Another question in... This one not as much rule based but I really like the question.
What is your rules query?*:
What is your take on special characters?
The rule book says I can spend up to 25% on Lords. Which would mean I should have no problem bringing Throt the Unclean (A Skaven lord which will allow me to use more monsters as core choices). However I have heard that tournaments generally don't allow them. Is this true? If so do you know why? I see that they are allowed at Waaagh!paca. I don't know the army lists well that you guys talk about in the podcast but I don't think that I have heard you guys using them? Why not? Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.
Mike (last name unknown)
Thanks for taking the time to ask the question.
To answer it, I need to go back in time a bit and give you some history. I've been playing this game since 2003 and started tournaments in 2005. Special Characters have been banned from most tournaments since I started, though this attitude is slowly starting to change.
Why were they banned? Comp.
Comp. is a form of altering the compositional requirements of our game. Warhammer is neither perfect or balanced. Over the years, many individuals have used "comp" in attempt to correct those "flaws" by changing the game. These changes have taken many shapes and forms (unit size caps, types of unit caps, power dice limits, shooting units limits, etc...) over the years but have always tended to include a complete ban on special characters.
Games Workshop is first and foremost a model company. They produce and sell models. They also 'happen' to write rules for using said models in Table Top games. They are often "guilty" of creating rules which are often "game-breaking" for the sole purpose of selling models. (*not a terrible strategy honestly)
Special Characters have often been the focus of these game changing rules though they have been making noted improvements in creating rules for them. More and more, special characters are now starting to cost more and be less useful than an actual lord / hero choice from said army. The newer special characters are more often than not a worse choice but can bring a thematic / story element to your army.
The current list of "evil" special Characters is...
(***maybe the Masque but only in a certain army build)
Neither of those characters guarantee an auto-win but a good player can really mess up your day if he is using them. They are beatable though.
My personal take - I like them. They are a nice addition. Some of them allow for unique army builds (Hellebron, Skrolk, etc..). I don't mind playing this game with its flaws I've finally learned to accept it for what it is and enjoy the game accordingly.
I am also, admittedly, a bit biased here. I have a complete Clan Pestilens army on the shelf I have been waiting for the day when SC are tourney legal across the board. I really hope that day is coming soon (at least for the Midwest tournies I frequent).
Do some of them do bad things? Yes. But really, for me, it keeps the game a bit more interesting. I like the challenge of fighting something new and not necessarily a "known quantity".
Midwest Tournies in 2013 allowing Special Characters are...
(*there may be others, but these are the 2 day events I know of that are allowing them)
In short - The culture of banning special characters is changing in certain parts of the world. More and more folks are playing the game "as is" instead of feeling the need to "fix it". I'm fine with them and in fact hope to play with and against more and more as time goes on - I appreciate the challenge of fighting the unknown.
1 hour ago