Sunday, July 26, 2015

Space Wolves Still in Top of the Meta

Coverage from the 2015 ATC Warhammer American Team Championship has shown than Space Wolves are still in the top of the current game Meta.

As you might expect, Thunderwolves is the unit of choice, with 23 out of 29 Space Wolves players taking Thunderwolf Cavalry and Characters mounted on Thunderwolves.

On closer inspection, almost all of them were actually allied in for Thunderwolf Cavalry and only a handful of them were pure Space Wolves armies.

It just confirms the theory that the Space Wolves real strength is as an allied-imperial-multi-tool of sorts and a go-to powerhouse deathstar.

Anyway, take a look at the numbers and notes on the various armies below.

It's all very interesting.

40K Army Breakdowns

Space Marines: 36 (Of those, 6 are Gladius w/ Battle Company. Sky hammer is more prevalent
Eldar: 34 (Of those, 10 have 3+ Knights with 4 being most common)
Space Wolves: 29 (Of those 23 have Thunderwolf Deathstars of some type)
Necrons: 27 (17 are Decurions)
Imperial Knights: 25
Tyranids: 19 (All of them used multiple Flyrants)
Dark Angels: 16
Astra Militarum: 15
Blood Angels: 13
Chaos Daemons: 13
Grey Knights: 11
Officio Assinorum: 11
Orks: 11
Dark Eldar: 9
Chaos Space Marines: 6
Khorne Daemonkin: 6
Adeptus Soritas: 5
Inquisition: 5
Mechanicus War Convocation: 4
Skitarii: 4
Cult Mechanicus: 2
Harlequins: 2 (Both of them took only Harlequins)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Taking Allies is Risky Business

If there's one thing I'm all about, it's the longevity of our armies. After all, does anyone really have the time and money to build a new list every 3 months to stay on top of the constantly changing Meta?

Well yes, some people do, but if you're dedicated to playing a particular army (like us Space Wolves players!) then we tend to need to take a long term approach to what be collect, build and paint.

Remember back when Las/Plas Razorbacks were the new hotness? Nowadays, it's all about the Drop Pods.

An Army Made of 5 Armies

The point I wanted to make is that I'm seeing some tournament armies appearing which are made up of various allied detachments and formations bolted together to create a great army. But, my concern is that as soon as 1 of these factions has a rules update or a formation is changed, then an entire army (and most of someone's collection) becomes unplayable.

For example, this Adeptus Mechanicus themed army by Geoff Robinson contains

Skitarri, Cult Mechanicus, Imperial Knight, Imperial Assassin and Flesh Tearers detachments.

But most importantly, it uses the Flesh Tearers detachment from the Blood Angels Codex to allow it to deploy via Drop Pod.

Should the Blood Angels Codex receive an update and this formation is removed from the rules, there's suddenly a whole army of miniatures that need an alternative mode of transport.

Simply put, the more allies and special formations you have in your regular army list, the more you expose yourself to changes. Not just from rules updates, but updates to the Meta also.

Taking 1 Codex and 1 Detachment

Call me boring, but this is one of the reasons why I chose to create my Space Wolves Drop Pod Army using a single Detachment, because it's less likely to be impacted by changes until there is a new Space Wolves Codex.

I was extra boring and chose a standard Combined Army Detachment with plenty of Troops to make the most of the Objective Secured rules for the Detachment, rather than simply trying to kill stuff.

But, while my army may not be top of the Meta (and if it was, it might be top for 2-3 months at best), it consistently plays well and competes will in an ever changing environment.

You would have to be extremely dedicated financially and in free time to try and keep up with the rapidly changing Meta right now. So rather than try, I'm suggesting that it may be better to create something that you know will be consistent and stick to it in order to ride out of the storm of new releases.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Why I Won't Be Playing Age of Sigmar

I just played Age of Sigmar at Games Workshop in Aylesbury. It was actually a really good laugh! Overall I really like it. However, there are many reasons why I won't be playing Age of Sigmar.

