Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thunderwolf Calvary-The best unit in the game......? They get my vote for MVP of 40K!

by Spaguatyrine 

As I continue to learn to master the use of my 11/12 Thunderwolves, I am coming to a very interesting
opinion. Thunderwolf Calvary could be the best unit in the game..

Basic Stats
Weapon Skill 4 (Should be 5)
Ballistic Skill 4  (I have only ever shot my weapons 1 time in every single game)
Toughness 5 -Straight 5-Only Str 10 call instant kill
Attacks 4(5)-Base bolt pistol and Close combat weapon
Initiative 4
Wounds 2 (The staple to keeping them alive)
Save 3+
Leadership-8 (The sore spot on thier statline)
Unit size 1-5 (Would like up to 6, but keep wishing)

*The ability to give up to all 5 Thunderwolves different wargear for wound allocation should always be done.

*1 Special Weapon- Either a Wolf Claw, Thunderhammer, Powerfist, Frost Weapon, or Power weapon.  (I tend to use the Thunderhammer on all my units.  For 5 more points over the powerfist you get an auto shaken on vehicles and reduce to initiative 1 on all monstrous creatures or Eternal Warriors)  The rest of the special weapons should be used on Wolf Lords and Battle Leaders with Initiative 5.

*Each Thunderwolf model can take a Storm Shield for 30 points, a melta bombs for 5 points, a bolter for free, a plasma pistol for 15 points, or mark of the wulven for 5 extra points. They also have frag and krak grenades.

Special abilities:
Calvary, Counter Assault, Rending in close combat, Acute senses. The thunderwolves also give fenrisian wolves the ability to re-roll morale tests within 12".

I started playing Space Wolves because I love getting into close combat with my armies and smashing face.  Even if I get in close combat and loose it is better than sitting back and shooting all day.  (This is why my guard army is sitting on the shelf. It was fun, but I missed close combat. I still took Straken most of the time, but with the allies of Daemonhunters leaving shortly, the builds I liked will not be available).

There are a lot of blogs that say a lot of different things about Thunderwolves. Probably the most ridiculous thing I have heard is to use them as a counter assault unit.  I won't say where I read that, but it is a pretty big blog that gave this unhealthy advice.  And even though I have really enjoyed the success I have had with them, I think it is good for the community to hear my thoughts. 

Just to give some validation and  perspective on why I even have any solid experienced opinion: 

I have an approximately 95% win to loss ratio when using my thunderwolves. In addition, my tournament record in the past year is 16 wins and 1 loss with the space wolves/Thunderwolves.  Some might say it is the codex, but I will counter with a great codex anchored by potentially the best unit in the game,  (By the way, the 1 loss was to a great player who made over 32 3++ invol saves with his 5 Vulkan led Thunderhammer/Storm Shield Terminators), the Thunderwolves become a mean right hook to compliment the rest of the army. When you take 2 units, you have a left and right hook.

Tactically there are only a few units I am afraid of with my Thunderwolves. They are:

TH/SS Terminators
And Heavy Bolters
Other Space Wolves's Rune Priests.

All of these units tend to eat my Thunderwolves and actually cause me to change my game.  You might ask why not Demolisher cannons and vindicators, etc?  I normally fit out my Thunderwolves with at least 1 Storm Shield along with the Lord that has a Storm Shield.  I have only every lost 2 Thunderwolves to Str 10 blasts.  Using cover and spreading wide reduces the liability.  The heavy bolter has numerous shots and wounds on a 4+. A Dakka Pred can really put a hurting on a unit of Thunderwolves.

Lascannons, Krak missles, Melta guns, etc, can only do 1 wound and will most likely bounce off a Storm Shield.  With enough models and correct allocation, you can keep them alive longer than they should be. 
What are your thoughts on Thunderwolves?
Are there other units that you can see that fulfills their role as well as Thunderwolves?  Who is your MVP?
What tactics do you have for and against Thunderwolves?


