Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tournament Composition Scores

So Big Jim at Galaxy in Flames has been asked to help make a tournament scoring system with composition. He turned to the blogosphere for input in this post. It's certainly the subject of the week at several places.

For what it is worth, I think composition scoring and/or codex-specific restrictions are outmoded. The game is much more balanced than it was a decade or two ago, the background deeper, and Codexes have been designed to be more inclusive of different styles and play preferences. Even more importantly, there is the internet... the tournament community is able to communicate faster, broader and more openly. I think a national or even world baseline of tournament structure, suggested missions, scoring, and other such is now a plausible reality. Errors of codex "creep" could be fixed or toned down, commonly asked rulings could be standardized, and even typos could be corrected... were someone given the official authority to step up and do so. (Yes, I'm looking at you, GWUS.)

But as this august body doesn't exist, tournaments are run by the guy on the spot. Some of them choose to use comp, some run a free for all, and some try re-writing or limiting every Codex in a vain attempt to balance things. I've played and even run all of these. The problem is that they're all based on non-authoritative subjective judgments.

Now while I don't think I'd run a tournament with composition scoring again, I WILL still play in ones that do. I'll even modify and gear my lists for this. Why? Somewhat because I'd rather play than not. Also, I've been there and appreciate how thankless it can be to run a tournie, especially compared to the amount of work it can absorb. But mainly because that's the chosen rules of the tournament. When you go to a tournament, you aren't just playing a game of 40K... you are playing the tournament. If all you want is a game of 40k, do a pick-up game or stay at home and play your friends. I find it ironic how often people complain about composition scoring "nerfing" their codex, yet don't blink when fed a homebrew mission that screws them in the ear. In the same vein, if you don't like the way things are being run, get off your duff and run one how you think it should be.

Anyways, I've digressed. Were I in Big Jim's place and designing a tournament with comp, I'd harvest from what I used to run. Forgive the length, but I'm also trying to explain my rationale too. The actual system is fairly clean and not too complex. I'm certainly not saying it is "perfect", just that I was able to run it for several years. And if nothing else, as the saying goes, "You can please some of the people most of the time..."

First, my ground rules for any tournament:
1. Keep scoring simple. Use checkboxes with fairly easy True/False questions.
2. No surprises. The scoring information should be available to all players well before the tournament day(s).
3. Balance between hobby and game. Composition, Painting and Sportsmanship should be organized such that your "average" army and player is capable of scoring most to all of the points. Also, these should be given enough weight to influence without being overwhelming. A great general with an unpainted net list should be more likely to end up "Best General" rather than "Overall". In the same, a nice-guy general with a beautiful army and mediocre games shouldn't be a shoe-in for "Overall".
4. Transparent scores. At the end of the day, give the awards out fairly and let everyone see their scores and standing. A tournament organizer needs to be (and be seen being) completely honest in all dealings.

These rules came from being both a player and an organizer. I remember one GTT I went to where I was the only player to manage 5 Massacres that weekend, yet friends of the TO won all the top prizes... Said TO also wouldn't show us the final scores nor even talk to me. If you can't look everyone in the eye at the end of the day, you've done something wrong. Not everyone has to leave happy, but don't let anyone leave feeling like you cheated them.

As to scoring? I always liked a 0-100 total system as it's easy on the brain. Presuming a 3-game day, I would run something like:
Composition. 10% of total score.
25%+ of points spent on Troops. +2 points.
40%+ of points spent on Troops. +1 point.
No more than 40% of points spent in any one non-Troops Force Org. +2 points.
No more than 25% of points spent in any one non-Troops Force Org. +1 point.
No triplicate non-Troops unit choices. +2 points.
No duplicate non-Troops unit choices. +1 point.
No minimum sized units. +1 point

Notably, I designed this in 3rd edition as an attempt to put the focus back on Troops, mitigate mix/max, and reduce spamming. It lasted well transitioning to 4th and I've seen it hold up fine in 5th ed too. Composition scores were done at checkin, at the same time the list was checked for validity. These are then used to determine the initial pairings.

