Lone Wolf Tactics
This was first featured on Space Wolves Blog in 2014 which is now lost to the warp. In an effort to retain the information we have republished it here.
A Lone Wolf is the single survivor of a Space Wolves pack destroyed in battle. A Lone Wolf is a warrior who has no pack and has not yet attained a place in the ranks of his Wolf Lord’s Wolf Guard.
Left with nothing but the desire for bitter revenge, the Lone Wolf has made an oath to seek a glorious death in battle against the mightiest of foes
For each Troops, Wolf Guard, or Wolf Guard Terminators pack you include in your army, you can include a Lone Wolf who doesn’t take up any slots in the Force Org.
Meanwhile the new Drop Pod entry includes Locator Beacons, and Lone Wolves in Terminator armour gain Deep Strike. Therefore, Lone Wolf Terminators can teleport, and when doing so near pods won’t scatter. Granted, the Fenrisian wolves have to stay home in order to facilitate the teleport Deep Strike, but at least the big guy isn’t slogging up the whole field, making you buy him a Fast Attack Drop Pod, or waiting on somebody else’s ride to come taxi him about.
Lone Wolves cannot join other units; they’re a unit unto themselves. They can be standing right next to a squad of other Fenrisian hardcases, and they’re still all on their own.
Lone Wolves as “Blockers”
Go look up the rules for Disordered Charge. Now, go look at Counter Attack. Now think about the Lone Wolf being wrapped up in a blob of Blood Claws, so that he’s not breaking squad coherency or the front guy taking all the shooting, but is the third or fourth guy and still in the first rank, guaranteed to be in charge range, thereby committing the enemy to a disordered charge.
Sure, it’s pricey. Almost as pricey as that Wolf Guard Pack Leader you were thinking about, but you get more. He comes with two wounds, Eternal Warrior, and Feel No Pain. And he’s a Fearless Character with Monster Hunter. If he gets dragged into melee, that frees up your hidden power fist and Wolf Guard Pack Leader from challenges, allowing them to focus on seriously expeditious reduction of the rank-and-file, which is how the Wolves are supposed to do business when they get in close.
Lone Wolves – Attack!!
Alternatively, you could drop all your Lone Wolves on one Locator Beacon and mob them up.
These guys have two wounds, Eternal Warrior, and Feel No Pain on top of Terminator armor and storm shields!
Think of it in terms of baseball: the Wolf Guard Pack Leader is the third guy in the batting order. He’s a consistently go-to hitter who usually advances the base-runners, and often enough hits a homer, but he’s there to be reliable, a well-rounded player who can do pretty much anything the coach asks him to do.
The Lone Wolf is your clean-up hitter, fourth in the order. He’s the one you want when the bases are loaded. He’s the one who swings for the parking lot, because he’s hard as nails, has nothing to lose, and is just pure hit-stick power.
All that being said, Fenrisian Wolves don’t Deep Strike, so if you do teleport him onto the battlefield, he’s gonna be on his own. A flanking Wolves Unleashed Detachment footlist, however, allows for those Fenrisian wolves to tag along. And that’s particularly useful if you have a means of controlling Reserve rolls a bit, which the Wolves Unleashed Cunning of the Wolf special ability gives you (and you can add to with Void Claws, a Damocles Command Rhino, or other possibilities), so that you can make sure the Lone Wolves arrive in a timely manner.
The question remains, though: How should Lone Wolves be kitted out?
In previous versions of the codex, most players selected chainfist and stormshield with a suit of Terminator Tactical Dreadnought Armor. This gave you double-strength attacks, armor and invulnerable saves to make those two wounds last through withering fire and a good deal of nasty melee, and added extra armor penetration so that the Lone Wolf could even do some tankhunting if he found himself in the position to do so. But the new codex precludes that configuration, and the recently-dropped FAQ didn’t bring it back in, despite edits and additions to the melee weapons availability list that the Lone Wolves draw their wargear from.
So, let’s look at the options we do have. Although giving your Lone Wolf a suit of Terminator Armour goes without question or he’s simply not going to survive.
LONE WOLF OPTIONS – “Come at me bro!”