  1. I wouldn't say they were the best unit in the game. Deathwing Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield Terminators with Apothecary have that honour for being so tough and SO cheap.

    PS: How come the awesome Space Wolves Blog isn't on your blogroll?

    If you haven't subscribed yet, you really should!

  2. They are definitely in the top for being powerful units. I'm honestly a little upset Blood angels don't Have an amazing assault unit like them. TWC, blood crushers, nob bikers, but what do BA get oh that's right, death company. pft.
    granted the storm raven is it's own bag of tricks, but a crazy survivable assault unit sure seems like it would fit nicely into the BA book.

  3. I second the motion on the Thunderwolves being the best in the business. I use them Regularly as a Space Wolf play, and must say that the only problem I have with the ones that you are running, and the way you describe them, is that they will get out there fast, but against stuff like lash princes with vindi/oblit backup, they stand a really good chance of getting torn up by that blast. Remember that the Priest can't (for some unknown reason) get on one of those monsters! So you are leaving them all on their own. I run a squad of 4 of them. 1x PP, 1x Thunder hammer, 1x BP/CCW, 1x BP/CCW Meltabombs, 4x Storm Shield, 1 Lord with Dual Wolf Claws, Belt of Russ, Saga of the Warrior Born, and a Melta Bomb (to help deal with those pesky land they tend to be a problem for my army. But I love them none the less. Where did you get your Thunder Wolves at? Just needing to be a nib shit. I got mine on Mr. Dandy I can't remember the URL, as my recent computer crash prevents it. But they are pretty.

  4. Now if only they actually made a plastic set of them

  5. @Dalinair,

    I made mine out of plastic using various Large wolf models for about $10a piece. I will load pictures tomorrow. They look like real thunderwolves instead of bears or carnosaurs.


    I always play at least 1 rune priest who runs up behind them in a Rhino for psychic protection. I often run 2 depending on the point value. I have played the Lash list a few times, and never had an issue. I also put my unit of 2 Storm Shields in front and kept my 2nd unit behind the first for a bait unit. :) I converted mine out of D&D Vampire Dire Wolves, Hero clix Wolves of Fenris, Etc.

    @ Gravemind,

    I like death company, but the mobility of the TW trump the effectiveness of the death company. There has long been a competition of the best close combat space marine army. If the wolves didnt have thunderwolves, BA would definitely win that competition.

    I have browsed around, but found it difficult in the past to post, It has been awhile, but I will make jump on again. I do like the Deathwing unit as that was my first army. Very Close in rating as an MVP! I actually pulled mine out and my son played them.

    Pictures to come.

  6. They are good, but they get better when certain players never fail a 3+ invul or roll less than a 6 for run distance ;)

  7. You are correct. Can you see if I had two Thunderwolf models with SS? Evilgrin:-}

  8. My friend is planning 3x5 T-Wolves as the core of his 2k army. Add HQ, Grey Hunters & Long Fangs and that is the army done.

    Such a shame that Raveners could not have been something similar...

  9. I wonder why you say they need a better weapon skill, when you're also saying they may be the best unit in the game :P.

    That said, I think units like this won't be so favored when GW fixes the wound allocation system (and admitted error on their part).

    I've never played against it (though I have a feeling that will be changing soon). On paper, they're only "great" when you take a Storm Shield for everyone (or nearly everyone) which is a pretty hefty investment (if a smart one).

    As to the question of what I'd do against them... depends on my army. Nids? My usual anti-deathstar unit is a unit of twin sword Shrikes with Adrenals, or even 'stealers with Toxin sacs. Though with a 3++, the Shrikes would only drop 2-3 (and then get gimped by fists and hammers), and the Stealers would get about 5 wounds through (which wouldn't do anything due to allocation).

    So I'd probably just throw my Tyrant at them. If there's a Character I'd probably single him out (few enough attacks that I need to focus).

