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Monday, September 5, 2011

Flexible Competitive Space Wolves 1500pts Email Response + Revised List

Greetings everybody, it's been a while and I've been off doing other grand things with my hobby that aren't exactly competitive but are awesome none-the-less, so hence my own quietness recently. Below is an email response to a Space Wolf army list posted in a series of forum posts on the Bolter and Chainsword as well as over on Yes The Truth Hurts in their forums.

"Hey Auretious, you commented on my wolf list on YTTH forums, said it was
kind of broken vs MCs. I was wondering what you thought of this
revision using logan.

So I commented on the list on the Bolter and Chainsword forums as opposed to the YTTH forums (I don't even know if I'm registered there heh) and basically there were several lists and revisions that lead to this one with Logan. The original list was all dakka and no punch, would chew through transport spam and massed light to medium infantry and even give massed PA a run for its' money with how much torrenting it could lay down but it had weaknesses. It was mitigated a bit in his revised list which he also refined thanks to feedback on the YTTH forums:

Rune Priest
Tempests Wrath & Living Lightning = 100pts

2 Riflemen Dreadnoughts - 125x2 = 250pts

4 Wolf Guard
4xPA+Cb-melta, 1xTDA+SB+PW+CML = 155pts

4x5 Grey Hunters 120
1 Melta
1 Razor; TL-HB - 120x4 = 480pts

5 Grey Hunters
1 Flamer
1 Razor; TL-LC = 150pts

2 Dakka Preds = 170pts

5 Long Fangs w/4 ML's
1 Razor; TL-LC = 190pts

36 infantry
10 vehicle

My own feedback was mixed:
"All I can say is I love the stupidity of designing a list to deal with vehicles and not Monstrous creatures or 2+ save guys. Lots of dakka is great for torrenting but high toughness (6+) 3+ or even 2+ save MC's are just gonna laugh in your face - you have to close to melta range to deal with them reliably and then they just chew you to pieces up close.

It's an okay list, certainly strong, but it reads too much into a vehicle saturated meta-game and that's a weakness right there. You need to build in more ability to deal with the armies this list fails at, as whilst it dakka's quite a lot, when a 'dex such as Tyranids looks at the army and laughs a bit inside, there are issues with the list as a whole which need to be addressed."

And so the next list was made and asked for a response and feedback:
Current Working List:

Logan = 275pts

3 Riflemen Dreadnoughts = 375pts

5 Wolf Guard 195
4 PA+Cb-melta, 1 TDA+SB+PW+CML
1 Razor; TL-HB = 195pts

4x5 Grey Hunters
1 Melta
1 Razor; TL-HB = 120x4 = 480pts

6 Long Fangs w/5ML's
1 Rhino = 175pts

Total = 1500pts
32 infantry
9 vehicle


So let's start with the obvious - Logan is not bringing anything to this list. He has no obvious unit to hide in and no transport ability. With 7 ablative wounds at maximum he will easily get torrented to death and the close in punch you are trying to achieve is gonna die hard and fast. That pushes you back to square one, you have dakka, but no punch, and moreover, you now are susceptible to psychic dominant armies such as Grey Knights and Tyranids walking all over you. You wanted a more mobile force and didn't like the feel of having to push in Long Fangs to the force because they are too immobile, so one alternative to that is to plonk in Auto-Las Predators (Predator with an Autocannon and Lascannon Sponsons) at 120pts a pop. It's more mobile firepower but is it the same bang for buck?

