It's artwork like this picture that really makes me want to like dreadnoughts. The idea of an ancient behemoth who has seen more battles than you've had hot dinners. Therefore it was one of the first models I bought when I started buying my Space Wolves army. I bought the standard plastic Space Marine dread and added a couple of little conversions so that I could use him as either a standard dread or as the subject of this post; Bjorn.
Sadly I've rarely used my dreadnought as it seems to have difficulty competing with other units for my valuable elite slots. Taking one as an HQ would certainly mean I didn't lose out on terminators, scouts and lone wolves.
As I've said before, Bjorn is perhaps the most unique special character in 40K being a vehicle. He has an impressive statline with significantly improvements over a standard dread. Both BS and WS are 6 so he'll have little difficulty scoring hits in combat or at range. Strength 7 means that even if he loses his left arm he'll still give people something to think about in CC, especially since he has 5 attacks on the charge! The only slight downside is that he's initiative 3 which means he'll struggle against squads of marines. Bear in mind however that with AV13 on the front they'll have to have a power fist or meltabombs to trouble him, in fact anything with less than S7 won't touch him in combat. Couple this with a permanent 5+ save to anything that gets past his armour and a talisman to give him psychic protection and he's pretty resilient.
So far he seems like a good choice right? Well this is where he starts to go downhill. At a whopping 275pts he's far from cheap. You'd probably have difficulty convincing yourself that he's more worthwhile than Ragnar, Logan and Njal. Not to mention you could nearly have 3 vanilla rune priests for that price. Also, aside from the invulnerable save the other special rules don't really excite me. Re-rolling for deployment can be crucial sometimes but if you rely on it then you probably should rethink your list. If you manage to get him destroyed he makes all of his wolfy friends fearless but you've then got to defend him like an objective and if not at least have someone in contact with his wreck so you don't concede a pile of KPs.
You can swap his assault cannon for a plasma cannon at no extra cost which gives him some flexibility but the AC is pretty solid. Either way it's only really secondary to his CC skills. Ideally I'd like to put him in a drop pod and deep strike him in near some units which you know you can dread lock. However, the listing doesn't say he can take one as a transport. As far as I can tell from reading on the net it's a case of your opponent allowing you to use one or not. Sadly without one he has the same problem as other walkers in that it takes you a long time to make it into combat. I guess you could walk him behind one of your transports in the hopes of using him for counter assault.
I'd very much like to use him more but every time I think about including him I think what I could spend the points on better. As I said he's always going to have to try and pick units which aren't packed with power fists or melta bombs and to do so whilst crawling along at 6" a turn (assuming you don't run) will be difficult.
I think special characters will always have to fight for there place against their less "special" equivalents and whislt Bjorn is undoubtedly better than a standard dread he doesn't really compete with the other HQ choices out there. I think I'll stick to using the model as just a vanilla dread. Next time it's Ulrik the Slayer who's actually not that expensive!