    Then I'll let you utterly destroy him in a slew of fists and hammers. Then, of course, Acid Blood kicks in, and you're taking as many power weapon wounds as I am (unless you pass an Init test at I1 thanks to the lash whip).

    Dark Eldar? Massed splinter fire, probably. It's the same as trying to kill 10 Marines from that standpoint.

  10. @ Spaguartyrine, My main problem is the constant rage. DC can have Jump packs so mobility is fine, coupled with the rest of the codex.

    @foodie, Dual swords, adrenal and toxin sacs on the warriors/shrikes would down the TWC easy.
    Also, I don't think that's how acid blood works. Init test is based off of stat line Init value, not modified due to lashwhips. I wish though.
    Even if, He could just assign them to the models not in base contact.

  11. @Anonymous Foodie, a T-Wolf unit only has one Hammer and four dudes with rending so Nids will fair a bit better than you predict.

    Even if wound allocation means stealers do not kill anyone in the first round of combat, and that is not guaranteed, every wound would kill a T-wolf in the second round. Point for point Toxic-Stealers should take out the T-wolves.

  12. I don't rate regular TWC at all - I've found them overpriced and too easy to torrent away. The TWC HQ's on the other hand (apart from Canis Wolfwolfwolfwolfwolf) are another matter and there are a few slight differences that make them that much better.

    1. WS
    2. Ld
    3. Save

    Usually for the same cost as a unit you can get a character with all of the above improved stats for something that hits harder and is more surviveable. There's also the option to blob them and give him Ld 10 re-rolled as well as a pile of ablative wounds.

    I have a pile of thoughts that I've got to start writing down into something more coherent.

  13. @Anonymous,

    I only ever take 1 storm shield in a unit of 3 or 4. I normally take a Lord with a 2+3+. THe 3+storm shield is too expensive for 30 points for each model. I do agree that anything that causes massive wounds can hurt TWC, but the balance to the TWC in the space wolves army is the other units that protect them with their shooting ability. You cannot get to me in 1 turn. I can get to you in one turn, and I can shoot the majority of your shrikes to pieces before I get there. A hive tyrant would have a better chance of course. I don't think Tyranids have the ability to deal with a strong TWC/Space Wolves list. We can more than put this to the test. :)

    @Lyracian, unless you had a huge unit of steelers, I wouldn't be afraid of them either. Something else to consider, a good space wolves players always has a unit 1 turn away from support for the TWC.

    A TWC Lord combined with a unit of 3 Thunderwolves isn't what I would call a deathstar.

    3 TWC with 1 TH, 1 SS, and 1 Bp/CCW is only 210 points.

    Yes the lord can range from 220 to 260 but they can be seperate units of destruction. The Runic armor the lord takes doubles the units survivability.

    What other units are your MVP? What unit does better at its job than a Thunder Wolf?

  14. @Spaguatyrine,
    A good Nid player always has his bugs supporting each other. Neither unit is operating in a vacuum.

    As Story said TWC are too vulnerable to torrents of attacks. I rolled a few mock battles just to see what happened...

  15. Hey all I'm the 1 lucky guy that Spags lost to with this army. I play Salamanders and run Vulkan w/Th-Ss which in my opinion is one of the toughest cc units in the game. Spags knows what he is doing with this army and is very good at playing them to their potential. And yes they are vulnerable to torrents, but how often do you think that Spags is going to fall asleep in 1 game? Never. He plays a very balanced list and most likely will give any army a challange.

  16. @Lyracian,

    I commented on your blog. Nice report. His test came up with the 3 thunderwolves losing 6 out of 10 battles. I will counter with even though the genesteelers are 204 points to my 210, the supporting cast I have around the Thunderwolf will turn the tide more often than not with Tyranids. If you add the Lord into the test I am sure the score would change. Obviously that is another 230 points, but that is with my entire army. My troops cost very little and still do what many other troops cost more to do allowing me more specialization of my fast attack, HQ, and elite slots. I.E., I can take 2 Wolf Lords and 2 Rune Priests. So apples to apples 12 genesteelers would beat down 3 Thunderwolves 60% of the time.