Long Fangs are included in almost every Space Wolf force out there in a competitive scene because there are very few units in the codex which give you such value for money in a support role. You have Riflemen dreadnoughts in there and that is shiny and gives you reliable anti-transport and anti-light vehicle killing power and a single unit of Long Fangs with 5 ML's is pretty bog standard, but so is the redundancy of 2 or 3 such units. The reason being that at str 8 AP 3 Krak missiles and the ability to split that firepower they can do a lot more damage to vehicles/MC's then a Rifleman can at a similar points cost. The Rifleman can move and fire but against a Tervigon the Rifleman will get 1 in 3 wounds through whereas the Long Fangs will drop off wounds for every wounding hit they land (ignoring cover here as it's easiest to and doesn't cloud ones judgment on why you take things). But both these choices fail against Tyrannofexes and Paladin Deathstars amongst others. 2+ saves combined with high toughness or multiple wounds just has both forms of support bouncing and 1 in 6 wounding hits will knock off a wound (or Instant Death a Paladin) and frankly, for the points you are paying for each this is ridiculous. This is why I run as standard 2 Lascannons in each of my Long Fang Units. Long Fangs are primarily a support unit aiming for big scary stuff which I can't deal with up close with bolter fire and raw combat attacks. Frag Missiles are great but do nothing vs big gribblies and heavy armour. Moreover, the extra strength of a Lascannon gives more reliability vs high end armour values and allows you to, shock horror (!), penetrate an AV 14 hull whereas the Krak Missiles just glance. This is also why a Las/Plas razorback is such a popular choice with Space Wolves because it adds more punch and can deal with a variety of threats.

Another approach to fill in gaps is to run Land Speeders. A Typhoon with a Multi-Melta and Typhoon Missile Launcher gives a solid gun boat that operates nicely at 24" and gets even better at 12". remember that the Frag Missiles of the Typhoon can be fired as defensive weapons so as moving and shooting the Multi-melta allows for the missiles to be placed on vehicles and praying for a good scatter into nearby enemy troops (it's fun when it works). A lot of people prefer the HB, but I like the extra melta ability for 10 extra points on a mobile firing platform as most of my dedicated support is largely static.

Yet another approach to compliment both your actual foot forces and your support forces is to run several thunder wolf cavalry with a Power Fist. 4-5 str 10 attacks vs armour or MC's can be quite devastating, especially when you combine charge them with several of the nutty fellows. Moreover at 75pts a pop they aren't that expensive and people will be put out enough by them to direct firepower into them instead of other threats within your army.

Finally, since the advent of the Grey Knight codex a lot of people are running Bolter-Backs (HB razorbacks) because well GK's can do it kind of okay, so why don't we do it but less well for a bit cheaper. I don't really understand the reasoning of this, nothing has changed for other armies - Heavy Bolters by themselves aren't great, and oooh wow twin-linked heavy Bolters must be awesome...not really, you go from hitting twice at str 5 AP 4 to 3 times most's not a defensive weapon either which means it ain't massive and the reliability of a HB vs transports or other big things well meh. This has been covered elsewhere. They work in GK's because at str 6 with Psybolt Ammo they are able to achieve far more, but we're playing space wolves, your basic guys can deal with the threats that HB's usually deal with almost as well if not better for the points. Now, ditching the Bolter-backs for plain old Rhino's also allows you to move and shoot the 2 melta shots from your top hatch without worrying about being caught in the open to do so. The enemy needs to first destroy your transport to get at your juicy troops inside and that's rather the point as the troops whilst decent aren't equipped to fulfill a dedicated assault role and are more close range fire-support. If you are running a transport on the Long Fangs a cheap Rhino is nice to use as cover for your troop rhino's and extra rides, but also a Las/Plas razorback means you work in a support tank as well as the static firepower base of the Long Fangs.

Putting it all together we get something like this:

Taak's 1,500 points of Flexible Space Wolves

HQ 1a) Rune Priest
Chooser of the Slain, Living Lightning, Tempests Wrath, Melta-Bombs, Wolf Tooth Talisman - 120pts

Elites 1) Rifleman Dreadnought - 125
Drop Pod w/SB - 35 = 160pts

Elites 2) 5 WG = 225pts
2 WG TDA+PW+Cb-melta 38x2 - 76
2 WG PA+Cb-melta+BP 23x2 - 46
1 WG TDA+Cb-melta+PW+CML - 68
Drop Pod w/SB - 35

Troops 1 to 3) 3x5 GH's, MG, Rhino - 115x3 = 345pts

Troops 4) 5 GH's, MG - 80
Las/Plas Razorback - 75 = 155pts

Fast Attack 1 & 2) TWC, BP+PFist - 75x2 = 150pts

Heavy Support 1) 2x5 LF's w/2ML+2Lascannons+Meltagun - 155
Rhino - 35 = 190pts

Heavy Support 2) 5 LF's w/2ML+2Lascannons+Meltagun = 155pts

Total = 1,500 points.
8 vehicles (incl. 2 drop Pods)
48 Foot
17-18 Kill Points.

