I have to say they have always been among my favourite aspects of the Space Wolf codex. I mean for a warrior to be able to chew his way through whole swathes of foes not because of a shiny sword but because he is AWESOME (in block capitals) just clicks somewhere in my head.
Now I'm going to look at the 7 different sagas available to the Wolves of Russ with regards to how well they work in 6th ed. and with special views on how to achieve the Oath that comes with them, because Honour is everything.
There may be Maths in this post and because I'm lazy I'm going to make the Internet do it for me. It should be accurate but do correct me if I'm wrong.
|and I'm hungry like the wolf|
Saga of the Wolfkin
Effect: Grants all Fenrisian wolves I 5 and LD 7
Oath: At least 1 Fenrisian wolf or Thunderwolf must survive the game
Comment: Well, if you're looking at making a force with a fair number of Fenrisian Wolves in it this is nearly a must have in my opinion. Both bonus' are quite impressive if you look at them. First the LD boost
A LD 5 check will fail approx. 72% of the time
A LD 7 will only fail approx. 42% of the time
In simple terms, with the boost you will pass basic LD checks more than half the time. This will keep your large units in the game for longer, it will also increase their chances of successfully 'Counter attack' -ing and gaining the almost invaluable extra attack. FenWolves rely on large amounts of attacks to cause damage as, let's face it, they're quite average in a fight. They could duff up Guardsmen and (if you're lucky) an Ork, but not much more. Yet with an improved Initiative of 5, they will strike before marines, even charging Blood Angels due to the removal of the Furious Charge I boost. The more you can kill before they strike the better.
Now, all this is well and good but as I previously mentioned they are not stellar fighters. They need support. Thunderwolves work very well with them, as they grant re-rolls to Morale (that LD 7 looks even better now), as do Thunderwolf Lords - they can join few other units but the FenWolves give him 'Look out Sir' saves and he gives them a strong body to take incoming firepower. If you're looking at this saga spare a thought for Canis Wolfborn. He comes with it for free and lets FenWolves be troops (wolfwing anyone?). Whilst that's not at all good for objectives it frees up your fast attack for more Thunderwolves. Which is rarely bad.
Fulfilling the Oath is really in the hands of the Dice Gods. I would recommend using Wolf Lords (even Canis as his regular number of attacks is good even without 'Wrath of the Savage') to shield the FenWolves who in turn shield the Thunderwolves. If you can get the Thunderwolves into average - poor assault units, and possibly join them with the Wolf Lord later, you should be able keep some Thunderwolfies going.
Just don't bite off more than you can chew.
Rating: 5/10 (useful, but situational)
Saga of the Bear
Effect: Grants the character Eternal Warrior
Oath: Must slay an enemy character before the game ends
Comment: For me, this is my second all-rounder choice. Second only because of its limited availability and hefty 35pt price tag, which weighs it in at the joint most expensive choice and available only to Wolf Lords. But that's mainly who you were going to buy it for anyway, right?
However, for these 35pts you can grant your Wolf Lord immunity to one hit... 'gimps' shall we say. No need to worry about hurling yourself boldly (no infinitive splitting for this blog, oh no) into an enemy unit only to be clonked once by a Powerfist, or the like, and copping it. This is why I consider it an all rounder. For a foot Lord (anything other than bike or Thunderwolf) I think it would be obvious how useful this is. Naturally, with T 5 (from the afore mentioned bike or Thunderwolf) the amount of weapons able to do this drastically reduces. Now it's Vindicators, Ork Warbosses with power claws...then plain instant death weapons like the Huskblade. You can probably cope against those. Yet, if you need that insurance (if the dice gods hate you as they do me) then I would say you'll often find this pays for itself. It is saving what can be up to 250 points of roaring death after all.
The important changes in 6th are as follows. With the addition of challenges and precision strikes it has now become (slightly) easier to remove the dangerous instant death weapons before they become a problem. Of course this is mainly powerfists/klaws as they strike at I 1, against your 5, Huskblades are still very troublesome (I'm looking at you Melons). I think for peace of mind and a safety net it's still a good choice, precision strikes are nothing to be relied on, but it isn't a 'must have'. Especially with T 5 bike/Thunderwolf Lord.
As for the Oath you'll be glad to hear this just became easier. Whereas in 5th, characters were mainly restricted to HQ's (independent characters) with the inclusion of the 'Character' unit type they are much easier to find: Space marine Sergeants, Ork Nobs, Grey Knight Paladins, Guard Techpriests, Deldar Drachons, Tau Shas'ui etc etc etc. This makes any won challenge a completed Oath. In fact, almost any full unit killed is a dead character so this is one of the easiest Oaths to fulfil.
Rating: 8/10 (very useful, but expensive and limited availability)
|I've said it before, but capes are the best|
Saga of MajestyEffect: Rerolls to Morale to units within 6" (including the character and his unit)
Oath: Do not Go To Ground or Fall Back
Comment: I must admit, I have no first hand experience of this saga. For this reason, this may be a more negative than veterans would agree with. On paper, rerollable morale checks sounds fantastic. In Fantasy, very few people will go to battle without their trusty Battle Standard Bearer for this purpose (except that helps ALL LD checks, so is a tad better). The reason I don't really rate this is because of ATSKNF (And They Shall Know No Fear). This allows automatic regrouping, assuming there is no foe within 6". This is great for countering failed morale as you should only be fleeing for a turn if it's from shooting, or perhaps 2 if the enemy are upon you. Also, if you flee from combat and the enemy catches you (in a sweeping advance) you just continue fighting. You don't even have to take armour saves anymore!
Now, of course, there uses. A turn fleeing is still a turn where your guys are going the wrong way. Fleeing is (most of the time) bad, therefore mitigating this is good. I just believe that ATSKNF does this well enough to not need any help.
It would be wrong for me not to point out that most Special Characters come with this in the price. If you have it, great, but I'd consider it a boost to what I'm getting, not a reason to pay the points on its own. Also, Venerable Dreads can have this saga. They can't fail the Oath. Ever. That's a plus.Yet they are rarely seen, I would rather take Wolf Guard, Lone Wolves, or Wolf Scouts in that slot and then take normal Dreads. They could, however, act as a solid pillar to a battle line, assuming you're not in Rhino's and leaving the Dread in the dust (you do only have a 6" Aura so if you planning on using this remember how that is a small bubble).
Finally, the Oath. To not run, you need high LD, which most bearers of this saga have, or be a Dread. To avoid going to ground, well, Dreads can never Go to Ground, so that's not a problem. But, if you are able to Go to Ground, I'd like to be able to choose to do so when it benefits me without the Oath hanging over my head. Personal choice.
Rating 3/10 (useful at times, but overkill in my view)
Right, well this turned out to be a lot longer than I anticipated so I think two posts are required.
Join me in Part II when we look at Hunters, Warriors and kicking Beasts in the uncomfortable parts.