Well, I finally took the time to read through the new Space Wolves material of 7th Edition. It's a little late, but I thought I'd offer my thoughts on all of the new options and changes anyways, in case anybody cared.
We'll start at the top: The Wolf Lord took a lateral step. The only major hit he took was losing access to Saga of the Bear, but that one hit was pretty devestating. On the other hand, though, almost everything in his arsenal got cheaper, he gets a 4+ Invuln for free, and the Thunderwolf gives +1 Wound now. He'll crumple against S10 hits in this edition, but against anything else he's tougher than ever, which I'd say is a fair trade. (And, if he got the +1 Wound AND Saga of the Bear, he'd pretty much make the Chapter Master obselete and nobody wants that. A good solution might have been to make a Relic suit of Terminator Armor that gives Eternal Warrior, but that's all speculation.
Far cheaper and at least as good, Ragnar took a big step up in the world. He's more survivable and deadlym, though slightly less beneficial to his unit. I'm still not gonna take him, though, mainly because I don't care for what rules he has and I'd rather take a custom Wolf Lord.
Somewhat killy, but the only reason I'd take him is to get the Leadership boost for Thunderwolves. The pyromancy immunity is nice but silly and situational, and a normal Wolf Lord can be a lot more deadly. What kills him is giving away a Frost Axe rather than a Thunder Hammer or even a Power Fist, crippling his Initiative without giving any meaningful boosts to compensate.
Got vastly worse. Rampage is a poor substitute for his old special rule, Born of the Wolves is meh, and he's just as expensive. Last codex, I'd take him as a novelty against horde melee armies, but now it's a lot less likely because he simply can't dish out enough damage to make him worthwhile.
Here we have some actual dramatic changes! Unfortunately, the Rune Priest himself is a lot worse in this edition. Admantium Will is VASTLY worse than the 4+ Deny bubble, and that one change is a whole lot of suck.
On the other hand... We're 40 points cheaper, and increasing to Mastery Level 2 is half the cost. Plus, most of our Psychic Powers got buffed heavily: Jaws is weaker, and both Fury and Murderous Hurricane are arguably not deserving of Warp Charge 2, but Living Lightning is just as good (if a bit different,) Storm Caller and Tempests Wrath are both awesome, and Thunderclap isn't bad. While it's mostly a lateral move for tactics since we're cheaper but less powerful, the Rune Priest is a lot more balanced which is a good thing.
Similar to the Rune Priest, he lost a lot of character but got a lot cheaper. He's ML3 now, and has better control of his Psychic Powers (At least the Tempestas ones,) but lost all of his nifty special rules. His staff is a consolance prize for losing the 3+ deny bubble, but it's better than nothing. At the very least, he's a 3W ML3 Psyker with a 2+ save for 180 points, which isn't bad. I'm actually more likely to take him now just for the Mastery levels, even if he is a bit less useful in comparison.
I rarely used Wolf Priests in the last codex. I'm still not going to use them. They really aren't bad, but they aren't killy enough to justify their cost to me, and their buff isn't enough to make them more worthwhile than a Rune Priest. Pass, as before.
This guy took a big step up. A lot cheaper, and furthermore his buffs are a little bit better for army use rather than buffing a single use. I'm still not likely to use him, for the same reason as the Wolf Priest, but considering he's only a 35 point increase from the regular Priest, I'd almost always take him over a stock character.
Wolf Guard Battle Leader:
Ah, the WGBL. In the last codex, he was the go-to for a cheap HQ unit when you needed more points for your other slots. I loved most of the HQ choices, so I rarely took him, but he had a certain appeal. Now, though, the Rune Priest is only 10 points more and isn't much worse as a stock character. (Especially considering the Rune Priest gets a force weapon for free, which is well worth the 10 points.) And if you're going to deck him out rather than going cheap, you're going to be spending so many points that you may as well take a Wolf Lord. It's not that he's bad, it's just that he's outdone by his contemporaries.
I never liked Dreadnaughts. Bjorn was no exception. That being said, it's a step up from the last edition, he's a lot cheaper, and he can take a Hellfrost Cannon and a Drop Pod. If you ever considered taking him before, he's a lot better, but I'm going to continue passing on him since I still don't like Dreadnaughts.
These guys took a huge step up, purely by virtue of being 1/5th cheaper than they used to be. When they cost the same as Grey Hunters for only a tiny boost, they were pretty much terrible, but now they have a reason to be chosen over Grey Hunters besides getting Rage and bigger squadrons.
Lukas the Trickster:
Sixty points cheaper, for only a tiny drop in effectiveness. His new Pelt rules don't force rerolls, but they DO increase his likelyhood of hitting in Melee, so I'd call that a wash. It's slightly harder to trap enemies with his stasis field, but only slightly. Another huge buff, along with his Blood Claw Buddies.
