Dark Eldar Review: Fast Attack: Hellions

SONY DSCZyekian here once again, this time bringing you the scoop on arguably the worst unit in all of Warhammer 40K: the Dark Eldar Hellion.  The Frontline Gaming Tactics Corner is chock full of articles on how to get the most out of your army and this will be no exception – we’ll see what we can do to get the absolute most out of this pile of Clawed Fiend offal.

Buckle up to your skyboard. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

dr evil

Sort of just Purgtorylings

Hellions just don’t live up to their namesake.  A not-cheap 13 points starts us off with the basic Wych statline, a bog-standard T3, S3 moody space elf with a quick-hitting I6 as their only real asset.  Their Helliarch (sergeant) brings Ld9 and one extra base attack.  Hellions are jump infantry that have the potential for a noodle-armed S3 Hammer of Wrath attack.  They get the following special abilities and wargear:

  • Hellion Skyboard: Makes them jump type and grants a 5+ armor.  Also equipped with an 18″ assault 2 poison (4+) gun with AP5.  Not a bad weapon
  • Hellglaive: A close-combat weapon with +1 strength, hobbled by the two-handed rule
  • Close Combat Weapon: Unusable because Hellions lack a third arm
  • Hit-and-Run: Typically unusable because they’re dead
  • Fleet
  • Night Vision
  • Power From Pain
  • Combat Drugs
  • Helliarch may take a splinter pistol + power sword or agonizer, both decent weapons but badly over-costed in a unit an gets dusted by bolt guns.  There is also a cheaper option for a 10-point Stunclaw: a Hellglaive with the instant death special rule in a challenge.  Since they’re likely to attack first there’s a glimmer of utility here.

Seeing some potential here?  Well let me stop you right there – these are T3 models with 5+ saves.  They die to the little guns on drop pods.

So keep them in cover to get at least a 5+, right?  Nope, it’s not that simple.  While it’s true that Hellions must stay in cover to have some semblance of protection, they find it difficult to use.  Jumping in and out of cover is perilous with such flimsy armor.  Every jump the unit makes comes with the high likelihood of losing one or more models; at 13 points each they’re not exactly expendable.

Combat Drugs are likely to tick their melee potential up a notch but they can’t be relied on.  One-third of drugs are of too little use.  The +1 toughness drug really helps but when it appears in just 1/6 of games it’s far more fantasy than reality.  Power from Pain can also aid in survivability, however FnP doesn’t really phase in until turn three.  It’s too little, too late to be of any real help.

To make matters even worse, Hellions are slotted as fast attack choices which puts them up against the likes of pretty-solid Reaver Jetbikes and Razorwing Jetfighters.  The comparison to Reavers is especially dire as they cost a mere +3 points and bring more to the table in virtually every way.  There’s simply no reason to ever take Hellions in anything other than the most casual of lists.

dark_eldar___hellion_by_sickjoe-d72546e

“But they have ‘purdy models and I want to use them anyway”

That’s the spirit!

One thing Hellions can do that’s unique to their slot is deep strike.  Deep striking in a small unit to shoot and present a mild assault threat is perhaps the most feasible strategy.  This will also see the Hellion unit arrive with at least some form of Feel no Pain – which they’re going to need immediately when they’re intentionally deep struck into terrain.  Yeah, it’s fairly probable that one will die horribly to a tree branch but it’s worth it to get a cover save.  Eldar and Corsairs have the ability to drop onto the board and immediately scoot into a defensible position while poor Dark Eldar are stuck where they land, barring run moves.

Be careful of deep striking too close to things like Cultists.  Hellions get massacred by Cultists.  Yeah…

While Hellions won’t ever scare anyone they do present a reasonable threat to anything that dislikes its toughness value being ignored.  Monstrous creatures and artillery don’t want to be shot by poison while the latter can be assaulted for at least tie-up value.  The Dark Eldar codex lacks mobile HQs (R.I.P Baron Sathonyx…), therefore Hellions can’t be recommended to work with any of them.  Farseers can’t help much either so let’s keep ’em small and suicidal.  Best case-scenario Hellions end up being ignored until they pick up Furious Charge turn four, allowing them to dish out S5 melee attacks at the rear of vehicles or weakened targets.

What other opinions of Hellions are there in the 40K community?  What hidden secrets have veteran Dark Eldar players found to make them tick? Be sure to comment below!