    But I will contend that due to the unfortunate mistakes of GW, the Tyranids have no answer for the Space Wolves codex as a whole. (I have tyranids and refuse to play them unless is is Apoc and I can bring out my bio-titan)

  17. Space Wolves is the best codex in the game, everyone is aware of this. It allows you to take multiple different builds that no one has a real answer to, you just have to outplay the Space Wolf player and hope they roll like crap. What bothers me about the codex is that the ability to purely outplay the Space Wolf player is minimized by abilities like Counter-Attack, but I won't go into this.

    Are Thunderwovles the best unit in the game? Hard to say. The most versatile? Probably. I can't think of any unit that is as capable of doing as many jobs that can be made as survivable as the Thunderwolf. True T5 is, in my opinion, bullshit, but hey whatever works.

    I think its odd that you wish they had WS5. Its not like they already aren't cheap enough for what they do, as good as they do it, much like most of the codex.

    I also don't see why using them as a counter-assault unit in an army like Loganwing is such a bad idea. They are technically called "Thunderwolf Cavalry", counter-charging is what cavalry do. Coax your opponent into rushing at your fire-base then BAM here comes the Thunderwolves tearing your "elite" CC unit to shreds.

    Of course, playing a 4th edition codex (Eldar) doesn't give me much opportunity to brag about what my units can do, especially seeing as in the last tournament I was in my "cheesy" 605 point Seer Council was wiped in one round of combat by a Thunderwolf Lord, which is fine, as this is how the Space Wolves codex was designed, you have your super unit literally roll the opponents entire army. Yes I am a bitter Xenos player lol.

    However, nothing blows up tanks like Fire Dragons.

    I can think of exactly one instance during my time playing Eldar where 5 Fire Dragons disembarked and failed to kill a Land Raider. Thats pretty awesome if you ask me, hell, its almost Marine good.

  18. I think the only 2 real blunders on GW's part came from the FAQ (which, being "only" an FAQ, can be ignored for friendly games).

    Shadow should work on enemies in transports, insofar as *every* other Psychic Defense does. There is no precedent in rules nor fluff that would imply otherwise.

    Primes should be able to drop down with other units. Every other IC in the game, by the core rules, can join a unit in a transport prior to deployment. But not Tyranids, apparently. Granted this would only affect me in a Myscetic Assault list, which would be for kicks and giggles anyway. Still.

    All in all, my question is why do you think Nids aren't competitive against Space Wolves? The Cavalry are good, but there are quite a few answers without specializing against the unit (or army) in particular. Poisonous gaunts and stealers spring to mind. Shrikes, again, would pack a nasty punch.

    So far you've said that the rest of your army will swat these things away... but I can play that game too ;). I've played against Wolves a few times (nothing so tournament oriented as you stuff tends to be), and I haven't seen anything *too* out of the ordinary.

    I wouldn't mind a few examples of how you deal with enemy Nids in particular. Never hurts to have an idea of what to look out for, you know.

  19. Here's a more coherent response to why I'm not overly fond of regular TWC. Feel free to add your own C&C.

    'I wouldn't mind a few examples of how you deal with enemy Nids in particular.'
    Uh...Jaws? That's stating the obvious though. Lol

  20. Jaws... doesn't scare me all that much, honestly. Yes, it's going to kill my Tervigon. If I put it forward, at least - in an Objective Game I'm happy to put it in the back corner of the table all game.

    Beyond that? Nids have a pretty solid Initiative as an army. My other MC's (barring the Spore, which I'm not all that worried about) only fail on a 6.

    It has a short enough range that it can be somewhat mitigated with Shadow. There are only 2 units (Tervigon and Hive Guard) that are largely vulnerable to it, and one of those does not want to be close to you for the most part anyway.

