Saturday, September 18, 2010

Are Space Wolves Overpowered?

Are Space Wolves overpowered? 
The question was haunting me after a 2,000 pt. game I played against Chaos Space Marines a few days ago.
It didn't hit me because I thought they were overpowered, it is what my opponent thought... and it sort of got to me. Space Wolves are my second army and like my Orkz I decided to play them because of their style, look and fluff. It was not a specific mechanic, it was not a specific unit (although I fell in love with the Rune Priests and Thunderwolf Cavalry)... it was the whole army in general that got to me. I love the way they are supposed to be played - brave, heroic packs that fight for glory and use their cunning instincts to surround and trap their enemy.

It is what I do, what my list was designed to do and what won me that one game. I simply played my army the right way.
 But it just sucks that after you win a game in which you gave your best as an army general and a sportsman to have your army be called overpowered. It just makes the victory sour when you know your opponent is thinking that the only reason you beat him was because of your army and army list.. 

I was playing against a very powerful Slaanesh-themed army with some Noise Marines, Chosen, Slaanesh Terminators, Defiler, Chaos Sorcerer, Raptors, a Chaos Lord and a Demon Prince with Wings. There were 2 Rhinos on the board and one was outflanking. The Terminators were going to Deep Strike. He also had 2 units of Obliterators - I think 1 and 2..Three HQs, but that was because it was his Planetstrike list. No biggie.
A lot of people think that Chaos Space Marines are outdated... and they are right, of course.  

However, from the games that I have played against them, even a fairly new CSM player can give Space Wolves a run for their money. They are just a lot of units that can give us (and especially Thunderwolves) a bad day - Defiler with their S10 attack are deadly. Khorne Berzerkers are very mean even against Thunderwolves on the charge and hit us on 3s and wound on 4s before we can say "Aaargh!". Chaos Lords have some scary equipment options, their Terminators are cheaper than ours and can Deep Strike and Slaanesh-devoted armies are just as killy in close combat PLUS have a higher initiative than us. 

My List? Notice how I do not play Razorspam or Thunderwolf Spam. My list is simple:
2 Rhinos with 9 Grey Hunters and 2 Rhinos with 8 Grey Hunters. They all have a guy with a melta gun, Wolf Banner and Mark of the Wulfen. All four squads of Grey Hunters have a Wolf Guard with a combi-melta and a Power Fist and two have a Rune Priest. One has Living Lightning, Murderous Hurricane and a Chooser of the Slain, the other one has Living Lightning and Jaws of the World Wolf (useless against Slaanesh!). A squad of Long Fangs with 5 Missile Launchers were accompanied by my fifth Wolf Guard in Terminator Armour with a Cyclone Missile Launcher. And the "cheese" - 5 Thunderwolves with different equipment and a Wolf Lord on a Thunderwolf with Saga of the Beast Slayer, Frost Axe, Runic Armor and Belt of Russ.
Oh, and a Vindicator.

Is it a good list? Yeah, I think so. It uses a lot of Grey Hunters, which are really good. I have the Vindicator in the middle, surrounded by two Rhinos to hide side armor. The Thunderwolves start in a flank, getting cover from one of the Rhinos and my Long Fangs are in a building in the center of my deployment zone where they can support my army with 7 Missiles a turn. The Thunderwolves are always a tasty distraction which absorbs a lot of fire or a scary unit in my flank, which forces my opponent to pay more attention on the other flank. My Rhinos move as a group, leaving only when they can unleash their Rapid Fire bolters and prepare for a Counter Attack. If they survive, they will be joined by more Grey Hunters. \(o_O)/

At what point does an army become overpowered? Or are there just certain abusive lists that are overpowered? I am aware of point-and-click razorspam lists that require no skill to play (no matter what "competitive players" think), but the list that I field is pretty far away from that type of play. There are a lot of other units that I would love to field - Arjac Rockfist, Njal Stormcaller, Lone Wolves, Fenrisian Wolves.. but I either don't have the models or a way to play them (for example - a drop pod or a Land Raider for Arjac/Njal). The list that I field is close to one of the possible combinations for Adepticon 2011 and it is intended to be able to face all challengers, yet I enjoy playing it and think that other people should also enjoy playing against it. This was supposed to be a friendly game, but my opponent got frustrated by my luck and his own misfortune. Add the fact that he had never played against Space Wolves before (even though I'm a SW newbie) and I am afraid that he will never play me or my army ever again. I am afraid now that if I play more people they will think the same thing.. I play in a very new Games Workshop store and the community is still small and young so I don't want to be "that guy".

