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The Wolftime is NOW!  A review of Codex: Space Wolves by Patrick Eibel
We are here today to review the new Space Wolf Codex.  We are not going to discuss why GW continues to give armies that have older codices (Dark Eldar), or codices made nearly unplayable by 5th Edition (Necrons, Tau), the proverbial shaft.  Personally, I am one happy camper as my three favorite armies--Orks, Wolves, and Tyranids--all (or will as of January 2010, in the case of Nids) have rules written for the current edition of the game.  But, like I said, we are here to discuss the Space Wolf Codex.

The expanded background section gives information about the other warlords other than Ragnar Blackmane.  The information here fleshes out the chart that was printed on the back of the old Wolf Codex.  While the 13th Company continues to have a slot on the Grand Annulus (the wheel that shows the organization of the chapter), there are not any new rules for using them in your army. One assumes that if you wanted to run the 13th Company, you could just go ahead and use the Chaos Codex.  There are also a couple of pages of a nifty timeline of significant events in the Chapter's history, which helps put the Space Wolves in context as a founding chapter and also can be a source for interesting names for  your army.

The old Space Wolf special rules--Counter Attack, Acute Senses, and … Know No Fear--have been carried over, although Counter Attack is now much better as a squad can count as charging on a successful Leadership role.  Opponents will really have to think twice before casually assaulting any Space Wolf unit.  New for this Codex are sagas.  I like the idea of sagas, which will help to personalize your characters by giving them in game objectives to accomplish, over the ubiquitous sameness of the characters (and “special” characters too) in the Space Marine Codex.  Power gamers, of course, will be aghast at spending points on something that has little game effect, but really who really needs to write a codex that caters to them?

There are some interesting changes to the Space Wolf Wargear.  Lightning Claws are now Wolf Claws and can reroll either a "to-hit" or "to-wound" roll: very handy.  The Mark of the Wulfen has been changed to give a nod to the 13th Company and gives the affected model D6 + 1 Rending attacks.  However, you are only limited to one Wulfie dude per unit, so don’t get too excited.  Someone at GW though it would be cool to have Space Marines riding very large wolves, and so we have the Thunderwolf.  While the idea of a Space Marine riding a really big wolf may seem stupid to some, getting a + 1 to Strength, Toughness, and Attack, as well as an additional Wound, is nothing to scoff at. 

YOU tell him he looks silly. Good luck with that.

Alright, enough of the preliminaries, let’s get on to the list.  We start with Logan Grimnar.  As with the Space Marine Codex and Ork Codex, we have a special character that allows some very cool in-game effect to the army list.  In this case, your Wolf Guard units now count as Troops.  Hmmmm, scoring Terminators?  Expensive, but quite tasty.  More on that later.

Logan Grimnar, top dog. I'm here all week, folks: try the veal

Njal Stormcaller is next, updated with a new model and everything, which is good because the old model blew massive chunks.  Njal is no bargain at 245 points, but he does have all the Space Wolf psychic powers, the Tempest game effect, as well as a Chooser of the Slain.  There are players getting gooey over creating lists using Choosers to deny their opponents infiltration anywhere close to the Wolf lines.  If that floats yur boat, go ahead, but there are better things to spend points on.

One spells "badass" N-J-A-L, thank you very much

Ragnar, Ulrik and Bjorn the Fell-Handed are all back and are OK.  Bjorn is now the only way you are going to get a Dreadnought in your HQ (remember, you are getting two per slot), but at 270 points you can do better.  Ulrik is not overpriced and can help you upgrade the WS of another Marine.  Canis Wolfborn is the new character riding a Thunderwolf.  The model is expensive at over $40, but he does make Wolf Packs Troops.  A neat add on to your army, but I would not build the army around him (Wolf Packs are cheap but not resilient). There are generic versions of each of the character types, which will suffice for creating most army lists, as well as the Wolf Guard Battle Leader for a cheap leader option.

The Ragnar and Ulrik figures haven't changed since the first term of the 
Clinton administration, but at least Wolves have a codex now (sorry, DE and Necrons)

The Wolf Guard are a very interesting option because they have the ability to split off members to lead other units.  For instance, you can take seven Wolf Guard to form a Terminator squad, take three more that you will send off to lead Grey Hunter or Bloodclaws squads, and thus get a meet the ten-man unit requirement for getting a second assault cannon (or other special weapon) without having to field ten Termies.  Sweet!  This also allows you to choose to have two power fists in your squads as you could under the old SW Codex.  Take one as per the Grey Hunter or Bloodclaw entry and add a Wolf Guard with another.  The possibilities are endless.

Wolf Guard: Still covered in awesome

The other Elite choices are pretty much the same as in the old Codex, including the chance for Wolf Scouts to be able to enter play from the opponent’s board edge.  That always puts a crimp in the shorts of somebody trying to hang back and shoot you to death.  The new entry here is the Lone Wolf, which at least is cheap.

Wolf Scouts: not much to look at, but they get the job done

Grey Hunters and Bloodclaws continue to be the Troop options.  Bloodclaws sacrifice WS and BS in order to get +2 on the charge.  Pair Bloodclaws up with a Wolf Priest who will give them Preferred Enemy and you really won’t suffer too much in close combat.  Grey Hunters can have two special weapons if the squad numbers ten, so you must choose between extra firepower or adding a nifty character (or two) with extra close combat goodness.

The Fast Attack options include the aforementioned Thunderwolf Riders, Biker Packs (one Attack Bike per pack), Skyclaw Packs (jump packs are back for the Wolves), all of the Speeder options, and Wolf Packs (cheap and WS 4; be sure to give one character Saga of the Wolfkin to increase their LD and Initiative).  Rather than take a Lone Wolf, consider taking one Thunderwolf cavalry rider with a storm shield and frost blade (3+ Invulnerable Save, Strength 6 attack).

All of the Heavy Support options carry over, except the Leman Russ Exterminator, thus making us wonder why the IG tank is named after the Wolf Primarch.  Long Fangs keep their ability to split fire as long as the Sergeant is alive and are a cheap, if static, way to get heavy weapon support.

I have already had a chance to get in some games with the new Codex, and have to say I like it very much. A squad of 14 Bloodclaws with a Wolf Priest in a Crusader just does harsh things to whatever they assault.  It has been a long time since I used the army (probably three years), and it felt really good to be able to field them as an effective force. 

Huzzah! The Space Wolves have arrived!

Posted November 2009. All images are copyright 2009 by Games Workshop and are used for review purposes. 


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle