Space Wolves Codex 2014: a first impressions review

Well, the new Space Wolves codex came out on Saturday and I quite like it. I was scared for a little bit that my WYSIWYG Grey Hunters were now WYSIWYUTG (What You See Is What You Used To Get) but I think that the way that they are now is only fair.

rune_priest_front

Rune priests have been downgraded slightly but are cheap enough that it doesn’t matter any more. We’ve lost the chance for 4 HQs in a standard detachment but I think that we’ll still see a lot of pyskers coming from Fenris. The new Tempestus discipline looks fun and I’ve got my Living Lighting back (as the Primaris power too) so I think I’ll be using it. The way that the Rune Priest has been changed means that you can build him up to being something like the old Rune Priest if you wanted to although I’m sure some of the more competitive players will still be bemoaning the changes to Jaws. He’s lost the Chooser of the Slain which is a pity as it was fairly colourful

crozius

Moving on to the other HQ that I regularly use, I find that the Wolf Priest is slightly more expensive, although the combination that I use (on a bike) is slightly cheaper. I’m not sure why it got an increase while other HQs got a decrease but for me, he seems perfectly ok and I will carry on using him. My boyfriend commented that Oath of War was rather good until I pointed out that the Wolf Priest has always had it- I just keep forgetting to use it.

The Wolf Lord has also gone up by a mighty 5 points, although he now comes with the previously 25 point Belt of Russ as standard, so compared to the old equivalent Wolf Lord he’s cheaper, as are the Fenrisian Wolf escorts that he can take. The real bargain of the month though is the Wolf Guard Battle Leader who has dropped a whole twenty points without losing anything. I reckon that he’d make a good HQ for a cheap allied detachment if you want say, drop pods or the benefits of the new Wolf Standard, although the Rune Priest is only ten points more.

??????????I’m not going to go into the special characters, I tend to forget that they’re there most of the time and so I haven’t paid them as much attention as I have to the rest of the book, so having looked at HQs I’m going back to troops as they’re next in the book. My main thought so far is that I need to build some more Blood Claws, the much needed drop is points cost means that I can use a small squad or two in my back field to keep an eye on objectives and the loss of Headstrong (yesss!!!) means that I won’t have to worry about them having to charge any enemy that comes near. What I really think I’ll do with them, when I’m ready, is load a large squad into a Stormwolf, giving me a flyer as a dedicated transport (freeing up a fast attack slot) and a whole blob of 3+ saves to harass the enemy in their own territory. Actually, it’s the loss of headstrong more than the drop in points that really make Bloodclaw’s a more desirable option. It wasn’t worth the risk before.

standard bearer faceGrey Hunters were the core of my army in the old ‘dex and I see no reason why they won’t remain so now. The basic Grey Hunter has dropped a point but lost his extra weapon. However, he can get it back for 2 points and this little points increase is only fair, considering that Grey Hunters were most definitely under-costed before. It seems that they’ve given up trying to make everything a nice round number in this book, which is a relief, as I’d rather use a calculator than have a points imbalance (either way). The Wolf Standard has gone up a lot which at first glance seems rather steep. However its role has changed considerably. It used to allow rerolls of a 1 for one unit in one assault phase, however it now gives re-rolls on pinning and morale checks with 12” as well as +1 attack within 6”- all game and for any member of the Space Wolves faction in that area, which I think is possibly more useful if less tactical. I may drag it out for my next game against the other half’s Orks to see how it does as I wouldn’t mind Grey Hunters with four attacks each in melee against Orks (sorry sweetie).

Wolf scout frontThen I’m onto Elites, I’ve never used an Iron Priest as my army is currently very vehicle light, so I’ll skip both them and the servitors and go on to Wolf Scouts. I’ve just started playing with these again having realised that infiltrating a bunch of guys with sniper rifles to a point where they can harass the enemy the most, is very good. They’ve gone down a point (which is good) and they can now get camo cloaks, so those natty bits of fashion sported by all the most discerning sniper scouts, now have a use. They’ve lost “Behind Enemy Lines” but that wasn’t really much use after 5th. They can also take Flakk. I can really see these guys staying in my new lists.

I haven’t used a Lone Wolf very often, they’re fun but I’d rather take other things. However, they have their nice points (just look at all their special rules) and you can take advantage of being able to take one for each troop or Wolf Guard type unit without taking up a force org. slot.

