Someone made a very good point in my Chapter Tactics article that a few of my observations did not cater for special characters, and that's very true. However I will now look at how these characters affect their army lists and factor them into the pros and cons of each chapter.
Kor'sarro KhanThe captain of the White Scars 3rd company was, in my opinion only a slightly better captain than you could make up normally back in 5th, save for the ability to give your army the Outflank and Hit & Run special rules. Now that White Scars gain the latter of these rules naturally, it means Kor'sarro has gained a few minor but noticeable changes.
Question. What is more frightening than an army of fast moving, hard hitting Mongol bikers? An army of fast moving, hard hitting Mongol bikers that start the game 6" closer to you. That can make a massive difference to a White Scars army and it's possible to do that only with Kor'sarro. His own biker skills are mad in their own rights too - coupled with his White Scar Chapter Tactics and if he takes Moondrakkan, S5 on the charge with 5 attacks (3 attacks naturally, +1 for charging, +1 for a bolt pistol and Moonfang), plus another D3 S5 Hammer of Wrath hits (+1 strength due to Chapter Tactics), 3+/4++ save with at least 4+ cover save when moving as well as Hit & Run and a power sword with the possibility to Instant Kill makes the Khan a biking god.
His Warlord Trait is Champion of Humanity, and with the number of attacks at a high strength and high lethality means he's no slouch in challenges and is likely to win those precious D3 victory points when fighting the enemy warlord.
In my honest opinion, Kor'sarro is an absolute must for White Scar armies but he only really shines when on Moondrakkan, and with the upgrade he is still 35 points cheaper than Cato Sicarius and possibly twice as deadly. My only real gripe with Kor'sarro is that Games Workshop haven't seen fit to make a model with him on Moondrakkan. Come on GW, pull your finger out!
Vulkan He'StanTypical of any real Salamanders character, Vulkan (not to be confused with the Primarch) really shines mostly because of his wargear. Vulkan is armed to the teeth with ancient relics, all of which are really nice but essentially make Vulkan a normal character with improved equipment. He does have a 2+/3++ save which makes a mockery of most characters defenses, a Heavy Flamer that re-rolls a single failed to-wound and, what is essentially a Master-Crafted Relic Blade (which you can take anyway due to the Salamanders Chapter Tactics).
Vulkan's ace up the sleeve, however is his ability to make all melta weapons master-crafted, making them a more tempting choice than just pure flamer action. It's a nice little touch that makes Salamander armies more varied in what kind of damage they can do (flamers for anti-infantry, meltas for anti-armour).
It's hard to call Vulkan when the nearest equivalent Captain choice is roughly 65 points cheaper, but his ability to make meltas master-crafted is very handy if you're armed to the teeth with them, and his wargear is very nice (it's rare to see a character with a Heavy Flamer, let alone one with digital weapons - plus 3++ saves are very useful). He's no slouch in combat and gaining +1 combat resolution if he is warlord is great for close encounters.
In summary, Vulkan is a really useful character, but I would personally advise weighing up if his points cost is really worth what he gives you overall. He can be the best bargain you can get or a point sink. You be the judge.
Kayvan ShrikeI've always had a soft spot for Shrike, though some of his rules confused me in previous editions. Lightning Claws with Rending meaning they ignore armour saves when they already ignore armour saves? Sure maybe they could be useful on tanks, but the emphasis is on the word "maybe".
In 6th edition, The Raven's Talons make far more sense. At a natural AP3, becoming AP2 on to-wound rolls of 6 on top of being master-crafted, these Lightning Claws are quite possibly one of the most deadly melee weapons in the codex. Plus there's the fact he has a jump pack and the Stealth and Infiltrate special rules. In conjunction with the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics, when used right they can be a deadly mix that are perfect for assassination strikes.
Picture this: Shrike infiltrates behind a lovely building, he starts the game with a 3+ cover save. Using his jump pack and the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics, he then moves 12" towards his target and still uses that same jump pack to charge, causing a bonus attack, a Hammer of Wrath hit (when accompanied by Vanguard veterans, this becomes particularly nasty) and some nasty, nasty attacks. Even better, if you take his as warlord he causes Fear, possibly dropping the enemy's WS.
At the same points value as Sicarius, Shrike becomes the perfect assassin weapon, fantastic in combat and is the only special character in the codex who can join jump pack Vanguard Veterans. Shrike gets the thumbs up if you want to sow chaos and discord in the enemy ranks really early in the game.
Darnath LysanderAt first, I thought had kind of lost his edge in 6th edition after reading that Imperial Fists gain Bolter Drill naturally, and in some cases that's true.
The truth is Lysander is now an almost pure weapon, something to hurl at your opponent and smash into itty bitty pieces. With the exception of Marneus Calgar, Lysander is the only special character in the codex that has the Eternal Warrior special rule, which still leaves you room for a second character to hold the Shield Eternal. Only fitting then that Lysander's Warlord Trait is Champion of Humanity as he can typically survive the assault of most other warlords and reap the rewards of D3 victory points with relative ease. The Fist of Dorn is an absolute monstrous Thunder Hammer. S10 AP1 will mince meat most tanks and infantry alike, and his 2+/4++ armour coupled with the fact he can't be instant killed means he will survive long enough to hit with it in most cases.