Make sure to read the battle report below

The Game:
We decided to play Standard Deployment with Annihilation and I win the roll to go first. My setup is fast and everything is in the middle of my deployment zone with the Thunderwolves slightly to the right. Long Fangs are way back but still positioned centrally in a Building. My Vindicator is a tasty target smack-dab in the middle.
He deploys a Defiler in the middle, behind a ruined bastion in such a way that I can't really see it with my Long Fangs. Two Rhinos are flanking it but still getting cover - it is a good hiding spot since I can barely see them. Two Obliterators are out of line of sight in that same bastion and a lonely Obliterator is a ruined building on my left. Raptors with a Chaos Sorcerer and a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh on my left flank (avoiding my Thunderwolves on the right!). His unit of Slaanesh Terminator and a Chaos Lord of Slaanesh are Deep Striking and his Chosen are outflanking. His units all have melta guns and stuff.. He fails to seize the initiative.

Turn one turns out to be pretty lucky for me. I split my army a little bit to make myself look vulnerable. A lone Rhino veers to the left where his Raptors with a Sorcerer and a Daemon Prince are. Man, everything in this army has a higher Initiative than my and has tons of Power Weapons. Scary. Both Rune Priest Rhinos move to the sides a little bit, one of them getting line of sight on the Defiler. Thunderwolves go through difficult terrain and run but are playing a supporting role for now. My squad of Long Fangs splits fire and 3 missiles are aimed at the Rhino on the left and 4 on the Rhino to the right. After hitting and piercing his cover, both Rhinos are wrecked. That's pretty lucky. My Rune Priest casts Living Lightning at the Defiler but all he can do is glance it and Demonic Possession ignores all of the results I get. Living Lightning on the lone Obliterator does nothing. Vindicator is close enough to hit and kill 3 Noise Marines.
His Noise Marines stay and his second unit climbs up the bastion. Both Obliterator units climb on top of their hideaways ready to unleash their weird weaponry on me. The Defiler leaves his cover without advancing in order to get a clear shot with his Battle Cannon. Raptors and his Daemon Prince advance with the monstrous creature in the lead but they are both too far away to do any damage to my Rhino. A lascannons from both Obliterator squads manage to immobilize my Vindicator (mmm... tasty distraction!). and both a Noise Marine AP3 template and a Battle Cannon from the Defiler peg my Thunderwolf unit, but my Storm Shield rider prevents all damage done.

Time to have some fun. My left flank Rhino moves a little bit and my squad of Grey Hunters disembark within Rapid Fire range from the Daemon Prince. All other Rhinos sort of form a wall and expose their side armor. The best place to Deep Strike with the least chance of misshaping is behind them, which will isolate his Chaos Terminators from the rest of his army. Middle Rhino from the wall disembarks. I then move my Thunderwolves behind my Rhinos to get some solid cover (reducing open ground for Deep Striking). I dare not venture into his territory without taking care of that nasty Defiler of his - I have seen what S10 can do to them and it ain't pretty. Combine that with a possible turn of shooting from his Terminators and they would be toast. 5 missile launchers are directed at the Defiler and 2 are aiming at the Daemon Prince to try and soften it up (he's getting cover..). Defiler is fine and doesn't care about any of the glancing hits I scored but the Daemon Prince gets hit and wounded twice but he makes both cover saves!!! It's up to the Grey Hunters now to take him down - 2 melta guns and a bunch of bolter rapid fire and when the smoke clears out he is dead with just enough wounds scored. No psychic powers disturb the Defiler and a Murderious Hurricane and some Rapid Fire at the two Obliterators leaves one standing with only 1 wound left. Second Murderous Hurricane from the Rune Priest Rhino on the left scores a wound on the lone Obliterator. The Vindicator has nothing to shoot at.
His Terminators fail to show up. His Chosen fail to show up. OUCH. 
Noise Marines next to the Defiler move up (one Noise Marine dies due to dangerous terrain) but in their round of shooting they fail to do anything. Raptors and the Sorcerer move withing charge range of my Grey Hunters and an ominous wind forebodes their death.... Two melta guns hit and kill two of my marines outright but the Sorcerer fails to cast his psychic power (Warp Time?) by rolling an 11. An AP3 flame template kills like 5 Grey Hunters in front of the bastion because Noise Marines are mean... A lascannon fails do to anything to one of my Rhinos because it misses. The central Obliterator is within melta range by only manages to destroy my Rhino's weapon. Some more shooting scores two wounds on my Thunderwolves. Raptors charge, I Counter Attack and use my Wolf Banner. Sorcerer kills 2 Grey Hunters. His Lightning Claw champion guy hits with only 1 attack, rolls a 1 to wound and then rolls a 1 on his reroll.. The rest of his raptors kill maybe one more guy (or not, don't remember) after I save tons of wounds. Thanks to my banner I score a few kills and my Power Fist Wolf Guard kills like 2 Raptors. In the end he had to make a few armor saves, failing one. His Sorcerer and champion were stuck with my few remaining Grey Hunters. 