Painting & Modeling. 10% of total score.
WYSIWYG, +2 points.
No bare metal/plastic, +1 point
3 colors, +2 points
Detailing, +1 point.
Flock or other base work, +1 point.
"Cohesive" look or theme, +1 point.
Conversions, +1 point.
"Above and beyond", +1 point.

Scoring was against the greater majority of the army, rather than every single model. A couple guys "in-progress" wouldn't count against you for this, scored at 90%+ of the army if there was a question. WYSIWYG was the one exception in that you needed a full 100% to get that.
Basic scoring was either by one judge or an averaged score of multiple. My one rule for multiple judges was that every player got judged by every judge; no splitting the work.
The top 25% scorers (or anyone with a 7+ or some other selection criteria) would be invited to display their army during lunch and compete for "Best Painted". The one rule here was that the player have painted the majority of the army themselves... no "winning with a checkbook". Players could vote their favorite painter on their Game 2 results card. "Best Painted" went based on these votes and ties would go to judging score or a second vote.
Why did I do it this way? I once went to a large RTT with my extensively converted, nicely painted, near display quality Space Wolves. The tournament had 3 judges splitting the work and scoring was purely subjective. Judge A, the TO, was in a hurry and gave me a 6/20 because "the details just don't stand out at six feet away." My friend with the barely past basecoat Blood Angels got a 12/20 for "good effort, but needs work" from the much more lenient Judge B.
While this scoring system doesn't eliminate subjectivity or favoritism, it places that burden of that judgement in the hands of the players.

Sportsmanship. 5% of total score.
Was your opponent reasonably knowledgeable of the basic rules? +2 points.
Was your opponent courteous and civil? +2 points.
Even if you got destroyed, did you enjoy the game? +1 point.

This gets reported every game and then averaged. Optionally weightable by the TO and deliberately kept low points so that vindictive or "old-friend" opponents have less influence. Averaging also keeps feedback honest but lets you be open with publishing the final score. Most players scored perfect 5's every game.
Notably, this was just to maintain basic courtesy at the tables. The tournament rules also had a rider that the TO could disqualify or even evict a player from the store for unsportsmanlike conduct. I only had to use that three times in over 4 years of monthly tournaments and was totally justified when I did.
Players would note their favorite opponent of the day on their game 3 results card. "Best Sportsman" would be based on these votes and average score.

Battle Points. 75% of your total score.
The primary mission objective is worth 0-18 points. Got Massacred = 0, Major Loss = 3, Minor Loss = 6, Tie = 9, Minor Victory = 12, Major Victory = 15, Massacred Them = 18.
Additionally, each game has up to 7 bonus points for secondary objectives. Typically 2-4 of varying complexity and weight. For example, "+2 points for killing an opponent's HQ" or "+1 for having a Scoring unit alive within 6" of the center of the board at the end of the game". This can be switched up every mission in a smaller tournament. In a larger (20+ players) I'd keep them the same every turn to make it easier for all parties. With these, also make sure it's something achievable regardless of the opponent's list. For example, if an objective is "Kill your opponent's most expensive Fast Attack choice.", also add "If they do not have any Fast Attack then, in order, switch this to Elites, Heavy Support or then Troops." Also, try to have these be a set amount of points per game, rather than dependent upon something variable like KP.
Notably, running 20 points main and 5 points secondary also works. I just like having a bit more emphasis on secondary items. "Best General" was based strictly on these scores.

Obviously, "Overall" went to the highest overall score and would over-ride any of the "lesser" three prizes.
In the rare case of a tie where both parties hadn't placed in another category, I'd usually just split the prize.

In the final analysis: The biggest thing is to be open and honest at all time. The less subjective you are as a judge, the more people will realize you gave them a fair shake.

Cheers and hope this gives you guys some ideas...

