One of the things I like the most about SW is how their playstile reflects their fluff. In the Horus Heresy books the Space Wolves are portrayed as cunning hunters rather than mere barbarians
On the gameboard, SW still look like barbarians :P but do not rush forward like a real assault-based army. Instead they use the long fangs and scouts to put pressure on the opponent from different parts of the board, drawing them close to the big core of Grey Hunters in midfield. As I see it, this will not change in 6th. What it changes, and significantly in some cases, is the degree of efficacy in which they can do this.
The backbone of the army is going to be the same then: a solid core of GH supported by missile toting long fangs, and led by a rune priest. Add support units to taste, in the form of TWC, lone wolves, speeders, you name it... and that is your bog standard list. This is tasty recipe from 5th ed that should still work in 6th, however some changes will be needed as we will see later.
The good news
|You use a hood? suck it!|
I have a shiny runic staff and a black crow
The new range of psychic powers bring added flexibility. In terms of powers, living lightning, jaws and hurricane continue to be excellent staple powers but consider exchanging one for a roll in the divination chart. Getting re-rolls for the long fangs+razorbacks is plain awesome, and can help with AA purposes. Or can be used to boost units in midfield as needed. Pretty damn good.
Troops seem to be very important in 6th, even more than they were in 5th. And Grey Hunters are nominated for the Best Troop unit in the game. Marine stats, counterattack, CCW+pistol and a boltgun, access to wolf standard and wulfen... and now a longer reach for rapid fire. Oh yes! on the flip side they have now (more) issues with the transports, but more on that below.
|There are wolves on Fenris|
The new allocation rules play to our advantage in this case, and make the placing of the storm shield puppies very important. Make sure they are the ones closer to the big enemy guns / AT. As for small arms fire, a wolf lord with a 2+save in the front will help to shrug it off. Unfortunately, this is still a very expensive unit for what it does, and with the increased threat range might be less needed than before. To begin with I think I'll go for the well known 4 TWC combo with 1SS, 1TH and 1MB.
If you think about it, it's a relatively powerful unit that costs similar to other deathstars (15 points more than Mephiston, 40 more than Hammenators but don't need a transport). While not as killy as these 2 examples, the TWC still bring good duality in terms of AI through sheer number of rending attacks and AT through 5 S10 attacks on the charge. It's has a reasonable mobility and durability, and can provide some relief while the rhinos are getting your GH where you want them to be.
And finally we get to the humble speeder. There were debates in the past about whether scouts were better than speeders. Consider now that 70 points give you 2 MM and the changes to the squadron rules... I wasn't a big fan of speeders in the past but will try them out for sure.
The bad news
Light vehicles are lighter than ever, and unfortunately that is the only way we can get our GH to midfield. Unless you spam AV11, they won't last long against all the suppression fire out there (IG, Necrons, Tau...). In addition to that, you can no longer keep your GH drinking mjod inside of their Rhinos and charging out of it at will, plus the melta range has been reduced. All in all bad news for what is a key component of the army; without it, the army lacks mobility and our troops are more exposed. For the time being, I will stick to Rhinos and try to protect them by creating more inmediate threats to my opponent. I don't think this is a good solution though, and hopefully with time and playtesting we'll get a decent solution.
Scouts have also suffered with the transition to 6th. I found them to be more annoying than really effective in the past, but at least were able to show in someone else's backside, blow a tank/dread with point blank melta and then multiassault. At least they will come now more reliably with a 3+ in turn 2 + re-roll to select side thanks to Acute Senses, but once they get there they will basically shoot and be shot down next turn. More suicide than ever. Which is a real pity, as often times you will find small 5 marine units camping in a base, or some guard blob that can be defeated in combat, proven you charge the right way and have a wolf guard attached with you (pro-tip: do it). As they are now, bolters will be more useful than CCW+pistol.
Missile toting long fangs are not as effective as before. They do not get any bonus to the damage chart, and we are likely to see more 2+ on the board. For dealing with vehicles, you'll have to focus on eliminating the hull points. If they get AA missiles sometime their utility will obviously increase, but that is yet to be seen. For the time being, should you face a flyer heavy army, use a rune priest with the prescience power from divination to get re-rolls in the fangs. This power buffs any squad in 12", enough to cover 3 LF packs and some lasplas.
Alternatively, consider adding a lascannon or two per squad. These are considerably more expensive but will be golden when confronting certain builds *cough*Deathwing*cough*.
And we get to flyers. Unsurprisingly for an army that doesn't even deep strike, Space Wolves have no access to Flyers (save Allies) and no AA at all. A couple of rifleman dreads won't save you the day, but some TL shots will certainly help and if supported by the LFs, they are a serious threat to aerial threats. It is a considerable waste of firepower mind you, but at least gives you a decent chance to bring something down if you must.
Are Wolf Priests viable again?
But what about Grey Hunters? here is a nifty idea: a Wolf Priest gains outflank by purchasing Saga of the Hunter (a niftty 15 points), and grant that USR to any unit he joins. See where I am going? A unit of 10GH with standard and wulfen, led by a WG is nothing to be sneezed at. 12 T4/3+ bodies that bring 4 special weapons, can double tap with bolters and charge/receive a charge with 3 attacks, and re-roll all 1s in CC thanks to the standard. Count me in thanks. Is it a gimmick or can it work? well I can't wait to try it out!
Conclusion: So what do we do in 6th?
As mentioned in the beginning, the core of the army doesn't change.
- Continue to use the staple units -GH, Rune Priests, Long Fangs- and do it in a cohesive way just like in 5th.
- Make some adjustments to the units: perhaps drop the PFists in the wolf guards, consider a couple of lascannons for the Long Fangs...
- Test things out: saga of the hunter Wolf Priest, double-melta speeders, rune priests buffing units with Divination, both in midfield and with the Long Fangs, try adding some allies to complement our weaknesses (for example mobility, durable transports in midfield, cheap mass S6/S7 fire...).
- And what's more important: keep you mind open, play games and have fun!
Take care and see you soon!