When we started playing, the first thing I said was that if felt as though I was playing Warcraft 3. Not necessarily a bad thing. But as soon as we hit the Hero Phase with abilities and spells firing off everywhere, that's when it REALLY felt like Warcraft 3.

Seriously, take a look at the design of the recent End Times units and the units in the Age of Sigmar box. They're all big, chunky and super detailed miniatures in very gaudy paint schemes. The Undead are now purple, just like in Warcraft 3. Go check it out if you're not familiar. You may be surprised!

One thing I did find was that the names of units were ridiculously elaborate than even I couldn't remember what they were in the middle of a game. So names like "Battle Cat" and "Mr Whippy" stuck instead.

Note: Here in the UK "Mr Whippy" is the name of an ice cream truck franchise.

The game was fun, but serious questions about balance and army building linger. Currently players are in the dark. They're still in the dark now that the big hard backed rule book is coming out. And I know from personal experience that expecting your opponent to play "in the spirit of the game" is a fool's hope at best.

The Chaos miniatures are DELICIOUS!

I just had to say it. It makes me almost wish I was building a Khorne Daemonkin army for 40K, because all of these models would be included in it. Sure, they'd need some serious conversion work, but it would be totally worth it. Especially the Khorne Lord.

The Stormcast Eternals are Space Marines. Their background reads as Space Marines and the cover art for the Age of Sigmar book looks like a Space Marine fighting a Chaos Space Marine.

Is that such a bad thing?

Well, Games Workshop has probably figured out that Space Marines sell really well, so bringing a Space Marine army to Warhammer is the best way to rejuvenate it - Along with destroying the whole universe, uniting various factions and practically starting from scratch.

Why Won't I Be Playing Age of Sigmar?

Because it currently looks like a small fantasy skirmish game. Like Warmachine, like Hordes, like Malifaux even.

But then, if it needs to scale up dramatically compared to the starter box for tournament play, then we're back into the realms of Warhammer Fantasy Battles or even Warhammer 40K, where we need a high count of miniatures to play our games.

So if Age of Sigmar stays small, I'm more inclined to play Warmachine & Hordes - although I actually play Malifaux already and I frickin' love it.

If Age of Sigmar gets big, I (like many people) only have the time and money for Warhammer 40K.

It's a game that's in a difficult place. Especially when the skirmish market is heavily saturated with some already awesome games.

I'm Playing Malifaux Instead

Malifaux has the fun pick up n' play element, the in depth strategy and list building element, beautiful miniatures and an awesome setting. Not to mention that you can pick up a crew box for the same cost as your average box of Games Workshop miniatures.

Thanks for reading my thoughts. But don't let my rambling put you off buying into Age of Sigmar if it floats your boat.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Space Wolves Drop Pod Tactics

Okay guys, let's talk Space Wolves Drop Pod tactics!

Now, as you know, I run a Space Wolves Drop Pod army and I don't have any Thunderwolf Cavalry.

The reason I chose a Drop Pod army is because I found it incredibly difficult to get my units across the board without them being shot to pieces or easily countered by faster, more shooty armies.

Eldar and Tau players, I'm looking at you.

Like any army list, it then took some fine tuning. Spamming Grey Hunters wasn't the solution and I needed some of the new units with high strength and high durability to keep up with the current Meta - In this instance, 2 of the new Berserker Dreadnoughts.

But I also needed Melta guns - lots of Melta guns! The Grey Hunters are great for this, because they can keep firing their Melta guns turn after turn. Meanwhile the Wolf Guard with Combi-Meltas are a one-hit-wonder, for when you absolutely need to take down something big and nasty in a single strike.

Ulrik The Slayer is in there, along with a Wolf Standard to give all those infantry Preferred Enemy - especially the Wolf Guard whose Combi-Meltas absolutely NEED to hit and wound whatever they are shooting at on the turn they arrive.

The Dreadnoughts act as blockers to take a lot of hits and herd the enemy together for the rest of the Space Wolves. But, they also engage enemies which may struggle to hurt them with the intention of holding up vast enemy numbers. But they're no slouch against either units in close combat where their Strength 10 Attacks can make a massive difference.

