Astra Militarum – Hydras

Posted: April 22, 2014 by The Master of the Adeptus Administratum in Forgeworld, Rules, Tactica
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As Imperial Guard players transition to the new Astra Militarum codex, while much may seem the same, many things have changed.  I’ll be posting a series of articles about some of the units which have seen changes and hopefully provide some insights, tactics, and general information about how the unit has evolved.


Next up:  Hydras.

The Hydra Flak Tank Battery first made its appearance in the previous Codex: Imperial Guard.  At that time in fifth edition, it was portrayed as being “death incarnate to skimmers”.  As it turned out, it was very effective against those targets – but also deadly against light to medium infantry.

One of the biggest troubles I’ve experienced with the Imperial Guard over the years is that nothing with a general ballistic skill of 3 can be considered reliable.  As such most units in the Imperial Guard codex which had twin-linked weapons, like the Hydra, Vendetta, and to a lesser extent the Leman Russ Exterminator became popular units to build an army around.

With the Hydra providing reliable firepower at a 75 point base cost per flak tank, it was common to see squadrons of 3.  The one drawback at that time and up until just recently was that there was no plastic model kit for the unit.  This led to players going one of two ways – use the Forgeworld resin kits, or convert stock chimeras to put some kind of quad-autocannon onto them.  A popular conversion was to use the quad guns from kits like the aegis defence line set.  While this conversion didn’t quite meet the aesthetics of many, it managed to be a familiar WYSIWYG model and was generally accepted.

With the advent of sixth edition, the Hydra unit was updated by GW via its Errata, Amendments and FAQ pages.  With sixth edition came the addition of flyers, and rules like interceptor and skyfire.  Hydras got the Skyfire ability which continued to make them a real anti-flyer/skimmer unit, but they didn’t get the interceptor rule which meant that they couldn’t shoot at a flyer before the flyer got its shooting done.  This very likely was intended so that the Hydra would no longer be as big a threat to regular infantry and light vehicles.

So, with the arrival of the Astra Militarum codex and a new model kit, the Hydra once again sees some evolution and a points reduction weighing in at a 70 point base cost per flak tank.  But there are more changes to this unit which will cause players to deeply consider adding this unit to their force.

Statline:  The standard chimera chassis profile stays consistent with the previous codex.  12-10-10 for armour and BS 3. No surprises so far.  The first big change is that the Hydra is now open-topped.  This change appears to be based on the new model kit for the Hydra, which is a neat change from the historical resin Forgeworld kit. The 5 point reduction in the model from the previous codex however doesn’t cover the 15 point cost of the Enclosed Crew Compartment. So, running the old Forgeworld models sees the cost of the Hydra go up to 80 points for those that are sticklers for WYSIWYG.

Wargear:  The Hydra Autocannon retains its skyfire abilitiy, but has seen it lose its old Auto-targeting System special rules.  While it still fires at BS 3 against skimmers and flyers these units can now use their jink saves against the Hydra Autocannon.  Other Wargear remains unchanged.

Options:  The Hydra Battery can be made into a squadron of up to 3 Hydras, and can select items from the Vehicle Equipment list.  Of particular interest could be Camo-netting which on initial inspection would seem to compete with the armoured crew compartment upgrade due to them being the same point cost, but without an armoured crew compartment option for the plastic kit, the camo netting upgrade would seem a good investment to increase the tank’s survivability as it will undoubtedly draw a lot of fire.  A heavy stubber is a cheap upgrade which gives a bit more firepower when shooting at anything that isn’t a flyer or skimmer – and provides another weapon that can save a Hydra Autocannon from a weapon destroyed result.



After reviewing the changes to the Hydra unit, it seems that the unit has lost a bit of its attraction.  Let’s compare it to some other anti-aircraft options. For those that make use of Aegis Defence Lines, a quad-gun is a 50 point upgrade but comes with interceptor.  Missile Launchers carried by Astra Militarum infantry can be upgraded to take Flakk missiles, and when combined with orders like Smite at Will (split fire) or Bring That Down (Tank/Monster Hunters) can become a real threat to flyers.

Hydras will likely remain as a good choice to help keep flyers in check, but in the grand scheme of things, flyers it seems have a little less to worry about from the Astra Militarum’s premiere anti-aircraft unit.


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