Index Space Wolves: Wolf Guard Bikers –“Viking Dragoons” — Battle Group

Continuing to look at various factions here and what tactical options they have on the tabletop, including armies that do not have an 8th edition codex yet.

Something that has stood out to me for a while now, and even more so after closer analysis, is the potential effectiveness of a “shooty” Wolf Guard Biker battle group, especially given the new rules for ranged weapons in 8th edition. Consider the following:

 

-10 x Wolf Guard Bikers (all with Combi-Plasmas and Stormshields)

-Rune Priest on Bike (with “Storm Caller” psychic power)

-Wolf Lord on Bike (with Stormshield/Thunderhammer)

-Rhino Primaris

 

The idea for this Battle Group is to put the WG Bikers up front, followed closely by the Lord/Rune Priest/Rhino Primaris. The Rune Priest casts “Storm Caller” as early as he can (hopefully you have first turn), giving all nearby units the benefit as if they were in cover… so the WG Bikers, Wolf Lord Biker, and Rune Priest Biker himself all gain, in effect, a 2+ armor save. Combine this with the 3++ on the Wolf Lord/Wolf Guard Bikers, plus 2W per Wolf Guard, and right out the gate you have a high level of survivability.

In terms of mobility, of course everything but the Rhino Primaris is riding a Space Marine Bike, meaning they have a 14″ move and an automatic 6″ Advance (or 20″ total move) every turn. If you are not already in shooting range on Turn 1 with the 14″ move, then this can almost guarantee that they will be within engagement distance by turn 2 at the latest. Additionally, this superior mobility combines with the strong survivability mentioned above to enable the Battle Group to effectively grab (and hold, if required) objectives all game long.

Finally, and most importantly, is the combat power of this force, especially the shooting. The Rhino Primaris “boosts” the WG Biker’s to Hit rolls by +1, not only making them more accurate, but allowing them to Overcharge their Combi-Plasmas without any fearing of Overheating and killing themselves…. this allows the unit to put out 20 x S8 AP-3 D2 shots at 12″ range, PLUS another 40 x S4 AP0 D1 shots from the Twin Bolters on their Bikes (remember, in 8th edition, you can shoot every weapon on a model, unless it is a Pistol or Grenade, and you can also shoot at different targets, so the Bolters can go against light/medium infantry and the Plasma shots against vehicles/monsters/heavy infantry).

Alternately, if you are just interested in putting out as many shots as possible, then don’t overcharged the plasma and instead shoot with 20 regular Plasma shots at BS3+, 20 Bolter shots at BS3+, and 40 Bolter shots at BS2+… this can let the WG Bikers deal with Conscript blobs, masses of cheap Orks or Gaunts, and the infamous Brimstone Horror spam, etc. etc. Add in to all of this the re-rolls of 1s to Hit from the nearby Wolf Lord and you have about a 97% accuracy for any shooting by the WG Bikers (and again, you can split their fire between targets as appropriate, so it doesn’t all have to become “overkill” on a single enemy unit).

In terms of the final phase, close combat, the WG Bikers have 2A base each, even without close combat upgrades, and anything they shoot at ought to be significantly weakened before they charge it, especially with the help of the Wolf Lord and his re-rolls to Hit of 1 aura and individual close combat prowess to support them. Provided you are willing to pay the extra points (they are already quite pricy with Combi-Plasmas), then you can kit some or all of the WG Bikers out with PWs, PFs, Frost Swords, Wolf Claws, etc. to taste, making them into a potent assault unit on top of their already powerful shooting abilities.

If you really want to go “all-in” for making the Wolf Guard effective at close combat, you can also add in Logan Grimnar and Arjac Rockfist, who can deep strike in via their Terminator Armor and buff the WG Bikers with +1A, re-rolls to Wound of 1s, Re-roll of all to Hits, and making them immune to Morale… all these buffs taken together, plus any special close combat weapons and 2A base, make them very effective in the assault phase.

The key to making this whole unit work, I think, keeping the Rhino Primaris alive and close by to the WG Bikers, since the +1 to Hit for shooting really takes them over the top… while decently durable with T7 and a 3+ save, the Rhino Primaris can be destroyed pretty quickly by focus fire from your opponent, so shielding it, providing other distracting targets for your opponent, and/or adding  in an Iron Priest to repair lost wounds on it would probably be key to making this entire battle group function effectively all game long.

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