Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Of Thunderwolves and Knights

It’s been awhile since I last posted.
I’ve been active, socially, but not competitively with both 40k and X – Wing.
I find that playing both games allows me to maintain my enthusiasm for both systems. Over the last year I’ve been so busy with developing my career and with developing my home that I’ve struggled to get up the will to post or to attend tournaments; I’ve been knackered.
I’m now finding that as certain responsibilities at work, certain plans, come to fruition that I am once again thinking more and more about competitive game play – whether it be 40k or X-Wing.
So let’s look at 40k – Caledonian  2014 was my last tournament – I placed OK,  16th/17th from 116, and won Best Sportsman/Most Sporting. A pretty good result and left me feeling pretty good with my 40k. But then I knew I had a break coming… and a break I have had.
I've been reinspired by 2 things - 1 the multiple boxes of Thunderwolves I got at Christmas and Cally 2015 - which I, of course, totally regret not getting a ticket for. To be honest, I've been too busy...but still.. it has a great buzz about it and it's the first time I've missed it in years.

It’s just been Caledonian 2015, congratulations to the winner – James Ramsey and to Nathan Roberts, ever the bridesmaid never the bride, in 2nd place.. Congrats Rob Madeley in 4th a well.. Props to all the England ETC squad.
James’ list was an interesting one – on paper not looking that dangerous with the 3 x 5 Wraith units, deck chair Warrior units and then … 3 Focussed Death Ray pylons from FW. Interceptor and Skyfire, each Death Ray counting as hitting twice at 24”. Behind an aggressive defence line this is a PITA. A literal “no-fly” zone and forcing cagey play coming in from reserve with Flyrants, Demon Princes, Storm Ravens etc. A very decent shot at smashing Knights as well as deathstars. Interesting hey.. A meta-built list perhaps, but isn’t that we all do at tournaments if we want a shot?
Since I last played at competitive tournaments the game has moved on and evolved. Or rather, winning the game has evolved and the lists required to do so have. Beaststar is gone, O’vesa Star is gone, Seer Council is gone, Farsight Bomb is gone .. sad panda all round! Deathstars are still solid in the meta as long as they are mobile enough. Centstar with Gating Draigo for example is still popular, however not as much in the UK as in the US. Wolf Lords (thanks to the Champions of Fenris codex) and Iron Priests can be run very effectively as an ally to the already potent Space Marines, Blood Angels (Looked at Sanguinary Guard/Dante/FNP Priest + Wolves anyone?) or even the minimal use of the much maligned Dark Angels…
Something I like is (John Holland inspiration, credit where it is due, but an obvious list):
1850 Champions of Fenris with DA Allies
Wolf Lord, TWolf, Powerfist, Storm Shield, 2+ save, Fellclaw’s Teeth
Wolf Lord, TWolf, Powerfist, Storm Shield, 2+ save
Wolf Lord, TWolf, Powerfist, Storm Shield, 2+ save
Wolf Lord, TWolf, Powerfist, Storm Shield, 2+ save
4 x Thunder Priest – TWolf, T Hammer
Librarian – Level 2, Bike (Powerfield if the points are there)
Ravenwing Company Command, 2 additional knights, 5 Plasma Talons, Apothecary, Ravenwing Banner
5 Scouts – Bolters
This hits hard! Crazy number of S10 attacks on a highly mobile and durable platform that control the board and will always be charging Turn 2. A bevvy of 2+ saves and 3++ combined with FNP and potentially Invisibility or Shrouding from the Libbie makes for an utterly lethal unit.
This can break up at the end of the game (or to be honest after turn 3 or 4 when the damage is done) and go after maelstrom missions, or simply control the board to the extent that the opponent cannot get a maelstrom.
What are the flaws then?
No Ob Sec.
No anti-air
Knight vulnerability
Let’s deal with that. Ob Sec is not as much as issue here as this army has serious reach, speed and hitting power. The deathstar can very easily fragment into smaller components to quell whatever uprising the opponent has on an objective and can control the board through footprint.
Anit air is a big deal – look at the Cally 2015 lists and the internet and you will see that FMC Nids through Leviathan and Formations can create real problems. 7 Nid fliers is a pain in the arse as they’ll not likely be grounded and will vector strike and then dakka the shit out of the Deathstar. In your typical Nid list now, there is also very little to slaughter on the ground. Even though the plasma talons are twin linked, it’s still going to be very problematic to get a grounding ona an FMC. Even if the magic happens on the dice, that’s only 1 FMC per turn and there are simply not enough turns in the game!
Anti Knight – This deathstar has a stupid number of S10 hits in close combat. A ridiculous amount.. like 40! Hitting on 3’s. But the Knight gets to swing his big D Slapper and on that lucky roll…boom, the whole unit gets removed from the board by the frustration of ‘D’ Weapons. Joy.
So you can chance it? Smash the Knight and pray that the D doesn’t bend you over?
Yeah, viable enough.. But not reliable enough.
Chuck a load of plasma after having split the unit up entirely and then charge piecemeal with a calculated display of force to get the job done. If that’s not clear, I’m hoping to strip a hull point or 2 on the way in with the Black Knights, then charge one or two Wolf Lords or 2 or 3 Thunder Priests in as separate units.
Not great choices and against an Adamantium Lance list.. the prospects are not great.
So how to we deal with these issues?
Perhaps this Total Deathstar is not …the.. Total Deathstar.
If we move over to Space Marines, we can get in Scout through Khan (expensive but similar enough to the Libbie), then change to a SM Command Biker unit with Grav for greater range.
We could even dilute the Wolf Death star element of the list by chucking in SM Bike Troops with 2 Grav and Combi Grav or Melta. This helps us as we can throw some lethal shots down range.
Perhaps the Champions of Fenris (at its most competitive, is best through Drop Pods etc) is better as an Allied group.
It depends how dependant we think SCOUT is. The White Scars biker builds got counter incredibly swiftly by the Inquisition book, but looking at the Cally 2015 (160 odd players – biggest tourney in the UK) and the lists presented there…how many of them had Servo Skulls? Sweet FA!
Add the back up from these Wolf Lords (2) and Iron Priests (2) and we could have a nice build. So..are Wolf Lords better than Chapter Masters?
Probably not. CM has a better range, has Hammer of Wrath as well, has a S8 powerfist, S9 on the Charge through Furious Charge on Khan, is an Eternal Warrior (pretty bloody important) and has the Orbital Bombardment. Significantly better. 
Perhaps we could play with both..
3 Wolf Lords, 5 Twolves, Chapter Master, Khan and then as many troop bikes as possible.. not many sure!
Drop to 2 Wolf Lords, 5 TWolves, CM, Khan and then grab a Sm Biker Command Squad with Grav and FNP for a secondary threat. There are still no points for Troops after this though and actually this is a diluted version of the first list which would probably do a little better against MOST lists.
Grav Centurions are another option too I suppose.. in a Fenris Pod and coming down to really help put the hurt on Knights.
Whilst this discussion has been useful for the Deathstar vs Knights, what about vs the Nid Flying Circus? Or any other FMC heavy or Flier heavy list – Necrons are strong in the air (have to wait for new codex) and the Storm talon formation thing from Ultra’s can be an interesting combo…also Dark Eldar – the 6 FA option is potent.
So let’s consider Fliers next time hey… What have been your experiences of using/against Deathstars and with/vs Knights?