My Rhinos moved around to open up some space for my Thunderwolves, who were now going to try and charge some Noise Marines even if the Defiler was still alive during that assault. I needed to have them in close combat in case his Terminators popped up. Both of my Rune Priests are still in their Rhinos, anticipating the arrival of Terminators and Chosen, throwing psychic powers left and right. This time my missile launchers have only one target and the Defiler is wrecked like a piñata of forbidden pleasure. Score! The Noise Marines in the building are still a threat but I can't see them and charging would be tricky, so I'll be devoting more shooting towards the Obliterators. The Obliterator in the middle shrugs off some serious bolter fire and makes all AP2 cover saves.. but a single Murderous Hurricane wound on the lone Obliterator to the right sees a failed save, taking it down! Thunderwolves smell blood and fleet toward the distant Noise Marines - with no creepy crawly monstrosity to endanger them they finally can make the charge against them.
On the left flank a bunch of high initiative, power weapon attacks decapite a bunch of my precious Grey Hunters, leaving me with the melta gunner, the guy with Mark of the Wulfen and my Wolf Guard. Couple attack later and I manage to punch the Sorcerer in the face and kill the last Raptor, managing to consolidate safely in front of my Rhino. The Thunderwolves actually fail most of their attacks, but in the end they win combat and after some armor saves they are locked in combat with the aspiring champion... or something like that... which is good!
His turn... He fails his reserve rolls on his Terminators and Chosen. I let him play them anyway. As predicted, he decided to put his Terminators behind my wall of Rhinos, which leaves them open without any cover saves to my Long Fangs and two squads of Grey Hunters still snoozing inside the Rhinos. He scatters onto a Rhino and rolls a 1 on the chart... but I want to see them do something this game and let him reroll.... We roll a 3, which lets me place them anywhere I want. At this point I can see that my opponent is frustrated both from his bad rolling and the new "cheesy" Space Wolves.... Which is why I deployed his Terminators right where he wanted them. ; ) So.. pretty much where I wanted them... Muhahahahahaha.
The Chosen outflanked but it didn't matter which border edge they came from - all of my stuff was in the middle and the Rhino ended up in a crater. Not a whole lot of movement options to make this turn.. His Noise Marines moved , shot and flamed some more of my damaged Grey Hunters. I made my leadership saves and what not.. Obliterator multi-melted my Rhino but only managed to roll a 1 on the penetration chart.. Terminators used some combi-weapons against the same Rhino but it was fine. 
Noise Marines charged my few Grey Hunters who made their Counter Attack and used their banner. I think there were 3 left - Banner guy, Mark of the Wulfen guy and Wolf Guard. His attacks only kill my banner guy and I roll a total of 8 attacks with my Mark of the Wulfen Grey Hunter scoring a total of 2 Rending hits and 2 wounds after rerolled 1s. My Wolf Guard then swund his Power Fist three times... and rolled THREE ONES... which were then rerolled, resulting in two more squished Noise Marines. I won that combat and we were stuck fighting. Obviously my Thunderwolves won the other assault and consolidated back 4 inches curious to test their mettle against the newly arrived Terminator behemoths.

