Hints for Homebrew: HQ
Before I begin any work on a Hints article for Unique Characters, I'm going to have to lay some groundwork in the form of normal HQs, as that is what most of them are based on. As ever, this article will lay down some good hints as well as highlighting common GW methods which should be avoided or could do with being used less. Here we go:
1) Decide on HQ Type: There are currently four types of HQ in 40k: Combat, Range, Pure Support and All-Rounder. Most HQs include some kind of support element, but will generally sway towards one type or another. When determining what type your HQ is, consider stats, rules and possible loudouts, but that last one is to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Example #1: The Warboss and Succubus are Combat HQs. The Succubus has no support rules whatsoever and no purpose other than melee, while the Warboss contains support elements in the form of making Nobz Troops and Bosspoles, however the statline and wargear makes it more geared to combat.
Example #2: Range is the least common HQ type. There's the Tau Commander and the Herald of Tzeentch and that's about it as far as pure range is concerned.
Example #3: Pure Support comes from the Ethereal, the Farseer and the Senior Officer. Although the Officer can technically fight in combat with a decent weapon, in practise that's a role for Straken.
Example #4: All-Rounders are the most common type. This category includes the Autarch, the Archon, the Overlord, the Librarian, the Tervigon, the Inquisitor, etc.
2) Wargear: It's very easy to just make your HQ an All-Rounder. As long as it has at least WS/BS4 and a smattering of combat gear then it could technically be classed as one. However, I'm a firm believer in not including wargear for the sake of wargear. It's easy to make an All-Rounder. It's harder to make a good All-Rounder that isn't a master of nothing. Therefore, choose your wargear carefully.
Oh, and for the love of all that is holy don't overprice it. GW are still trying to get over this hill. It's not that hard.
Example #1: It's recent and it hurts. Why is it 45 points for an Overlord to have a Phase Shifter? That's more than the cost of the two-wound Wraith, who has it built in.
Example #2: The Archon is an example of what an All-Rounder should be like. He can kill characters, he can shoot a Blaster with BS7, he can boost combat units with grenades and he can carry a Webway Portal. The only other thing I can think of that I'd want him to do is come to life and walk around the tabletop on his own, leaving his base in the dust.
If you know what type of character you've got, use or design wargear to support that. With characters, I like to use the Enhancers principle I laid down in Monstrous Creatures, plus two additional types.
2.5) Unit Enhancers and Morale Enhancers: The former are things that improve units (duh), such as the Phantasm Grenade Launcher, the Kustom Force Field, Mek's Tools and the Resurrection Orb. Generally these enhancers also fall into a previous category, as they improve the Dakka, Survival, Combat and occasionally Mobility of the unit.
The latter are a sub-class of Unit Enhancers that revolve around Leadership, and include the likes of the Bosspole. They are much less complex.
2.75) Special Rules: Again, these fall into Enhancers. While wargear is more survival focused, rules tend to improve unit output in range or combat.
Examples: The Chaplain's Litugies of Battle is a Combat Enhancer. Orders can enhance Dakka, Survival and Mobility.
3) The Actual Pricing Bit: It's rare to find a HQ for less than 50 points, unless it's really bare-bones to begin with. Remember, a HQ is absolutely compulsory, so a standard one should be cheap enough to give you some wiggle room at lower points levels. That, or you should consider creating at least two HQs. One could be around the 100 point area, the other between 40-60, or similar. Avoid going over 100 unless you are a Monster, as that sort of thing is better left to unique units.
It goes without saying that you factor rules, stats and gear into this.
Good Example: If you were forced into taking a Grand Master or Librarian, Grey Knights would be really limited at lower levels. Thankfully, a cheaper option in the form of the Inquisitor is given, which works well as a compliment.
Bad Example: This is one of the few things I dislike about the new Necrons. Your cheapest HQ is 90 base and does naff all with his existing wargear. At lower levels that's a very high premium to pay in order to gain access to Lords and Crypteks.
I can't tell you what a 'fair' priced HQ is because it varies by army. I can only tell you the reasonably expected ballpark figures. However, comparison between similar armies can be done.
4) Multiple HQ Units: These days no book has only 1 standard HQ, and unless it's a minidex you want, you should follow suit. Multiple HQs shouldn't make their partners redundant. Mini-versions are acceptable, however to me that still counts as 1 HQ option.
Good Example: The Autarch and Farseer. One allows more control over what's off the table, the other gives more control over what's on the table.
Bad Example: I'm baffled as to what the point of the Chapter Master is. He's essentially the same model as the Captain but with one more rule and a different bodyguard. I'm sure all this could have been streamlined into one entry.
5) Utility: This is a big buzzword for HQs right now. Giving a HQ power over the chart can offer your army that much more freedom, and is an easy way to create new list options. I'm not saying you have to, but it's generally well-appreciated and can give certain units that otherwise seem out of place a new lease of life.
Example #1: You can't mention Utility without mentioning Wracks. Without this school of thought, they would languish and be outcompeted by Trueborn and Incubi. In Troops they offer a new style of Dark Eldar play. Cheers for that, Haemonculus.
Example #2: Even on a smaller scale this idea adds more punch. The Warboss allows one unit of Nobz as Troops. This gives you more Lootas and a powerful scoring unit.
This lays some groundwork for the big one: Unique Characters. I'll probably split that up due to the array of different sorts there are.