Huzzah! After five years of playing Space Wolves, I finally get to experience what it’s like to have a codex totally change the army!
I mean, I’ve seen people go through this. The inevitable fingernail biting moments, like the missing Looted Wagon in the Orks codex (that was later hurried into White Dwarf so fast they didn’t even proofread it properly), the glee upon the faces of those seeing a brand new Monstrous Creature added to their collection (Eldar/Tau) or the outright rage expressed upon seeing units removed (Tyranids). But this is the first time I’ve had those feelings of worry, joy, anger and confusion over some of the changes.
First of all, a side note. The sudden switch to the crazy release schedule GW has going is ravaging the rumour mills. Normally they’d drip through, most would be broadly reliable but taken with salt, before a sudden storm of pictures, rules and posts would appear about two weeks before release. Now, you’re lucky if any of the rumours are even vaguely reliable until one week before the release.
This was the case with the new Codex: Space Wolves. Many of the rumours, even days before the codex went out, were contradictory, either due to hurried translation or just bad posting. This has been a GOOD thing. With no idea what to expect, I was DESPERATE to get the codex. Up until the Orks release you had a broad idea of what was coming in the next codex. With Space Wolves, no one really did.
So, my initial thoughts thus far, broken down by unit type, are as follows:
Wolf Lord – Biggest change is the addition of a 4+ save by default. Can take awesome relics, such as an axe that gives +3 attacks when outnumbered and a Frost Blade with Rending. Will probably still be the mainstay Warlord of my army. Storm Shield is also super cheap, but no longer a requirement as the 4+ Invulnerable save is a good save.
Wolf Priest – More expensive, but gets FNP 6+. Still a good choice, I’ve thought up ways to take advantage of that extra staying power that would have been a waste previous edition. Still great with Blood or Skyclaws. Also good on a bike, but still can’t take one on a ThunderWolf, clearly for no other reason than that Fearless ThunderWolves that re-rolled hits would probably be broken.
Rune Priest – Easily the biggest changes in HQ go on this guy. Nearly halved in cost, cheap level 2 upgrade, Adamantium Will for him and his unit by default. As the standard SW Force Org lets you take 6 HQ’s you could feasibly take 6 of these guys and I wouldn’t blame you, especially with the Psychic Phase in 7th.
Wolf Guard Battle Leader – Was useful last edition because of Saga of the Wolf and Outflanking shenanigans for cheap. As that’s gone, he’s a good choice for the additional HQ slots above, especially leading Blood Claws, as he’s even cheaper. Then again, the characters in the other parts of the codex are better, so you’re unlikely to see this guy methinks.
Special Characters – Most now have a relic that is better than a weapon of the equivalent type. Most got a points decrease. Njal can re-roll Deny the Witch and has a Psychic Hood. Ragnar is probably the biggest disappointment, both because his model wasn’t updated and he’s one of the most expensive characters despite a lack of Eternal Warrior or high toughness. I want to take him, but can’t really justify the cost. Harald DeathWolf is basically the opposite, an awesome model and stat line, better invulnerable save, combined with the ability to outflank with ThunderWolves by default makes him worth every penny, and he’s cheaper than Ragnar. And he’s immune to flamers and Pyromancy, which is cool (pun intended) if very contextual. Bjorn is much cheaper, but still very expensive compared to Murderfang, and still doesn’t have 4 Hull Points. Perhaps the weirdest one here is Canis Wolfborn, who has the same points cost and similar abilities to the previous codex. Like Murderfang he can get 10 attacks on the charge if lucky with Rampage. No invulnerable save makes him a risk though.
Blood Claws – Cheaper, lost Headstrong, gained a flying transport and will outflank half the time if taken in the Force Org chart in the book. That’s a combination that makes the initiates go from being the runt of the previous codex to being the phoenix of this one. Probably the biggest switch in terms of power at first glance. Equipment didn’t get cheaper, but fifteen power armoured guys for the same price as 30 Orks is more in line with where they should have been last edition, considering the lower WS and BS.
