I’ve played a few games now with my Space Wolves, and I’ve had some bad luck when it comes to Challenges. I’ve also had one incredible round of good luck, but that isn’t what I’m talking about here.
Space Wolves have some great options when it comes to Challenges, but first let’s look at a few reasons to challenge.
1. A single model unit, maybe even a monstrous creature wants to take out the leader and stay in combat a bit longer. This is often the case if the leader of the unit looks like he will be unable to harm the challenger or there is more dangerous stuff hidden in the unit, like a Power Fist.
2. A smaller unit attacks a much larger one, giving the opposing squad leader a few rerolls is worth it to even the odds.
3. The initiative bias. If the challenger has a higher initiative, he can kill his opponent before he strikes back.
4. Reducing the damage that the enemy character can do. There might be no chance your sergeant can win against the demon prince, but by sacrificing his one wound, he gives time to get a character into the fight that has a better chance of winning.
Now normally in my Space Wolves I had most of my Wolf Guard Leaders with a Power Fist and a Combi-Weapon the same as the squad he led carried. This made sense in 5th Edition, since the Combi-Weapon and Power Fist both disallowed extra attacks.
In my 6th edition games, this has worked out poorly. The combination of Initiative 1 and no invulnerable save makes it hard to survive against many would be challengers. My Wolf Priest with his Str6 AP4 Power Maul and a 4+ Invulnerable save has done well, but wasn’t overwhelming with 2 base attacks.
In order to take the burden off of some of my independent characters, I am arming a few of my Wolf Guard with a Combi-Weapon and Storm Shield. Yes it is expensive. But it gives them a durability to survive a challenge. I have one each with a Power Sword and Power Axe and Storm Shield. The Power Axe is an inexpensive way to threaten terminators, and against many challengers, the loss of initiative is a moot point. I may change a few more to the close combat role, with no ranged weapons, except for Grenades.
I have also painted up Lukas the Trickster, and I am thinking that in 6th edition, putting him at the front of a group of blood claws should be effective. I can’t wait till he gets to challenge someone.
Lastly, Grey Hunters and Blood Claws both get to take Power Weapons and Power Fists in their squads, while not being on a character like a Sergeant. This means if you refuse a challenge, or there is no Wolf Guard Leader remaining, you have a special weapon that can only be targeted by precision hits or if you put him where he is the closest model. Which is better: One Wolf Guard going up against a Space Marine Captain, who with Initiative 5 might kill him first, or a squad of Grey Hunters and a Power Fist with two attacks (from charging or counter attack)? Just make sure to keep the Power Weapon/Fist in the mid-back of your squad and it should have no problem surviving to attack back.