Friday, 28 September 2018

Space Wolves Codex Review: Part 2- Warlord Traits, Relics and Psychic Powers

Part 2 of my Space Wolves codex review will take a look at the Warlord traits, Relics and Psychic Powers in the new codex. 

Warlord Traits
The Space Wolves warlord traits are different from most other warlord traits in the codexes. The ability is always active on the warlord. However, by completing special conditions, the warlord trait turns into a 6" bubble, granting the effect to all nearby Space Wolves units. This gives you the ability to provide further additional buffs from your warlord to boost nearby units. 

Saga of the Warrior Born
You can always choose to fight first in the Fight phase. If an enemy unit charged or has a similar ability, alternate which units can fight, staring with the player whose turn it is. To activate the Saga, your warlord must kill an enemy Character. 

This provides a powerful ability for your warlord, giving you a free interrupt essentially in a protracted combat. It is pretty easy to activate, given that most Space Wolves characters are likely to be buffed up for combat. It should also be reasonably easy to activate against most opponents if they have weaker buff characters that can be targeted. 
Once the saga is activated, this gives your nearby units a huge boost in protracted combats, essentially allowing you to strike before most enemy units and do a lot of damage before they can be chosen. 

Saga of the Wolfin
Add 1 to the attacks characteristic of units in the Fight phase if they charged, were charged or performed a heroic intervention in the same turn. To activate the saga, your warlord must kill 5 models in the Fight phase (keep a rolling total). 

Again, a nice boost for your warlord, who is likely to be armed for combat. The combination of +1 attacks and +1 to hit on charging or being charged is a great bonus, turning your warlord into a potent combat machine. When this activates, you are going to get a lot of bonus attacks for nearby units. Strong units such as Thunderwolf Cavalry and Wulfen are going to chew through enemy units with this activated. Should be pretty easy for your warlord to achieve after a couple of Fight phases against most enemy units. 

Saga of Majesty
Affected units automatically pass morale tests. In addition, a character increases the range of any aura abilities by 3". To activate, your warlord must slay the enemy warlord. 

A pretty strong ability, giving you a 9" auto pass morale bubble when activated, and can give a 9" bubble for many useful aura abilities in the army. The only issue is activating this ability is not going to the easiest. Most players are going to try and keep their warlord safe anyway. Those that do want their warlord in combat are probably going to be a challenge for your own warlord, so it could go either way. 

Saga of the Beastslayer
Add 1 to wound rolls against attacks targeting a Monster or Vehicle. To activate, your warlord must kill an enemy Monster or Vehicle. 

A pretty good bonus to have, allowing your warlord to wound most vehicle and monsters on a 2+ if armed with a Thunder Hammer. It will also allow you to wound Knights on a 3+. Should be pretty easy to kill an enemy vehicle with your warlord if you can get to them. Once activated, it is incredibly strong for taking out enemy vehicles. By the wording, this applies to both shooting and combat weapons, allowing you to wound most vehicles on a 4+ with Bolters or in combat. 

Saga of the Hunter
A unit affected can charge, even if it advanced. To activate, all your warlord has to do is successfully charge an enemy unit. 

This must be one of the simplest Sagas to activate. Once activated, it should increase the threat range of any of your units near the warlord. A decent warlord trait to have in a combat-themed army and you should be able to get a number of turns use out of it. 

Saga of the Bear
Each time a model suffers a wound, it is ignored on a 6+. To activate, your warlord must successfully pass a saving throw. 

A decent feel no pain type save bubble for your warlord once activated. It might be more difficult to activate than you may think. Unless you leave your warlord exposed, he is unlikely to be the target of many shooting attacks. This will probably need to be activated in combat, but can give you a nice bubble for blocking wounds against your nearby units. 

The Space Wolves warlord trait bubble is a nice bonus on what is likely to be an assault-themed army. 
I think most of them are solid and a good choice for your army. Some are much easier to activate than others, with Saga of Majesty being the hardest to achieve (in my opinion), but gives some very strong bonuses when activated. 

