Monday, 29 October 2012

Space Wolf Tactics: Long Fangs

Unit Name: Long Fangs.

Unit Type:
Heavy Support Unit, 2-6 man squad.
Construction: There are a few methods to make a squad of Long Fangs. Either kitbash a squad of devastators with some Space Wolf parts or purchase the heavy weapons from ebay and arm them on models made from the Space Wolf sprue.

Unit Deployment: In cover with the greatest vantage of the board possible.

Unit in play: 24-48 inch range, line of sight. 

Unit is most effective against: Depending on the load out the unit can be anti-tank, anti-infantry or both. Heavy bolters are for troops, lazcannon & mulitmelta for armour, plasma & missile launchers for both.

General Discussion:
The Space Wolves Codex has some fantastic choices in its Heavy Support category. The best choice is by far and away the Long Fangs. For fewer points than a Predator costs and you can have five guns firing at two targets. The only problem with Long Fangs is choosing what to arm them with, every weapon has a role but they also have disadvantages.

What to carry into battle?
The one man that is in every pack is the squad leader. This model should never have any wargear or upgrades as his role is solely to allow you to split fire. He is the one that you put as many wounds as possible on as he doesn’t have a heavy weapon and he can’t fire if you want to make use of Fire Control. Basically, if you have a situation where he could fire at a target you are doing it wrong. Long Fangs are supposed to sit on the sides and pelt the enemy with fire until there is nothing left, you should use the rest of your army to keep them free from being assaulted. So when you deploy always make sure that the squad leader is out in front.

For the rest of the squad the question is which guns to choose. Do you want to take on armour or mow down the infantry; do you mix your guns or take one type only? Firstly let’s look at the guns. You need to choose the role your Long Fangs will play and arm them to suit it. Each weapon has advantages and disadvantages so let’s take a quick run through them.

Missiles are the weapons conventional wisdom tells us are the best choice. The way I see it the missile launcher is the jack of all trades but king of none, it can do every job well but other guns can make a slightly better job of one or another aspect of the meta-game. You get two weapons for the price of one with missile launchers. The Krak missile is able to ruin light armour and Space Marines, very good for taking out any units caught in the open. Strength 8 weapons are good for Monstrous Creatures and for instant killing those pesky Space Marine characters. Frag missiles work on hordes and on bunched up units, they can cut down poorly armoured units like a chainsaw. When it comes to Tau who I play against regularly, Frag missiles take care of the Kroot and Crisis Suits love the kiss of a Krak. They have the range and strength to do what you want with decent armour penetration or a blast.
What are the weaknesses, you might ask? While only armour 14 will provide any trouble for the missiles the real problem is 2+ armour saves. With the new edition the ability to chew through terminators and their equivalents has been severely reduced, while this can be a major change to how you might play there is always a work around.

Plasma cannons are another mixed role weapon. These guns can take the light armour and drop a hard blast with great penetration on squads of units. The real use of these guns as I see it is to take out squads of terminators or other similarly armoured units. The plasma cannon has some drawbacks, it has less range, less strength and costs more than a missile launcher. It has AP2 and while it can take out terminators it hasn’t the stopping power I would like to see when dealing with grey knights. The lack of an instant kill makes me wonder about using it at all. The biggest problem I have with plasma cannons is that with five of them you are going to get some Gets Hot rolls and I prefer my guns to take out the enemy only. It is a small chance but gets hot has cost me models in their droves in the past. The final issue with the gun is that it has a lost more variance in its ability to hit over any other guns in the list, this coupled with its shorter range limits what it can really bring.

Lazcannons are the king of imperial weaponry as they have range, strength and penetration. They excel at taking out armour and heavily armoured troops. Lazcannons can instant death your grey knights and have the best shot at range of taking out heavy armour. The disadvantages are that they cost 25 points and can only ever take out one model at a time. Their cost is a major factor that lies against them; they drive the cost of the unit through the roof and offer only a minor benefit for their use. While they can punch through the toughest personal armour the ease by which infantry acquire cover saves these days makes them worth a lot less when it comes to taking out deathstar units or tackling a foot slogging army or killa can walls.

