"When the Space Wolves go to war, the do so in the company of giants" Space Wolves Codex.
Oh the much loved walking behemoths of the 40K universe. Some people love them so much that they will field 6 of them on the board at the same time (I've seen it!). The question in everyone's mind is whether the Space Wolf Dreadnought is worth those all important elite slots of if their 105+ points are more important spent on Wolf Guard, Scouts, or Lone Wolves.
Diving right in:
The Space Wolf Dread gets a free Assault Cannon built in. A nice little touch. Add a CCW, Storm Bolter, and AV 12/12/10 and for 105 points you get a pretty decent starting point.
Unique to Space Wolf Dreads are the ability to take 3 upgrades:
Wolftooth Necklace: Useful on the basic dread, less on the Venerable at WS5
Wolftail Talisman: Kinda spiffy, but most Psychic powers don't target vehicles anyway
Venerable may take: Saga of Majesty - re-rollable Ld tests within 6 inches is nice.... but in all likely-hood people are going to be Dropping the Dreadnought in, which is too far away from troops, or hanging him back which is too far away from forward troops. Sitting him near some Long Fangs might save them, but isn't that 15 points better spent elsewhere?
Now Dreadnought tactics have been done countless times on the web. Overall we find three variants of the same monster:
Long-Ranged Tank Killer
As a Close Combat machine, a Space Wolf dread would replace his SB with a Heavy Flamer, take a multi-melta, extra armor, and possibly a Wolftooth necklace for good measure. Drop Pod this guy in and destroy something big. Hopefully bigger than the 140 points you just spent on him. If nothing else it is a good "OMG" distraction, however he is likely to go down from melta-fire or even plasma.
Without the ability to take an Ironclad (Ironclad?! Space Wolves don't need to Ironclad!), Close Ranged falls to the Venerable. It will likely survive, but now your adding 60 more points to a suicide unit.
So Close Ranged Drop may be useful, but it is situational at best. If you believe you can survive a round of shooting to get to the assault then by all means drop him right in to cause some havoc!
Moving on to Mid-Ranged we have the setup of taking that heavy flamer and keeping that assault cannon or a multi-melta. Extra armor is nice as always. The goal here is to march this guy to the front while dodging from cover to cover keeping him alive to get into assault with something big.
Venerable as always will survive longer getting there, has a higher WS, and is likely to make it, given that you don't have a firestorm on you every turn.
For Long Range you can take that twin-linked Lascannon, and pick whichever you like between the auto-cannon and missle launcher. Stick the guy in cover, pick off tanks. if something gets close stomp on it, pretty simple.
Overall the dreadnought is a useful and fairly priced addition to any Space Wolf army, as more armor can never really hurt. However the inability to take these guys as a Heavy Support does beg to question if they are worth the Elite Slot with the need for Wolf Guard. As a distraction/suicide unit they certainly are able to perform admirably, and if you have a spare Elite slot when all is said and done then, hey, maybe a dreadnought is for you!