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Monday, October 31, 2011

Space Wolves Codex Review - Part 1: Introduction


It's been quite a while since the Space Wolves codex has come out yet it is still considered one of the premier armies on the tabletop - does its codex stack up however? In short - yes. Whilst there are some less flexible choices in key departments (i.e. Troops) compared to other army books, the Space Wolves codex still gives players a fair amount of choice. In this codex review we're going to look at the highs and lows of that choice pool and as ever, take a look at how the units perform, interact with each other, good load-outs, etc. We've covered some of the major constructs of the codex in the Armies in 5th series and as ever, the codex review aims to supplement that series rather than replace it.

Space Wolves are a Marine based army. This means they have the ever cheap and lovely Rhino and Razorback as the basis of their mechanised forces and carry around T4/3+ Marines with the usual assortment of bolt, melta, plasma and flame weaponry. This combination gives Space Wolves, like most Marine armies, a very robust army. Not only are their base vehicles relatively cheap but they are quite durable and the same can be said of their infantry. Whilst most Space Marine armies are going to be outnumbered against any non-Marine army (i.e. Xenos, Imperial Guard, Sisters of Battle, etc.), removing 30-40+ Marines is no easy task and this durability allows Space Wolves to maintain an effective fighting force far longer than their numbers might suggest.

Space Wolves most differing feature from other Marines is their innate combat prowess which can be used both offensively and defensively. Unlike Blood Angels or Grey Knights who have a plethora of different Force Organisation Choices and army styles compared to Vanilla Marines, the differences between Space Wolves and Vanilla Marines are harder to tease apart. This is in large part due to having the same parent units fitting into the same Force Organisation slots. This has led to the belief that Space Wolves are literally in every way better than Vanilla Marines. In quite a few respects, they are but not in all senses. This has been discussed before and won't be part of the review but it's important, as always with the number of Marine books out there, to know what each book does best.

In terms of differences compared to the other Marine chapters, Space Wolves are very efficient in how they can apply firepower on the table. Most of their common units run very effectively at smaller squad sizes (i.e. Long Fangs, Thunderwolf Cavalry and Grey Hunters) but can still be run at larger units as well. Importantly, at both small and large squad sizes, Space Wolves will gain some benefit in terms of weapons allowed (i.e. one per five). This gives Space Wolves a lot of flexibility in list design as they can go the multiple small unit (MSU), large unit or mixed approach to list building. The same can be said in terms of running mech, foot or hybrid lists and this and the ability to be effective in combat when charged, is part of the major difference between Vanilla Marines and Space Wolves. If you find yourself with lists which aren't focusing on the unique units and aspects of the Space Wolves codex, you'll generally find a more efficient list is built elsewhere. This is an important part of understanding any of the Marine army books since they share the same base layout.

The end template of a Space Wolves list is something which does shooting very well, holds midfield with lots of Power Armored bodies and has decent to good combat ability to back this up. Whilst this isn't how all effective Space Wolves lists work, this is a standard many of us are used to seeing Space Wolves armies employ. It's this knowledge and regularity that we see Space Wolves that some might wonder why are we doing this review? Most of us know all there is know about Space Wolves and this isn't exactly going to be ground-breaking or revolutionary... It does however offer up a collected assortment of thoughts for new players, particularly those looking to play Space Wolves or help those struggling against such armies. It also provides a space for more cohesive arguments regarding army composition and unit uses in the comments section so more experience players should find uses as well.

Ultimately I guess the question with this review is...well what is it going to say that people don't already know? Not much, the codex has been broken down pretty extensively before this but for those asking...well here you go :).

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