Lets face facts. Sure you love those nifty blood claws, and yes you have spent hours upon hours modeling, painting and dreaming about the damage you do with them. Even though you have spent quite a bit of time on your troops and other selections, its usually the HQ choices that we look forward to fielding the most. Whether it be the Avatar or a simple Librarian. The HQ choices stir the imagination the most. These are the most costly but heavy hitting units in the game. In my humble opinion the HQ choice of a given list says a lot about the tactics and strategies that the army is designed for.
The my first and still lasting impression with the space wolves is that they have a lot of abilities that can drastically change the power and tactical options any given basic unit has.. With possibly the exception of the Wolf lord, the HQ choices each grant units that they are attached to abilities to augment their battle roles. We have seen this in other armies notably Codex Space Marines with their special characters granting armies an ability or with Eldar and their ability to lend units re-rolls for certain tests. Both things can be done with this army just by taking the right HQ. The benefit to this is that with proper list design you can take a relatively low cost, low powered unit like grey hunters or blood claws and turn them into low cost mid to high powered units just by adding an HQ that probably would have been added anyway for the same price. This means that you can take your “basic” troops unit which you need to capture objectives with and specialize it to compete not only in the mandatory role you need it for but for a specialized battle role that is normally reserved for higher cost units. There by freeing up other slots in your army. Now add all that in and top that off with the fact you can take up to four HQ’s in your army. You have the beginnings of something awesome.
Lets begin the review by looking at our first HQ selection the Wolf Lord
At first glance I wasn’t particularly impressed with the Wolf Lord. He is basically a really good stat line for 100 points, with this he can hold his own and more in assault but without any special rules or other such options he is a pretty stagnant choice. With that in mind I begin to look at his gear options for better ways both get him into assault and to perform well once he is there. Ideally we want to keep him below 180 points, otherwise there isn’t any reason to take him. You might as well take a special character or another cheaper HQ selection. What the Wolf Lord excels at is being a good cheap HQ that can dish it out in the assault.
Botlgun: No really a choice on this one yeah its free but it detracts from his specialty without offering any real benefit.
Storm bolter: Even thought the Storm bolter is an assault weapon it still does the same as the Boltgun.
Combi-Weapons: Possibly if you have him mounted on a bike and need a tank popper or swarm control in the unit otherwise save the points.
Power Weapon and Plasma Pistol: The power weapon is pointless if you want a power weapon on the guy do it right and put a power fist of thunder hammer on him. The plasma pistol however is not a bad choice if you do want to have him have light transport popping ability or be able to put a wound on high toughness creatures.
Wolf Claws: Not an optimum choice unless you are making this guy to fight swarms in which case higher volume of shots to hit or wound can count.
Power Fist, Frost Blade or Axe: Normally I would say totally put a power fist on that suck and knock some heads but in this case I will say just pay the five extra points and purchase a Thunder Hammer. While Frost Blades and Axes are neat not on this choice where the Thunder hammer and storm shield are five points away.
Thunder Hammer and Storm shield: Best optimum choice in my opinion there is no way to knock a Thunder hammer of the 3+ inv. Save. Hands down the best choice if you want to pay the points.
Runic Armor: I am going to hold on my opinion on this one just because it seems as though the trend that GW is taking with 40K is that Psychic powers are becoming predominantly more powerful. While we already have the Rune Priest with his Runic weapon, at this point in time it’s up in the air for me whether or not the additional protection is necessary.
Terminator Armor: Kind of unnecessary simply because you can get a better invuln save from the storm shield and the Belt of Russ. The Terminator Armor doesn’t give you any other options such as Deep Strike since they removed that rule from space wolves in general. Is Also doesn’t add anything to your list of options other that more points.
Jump Pack: Although not my first choice it is bad if you are fielding skyclaw jump marines. His attacks and ability to smite heavy handed will give the sky claws the lost punch they are lacking in comparison to the other units. Personally I am a big fan of Jump units and Bikes, so therefore anything that adds it to someone is hands down just plain cool.
Bike: Like the jump pack. The Space Marine bike is a good choice if you want to put him in with a swift claw biker unit. However the Bike is also a good choice if you are going to have this guy running around on the solo. The added turbo-boost and toughness will help keep him alive a little bit longer.
Thunderwolf: If there was any one list that I think the Wolf lord would excel in, it would have to be a Thunderwolf cavalry list.. With the bonus attack, rending, and movement. Not only will he see assault but once in it he will be a contender to boot.
Melta Bombs: kind of redundant unless you aren’t taking a power fist or thunder hammer then absolutely necessary with how much mechanization 5th edition is seeing.
Wolf Tail Talisman: As 5th edition progresses this item may become more and more necessary, For right now I will leave it to include if you think you will have trouble against psychers.
Wolf Tooth Necklace: Redundant with his high weapon skill. The wolf lord will be rolling 3+ against just about everyone.
Fenrisian Wolves: I imagine that this would be an ideal upgrade if you wanted to have the Wolf Lord running on the solo. I basically gives him two more wounds.
Mark of the Wulfen: Redundant and pointless since unless a Thunder hammer or power fist is chosen then he has 6 attacks on the charge, that most likely will be power attacks at the least.
Belt of Russ: Runner up to the Storm shield. If the Wolf Lord build has something other than the Thunder Hammer Storm Shield then definitely give him the inv. Save.
Saga of the Beastslayer: I think no matter the army this Saga has to go on at least one model just because it helps you solve so many problem units. Thinking about it I can not think of one army that does not have either walker, monstrous Creature or toughness 5 or more, in their competitive list (with exception to guard maybe). Plain goodness this choice, quite honestly the most underestimated Saga of the bunch.
Saga of Majesty: Almost the auto-include just because failing a leadership roll will happen to your army at least once. Since he is the only HQ choice that can take it, this choice fights with saga of the beastslayer and warrior-born.
Saga of the Wolfkin: Not really the best choice. Good for theme if you took fenrisan wolves.
Saga of the Warrior-Born: You mean that all I have to do is kick ass in assault and I become better…ok. Its though choice between the majesty, beast slayer, and this one. A little points heavy though so if your Wolf Lord is already hitting that cap then go ahead and pick something cheaper..
Saga of the Bear: Second runner up I would say, although it’s a little points heavy of an option. There are alot of player's like me who love to use the powerfist. The only reason this is a second runner up is because if your wolf lord is getting charged by a unit that is serious about assault enough to pack a power fist or something of the like then its a good chance he is going to die regardless of instakill. Once again i could be completly off but I just believe that a making your Wolf Lord re-roll hits, Leadership, or just plain dish it out is a better option.
Summary: All in all the wolf lord isn’t the most exciting or innovative selection out of the bunch since he only does one thing extremely well and that get into assault and kick some serious ass. Since this is a war game however that is precisely what you need sometimes. This would be the selection I would toss into a big distraction unit simply because if properly geared he can be seriously hard to deal with for his points. Both cheap and effective, he may not be the most innovative HQ selection but he certainly isn’t a poor choice by any stretch of the imagination.