Welcome to 40k Word Association, where we take opinionated players from the across the country and pick their brains tackling the best 40k topics.

The association of the week is Thunder Cav a super duper scary unit from the new Space Wolves codex.

First up we have Miggidy Mack, where you can find hosting the great weekly Podcast Dice Like Thunder

I know what most think of automatically when they hear “Thunderwolf Cavalry”.  Sure many of us will try to think of something else to talk about and others will tackle that elephant in the room. I’m going to discuss why we have an elephant in the first place. “New Codex Syndrome”

Warhammer 40k is going through some real growing pains with 5th edition. Each new codex brings new and powerful toys. From the Orks redefinition of Horde Army to the Imperial Guards mechanized powerhouse. Now we are on to Space Wolves and just like everyone else, they have a few tricks that seem unstoppable. Jaws of the World Wolf and Thunderwolf Cavalry are the new Vendetta Squadrons this month.

It’s no secret that the power levels are ramping up. Each 5th edition codex’s has tools to handle each other. It’s the new standard in power level. Some of the older codex’s might have a bit more trouble. That’s growing pains. Who knows when Necrons or Witch Hunters will see in their next codex… in like 4 years…

So how do you begin to cope with these changes? Sure, you could decide the sky is falling and that GW makes every codex more powerful to sell models. I don’t buy that… that assumes Games-Workshop connects the quality of rules with model sales. If they did their FAQ/Errata wouldn’t be the joke of the gaming industry. Let’s pretend that you’re more reasonable than me. How do you keep ahead of the power curve without buying a new army?

*1) Assess the stats.* What in your army can actually hurt something like Thunderwolf Cavalry. Some of the options you might not be using because it wasn’t great against hordes might find a place in your army again. Assassins or Swarms might just do the trick!

*2) Think from above.* Look at where that unit can actually go on a table. Don’t think about what that unit does to your units. Think about how to out maneuver them. Reserves and feints will bring your game level up.

*3) Use enough terrain.* Many of the problems I see come from players not using the recommended 25% terrain or placing them according to the rules. Many players just toss 5 pieces of terrain down. Would you ignore the movement phase? When placing terrain, place it 8″ from the short board edges to stop out flanking. Build a line in the middle to stop long-range shooting. Put tons of it in the center to stop assault units. This is NOT cheating. It’s part of the game! This represents you and your opponent’s commander jockeying for position on the battlefield, choosing when to strike!

So hopefully these tips help us all not suffer too much under the reign of the Thunderwolf Cavalry…after all the Flying Carnifex Troop Squadron is only 2 months away!

Next up we have Blackmoor, recent winner of The Wild West Shoot Out in Mesa AZ. You can find Blackmoor on his blog as well playing at Empire Games in Mesa.

If you are playing against thunderwolf let’s face it, they will be running right at you as if you are wearing milk bone underwear, and it’s going take more than a good swat with a rolled up newspaper to get them off of you.
Since I expect to see them in almost every top tier Space Wolf army (Think of them as the bloodcrushers of the space wolf codex), let’s briefly go over why. Everyone knows that they hit like a truck, 4 base attacks and can get 1 more with 2 CCW, for a total of 6 on the charge. Not only that, but they can be armed with a variety of space wolf assault weapons, and can also add a Wolf Lord for some real pain. They are so good in assault that few units can go toe to toe. Now to be a good assault unit you need to have some trick to get your units into hand-to-hand, and thunderwolves have speed to help them get into assault.
So most people are aware of their assault abilities and their speed, but what most people are unaware of is just how hard they are to kill, so let’s go over all of what thunderwolfs have to offer defensively.
Pack of Wolves: If you are playing against thunderwolf cavalry there is a good chance that they are not going to be alone. In 40K, “Everything counts in large amounts”, so expect space wolf players to throw the whole dog pound at you.  That means Canis Wolfborn, wolf lord/WGBL mounted on a thunderwolf with saga of the wolfkin, iron priest with cyberwolves, and of course fenrisian wolves
Lord of the Wolves: One weakness of the thunderwolves is their leadership; expect to see a wolf lord on a thunderwolf mount to help mitigate that.
Speed: Thunderwolves can charge 19”-24” so that does not leave many rounds to shoot at them, and little rapid-fire.
Wounds: Thunderwolf cavalry have 2 wounds.
Toughness 5: Thunderwolf cavalry are immune to being insta-killed by anything less than strength 10 weapons. Their toughness also helps them to avoid wounds from small arms fire, and even slows down strength 5 and 6 weapons.
Wound allocation: Thunderwolves get to do the wound allocation trick when each thunderwolf model is equipped differently, so you can spread the wounds around. 
Armor saves: They have a base armor save of 3+, but you can also equip them with storm shields. So when they get hit by an AP 2 or 3 weapons just allocate the wounds to the models with the storm shields and get to benefit from their 3+ inv save.
With their assault, speed and defensive abilities, the only thing that slows down thunderwolf cavalry is their price.