Statistically (if you're a little bit lucky with your 3++ Invulnerable Saves) a single Berserker Dreadnought could take down an Imperial Knight in close combat. Let that sink in for a moment. Especially when I'm running 2 of them.

Finally, the Stormfang flies in for long ranged heavy weapon support, taking out the targets the Space Wolves on foot cannot easily reach or wouldn't want to engage up close.

But there's a little more to Space Wolves Drop Pod tactics than this. Because you've got to use all these units together and maximise the destructive potential of your Drop Pod Assault.

You should also make sure you always have an odd number of Drop Pods, because you deploy half of your Drop Pods rounded up on Turn 1

Drop Pod Assault: Wave 1

You've got to decide which of your units will go into the first wave of your Drop Pod Assault and arrive on Turn 1 and where you will place them.

These two decisions will be what makes or breaks your game. They determine whether your first wave smashes their target and establishes a foothold for the rest of your force, or whether they 'bounce off' the enemy force, leaving your forces vulnerable and creating an uphill struggle for the rest of the game.

As you can imagine, it's a nerve racking decision which only gets better with experience by playing lots of games. Although if you have a very sporting opponent, they may give you some help in deciding what to place when, where and why to help you learn.

So, here is the choice of units I have to put in my first wave:

Ulrik the Slayer (joins Grey Hunters Pack 1)

“Berserker” Dreadnought:
Venerable, Great Axe and Blizzard Shield
Dedicated Transport: Drop Pod

“Berserker” Dreadnought:
Venerable, Great Axe and Blizzard Shield
Dedicated Transport: Drop Pod

Wolf Guard:
1 Extra Wolf Guard, 6 Combi-Meltas
Dedicated Transport: Drop Pod

Grey Hunters Pack 1:
2 Extra Grey Hunters, Melta gun, 6 Close Combat Weapons, Wolf Standard, Wolf Guard Pack Leader upgrade, Terminator Armour, Storm Shield, Combi-Melta.
Dedicated Transport: Drop Pod, Homing Beacon

Grey Hunters Pack 2:
5 Extra Grey Hunters, 2 Melta guns, 10 Close Combat Weapons, Wolf Guard Pack Leader Upgrade, Combi-Melta
Dedicated Transport: Drop Pod

Grey Hunters Pack 3:
5 Extra Grey Hunters, 2 Melta guns, 10 Close Combat Weapons, Wolf Guard Pack Leader Upgrade, Combi-Melta
Dedicated Transport: Drop Pod

Blood Claws:
Dedicated Transport: Drop Pod

Twin-Linked Lascannon, Twin-Linked Multi-Meltas

I could choose to throw down 3 units of Grey Hunters and a single Elite choice. Either a Dreadnought or the Wolf Guard and try to get the maximum number of feet on the ground. Units in Reserve would then support the mass of bodies already on the board.

I could choose to throw down Ulrik's Grey Hunters, the Wolf Guard and 2 Berserker Dreadnoughts. This is a much smaller Drop Pod Assault force. But if Ulrik and the Wolf Guard land close together, the Wolf Guard can benefit from his Preferred Enemy ability (he has a 6" radius on this) to re-roll 1s to hit and to wound with their Combi-Meltas. Meanwhile the Dreadnoughts are placed to hold up the enemy elsewhere or reinforce Ulrik's Grey Hunters and the Wolf Guard. No one really wants to get too close to these 2 Dreadnoughts if they can help it!

However, the biggest issue with the Dreadnoughts is that they are not effective on the turn in which they arrive, because they cannot charge and they have no shooting attacks.

Placing them in your Turn 1 Drop Pod Assault is the most effective way of getting them into play, because they can move into position before the enemy start taking control of the board. Then they can charge in Turn 2, because the enemy usually won't charge them.

The problem is if you keep them in Reserve... because by the time they do arrive, you'll need to wait another Turn until they can charge. By then the battle may already be well under way.

This is why you have to choose your first wave so carefully. But it's ultimately a simple choice between numbers of troops and elite units. Pick one with confidence and go for it!

The Elites heavy first wave is for smashing things and establishing a strong foothold.

The Troops heavy first wave is for claiming objectives.

