Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Army Lists 101: Choosing the Right HQ

When constructing an army list, a good HQ selection is essential to improving your chances for victory. Choosing an effective HQ choice for your force can be narrowed down to three easy criteria:

1. Table wide buffs/debuffs: Arguably the most important facet of an HQ choice, buffs and debuffs can come in many forms and can ensure that your HQ choice is effecting more than just the area of the table that the unit is occupying. This is especially important because often times you cannot ensure that your HQ will see combat (if he is combat-oriented) but you can always ensure that your army is getting what it needs from it's leader, or that the HQ is impacting the enemy. Some of the best army buffs include:

-making otherwise non-scoring units troop choices
-modifying reserve rolls
-granting special rules
-modifying stat lines
-debuffs for enemy units

2. Point Cost: One of the easiest ways to optimize the effectiveness of an HQ choice is ensuring that it is worth its cost. Try avoiding investing an enormous amount of points in a single model or group of models if the unit's effectiveness cannot justify its price. There are several ways to overspend points on an army leader, such as buying one-time use wargear or other situational (and often expensive) upgrades.

Each Codex typically offers at least one very customizable HQ entry with a myriad of interesting wargear choices. If possible, avoid the temptation to purchase every piece of wargear available, as many (if not most) of these options offer only situational uses. Instead, try beginning with idea of what kind of role your entry will be fulfilling, and kit your choice out accordingly. Consider which units your character will be accompanying and what their purpose on the battlefield will be. Points spent on wargear can add up very quickly, and if you place all of your eggs in one basket, it will be all the more devastating when things don't go as plan.

Since many unique units cost an arm and a leg, the aforementioned sentiment is especially important to consider when choosing a special character as an HQ. Many expensive special characters offer incredible combat effectiveness, but suffer from limited mobility and seldom see combat more than once or twice a game. If you are taking one of these beasts, its best if they are also either extremely mobile, survivable, or they give benefits to your army. Therefore, exercise caution when selecting pricey combat machines such as Abaddon the Despoiler.

3. Combat Effectiveness: Most simply put, an HQ choice should be able to dish out some serious pain! Whether in ranged or close quarters combat, most solid HQ selections should be either resilient enough to endure a savage beating or powerful enough to slay the opposition before the bad guys get a chance to strike back.

Of course, exceptions to this rule exist, such as the Eldar Farseer; pathetic in both ranged and close combat, but arguably the best units in the game at buffing your entire army to maximize the effectiveness of several units instead of just one, and therefore an outstanding HQ choice.

Since no two gamers share identical play styles, there are no right or wrong choices for army leaders. From our experience, the best strategy to finding the right HQ for you is by getting creative. Try out lists with different leaders; experiment with wargear until you find out what works best with how you play. Your leader does not necessarily have to excel in every criteria, but its important that your HQ maintains a strong presence in at least one or two, or is incredible at one of the three options. For example, Inquistor Coteaz from the Grey Knights codex is an absolute STEAL at 100pts. He provides medium combat effectiveness and survivability with his master-crafted Daemonhammer and Artificer Armor. PLUS he has 3 psychic powers (that I like to switch out for divination powers) so he can easily enhance your army. Not to mention he has a handful of very useful abilities abilities to help out your forces.

So what are some of your most valuable units for this hotly-contested, but mandatory, force organization slot? Comment with your thoughts!


  1. Winged hive tyrant with two tl devourers, not quite as much fun as he used to be when he had rerolls to hit and to wound (oh I miss that tyranid dex) but in 6th with the flying monstrous creature rules this guy definitely puts a smile on my face.

  2. Codex powers eldrad is still my all time favorite. Nothing makes an org mob cry like a mindwar smiped p.fist. Hammering me with a tank? Storm says my str6 guns r now chewing through your rear armor...with guide! And he makes a halfway decent meq beatstik if u really need it...he may only do 2 kills. But his whole unit is rerolling led by a 3++ so who cares. He does it all and he's undercosted even being 200+