Next,  Nathan Fluger blog commentator and legendary Ork player  from the Pacific Northwest who can be found at the Fire and Sword Gaming Center in Seattle WA.

 First of all, I gotta say I hate the idea of thunderwolf cavalry.  It sounds like something a 10-year-old would come up with.  I know there are plenty of fans of the idea, but it just smacks straw grasping to make Space Wolves unique and it is without precedent in the fluff.  Beyond that, the lack of model support means seeing plenty of poor conversions of toy wolves, ugh.

That aside, they are easily one of the best cavalry in 40k (not a tough competition).  I’ve only played against them in one game with my Orks and they were a real difference maker.  The amount of firepower that they took was startling (even when you know the numbers in your head, its sometimes shocking to see it play out on the table).  That 21.5″ average movement on the turn they assault is a bit jarring and hard to conceptualize; and the potential 24″ charge range is something you have to consider constantly. 

Having to divert a lot of shooting at them allowed his transported grey hunters to get into position and also took the pressure off of his Dreadnoughts.  He ran them right at my lootas, forcing me to shoot at them with the lootas, before they went through them like a fox in a henhouse.  Unfortunately, I didn’t kill them, and they got in and locked up the lootas for the rest of the game. 

Here is a few ideas when I face them again.  Cavalry can’t go into the upper levels of ruins, so, if the terrain allows, I can put my lootas into the upper floor to avoid them as a target. Also, for as tough as they are, they really don’t dish out a ton of hurt, locking them up with a 30-strong squad can work and the hidden fist can start grinding them down.  T5 means that S10 is required to instant kill them, so I’ll try and get my Killa Kans in by putting them in position to react to the cav charging.  If he uses his speed to stay away from the kans and not my important units, then the kans did their job. 

 Ork players that have warbosses with power klaws will probably not be too worried either as they will tear through a unit of these guys pretty quickly (6 attacks on the charge, 4 hits, most likely 4 dead…).  Make sure you have countercharges (like trukk boy squads or stormboyz) ready to take these guys down after they hit what they are going after.   
The main thing to remember is that they are really tough to kill, they move fast, but they don’t deal out a ridiculous amount of damage compared to some elite combat units; so they are probably going after something vital and easy to take down.  As long as you have a potent countercharge they should be mitigated more or less…

Finally, there is Jwolf from Bell of Lost Souls and regular at Battleforge Games in Austin TX.

Back in the Dark Ages when I was a student, I had a professor who talked about the Equine Millennium and how terrifying it would be to have a wall of guys on huge horses with pointy sticks riding straight at you.  Well, I have to say that giants riding wolves the size of minivans wielding hammers that could destroy a Battle Tank easily are a lot scarier to me.  In practical terms, though, Thunderwolves look like a lot of points for a trick that your opponent has to choose to stick his hand into; you can chew that monkey paw right off if your opponent is kind enough to feed it to you, but most of the time you’re going to me spending 3 turns walking into gunfire.

For Guard, Thunderwolves make Medusas and Manticores even better; I’m waiting for a new unit to be added that says anything else, though.  It’s not so hard to figure out feeding them a Chimera (they’re desperate to get that 12” charge off ) and then deliver S10 blasts is the most likely path to removing them from the board cheaply. For CSM, Space Wolves are a Lash army dream. Yes, the pesky Rune Priest has a 50/50 to stop Lash, but only within 24”, and he is likely behind, not in front of, the Thunderwolves.  Lash the dogs back twice and you have removed them from any effectiveness.  And Space Wolves are largely LD 8, which means pinning can actually happen. I see Thunderwolves as a great distraction unit; no one likes being charged by cavalry with five rending attacks at Strength 5 standing still, so these guys will draw a lot of fire on the way in against shooters.  Against an Assault army, these guys are superstars.  Wound striping them so that you can take 4 wounds without losing a model is easy enough to do, so they’ve got the annoying factor in spades.

This ends the first 40k Word Association, please comment about anything written.

Questions to Comment:

  1. What do you think of Thunder Cav?
  2. How would you deal with Thunder Cav?
  3. Do you think Thunder Cav are a case of overreaction?