***Image thanks to GIS and this site on fireworks... all too appropriate for this explosive subject***

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, winning Overall put you out of the running for the other top prizes. Also, a prize would often go to the person in last place; typically a new brick of dice. For large events, door prizes, goodie bags, shirts and other stuff randomly or universally given out are also nice.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Space Wolves: Lukas the Trickster

A new character to the Space Wolf line, Lukas the Trickster is a Unique character upgrade for a unit of Blood Claws. Though I could have wrapped his review in with them, he has enough going on that I felt him worth a separate look.

The number one problem I see with Lukas the Trickster is his price. Not just that he's expensive, but that many people make a mistake when buying him. The line to note reads "One Blood Claw may be upgraded to Lukas the Trickster", emphasis mine. He isn't a model added to the unit, but instead an upgrade option for a model already purchased. This means you must pay the upgrade cost listed AND the cost of the Blood Claw he upgrades.

That being straightened out, there's also the quibble that he's expensive. Before you buy into the "Oooh, shiny" of his rules, consider that for the same price you could buy a squad of 10 Grey Hunters with two meltaguns. Still, he's not cost prohibitive. Excepting a lower Leadership, his statline is the same as a Wolf Guard Battle Leader A WGBL with comparable wargear ends up almost the same price; the difference could be attributed to Lukas' special rules.

And what are those rules?
Rebellious: Because he's such a bad boy, Lukas and his squad can never be higher than Ld 8. Annoying, detrimental, but not a huge thing.
Pelt of the Doppelganrel: Any wound allocated against Lukas must re-roll their To-Hit. Okay, this one's kinda fun, especially since it works in both Shooting and CC. UPDATE: What could have been useful and fun with a simple erratta, has been instead screwed by a literal FAQ instead. Lukas only gets to use this item if all of his squad has been killed. NIGH USELESS.
The Last Laugh: Basically, if Lukas is removed from play, both players roll-off. If the Wolf player ties or wins, all models in base to base with Lukas are removed from play too. Now this is the fun one as it is going to make many opponents leery of getting their awesome HQs in close combat with him. The psychology potential of this is enormous. But never forget that this can be a double-edged sword. The specific line reads "all models in base contact". This means tanks, Monsters, Characters... and friendly models. You might want to make sure your own guys give him a little breathing room.

Now one other wrinkle to him being an upgrade character is that he's part of his squad in all senses. While you have to buy the rest of the squad in addition to him, together they only count as one Troops Force Org choice and Kill Point. He's also not an Independent Character and can't leave the unit to join another. But in return he cannot be separately targeted in close combat. This last neatly ties into the Pelt of the Doppelgangrel, as you will always have control of the wound allocation.

So with all of this, why aren't I foaming at the mouth to field him? Typical of all the Space Wolves Unique units, Lukas is very ego-centric. He's a core choice around which the list itself is built, rather than something added on for fun. Lukas and his Blood Claw squad are going to be highly focused on getting into close combat, something that doesn't fit with every army. You'll probably want a way to get them there (Land Raider), some extra guys, and maybe a Wolf Guard and/or Character... and now you've got over 600 points invested. While this kind of "rock" unit approach can work, it helps to have one with flexibility beyond "assault and kill lots of Orks". Space Wolves have several other options with much greater efficiency of durability, utility, and/or cost.

In the final analysis: Outside of theme lists or as a random element, I don't see Lukas being that popular competitively. He is just too narrow in scope for the associated costs.

***Image courtesy of GIS... HAN SHOT FIRST!***

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Space Wolves: Blood Claws

Savage, headstrong and reckless, Blood Claws are the young bloods of the Space Wolves. They showed potential enough to be chosen, survived the initiation training and geneseed implant, and have overcome their Wolf Within... mostly. These wild-eyed berserkergang certainly fill the head with intense imagery, but how do they game?