When it comes to multi-meltas you are rarely going to get the opportunity to get to use them to full effect, they have the shortest range of any of the weapons and while they will outstrip a Krak missile they will only do so at less than 24”. They can potentially kill anything from a penetration roll of a six plus but that is of little comfort when a target is thirteen inches away. The range is the biggest problem with these guns. They are not the weapon of choice if you want to take control of the board unless you stick them in Drop Pods and launch them all turn one into the centre of the board. While they can create a no go bubble on the board for armour, that is rarely going to stop a well-rounded 6th edition army. The meta-game has seen a swing back to plasma as the weapon of choice for special weapons and it appears the same is true when it comes to heavy weapons.

Heavy bolters are the most straight forward gun to look at; they throw out lots of shots every turn and by pure weight of numbers can chew up most infantry on the board even with good armour saves. They have limited power when it comes to armour, you can try all day but if you do take a hive tyrant out with one I’ll eat this article. Weak armoured mobs will rue the day they tried to run down five heavy bolters but they do nothing else. Any unit armed with 2+ & 3+ saves will have little trouble with heavy bolters unless the rolls go against them. Space marines and the like will still require something harder to wipe them from the board.

So when it comes to range, cost, versatility and efficacy I would choose missile launchers. Heavy bolters have their role too but I think they would be what I would put in a 2nd or 3rd squad definitely not my first choice. Lazcannons are great but you limit the guns to tackling the hard targets and not the large squads that can be just as dangerous due to sheer weight of numbers. The first time I played with 2 squads full of missile launchers I was shocked by how well they did, every tank on the board was dead by turn two and after that they went through squad after squad of space marines, that was a bit of luck but they are usually my star units in every match.

Should they all have the same weapon?
Now the biggest question is should I split my load out. I suggest not doing this, if you want to have an anti-tank and an anti-troop unit, that is perfect but unless you load out with missiles you can’t do both well. While the squad can split fire it is not something to build a unit around. It is folly to think that you can shoot your two lazcannons at armour and your heavy bolters at troops all game because the first man you want dead in that squad is the one that give you the ability to split that fire. I find that having the same gun on each man allows me to bring weight of numbers on a target to ensure that my target is dead. If you want to take on heavy armour and hordes of troops take two squads with two different loadouts. That being said if you want to have two types of weapons make sure that they can fulfil the same roll. Certain weapons complement one another, a squad of plasma cannons and heavy bolters would sweep through troops and when you have a chance you can shoot up some light tanks since the bolters can make a stab at armour 10 and 11. A pair of lazcannons can give you the anti-armour edge in a squad of missile launchers and can give two definite kills when shooting at troops. Be aware that range is an issue when you mix weapons, if you use missiles and plasma you will have lots of situations when you either loose the plasma cannons and snapfire the missiles while moving or sit and hope the missiles do the job alone.
Whatever you do make sure you do not take one of every weapon choice, this is something I have seen and it does not work out very well. You can’t bring the full wrath of the unit to bear on one target and ensure a kill as some of the weapons may be out of range or too weak to punch through the armour.

Should Long Fangs have a transport?
Long Fangs don’t really need a transport as they will probably spend most of the game in one spot. Drop Pods are a definite no from me; the squad is small and will be on its own in no man’s land, a hard round of fire will see them only make a round of snap fire shots before being killed outright.
Looking at the meta-game the transport would be a waste of time, with the ease in which a razorback can be torn to shreds those points would be better spent fleshing out a unit with more guns or  if you have multiple transports in your list taking another long fang squad.

What about flyers?
Flyers are a major concern these days, I don’t recommend longfangs for this role. Unless we see flack missiles come to every army I doubt that you will be able to take them. Since they are also weaker and more expensive when they do turn up I doubt that I will take them. What I would say is that as a Space wolf player look to your allies to fill the flyer killing niche in your army. Let the Long Fangs tear into everything on the board and if you have the time or a turn of shooting with no other viable targets then slam the fire into the flyers.

Long Fangs are great fire support as they can fill whatever roll you want on the board when it comes to shooting. They can take any gun bar mulit-meltas and make them work for you. They are better than Devastators as you can have more guns and if you’re stuck for points you don’t have to take five men before you can have a heavy gun.
My personal choice for a load out for my Long Fangs is two squads of 6 men with 5 missile launchers. This means I can hit four targets with heavy fire in the first round of fire, when it comes to moving around the board I can still make snap shots. Leave the terminator slaying to all the plasmaguns in the rest of your army, these old dogs are there to pop armour and pulp troops. Take care of your Long Fangs, equip them well and you will be drinking mead in the halls of victory with them after every battle.

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