both can and should be picked in most armies, they offer different roles. Rhinos offer up bunkers to shoot from (important for 2 special weapons) and mobility whilst LasPlas offer more overall firepower but have a firepower/mobility trade-off. Both are good but for different reasons. Razorbacks should only ever be considered when running smaller GH squads. Whilst Rhinos can also be considered for smaller GH squads (bunkering), 10 GH should only be picked with Rhinos in mind.

If you’re not running 10 GH for the double special weapons you then have to choose, Rback or Rhino? Both are viable options and will often depend on points but also on what role you want them to take. Do you want them as potential counter-assault units whilst your army hangs back or more mobile and aggressive? The more aggressive you want them to be, or if you have hijacking units like ISTs around, generally means Rhinos are a better bet whilst if you want your list to be more stand-offish, LasPlas Rbacks fit with the army theme. I prefer the more aggressive stance and whilst Rbacks can still be taken for these guys, this means my core of Troops are more capable of handing out the hurt. By providing each GH squad with a Wolf Guard tag along I not only increase their reliability (Ld9 + a body) but add another special weapon and combat weapon. This makes them perfect candidates to bubble-wrap LasPlas Rbacks in or bunkering in Rhinos to eventually hop out and assault things.

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list of Grey Hunter usages, it shows you by designing them to be more aggressive or shooty can change the dynamic of the whole list and it is up to you on how that is done. I’ll end this article here with the understanding that Long Fangs and Grey Hunters are an essential part of a Hybrid Space Wolves list. The final article will look at the elements you put around these units and how the army operates as a whole.

9 pinkments:

Wysten said...

Rhinos also have the advantage of allowing Rune Priests to fire out of the top.

Roland Durendal said...

Agreed. It's why I love the new 'dex: it offers both the competitive gamer in me and the fluffy hobbyist the opportunity to coexist.

As for Greys, I'm finding the 8 Greys + WG is a solid loadout for a Rhino-bound squad. Only downside I have with the WG still is the one-shot at glory Combi-melta. I try to justify it in my head that even with dual Meltas and a full 10 Grey squad, I'd only fire both meltas maybe two to three times a game so the Combi isn't that much worse. And then I remember the 2A PF and I am happy.

For real though Hybrid Wolves are solid - static firebase of fangs + fast / hard hitting support units of TWC coupled with a few Greys squads with WG laden in Rhinos = fluffy and pure win.

Rawr said...

I love the new Wolf codex and all the amazing competitive possibilities that come with it. But I will still always look back with fond memories of the giant blood claw squads with 3 power fists....

But going on from there, I definitely swear by the wolf guard even if you are not using a combi-melta power fist combo he is still a valuable leadership bump and combined with any special weapon (which are all cheaper on wolf guard so help offset that horrible extra 3 points)he is worth his points. Some people really don't like the fact that to get him you must sacrifice an elites slot on the alter.. but if you were really worried about that you can always make up a wolf guard terminator squad as well and split off your pack leaders if it really bothers you that much. But with an absolutely awesome choice in fast attack (TWC), 1 of the best troops choices in the game (GH) mech'd up, solid fire base (LF) and a rune priest or maybe a geared up lord you should have a good competitive army against anyone you encounter.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

I like SW.
Maybe too much.

I am curious about WG in Fangs packs as a body. Fangs really suffer for not having spare bodies to cull before getting into the important stuff. A naked WG gives you that.

What do others think?

Rawr said...

Yea that works marshal, but most players (including myself) seems to avoid it for some reason. I have contemplated it alot, but I have just decided id rather take power weapons on grey hunter squads and other things like that especially if im trying to trim down points for a game. But i have rarely had people focus my long fangs... i may just be lucky on that front.

Anonymous said...

I find the most difficult thing with Long Fangs is finding all the necessary missile launchers...

Duke of Earl said...

These look good.

Missile launchers are a frustration. They're the best value for points weapon, but they're also somewhat limited in availability.

Aeteros said...

You can have Storm Troopers as Allies??
Where exactly is that allowed in rules? I want to read that! =)
That'd be too fluffy to be real))

Kirby said...

That was an old rule when Daemonhunters and Witchunters existed which allowed Allies between their and Imperial armies.

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