5/5 stars. Essential. Players need to have a Praetor in any game where they are not fielding a Primarch and over 1000 points. Their rules are too strong to ignore.
Legion Praetors are the commanders just below the Primarchs themselves. Given the sheer number of them, their names and variations are extensive indeed. Inside their own legions they command and lead from the front -- it is likely that almost every army short of a kill team will be lead by such a praetor, and therefore they are probably one of the most important HQ choices available to the budding commander.
Apart from being very effective within the game, the main reason for taking a Praetor is to generate access to Rites of War. Indeed it is unlikely that anyone should face off against, or use an army without such a rite, and as such having a Praetor (or Primary) within a Horus Heresy space marine army is essential.
Their stat line is strong, and comes with 3 wounds and has base wargear that includes artificer armour and an iron halo. Their special rules beyond Master of the Legion (which gives the rites of war options) is Relentless which is a nice touch; as well as the ability to take a command squad.
Arguably there are few weaknesses here. The main one is that players can only have 1 Praetor per 1000 points.
Difference to First Edition:
Neutral. The rules are comparable.
There are a vast array of builds that are possible for Praetors without terminator armour. The following is just a small sampling that will hopefully serve a number of different army styles and legions.
Legion Praetor (120 points).
The "naked" Praetor remains a viable tactic to use for almost any legion and army. You would take this one to generate a rite of war and then do as you please with him - probably take a command squad and rhino maybe? Spend the saved points elsewhere in your army. Candidly, I have never seen anyone play a naked Praetor yet, but it remains very viable.
Legion Praetor with Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer (170 points).
Suited for armies who need a leader at the front along with other jump pack equipped marines and one who is going to make an impact. Seen a Raven Guard army like this. Good also with deep strike armies. Take melta bombs to taste.
Legion Praetor with Bike, Paragon Blade (170 points).
Probably a White Scars Praetor here, but could be tailored to any legion realistically. Bring alongside other fast moving elements to position and cause damage. Take melta bombs to taste. Upgrade to a Jetbike if desired for a further 10 points (recommended).
Legion Praetor with Nemesis Bolter (130 points).
Very much a "cheap" backline leader to sit with heavy support squads or sniper squads. Might be nice for Raven Guard, Alpha Legion, Night Lords and others.
Legion Praetor with Boarding Shield, Power fist (145 points).
For Zone Mortalis fans. Also does well with more defensive and armoured armies such as Iron Hands.
Legion Praetor with Charnabal weapon and Disintegrator Pistol (150 points).
Charnabal blades might not be to everyone's taste (if not take a paragon blade), but they seem well suited to certain legions (Emperor's Children and Blood Angels among others). This is a foot-slogging Praetor, but would also do well in a rhino or other transport.