I have been working on this for some time now. It is essentially a unit layout for the Wolves. What I find effect and competitive. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I would say it is rather well written and extremely accurate on the competitiveness of the units in question.
The Wolf Lord is a great HQ that can be customized to your heart’s content. On the other hand, there are only a handful of battlefield roles to which he is suited. The first and foremost is a wrecking ball in close combat. When building your Wolf Lord, I would suggest taking full advantage of his high initiative and his number of attacks in close combat. He is best suited, either being attached to a Grey Hunter squad to lend his support in close combat, or given a Thunderwolf to prowl around on. Unfortunately he is a rather overlooked character.
Wolf Guard Battle Leader
The Battle Leader shares a few things in common with your Wolf Lord, he is extremely customizable, and is a pretty decent support character. He is also the cheapest HQ options that us Wolf players can use. On the other hand, he is not a great HQ option. For 30 points less than a Wolf Lord you will get one less attack, Wound, Weapon skill, and Leadership. Personally, I have used a Battle Leader on a handful of occasions and can only recommend using him if you have about 85 points left to spend, and nothing to spend it on.
The Rune Priest is probably our best HQ option. His best Strength is his Psychic abilities, and his Psychic defense. This character should not be used in combat, but rather a supporting role. His Rune Weapon is solid gold. Math hammered out, a Rune Weapon delivers a 50% chance of blocking a psychic power (duh) and a psychic hood only blocks a psychic power 42% of the time. The offensive output of a Rune Priest consists of 3 psychic powers (ok there are 5 total, but the other 2 aren’t great) Living Lighting, Jaws of the World Wolf, and Murderous Hurricane.
The Wolf Priest is one of those Characters that doesn’t really have an optimal role in this codex. Sure he will give the squad he is attached to Preferred Enemy against a certain unit type, but it really isn’t necessary. Every time I open my codex to make a new list, I look at this HQ option and say “this time I’ll try him out” but then I quickly revert to using a Rune Priest in his place. This unit can be good; it just has to be in the right circumstance. That circumstance being, the Wolf Priest attached to a squad of 15 Blood Claws in a Land Raider Crusader.
The Wolf Guard plays a pivotal role in any Wolf Lord’s arsenal. They can be tooled out as Terminators, or “Pack Leaders”( Before the game, you have the option of splitting the squad up, and putting 1 Wolf Guard into another one of your squads). When given Tactical Dreadnought Armor, this unit will perform slightly better than Vanilla Terminators due to counter-attack, being equipped with a Power Sword, and being 7 points cheaper. Wolf Guard are a cost effective way to achieve a number of otherwise expensive squad upgrades (like the oh so desirable Powerfist) while getting the benefits of another model type for wound allocation, an extra attack and an increase in Leadership (Which is essential for Counter-Attack!). For only 3 points more than your standard Grey Hunter, it is a must have. The best way to use a squad of Wolf Guard is as Pack Leaders. Over the years, I have found that the best configuration is a Combi-Melta and a Powerfist. Stick him in with your Grey Hunters, or Wolf Scouts and watch him murder.
I’ve got a lovely bunch of fists…
A Grey Hunter with a Powerfist is 40 points! A Wolf Guard with a fist is only 38 and receives an extra attack with his fist! You can clearly see which is the better deal.
Wolf Scouts are a very interesting unit. They have (arguably) one of the best abilities in the game, Behind Enemy Lines. This ability, as I am sure you know, allows the Scouts to come in on a random table edge. Left short board on a 1, right short board edge on a 2, and anywhere (Even your opponent’s long board edge) on a 3+. This ability allows the Space Wolf player to eliminate that pesky armor your opponent is hiding in his Deployment Zone. Against Guard, Tau, and other Space Marines, this will almost always result in an out of commission tank. This unit can also be used in an assault role. If your opponent is using a static unit that puts out a lot of fire (Long Fangs, Devastators, Guard Gunline…) then this unit will run over them like a steam engine. Ideally, you want to keep this unit cheap and also in a single mode (pick either tank hunter or combat)
What’s not to like about this unit! with Feel no Pain and Eternal Warrior, he is one tough mother to kill. With the application of Terminator Armor, a Storm Shield, and either a Chainfist or a Thunder Hammer; he becomes a tank in his own right. The only bad things about the Lone Wolf is his speed, and the fact that it is a single model. You can’t hide him in a squad. Yes, you can give him 2 extra wounds in the form of Fenrisian Wolves, but I wouldn’t do this, Spending over 100 points on this model is not a wise decision.