No longer the Bread and Butter of Space Wolves, but only by virtue of almost everything else getting better. We're one point cheaper base, but if we want our old Bolter/Chainsword/Pistol combo back we're one point more expensive. This amounts to cheaper squads for holding objectives or sitting on the back lines, but more expensive squads for the front lines. (Though, you can shave points by putting chainsword-free models on the front lines and keeping your guys with the extra attack on the back, so the less valuable guys die first.) All in all, that's a lateral move, but we also lost our free Special Weapon for taking five guys. I wouldn't call them any worse than before, but they're certainly not better.
To be honest, I have no problems with these guys, but I can't say how good they are because I never take them. They seem reasonable enough, but I never have any vehicles to use them on. (Besides Drop Pods, Rhinos, and the occasional single Land Raider I don't use a lot of Vehicles with my wolves.) They seem about the same as always, but I can't say if that's a good thing or not. However, they're now Independant Characters, which gives a lot of advantages. If you really wanted, you could buy three of them with full Cyberwolf retinues, add them to a unit of Six Thunderwolves, add a Wolf Lord or two, and have a silly deathtrain of WOLF. Not tactical, but fun.
If I WERE to bring an Iron Priest (Outside of Thunderwolf shenanigans), these guys would be a good choice. They function as a buff to his repair, so if I had a line of tanks running in artillery mode they'd be good, and furthermore they can also function as a secondary Long Fangs squad that sits in the Elites section. Not the best choice ever, but they're definitely not bad.
As with Blood Claws, these guys got a much needed price decrease. They're only one point cheaper, but their Sniper Rifles are another two points cheaper on top of that. (And let's be honest: You take these scouts for their Sniper Rifles. Unlike the vanilla variant, they aren't so great at holding objectives next to other units.) Access to Camo Cloaks is nice, too. I'd still not take them very often, simply because I can bring in Space Marine scouts if I really want them, but it's nice to see that they're a lot more useable now.
Ah, the Lone Wolf. They function almost identically to before, but with most of the weapon options being a lot cheaper, they get that much more useful. Even better, you can take one for every unit of Wolf Guard and for every Troops choice: Up to 9, and they don't fill up slots in the FOC. One small thing keeps them from being superheroes, though: They count as killpoints and first blood now. Admittedly, only one in six games will be Killpoints, but if you bring a few of them and that mission comes up, you've got a few easy, juicy kills just sitting around ripe for the taking.
I've already said I don't like these guys. Sure, they're not that expensive, but they just seem so Schitzophrenic in their intent. They're not all too sturdy against shooting, they don't have a lot of ranged damage even if you swap out their melee weapon for a gun, and their melee output is stifled by only having two attacks and no access to a second Melee weapon. The one option I might consider taking is the Fenrisian Great Axe/Blizzard Shield combo, which gives a lot more durability on the front armor (Which is excellent in hand-to-hand where all hits WILL strike the front armor,) and it's the only way to get two Close Combat weapons. At 145 points, though, it's a tad pricey and you'll still have trouble getting it into combat. It's a useable option, but still not one of my favorites.
A big whopping Meh for this guy. He's ten points cheaper than the Venerable Blizzard Shield option I mentioned above, and he has Four attacks (Six on the charge,) which is pretty good. Ignoring Crew Shaken and Stunned is nice, too. It Will Not Die, Rage, Rampage, and Furious Charge are all pretty good additions, giving him up to nine attacks in Close Combat on a good roll, but there are a few problems: Furious Charge is pointless on a weapon with a given Strength value, unless I'm misunderstanding something. His Strength isn't eve high enough to cause Instant Death to T4 models, either, and he's not particularly durable. I'm also unclear if the two Murderclaws means he actually has five attacks base instead of four. That's not a complaint, though, just a bit of confusion on my part.
Wolf Guard/Wolf Guard Terminators:
These guys are ALMOST a step up. Cheaper gear, almost ridiculously cheaper access to Jump Packs and Bikes (1/8th and 1/4th the cost, respectively,) and far cheaper Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield combos (As well as dual Wolf Claws,) make both the vanilla and terminator options a lot better.
But there's just one problem which really kills them: The way they fit into the army now. Terminators and Vanilla are split up, and you no longer break them out into other units. (Instead, other units simply buy them as upgrades.) This has some pretty devestating knock-on effects. Before, you could build some really dense and powerful units by taking advantage of the split-up ruling. Take three or four models and attach them to your Grey Hunters, and you've got a six-man Terminator squad that's allowed to take two Cyclone Missile Launchers or Assault Cannons. Or, you could have a decent squad of Wolf Guard, and attach those CMLs to your Long Fangs. Also, being able to include Terminators and regular Wolf Guard in the same squad let you save points or Transport capacity while still capitalizing on damage output.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, by making the Wolf Guard an upgrade rather than an addition, squad sizes are essentially reduced by one: Rather than a ten man squad plus a Wolf Guard, you've got a ten man squad including the Wolf Guard. For a squad like Long Fangs, where every model counts, this is a pretty devestating hit: You can either have two extra characters to soak up wounds OR the full five Heavy Weapons, but you can no longer take both. The only TINY buff is that we can now include two special weapons and a Wolf Guard in a unit of Grey Hunters while they ride in a drop pod, but that's just not a worthwhile trade to me.
