Monday, December 28, 2009

Space Wolves: Lukas the Trickster

A new character to the Space Wolf line, Lukas the Trickster is a Unique character upgrade for a unit of Blood Claws. Though I could have wrapped his review in with them, he has enough going on that I felt him worth a separate look.

The number one problem I see with Lukas the Trickster is his price. Not just that he's expensive, but that many people make a mistake when buying him. The line to note reads "One Blood Claw may be upgraded to Lukas the Trickster", emphasis mine. He isn't a model added to the unit, but instead an upgrade option for a model already purchased. This means you must pay the upgrade cost listed AND the cost of the Blood Claw he upgrades.

That being straightened out, there's also the quibble that he's expensive. Before you buy into the "Oooh, shiny" of his rules, consider that for the same price you could buy a squad of 10 Grey Hunters with two meltaguns. Still, he's not cost prohibitive. Excepting a lower Leadership, his statline is the same as a Wolf Guard Battle Leader A WGBL with comparable wargear ends up almost the same price; the difference could be attributed to Lukas' special rules.

And what are those rules?
Rebellious: Because he's such a bad boy, Lukas and his squad can never be higher than Ld 8. Annoying, detrimental, but not a huge thing.
Pelt of the Doppelganrel: Any wound allocated against Lukas must re-roll their To-Hit. Okay, this one's kinda fun, especially since it works in both Shooting and CC. UPDATE: What could have been useful and fun with a simple erratta, has been instead screwed by a literal FAQ instead. Lukas only gets to use this item if all of his squad has been killed. NIGH USELESS.
The Last Laugh: Basically, if Lukas is removed from play, both players roll-off. If the Wolf player ties or wins, all models in base to base with Lukas are removed from play too. Now this is the fun one as it is going to make many opponents leery of getting their awesome HQs in close combat with him. The psychology potential of this is enormous. But never forget that this can be a double-edged sword. The specific line reads "all models in base contact". This means tanks, Monsters, Characters... and friendly models. You might want to make sure your own guys give him a little breathing room.

Now one other wrinkle to him being an upgrade character is that he's part of his squad in all senses. While you have to buy the rest of the squad in addition to him, together they only count as one Troops Force Org choice and Kill Point. He's also not an Independent Character and can't leave the unit to join another. But in return he cannot be separately targeted in close combat. This last neatly ties into the Pelt of the Doppelgangrel, as you will always have control of the wound allocation.

So with all of this, why aren't I foaming at the mouth to field him? Typical of all the Space Wolves Unique units, Lukas is very ego-centric. He's a core choice around which the list itself is built, rather than something added on for fun. Lukas and his Blood Claw squad are going to be highly focused on getting into close combat, something that doesn't fit with every army. You'll probably want a way to get them there (Land Raider), some extra guys, and maybe a Wolf Guard and/or Character... and now you've got over 600 points invested. While this kind of "rock" unit approach can work, it helps to have one with flexibility beyond "assault and kill lots of Orks". Space Wolves have several other options with much greater efficiency of durability, utility, and/or cost.

In the final analysis: Outside of theme lists or as a random element, I don't see Lukas being that popular competitively. He is just too narrow in scope for the associated costs.

***Image courtesy of GIS... HAN SHOT FIRST!***


  1. Great write up, I concur wholeheartedly on all points.

  2. My favorite part of the article is, of course: "Han Shot First!"


  3. Nice write up, man. I've enjoyed your views on the new 'dex greatly and they've been a great help for me when it comes to thinking a lot more critically about my beloved Wolves.

    Lukas is awesome on paper! But outside of the fun games, I agree that he's just a touch on the pricey side and becomes more of a mini-HQ that you build around. Bit of a shame, I was hoping that there would be a bigger role he might play b/c he is sexy.

  4. Hey guys, thanks for the feedback. I'm a slow writer and these articles take some time. It's nice to know they're appreciated.

    @Warhammer39,999: I've tried to have some sort of "in joke" with the picture for each review. This one was just too easy. :-p

    @Sgt. Brisbane: He really is a mini-HQ that benefits from retinue rules but doesn't fill a Force Org slot. With the ability to take 4 HQs anyways... I'd love to be more favorable, but honesty compels me otherwise.

  5. He may be ricey but if your collecting space wolves I would assume you like the characterful nature of the army, a band of heroes trying to make the mark and have their names sang in songs for generations. With this in mind I think Lukas fits perfectly, unless your going for tourny style army you should be looking at small packs of SW with characters aplenty. I will be delving into the SW army soon as I finish my Chaos Marines and Im taking Njal, Lukas, Ulrik and a Rune Priest. Ive been reading reviews from other people on SW and will be tweeking it as I go, for instance I added plasma pistol to my Priest but after reading a write up on them realise this is a waste of points as they should be doing spells every turn. I love the nature of the army and the theme will be as far from a tourney list as possible

  6. @Noveltyboy: You assumption would be mostly true. The background of Space Wolves got my into 40k. I loved the theme and story... but that was almost 2 decades ago.
    These days I'm mainly a tournament player and my lists and analysis reflect that. I love the new Wolves because there's a number of options to keep true to theme and imagination, yet still develop a strong and competitive force.
    Anyways, thanks for the feedback and I hope my analysis has been useful for you.