    Good? Sure. The death of my army? Not in my mind.

  21. @Anonymous,

    Yes Tyranids have psychic defense, but you have to be in 12" for that to work anyways. Murderous Hurricane wrecks horde armies. With the combination of the 3d6 wounds, dangerous and difficult terrain, and slowing down assaults it is the perfect storm (get it) to use against tyranids and orks.

    Tyranids have a hard time with vehicles. Yes you can pop rhino's with Hive Guard, but your range is what? 24".

    Don't take a harpy. With Living lighting it would be dead in potentially 1 turn.

    Keep your Tervigon at the back? Ok here comes my wolfscouts with meltas and a powerfist or thunderhammer.

    I am not saying the Tyranid codex is bad, but since I refuse to play my tyranids because they don't work for me anymore in the style I like to play, I don't feel they can stand toe to toe with my space wolves. I tried to play my bugs but was thoroughly disappointed! Over and over again! Maybe I just need to see them played successfully by a great Tyranid player. (I can tell you I very seldom ever lost when I played my Tyranids, so going from that to loosing every game has turned them off in my mind for a long time)

    Now a Storm Lord can wade thru tons of my guys, but the problem is getting there. Longfangs make sure you wouldn't get close.

    With the ability lost to many Tyranid units to assault into cover at initiative, Space Wolves also have an advantage of rapid firing while in cover and using the counter assault when you come in to still assault first.

    Not being disrpectful, just speaking the truth as I see it. :)

  22. Like I said, I'm just trying to get a feel for the other side. I've heard a lot of harping on the Wolf dex (as in, it's cheesy, to powerful, instant-win button, etc). I've looked over it a bit, and I can see the down sides of a lot of things they're complaining about.

    I still maintain that people need to stop trying to make Nids work against vehicles in the same way that Imperial armies do. Most people say "how do you crack armor?" and respond with "meltaguns, or autocannons". They then see that Nids don't have these things, and think "well, they can't do it then". I started with Nids... somewhere around 12 years ago. I'm the first to say that you have to think outside the box when it comes to opening cans, but the last to say they can't do it.

    I don't take harpy's as a rule. And they're not really that durable, whether you have living lightning or not. A lot of Nid survivability really comes from target saturation.

    Those wolf scouts will be happy to meet the horde (by that time likely around 40) poisonous, counter-charging, furious-assaulting gaunts.

    Please, come into my parlor :). The new Nids are all about Synergy. Many, if not most, units aren't going to do it on their own. I don't try to.

    Also, keep in mind that Frags aren't the only way to keep Init in cover. As an example, I can throw a solid horde into you one turn. You may rake through half of it, and toss a few more from No Retreat wounds, but you're still stuck in combat. When I assault with the next unit, my Initiative doesn't suffer.

    Cruddace taking offensive grenades from a largely assault-based army perplexes and irks me... but there are ways to deal with it (even if that way is throwing enough bodies to weather the initial onslaught, and carry on with a higher base initiative in later rounds).

    I'm curious though, what was your style of play with Nids beforehand?

  23. I played 1 Hive Tyrant with Wings and Double Fleshboarers, Sometimes a second with lash whip/bone sword and Barbed Strangler, 2 or 3 Zoanthropes, Guants w/o number x3, or maybe some hormaguants, and 4 Carnifexes.1 with Venom cannon and Scything plus upgrades, 1 superfex with crushing claws and everything!, 1 double scything with nothing else, 1 with Scything and devourers. So normally 6 monstrous creatures with Zoans and guants. Again this fits my style of in your face, elite units.

    I also play grey knights. Elite
    Deathwing. Elite

    If you want to school me on how Tyranids should play vs Space Wolves I am more than happy to learn. :)

  24. Oh OH, pick me. pick me!!!

    @ spag; 1. Tyrant with double fleshborers would be hillarious! (thats the guant gun, I know you meant Devourer, but I just pictured the tiny arms on the tyrant) That was almost exactly my list, but I had one less Fex, and more Stealers.

