|One of these things is not like the others, one of these things cannot ally...|
Chaos Marines certainly do not have a dearth of HQ choices, with an even dozen. Seven special characters and five "generic" choices.
Snapshot overview (so, I've only got a one in six chance of being accurate!):
Two (Warpsmith and Sorcerer) aren't Fearless, so be careful with that. The Dark Apostle doesn't list "Fearless", but the Zealot rule has it included.
Abaddon - solid beatstick, makes Chosen Troops instead of Elites. Abby and a unit of Chosen tooled to your taste could make for a powerful compact Allied force.
Huron - good beatstick, random psychic powers, very flexible. If you're not sure what you want in an HQ, Huron could be a good Swiss army knife choice.
Kharn - Hell on wheels. Still hits friends on a 1, but with Hatred he'll get rerolls in the first round, so hits enemy on a 2+, rerolling 1s. Yeah. Charges in with 7 S7 AP2 I5 attacks, hitting on 2+ with rerolls. Plus Armorbane, so walkers beware. 2+ deny the witch. He can dish it out, but he can't take a punch well, so make sure you have some guys around for Look out Sir checks.
Ahriman - OK, if want a Lvl 4 walking psyker he's your guy.
Typhus - Pretty tough, but the best thing about him is the types of armies he lets you make (zombies). OK, so complaints about Typhus' zombie rule have been going around, saying you can only take 10 zombies because zombies can't take options, and adding guys is an option. I say that's bollocks, GW will rule it as bollocks, but the text could be better written and should be cleared up. Here's how I read it. "Any Chaos Cultist units...can be nominated as Plague Zombies." OK so far. "Plague Zombies are Chaos Cultists that...and cannot purchase options." Here's the crux. The detractors think this means that the Chaos Cultist *unit* cannot purchase options, primarily the extra cultists. I believe that it is clear that the *unit* is not restricted, only that individual Chaos Cultists cannot purchase options (autogun/flamer/heavy stubber). Which cultist is it specifically that is supposed to be taking the option to add guys to the squad? So ignore the naysayers and happily go about building your big zombie blobs.
Lucius - Not bad at all, lethal against 3+ or worse saves, way to get a second doom siren in a noise marine squad. In a challenge gets as many attacks as his enemy has WS.
Fabius Bile - OK, instant death CC attacks could be handy but really not a challenge guy. FNP only for himself, so no Chaos medics, sorry. Enhanced Warriors for one unit of CSM for free gives +1S and Fearless with no downside, aside from paying for Fabius.
Chaos Lord - No big change, daemon weapons very limited now but more forgiving. Some extra upgrades and wargear available from armory, as for other generic HQs.
Sorcerer - Up to mastery level 3.
Daemon Prince - Stat boosts for some things, but T5 and no reliable way (boon table or biomancy) to get Eternal Warrior. Up to mastery level 3. "Daemon of X" instead of Marks, work a little differently. Expensive, options to make them even more so (I think up to 365pts if you really load them out).
Warpsmith - Some flexibility, but definitely support and not a beatstick. Coolest abilities IMO are reducing cover save of a piece of terrain and cursing enemy vehicles to have Gets Hot weapons.
Dark Apostle - OK, but potential to backfire - nearby units MUST use his Ld...which could be bad if run into Deathleaper...or Psyker Battle Squads. But for a cultist horde could be handy if you can keep him centrally located.
Force Org Changers - who makes what Troops?
Khorne Berzerkers: Kharn, Lord with Mark of Khorne
Plague Marines: Typhus, Lord with Mark of Nurgle
Noise Marines: Lucius, Lord with Mark of Slaanesh
Thousand Sons: Ahriman, Sorcerer with Mark of Tzeentch
Artefacts/wargear - Some special things characters can buy, a couple of which stood out to me at first glance.
- Dimensional Key - Once kill a model in CC (not necessarily a challenge) then enemy that start phase within 12" treat all terrain as both difficult and dangerous. Dangerous terrain isn't as bad anymore, but I'm a fan of anything that can mess with the enemy's movement. Also lets any friendly unit from Codex CSM (sorry, no allied daemons) that Deep Strikes in afterwards does so with no scatter. Nice, and could pair up well with Warp Talons (who get a short ranged Blind attack when landing on any enemy nearby). Of course by the time you get your HQ to kill someone in assault it's already turn 2-3, so the usefulness of that part is probably limited.
- Burning Brand - Kharne's old flamer. AP3 flamer with Torrent, yes please.
- Spell Familiar - lets you reroll failed psychic tests, could be handy.
Psychic Powers - a couple of the god powers that stood out to me:
- Weapon Virus (Nurgle) malediction that gives an enemy unit's guns Gets Hot.
- Symphony of Pain (Slaanesh) - malediction that reduces target's WS/BS, plus sonic weapons targeting the unit get +1S. Great to pair up with the Noise Marines. *Cumulative*.
Marks, Icons, Troops and vehicle upgrades next!