|You wouldn't like me when I'm angry|
I feel like I've been planning this for ages and here it finally is. A couple of quick points before I start though. Firstly, this is probably going to be a bit scattergun. That's because I don't have any set order in which to go through things but, hopefully everything will come together in the end. Secondly, here at C&F, we believe that you should be free to take any unit that you like - at the end of the day it's your army. Hence there will be no "you have to take this unit" or "don't take this, it's rubbish" Instead, I'll just be talking through my experiences of what's gone well and what's not gone quite so well...
Mark of the Wulfen - What is it?
Deep within the Canis Helix, lies the Curse of the Wulfen. Some fall victim to this curse during the Test of Morkai, the final trial to become a Space Wolf, and become inhuman beasts stalking the plains of Fenris. Others overcome it and are welcomed into the hallowed ranks of the Vlka Fenryka. However, there are those who manage to control the Wulfen only until they are in the fires of battle. Then, the beast within emerges, the warrior eschewing his weapons to fight with tooth and claw.
In the game, this is represented by the Mark of the Wulfen. A Space Wolf who takes it replaces their Attacks characteristic with D6+1 Rending attacks. You don't get any bonuses for additional hand weapons but you still get you charge bonus.
Who can take it?
Wolf Guard Battle Leader
For the TWC, it sets you back 5 points for every one else it's 15.
I can see a good case being made for giving a Wolf Lord the Mark so that you could use im as Bran Redmaw (at least until IA11 comes out!) However, most of the time, the Wolf Lord or WGBL will probably be taking "proper" close combat weapons. It's a similar story for the Wolf Guard with their discount weapons while the TWC already have 4 Rending attacks so it seems a bit self-defeating to swap that for D6+1 (you could possibly argue that it's useful for wound allocation but I think taking one with a Boltgun is a better option)
Take a chance
Whenever I've use MotW, I've given it to Grey Hunters or Wolf Scouts. In this case it's a straight choice between another guy or the Mark. So, that's a guaranteed 4 base attacks vs an average of 4.5 base attacks (on the charge/counter it's 6 vs 5.5) A lot of people talk about minimising randomness and I have plenty of tales of rolling low when I needed to roll average (or indeed forgetting that I had MotW at all!) Conversely, I have stories of rolling high and doing far more damage than I should have done.
Don't count on Rending
My first thought when I saw this in the codex was; "8 rending attacks?! I'll cut through units with this!" Similarly to above, I can point to times when I've rended my way through Dreadnoughts but I've also had games like the two a couple of weeks ago where I managed a single rend in 13 turns of Warhammer 40,000. Far better to look at MotW as a way of potentially increasing the number of regular attacks that a unit can put out. So, if your faced with Terminators or Meganobz, don't just charge in because you've got some Rending attacks.
Is it worth it?
That depends. Personally, I like the risk/reward nature of it while some people will prefer the reliability of an extra guy. I also think it suits quite an aggressive playstyle as you really want to get stuck in to make the most of those potential attacks. For me though, the key is having a plan for the unit and your army as a whole. In some circumstances, it can change a small unit from one that will fold into one that will hold, allowing you to counter-charge. I like to run it on bigger units, as it can give a nice increase to the damage output but you're still pretty killy even if you roll poorly for it.
Having said that you'll notice that MotW is conspicuous by its absence in my 10WC list. This is because if those units get charged, I want them to get killed so I can shoot whoever charged them. As I said MotW is a personal preference based on list and playstyle.
One final point and this whether or not this is relevant will depend on what sort of gamer you are. Personally, I'm the kind of guy who likes to sit in the bar after a game and talk about the cinematic things that happened in the game and MotW is almost perfect for this. The times when I've rolled badly with it will never overshadow the impossibly good roll that led to 5 Wolf Scouts doing so much damage to to 2 10-man Ork squads that they fled off the board.
Mark of the Wulfen - love it or hate it? Share your sagas of MotW glory and defeat below the line...