NB: The Wolf Guard are interesting and open up lots of opportunities. Unless running a straight WG unit for the drop (hey look a decent combat unit vs heavy infantry with melta and missile fire to boot, huzzah!) the obvious split up is the TDA+CML to the GH's w/MG and Las/Plas razor giving you are move forwards and shoot Missile Platform with double melta and allowing the las/plas to set up in a ranged support or close in support role, the 2 PA+Cb-melta's to 2 of the 3 MG+Rhino GH units (allowing the RP to attach to the 3rd unit in Rhino for more mobile long range artillery suppoirt - go go Living Lightning!) and the TDA+Cb-melta WG to the LF units (they like living against incoming krak missiles!). Remember that if there is no dedicated Wolf Guard Unit left on the field then after you split them all off, then the opponent cannot claim a Kill point for killing off the Wolf Guard, so you do have the ability for some Kill point denial there as well. Moreover, they come with a drop pod so if the need to drop triple melta or even the full 5 melta and double Krak Missiles in your opponents face at point blank appeals or is needed on the first turn, then that option is also available.

NB 2: There is an oddity in the list to many people - The Drop Pod on the Rifleman Dreadnought. Why not a Rhino on the second Long fang Unit? It's rather simple - a Drop Podding Rifleman has the option of deploying normally on the board or dropping in and deploying with its own private cover provided. The advice here is to drop him on the extreme flank of an enemy where side shots into heavy armoured vehicles will be available from the get go and against some opponents even rear armour shots. Additionally, being able to shoot Tyranid Hive Guard with 4 twin-linked Autocannon shots on your first turn is very useful as well and will cause the Tyranid player to divert resources to deal with this threat on his or her flank. It's situational, yes, and not to be used every game, but it does give you a number of tactical as well as strategic options which other similar lists lack.

NB 3: There is a second oddity in the list - Meltaguns on the Long Fang Pack Leaders. You have a static firepower unit, why are you giving them Meltaguns? I'll expand on this in another article (maximising Long Fangs ftw! :D) at some point soon but in summary Pack Leaders don't always die when you'd like a HW to survive instead and sometimes you want to fire at units close up and only one unit not splitting your fire, and if you aren't splitting your fire then the Pack Leader gets to shoot and as the Pack Leader is shooting vs a high end target, what's a bolter going to do? Not much, but a meltagun will fry something. The attached ablative wound abusing Wolf Guard in TDA also have combi-melta's so you have double melta in yet another place in the list and more importantly you can swap in a PA WG w/Cb-melta and hop inside a rhino for some close in flexible firepower from the top hatch as sometimes you will also have to redeploy your Long fangs and what better way to do that then with some Rhino support. This isn't everyone's cup of Tea and I have yet to see other people do it, but I like it and it is yet another neat little trick to the force that people won't expect.

Concluding Thoughts:

So there you go Squ1rReL, a list that is a bit more refined yet still gives you the mobile feel you were after whilst playing to some of the core strengths of the Space Wolf Codex. Remember whenever you are messing with Wolf Guard to make them as flexible as possible they need to be able to operate in many roles across your army either together or split off in different ways. You might want to try dropping the Cb-Melta TDA WG into the GH units on foot and playing a hybridised foot list once in a while, but there is a lot of flexibility within the list because of where you can assign the WG as well as the Rune Priest. The one key note I'd like to put here is not to run the TDA+CML WG with the Long Fangs. You want to maximise your target saturation abilities both for the enemy shooting at you as well as what you can shoot at the enemy. Having all your support models in one place especially when the TDA WG can move and fire the CML is a poor move as a general. I would love to hear your thoughts as well as that of other players here, and in the mean time, I think I'm gonna run this list for a while as something different to my more esoteric lists of late.

Have a great week everybody,


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