A Blood Claw has a number of similarities to a Grey Hunter. They're both Marines with decent Strength, Toughness, Power Armour, Grenades and all that. They also share the same Space Wolf special rules, are Troops, have the same basic cost and a similar upgrade tree.
Yet Blood Claws have a playstyle that is a dynamic opposite of Grey Hunters: they are a close combat unit first and foremost and their ranged attacks are just a footnote at best. How does this come about? As always, the devil is in the details:
Headstrong. Unless led by a Wolf Guard or Character, Blood Claws suffer from Headstrong. In short, if there's an enemy within 6" at the start of their Shooting phase, Claws may not shoot and must assault unless led by an Independent Character or Wolf Guard. So on their own, they will go running headlong into battle.
Note: There's actually a neat trick to be had here. This rule will allow you to pre-measure your assault ranges BEFORE you have to declare targets. It is VERY situational, but still good to remember.

Ballistic Skill 3. Even using the same weapons, Blood Claws will be 16.7% less effective at shooting than Grey Hunters. Right there is our first shift away from ranged engagement... it's what they have to shoot with that matters more.

Ranged Weapons. Blood Claws come with a Bolt Pistol and Close Combat Weapon, but not a Bolter. The majority of the Blood Claw arsenal caps out at 12" range.
Why is this a big deal? Because 12" is also the "normal" charge range. Any offensive effect will require your Blood Claws be in range for close combat. On the up side, the same weapons can be used to full effect while moving AND you can still initiate a charge. So you've got the ability to give rather than just recieve.

Berserk Charge. Here is where, so to speak, Blood Claws get thrown a bone. Blood Claws certainly prefer to initiate the charge. If they do so, they get +2 attacks for charging rather than the normal +1.
Note: I feel it worth emphasizing this rule. As I show below, without it Blood Claws are the same or less than a Grey Hunter. But with it they have an edge against most foes. This is the one rule that makes Blood Claws worth honest consideration.

Weapon Skill 3. Now the main reason I've seen people say not to take Blood Claws is because they're a close combat unit that has a Weapon Skill of 3. You'd think this would be a major detriment to a close combat unit. However, To-Hit in close combat uses a sliding scale. Thus there's only 3 differences:
1. Attacks against WS7-8 opponents hit on a 5+ rather than a 4+. This would be Chaos Daemon Princes and a few other big nasties. Pardon the pun, but if you're in CC with one of them... you have larger problems.
2. Attacks against WS3 opponents hit on a 4+ rather than a 3+. Most units with a WS3 aren't going to stand up in CC that long anyways... as long as you have a bunch of attacks. With Berserk Charge, you should fare pretty decently.
3. Attacks by WS4 opponents will hit on a 3+ rather than a 4+. This is the one that hurts, given how common WS4 is.
Thus I'd posit that a Blood Claw will actually fare similar to a Grey Hunter in the majority of close combats. The only big difference is that they'll will suffer a higher attrition rather when fighting other WS4 enemies. How does this get balanced out? Larger squad sizes!

Squad size. Blood Claws are allowed to toss in an extra 5 guys to cap out at 15. The biggest benefit here is that each unit has more guys for taking losses. This other nice effect is to fill up your Land Raider Crusader. However, there's better units that can do this too and probably reap more benefit. (ie. Wolf Guard Termies) Last, this can be used to put more power armour guys on the table, but seems of limited value. A normal Force Org already allows 60 Marines in Troops, so it would need to be a pretty large game to afford the extra 30. You might also use it to cut a Kill Point or two, but that's a low consideration.
Looked at one way, the larger size is actually a detriment. Blood Claws don't get a second special weapon unless maxed out, meaning you've had to pay for 5 more guys. Additionally, the only way to mechanize a squad of this size is a Land Raider Crusader...
Looked at another way, your second special weapon isn't based on having that 10th guy. So if they're mounted in a Drop Pod or Rhino, it doesn't matter if you take 9 guys or lees to fit in a Character and/or Wolf Guard.