  1. Dark Eldar Fliers don't just have 6 FA Razorwings remember, they can take 3 Voidravens for a total of 9 fast fliers, all of which pack plenty of AP2 options.

    Interesting article though, looking forward to reading more!

    1. HI Nick, yeah I know dude.. the Voidravens are more expensive though aren't they - the 2 Dark Lances and the shatterfield missiles (or whatever the large blasts are called on the Razors) is usually enough when combined.. think about the 12 Dark Lances and the stupid number of S7 large blasts that lot chuck out!
      Plus.. who owns 9 DE fliers lol!
      It's a good point to remember though dude :)

  2. Thunderwolves are str 9 in the uk just to let you know :( Good to see you back mate.

    1. AHHHH blogger ate my comment! Something's never change!

      Thanks mate. Congrats to you as well for a very very solid "don't call it a comeback" at Cally.

      Base characteristic is changed to s5 though no? Is this just a tourney FAQ from organisers who love Knights and hate SW? Lol..

      I must agree with Rathstar below..certainly the Cav are s10...

  3. They are ? Has this been FAQed ? All consensus I've seen is that they are Str10. At least the thunderwolves themselves, even if you say the Characters aren't, are str10.


    1. Yeah I get this logic I guess, the base unmodified characteristic is s5 on the Cav themselves...

  4. Good to see you back mate. Any chance of seeing to you at any of the xwing store championships?

    1. They've just come out haven't they?
      Yeah I fancy a go - you heading to the MK one? Or one in London?

  5. Dude, I'm going to 5 of them, lol. Totally addicted. MK is one of them though. Although I think it might be full by now.

  6. oh scratch that, not at all full.

    1. Haha.. Addicted is the word.

      Boom! I'm booked in for 7/3 at MK .. Just done it

    2. fantastic. my GF is going to kill me though. 5 events in 7 weeks :P

  7. The death rays are pretty insane, no skyfire or intercept but do a silly amount of hits..ask Harrison :). I got pretty lucky with them all tournament they rolled well.

    Fun list though I do like the necron filth. Too bad its probably all being nerfed!

    Hope to see you on tourney scene soon dude!


    1. Ah cheers James, my bad - must be older experimental rules I found!
      Yeah, he's mentioned them already!haha

      I'm looking forward to the Necrons, it's an army that's actually painted!!

      Hope to catch you soon man,

    2. Oh and congrats James, well done for Cally!!

    3. Cheers dude, I got lucky in all my games and match ups really, but I suppose thats what you get with any 5/6 round tourney.


  8. Been tinkering with the Deathstar to make it even more fully operational....

    Go to wolves unleashed as the primary. The Iron priests are nice but with only 2 wounds they can fold fast, swap the D libby for a Chaplin for those re-rolls to hit, and the wolfen stone for furious charge.

    For a pure deathstar IMO) the Khan Tax is no worth it - and only he gets FC now, not his unit. Also you missed out the fenrisan wolves for each lord, since they are the majority sv of 6+ they help vs grav.

    Have also tried Samuel for a EW body too.