Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Space Wolves: Dreadnoughts

What's more fun than a Dreadnought? Two! Especially if they're named Robert and are pirates... Then they can be the Dread Pirate Roberts! Hey, at least I didn't make an "Even in death I still surf." reference, right?

Okay, with the tasteless jokes and geek references now taken care of (mostly), let's look at the meat. The Space Wolf Dreadnought is point for point a direct copy of the stock Space Marine Dread. There's 6 notable differences:
1. Starts with an Assault Cannon for free, rather than paying to upgrade to one. (Subtle, but nice.)
2. Can take a Wolftooth Necklace that makes him always hit on a 3+ in CC. Cute, but of limited benefit to a WS4 Dread and even more so for a Venerable. After all, they only have 2 attacks.
3. Can take a Wolf Tail Talisman that gives a 5+ save versus a psychic power directed at him. Cute, but probably not worth it if you have a Rune Priest or two around.
4. The Venerable Dread may also take the Saga of Majesty. This allows any unit within 6" to re-roll a failed Morale check. (Note the lack of the word "friendly" in conjunction with "unit". I expect this to also get FAQ'd, but right now there's some RaW players who might try and use this against you.) This isn't a bad upgrade, but probably isn't critical either.
5. May not be taken as Heavy Support. Competing for those vital Elites slots is rough...
6. Ironclads? What are those?

Now Dreadnought tactics have been done and done again... but I'll give you my take anyways.
For the more aggressive player who wants a short-range Dread, nothing beats a Dread riding a Droppod. Typically he comes with a Drop Pod, Heavy Flamer, CCW, and Multi-Melta. This guy drops right into or in front of the enemy on the first turn. Weapon duality allows him to menace both tanks or hordes. But best of all is the disruption he can cause to the enemy lines. This kind of shooting and CC threat dropping in close can cause some serious havoc and needs to be dealt with quickly. This is a great way to distract the enemy from shooting at other elements of a close-range mechanized list or a full Drop list.
Ironclads are well suited to this role... too bad we don't get them. So additional protection is only available via Extra Armour and/or Venerable. Beware, these can quickly get expensive when he's used as a suicide unit. The other upgrades are cute, but just too situational to recommend.
When used as a suicide speed bump, throw him and his pod right up front wherever he'll be the most annoying. When used as a distraction and threat, shift his deployment to a flank to limit return fire.

The mid-range Dread goes on foot and tends to sport an Assault Cannon, CCW, and possibly a Heavy Flamer. This weaponry is chosen to make him mostly anti-horde, but still pretty decent against most tanks or in CC. This limited range and CC capability means he's at best effect advancing towards the enemy line; usually in support of infantry or other mechanized units. Downside is that he's still only AV12. Again, Venerable and/or Extra Armour aren't bad for increased durability, but other upgrades are of limited use.

The long-range Dread sits in the back to avoid melta and take advantage of cover. Typical armament is a Missile Launcher and twin-linked Lascannon for anti-tank, but sometimes you'll see one or both swapped out for twin-linked Autocannons. The downside to this build is that it relies on range... and there's only so much room on a table. Outflank, Run, Droppods and all those other fun things make a stand-off only unit iffy... not to mention that he'll rarely be pushing up to contest objectives. While this style isn't a bad choice... Predators and Long Fangs do this role cheaper and with more guns. You might use this in a mech force that's already used up it's Heavy Support and still needs anti-tank, but I wouldn't bother otherwise.

There's also the HQ option, Bjorn the Fell-Handed. Cute, fluffy, and ultimately over priced.

In the final analysis? Space Wolf Dreadnoughts are a decently priced unit. Their biggest drawback is the competition for Elites slots.
A single Dreadnought in a Drop Pod can work well as a distraction or suicide unit. This is probably the most common way you'll see them as it only takes up 1 Elites slot and works with many army styles.
Multiple Dreadnoughts on foot or Podding are only optimal when the entire army is mechanized or Podding also, due to vehicle saturation. Taking multiple also means eating up most or all of your Elites choices. Players who really want a lot of Dreadnoughts are better off looking into Vanilla Marine options, since they can get six of them and have Ironclads.
For these reasons I feel that Space Wolf Dreadnoughts are going to be an uncommon choice in most competitive Space Wolf armies.

**Image grabbed from the underbelly of the internet... Just FYI, be warned not to do a GIS for "4chan dreadnaught" with SafeSearch off...


  1. Gotta be an anti-grav surf board, or some hella-viscious liquid he's on.

    Much as I like dreadnoughts...
    The shooty dread at range? You've got Long Fangs and Predators, and really ought to get something else elite. I don't think Space Wolves do shooting significantly better than the C:SM.

    The angry walking dread?
    could work, I suppose. Still, he competes for the elite slots with some other neat choices, and I suspect a mostly-foot army would benefit well from Wolf Guard, so that means 2 dreads.

    Drop pod dread?
    Alas, we knew him well. Again, I think the C:SM's Master of the Forge is what makes such an army so dangerous. "Oh, here's 5 dreads in your face on turn one." Wolves? "Here's 2-4 dreads in your face, turn one." (Yes, one of them is Bjorne).

    Too expensive for what you ultimately get. He's at least got the Ironclad's stamina in mele with AV13 on the front, but he's hellaciously costly. I think he took it in the pants because of the cost increase to Venerable. I think at 20-30 points it was fine, but making it 60 for Venerable and +1WS/BS kind of killed it.

  2. Dread Pirate Roberts? Sir, there is a specific level of hell to which folks who make puns like that are consigned. See ya there :)

  3. @Raptor1313: Yep, my thoughts exactly. Now one place I COULD actually see Dreads? Presuming the "counts as" for Logan means Wolf Guard shift Force Org slots, a Logan Drop army could certainly benefit from a couple Dreads to back up the Wolf Guard. Otherwise... they're cool and certainly useful, but not going to make the cut for most tournament armies.

    @Hudson: I couldn't resist. I presume this special level is also populated with child molesters and people who talk on the phone during in the theater?

  4. @Dverning: No they're one level down, to the right.

  5. hey, I enjoyed my 2 matching chaos dreads: Bob the freebooter and Robert the pirate.

    plus I had a poison elves reference....