Zyekian 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.
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
- 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.
“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!