Just remember to "match" the units in the first wave of your Drop Pod Assault with enemy units that they can hurt, or may struggle to hurt them in return. This is especially true for the Berserker Dreadnoughts.

The Baseball Glove Deployment

Okay, it's time to share what I call the Baseball Glove deployment with you guys. It's called this because we're going to use a Drop Pod as a palm and a pack of Grey Hunter as the outside finger to effectively 'catch' another Drop Pod that's arriving on the same Turn.

I used this to great effect in a game against some Imperial Guard.

I knew I needed to blow up Pask's Leman Russ Punisher on Turn 1. I had Ulrik's Grey Hunters and a pack of Wolf Guard in my Turn 1 Drop Pod Assault.

So I placed Ulrik's Drop Pod first, rolling for scatter and it landed not too far away from Pask's Leman Russ squadron.

Because you can disembark within 6", this allowed me to place the Grey Hunters far enough away from the Drop Pod to create a line of models (with my Melta guns close enough to the Leman Russ tanks to shoot this turn of course).

Now, when my next Drop Pod with the Wolf Guard in needs to land, without scattering too far off target, I place it to the left of the already landed Drop Pod.

If the Wolf Guard's Drop Pod scatters, it will be likely to land on the enemy tank, the landed Drop Pod or the Grey Hunters. Thus, it effectively 'bounces off' these barriers and lands in an open space.

This stops the Wolf Guard Drop Pod from scattering too far away.

Sure, it could scatter to the left, but I had measured and ensured they would still be in range to hit Pask's Leman Russ from the side.
However, should it scatter to the right, there is an effective net/glove in place to 'catch' their Drop Pod roughly where I want it.

Obviously, you may want to avoid this if you opponent has lots of big high Strength, low AP blast weapons. But it can work very well.

Drop Pod Assault: Reserves

I always place the Blood Claws in Reserve. No way are they going to do much on Turn 1. They're cheap reinforcements/objective grabbers.

Obviously, the Stormfang must go into Reserve.

But, whatever you don't place in your first wave, you have to roll for from Turn 2 onwards.

All of these Reserved units will be needed to reinforce your first wave. So don't be tempted to split off units, you need to get your units to work together rather than go it alone.

After all, there's nothing quite as intimidating as a massive pack of howling Space Wolves all advancing on the enemy. It also means that while one of your Grey Hunter packs charges into close combat, the enemy can be softened up by another unit Deep Striking close by and softening them up with Rapid Firing Bolters and Melta guns.

So there's lot of synergy to be had in using your Reserves to Deep Strike units exactly where you need them to wipe out enemy units.

And don't forget that in a Combined Detachment like this, all Dedicated Transports of Troop units are get the Objective Secured ability. So you can try and land a Drop Pod on an objective (they're pretty darned big!) and disembark your unit to go and kill the enemy, leaving the Drop Pod to hold the point.

With 7 Drop Pods in this army, there's a lot of units that can grab objectives.

And don't forget that every Drop Pod comes with a Storm Bolter. Because they're all fairly tall transports with a 360-degree field of vision, you can focus all that firepower on a single enemy unit per Turn. That's 14 BS4 shots!

Running a Drop Pod army has been brilliant so far. Turn 1 deployment is tense and challenging, but when it goes right, you make a sizeable dent in the enemy army before they can even react.

I'm a big fan of the 'alpha strike' philosophy, which is to damage the enemy army substantially before they can damage you.

Just be careful that your Turn 1 Drop Pod Assault isn't overwhelmed by the enemy who will outnumber you and have more points in play.

You want to keep stacking the casualties on their side so that the battle goes in your favour and not end up facing down their 1,750pts with just 750pts from your first wave of Drop Pods.

But like all things with this game, getting good comes with practice and playing a lot of games against a wide range of opponents.

The Ultimate Space Wolves Resource

Welcome to the Space Wolves blog -the unofficial resource to building, painting and playing the Space Wolf army in Warhammer 40K.

We aim to provide you with all the painting guides, modelling tutorials and game winning tactics you need to get the most from playing your Space Wolf army!

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