You can’t hunt what you can’t kill. Pretty simple concept really, if your opponent can’t do any damage to your unit – you are free to do what you want. What are we talking about? Why the Helldrake of course! Everyone’s favorite barbeque and vector strike specialist custom made for taking out 3+ armor and almost anything else that gets in his way. Previously I talked about the effect this little guy has had on the game and not over reacting and reminding everyone that there aren’t 3 Helldrakes waiting for you around each corner. Now, let’s talk about some of the tools we have that we can use against this marine killing machine.
Landraiders. Guess what, can’t hurt it. Helldrakes vector strike is Strength 7 AP 3, which means anything inside a Landraider can move around without a thought in the world about Helldrake. Given that most armies have moved away from melta and into plasma you don’t need to worry about their infantry either. At worst you will face a Vindicator or some Necrons with Gauss as a counter, so don’t be dumb and get within 24” of those things.
Monoliths. Can’t hurt it, durrr. Not a bad little vehicle either with its ability to move forces around the table. Helldrake gets too close to that immortals squad? Port them across the table and out of his way. Oh by the way it can deep strike and lay down some withering fire when it wants too. It is not specifically transporting your troops to protect them, but it can shuffle them around the table like a card shark, and that can be most helpful indeed.
Stormravens. AV 12 on the sides means Helldrake can only vector strike you needing a 5 to glance and a 6 to penetrate. Your Multi-Melta doesn’t give a rip about Helldrake and your assault cannons can rend him down. In realm of anti aircraft fights the Stormraven is supreme with its side armor of 12.
Vendettas are a great choice with their twin-linked lascannons and cheap points cost, again those AV 12 sides force Helldrake to get a 5 to glance them while the Vendettas twin-linked lascannons are tearing up the Helldrake. As an added bonus it carries a troop choice for late game objective grabs and general mayhem.
Anything with a 2+ save. Not the optimal solution, but still an option for armies that can field some hardened infantry. What this will unintentionally do, and you need to think about this, is direct him towards your other infantry. So while one unit might be safe it only serves to lower the count of units Helldrake will go after and thus decrease the survivability of those units.
None of these units above are specifically tasked to kill / survive Helldrake. All of these units are multi-role and can fit a variety of assignments depending on the situation. That capability is key when it comes to the multi-game multi-army situations that happen in a tournament setting. You don’t want to over specialize your army to the point where it is completely ineffective against anything but the Helldrake. All of the units listed above will allow you to maintain flexability against multiple army types while also granting some protection and counter to the new barbeque masta – Helldrake.
What not to do – the Aegis Defense line. The more I progress into 6th edition the less I take this unit, what was once an auto-include for me has been relegated to the display shelf. They are simply too static and too many people have figured out a hard counter to them. However, any weapon that can fire during your opponents phase and try to take out the Helldrake before it gets to fire is still a welcome friend. That being said, the odds aren’t really in your favor on this idea. With BS 4 you have a 2 in 3 chance to hit, a 1 in 2 chance to penetrate (at strength 9 with the lascannon) and a 1 in 3 chance to roll a 5 or a 6 and blow the damned thing up. That puts you at around a 10% chance to kill the thing, oh and don’t forget his 5+ invulnerable save and you end up at a whopping 6% chance of bringing him down. Not great odds…
What’s the biggest take away? Well for one the sky is not falling. You have tools to counter this thing, so take a breath and look at the units above, then think about ways you can find similar tools in your own codicies and army lists that have similar characteristics and can provide some of the same qualities I outlined above.