I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this upcoming Dream Wizards 1500 point tournament. One of my biggest, sleep-depriving dilemmas was whether to bring Wolf Scouts or a multi-melta dreadnought. On the surface, the decision seems obvious. However, I want to dig a little deeper.
First, let’s get an idea of what we’re bringing in each case:
- 5 Wolf Scouts (75 pts) + Melta Gun (10 pts) for a total of 85 points.
- Dreadnought (105 pts) + Multi-Melta (free) + Drop Pod (35 pts) for a total of 140 points.
Some people like to trick out their scouts or their dread, but these are the most commonly brought, purest form of each and the point from where I’d like to start the comparison.
Wolf Scouts are pretty typical scout models. MEQ like stats except for a 4+ save due to their weaker armor. They have the normal scout USR’s of Move Through Cover and Infiltrate, and Scout, but there is one thing that sets this unit apart from other Marine scouts. Behind Enemy Lines allows Wolf Scouts to come in on the enemy’s long table edge on any roll of 3+. This alone makes the unit almost a must-bring. For 85 points, you can smuggle a melta gun right into the heart of your opponent’s parking lot. And unlike our fearless dreadnought, this unit has the ability to allocate wounds or get into assault. However, they are still only T4, so you know they are going to be dakka’d pretty hard before they have a chance to get a second melta shot off. Make that first one count!
The downside, which should be obvious by this point, is that on a roll of 1 or 2, Behind Enemy Lines has failed you. Combine this with the shenanigans an Officer of the Fleet or other reserve/deployment altering unit has and we’re talking about a pretty good chance to come in way outside of the action. Assuming a 1st/3rd Spearhead deployment, Wolf Scouts would end up out-of-action on any roll of 2. Best case scenario. Now assume a DoW or Pitched Battle deployment where your opponent has Mech Guard and decides to castle between some terrain in the center of their board edge. They’ve also brought the OotF. Now you are boned on a 1 or 2, and if you win that 3+, you know you are re-rolling and have another opportunity to roll a 1 or a 2. That is 55% of the time, you’re out of luck.
Next, we have the slightly more expensive MM DreadPod. Thanks to Drop Pod Assault, this unit is coming in turn 1. Well, maybe not always thanks. Assuming you’ve brought no other pods, this could leave you at a serious disadvantage if your opponent reserves his army or in a DoW game where you are going first. Again, we have some trickeration that can occur. However, in this case I feel we are slightly ahead than the Wolf Scouts. In the few instances where your opponent denies you a melta target, you can drop your dreadnought behind some cover or outside his reach fairly reliably (thanks, cheating marine pods) and wait with your 24″ melta range. Of course, he could roll on and level your dread before it ever has a chance to pop a tank, but hopefully you’ve deployed so that you are only giving him front armor and popped smoke for the 4+ save. That means your long fangs/razorbacks/rune priests/etc have a free turn of shooting while he focus fires your MMD.
In the majority of games though, you’re going to get a chance to drop down in your opponents face and walk out an AV12, 24″ range’d multi-melta. Again, we only have 1 shot, so make it count, but with BS4, you’re likely to do some serious damage. THEN, your opponent still has to deal with the pissed off dreadnought in his backfield. He probably won’t live to see turn 2, but more of your fragile backfield units will thanks to the diversion.
Conclusion: A lot of winning Space Wolves lists include the 85 point base-equipped Wolf Scout squad, and are very successful with them. Tony Kupach’s list (Blood of Kittens) includes the exact unit, and he does pretty well in tournaments. However, I am worried that the situational downsides of the unit doesn’t justify taking the elite slot and the 85 points away. That could mean a WG with a CML or lascannons for your Long Fangs. At 140 points, the Drop-Podding Multi-Melta’ing Dreadnought of doom is certainly tougher to fit into lower point lists. However, I think that when played correctly, it is worth the point increase and brings a more devastating melta into your opponents face.