I've just recently started reading your blog and it is very informative and fun to read. I have a question regarding one of the commanders from the second Badab War book. Could it be worth playing Vaylund Cal? I know the points are quite high but look at that stat line. The only bad thing I can see there is the low attack value for a commander but with his servo harness he has his 2 servo arm attacks so on the charge its three STR 10 and two STR 8 attacks. Also flamer and TL plasma pistol give him good (if short) range attacks, I'm seeing him running with a TH/SS termie squad in a LR crusader. Could only be better if FNP applied to any squad he joined.
The Short and skinny of it Ali is no, he's too expensive and doesn't add that much more than your bog standard Master of the Forge. He's not even that much better in combat. Fearless on the whole is a pretty bad option - ATSKNF is better eight or nine times out of 10. Devs with FNP is pretty good but they are one of those borderline units for Space Marines - their weapons are too expensive to really justify taking them all the time and if you're FoC swapping with a character, you really want to maximise that (i.e. taking Dreads in Heavy Support).
Yes his statline is pretty good but he's not killing enough like Mephiston or a Thunderwulf Lord and doesn't do enough for the army beyond what a Master of the Forge does to really warrant taking him I'm afraid.