Even though they're not a ranged attack unit, let's take a quick look at Blood Claw gun upgrades:
Flamer: You're going to be up close and personal anyways, why not have a barbeque while you're at it? The nicest thing about the flamer is there's no To-Hit roll, so you negate that BS3. This choice is not a bad call for an army that needs more crowd control. However, crowd control is what Blood Claws excel at in close combat... the flamer might be overkill. So use good judgment before firing it off, lest they end up out of charge range due to enemy casualties. A flamer should be a one-two combo with the charge for full effect.
Meltagun: Again, you're still BS3. However, this is CHEAP, can shoot on the move and only costs you a bolt pistol attack. I'd suggest taking one just for Tank Shock alone. After all, BS3 doesn't matter when you automatically hit on a "Death or Glory" shot.
Plasmagun: The only words that come to mind are "Why, why, why?!?" Blood Claws are BS3 and shooting it means you can't charge. Go ahead and promote your plasmagunners to Grey Hunters.
Plasma Pistol: It's not worth it on Grey Hunters, why pay the same for it on BS3 Blood Claws?

So with all the things going against them, does the extra attack make them better in Close Combat? Let's go to the charts! First we have the basic percentage of attacks that should hit:
And the graph form:
Then there's the basic cost analysis:
And the graph form:

What does this tell us? Well, yet again the Mark of the Wulfen forms the outliers but still comes in very solid in the cost analysis. Interestingly, the extra attack on the charge also boosts the powerfist quite a bit. Given how efficient the basic Blood Claw is at taking down lighter opponents, a powerfist is actually a viable choice for those big enemies. (Note: Mark of the Wulfen is NOT an option for stock Blood Claws. I included it here mainly so I didn't have to do all the charts again for Sky Claws and as a reference point.)

So how does all of this compare to a Grey Hunter? Well, here's a comparative, where a positive number indicates favor for the Blood Claws... In chart form:
And as a graph:

What the hell does the above mean in English? On the charge, a Blood Claw is typically going to inflict more damage than his Grey Hunter counterpart. Yet when receiving the charge or in subsequent close combat rounds, they're going to be almost exactly the same. They trade a better charge for less ranged effect.

In the final analysis: Blood Claws actually aren't a bad buy. Despite initial appearances, they actually hold up favorably to Grey Hunters, especially if you use them "correctly". They're also a decent place to stash a Wolf Guard and/or Characters without sacrificing unit utility, especially when mechanized.
A foot-based force can use them as a nice front-line, bubblewrap or speedbump unit. Their short range and slow speed are certainly an issue though and the only advantage is the larger squad size. It's going to be a trick to get the charge with them.
Mechanized is a good way to overcome their speed and range. However, neither the ranged preference of the Razorback nor the alpha-strike/counter-assault style of the Drop Pod really "fit" with Blood Claws. The Rhino is the "hard" route, as the trick to charging out of a Rhino has a steep learning curve. The way to go for most generals will be the Land Raider. It's expensive, but the easiest to set up assaults from.
But the biggest thing I like about Blood Claws? Their WS3 is misleading and people are often going to underestimate them. Try a pack out sometime and see what happens...

***Mitten image grabbed from Fashionably Geek***

Xmas Terrain Tip

Today is the day after Christmas and it's one of my favorite 40k "holidays". Why? Because it's a great day to pick up some cheap terrain! In particular, I'm talking about the miniature Christmas village trees. Today, most stores mark their stock of these down 50% or more. I was able to pick up a dozen or so trees of assorted sizes for less than $20.
Notably, this type of tree does often have "snow" all over it. I don't mind as I have a "snow" theme going with my Space Wolves and Chaos. So the only "work" I put into them is replacing the cheap white plastic snow base with something decent.
If you don't want the snow, just give the trees a soak in a bit of soap (or Simple Green) and water. I've found that strips the snow without damaging the tree.
A bit of looking around at other Christmas village items can also turn up some great instant terrain. I've picked up cobblestone roads, rock walls, barrier hedges and more. Plus, it's a great excuse to wander down to your local crafts store and browse for other terrain ideas!

Cheers and happy whatever holiday you may celebrate!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Space Wolves: Grey Hunters

Veterans seasoned in battle and masters of the wolf within, Grey Hunters form the bulk of the Space Wolves chapter. They're your rank & file choices... but how do the rules hold up on the tabletop?