Grey Hunters – Arguably more expensive, dropped by one point but lost their close combat weapon. Again, a big switch in terms of overall power here. Previously they were an absolute no brainer, now I’d argue they’re actually less useful at first glance than Blood Claws, as outflanking for them is less useful and the new Force Org chart encourages using troops for this purpose (4+ for outflanking, rather than 6+ if not troops)
Lukas the Trickster – Once a troll, always a troll. In terms of a single model drop in points he has the biggest at 60. Was never worth it, despite the lulz, in the previous codex, but is now an independent character and thus counts when determining which units can outflank in the new Force Org chart. Is cheaper than a Wolf Lord, much better than a Wolf Guard Battle Leader and can still take his challenger (rather than just any model in base to base) with him using his stasis heart. Pelt of the Doppelgangrel reduces enemy weapon skill now, meaning he’ll face anything short of an Archon at a higher WS. Possibly the most efficient use of points in the codex now.
Iron Priest – Space Wolf armies tend to have better options than vehicles in various slots. They also have better choices in the elites section. However, has the potential to be a nasty Alpha strike unit if combined with cheap multi-melta equipped servitors in a drop pod. Is probably not my first choice for this section though.
Wolf Scouts – Lost the ability to ambush from behind enemy lines. This is probably the biggest “What? Why?” change in this codex. That was their “thing” it was what made Wolf Scouts a very cool unit, even if they weren’t that survivable they could come in, wreck a plan and get shot. Did get cheaper, and can now take camo-cloaks. Put them in a set of ruins with Sniper Rifles and they’re a good unit, as they hit on 3+ and are about as expensive as last edition, but with better cover saves.
Lone Wolf – Still silly, but lost the troll factor with the removal of the previous rules for “A Glorious Death”. As they give away potentially both a kill point and an easy First Blood opportunity, I would avoid them like the plague. They are also never scoring units, in an edition where objectives have become increasingly important.
Dreadnought – Cheaper, start with a Multi-Melta rather than an Assault Cannon, can take a Great Wolf Claw, which is a Dreadnought CC Weapon that re-rolls to wound (so, you should really kill something if you hit it) for very low cost. In short, is MUCH better, as 6th edition was making Dreadnoughts disappear very quickly considering their high cost. Can also take the new Helfrost Cannon, a lovely piece of kit that is basically a missile launcher +1 and can kill multi-wound models with a bit of luck. The Venerable Dreadnought can take a Great Axe and Blizzard Shield. The Shield counts as a melee weapon (so it adds +1 attack) and gives a 3+ save from the front armour and the axe is a Master Crafted Dread CC Weapon. Tis a big investment at 50 points though.
Murderfang – The beastliest beast of all beastliness. This guy is mental, properly mental. While confusion reigns over whether or not Furious charge affects his weapons (it really should, but meh) it doesn’t matter massively. He gets +3 attacks on the charge and has Rampage. He is a Dreadnought, so will be outnumbered nearly all the time. So yeah, he’s insane, put him in a drop pod and watch havoc unfold. Other than Lukas, this guy is probably the next character I’m likely to buy.
Wolf Guard (Not Terminator) – Still an ok, but not great choice. Main reason you might take them is that if you put them on bikes or give them jump packs they are a good quick unit that doesn’t suffer from the WS and BS deficit of Blood Claws. Otherwise, better stuff around me thinks.
Wolf Guard Terminators – Better than before in almost every way, and they weren’t bad to begin with. Cheaper weaponry across the board, can get a flying transport and can now teleport on the battlefield in units of 10. Love them, glad I’ve got tons of them and can’t wait to use them more.
Arjac Rockfist – Got a drop in points close to Lukas. Like Lukas, in that he is an independent character now who is only not as a good as a Wolf Lord by virtue of his lower wounds count. Had his fluff changed so that he didn’t fight off krakens. Instead killed a Wraithknight single handed. Given that Krakens are now the size of hive cities judging by the art, that is at least slightly more believable if less awesome (though not by much). Again, given the change to the Force Org chart, this guy can be a nasty surprise if he comes in from the side of the field. Can still throw his hammer, and his shield gives him Eternal Warrior. Like Lukas, went from silly fun but not competitive, to being a totally viable competitive choice.
