My Tactical article pledge: I am not the greatest player, nor am I seal pup, I will endeavor to speak from my experience and always be honest about what is theory and what is play tested. Never will I assume I to know better than anyone else, unless ego or pretension gets in their way.

I figured it was time to start delving into the brand new world of 6th edition. I decided to tackle the new challenge system. I believe the new challenge system is a great addition to the game, not only bringing the cinematic feel GW keeps talking about, also it adds a tactical tool lacking from previous editions.

Here is a tab bar to explain how challenges work.

Only one challenge can be issued per close combat at the start of the fight sub-phase. Challenges are only issued between characters that are engaged. Characters include ICs and various Sargent equivalents. 
Challengee gets to pick which character to accept any challenge. If refused the challenger can pick any one character in that close combat to not attack for that turn. Single character units cannot refuse a challenge. No Look at sir cannot be used in a challenge. Only the challenger and the challengee can attack each other.
If, at the start of any Fight sub-phase, one or more of your units is locked in combat with a single model who is fighting in a challenge, your character receives one re-roll for every 5 models that cannot act otherwise. Re-rolls are good for to hit, to wound, or saving throws.
A character at the start of his own fight sub-phase can chose to pass an Initiative test to step into a pre-exisiting challenge. The character takes the place of the old character in the challenge and fighting for him and following all the same rules of challenges. Only one intervention can be attempted per close combat.

Here are some early impressions how I see challenges effecting the game.

Challenges– are a good way of keeping killer ICs at bay for at least one turn of combat.

Tying up an IC for turn works well against roaming single ICs. If you say, Lysander is trolling around with other Terminators your opponent is going to accept with the sergeant allowing Lysander free rein. That is why it is important that you have challengers that can handle lesser characters before taking on the tougher ones.

Challenges– discourage investment in certain wargear.

With power weapons being only AP3 it is hard any reason to purchase them on your tactical marine sergeant. Well you might want to consider them for challenges. Taking a power fist you will be going at Initiative one and a smart general will send a character in that goes before the sergeant swings in order to kill him quickly. To save points I bet most competitive builds will by-pass any upgrades on sergeant characters because they will have little value in most situations. This though makes Grey Hunters especially good because they can get a Powerfist on a non-character– thus staving off premature death. Conversely, Ork Nobs in Boyz squads can now be killed before ever using their Power Claw

Challenges– create dynamic decisions.

Units with interesting wargear options or multiple characters give you interesting options. Things like warding staves are now pretty potent– allowing pedestrian characters to tar pit nasty ICs. With everyone in an uproar over Look out SirPage 16 Big Rule Book most have over-looked just how nasty Nobs, Wolf Guard, Paladins, and Royal Courts when it comes to deciding how and when to accept challenges.

Challenges– Initiative is God.

It has been implied above, but bares repeating: Initiative is God. Putting wounds on characters before they swing not only kills, it also gives opportunity to put wounds on multi-wound models you otherwise couldn’t have through shooting.

Challenges– a tool against Look out SirPage 16 Big Rule Book.

Often killing ICs and sergeants in 6th pain in the butt; challenges offer a way around such annoying things like Look out sir.

Challenges– sometimes going to the back of the bus is the best choice.

Take good care to judge you characters against opposing characters. Refusing a challenge is often a good thing. Remember, many units need your character’s passive abilities. Pedro and Eldrad are good examples. More importantly, ICs that are Fearless or have Hit n’ Run you will want to keep alive. Fearless characters now grant Fearless to the entire unit and Hit n’ Run can be used even if you refuse a challenge.

How ever you use challenges remember you have them as an option. 6th edition has many such rules that offer tactical choices– that doesn’t require even nice opponents to remind you to do them. It will be interesting to see how GW uses challenges going forward, will we see less units with them or more? One can only guess.

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It’s Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.

For tactical articles feel free to email me to continue the discussion or if you discovery inaccurate interpretations of the rules– edits will be made accordingly.