The same as in any other Marine codex, the thing that [almost] sets them apart is the ability to take a Wolf Tooth Necklace. Other than that, there isn't much to say. They take up a vital Elites slot (most Wolf Players only see themselves as having 2 slots to play with, as Wolf Guard are a must have in almost every list.)
A Techmarine in disguise! Nothing to say about him except stay away. There is really only 1 build that can be seen as "semi-competitive" at that goes something like this.
Iron Priest mounted on a ThunderWolf with maxed out CyberWolf attachment. It is pretty pricey for what it does...
The Grey Hunter is the core of any Space Wolf list. In short, this unit can perform almost any battlefield role. They provide the staying power and the “whatever you need to die at that moment” better than any other unit in your army. Coming standard with Bolters, Bolt Pistols, and Close Combat weapons allows any Grey Hunter pack to own a 12" bubble around themselves. With a range of upgrades, this unit can become a medium-short range firebase, tank hunters, objective grabbers, and close combat specialists. While they do not have the option to obtain a heavy weapon, this is not a handicap. Grey Hunters are best used “on the move” and thus negating the ability to fire the heavy weapon anyways. This being said, Grey hunter will always need a transport of some kind, be it Rhino, Razorback, or Drop Pod. The thing that makes this squad so deadly is the Counter-Attack special rule. They are just as dangerous when they get charged, as they are when they do the charging. There are times when rapid firing your bolters will give better results than firing your pistols and then charging. Sometimes it is better to receive a charge then give one when playing your Wolves.
The Blood Claws, or as I refer to them, “the ‘other’ troop choice” are a unit bred for one purpose: Close Combat. Equipped with Bolt Pistols and Chainswords, there isn’t going to be any long range fire. That being said, this unit is good only when getting the charge off. A unit of 10 Blood Claws boasts a respectable 40 attacks. Regrettably they are only WS 3. Sure you will still hit most enemies on a 4+, but most other units will hit you on a 3+. I personally would stay away from this troop choice, not because they are bad, but because Grey Hunters are the better option.
** Side Note**
Comparison of Grey Hunters and Blood Claws
As there are only 2 Troop selections in the Space Wolf Codex, Blood Claws and Grey Hunters are often compared. This comparison will generally come down to cost vs. overall efficiency. The Grey Hunters can be equipped for a wide variety of battlefield roles, and perform far better in the shooting phase than the Blood Claws. While both units have access to the same special weapons, The Blood Claws have a lower Ballistic Skill, which makes their shooting less reliable. Similarly, the Blood Claws have a lower Weapon Skill, though this is offset by the fact that the Blood Claws receive +2 attacks on the charge instead of the +1 for Grey Hunters. Additionally, Blood Claws can take a squad of up to 15 models. This however has the drawback of transportation. The only vehicle that can transport a squad this big is a Land Raider Crusader (Which is a huge allocation of points for this squad to ride around in. On the whole, it really is a personal choice, and this Old Wolf will choose a squad of Grey Hunters every time.
Thunder Wolf Cavalry
This unit is pretty straight forward, and one of the most brutal assault units in the Wolf Dex’. With 4 attacks base, Strength 5, and rending; this squad is a nightmare for any opponent. Being Cavalry, they have a huge threat range when not in terrain, 19-24 inches. This is a huge advantage, as they can potentially be in combat turn 1. Next, they have 2 wounds each and Toughness 5. This means that only a shot from a Rail Gun or a Demolisher cannon will kill them outright. Making each model unique is a “Dirty Trick” for wound allocation. There are 2 ways to play these guys: Run them independently, or in a group. Either way is viable and competitive. If ran in singles, throw a Storm Shield and either a Wolf Claw or a Thunder Hammer on him, and put him behind a Rhino. If ran in a pack, I like to spend no more than 300 points on this squad. The Load out I take is: 4 ThunderWolves, 1 with a Storm Shield and a Thunder Hammer, 1 with a Storm Shield, 1 with Melta Bombs, and one standard. This comes to a total of 295. When accompanied by a Lord on a ThunderWolf, this becomes an “Uber Deathstar” unit of doom.