Now at first glance a Grey Hunter looks just like a vanilla Tactical Marine. Each squad has the same number of guys (5-10) with the same basic statline, grenades, Bolters, Bolt Pistols and access to a special weapon. Their shooting will be okay at medium range (12-24"), decent at short range (1-12"), and they can tailor their special weapon to need. For close combat they can do some shooting and still assault, ignore the negative effects of charging into cover, can Krak grenade medium or light tanks, and are strong enough to hurt most targets. Additionally, they have a decent Toughness and Armour Save. As Marines they're capable in most aspects of warfare, resilient, and (usually) forgiving of small mistakes.

But what makes Grey Hunters different?
1. Grey Hunters are 1 point per guy cheaper. This isn't much, but adds up when you're talking 50 or so guys. I think this is what a basic Marine should cost too, but I digress.
2. There's the typical Space Wolf bit of dropping Combat Tactics and Combat Squads for Acute Senses and Counter Attack. Losing the flexibility of KP/objective antics and other such isn't worth the benefit in Night Fight. However, the extra ability to receive a charge goes a long way towards balancing... but only if you play such that it gets used.
3. Grey Hunters get a Close Combat Weapon in addition to the Bolter and Bolt Pistol. This is a big change for loyalist Marines, as previously only Chaos Marines got this. Does it really make a difference? YES! It makes your Grey Hunters the same as Assault Marines for close combat ability.
4. The Veteran Sergeant (aka Wolf Guard) is bought separate from the squad. More on this below.
5. Grey Hunters do not get access to Heavy Weapons, but can get a second special weapon, a plasma pistol and several items of close combat wargear. This means they have no offensive capability at over 24", prefering short range firefights and close combat.

Grey Hunter packs have access to several ranged weapon upgrades. Notably, you could opt to mix and match weapons within the same squad. I don't feel this necessary as Space Marines are already quite versatile. I'd focus all of their extra weapons and upgrades towards filling a specific battlefield role.
Flamer: Nothing says love like a Flamer template, especially when it only costs you a Bolter. Still, a typical Wolf force shouldn't need much extra anti-horde. I'd only equip 1-2 squads with these (if any) doing alpha strike attacks from Rhinos or Drop Pods.
Meltagun: In today's mech-centric play, more anti-tank options are never a bad idea. It's also pretty solid for dropping Marines and even Monsters. The cost is certainly a steal, but the range really limits it to front rank squads. Also, when you use it to light up a tank, you're giving up the firepower of the rest of the squad. Squads packing these need to get close to fire and some form of mechanization is good for this.
Plasmagun: Yeah, it might kill the wielder, but isn't that half the fun? A Plasmagun's range is the same as a Bolter and the target profile isn't too far off either. This is a nice upgrade for second rank units looking for extra range and shots at the cost of a bit of anti-tank. Being a more medium range unit, they don't mind being on foot as much. It still might be good to get them a transport even if they can't fit in it. A Razorback can add some extra Heavy firepower, an empty Rhino can add to your Rhino Wall, and an empty Droppod can modify your first-turn drop numbers. Additionally, the choice to Pack Leader a Wolf Guard is done at the beginning of the game, not during army creation. So a full 10-man squad could always opt not to attach a Wolf Guard and deploy inside their Rhino instead.
Plasma Pistol: *sigh* A potentially great piece of tech that's suffered for the changes to pistols in 5th edition. It might have been worth it if you could fire twice or were it 1/3 the cost. As is, I'd opt leave it at home unless you know you're facing Deathwing.

Now what about their ability in Close Combat? Well, here's the basic stats:
And here's a nice graphical format:
And last, the cost-efficiency spread:

Now what does the above tell us?
1. Mark of the Wulfen should be the first close combat upgrade any pack takes. Heck, I'd be tempted to take it even on packs with a shooting focus. At the average number of attacks it outperforms against light and medium targets. And against big nasties it is almost as good as a powerfist. This particular piece of wargear probably should have been 5-10 points more expensive.
2. Running at I4, a Grey Hunter with a power weapon isn't much better than equal points of normal Grey Hunters.
3. Grey Hunter powerfists are also inefficient except against big nasties. This is mainly due to a base of 1 Attack. There's a number of other Space Wolf choices that are better for this role. I'd only take one for an aggressive squad or if you know you'll be facing Nidzilla.