    I'm not sure if I ever got a game in with my Nids against your wolves. We might have to try that some time.

    @foodie; Jaws and heavy weapon spam usually is what kills most nid lists. Tervigons, tyrannofexes and Hive guard all die on a 3+ to jaws, key units dropping like flies. Zoanthropes powers stopped pretty reliably. They pretty much completely shut down our Anti-tank. Their counter assault and amount of options allow them to go on par with most of our combat. And all of those missiles just pile into the MCs or frag all of our infantry.

  25. @ Spag

    Nidzilla then... cool. I pulled that way for a while, but only because I felt it was the only viable option for Nids near the end of 4th. I never really "wanted" to build that style. If you're interested in elite units, Nids can certainly do that. Warriors (led by a Prime) with boneswords and Lashwhips will make a mockery of most enemy units. You can even give them Toxin Sacs if you want little orphans to cry.

    I am heartily saddened by the lackluster Carnifex rules. Drop 30 points and I'd take it. Make the Venom Cannon a 2 or 3 shot gun, and I'd take it. Sigh.

    Looking over the codex it doesn't seem to me that they can really pack more weapons than any given Marine army... other than their Devastators being completely worth taking, do they have other options on this front?

    Powers are still only stopped on a 4+. 2-3 Zoanthropes are still going to get a shot or two through, and as potent as it is, that's often all they need. The Runes are good, but they don't completely end the 'thropes.

  26. @Foodie,

    Space Wolves are pretty much the best marine codex out there. Some will argue that BA are, but as an overall codex, the Wolves have it all. If you want to get a game in to see the Wolves against your nids I am more than happy to. Nids have a tought enough time against basic Marines now. Add in the best marine codex (in my humble opinion) and it is even more difficult.

    What I get instead of other marine armies is 4 HQ's, Grey Hunters-The best troops choice in the game hands down, Scouts that can come from any board edge, Longfangs that can split fire and take 5 missle launchers for 140 points x 3, Runepriests that are just plain amazing! for 100 points, Wolfguard that I split up to go with particular packs depending on what or who my enemy is, counter assault, acute senses, and FREAKING THUNDERWOLVES.

    Not exactly Nidzilla, but a form of. I always went for close combat instead of the shooting style, but nonetheless 6 big guys yes!

    Your warriors are fine and good, but they die to almost any small arms fire. Or I can just instant kill them with krak missles. Again, if they get there then great. We just need to throw down a few times for experience for both of us. What do you think?

  27. I've been on a DE kick lately (largely in part to the Kokomo tourny in April). Definitely wouldn't mind a warm up game, in any case.

    As for "enough trouble against marines", maybe it's just me, but I don't see it. Marines as a whole are not an army that have ever given me a ton of grief.

    I don't know that I'm convinced that Grey Hunters are the be all end all of troops. They're good, sure. But they have downsides, just like anything else. Like not being able to take a squad leader without burning an elites choice. When Counter Assault is listed as one of their biggest perks, and it's an ability that relies on Ld (which SW are technically lower than a standard marine army)... well, you know how it goes.

    And what doesn't die to small arms fire? 3 Wounds and an HQ joined that can soak up Missiles makes the unit a bit more survivable than I think you're giving it credit for. Not to mention an army that's one of the best at providing mobile cover for it's more important units.

    In any case, we will indeed have to get a few games in. When's the next time you'll be up at the North Store?

  28. I can be there tomorrow. What point value?

  29. I've been running 1500 DE for a while, which I'd be happy to throw down. I'd need a bit to hardcore-ify my Nid list into something more tournament worthy.

  30. So you need to hardcoreify your Nids to play me? Ok, you want to play me with DE or Nids? The earlier the better as I am off today. My cell is 752-4920. I can do any point value. Let me know,



Recent Favorites

All-Time Favorites