Almost the same thing as their vanilla counterparts, except they have BS and WS 3. This doesn’t matter to much as their bolters are twin-linked, but it will matter on the Attack Bike! This squad comes standard with 2 CCW and Counter-Attack. Also, like their blood claw brothers, have Berserk Charge (2 attacks instead of 1 when charging). This unit is going to only work well with a few army lists, that won’t at all be competitive. I would suggest passing over this unit.
Sky Claw Assault Pack
Another look alike squad, these guys are just Blood Claws with jump packs. When you compare them to other Space Marine assault squads their value for points really stands out. However, like the Blood Claws, you really need to have them led by a Wolf Priest to make the most of their attacks. This makes for a rather expensive assault squad. On the whole, these guys are going to be fast, and they TCOB in combat. The problem is those points would be better spent on a Grey Hunter squad.
Ah, the humble Land Speeder. Without a doubt this vehicle fills a few pivotal roles in any Wolf Lords tactics. There are a few builds in which the Speeder really shines. The first is the Typhoon pattern, and the second is equipped with a Multi-Melta and Heavy Flamer. Both of these are equipped to deal with very different targets, and their play styles are also different. The Typhoon pattern is obviously going to want to sit back and throw 2 Missile rounds into a transport. The other is going to want to tear up the field and lock a heavy tank, or infantry, into its sights. Whichever pattern you choose, they are going to need to be hidden at all times as they are extremely brittle when taking incoming fire.
Fenrisian Wolf Pack
Yeah right… a fluffy unit, but a waste of time. These guys are essentially Grey Hunters (Stat wise) except they have a LD of 5 and a save of 6. If you want to make a fun list, then these guys are how you do it. The only time these guys are going to be ok to take is if you want a cheap bullet sponge for your ThunderWolf riding Lord. Attach him to a squad of 15 of these guys and I personally guarantee he will get into combat.
Long Fangs are our best Heavy Support option, but at the same time have one major drawback. With the ability to take up to 5 heavy weapons in the squad, for a reasonable price, they can lay down a massive amount of fire. Whether its 5 Missile Launchers, or 3 Plasma Cannons and 2 Heavy Bolters, this squad can deal with just about anything. This squad has the ability to “Split Fire” at 2 different targets (as long as the Pack Leader is alive, and hasn’t fired a weapon that turn). The major drawback to this squad is the lack of ablative wounds. The first wound the squad takes should always be allocated to the Pack Leader. The ability to split fire is nice, but the ability to fire 5 heavy weapons instead of 4 is even better. The one bit of advice I can give when tooling out your Long Fangs is: Pick weapons for a certain job. In other words, don’t mix anti-tank and anti-personnel. That being said, I would always upgrade these guys with anti-tank gear (at tournament play at least). Your Grey Hunters will put enough hurt on enemy infantry. My favorite configuration is 3 Missile Launcher and 2 Lascannons.
There are a few different combinations here that can either harass infantry or armor. The most basic set up is just the basic Predator with an autocannon. While the Predator is a great tank on the whole, this version should almost never be used. Simply put it does not contain enough firepower to effectively do "anything". The next option is to upgrade the side sponsons with heavy bolters. This variation will work wonders against low toughness and low armor saving armies such as Imperial guard, Orks, and Tyranids. Throwing out 6 Heavy Bolter shots and 2 autocannon shots per turn will put the hurt on almost any infantry. The next setup that is commonly seen is what is known as the "Destructor" pattern. This version uses the standard autocannon on the turret and Lascannon sponsons. While being considerably more points than its heavy bolter brethren, it can be brought to bear against High Armor saving units such as Terminators, light vehicles and other tanks. The Autocannon and Lascannons will have very good effect against Troop transports such as Chimera's, Rhino's, Truk's, and most other transports. The Final Variant, known as the Annihilator, is a transport killing monster. Armed with 3 Lascannons, one of them twin linked, it will have no problem dealing with low armor targets such as Rhino’s, Razorback’s, Chimera’s, etc. but will have a hard time against higher armored targets. Although seemingly a good tank, if you look at the points cost versus effectiveness ratio, it is not at all probable to use when compared to Long Fangs.
