Aooooo, for Russ and the Allfather! Here we go with another tactics article in the Space Wolf series: The Deathwolves!
Check the Tactics Corner for more great reviews.
Herald Deathwolf leads the Deathwolves, a Great Company that stresses hunting tactics and favor the use of both Thunderwolves and Fenresian Wolves.
- Wolf Claw Strike Force Overview
- Wolf Claw Strike Force Part 2: The Firehowlers
- Wolf Claw Strike Force Part 3: The Ironwolves
- Wolf Claw Strike Force Part 4: The Drakeslayers
This formation allows you to field a swift assault army that has some awesome tricks up its sleeve. And, it also provides a core formation for the Wolf Claw Strike Force “Decurion Detachment” which includes Thunderwolves. This is a fun formation that will certainly see some playtime.
- Herald Deathwolf or Wolf Guard Battle Leader
- 0-1 Canis Wolfborn
- 1 unit of Thunderwolf Cavalry
- 2-3 units of any of the following: Blood Claws, Sky Claws, Swiftclaws
- 2-4 units of any of the following: Grey Hunters, Land Speeders
- 1-2 units of Long Fangs
- 1 unit of Wolf Scouts
- 0-2 Lone Wolves
- 0-1 unit of Fenresian Wolves
- Peerless Hunters: All outflanking units come in on a single reserve roll which you can reroll. Additionally, units arriving form Outflank have Stealth the turn they arrive.
- Run to Ground: when making Sweeping Advance rolls, roll 2d6 and take the highest.
This is a fun core formation, if a tad pricey. However, every unit is viable and some of the core units hit very hard. The addition of Outflank for the entire formation on a single roll with the ability to reroll that dice is quite good in that it gives some awesome deployment flexibility. While I certainly wouldn’t do it every game, if you find yourself going second vs a shooty army this ability can be a godsend. Having everything come in with a 8/9 chance of success is solid, but if you lean on that tactic, that 1/9 games when you fail the roll will leave you in a tough position. If you do want to regularly Outflank look at getting a +1 to reserves to turn those odds into a 35/36 chance of success.
More often than not though, you will begin the game on the board as with an assault army, you aren’t making hay unless you are in melee cracking skulls like a proper space viking! To this end, I’d build out this formation with the minimum of units required, and min/max most of them. Herald Deathwolf is not bad at all due to his buffs, but I have always very much enjoyed the Wolf Guard Battle Leader on a Thunderwolf with the Armor of Russ, a Power Fist and a Lightening Claw. That load out has been so good for me, so many times. The Armor of Russ is amazingly useful and the Fist/Claw combo makes him quite versatile. His only weakness is lowish leadership of 9.
The Thunderwolf Cavalry are–obviously–quite good. There are so many ways to run them effectively. You can run them minimally equipped with the minimum squad size and they still hit hard as hell, making a great unit to hunt small squads and vehicles. Or, you can kit them out to smash face. My preference is Shields and Fists as you simply cannot beat the defensive and offensive combo strength. You just want to be sure to build in either a tank character or some ablative wounds into the unit to absorb the inevitable firepower they will draw. You can also build them into a full blown deathstar with the addition of some special characters to layer in buffs, particularity the Librarius Conclave fishing for Veil of Time which makes this unit neigh-unkillable.
For the “tax” units, my choice would be 2 units of Skyclaws with either no upgrades or Flamers. While their stats might leave some gamers feeling a bit flat, point for point, these guys pack a wallop! They’re excellent for attacking those MSU scoring units we see in so many lists these days, and for taking out light vehicles. Eldar Jetbikes, Rhinos, etc. all fear Skyclaws and their ability to deploy on the table, Outflank or Deep strike gives them fantastic flexibility.
Secondly, I would take 2 Land Speeder Typhoons. These guys are fragile but put out excellent ranged firepower. You could opt for some Grey Hunters in Drop Pods which certainly isn’t a bad choice and provides backfield disruption, but for me, the lower points investment of the Typhoons and excellent firepower is more appealing. Plus, these make for superb Outflanking units as their ability to damage the enemy goes up dramatically if they are coming in rear armor arcs or hunting light units in the enemy backfield.
I am and always have been a big fan of Long Fangs. A unit of them provides a flexible, efficient long range shooting unit in an otherwise assault oriented army. There aren’t many bad ways to equip them but Las Cannons in the current meta are a solid choice. You could get funky with it, and pair them with a Cataphractii Captain from a Space Marine detachment who would allow them to move and shoot due to Slow and Purposeful, meaning that if you start on the table you can march forward, or Outflank and come in from an unexpected angle. I typically run a unit of 6 with 5 Heavy Weapons, but the unit is very flexible and if you need to trim points, you can pair them down to a smaller size.
The Wolf Scouts are a solid disruption unit. With an army like this, coming at you from all angles, the Wolf Scouts provide yet one more threat and target priority conundrum for your opponent. The kit depends entirely on preference, but I have had best luck with a shooting load-out, personally.
I would pass on Lone Wolves as I have never had any luck with them and think the points are better spent elsewhere. The Fenresian Wolves are excellent, but as a compliment to this formation, the Wolfkin are a great choice and an excellent place to stick your HQ. Alternatively, the Heralds of the Great Wolf compliment this formation very well as they can be a formidable melee threat.
The Blackamnes would also compliment this formation quite well. It would be expensive to fit everything, but the combination of threats coming form all angles would overwhelm many opponents. As mentioned earlier, Space Marines work very well with this formation. The Librairus Conclave can amp them up to an 11, and units like Chaplains on bikes can keep up with and mitigate the weaknesses of many core units.
In all, the Deathwolves provide a solid foundation for a cool, fun army. The real question comes in whether or not you’d rather accomplish similar goals with a CAD. A CAD provides more flexibility and ObSec, the Deathwolves provide a more rounded army and some fun special rules that make it very versatile.
“At the end I will be there. For the final battle. For the Wolftime.” ~last words of Leman Russ