There's also one other piece of wargear you can take, the Wolf Standard. Now a second rank squad can probably skip on this as close combat should be the exception rather than the rule. But this should be a serious consideration for any front line unit.
Why? Because for one Assault phase, it allows you to re-roll ANY roll of a one. To-hit, To-Wound, Armour Saves, number of Mark of the Wulfen attacks... anything.
Even better, the benefit affects "all models in that unit", so it confers over to attached Independent Characters and Wolf Guard too.
Last (and kinda "gamey"), there is no definition for when the banner's effect is used, just that it affects "the next Assault Phase". Though it should probably be used at the start of the Assault Phase (and I expect it will be FAQ'd as such) or prior, you could theoretically hold off on using it until after you rolled a bunch of ones... just don't expect to win any friends playing like this.

Last, but not least, there is the idea of attaching a Wolf Guard Pack Leader. The biggest downside to these guys is that they're an attachment rather than an upgrade. This means they don't count for your basic squad size for getting an extra weapon. With most Wolf Transports having a capacity of 10, you're forced to choose between that second special weapon, a Wolf Guard, walking on foot, or mounting them in a Land Raider. Also, taking any Wolf Guard eats up an Elites slot with a minimum size of 3-man. This means you have to either farm out 3 Pack Leaders or field a Wolf Guard squad.
In favor of the Wolf Guard, they have access to a combi-weapon. This mitigates the loss of a second squad special weapon as it's the same kind of weapon... at least for one turn. Wolf Guard also have 2 base attacks, 1 better Leadership, and access to a variety of close combat weapons and upgrades. They are one of the most efficient places to pick up a Powerfist or even a Thunder Hammer.

Some example builds I've seen and/or tried:
Shooty Foot: 10 Grey Hunters, 2 Plasmaguns, Wolf Guard with combi-plasmagun.
Optional: Wolf Guard Terminator, Cyclone Missile Launcher, and/or attached Razorback.
Plays the middle range game and holds close objectives.

Drive-By Mech: 10 Grey Hunters, 2 Plasmaguns, Rhino.
Variant: 9 guys, 1 Plasmagun, Wolf Guard w combi-plasmagun.
Optional: Less guys to make room for an IC, Close combat upgrades, and/or Extra Armour Rhino.
The unit drives up and shoots out the Rhino Fire Points. Not what I'd call the "best" way to do things, but it works for some people.

Min/Max: 5 Grey Hunters, 1 Special Weapon, Drop Pod or Razorback. Optional: Wolf Guard w combi-weapon.
I think this would be better called Min/Maxish, as it doesn't seem to actually maximize the unit. Still, it's cheap and might be good for smaller games.

Rhino Assault: 10 Grey Hunters, 2 meltaguns, Mark of the Wulfen, Rhino.
Variant: 9 guys or 8 and room for an IC, 1 meltagun, Wolf Guard w combi-melta and Powerfist.
Optional: Wolf Standard, Powerfist Grey Hunter, Thunder Hammer Wolf Guard, and/or Extra Armour Rhino.
An aggressive unit that pushes forward, tank hunts and delivers close combat characters to battle.

Drop: 10 Grey Hunters, 2 special weapons, Drop Pod.
Variant: 9 guys 1 special weapon, Wolf Guard with combi-weapon.
Optional: Less guys to make room for an IC and/or Wolf Guard in Termie, Mark of the Wulfen, Power Fist, and Wolf Standard.
Popular for Jaws of the World Wolf antics and alpha-strikes.

In the final analysis? Grey Hunters have a plethora of good builds, versatile upgrades, decent mobility options and a strong translation of Fluff into game mechanics. They really are a great Troops choice. I hope you've enjoyed the read!