Monday, November 12, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Heldrake

One of the most talked about new miniatures in the chaos space marine codex has to be the Heldrake.  Much has been spoken about its physical appearance and aesthetics.  But I'm actually a fan - I like the way it looks and I'm honestly contemplating getting one for my chaos space marine forces.

But let's take a proper look and review of the Heldrake.

Firstly: weapons.  The Heldrake only has one option: the baleflamer, or the hades autocannon.  The baleflamer is probably the most natural choice for the Heldrake.  It is a torrenting AP3 S6 flamer.  Now, with torrent, we can place the flamer template narrow end anywhere within 12" of the nozzle.  This is terrific: taking out T4 save=3+ space marines is made easy with this (so long as you're not already running Tzeentch Flamers, that is).  Use the Heldrake to mop up any infantry short of terminators with ease: this is essentially what the Heldrake is designed to do with the baleflamer option.  It can also cause minor headaches for some lesser vehicles (such as transports).  But remember that we're only getting 1 shot with this per turn.  The alternative is to go with the hades autocannon.  Given a BS of 3, this means that only 2 out of 4 the shots per turn are going to be hitting.  The hades autocannon's strength also means that its primarily going to be hunting down transport units and gunning for the rear armour of tanks like vindicators.  That said, it has a (mean) chance of 41% (rounded) of taking down a space marine stormtalon (recall the Heldrake has skyfire!).  That's nothing to be sneezed at.  But, I think the ability to take down marines with ease outweighs this possibility.  And on top of that, once per game the Heldrake gets the daemonforge rule to re-roll missed to-penetrate or missed to-wound rolls.  Both of these gel nicely with the available main weaponry.

The final weapon at the disposal of the Heldrake is the meteroic descent rule.  This is a S7 vector strike that one would expect the likes of daemon princes to be pulling off -- not flyers!  Against side armour, this has a good chance of getting rid of enemy transports and light tanks.  What this means is that the Heldrake, properly positioned and properly controlled should be making 2 attacks per turn: one with a vector strike and one with either the baleflamer or hades autocannon (but probably the former).  Consider striking a rhino with the vector strike, and then using the baleflamer on another target: its a great combination.

It gets better though.  Despite the somewhat "normal" 12 12 10 HP3 statline, the Heldrake is very well armoured in comparison to other flyers.  The Daemon, Deamonic Possession, and It Will Not Die rule combine to make the Heldrake a terrifying prospect to take down.  That's a 5+ invulnerable roll, ignoring shaken and stunned on 2+, and regains a hullpoint on a 5+ at the end of your turn.  Frankly, this is an amazing suite of defensive abilities that will require the most dedicated amount of firepower available to your opponent to down. Even a quad gun operated by flakk firing devastators / havocs will need to be lucky to down it.  Let's explore that a bit further: suppose there is a squad of 5 havocs with 4 flakk missiles and a quad gun available.  (Note from the outset that this costs more than the Heldrake itself).  Each flakk missile hits on 3+, and needs a 3+ to glance the rear armour (5+ for the side or front).   Fold in the 5+ save, that means each flakk missile has a chance of glancing of 0.30.  Four of them will only cause one glance (potentially penetrating hit) per turn.  The quad gun ups this to possibly 2 glancing hits in one turn.  That's a lot of shots.  Even a havoc squad snap-firing something a bit punchier like las cannons fares little better.  Lots of dedicated firepower will be needed to get rid of the Heldrake.  That means that opponents need to ignore it, or flee from it.  Suits me.


Unknown said...

Doesn't Vector Strike negate the use of one Shooting Weapon in the model's subsequent Shooting Phase? So, wouldn't the 'drake have to choose between Vector Striking or Shooting in a single turn?

lil will said...


lil will said...


Mike Howell said...

Flyers can fire up to four weapons, and vector strike counts as having already fired one, so it should be fine to fire again.

Mike Howell said...

Didn't leave all my comments!

Vector strike can target other flyers, so a few S7 auto-hits should put any flyer in peril.

I was not a fan of this until I finally saw the model this weekend. It is so much better in person, possibly because the angle of view for all the promo shots is so low.

Anonymous said...

Helldrakes are one of the few anti-air options so far that are worth the investment, IMHO. They have great use against infantry or light armor, depending on your armament, and are very difficult to kill. Their utility against flyers is something that, added onto an already attractive package, makes them a great choice, whether or not you end up facing other flyers.

Unknown said...

Well that's true but key words are UP TO FOUR WEAPONS the heldrake only has a choice of two, and can only take one. As most FMC have multiple weapons its easy for them to do both. Since the heldrake is a flyer with this SR then it makes it a lot different for them specificaly. Rules are rules but house rules always win in this debate. Its a matter if whom ever your playing at that time agrees with you. In short you cannot do both with a heldrake it only has one weapon, and since you can't fire the same weapon twice then you can't do MD and fire a weapon.

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