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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Armies in 5th: Space Wolves Part 5: Utility, Disruption & Grey Hunters


The core of most Space Wolves lists are Grey Hunters in Rhinos/Razorbacks and Long Fangs with attached Razorbacks for fire support. This is often why a lot of people feel every Space Wolves list is the same or 'netlisted' and certainly does restrict options for the Space Wolves player (i.e. if you're not using those units, you're generally better off with a different codex). With great midfield ability which can take on both infantry and tanks in combat and at range, multiple vehicle hulls and S8+ fire support, what does the rest of the Force Organisation Chart provide for the Space Wolves army?

There are a lot of options here. One FoC is generally used to make the Grey Hunters more reliable (Elite - Wolf Guard) and you obviously have to take a mandatory HQ but there are two distinct types of options available here. More firepower - either in combat such as Thunderwolf Cavarly, Wolf Lords, Lone Wolves, etc. or shooting such as Typhoons, Rifledreads, etc. The other distinct option is utility such as Land Speeders, Rune Priests, Wolf Scouts, etc. and these options are what can really make the original combination of Grey Hunters and Long Fangs work a treat. Just to be clear here, there's nothing wrong with not taking utility units and just going for raw firepower or mixing firepower and utility units. In fact, going all utility units places a heavy burden on your Grey Hunters, Long Fangs and transports to do nearly ALL the lifting. They are capable certainly but remember Grey Hunters are also your scoring units and Long Fangs aren't exactly durable.

So how do these utility units help and why are they so effective for Space Wolves? We've already covered disruption as an article itself and those same principles apply. When we relate them to the Space Wolves army though we quickly relate back to other key concepts explained in this series and these revolve around improving Grey Hunters. Let's pretend we have a Space Wolves list with the usual Grey Hunters, Long Fangs, Rhinos/Razorbacks, a TWC squad + Wolf Lord, 2x Speeders and 2x Wolf Scouts. We've taken some of the load off the Hunters/Fangs with an extra hard hitting assault unit (TWC + Lord) but have magnified their ability to operate in midfield by including disruption units (Scouts + Speeders). Not only does your opponent have to worry about fast melta and increased blocking presence but Wolf Scouts with melta weapons are at some point going to pop up around their army. This means they have to account for them or potentially suffer severely and this reduces the enemy's ability to impact midfield and thus the Grey Hunters are less vulnerable to being forced into oblivion and have more opportunity to use their abilities to the best effect depending upon the game.

Let's look at this from the other side - a Space Wolves list without any utility or disruption units. Same list as before but all the Wolf Scouts/Speeder points go into Lone Wolves/more TWC. Midfield becomes a lot scarier for the opponent as there is more combat ability there and the Grey Hunters are no longer the only target on which to focus (and if you do, there are a bunch of heavy hitters to whack you back). However, the opponent's approach from their deployment zone (or lack of approach) is unaffected other than your ability to manoeuvre in midfield (very important and still tactical) and the amount of damage the Long Fangs and Razorbacks can inflict in the early turns. This is certainly a reason why people think 40k isn't tactical as games like this with inexperienced generals can see players throwing dice at each other and just charging across the tabletop.

Certainly you can get away with running this type of list, there are strengths to it but when you look at the easily accessible and cheap (Speeders are 60-70 points, Scouts 85 points w/meltagun, Rune Priest 110 points w/Chooser, etc.) utility and disruption units, it seems silly not to take a least a couple. The ability to impact your opponent's moves/deployment is huge and this will often translate to better success in midfield for your Grey Hunters. Again, it's important to insure they aren't the only ones doing the lifting there (though you can do this - see Tony Kopach's list) but you don't want to completely forego more tactical options to ensure this.

We'll look at this more in the summary but this balancing act is how Space Wolves lists are ultimately built. Grey Hunters and Fangs are great but what you put around them is what makes Space Wolves a very effective list and allows those units to work at peak efficiency whilst not hamstringing your tactical options.

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