In 5th, it was a no-brainer to take a Wolf Guard to lead a squad, and of course the only way to arm them was to give them a power fist and combi-melta. However, with the advent of 6th and challenges in close combat, that Wolf Guard choice involves a lot more thought. Now, I'm not exactly a tactical genius, but I'm going to try and consider a few of the possibilities you may face, and what kind of weapon options you may want to take.
With the new rules, you can't pick out a character that has joined a squad when in combat, so the provision for a power fist isn't quite as important. Couple this with the greater ease in attaching a grenade to a vehicle/walker now and there is even less reason to take a power fist at all in your squad. As far as a challenge is concerned, what is most important about the opponent you are facing is Initiative, and I'm going to split things up into whether a Wolf Guards Initiative of 4 is greater than the character you will be in a challenge with, or if it is equal or less, and labelling the likely loadout you may want to use too.
- I>=4 - You are in trouble, whoever you are facing, be it those pesky Eldar (both flavours), or some special character or monstrous creature you are going to have to weather a bunch of attacks before you have any chance to swing back. There's a couple of options for how you can arm your Wolf Guard for this situation, and what use they are going to be to you in combat:
- The Lamb: Basic, no extra weapons. The whole point of this guy is to give your unit that extra point of Leadership while still alive, and in close combat, to die and remove the attacks from a character from the rest of the squad so they can go about killing the rest. This guys is most useful when facing a unit with an attached special character. You can use the challenge to either sacrifice this one guy to all the attacks from the special character, or force him to decline the challenge and therefore not take part in the fight. You just have to be careful there isn't a unit character as well as your opponent gets to choose who accepts the challenge, so that independent character may still be able to chew through your unit.
- The Sponge: Absorbent, armed to give the best save possible. Give this guy a storm shield, or maybe Terminator Armour***, or even both. The point of this guy, like the Lamb, is to keep the attacks of a unit character or special character that are likely to make mincemeat of your squad away from them so they can go about the business of killing the rest of the squad. The difference here is that you are hoping this guy will survive those attacks past the first round of combat. The obvious extrapolation of this setup is to also give him something killy. As you are already going after the character you are fighting, a power fist, chain fist or thunder hammer won't really affect how you attack so feel free to take these if you want.
- I<4 - You are probably facing Guard or Orks, maybe even Tau, or it could be another character with a power-fist or similar that has dropped its Initiative.
- The Hedgehog: Prickly, as much stabby hurt as you can manage. In this challenge you are going to want to do as much damage, preferably circumventing armour, before your challenger/challenge can hit you back. If you are really lucky you can kill them off before they can do any damage to you, especially if they have a power-fist which is almost certainly going to kill you right away. Weapons wise, the options you are most likely to want to take are either the power sword (don't go with and axe as you'll lose that Initiative), or for a little more you can equip him with a Wolf Claw which is probably your best choice for this situation as it will allow you to re-roll either To Hit if your opponent has a particularly high WS, or To Wound otherwise.
*** NOTE: be careful with your choice of Terminator Armour in a squad like this, remember that Terminators cannot Sweeping Advance so you are going to have to wipe out a squad the old fashioned way, you won't be able to run them down if you beat them in combat and they break.
Now of course this is a pretty simplistic take on the situation, there are a lot more nuances to how you may want to arm your Wolf Guard depending on how you play your Space Wolves, but I thought I'd put this down somewhere to refer back to for myself at least. I'm sure there are those of you out there that think differently, and I'd love to hear from you, especially if you can think of other ways to deal with challenges.
Cheers - Andy