Swiftclaws – Cheaper, but given the other choices in Fast Attack also got much cheaper this is kind of a moot point. They make a great assault choice, as they get lots of attacks but lack being a Troops choice so are unlikely to outflank. Expensive when compared to other units in the codex, but they are VERY fast, so probably a good choice against fast moving armies that you just need to pin down.
Rhino/Razorback/Drop Pod – SHENANIGANS! They got added to the Fast Attack slot, meaning you no longer have to take them attached to a unit. Creates horrific potential for allying with Space Marines or Imperial Forces (Deep Striking Ogryns/Grav Centurions anyone?) as they can start in them. Otherwise, the Razorbacks base cost went up but it’s upgrades went down, so just taking one costs more, but taking one with a Twin-Linked Lascannon will cost the same as it did in the last codex. This is probably the biggest shake-up element of the codex, and allows you to take back up vehicles in case the outflanking doesn’t work on your troops.
StormWolf – Love the model, love the StormWolf. It can transport Blood Claws PLUS an Independent character AND can be a troops choice as it’s a dedicated transport. It has a good chance of outflanking and causing havoc with it’s smaller but still powerful mounted Hellfrost turret. Can Skyfire in an army that lacks anti-air and overall is a great addition to the codex. Also the silhouette looks like a puppy and is therefore automatically awesome.
ThunderWolves – My favourite unit of the whole of 5th decided that it had clearly had enough of the jokes and got cheaper and more ridiculous than ever. Can take up to 6 in a unit now, can take Storm Shields for HALF what they used to and gain a character to issue challenges. In short, to take a unit of five without Storm Shields in 5th costs the same as it does to take them WITH them now. That’s a massive change in terms of their overall survivability against armies like the Eldar and the Tau, the armies I’ve have the most difficulties with in the past. Combine with Harald for awesome outflanking fun times.
Fenrisian Wolves – Nope. Still seem terrible, even at 8 points each they’ll get wrecked by anything short of Gretchin. Avoid except as wargear, where they act as ablative wounds.
Skyclaws – Got cheaper, makeup for their lack of outflanking potential by being able to deep strike anyway. Looking like a great CC unit that is brilliant when combined with a Wolf Priest. Was the best way to take Blood Claws last edition, and is a good way to take them now.
Land Speeders – Never a bad choice, Land Speeders are great at being that really annoying bastard that can wreck well-made plans in seconds. 3 Multi-Melta Land Speeders are similar cost to 10 Swiftclaws, and I’d probably take the Land Speeders. Good mainstay of many Space Wolf armies, and still a good unit.
StormFang Gunship – Not as good as the StormWolf, but still good. Can dish out a metric butt-ton of firepower, loads of anti-vehicle and anti-troop options and a small transport capacity that might actually make an Iron Priest a useful choice to pop inside. Want to put down the S6 AP3 Large Blast template down on a unit of Space Marines and watch them weep frozen tears.
Long Fangs – Possibly the one unit that was bound to be disappointing following last editions utter craziness. Long Fangs didn’t go up in points, but missile launchers obviously did. Still the best Heavy Support choice in the codex. Want to combine them with a Wolf Priest and Quad Gun Defence Line. 6+ FNP, Preferred Enemy against a unit type of my choice, 4 lascannons and a guaranteed 4+ Save = one heck of a solid back line that re-rolls hits against the toughest stuff on the board. Can only fire at a separate unit with one model (as they got the Split Fire USR), but thats not too big a deal.
Vindicator/Whirlwind/Predator – All good, Predator went up in cost base, same as the Razorback, but equipment cost went down. I’m guessing this is to stop possible ridiculousness in unbound lists made up of cheap auto-cannon and heavy bolter equipped Predators. All good choices, though not as good perhaps as other things. The Vindicator is never, ever a bad choice though.