Next up are Dreadnoughts which I currently don’t use, I was given a kit for my birthday a couple of years back but haven’t dared build it because I love the idea but can’t settle on a loadout. I’m going to pick up the new Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnought and combine two kits to get the most out of all the new stuff. I like new Bjorn and I thibk I quite like the idea of Murderfang. If Blood Angels Dreadnoughts can fall to the Black Rage then it makes sense for Space Wolf Dreadnoughts to fall to the curse of the Wulfen.

What are you looking at?Then we come to Wolf Guard who have been split into two units, standard WG and Terminators. The basic Wolf Guard costs the same as before and has the same stat line and loadout. The nice thing here is that jump packs and bikes are now ridiculously cheap! They’ve dropped from 25 and 35 points to 3 and 7 points respectively. I like my Swiftclaws but they may get promoted!Terminators seem about the same, except that they can now deep strike. I know that Russ liked to fight on his own two feet but his elite warriors can’t seem to wait to get stuck into the action. I like a mobile list and I really should think about building more Wolf Guard! It’s only a pity that splitting the unit in two means that its harder to mix and match armour. You have to have a full squad of both (or attach guys to units) if you do.

Olaf Fafnirsbane frontOn to fast attack and Swiftclaws. I liked these guys before and I like them even better now that they’re five points cheaper, and with both Siftclaws and Skyclaws losing Headstrong, they’re far more versatile (I don’t have to babysit them).

Then there are a bunch of vehicles. In my last game I felt that I needed more mobility for my Grey Hunters so I’ll have to pay some attention to this section in future (but not yet, not unless I’m planning to write another very late post). One curious thing is that the drop pod is now a fast attack choice not just a dedicated transport which I imagine will lead to some interesting shenanigans among more competitive players. The Stormwolf is also here and I’m probably going to invest in one of these in future (see Bloodclaws).

My old bugbear Thunderwolf cavalry are cheaper (there’s a theme here). They’re nice looking models with good rules but I think that they’re a wee bit silly (sorry). I do use Fenrisian Wolves occasionally and they’re the same as last time except that Supernumerary seems to have gone so they can potentially claim objectives, at least until the next FAQ. Yes, I am planning to take advantage of this, why wouldn’t I? I like my plastic puppies and I regret that I leave them in their case most of the time.

Land Speeders are well, Land Speeders, the same as always, there are more exciting things to spend points on.

curved fang frontHaving gone through the fairly busy Fast Attack section, we come to the Heavy Support. I mentioned the Stormfang in my last post and, obviously, nothing’s changed since then and I haven’t really had time to consider it properly yet. Long Fangs are more interesting to me right now (as I have quite a few of them) and they’ve got Flakk at last! Save for that, the only real difference is that they take Split Fire instead of the old book special rule. In 6th this might have been annoying but Split Fire is slightly better in 7th and it means that the Long Fang Ancient can now do something beyond direct traffic and catch bullets!

I’m afraid I’m not going to go into the rest of the Heavy Support section as they’re all tanks and I’m not so interested in them (again sorry). The last thing to look at is Logan Grimnar who is now a Lord of War in his shiny new sledge (which I actually quite like). Lords of War are here to stay though I’m curious why Grimnar was “promoted” and I wonder what this means for Dante, Draigo and Marneus Calgar in future books.

OK, having spent far too long rambling about units I should talk about the book itself which is up to the standard of all the hardback codices that I’ve read so far. It’s nice seeing everything in full colour and some of the old pictures are now clearer. The guy on the cover is just plain awesome! He’s far too good looking to be a Space Marine! Its a lovely looking book with both old favourites and some stunning new artwork. Its clearly set out and written well enough to keep the fluff bunny in me happy. I find the new layouts used for the entries much easier to manage than in the older books as there is far less flicking back and forth looking for rules and points and fluff. As someone who loses and forgets things far, far too frequently, it’s a good thing. Some of the photography could be a little clearer, I’m not too sure about the “artistic” styling, when I’m figuring out a new model I like nice clear photos for inspiration and these well, aren’t!

Anyhow, overall I like the new book. I viewed a new Space Wolves codex with some trepidation as the old book was good and had aged well but it looks like this new one is up to scratch and is likely to remain a strong  ‘dex for some time to come. The core units are still solid (if not more so) and there is enough flexibility for players to be able to adapt to new situations with as much (or as little) fluff as they wish to add. It’s a pity to lose a few little flavourful things such as the talismans, sagas (although they’re not gone entirely) and Mark of the Wulfen but the army as a whole has kept its flavour and I like it.