Both squads of Grey Hunters with Rune Priests disembarked from their Rhinos, which then got out of the way. It was actually kind of nice, because they sort of went back to their old places during the deployment stage. Some more shooting (focus fire from some Rhino storm bolters) got rid of the last Obliterator and I honestly forgot what made the Chosen Rhino explode - I think it might have been a lucky melta shot or something. Then my Vindicator got to shoot at them and only scattered an inch, killing 2-3 of them. Some more bolter fire and they were dead. Long fangs shot 7 missiles at the Terminators, killing 3 Terminators. Then some melta, bolter shots and Muderous Hurricane killed 1 more and put a wound on the Chaos Lord.
I could have shot with the second squad, but my friend insisted that I finish the squad in close combat... and that's what I did. A fresh squad of Grey Hunters with a Rune Priest and my Thunderwolf Cavalry unit lead by my Wolf Lord on a Thunderwolf charged.. His Lord had a demonic weapon which lead to the instant death of 2 Thunderwolves. My Rune Priest failed to cause any wounds in order to use his Force Weapon on the Chaos Lord and my Wolf Lord could only obliterate the Chaos Terminator in base contact with him. Then, 5 Thunderhammer attacks later his Lord was dead. Grey Hunters miraculously and against all odds destroyed his Noise Marines..
His turn he shoots my tiny Grey Hunter squad  wiping it and scoring his first Kill Point for the game. He then decides to call it, knowing that next turn his Chosen will be eaten by my Wolves.

Space Wolves 13 (tabled) - Chaos Space Marines 1


  1. Hey there, sounds like despite his pretty bad luck, you did outplay him quite a bit.

    I've met a few people who also say that Space Wolves are too overpowered and they can be, but what is good about them is you can also build a nicely themed force and they will still be pretty competitive. About the only thing that could be placed against your force is that you are somewhat spamming Grey Hunter units (I do it and don't see why as they are troops so why shouldn't you have as many of them as possible). The reason people get so worked up about them is that for most armies, the troops are more of a fill in for objective grabbing, but Space Wolves are luck enough that our troops can be a really potent force on the battlefield as well.

    I guess you'll just have to keep playing, try to be as good a sport about it, and maybe not always play to your full potential so that you occasionally lose till the gaming scene picks up and your opponents skills start to improve/their armies are more powerful.

    1. See if the same guy thinks Space wolves are overpowered after the new Chaos codex comes out. The issue isn't that Space Wolves are overpowered so much as it is that Chaos is currently underpowered. (Thanks GW!) Instead of getting upset at you these guys need to contact GW for putting out unbalanced army options.

  2. Yeah, I agree. I did play against a fellow younger Space Wolves player who's been playing since before I even knew the hobby and we played a game in which I taught him how I play my Space Wolves and he was pretty surprised.
    I know about the spamming of Grey Hunters, but they are just so good it's hard not to.. And they are all the models I have, since I am building my friends Wolves for Adepticon.. and painting them.. because after the event I'll buhy them off of him. So I really don't have a lot of choice.

  3. Sounds like you've just taken to the wolves far too well ;)
    I'd just keep playing, take it easy on some people so you don't beat face all the time, and just try to enjoy it. Perhaps talk to your opponent afterwards while packing up and ask how they felt it went, if you can gently work it round to letting them know where you think they went wrong, it could help to improve their games and give you some more challenges.

    Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing more battle reports, and more pics of your models too.

    Cheers, bG

  4. Space Wolves are overpowered. Their isn't a real question there. Compared to C:SM, C:BA, C:CSM or heaven forbid the attrocious older codexes of BT and DA, they get a lot of fun toys, which work very well in the current metagame (value of troops and mech inf), and they pay virtually no extra points for them.

    That being said it is minor, 4 of 5 games a SW wins will still be play or list over codex, and the book is still :legal:. Blaming a SW player because his book is strong is like blaming an NFL team because they have a good quarterback.

    So yes... compared to C:CSM, and especially a slaaneesh themed army, you have some advantages. But none that are completely decisive, and none a player with access to Lash has any right to look down on you for.

  5. To answer the question of overpower I think I can comment. I have been playing them since 3rd edition, and while it hurts to admit this I have not won a single game with them, I am just not very good at the game. I love the fluff and the figures and that is why I stay with them. But you have found a way to play them. Go forth and play with honor!

  6. people dont like them because the thoroughly trash every other book in cost efficiency, grey hunters are cheaper than tactical marines, have access to 2 assault weapons (which IMO is better than 1 assault/1 heavy) i believe they have 2 close combat weapons(CCW + Pistol) added on top of that is counter attack. grey hunters dont have to deal with whether to rapid fire a unit or just pistol then assault, they can rapid fire and let you assault and still gain benefits. thats just for space wolves basic troop, throw in the fact that SW units have access to a crap ton of gear for wound allocation and multiple rune priests that can insta-kill any model that fails an initiative test and you should be able to see why people dont like the codex


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