Friday, January 8, 2010

Space Wolves: Fenrisian Wolves as Wargear

Fenrisian Wolves... a couple meters tall at the shoulder, happy to eat grown men, as tough and strong as a Space Marine, probably stinky and mangy too... who wouldn't want a pair of these as loyal companions?

Many Space Wolves characters have the option to take one or two of these. Let's look at the basics:
  • They are bought as wargear.
  • Their stats are that of a Marine but with 2 Attacks, no ranged weaponry, and a Ld of 5.
  • They are Beasts, allowing Fleet and a 12" charge.
  • The must always stay within 2" of their master.
  • If their master is removed from play, they are removed also.
  • If they enter a Transport, they take up two slots.
Simple so far... but what happens when we put them on the field? A number of questions quickly arise. Yesterday's FAQ clarified many questions, but drawing out the full effects is still a complex matter. As Big Jim had some questions about my interpretation, I figure others will as well. I'm trying this FAQ Q/A style, so do let me know what you think:

1. Are the Wolves a unit? Yes. Even though they are purchased as "wargear", they have a "unit type" and are therefore a "unit". (BRB, page 3&4)

2. "Separate models"... if I buy two, are they then two units of one Wolf each? No, they are a single unit. The FAQ allows targeting both Wolves at once Wolves in close combat as per the normal unit rules. (SWFAQ, page 2, question 6 re: assaults) That entry was written as a clarification (question) and not a correction (errata). Thus a unit of two Wolves bought as wargear is "separate" from the IC to define it as a separate unit instead of being a retinue or "wargear with a model". (SWC, page 62)

3. Uhm... does this mean they're worth a Kill Point? Yep. Even though they are bought as wargear, they are a unit and count as such for ALL purposes. Tau had the same problem with Gun Drones on tanks until they got FAQ'd. We're stuck in the same boat until it (hopefully) gets addressed in a future FAQ.

4. Do the Wolves automatically form a unit with the character? Normally, yes. Loyal Companions dictates that they must always be within 2" of the character. (SWC, page 31) The rules for Independent Characters says that an IC deploying or ending their move within 2" of a normal unit automatically join it. (BRB, page 48) Therefore the IC will automatically form a unit with the Wolves.

5. Then why does the FAQ let me join my IC to another unit? Because ICs within 2" of multiple units may always declare which one they're joining. (BRB, page 48) So if there's also a unit of Blood Claws nearby, the IC can leave the unit of Wolves and join the Blood Claws instead. The Wolves must still remain within 2" of the IC due to Loyal Companions, but are otherwise treated as an autonomous unit for purposes of targeting, Ld tests or any other rule.

6. So can I use the Wolves as "ablative wounds"? Yes, as long as the character is currently joined to the Wolves and it is the Shooting phase. Wounds can be allocated to the unit as normal for Complex Units. (BRB, page 25.) However, this is not true during Close Combat or if the IC is joined to another unit.

7. But what about Lone Wolves and "Pack of One"? Simply, the units are separate and distinct for all rules. Loyal Companions just forces them to maintain 2" coherency. So the Wolves and a Lone Wolf will move similar to a single unit but are always considered two separate units for targeting purposes or otherwise. Ergo, the Lone Wolf can never use the Wolves as "ablative wounds".

8. Uhm... what if my IC's joined to a unit, a Wolf dies to sniper fire and the other Wolf gets Pinned? Does the character and his unit get pinned too or otherwise stuck? Yuck... but I'd say no. The Wolves unit would be the one Pinned, but "Loyal Companions" forces them to stay with their master. As codex always trumps rulebook, the Wolf would ignore the Pinning to stay in 2". (If you're playing non-tournament or going for Sportsmanship, you might just remove the fig instead.) This has some interesting applications for over-riding other movement effects too, such as Lash of Submission or difficult terrain. Heh. Also, note that it is the Wolves that must remain within 2" of the character; the effect is not reciprocal. So a character joined to a unit that gets Pinned is stuck and his Wolves may "drag" him along.

For those of you not familiar with my citation style: BRB = Big Red Book aka Warhammer 40K 5th Edition Rulebook, SWC = Space Wolves Codex, and SWFAQ = Space Wolves Frequently Asked Questions. Also, these aren't 'official' rulings or anything, just my "tournament mindset" interpretations. It's entirely possible that I missed something (but I don't think I did), a tournament organizer could rule a different way, or that GW could change the rules on us.

In the final analysis: These are a cute and fluffy addition to the Space Wolves. Still, they're more hindrance than help as long as they cede a Kill Point. If and when that gets fixed, the cheap extra wounds make them a good call for a Cavalry or Infantry based army. A Mech army is still unlikely to want them due to the amount of Transport space they take up.

***Image is from DJ-Batman's excellent Fenrisian Wolf Conversion and is well worth the time to check out. Hopefully he doesn't mind me borrowing the image...***


  1. While this looks like a good write-up, I have to say this is just ugly. The rulings they're making are silly--characters with wolves shouldn't be able to join units for simplicity's sake.

  2. I have to agree with your sentiment. That ruling would certainly have made gameplay easier, but at 0-2 models it would have been the death knell for the choice. Who wants to watch their Wolf Lord run away because his pet wolf got shot?

    Personally, I would have preferred they form a retinue with a special rule that they're allowed to join a unit. Or have them be strictly wargear like the DA Jawa... being a token to denote an extra wound that can only save on a 6+ but gives a bonus 2x S4 I4 attacks until removed.

    Enh. Ces la vie. We have this ruling now, so might as well make the best of it.

  3. It was a tough decision either way. However, the rules for Space Wolves have always been a bit different.
    I agree that it should have been an upgrade. Each wolf gives you an extra wound would have been nice....but like I said, Space Wolves have always had some interesting rules.

  4. I'm confused. Which of the FAQ rulings led to the conclusion that the wolves are seperate units?

  5. I would also like to know what was the reasoning behind that conclusion. Why do you think it is a separate unit as opposed to a retinue?

  6. @hilander & mchmr6677: My reply grew too large for the comments box, so it can be seen here instead.