It's a real shame that this one change made this unit go from an extremely versatile, interesting unit to just another mediocre squad of Veterans that I probably won't take very often.
MUCH cheaper and otherwise identical, he took a huge step up in usefulness. The only drawback? As with the Wolf Guard thimselves, he's unable to join any other units, making him a mere upgrade character to beef up your Terminators. As a character he's better, but his unit syngergy dropped enough to make me sad. Still, if you liked him before, he's a much better choice now, and even if you didn't he's worth considering since his S10 Concussive ranged weapon can cause a lot of hurt to big nasties.
Swiftclaws and Skyclaws:
I'm going to take both these guys out here: They're cheaper, otherwise identical, and I still won't be using them. They lack the objective holding advantages of being a troops choice, they don't have enough Damage output in melee to make me care much about them, and their additional speed which helps them harass or close quickly doesn't justify their existence to me. If you liked them before, that's fine, and they're a lot better now by virtue of costing less, but they're still not cheap enough to make me want them.
Stormwolf and Stormfang:
The two new units in the codex that aren't a Special Character, and I like them. The Stormwolf really just a Thunderhawk variant, with a little more Transport capacity and a little more damage output... For some reason they didn't give it any real detriments that I can see. The Helfrost cannon is great, the weapon options make it really focused and good for killing MCs and Tanks (Or lots of hordes, if you stick with the Heavy Bolters,) it's just a good flyer all around. Model looks nice, too. Stormfang is similar, trading a little transport for a little more damage. If you were already buying it for the anti-tank power, just take the Stormfang instead.
Praise the Emperor! What was once a fun but pricey unit has been cheapened, buffed, and had their squad size amped up. No longer limited to a single Thunder Hammer, 1/5th cheaper, Storm Shields at half price, and we now have access to Power Weapons! Also, Ld9. And, we actually get a Character to accept challenges, so our Wolf Lord isn't screwed if we have to face down some big nasty with S10 and we don't want to feed our Lord to the wolves. I loved these guys in the old codex, because they hit like a freight train and were a lot of fun to use. I absolutely adore them now, because on top of that they're cheap enough be be viable. (For comparison: A Thunderwolf with a Storm Shield now costs only five points more than a Vanilla thunderwolf did in the old book.) Is it unbalanced? I don't think so. They were definitely overpriced in the old book, and they still cost a pretty penny. They're still pretty damned useful, though.
Not a lot to say here. Same price as before, same stats as before. Changes here are marginal at best. I'm going to keep my wolves serving as Bodyguards for now, not as whole units.
Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Our Plasma Cannons dropped dropped in price (For... some reason,) our Missile Launchers increased in price (And Flakk Missiles remain vastly too expensive to be useable,) and we actually have to take a Leadership test to use Splitfire now. The only real hit we took in usefulness is the newfound inability to up our squad size to 7 models with a Wolf Guard Battle Leader, which is sad, but I already covered this so I'll move on now.
I have nothing to say except... Why? He didn't need to be a Lord of War. Heck, he's cheaper now, and doesn't make Wolf Guard into troops anymore. His stats and gear are pretty much the same, except he gets +2 strength instead of +1 if he strikes with the Frost Blade mode.
And then there's his Chariot. It's a 70 point upgrade that arguably makes him *worse* than before. He becomes faster and gains a few rending attacks, sure, but he can't join any units and he doesn't get any sturdier. (Actually, since Eternal Warrior stops mattering and his chariot can explode, he actual becomes more vulnerable.) A 320 point model should never be left this exposed. If he had better armor, I might think it's a cool gimmick, but right now it's just a bad idea.
All of our tanks: I skipped over the stock vehicles because there's nothing to say here. They're identical to the old versions, they're identical to the Marine versions. I have no comment here except to say that Drop Pods are still great.
Aside from all this, I just have a few things to go over.
Our new Force Organization Chart lets you take a whopping SIX HQ choices, as well as giving units Outflank if you roll well. It's not reliable enough for me, (And I usually spam Drop Pods anyways,) but it's a nifty addition.
