In 5th there were a couple of other things working against Drop Pods, the mishap table was slightly less forgiving, the reserve rolls were slightly harder and Rhino’s were more survivable than they are now. Not only are those two charts slightly more forgiving now, we have things like ‘Linebreaker’ and ‘First Blood’ that encourage two things that Drop Pods excel at – getting into enemy lines and blowing stuff up. Those are two easy victory points right there that help you with not only winning the game but also serve to put your opponent back on their heels and force them to react to you and what you are doing – rather than executing their plan.
If you think that Drop Pods might work for your army and you play style then next logical question is – how should I use Drop Pods? First of all the minimum number of Drop Pods you want to use with Space Wolves is at least 3. Why three Drop Pods? For starters the ‘Drop Pod Assault’ rule, you take the number of Drop Pods in the army and divide it in half, rolling up, to determine how many Drop Pods hit on turn one. If you take 2 pods you will get one on the first turn and one in reserve, arriving on a 3+ turn two, 3+ turn 3 and automatically on turn 4. Another factor for Wolves is that we cannot teleport into battle like other Marines so we can get one Drop Pod in and then use the homing beacon on it like other armies. Realistically this is why I say ‘three pod minimum’, because the way I play (punch you in the face) requires dudes on the table in sufficient numbers to survive until reinforcements arrive. One Drop Pod delivering 10 wolves is simply not survivable enough to hold out when the majority of your opponent’s army will now be aimed squarely at them.
If you decide that you want to use Drop Pods the next question is, what the heck should I put in them? Really your only two choices in this are Wolf Guard in Terminator Armor and Grey Hunter squads. In my example above I was always using 30 marines in power armor as my assault force with a Rune Priest, 3x Wolf Guard and 26 Grey hunters. Lately I have been running a Wolf Star in place of the Rune Priests squad that looks like this: Rune Priest with Terminator Armor and Master of the Runes, Arjac Rockfist, 3x Wolf Guard with Terminator Armor, Chain Fist and Storm Bolter. The other two pods each have a Wolf Guard with Power Fist, Combi Melta and 9 Grey Hunters with Meltagun, Power Sword and Wolf Banner. This allows me to look at my opponent’s army and decide whether or not to bring the Terminators first turn or to save them in reserve for a counter punch later in the game. Nine out of ten times you are going to hit the ground running with your Terminators and Grey Hunters in the first turn and use the second squad of Grey Hunters as clean up / linebreakers later in the game – but at least you have the flexibility to react accordingly to your opponent.
Next time we will discuss what kids of targets to go after and how to use Psychic Disciplines, instead of JOTWW and Living Lightning, to maximize the effectiveness of our mini Wolf Star.