Thunderwolf Cavalry is absolute murder in an assault, but not too hot when it comes to shooting. Let's keep that in mind. What are your options?
- Avoid them. Never let them get into base contact for an assault.
- Bring as many gunz as you can, and shoot them to pieces.
- Engage them in an assault - the more costly, the better.
Avoiding models that can move 12” as cavalry can is going to be tough. In fact, I can guarantee you the Space Wolf player is going to point his Thunderwolves at the juiciest target and try to make for it with all haste. That being said, it’s entirely possible for you to minimize the utility of the Thunderwolves by making sure your high-value targets and useful units are in places they can’t get to easily no matter how fast they move. Units that can fly or Deep Strike, for example, can appear on the other side of the battlefield, and if their objective is there, so much the better. Additionally, while cavalry is not slowed by difficult terrain (even when they charge), they treat difficult terrain as dangerous terrain instead. If you can put some difficult terrain between you and him, that might make him consider whether possibly losing one of his very expensive models to the side of a tree is worth coming after you.
Of course you’d rather shoot these guys. The fact that they have a Toughness of 5 and at least 2 Wounds - even for the squadboyz - makes doing this effectively challenging, though, to say the least. Barring the addition of Independent Characters on mounts, however, the maximum number of models in a Thunderwolf pack is six, meaning you have 12 Wounds to chew through. A squad of six such ladz with storm shields is a minimum of 330 points - pretty steep! - and if I
were the Space Wolf player, I think I would want to invest in something with a little more bite than a six-pack of chainswords for weapons. Seems like even the Dark Angels could point a lot of gunz downrange for those kinds of points. Obvious choices:
- Plasma Weapons - You’re the Dark Angels, aren’t you? Even a plasma pistol wounds on a 2+ and makes them rely on their storm shields for protection. Rapid-firing plasma weapons (plasma talons or plasma guns) would work better though, as it will be the volume of shots that is going to take them down.
- Stength 10 Blast Weapons - Both the Vindicator’s Demolisher Cannon and the Dark Talon’s Rift Cannon wound on anything but a 1 and cause Instant Death. The Dark Talon also has the advantage of being nearly immune to the Thunderwolves’ counter attack, as they’d need 6’s to hit a flyer.
- Stasis Bomb - Got one? Any model in the target unit suffering an unsaved wound from a Stasis Bomb must pass an initiative test or be removed from play. Any unit hit by the bomb - even if it causes no wounds at all - reduces its WS and I by three! Try combining that with an assault for an effective counter-attack.
- Grav-cannons - They’re expensive, but they’re so worth it! Dark Angels devastator squads can get Grav-cannons with Grav-amps for 35 points each. While you'll need a 3+ to wound Thunderwolves instead of the 2+ plasma weapons grant you, the Grav-amp allows you to re-roll failed wounds, you get more shots (they're Salvo 3/5 weapons), and they don’t Get Hot. You’ll probably find they work very well on every other powered armour model in the Space Wolf army if you have something left to shoot after the Thunderwolves are gone.
Finally, you can assault them. Because they have “Counter Attack”, even a regular squadboy on a thunder wolf gets five attacks during the first round of combat, regardless of who charges whom. Unless you hit them with a Stasis Bomb, their initiative will be 4, possibly higher if there are Independent Characters mixed in with the bunch. Models with Frost Blades and Wolf Claws will be able to reap a terrible toll on any model not wearing terminator armour. Fortunately for you, Dark Angel, you have lots of terminator armour to go around, and anything less than a Frost Axe or Thunder Hammer will allow you a 2+ save. A squad of five Deathwing Knights could inflict heavy losses on a unit of Thunderwolves, hitting on a 3+ (higher WS), wounding on a 3+ (Strength of 6), and forcing them to rely on their 3+ storm shield saves for every wound. Additionally, because of the Fortress of Shields rule, if you can keep your models together in base-to-base-contact, you can mitigate his ability to wound you in return without resorting to Unwieldy weapons that would strike last anyway.