Anyhow, that’s enough of this first, not too serious review. Next up for me is to build a few lists. I’ll let you know how I get on!

L.o.F.

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7th Heaven?

So, 7th ed has been out a few weeks now and I suppose that this is a bit late for a review but I wanted to give it a few weeks for the FAQs to come out and for me to get a game in. Well, the first of those happened very quickly, but the second took rather longer. However, having got a 1K game in with my Space Wolves against my boyfriend’s Orks, I now think that a review is possible.

First up the books themselves. I like the new three volume set, it makes it far easier to use the rules when you don’t have to flick through a 600+ page tome and breaking it down into three books meant that, as we share our rules, my boyfriend and I didn’t have to argue over who got to read the whole lot first! I actually found that I read the rules more carefully this time round, the lighter weight makes it easier to hold and because it’s shorter it makes it easier to cross reference stuff in different parts of the book.

5th, 6th and 7th Ed

5th, 6th and 7th Ed

The books themselves seemed perfectly fine. The contents of the “Dark Millennium” book are not much changed from the previous edition although the layout is different. There’s a massive copy-paste error in the timeline, a couple of millennia of history seems to have been redacted. Perhaps it should have been noticed before publication, but that depends a lot on how good the proof readers are on Imperial history. It’s very easy for mistakes to propagate and it’s an easy place to lose the plot a little. If it had happened in the rules it would have been a bit of a disaster but in the fluff, it’s rather annoying and possibly a little embarrassing for GW, but it isn’t a game spoiler.

The changes from 6th to 7th are quite big but they feel really subtle, maybe because none of them are very counter-intuitive and some, like the psychic phase make the game a little smoother, at least for forgetful idiots like me (more on that bit later). Even Unbound, which has been causing somewhat of a furore on the internet, is just GW codifying that we can actually play with our toys the way that we want to. I don’t get a lot of the “Unbound is evil and GW is the devil who wants to squish competitive play” talk, if they really wanted to do that then they could have just got rid of the force org chart altogether, rather than giving bonuses for playing sensibly. There seems to be some attempt to clarify things and, of course, a whole bunch of new things for people to argue over. 7th is a much more modular game than 6th edition was, letting us choose what extras that we want to add so that we play the kind of games that we want to play. This might be a problem in pick-up games, as there will always be someone who doesn’t want to play nicely and spoils everyone else’s fun, but for planned games and tournaments it’ll probably be business as usual as people select the kind of game they want to play. Once we get over the initial panic then it’ll be interesting to see how the game settles down.

I haven’t played with the Maelstrom of War missions yet, but the change in scoring rules to allow (almost) any unit to score objectives has had a subtle effect on the Eternal War missions, as there are no “positives” to having say, a heavy support heavy army in “Big Guns Never Tire”, or a fast army for “The Scouring” any more. I think that, until I get used to the changes in rules, I’m going to stick to Eternal War missions as I think that too many changes all at once will just confuse me! However, I look forward to trying out the Maelstrom of War missions in a few games time.

I quite like the addition of the psychic phase as it adds a little order to the game, reminding me to actually cast those damned powers and helping plan what my Rune Priest does more easily. I need to learn the phase a little better still (I made a couple of very stupid mistakes in my game this week) but I like it.

For my Space Wolves the advent of 7th has been somewhat of a mixed blessing, the codex is beginning to show its age a little and its probably lucky for me that the Ork codex is (for a little while longer at least) even more venerable. Still, counter attack is back to the way it was in 5th, which makes the decision not to charge something a little bit easier. Regarding the FAQ, I’m going to miss Living Lightning but the Rune Priest is far from useless. I used Divination in my first game of 7th and it was very, very nice. The Rune Priest is probably a little expensive now compared to the Space Marine Librarian but that’s a problem throughout the ‘dex, with some units still being fairly cheap for what they can do (Grey Hunters, Long Fangs) and others being a little too expensive (anything with the word “claw” in it especially). There’s still a lot that can be done with the ‘dex though and the change in the Rune Priest has made me think about what I bring. A little goody that is still there is the Wolf Tail Talisman which was not FAQ’d and so can currently nullify the effects of a psychic power cast on a unit on a 5+. I imagine that we won’t get to keep it for too long but as a 5 point upgrade to Wolf Guard you could build an army with a little bit more psychic defence on a unit by unit basis, which with the new psychic rules might be rather useful.

So on to our first game of 7th. We took 1000 points apiece (Battleforged of course, I don’t think that Unbound is a particularly sensible idea for relearning the game). I took Space Wolves and my boyfriend took his Orks.