The Icon of Obstinacy is a double edged blade however. As a lot of people discovered in 5th edition, some times it's in Space Marines favour to fall back. Let's be honest, if Space Marines lose combat, they're likely to want to run and then blast away with bolter fire in the next turn, but this special rule can deny that. Still, it is useful where pinning tests are concerned.
All in all, Lysander is typical of the Fists tactics... smashing the opponent with brute force, and for that he's the perfect warlord. He does, however come at over 200 points, a steep points cost for any Space Marine player and, unlike Calgar he doesn't do much to buff the army as a whole. Still, he does have an extra wound above other Captains I suppose...
Pedro KantorLet's be honest here. Why did everyone take Pedro Kantor in 5th edition? Because he made your Sternguard scoring units. Makes sense, Sternguard are by far and away one of the best units in the Space Marine codex and the ability to just drop pod them onto objectives and meat grind anything that came near really works well. For that alone Pedro Kantor is worth taking, but otherwise he wasn't much better than a typical Chapter Master. Dorn's Arrow, regardless of having 4 shots usually came second to more favourable weapons such as combi-plasmas/meltas or plasma pistols. Hell, a Relic Blade would do. It's not technically a bolter weapon so it doesn't even benefit from the Bolter Drill rule.
Pedro storms into 6th edition with a very fluffy and very useful new rule called Oath of Rynn, which takes effect if he is your warlord. It's particularly useful against Orks (all Crimson Fists gain Preferred Enemy (Orks)) but in essence means Pedro is effectively carrying a Chapter Banner. Useless you might think with Honour Guard, but then you don't need to attach him to any Honour Guard. Seperate the two, have them on opposite vanguards of your army and let your Sternguard do their thing, you really can't go wrong with Pedro Kantor.
It's worth noting Pedro costs just as much as Sicarius and Shrike, but has very useful buffs and +1 wound and attack to them. Iron Resolve is Pedro's Warlord Trait which can make a Crimson Fists army a terrifying combat army, and when coupled with the Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics, you really can't go wrong.
HelbrechtHelbrecht is a typical example of a destructive Space Marine combat monster, and a relatively cheap one at that (he's 5 points cheaper than Sicarius, Shrike and Pedro). It's his low points cost that makes the High Marshall a no brainer choice for Black Templar armies.
Legacy of Dorn is essentially a reliable Power Sword, but grants D3 attacks on the charge instead of one (if you roll at least a two, you make up for the fact he hasn't got two melee weapons). Plus he has a combi-melta which can be shot, almost guaranteeing a kill once before charging, plus an extra D3 to charge distances as he is a Black Templar (don't forget he gains Rending if in a challenge). But then he also has has the Crusade of Wrath special rule, granting himself and all Black Templars the Hatred and Fleet special rules for a whole turn. The latter is less important, but for those who have played as/against Black Templars, you will know almost the entire army will have that one turn where they will assault as one, it will be evident when Helbrecht will unleash the fury of the chapter. Did I mention Helbrecht's Warlord Trait means he can gain Furious Charge once a game?
This does, however, make Black Templar armies slightly predictable and any good general will account for this, but as the cheapest Chapter Master special character in the book, and accounting for Black Templar tactics, Helbrecht is almost always worth taking, if only as a threat to force your opponent's hand.
Merek GrimaldusGrimaldus joins Cassius in the belief that Chaplains should be tough SOBs. His toughness may not be as high as his Ultramarines counterpart, nor does he have Feel No Pain, but he does have It Will Not Die, so any lost wounds have a chance of regenerating every turn. He's not even an Iron Hand!
The sheer beauty of Grimaldus is his ability to buff the Black Templars around him. He needs not to join a squad to convey the Zealot special rule, he merely needs to be within 6" of a unit to grant it, which is just as well as he can be accompanied by Cenobyte Servitors which are dirt cheap and convey a further bonus of 6++ save to units around them. As I've stated before, Black Templars tend to advance as one so the intelligent thing to do with Grimaldus is to have him at the vanguard of your army and buff every Crusader Squad around him.
Grimaldus's Warlord Trait is Rites of War, admittedly most useful for Black Templars than any other chapter as you want these guys in combat, and using Grimaldus's leadership when within 12" is a small, but not unuseful ability. He's only 5 points more expensive than Helbrecht and they're both nice characters, so if you take both I'll leave the pain of who you want as warlord down to you... but I'd most likely have Helbrecht as warlord. Just saying.
The Emperor's ChampionWhen it comes down to pure combat monstery, you can't go wrong with the Emperor's Champion. He's cheap and his wargear is just made for killing characters.
His armour grants a 2+/4++ save, typical of any Captain or Chapter Master with Artificer Armour and the Black Sword, a master-crafter AP2 power weapon that can either gain +2 strength, but also the Unwieldy and Two-Handed special rules, or my personal favourite Instant Death on a to-wound roll of 6. He has to accept or issue challenges wherever possible, but since he will slice through any normal armour anyway, this isn't such a bad thing. The only thing to bare in mind with the Emperor's Champion, however is he is seemingly the only Independent Special Character with 2 attacks and 2 wounds, so it might be worth considering him for minor character slaying rather than warlord slaying and leaving that down to a character such as Helbrecht.
It's also worth baring in mind he's the only special character in the codex with no set Warlord Trait, but I would always elect Grimaldus or Helbrecht as warlord above the Emperor's Champion any day.