Friday, January 10, 2014

Imperial Guard Tactics: The Hellhounds

So while I am on this fast attack kick, might as well finish off the section.  You can find my articles on the horsies, sentinels, and valkyries here.  The Fast Attack section of the IG has gotten really good over the years and currently there is only one unit that is sub par.  You actually have 4 solid choices (both sentinels) and it really is up to what you like to play.  Don't let anyone say that the only FA worth taking is a vendetta.  This is blatantly not true and since every choice is either a squadron or a squad, you can take a large number of vehicles and still have room.  This is where the hellhounds come in.  This probably one of my old favorites and I have long used the flame tanks to burn the emperor's enemies.  Now with the current codex there is two more variants that add significant firepower and flexibility.  The added boost of being squadrons meaning you can take nine of the suckers if your really want to :).

The hellhound is the long standing standard choice and it comes with AV 12 12 10 and 3 hull pts and is fast, which is very important.  Its inferno cannon is awesome and one of the oldest torrent weapons in the game.  Being S6 AP4 it is a perfect choice in the day of Tau and Eldar running all over the board.  Having an high S AP4 weapon that ignores cover and can be placed 12" away is no small joke, also being able to move 12" and fire 12+" means you have around a 30" threat range with the cannon.  Watch as that pesky fire warrior squad hiding that ethereal disappears under flaming death. 

The hellhound has a hull mounted bolter and can upgrade it to a multi melta or a heavy flamer.  It has the usual upgrades and can take camo netting, HK missiles and extra armor and a few other things.  A multi melta is not a bad choice if you are looking for a fast and relatively cheap medium vehicle hunter.  You can either move 12" and fire either the main cannon or the multi melta depending on the threat you face.  This is a good way to have options and also not have to sink to many points into.  Unless you are going for dedicated anti infantry role, the melta is a great way to have a vehicle that can scoot and shoot.  Plus with the cannon being S6 and having ignores cover you can take out those pesky eldar jetbikes with their jink saves, along with their skimmers once you get around their front and side armor.  This is a good tactic to consider and a couple of hellhounds can threaten multiple wave serpents and force them to to keep their shield up rather than shoot it as a couple of hellhounds with cannons and MMs will do some damage too them. 

I really like hellhounds and I think they are underutilised.  They work great in pairs and can guarantee almost a dead unit in one shooting minus anything with a 3+ save or better.  Add that too their maneuverability and different load out options and decent price.  You have a versatile and capable infantry and medium vehicle hunter which if armed with the MM can also do double duty as an MC hunter.  On its own one Hellhound won't kill most high wound MCs, but a pair or triplet of them will do serious damage and are a great way to either add wounds or finish off an already hurt target.  Another unit the hell hound pairs well with is the LR Eradicator, their weapons share a similar profile except for their range, and when you take the hell hounds movement into account they have a very similar threat range.  You can use that russ as a nice bullet magnet though, as it will be higher on the threat priority simply due to its size and by deploying it well you can place it forward enough to where the hell hounds and russ are not too far from each other at the end of turn one.  The key to remember is that neither have to be too close to their targets.

The next one is the Devil Dog and is the same for the hellhound in every way except one, it has the melta cannon instead.  It is also the cheapest.  It is the same as a MM except that it is blast instead of one shot, other than that it is 24" range S8 AP1.  This one is a lot more specialized than the hellhound and it is in theory an great tank hunter.  The obvious choice here is the MM as its hull weapon and it is not a bad choice to have that back up, giving you two chances to hit your target.  Also being a blast weapon you can use it one 2+ save or other low save targets that have low model counts.  This is great to use on broadsides and crisis suits which tend to be close together and being S8 means you can kill them in one go being double toughness.

The main thing the Devil Dog does well is hunt tanks, so when you bring this you have to think about what you want as anti tank.  You have vendettas that do the job so well so you need to have a reason to bring the devil dog.  The first and very valid reason is to have it first turn.  Its on the board and shooting something important turn one.  It could very well be the reason that land raider doesn't get across the board, where the vendetta may be too late to the party to stop it from disgorging its cargo.   It is also not a flyer and as such more maneuverable in the sense that you can turn it any which way you please and has a turret for its main weapon, meaning you can move it 12", keep its armor facing the threats and then turn the turret to shoot the target.  This is a great way to do a drive by, scoot up so that you are "next to" your target, you can keep your front and side facing the enemy firepower and then turn the turret to hit side armor.

The devil dog is a good choice if you are looking for mobile anti tank and something that can be great at screening your chimeras.  Take a squadron of two and move them up on a flank and block LoS to your chimeras, that way your opponent either has to maneuver around your devil dogs or blow them up to hit your chimera's side armor.  Use them to also target your enemies valuable units.  Deep striking units are great targets for you as your blasts can get a large number of wounds and will kill most things in one go.  Over all the devil dog is less versatile than the Hell Hound but can do its specialized role better.