Land Raider/Crusader/Redeemer – As the Blood Claws are better, the Crusader is as well. Can very reliably transport the eager initiates to the front line with an independent character where they can wreak face without the enemy getting any more than overwatch shots at them. Redeemer is great if it gets outflank, I used to use it with Wolf Guard Terminators and a Wolf Priest with Saga of the Wolf this way and it stood me in good stead in 6th. The normal Land Raider is kinda meh in comparison. Still good though, and a great way to keep Grey Hunters or Blood Claws safe without sacrificing anti-tank potential.
Lords Of War
Logan Grimnar – I GOTS ME A CHARIOT YOU DRUNKEN BASTARDS!!! Seriously though I cannot see a reason to take Logan at all in the new codex beyond his sheer badassery and fluff. He costs a crap ton of points, has lost the two abilities that made him powerful in the last codex, and Stormrider is either going to make you laugh with glee as it spears across the battlefield or cry out in agony when a unit of Loota’s or something of with similar weight of fire takes it out in one round of shooting. I love you Logan, I really do, but for more points than 3 Wolf Lords base, you need to be better, even with your chariot of Wolfy awesomeness.
Honestly, this is the one place the codex loses out. The Space Wolves still have everything that made them the archetypal space vikings, the ale, brawls and braided hair but lack… well the “flair” of the previous codex. Everything feels sterilised, as though things couldn’t possibly be THAT awesome or THAT crazy about them. In a similar way to how many parts of the Ork codex feel as though the silliness has been toned down (though not by much, and mostly thanks to the removal of Wazdakka) the Space Wolves codex feels like someone replaced the badassery with the same tales of battle that we’re used to in the normal Space Marine codex. Nothing about it feels “special”, Arjac is a good example. He goes from fighting off swarms of giant sea beasts to a Wraithknight. Sure, beating up a Wraithknight is no mean feat, but there’s something much more awesome (and unique) about seeing him throwing his hammer around at dozens of massive krakens. Also, large parts of the unit descriptions appear to have been nearly copy-pasted from the previous book, and while they haven’t changed the units THAT much they did need a little work on some of the stuff.
But the biggest disappointment is to do with the lack of fluff attention given the flaw of the Canis Helix. Mark of the Wulfen is gone, leaving only Murderfang with the Wulfen curse in the codex. The Wolf Brothers are called “ill-fated” and mentioned in a single sentence. They are mentioned briefly in the Rites of Initiation and as part of a Relic, but it’s as though the Wulfen, one of the most characterful and defining elements of the Space Wolves, was something GW wanted to hide away and remove from the codex. That did make me feel sad, it must be said and I’m sure I’m not the only one, as giving a chapter a big defining weakness is a great way to add to their background and development (Blood Angels have the Black Rage, Dark Angels their Fall etc).
Print Codex vs Interactive iPad Codex
I bought the Interactive iPad Codex for this release, partly because the special edition was ridiculously expensive and I wanted something a bit different from my peers, and partly because it had an “Army Requisition” feature, essentially an Army Builder built into the codex. Initially, the download didn’t work on the day of the release, making the pre-order pointless and so I was put off from pre-ordering such a thing again. But that’s a separate issue.
The interactive codex is awesome. It really genuinely is, especially if you enjoy just flicking through the book occasionally at your leisure. It’s little things, Ragnar for example has a page dedicated just to him where pressing on different parts of his armour will bring up information as to where he gets his name, his sword and so on. The Grand Annulus does a similar thing, as pressing on individual stones will bring up information on that company.
It also has the 360 degree pictures of the models that you can find on the GW website, as well as zoomable pictures of pretty every model in the codex. It also contains links to the website in the unit info, which is very dangerous to ones wallet.
The Army builder…. is still buggy. Everything adds up right from what I can see, but some of the functionality means I wouldn’t trust someone using it to be sure that it was right. It also, in rather hilarious fashion, once loaded up a Grey Knights Army Builder. Well, at least we know what’s coming next….
Overall, loving the new codex. Want to see more on the Wulfen though so get on a Thirteenth company supplement GW!