The Vindicator is essentially a predator with a demolisher cannon. While this tank is incredibly effective at disrupting enemy troops and even at killing enemy armor, but it can be countered very easily. The Vindicator has a relatively short range at 24”, but shouldn’t have much trouble acquiring targets. Also, with only 2 weapons mounted on it, you lose the reason to bring a Vindicator with the first weapon destroyed result. All your opponent needs to do is get a glancing hit on this vehicle and you won’t be able to fire it (there are 6 possible rolls, 5 of them leading to not shooting). Make sure you protect this death machine very carefully.
Having the same armor as a Rhino makes this tank very vulnerable to enemy fire, but that’s ok. With indirect fire all you need to do is place this guy behind a terrain feature and rain death down upon your enemy. With two different types of Ordnance this pretty lady will disrupt troop movements and hold up the enemy quite nicely. Are you having imperial Guard trouble? What is that you are saying? They are in cover? Well sounds like you need something that ignores cover, all you need to do is let a Castellan Missile fly and watch as the squad implodes. The setbacks to this tank are its relatively low strength, high AP of the ordnance, and low armor.
Since the spawning of 5th ed. Mechanized has become a more viable choice for the Space Wolves. You may recall in 4th ed, Rhino's were death traps and almost as safe as wearing flak armor. Since Games Workshop's new stance, Rhino’s and Razorbacks are reliable, quick and effective way of delivering troops into battle. Speed is the name of the game!
I am going to start off with the basics; a mechanized army is an army that comprises of nothing but armor. Troops are firmly set in their Rhino’s/Razorbacks/Landraiders at the start of the game. Each one of these transport vehicles has its strengths and weaknesses. The Rhino, while being able to hold 10 marines and is an extremely cheap and very desirable upgrade; it has paper thin armor and only a storm bolter for offensive purposes. It does However come with Smoke Launchers, which can make this a tough nut to crack. The Razorback on the other hand has more offensive output than the Rhino, but the same drawback, paper thin armor. Coming equipped with a Twin linked Heavy Bolter, and being able to purchase a range of upgrades (all of which are extremely pricy). The final setbacks of the Razorback are the transport capacity of a mere 6, and it has no fire points! (Can’t shoot out of it). The Land Raider is undoubtedly the best transport option in the codex, too bad you have to pay an arm and a leg for something that will get slagged as soon as it comes within 6” of a melta gun. It is the only vehicle (Other than the Drop Pod) that can transport Terminators. With a Capacity of 10 (yes us Wolves got hosed on that account) or 16, this bad boy can be used to transport all your hopes and desires… The Land Raider also has a variety of Weapons (depending on the variant). The setbacks to this transport is the price, Costing 7 times more than your basic Rhino and the offensive output.
Rhino Rush Circa 5th edition
Your main goal will be “Target Saturation”. Having three, four, five, or even six Grey Hunter Squads in Rhinos all advancing towards one or two targets. Doing this together will allow you to focus the fire of more than one Squad of enemy units so that you can wipe them out altogether and will provide too many targets for your enemy to wipe out. Keep the Grey’s inside of the Rhino until you get close (Obviously). Next Turn there are several options that can be done. You can move again to a better position, bail out and rapid fire, or have two of the Marines fire out of the top hatch. If you choose to move then there are two options. The first is to disembark in front of your Rhino, and then Rapid Fire into an enemy squad. The Second is to disembark your Squad behind the Rhino and pop Smoke. Next Turn, your Squad will have the options of firing all weapons at maximum range, advancing and Rapid Firing, or charging an enemy squad. If the Rhino has been destroyed (And your opponent has a high strength, low AP wepaon, the Squad can advance into the wreck or crater and Rapid Fire from Cover. This tactic is very useful against a static army such as Imperial Guard, but is hard to pull off against another Fast Mechanized forces such as Dark Eldar.
Best played with a defensive Wolf List. As soon as the enemy gets close, you essentially block them off from your squads with a wall of Rhinos. This tactic can be used to several effects. You can funnel enemies and shoot them up. This doesn’t always work if the enemy spams Melta guns/ Plasma guns. They will more than likely prefer to go right through your Rhino Wall. If he does decide to go through it, it will still give you a round or two to shoot at him or even assault him.