So what is your criteria in picking an HQ choice? One way to do it is to simply pick the cheapest HQ choice you can simply to fulfill the force org. chart and then move on to spending your points on troops for mission goals, and elites/fast for killy stuff. There is logic in doing this, especially in smaller point games since HQ choices can be a huge point sink as you add the options, toys, and other bling on them- look at a Space Marine chapter master and then add on a relic blade, plasma pistol, and some of the other wargear options- it is easy to get that single model into a Land Raider point range. How can we be sure an HQ choice both justifies it points and makes them beck on the table?
Games Workshop has kind of made this easy for us as all of their HQ choices fall into two distinct groups (using my own terminology here) of a frontline HQ and a back line HQ. Front line HQ choices are the models with the insane close assault ability such as Mepheston, and Swarmlord- as a single model they can wipe out regular squads in the assault and even give dedicated close combat troops a run for their money. Simple really, they charge from the front, move out, and try to make their points back by killing opposing models and cause as much carnage as possible.
Backline HQ choices have less impressive stats, often only slightly better than the troops they are supposed to be leading, and we don’t want to get them into the assault- where they excel is with special abilities that enhance the overall performance of your army- common examples being Eldrad and his ability to boost with multiple psychic powers, and the ever immortal Stormlord with his night fight and lightning strikes.
So what HQ choices fits your army best? When I build out an army the HQ models is actually the last one that I build. Which HQ type- front or back line will boost and compliment your army is the question to ask. If you are playing a very aggressive and forward moving army either or both in assault or shooting then a front line HQ choice will further boost your army. Send in Mepheston and waves of Blood Angels assault marines in full attack and your opponent has some serious decisions to make! With a front line HQ choice there has to be other elements working with him- elements of your army that your opponent CAN’T ignore, send out your HQ alone, and even with his uber stats he or it will get blasted off the table.
On the other hand, if you have an army based on a strategy other then mass shooting or assault a back line army complimenting HQ choice will work better- back to Stormlord allowing my scarabs to advance and get into position under the cover of night fight, or Eldrad throwing up fortune on my boosting jetbikes for last turn objective contests.
So that’s the formula I use in selecting an HQ choice and it reflects very well in the armies that I run, looking to compliment the theme and strategy I’m trying to employ and use against my opponent on the table…