My list was:

HQ: Rune Priest with runic armour (warlord)
HQ: Wolf Priest: bike, Saga of the Beastslayer
Elites: 6x Wolf Scouts: 1x missile launcher, 4x sniper rifle and 1x boltgun (I made a mistake when writing my list and forgot to add another sniper rifle)
Troops: 10x Grey Hunters: meltagun, flamer
Troops:10x Grey Hunters: meltagun, plasma pistol (for the fun of it)
Troops: 5x Grey Hunters
Fast Attack: 4x Swiftclaws
Heavy Support: 6x Long Fangs: 3x heavy bolter, 2x missile launcher
=1002 points

His list was:

HQ: Warboss with Mega-armour, Cybork body, Bosspole
HQ: Big Mek with Kustom Force Field, ‘Eavy Armour, Bosspole
Elites: 7x Lootas + Mek
Troops: 20x Ork Boyz: 2x Big Shoota
Troops: 20x Ork Boyz: 2x Big Shoota
Troops: 10x Grots + Runtherd
Fast Attack: Dakkajet with Supa-shoota
Fast Attack: 3x Deffkoptas: rokkitlaunchers
Fast Attack: 2x warbiker +1x Nob warbiker with Bosspole, Power Klaw
=1000 points

The game took a while to set up, I think it took us a couple of hours to get to the end of turn 1, just because we were checking what had or hadn’t changed. The game sped up considerably as we moved on and got the hang of it. We used Eternal War and rolled Big Guns Never Tire and this was when I discovered that the change in scoring now meant that, for me, rolling Big Guns Never Tire was a serious disadvantage as my Boyfriend could get an extra victory point for killing my Long Fangs, which as his long distance heavy shooting was all down to the Elite Lootas, I couldn’t benefit from at all. It’s a pity that these missions are a little bit more one sided now as it did kind of spoil my fun to have a mission which I could do nothing at all with. My bad luck with the set up dice did not end there. At the start of the game we both had units that were next to the four mysterious objectives. My boyfriend rolled 2 and 5, meaning that one objective was just that, but the other gave him +1 to his save, so that his Ork Boyz sitting in a ruin ended up with a 3+ save- all game! I rolled a 1 and a 6. The 6, while ostensibly a very good roll, giving a 2” reduction in charge length, was on the quiet side of the board, while the 1, the sabotaged objective, was right next to my Long Fangs, who now were the main target of the Orks and busy setting off the objective! These two sets of “bad” rolls did spoil my game a little. I have no problem with losing units because I did something stupid, but starting a game with two disadvantages that weren’t my fault did make things a bit miserable! I’ve decided that I should give all the important rolls to my boyfriend in future as I only seem to get the worst results. The same thing happened at the end of the game when I rolled to end the game on turn 5, when I needed another turn or two to salvage a draw (although there was a stupid tactical error there too). Gameplay itself was pretty much business as usual, save for the psychic phase, which I found a nice addition, meaning that I a) remembered to cast powers and b) should have been able to play more tactically, except that in all the excitement I forgot that I could “run”.

Bad rolls aside, the game was good. I lost by three victory points in the end (that damned sabotaged objective) but I learned enough so that at least some of my more stupid actions are less likely to occur in future. I have to play more tactically with my army, I just have to remember that movie tactics aren’t going to work on a flat piece of green cloth.

The new lightweight book was nice to use, it got in the way far less than the old one, we just need a large handful of bookmarks to keep things in place. It was easier to navigate without the fluff and the photos interrupting the flow. I think when we get round to using Maelstrom of War we will invest in the cards so as to keep things clear and cut down on the dice.

Over all, I quite like the new edition. It came out a little too soon but with the explosive growth of the game, I guess in the long run it will be better to have a basic ruleset that fits the more modular style of new codices, dataslates and expansions. I’m wondering if the simplification of the allies matrix might mean that by splitting it into factions like “Imperial”, they’re making it easier to add new armies. Hopefully this will benefit other factions like Eldar or Tau (etc) as well as just Imperial players. The more modular style will hopefully make it easier to run the kind of games you want, by adding or removing the bits you don’t like. Of course, all of this was done before, but now its a deliberate part of the games mechanics.

I’m still waiting for FAQs for Killteam and the Inquisition Codex but everything else seems ok right now. I guess I will play a few more old fashioned games and then look at trying out tactical objectives and unbound games. It should be fun!

L.o.F.