The Blight Drone of Nurgle has been with us (via Forge World) for a while now. And since 6th edition seems to be shining a light on flyers as a new meta-game, I thought I'd re-consider the utility of the Blight Drone in the new environment.
So, what use is the Blight Drone? Well, I personally see it as a chaos alternative to the land speeder. Thinking about it in those terms immediately highlights a number of key facets of the Blight Drone. Firstly, it is a (hovering) flyer. Being a flyer means that it is tough to shoot out of the skies for many armies that aren't already packing skyfire units (or flakk missiles). And yes: there are still plenty of army lists that can be found casually or at tournaments that can't truly cope with the influx of fliers that 6th edition seems to be emphasizing. I'm sure that'll change fairly soon, but as a chaos flyer, the Blight Drone seems to fit a mould that other entires in the codex do not. I'm looking forward to seeing the full stats of the Heldrake in the new codex and seeing how it stack up against the Blight Drone -- I can imagine that they fulfil two different roles from the leaks that we've seen so far though, and (to be clear) daemons are not getting the Heldrake unless as allies.
In addition, the Blight Drone can act as both an anti-infantry and anti-(light)-tank, including a spot of anti-flier duty if required. Although the BS of the Blight Drone is low, the twin-linked reaper makes up for this (somewhat), and the mawcannon still impacts a good punch at ground level.
For Daemons and Chaos Space Marines, the Blight Drone occupies a fast attack slot. But for the marines, a unit of plague marines must be included before a blight drone can be included. This competes (maybe too strongly) with the Heldrake for a slot. If purchased as part of a daemons army, it will deep-strike on to the battlefield (hopefully via an icon) and come on to the board as the rest of the daemons (i.e. daemonic assault) would. And then, if it goes off the board, it will come on (once again) via the daemonic assault rule and could therefore re-appear at a convenient icon. This opens up some entertaining possibilities for redeployment -- particularly late in the game if some line-breaking secondaries (etc.) are required! Therefore, I think I'll be seriously considering Blight Drones in daemon-primary armies. Coupled with the splendid new rules for flamers and screamers, daemons is once again looking interesting and competitive...
(image taken from Forge World for illustrative purposes).