On the other hand, the Champions of Fenris gives you four HQ choices, makes Elites take the role of Troops, and then gives your Wolf Guard and Thunderwolves +1 Weapon Skill. Since WS4 is the standard for melee troops, having 5 instead means you're almost always going to be hitting on threes, which is enormous. (Oh, and you get Preffered Enemy on top of that. Wheee!)
And then we have Relics.
Relics in the main book are your stock build-your-own-special-character types. The Armor of Russ is a little confused, since you're paying extra points for a 4+ invuln but it really only belongs on a Wolf Lord (Who has the Belt of Russ anyways,) but if you face a lot of Eldar in close combat it's nice. The Bite of Fenris isn't bad, but I'd rather give my special characters a good melee weapon and forgo shooting if I'm going to be buying relics. Black Death gives you a bunch of extra attacks (And isn't a specialist weapon, so a Bolt Pistol can give you another +1 attack,) meaning you could potentially have TEN attacks on the charge with a properly equipped Wolf Lord. At S7. With AP2. (S8 with 11 attacks if he has the Wulfen Stone on top of it.)
The Helm of Durfast might go well on a Rune Priest, but that's about the only HQ that can really take advantage of boosted shooting attacks, and even then it depends on what Psychic Powers you roll. (Then again, your Primaris is a great shooting attack, so worst case scenario you get re-rolls to hit on Ignores Cover Living Lightning. Not bad.) Fangsword of the Ice Wolf is a slightly better Frost Sword, but even with Rending and Hellfrost I'd rather just have a power fist or Thunder Hammer. Finally, the Wulfen Stone. It's really useful, but also incredibly expensive. In a unit of melee, like Wolf Guard Terminators or a charging squad of Thunderwolf Cavalry, it could be pretty good, but you have to carefully consider if it's any better than what you could get for the same point cost elsewhere.
And then we have the Relics from Champions of Fenris. This is where it gets good.
The Armour of Asvald is a really expensive suit of Terminator Armor that grants It Will Not Die. Here's the thing, though: It never says it's Terminator Armor in the rules. While it's a little sketchy, the rules go out of their way to describe the effects of Terminator Armor without actually *calling* it Terminator armor. This, among a few other minor things, means that you can take it on a Thunderwolf or a Bike. You're spending thirty points over Runic Armor for what amounts to IWND and nothing else, though, (Since you won't be taking advantage of Deep Strike, a Wolf Lord already has the 4+ invuln, and Bulky/Relentless won't matter,) and you lose the ability to make Sweeping Advances, so consider carefully if that one rule (Which will probably amount to one extra wound during the game,) is worth the penalties. Also, your opponent might not be happy with you, so only do this if it's agreed upon beforehand. (While RAW is on your side, and I for one could easily see an old, advanced suit of Terminator armor being better designed and compact enough to ride on a Thunderwolf or Bike, (and IWND is hardly a game-breaking rule for thirty points,) for the sake of sportsmanship it's probably best to ask permission first.)
Frostfury is what The Bite of Fenris wanted to be: It's a little less versatile, but trades in versatility for double the number of shots on the Hellfrost mode (And Assault versus Rapid Fire). The Krakenbone Sword, meanwhile, is perhaps the best special weapon in the codex or supplement: It's just a Frost Sword with AP2 and Master-Crafted, but an AP2 weapon that hits at initiative is a really great weapon. At only ten points more than a Thunder Hammer, it's not going to break the bank to take it either. (Oh, and it's not a Specialist weapon either, so you don't need to buy a Power Fist to get that extra attack!)
Morkai's Claws are for when you want to use your old Canis Wolfborn model without using the crappy new Canis Wolfborn. Wolf Claws that give +1 Strength, +D3 attacks, and a couple really great special rules. They're expensive, and even with Rending you'll struggle against models with 2+ armor, but they're still pretty good even for the cost.
The Pelt of the Balewolf is for when you want to kill Monstrous Creatures without... ahem... fear. (Insert rimshot here.) Against Tyranids or Daemons it's a bit useless, but it's also only ten points. Similarly, the Fellclaw's Teeth, which give you re-rolls to hit in Melee, is only going to be so useful, but is as cheap as a Power Weapon. Nice.
So what do I think overall?
I like it. Sure, I'm disappointed by a few changes, (And I think my Wolf Guard Terminators are going to get a little dusty over the next few years,) but for the most part the only things that got worse were overpowered to begin with, almost everything that was bad got better, we finally have a viable source of Anti Air without turning to allies, and very nearly nothing in the codex is unplayable in a competetive setting. It brings the Space Wolves into 7th edition very smoothly, and while a few bits and pieces that added character were lost, I feel it's a wortwhile trade for a codex with pretty good internal balance and a lot of new options I can't wait to try.
Aaand that's it. That's all the new Space Wolf stuff and my opinions on it. If you liked my rundown and want to see more reviews of codexes that came out months ago, let me know and I can see about going through my new Ork codex!