The last one is the Bane Wolf and this one is armed with the Chem Cannon which a template(no torrent) poisoned 2+ and AP 3.  This is pretty darn good, and the same price as a hell hound.  If you are facing a lot of 3+ saves then this is a very good choice too.  Its main draw back is that it is the shortest range of the three so you have to take that into account.  This is the best one to take a heavy flamer on as it complements the main gun and lets double tap the same target.

A good way to use these is to keep them back early in the game and then as your opponent moves forward you advance out of LoS and hit them with the chem cannon and heavy flamer and whatever it is dead.  This also is a great tank to drive sternguard off of objectives(or any 3+ save in general).   Let them drop in and take the objective, then move up with a bane wolf and a squad in a chimera, the banewolf kills the sternguard, then your squad takes the objective.

These also are probably the best ones to combine with infantry.  Throw a couple of vet squads in chimeras and they will help protect the bane wolf from long range fire and hopefully cause your opponent to spread his fire too much and ensure your wolf survives to get close enough.  The only thing I will say against it is that there is also the colossus in the same codex.  Now if you don't have the model for the colossus well then you have an option with the bane wolf.  But the colossus has the advantage of being ordnance and can hide and still shoot, increasing its survivability.  Its 10 pts more than the bane wolf but its well worth those ten more pts.

Now not saying not to bring it because the colossus is better (it kinda is), because the two perform to very different roles.  IF you are looking for long range and something that can hide, then go with the colossus, if you want something that can keep up with your chimeras and protect them and clear the objectives you want to take, well then that is a good option.  I would also like to mention that in the age of bikes that we seem to be in, the bane wolf is great.  Since bikes are coming at you anyways you really don't have to worry about range.  Let your opponent come close, thinking his white scars are going to mop so IG.  Then move your bane wolf up and give them some wonderful poison and watch them choke.  This is just as effective against eldar bikes as well, though in many cases you can get away with a normal hell hound though the bane wolf is a great surprise for shining spears thinking their 3+ sv will keep them alive.

Things to not give a hell hound or variant.  Well first in my opinion is camo netting, they drive up the cost of a unit that is not going to be standing still.  And you should not be keeping them still as you have fast, don't waste half of this vehicle's advantage, if you want something that can burn stuff and hides in cove then get some scout sentinels with HFs.  Smoke launchers and dozer blades are what you should take instead, as you will need that cover when you are in the open and you also don't want your fast movers to be stopped by some silly terrain.  Extra armor is too much, its not bad but it 15pts is a lot to reduce a 3 to 1-2 on the damage table.  Pintle weapons are meh, if you really like them go for it, but I would save the pts for chimera's.  Now HK missiles are an interesting choice, I don't know if they really are worth it.  That being said putting them on a devil dog and prescience a squadron of them is not a bad way to go either.  But I think there are things that make better use of HKs, chimera's again.  Searchlights can be good on devil dogs, but the other already ignore cover so there is no real advantage to take them especially when a lot of your other vehicles already come with searchlights.  They aren't expensive but they are one pt and I hate things like that, why not just include it like other vehicles since its obviously not that expensive.  I really don't like having things that don't go in 5s.

As for general tactics, the hellhounds are really good in pairs and really benefit from squadron rules.  Two will usually guarantee a targets death.  They are great screening units with their side 12 and can protect your chimera advance by showing their own side to block LoS.  If you are going mech infantry heavy, then you should be looking seriously at all hell hound variants as they go perfect with chimera's.  They can keep up and hit the targets that can hurt your guardsmen.  A mech force is what suits the hell hounds best and that is where you should really keep them, though they are always a good choice to take.

Hellhounds have been one of my favorites for a long time.  They are right on the edge of being expensive but are in the zone to still work well and not hurt your pts.  They are a great mobile unit that can hit hard early and survive enough incoming fire to force your opponent to focus his fire on something that you don't mind losing.  If you like hell hounds and their variants, then bring them as they are a great choice



  1. Hellhounds are a good option in my opinion, with the Bane Wolf being my favourite. AP3 is always useful, and you never know it might get the torrent rule (not likely I know, but I can hope)

  2. A hellhound in reserve is also a great counter to enemy infiltrators and assault troops threatening your flanks. As IG the enemy is usally coming to you. A great unit in the age of the ubiquitous cover save.

  3. Well, I only have one of those, and so far it has been underperforming for me.

    This is partly a consequence of intentionally not writing counter-lists.
    I prefer to write a neutral TAC list based on previous experiences, and roll with it to see the weak points in the current concept.
    The result is a Hellhound going against SM (3+ armor, worthless) or a Banewolf getting close to Tau/Orks (destroyed quickly).
    So, unless you know which army your opponent will field, this unit could become a 130p pile of scrap rather quickly.

  4. It is a tad on the expensive side, I will give you that. The basic hellhound with a MM is your best all rounder. Its main advantage is that it is one of the few fast ground vehicles that can scoot out of cover and shoot up its target. Granted its not going to last long against sustained fire. If it was a little cheaper, it would be more worth taking.

  5. I'm about to run a pair of hellhounds for the first time against a 1700pt orc army. We'll see how they do.