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Monday, November 28, 2011

Space Wolves Codex Review: Part 10 - Conclusion

Space Wolves

This was really one of the most simple codex reviews we've had to do which is particularly odd for such a strong army in this edition. Many people have laid their finger on the crux of this anomly already, so for those of you who haven't seen this it's quite simple - Grey Hunters and Long Fangs are that good. Specifically, they are too good in relation to the other choices available in their respective force organisation slots. Only Predators are really a solid all-round choice which could challenge the Long Fangs but beyond that, not taking Grey Hunters or Long Fangs often begs the question: why not? Taking units such as Blood Claws for example will generally get you laughed at in competitive scenes (for good reason at least!). This can apparently limit the options a player has.

Outside of Loganwing where Wolf Guard are taken as Troops in place of Grey Hunters, these two units limit Space Wolves to having builds built around them where they often make up the majority of the army in terms of points and models. This is certainly limiting and for some means the codex is bad (strong builds, bad options). However, there are still a lot of options around these two mainstream units along with the Loganwing build options to still make the Space Wolves a fantastic codex in 5th edition. Yes, Grey Hunters and Long Fangs are no-brainer choices which isn't great but there are still lots of choices within (more-so Grey Hunters than Long Fangs) and around these units which lends some flexibility and unqiueness to Space Wolves armies.

For example, Grey Hunters have two broad decisions in their setup. On foot or in a transport? And large or small squads? Long Fangs are a little bit less flexible in that five-six members with missile launchers + supporting Razorback is really the best possible option and moving around this setup generally loses you something. This harks back to the Space Wolves codex design where Long Fangs are basically required to ensure the Space Wolves army has ranged support. Beyond this though, there are still plenty of options for the Space Wolves in terms of actually making their lists. Land Speeders, Thunderwolves, Wolf Scouts, Dreadnoughts, Wolf Guard, Rune Priests, Lone Wolves, Iron Priests, Wolf Guard Battle Leaders and Wolf Lords are all excellent options which add different elements around the core of Grey Hunters and Long Fangs (not to mention the effects the good special characters can bring). Yes, the core of the army is the same but the supporting elements and how you run that core will create vastly different lists in how they operate on the tabletop.

To be clear - yes the codex has restrictions in terms of choices. Not taking Grey Hunters and Long Fangs leaves you with generally bad choices and at the minimum, hamstrings the army and plays away from the strengths the codex offers you. The majority of your options come in the other force organistion slots but you are constrained by how many points you need to sink into Grey Hunters and Long Fangs to make an effective fighting force. From there, the Space Wolves become one of the best armies out there but it's important not to make them what they are not. We always hear the comparisons to Space Marines and how they are flat out better when they in fact are not. The end result may be better but they do different things better and trying to make them work as Space Marines or Grey Knights or Blood Angels or any other Space Marine codex simply won't work. They are Space Wolves and they do what their codex does best. They have cheap supporting fire from units like Long Fangs, Razorbacks, Land Speeders, Dreadnoughts, Rune Priests, etc. and a very aggressive midfield from units like Wolf Guard, Grey Hunters, Thunderwolv Cavalry, Wolf Scouts, Wolf Lords/Battle Leaders, Iron Priests, Lone Wolves, etc. This makes them a highly aggressive midfield army with excellent fire support with Loganwing emphasising the range aspect of the army further. Deviating far from this is possible but is generally done better by other armies and this cannot be stressed enough.

And that concludes what for most, has been knowledge for a long time! In terms of how good the codex is, yes you can argue it's lesser than other 5th edition books with a lot of really good choices and a lot of really shit choices (Grey Hunters and Long Fangs being the most obvious of these). Compare this to other 5th edition books where you can make lots and lots of effective army lists simply by mixing and matching the different units from the force organisation chart. Beyond this though, Space Wolves are still a very good army, they are just a little predictable.

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