My Tactics pledge: I am not the greatest player, nor a seal pup. I will endeavor to speak from my experience and always be honest about what is theory and what is play tested. Never will I assume to know better than anyone else... unless I must call out ego or pretension.

Hella Bad!

Helbrute, formerly known as the Chaos Dreadnought is one of most beautiful single pose models ever made, but Games Workshop often has a hard time following up pretty models with good rules, and the Helbrute isn't any different.

Sadly, I must report Helbrutes are neither hellish or brutish enough, for anyone serious about winning games, but at least they look pretty.

6th edition made Walkers weaker and combo that with no reliable way to get Helbrutes into combat; you have a recipe for one of the worse unit in the Chaos Space Marine codex.

As always, before we get to why a unit is bad, lets start by looking at the differences between the 4th edition and 6th edition codex...

(Click to Enlarge)

Helbrute 2007 Rules



Helbrute 2012 Rules



What changed between editions?

  • Point cost: 90 to 100
  • Crazed to a different kind of Crazed
  • Vehicle upgrade changes
  • Fewer attacks: 3 to 2

--Hel to Pay--

It looks like going from metal to flesh-metal costs a bit more. This is a technicality; in the last codex you had to buy the second arm for your Chaos Dreadnought, now they start with a Multi-melta. Just be aware that unless your codex is French it will say the Helbrute is 105 points, but in reality they are 100 points according to a new FAQ.

--You made Helbrute Angry!--

Helbrutes are still Crazed, but instead of sometimes killing your own units, this version of Crazed (at worse) has you standing still and firing at the closest enemy models. Crazed only happens when you take a glancing or penetrating hit --making it much less likely that anything bad will happen. This is a great change, the new chart might even make your Helbrute better in some situations.

--Helluva No Upgrades--

The Helbrute change over now means no more Smoke Launchers or Searchlights. As well you cannot buy Extra Armor. In exchange, Helbrutes can now get Thunder Hammers, Power scourges, and Reaper autocannons. Losing Smoke Launchers is a big deal: Helbrutes now have no protection if they want to cross open ground.

--Giving them less Hel--

Helbrutes have one less attack. Having one less attack makes going full assault model less effective. My only explanation for this change is Phil Kelly assumes your Helbrute will have Rage the turn before it charges.


6th edition made Walkers weaker and combo that with no reliable way to get Helbrutes into combat; you have a recipe for one of the worse unit in the Chaos Space Marine codex.

Living with Hell

So what makes Helbrutes such a terrible choice? Three things,

1.  Helbrutes cannot get Drop Pods or Stormravens, so (unless you allow Forge world) this means that if you want any chance of engaging your opponent in assault you must run across the table. With the current meta the way it is Walkers are easily glanced to death, and having a unit that cannot immediately threaten your opponent is far too risky.

2. Helbrutes don't have the best shooting options. The best a Helbrute can do is a Missile Launcher and something else. Having no option for double twin-linked weapons or plasma weapons puts them at distinct disadvantage when compared to the other Walkers. Then tack on Crazed and you might have unit that doesn't always shoot or shoots at the wrong target.

3. Helbrutes have to compete with better options in the Chaos Space Marine codex. Between Chaos Terminators and Cult units you have better shooters, and even Mutilators do a better job at assaulting. Without Marks, Helbrutes are one of the least interesting units you can have. Helbrutes also don't get cool things like Deamon, Will not Die, or Daemonforge.

What does make Helbrutes special is the ability to take Power scourges. Power Scourges are damn powerful in assault. They drop all models Weapon Skill by D3 in base contact with a Helbrute. This typically means that Helbrutes will need 3+ to hit, while opponents could need 5+ to hit back. Still that begs the question how do I get my Helbrute in assault again?

Helbrutes might best be used a defensive unit, guarding weak units in your backfield adding a little fire support. Hide your Helbrute in terrain and if anything gets close pop out and charge. In reality, Helbrutes might find their best role as a distraction. Most opponents know that any Walker once in assault is a bitch to take down and forcing your opponent to deal with Helbrute can have its advantages.

Helbrutes are relatively cheap shooting weapon platform compared to the other vehicles in the codex. Once you have your fill of  Heavy Support slots taking a Helbrutes in Elite can be a bonus if you want more shooting. Helbrutes also fit right in with any Dark Mechanicus or Obliterator cult themes.


Memory Lane: Helbrute

Before Helbrutes were Helbrutes they were Chaos Dreadnoughts, having a long and storied history. The best part about Chaos Dreadnought fluff, is unlike Space Marine Dreadnoughts it isn't an honor to become a Dreadnought. Instead, a Chaos Dreadnought is a terrible death sentence as you go crazy encased in a metal coffin.

As models Chaos Dreadnoughts have a silly history. Rogue Trader days saw some of the worse models ever made and the Chaos Dreadnought was one of them!

By 1999 and the release of the first full Chaos Space Marine codex, things had changed. Chaos Dreadnoughts could be found in Heavy Support. Chaos Dreadnoughts finally got their crazy rules which have since stayed pretty static. This version had Dreadnoughts being able to move before they went all crazy.

In the 2002 codex not much had changed as well. Being crazy was the same, except you couldn't move if you fire frenzied. You could get chaos rewards and had a lot of options as well. 2002 still had the terrible model introduced in 1999.

By 2007 Chaos Dreadnoughts still hadn't changed much, Now crazy could have you attacking your own side and they had very few options. This made the Chaos Dreadnought one of the least taken units in the codex, with only their cost effectiveness being a bright spot.

Today, the Chaos Dreadnought is dead,  so long live the Helbrute!


--Ways to play Helbrutes--

Shooting Configuration: 115 pts Helbrute with Reaper autocannon and missile launcher. This configuration is your best bet when it comes to shooting. It is cheap and has reliable shooting ability. Great for killing transports and doesn't take up a Heavy Support slot doing it.

Assault Configurations: 110 pts Helbrute with 1 Power scourge and Multi-Melta. If you can get your Helbrute into assault this configuration is devastating. Most units will be reduced to WS2 by the Power scourge. As well having the Multi-Melta gives the Helbrute a chance to pop transports, then assault the insides with ease. Be aware Power scourge counts against base contact models so a smart opponent will leave high strength weapons engaged, but not touching.

A Word about Allies

A good complement to Helbrutes are Deamon and Imperial Guard allies. For Deamons going with a monster mash theme can be fun and effective. Take a Greater Deamon along with a Daemon Prince adds large threats your opponent must deal with first before the Helbrute.

For Imperial Guard keep with Iron Warriors or Dark Mechanicus theme is the way to go. Take Tech-Engineers for Dark Mechanicus and take Leman Russ tanks for Iron Warriors. Having your Helbrutes constantly repaired by Tech-Priest is one funny way to keep rolling on the Crazed chart. Helbrutes fit nicely into both themes, as often neither have good assault capabilities so using assaulty Helbrutes provides something your army probably doesn't have.

Final Analysis

Overall, Helbrutes are a big disappointment, while it is great Crazed fixed, Phil Kelly did nothing to make this unit standout. Instead, you get a great looking model that isn't any different from the old Chaos Dreadnought in play style. Without having Deep Strike or any way to get your Helbrutes into assault is a large oversight and something the new 6th meta won't forgive.

Remember unlike other Battle Brothers Daemons ICs cannot join with Chaos Space Marine units under any situation.


It's Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.