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22 Responses to “Dark Eldar Review: Fast Attack: Hellions”

  1. Morollan May 31, 2016 1:52 am #

    Sadly, not much to disagree with here. They’re basically more expensive Wyches and we all know how terrible Wyches are!

  2. zyekian May 31, 2016 5:59 am #

    Wyches are far superior to Hellions for their points. Wyches can actually serve a purpose in CC and use cover without breaking their faces on it.

  3. AngryPanda May 31, 2016 6:03 am #

    It was a valiant effort but I’m not sure anyone will ever find the words to truly express just how badly designed this unit is. It’s true art , the pinnacle of an already screwed up army. I’m in awe that the person who made these works in this industry.

  4. zyekian May 31, 2016 6:08 am #

    Last codex they were bad as well… I was expecting them to get a buff in the current codex so I painted up ten of them….

    Then the codex dropped and took away one of their CC attacks, while making competing FA choice Reavers almost the same cost.

  5. Threllen May 31, 2016 6:10 am #

    It’s like whoever wrote the latest DE book decided that cannons were OP so they just kept the glass and didn’t give them anything else.

    “Here’s a bunch of super fragile units that’ll die to Chaos Cultists with autopistols. But they don’t have any offensive capabilities to make up for it.”

  6. zyekian May 31, 2016 6:16 am #

    My Hellions actually did get mauled by Cultist autopistols the other day.

    If you can keep them away from garbage units they can actually stick around for a while because they’re so far down the target priority ladder.

    • AngryPanda May 31, 2016 6:31 am #

      That’s the worst praise any unit ever got 😉

      • zyekian May 31, 2016 6:35 am #

        Hellions will take their props where they can get it though.

        • AngryPanda May 31, 2016 9:04 am #

          They have to. At this point I think they’d fall of their skyboards and break something if they so much as tried to steal candy from a baby.

      • Threllen May 31, 2016 7:28 am #

        “We’re so bad we won’t die because no one will bother shooting us.” -The advantage to taking Hellions

        This is how low Dark Eldar have fallen…

  7. AbusePuppy May 31, 2016 7:05 am #

    I would put something snarky about the DE codex and unit design here, but the review and comments basically covered all the possibilities already. Hellions are one of the worst units in one of the worst codices in the game; they do technically have some (small) advantages, but none that make them worthwhile compared to other options.

    • AngryPanda May 31, 2016 9:05 am #

      I’m starting to wonder if this might be the one unit that doesn’t even get the usual defense by someone with an anecdotal story about that one time they beat up some guardsmen in a crucial moment.

      • punchymango May 31, 2016 10:05 am #

        Nah, post this on BOLS, someone will show up to claim that Hellions are amazing, they’re just specialist units, you have to use them right and understand the way of the water warrior.

        • AngryPanda May 31, 2016 1:06 pm #

          I forgot. You just have to soften up their target with shooting first and then support them in mellee with another unit. If you then buff them with psychic powers and spike your opponents drink so you can take out his unit without die rolls while he throws up in the restroom they can totaly take out a MSU Tactical Squad.

  8. Blue May 31, 2016 8:28 am #

    BRING BACK THE BARON!!!

  9. zyekian May 31, 2016 9:22 am #

    Beastmasters can be taken in the slot for just 10 points and are pretty much just as good…

    Once in a while someone defends Hellions by saying they might get the right combat drug. Compared to other units in the codex though, well what if Reavers get the right drug?

    • Eric June 1, 2016 10:06 am #

      Beastmasters are arguable better (beyond the substantially reduced cost) as they do not need make the dangerous terrain tests at the cost of the “noodle-armed” HoW and other Jump Infantry perks and hit and run (and like the article says, they don’t survive long enough to take advantage).

      Pity because they are “purdy” models.

  10. punchymango May 31, 2016 10:08 am #

    Hellions are platonic ideal of DE: fantastic sculpts, awesome concept, incomprehensibly terrible rules implementation. I have no idea how these made it onto the page.

    • AbusePuppy May 31, 2016 4:45 pm #

      “We’re a model company, not a game company, so rules don’t really matter. Forge a narrative!”

      • Vercingatorix June 1, 2016 6:19 am #

        *Furiously Forges Narrative*

        • AngryPanda June 1, 2016 3:30 pm #

          Forge that narrative! Forge it! Forge it harder! Why aren’t you forging yet?!

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