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Not really a rule question but didn't know where else to post it. I have been out of 4k TT since right before 5th ed. came out, and I am now getting back into it. I notice from the new army books a renewed emphasis on special characters (the unique named HQ units). Back in 4th ed, these were not allowed in most games I played or was exposed to. They were never used in games with my friends or in games at my local hobby store. I never played tournaments but I understood they were generally outlawed there too. My question is, has this changed? Do people run these more? I picked up the new (to me) Space Wolves codex and some of them look pretty neato.
From what I've come across since coming back to 40k in 5th edition is that almost every player has a Special Character. They're definitely more common now than when they used to be. People like playing high point games so they seem to pop up a lot.
Named characters are a mixed bag but they are integral to 5th ed - some armies are not possible without them (i.e. deathwing)
As for tournaments, it depends on the organizer. Some have their head firmly shoved where it doesn't shine when it comes to list restrictions.
The "problem" with Special Characters in the game's current style is that many of them give abilities to the army in the way of making units count as scoring, or else becoming Troops choices, or giving certain benefits to specific units. Without this sort of thing the likes of the Space Wolves, Blood Angels and Grey Knight codices would really just be like overpowered versions of the bog standard SM codex. The SCs are meant to give character/flavour to the army by allowing you to create slightly different varieties from the main pot. For example, since you've mentioned the SW 'dex: LoganWing, CanineWing (Canis Wolfborn and all the Fenrisian Wolf packs and Thunderwolf Cavalry you could shake a stick at), PsychicWing (Njal Stormcaller and 3 other Rune Priests), standard SW army - plus other special rules from the likes of Bjorn, Ragnar and co make this a very interesting codex to work with.
"Tau Commandment #226: Participants who use Velocity Trackers in the Tau Clay Pigeon Tournament will be disqualified"