|Get your motor running...|
Be Careful What You Wish For
For years, I was moaning about the lack of official models for Thunderwolf Cavalry. Now that they're finally out, I can't stop looking at the cost. 235 points for three TWC. For slightly less points I can get 4 Swiftclaws, a Meltagun, a Multimelta Attack Bike and a Wolf Guard to lead them on a Bike with a Combi-Melta and a Power Fist.
So, what do the bikes bring that the TWC can't?
Shooting - With the bikes you get to take part in the shooting phase of the game as well as the assault phase. Being Relentless, you get to Rapid Fire the Bolters before you charge and with them being Twin-Linked you're compensating for the Swiftclaws main deficiency (don't forget that statistically, Twin-Linked BS3 is better than BS4!) Also, with the Melta weapons in the squad, they have the chance to destroy vehicles and then charge the passengers rather than relying on help from other anti-vehicle units.
Speed - Yes a potential 24" charge range is enormous. However, it is only potential. In the movement phase TWC are actually only as fast as regular infantry. Bikes can travel 12" in every movement phase and can Turbo-Boost 18"-24" for a 3+ cover save.
Let's look at the Thunderwolves' plus points...
Fleet - the ability to charge between 13" and 18" is huge and one of the biggest advantages is the element of surprise. There aren't that many units with the ability to charge that far in the game and most people are used to playing against units that can only charge 6".
Assault - All of the TWC attacks are at S5 and are Rending. On the charge the bikes do put out more attacks (21 regular, 3 PF vs 11 regular and 5 PF) but this levels out a bit after the first round of combat (11 & 2 vs 9 & 4) The TWC are also going to take less damage back due to their higher WS.
Actually, let's take a minute to talk about Swiftclaws (and Blood Claws in general) with regards to Weapon Skill. A lot of people see WS3 and think that they need to attach a Wolf Priest to give the unit re-rolls to hit. This is a fallacy. Weapon Skill is a defensive mechanism. Against most of the units you're going up against, you're still hitting on 4s. Yes, you lose out a bit to things like Scouts and Imperial Guardsmen. However, the big loss is that most things will be hitting you on 3s. To an extent, the bike giving you T5 makes up for this.
Wounds - Having 2 Wounds each means that the TWCs have to lose 4 Wounds before they lose a model. Hence they are still as effective having lost 3 Wounds as they are at the start of the game. Every wound the Swiftclaws lose reduces their effectiveness.
Now, I'm not sure that either of these units is "better", they're clearly jsut different. I did try out Swiftclaws when the codex first came out but I really struggled to make them work. Looking back, I think this is because I was far too aggressive with them. I'll probably make the same mistake with the TWC when they first find themselves on the tabletop!
So, Giant Wolves or youngsters on Bikes? Any thoughts?