The Space Wolves get some nice Relics to add to the army. 

Krakenbone Sword
A Frost Sword that is S+1, AP-4 and 1 damage. You can re-roll failed to wound rolls for this weapon. 

This is a good relic. With the +1 to hit from charging and +1S, you should do a lot of wounds with this weapon. The -4 AP will deny most armour saves. The only downside is the 1 damage. It should be good against standard infantry, but you may struggle against enemy characters or monsters. 

The Armour of Russ
Gives a 4+ invulnerable save. In addition, at the start of the Fight phase, choose an enemy unit within 1" of the bearer. This unit cannot fight until all other units have fought. If they have an ability to always fight first, they fight as if they had neither ability. 

This is a strong Relic to give to a combat character. While you may lose the 3+ save of a Storm Shield (though there is nothing to stop you taking a Storm Shield), the ability to get a unit to strike last in combat, even when charging, is strong for the army. 

Black Death
A Frost Axe that is +2S, AP-2 and 1 damage. The bearer may make an additional D3 attacks when they fight. 

Another solid melee weapon. It will wound most models on a 3+ and will give you a few bonus attacks over the course of the game. For your warlord, you probably want a higher damage weapon, but this is strong for a mid-level character in the army. 

Helm of Durfast
You can re-roll failed to hit rolls for ranged weapons with this model. In addition, enemy units gain no bonus to their saving throw for being in cover. 

Decent enough, but not great. Useful on a character with a combi-weapon that doesn't have an inherent re-roll ability. 

The Wulfen Stone
Friendly Space Wolves Infantry, Biker and Cavalry models within 3" of the bearer gain +1A in the fight phase. Does not affect Wulfen or models under the effects of certain Wulfen abilities. 

A strong relic, very good for a melee-centric force. This should boost your damage output in combat and will be great on units such as Thunderwolf Cavalry or to boost other characters. When combined with Saga of the Wolfkin, you will be messing up enemy units in combat. 

Frost Fury
A Storm Bolter that is Assault 4, AP-1, 2 damage. In addition, if a model suffers an unsaved wound from this weapon, but is not slain, they suffer a mortal wound on a 4+. 

This is a pretty strong relic weapon to have. The four shots at full range are a nice bonus, as is the 2 damage per shot and the chance of doing a mortal wound. When combined with the Saga of the Beastslayer, giving you +1 to wound, this could do a lot of damage to enemy vehicles and monsters. 

I don't think any of the Space Wolves Relics are incredibly strong, or auto-take like some in other codexes. The Wulfen Stone and Armour of Russ seem very good to boost your combat ability, but Frost Fury could be a nice surprise to use in some games. The combat weapons don't seem that strong, I would probably prefer a Thunder Hammer or Power Fist over the two available Relics in most cases. 

Tempestas Discipline
The Space Wolves get their own expanded psychic discipline to harass the foes of the Emperor. 

Living Lightning (Warp Charge 6)
The closest visible unit suffers D3 mortal wounds. If that unit is destroyed, the closest enemy unit to the last model destroyed suffers D3 mortal wounds, and so on until no enemy units are destroyed. 

This is a strong power. It's essentially an extra Smite attack that has the potential to give you extra damage if you can wipe out an enemy unit. This will be a strong follow up to a regular Smite, giving you the ability to do 2D3 mortal wounds to an enemy unit, possibly more if you get lucky. 

Tempest's Wrath (Warp Charge 6)
Choose a visible enemy unit within 24". The unit suffers -1 to hit until the start of your next psychic phase. 

Another strong psychic power, allowing you to reduce the effectiveness of an enemy unit in the shooting phase and combat phase. Combined with the Cloaked by the Storm stratagem, one enemy unit could be at -2 to hit, seriously reducing their effectiveness in the shooting phase. 

Murderous Hurricane (Warp Charge 5)
Select an enemy unit within 18". Roll a D6 for each member of the unit, on a 6 they suffer a mortal wound. 

