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40kccg strategy

Theoryhammer 40K: Space Wolves Edition

This week, we unleash the fury of Fenris with a Space Wolves deck list!

With the release of the Battle for Delos V came the introduction of the Space Wolves fleet card, as well as a host of new card options for the sons of Fenris. Space Wolves come with an interesting twist on the generic Space Marines fleet card, geared towards an assault-heavy strategy:

From the Space Wolf fleet abilities, we can arrive at a few assumptions:

  • Space Wolf assault units are absolutely necessary for a successful deck;
  • Space Wolf characters are not as necessary (because any character can trigger a pre-battle charge), but it is potentially better to use Space Wolf characters to satisfy the conditions needed to both draw extra cards and charge assault units;
  • Aside from Space Wolf-specific abilities on other cards, support units are generally free to be of any other faction.

To start, here is the current deck list I’m working with:

Before going further, it’s important understand the nature of the Space Wolves card pool, especially in terms of die numbers:

Distribution of Die Numbers Amongst Space Wolf Assault Units

1:I

2:III

3:IIIIIII

4:IIIIIII

5:III

6:I 

With very few 5 and 6-die cards, and with most of the staple units at 3 and 4-die, Space Wolves are going to be a lower-rolling deck than most other factions. However, that’s not to say that die boosting doesn’t exist. In fact, the Wolves have possibly the best die boosting card available to them:

In conjunction with their fleet ability, Space Wolves can get a blanket +2 to all their rolls right from their first BA, which definitely makes up somewhat for their mediocre die numbers. 

On that tangent, let’s talk about the unit-charging fleet ability, since it will be integral to the success of the deck. We know that we gain a significant tempo boost by charging one or more units before a battle even begins. Not only can we assault the unit of our choice right off the bat, but we can take advantage of the Space Wolf units that provide bonuses while charging:

In addition, Space Wolves are lacking in high-speed units (4 in total with speed 3+) to help with blocking, since all their assault marines apparently don’t have jump packs. However, they do have a handful of units that disrupt your opponent’s shooting and targeting priorities in a similar fashion:

Squad Thorbrandr basically ‘taunts’ your opponent into shooting him and his fellow charging units. Geirmundr punishes your opponent for shooting anyone but your charging units. And to top it off, Squad Wulfrik punishes your opponent for shooting anyone but themselves. It all feels a bit…Chaos-esque (not that I’m complaining).

Combined with some of their hand disruption command lines (e.g., Squad Nikulas, Gunnvaldr), a definite subtheme of hand discard is open to exploitation.

Although we have a decent number of shooting units, we also have Gunnvaldr not only to block shooting attacks, but to shoot themselves, as well as boost the firepower of your other units:

With multiple Gunnvaldrs, or multiple charging units at a sector, I imagine the firepower boost can reach Ammo Grot levels!

Side note: there is quite an amount of firepower-boosting in Space Wolf command lines – be sure not to discount these.

To round out our support core, we’re drawing on two Space Marine workhorses: Miller’s Bodyguard, and Squad Faustus. Miller’s Bodyguard will help boost our die rolls and fix our command hands, while Squad Faustus will supply some much-needed armor boosting abilities. 

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of our support units, let’s talk about the assault units that will be doing the dirty work.

Ragnar’s Bodyguard is the bedrock of Space Wolf assault units. With outstanding stats across the board, they can also assault straight from a charge on a 5+. These guys can do it all.

The rest of the assault units are capable, but are clearly more situational in nature. Managing these assault units will require some finesse, but they do come with extra capabilities not normally seen in other races’ assault units. Especially concerning Squad Valgaard and Squad Sigfast, it’s noteworthy that they function at their best when they are alone…fitting for Blood Claw units, perhaps?

Now that we understand a bit more about how our assault units and support units work together, let’s turn at last to our characters. 

Sadly I don’t believe Space Wolf characters are the greatest. Very few can help raise our die rolls, and are generally situational or unplayable. I have landed on playing these characters:

Gungnir and Ulrik are Space Wolf characters that allow you to get some reuse out of your assault units, as well as provide some survivability. Apothecary Singa deserves no introduction, and while my gut reaction is simply to play 4, I am experimenting with a lower count. 

Strategy

I expect Space Wolf strategies to function similarly to generic Space Marines’: win small-scale skirmishes early on with your superior units, then use characters to scale up your army power in bigger battles later on. Effective unit composition will require adequate defenses (such as Squad Grimr/Apothecary Singa and/or Squad Thorbrandr/Wulfrik) and scalable power boosts (like Squad Gunnvaldr, and deploying multiple characters for multiple pre-battle charges). Hand discard will be especially helpful with negating some of your opponents’ potentially troublesome reactions and tactics.

Hope this inspired you to look a little more into a Space Wolf deck! What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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