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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Space Wolves - Asking the Questions that Matter When Designing an Army, An Intro

One thing that differentiates a very strong Space Wolf (SW) player and a weak SW player is how they write their army lists. I'm not talking about what army they use and how it is made up I'm talking specifically about Wolf Guard (WG) as a unit on an army roster. If you come across an army list which has several units that look something like this:

4xWG, Terminator Armour (TDA), SB+PS; 1xWG TDA+SB+PS+CML in Drop Pod
5 Grey Hunters (GH) w/1MG in Rhino; 1 WG w/Combi-Melta (CbM)+PFist
9 Grey Hunters (GH) w/1MG+1PFist in Rhino; 1 WG w/CbM+PFist
5 Scouts w/BP+CCW+1 MG; 1 WG w/CbM+PFist

you can immediately recognise a poor SW player (we are not talking about their skill as a player, a very skilled player can run a crap list and do well with it, we are talking about their abilities to design and run a competitive list with an understanding of the SW codex and how it is set up, independent of other people). The reason being simple - the player does not understand about the core underlying flexibility of the SW Codex: That Characters are assigned amongst units at the start of a game not in the army list itself, and this assignment of characters will either make or break the army on the tactical level during play. In the same example above if you as the opponent are seeing this:

8 WG (4xWG, TDA, SB+PS;
3x WG w/CbM+PFist) in Drop Pod w/SB
5 GH w/1MG in Rhino
9 GH w/1 MG, 1 PFist in Rhino
5 Scouts w/BP+CCW+1MG

you do not know what the space wolf player's intentions are with his WG. You can take a good guess and posit that the 3 Power Armour (PA) WG will be split amongst the non-WG units as it is a sensible thing to do, but you can't be sure. If your opponent is so confused by your wolf guard set up that they state words to the effect of 'I don't know what your WG are doing!' you are on the path to doing something right with your SW List design, at the least from a much more layered and intricate point of view.

Over the next several weeks and articles I am going to look at an alternative way to how you as a player can approach your own army list design, and do this by examining the Space Wolves as an army in a different light to what many people do. In particular, I shall examine the sorts of questions that we as players should be asking ourselves when designing an army list as well as differing approaches to addressing those questions. This will be followed up with my own current work in progress 1,500pt Non-Comp Space Wolf army list as well as the first encounters I have and what I pick up that may need to be addressed in the future. Of particular note is my emphasis on designing a list yourself and not just taking all the things that are stated on the internet as the best combinations of units or choices. This is your army, it will act and respond by your own command so building it yourself is very important. A so called point and click MSU Spam army is all well and good, but what do you as a player gain from using such an army?

Rather than just taking a typical net spam list, I will be looking at how differing elements within a Space Wolf Army (and these elements and concepts can be extrapolated to other armies from other codicies) work together as a collective whole. A key concept of this is tactical flexibility (the difference between the strategical which is the overall plan for the list and during a game, and the Tactical which is the turn by turn, phase by phase, interactions of the units within each game) coupled with Redundancy of Role rather than Redundancy of Choice.

It is my hope that people take away something of value from these articles and to start looking at Space Wolves, and indeed their own armies, outside the normal box no matter how unusual the thinking may be. The first article to follow this introduction examines Wolf Guard and the thinking behind how you should be running them within a list.

Have a great day,

Auretious Taak.

P.S. Yes, that is me in the picture (taking a hand out of Roland's book here ;)) - at Beorg-wic 2011 last weekend, a Metal Weapons Viking Re-enactment camp that happens once a year in the middle of what was once a pine plantation here in Australia. The weekend was fantastic but the rain and hail prevented any real combat happening. One thing I picked up of note was a deeper understanding of the Viking Seax (Long Knife) and how to transition to it and a fluid linked series of cuts and blows from either single handed (2 metre) or 2-handed (3 metre) spear whilst fighting. For those interested in such things I'm interested in the Vikings of the 9th and 10th century roughly 850-950AD and well my Blue Linen Kirtle is too inaccurate for what I am aiming to portray, it is far, far too rich a piece of clothing due to the cost of materials and dyes. :)

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