On Wednesday however, I was able to get 3 games in against a Chaos Space Marine player, who is now my partner for the doubles tournament. We actually evened each other out quite well, I tabled him the first game, we fought to a draw in the second and then he tabled me in the third, the lists also seem to completement each other quite well, we have 4 troops choices (a legal requirement that each 600pt force brings 1 HQ and 2 Troops), he has a hitty HQ in his Chaos Lord and I provide some excellent psychic defence and buffery with my Rune Priest, equally, he has a hitty troops choice and a good deckchair troops choice in a Khorne Marine and Nurgle Marine squad respectively, whilst I bring the swiss army troops in the Grey Hunters, he fills out the roll of get close and wreck face flyer goodness in the Heldrake, also useful for the Scouring whilst I do what Space Wolves do best and bring the big guns. Incoming 2 packs of Long Fangs.
But anyway, onto the bulk of the post. Speaking of Heldrakes, that is what I'm going to be covering today. I think that this unit is very well costed. It comes in at 10pts more than a standard squad of Warp Talons and it's very well armoured too, the same as a Vendetta in fact. Same BS, same armour values and same hull points. In fact, it's a little bit more durable than a Vendetta. It comes with a 5++ save and 'It will not die', and although it doesn't have twin linked, it has a slight consolation in that once per game it can re-roll to wound, although that comes with a slight risk.
Base, it comes with a Hades Autocannon, which is a 4 shot Autocannon with +1 strength. I'm not sure about this, as what you'd be using this for is taking advantage of the Heldrake's Skyfire rule, and using it as flyer defence, it wouldn't be good for much else as it is unlikely to cause too much hinderance to infantry and other vehicles, although Vector Strike will do a little. Then when you're firing at a flyer, you're likely going to hit twice and maybe cause 1 Hull Point of damage, you probably aren't going to get another shot then as the opposing flyer zooms towards you and you zoom away from it, unless you hover, which will expose yourself.
Therefore, I think that the best way to run this is to take advantage of the only upgrade that a Heldrake can take, and give it a Baleflamer. This is similar to the flamer that the Baal Predator can take, although I've had a memory blank and can't remember what it's called, but it also has Soul Blaze (...great...) and Torrent, which basically gives the template a 12” range where you can place it, allowing you to more easily encompass as many models as possible. This is a fantastic weapon for Marine hunting, my Long Fangs were roasted many a game by this, and remembering that it's a flamer, they aren't going to be getting a save unless they can get an invulnerable save from somewhere, or if they're Terminators, which do get Invulnerable saves anyway.
So, Heldrake. If you're an MEQ player facing off against a couple of these things, especially in smaller points levels, it can be terrifying, but not too much so. It's a good unit, but I think that only time will tell as to whether it is better than Spawn or Bikes.