Dire Wolves warhammer fantasy battle 8th edition Vampire Counts overview
What are Dire Wolves
In the cursed land of Slyvania land of the Von Carsteins, the dead do not rest easily in their graves and this extends even to the wildlife found there. Direwolves are the bodies of dead wolves saturated with dark magic and returned to hunt again in a twisted parody of life. Some Vampires and Necromancers particularly those in wilderness location also favour reanimating creatures such as Dire Wolves as they lack a steady supply of human cadavers to work their foul magic upon.
The undead natural gather round sources of dark magic and so are attracted to Vampires and Necromancers, they use Dire Wolves as both scouts and to harass and attack lone or weaker foes.
In the Game
Dire Wolves are a war beast unit with a high movement value of 9" and the Vanguard special rule (allowing them a free move before the game). Where Dire Wolves occupied a kind a "limbo" slot in 7th edition now in 8th there are treated as a core unit and count towards the core allowance, making them a much more attractive proposition.
The return from 6th edition of the Slavering Charge special rules also makes them strength 4 on the charge giving them more chance to inflict some damage.
Pros and Cons
Pros are they are fast, cheap and basically expendable. The Summon Creatures of the Night Vampiric Power also allows you to increase the size of a Dire Wolf unit beyond its original size and of course Invocation of Nehek now heals them more models back then in 7th edition, though with their speed and the range of the spell this is less likely to happen.
Cons are despite having a high movement they can now only march when within 12" of the general, this means you have to consider curtailing their Vanguard move to keep in range, and consider your deployment carefully. Once outside the march "bubble" of the general they cannot march making them slower then most other armies equivalent. As undead the inability to flee when charged also makes them a little less useful then Fast Cavalry though their relatively cheap cost does offset this.
Also remember they are not Fast Cavalry and so do not get free reforms (they also lack musicians) so a wily opponent can block your intended target with his units.
Dire Wolves have several roles as a harassment and redirecting unit to war machine and wizard hunting. Careful consideration has to be given to their deployment, use of Vanguard move and there position relative to the general and his march "bubble". Against weaker wizards they can often make short work of them with the Slavering Charge special rule.
Dire Wolves can also be used as cover for other more expensive units such as Black Knights or Blood Knights ( you get 6 Dire Wolves for roughly the same points cost as a Blood Knight) though remember to have a target for them to charge or move them out of the way before your main unit wishes to charge.