You have two options: Stormbolter, or combi-weapons of the usual three varieties (plasma, flamer, and melta), if we’re using Terminator armor (which most players of Lone Wolves agree is almost mandatory to ensure their potential carnage output is maximized, and allows for the teleporting Deep Strike I sketched out above). These would be good potential choices on a Wolf Guard, but the real strength of the Lone Wolf comes to the fore in close combat, so I’d suggest none of these, unless you’re mobbing up Lone Wolves and want to add some ranged support to a portion of them. If that’s your plan, I’d suggest a mix of stormbolters and combi-flamers or combi-plasma, as you see fit given the forces you plan to face. Combi-plasma overheat is much less of a threat to a Lone Wolf than other Wolves, and if you’re going to give him a combi-weapon, both the combi-plasma and combi-flamer allow for that one shot you get to effect multiple targets.
But, as I said, close combat is where the Lone Wolf really shines.
Paired Wolf Claws: 75pts
You get +1S, Shred, and the bonus attack for paired Specialist Weapons, and you’re striking at your regular Initiative Step, thereby not risking the Lone Wolf dying to massed bayonet pokes or a similar ‘death by a thousand paper cuts.’
This load-out is full-tilt offence, and relies on the Terminator armor and its inherent but comparatively weak invulnerable save to shrug off wounds, but maximizing multi-model murder by number of attacks and re-rolls of failed to-wound rolls from Shred. If what you’re looking for is pure carnage and a noble death, this will get you at least one of the two.
Thunder hammer and Storm Shield: 75pts
You get double Strength attacks, plus Concussive, and the invulnerable save from the storm shield. But you’re striking at Initiative Step 1, so you’re taking all the hits before you respond or simultaneously to your attacks, at best.
Feel No Pain and Eternal Warrior, plus the saves from the armor and storm shield go a long ways to mitigating that, and if that hammer connects, at least one target (if he’s not dead due to a double-toughness insta-kill) is going to be swinging at your Initiative Step the subsequent round.
This is likely the new luxury configuration. Sure, you don’t have the additional armor penetration of the chain fist any more, but you do get double-strength damage and Concussive, as well as the extra protection of the storm shield. This guy will stand up to the worst the 41st millennium can dish out and respond in kind.
Power Axe and Storm Shield: 60pts
An axe is cheaper, weaker alternative to a Thunderhammer, but it’s (at least in my opinion) a half-measure at best, despite looking fluffy.
Frost Axe and Storm Shield: 65pts
A step up from the economy option above. You’re effectively paying +5pts for +1 strength. But it’s still not worth it vs the Thunderhammer.
Wolf Claw and Storm Shield: 65pts
Strike at Initiative, a one-up to your strength in terms of damage, and you’ve still got the durability, and you’re rerolling failed to-wound rolls with Shred. This is at least on par with the frost weapon and storm shield combo. In my opinion, it’s the more sensible route.
Now, taking any of these options and swapping the shield or melee weapon for a combi-weapon or stormbolter is also an option, but you don’t want the Lone Wolf shooting. You want him in melee. He can’t be shot at while in melee, and he’s pure mayhem while he’s in melee. Plus, you’d be sacrificing either durability (the storm shield) or raw damage potential (the melee weapon) in the process, which really makes no sense whatsoever. Besides, the storm shield is free. Who argues with a free improved invulnerable save?
Speaking as someone who’s collected and played Space Wolves exclusively for fourteen years now in non-tournament settings, I (like many of you) have a chain fist and storm shield Lone Wolf that is now benched. But I’ve taken this as a challenge to improve upon my Lone Wolves, and have made myself versions of pretty much every available melee load-out, even a twin frost axe toting berserk that’s just for sheer fun of the fluff.
I think when it comes to how to kit your Lone Wolves in a list, a savvy Wolf Lord needs to look at how he’s intending to use those Lone Wolves, and how many of them he’ll be bringing to the fight. If it’s just a handful, you should make the most of them, and go with the hammer/shield kit. If it’s a few but you want to make the most of them, then power/frost weapons or a Wolf Claw plus a storm shield would be the way to go. In numbers, three of them will end up costing around the same price you’d pay for two of the hammer and shield load-out.
The Lone Wolf has changed. Yes, the solitary tank-smashing, chain fist toting brute is no longer with us, but his successors seem to be tooled up to stand apart yet aid their brethren on their own terms. If you’ve got the points, give them a try. If used as an unwilling supplement to a squad instead of a target all out on its lonesome, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what these guys can do for you.