This will be great against horde armies. There is no cap on the number of dice you roll for the unit, just one for each member. A unit of 20 or 30 models could have a lot to fear from this power if you roll well. Against smaller units, it may do some damage, but you would be likely better off with Smite or Living Lightning, though both don't allow you to choose the target. 

Fury of the Wolf Spirits (Warp Charge 7)
If manifest, the Rune Priest gains the following weapon to the next psychic phase; Melee, S5, AP-3, 1 damage, Make an additional 6 attacks with this weapon after the Rune Priest has fought. 

This is another solid power. Getting 6 additional S5 power weapon attacks will cause a lot of damage to most enemy units in combat, on top of the attacks of the Rune Priest. If charging and getting +1 to hit, the Rune Priest could wreck other units on his own in combat. 

Storm Caller (Warp Charge 8)
The psyker and friendly units within 6" gain the benefit of being in cover. 

A good power, but difficult to cast at Warp Charge 8. Getting a 2+ save for most of your units within 6" is a strong defence against most small arms fire and most anti-armour weaponry. I think this may be too expensive to cast, but you do get a big bonus bubble for it. 

Jaws of the World Wolf (Warp Charge 7)
Select an enemy unit within 18" that is not a Vehicle. Roll 2D6 and subtract the unit's movement characteristic. The unit suffers a number of mortal wounds equal to the difference. 

This has the potential to be a very powerful power to use against selected units. Against most infantry units, you will do 1 mortal wound on average. Against slower units, such as Terminators or Death Guard Terminators, you should be able to do a number of mortal wounds. 

Once more, the Space Wolves have access to some incredibly strong psychic powers. I think all have a case for being taken in a list, though Murderous Hurricane probably won't be as useful against most armies, due to smaller unit sizes. 

The strong psychic powers combined with many of the stratagems the Wolf Priests have access to means that these units will be a very strong addition to the Space Wolves army. 


  1. Quick note, probably a typo: The Wulfen Stone gives bonus Attacks to all Units within 3", not just Models within 3". Big difference, and the reason it's one of the top SW Relics.

    The only other Relic I would expect to regularly see is the Armour of Russ. Being able to make someone else fight last is an amazing ability. The others, well, D1 on the Weapons makes them kind of underwhelming, as you noted. The Helm of Durfast used to have a niche, when it let you re-roll to-Hit Rolls in any circumstance. I used to use it with a Rune Priest, because it worked on his Combi-Melta, many of his Psychic Powers, and his CC Attacks. Nerfing that down to only re-rolling Shooting Attacks, plus the reduced power of Ignores Cover, pretty much leaves this one on the shelf for 8th. Frost Fury is a good gun, but is it worth giving up the Armour of Russ or the Wulfen Stone for, or spending another 2CP on top of those for? I kinda gotta say no.

    Psychic Powers are all at least potentially good. I like the idea of Njall Stormcaller holding down a firebase with his +1 to Manifest making Storm Caller much more reliable, and then popping Cloaked by the Storm on top of that. Murderous Hurricane and Jaws need the right target, but are great when they have it, while Wolf Spirits needs the right Rune Priest build, but is great for him. The other two are just solid in any circumstance.

    Saga of the Wulfen and Saga of the Hunter are my faves out of the Warlord Traits, but only the Saga of Majesty really feels weak. Don't get me wrong, it's a good ability, but most of the time, if you manage to activate the Aura early enough for it to matter for a significant part of the game, you're probably dominating the game to such an extent that it's not needed. I like Saga of the Wulfen and Saga of the Hunter largely because they're so easy to kick into Aura mode.

    1. Yes, you are right on the Wulfen stone being units and not models. This is a big boost to its ability.

      I just played a game where the Rune Priest was casting Smite and Living Lightning each turn. Doing 2D3 mortal wounds on the same unit (in most cases) is incredibly strong, especially as he was rolling quite hot!