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.

Hell To Pay

I have to admit I toyed with the idea of making this the shortest review ever for a Game Workshop unit.

My plan was just to write...

Heldrake: take at least one, maybe two.

And be done with it.

It is really that simple, no matter what you think of the concept or look, the Heldrake is a must buy for almost every Chaos Space Marine army.

To help explain why, first take a look at the rules for the Heldrake.

(Click to Enlarge)

Heldrake Rules




Key Components

  • Armor Value 12
  • Baleflamer
  • Meteoric Descent
  • Daemonic possession
  • Hover

--Scales of Steel--

Armor Value 12 Flyers are one of the most powerful units in the game, it means that Quad-Guns need 5s just to Glance a Heldrake. With the Heldrake's ability to shrug off such hits, between being a Deamon and It will Not Die makes for one fearsome unit.

--Dragon Fire--

The Baleflamer is one of the most devastating weapons in the game. It is an AP 3 Strength 6 Flamer enabling a Heldrake to take out almost any entrenched unit in the game. It means even a unit like Long Fangs or Lootas have nowhere to hide. The the primary reason the Baleflamer is ridiculous is Torrent; it means a Zooming Heldrake has an effective 54" inch range to scourer units.

--Hell from Above--

Meteoric Decent gives a Heldrake the ability to Vector Strike any unit it flies over. This is another way for the Heldrake to do damage at AP3. It can also take out enemy Flyers especially pesky AV11 ones. Combined with the Baleflamer you have multiple ways to deal damage to any MEQ unit that dares foot slog across the board.

--Possessed for Success--

Typically, Daemonic Possession isn't much to look at, but with the Heldrake it is golden. Since Stunned or Shaken likely can force a Flyer off the board or stopping at least stop it from shooting; having the ability to negate these results is impressive and useful.

--Precision Killing--

Having Hover on the Heldrake is an excellent tactical tool to keep your dragon in the game. Usually, you will employ Hover around turn 4 or 5, which likely means threats to the Heldrake have been neutralized. In missions like The Scouring where the Heldrake is scoring Hovering can mean the difference between victory or defeat.

It is really that simple, no matter what you think of the concept or look, the Heldrake is a must buy for almost every Chaos Space Marine army.

Putting it all together.

The Heldrake is as point & click as you will ever find. It is impervious to most shooting and even when it gets hit it has ways of negating those shots.

Heldrakes are limited by a lack of options with only two playable modes.

You can go the Infantry killing route with the Baleflamer or you can go the anti-mech/anti-flyer route with the Hades Autocannon.

The Hades Autocannon route has added flexibility when using Daemonforge, but even with Daemonforge you have to hit first and with BS 3 the Heldrake isn't reliable enough.

That leaves you really with the Baleflamer choice as your best option. The Baleflamer is important as the current meta is focused heavily on mixed forces. Having a mixed force means something will be out in the open for the Heldrake to flame. More importantly, players hiding scoring units behind Aegis Defense Lines become very susceptible to death by dragon.

The Baleflamer also bypasses typical bubble wrapping defenses because of Torrent.

The major weakness with a Heldrake is the inability to deal with AV13 or 14 effectively. This makes it hard for Heldrakes to deal with an army like Necrons with lots of Quantum Shielding. Luckily, for the Heldrake heavy mech isn't seen much, but for the occasional Land Raider, the primary job for the Heldrake is to take out Infantry.

Don't forget you can use Daemonforge and the Baleflamer together; if you must penetrate a transport or absolutely kill an entire squad.

The toughest decision for your Chaos Space Marine army is choosing take one or two Heldrakes. This questions really depends on two factors.

  1. What Ally do you have?
  2. What point value are you playing at?

Depending on the ally you can easily determine if you need another Heldrake. If you take Necrons, Orks, or Imperial Guard you should be taking other Flyers, in which case another Heldrake is overkill.

If you play at 1500 to 1750 taking one Heldrake is enough, otherwise you could be cannibalizing points spent on scoring units or anti-flyer. If you play higher point games, anything above 1850, taking a second Heldrake is an important consideration. You will be seeing more units of Long Fangs, blobs, and scoring units that will need an extra Baleflamer.

With most armies only having one change to Intercept your Heldrake you have to weigh the odds and determine if two Heldrakes is really necessary.

Final Thoughts...

Overall, at 170 points you can easily fit a Heldrake into any army list, and with the Flyer meta the way it is you almost have to take one. Heldrakes are very cost-effective and make other Daemon Engines (Defiler) look very pricey for their points. Heldrakes anchor the Fast Attack section in the Chaos Space Marine codex, and provide one potential game breaking unit to any list.


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