First stop, as always is the HQ section. I won’t be going into the special characters, as I only ever used the Baron, and I’ll discuss his fate when I reach Hellions, which may well end up being an entire post on its own. I can’t imagine why…
That leaves us with three choices: Haemonculus, Succubus and Archon.
Haemonculus: In my experience, Haemonculi are purchased for two reasons: To provide a pain token to any unit at the start of the game and to unlock Wracks as a Troops choice. Neither of these roles will be affected much by the edition change. Feel No Pain may have been downgraded as far as the DE are concerned, but it’s still a very useful addition for a unit to have and I don’t anticipate people refusing to use that mechanic now. The main reason people want Wracks is as a scoring deckchair unit, so no change there either. Haemonculi have never been particularly useful in close combat, given the lack of defensive wargear and mediocre statline and don’t function that well at range, due to a lack of options and an unspectacular BS. I used to use mine as a bit of a wound soak for some units, but that role is far less effective due to wound allocation being on a positional basis. I don’t think the Haemonculus has got any better or worse in the new edition really, and is still a very solid, cheap HQ choice. Onwards!
Succubus: the Succubus has had a bit of a jump forward, I think. The lack of any defensive wargear is still a problem, as is the lack of any save outside of combat. However she is now harder to kill in an assault due to the new assault wound allocations (Independent Characters can no longer be singled out for attacks). She’ll be fine with most challenges, although using her as an IC hunter is not really recommended with the harder targets and she’ll suffer against 2+ saves due to the Agonizer being a relatively paltry AP3. One (slightly nasty) trick to use with her in a challenge would be to make sure you have a couple of Shardnets handy and next to the challenged character. You may not get bonus hits against them, but the way I see it, those attack penalties will still apply. Overall, she hasn’t changed too much though. Still a good assault HQ when your points are stretched too tight for an Archon.
Archon: Still an excellent choice in my opinion. This guy can be a monster even at a low point cost. My usual cost for my archon is about 150pts and he can kill most characters in assault provided they don’t have Eternal stinkin’ Warrior. In fact, the new rules give him a marked improvement due to the challenge rules. You used to have to put a bit of effort into putting him in base contact with an IC to punk it, but now you can just challenge and Soul Trap the character when he dies. Admittedly they can say no or throw a squad leader in the way, but that’s only delaying the inevitable. The strength of this character has always been the equipment (oh, alright: and the statline) and a couple of wargear options have taken on a new light with the new edition. The main alteration has been the clone field. Challenges are what this item was made for. You’ll deny about 2 attacks each turn with this doohicky, and the opposing character will most likely only hit twice a turn (given the usual 4 attacks of the bog standard martial IC). Admittedly, when hits do get through, they’ll hurt you as you can’t get better than a 4+ save, but the character should be dead by then. Naturally, the lack of save could also bite you versus shooting. You’ll need to be very careful placing this guy in a unit, always providing him with the ablative wounds granted by expendable squadmates. Not having your archon shot to death is always the trick and it was in the last edition, so no change there.
In fact, in terms of overall effectiveness, I don’t think there has been much change among the non-special HQ choices in this ‘dex. Yeah, bit of an anti-climax, that. Sorry to have made you trawl through so many words before reaching that conclusion. The roles of the three choices remain about the same as does their effectiveness. It’s admittedly a bit trickier for the Succubus and the Archon to get into combat due to the new wound allocation rules, but that’s balanced out (more or less) by the boost that challenges give to said combat effectiveness, provided you know what you’re doing with them.
This is one area of codex that I think has managed to be pretty consistent. Almost as if they knew what was coming…