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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 9: Phoenix Lords Part 2


Last post we looked at Phoenix Lords in general and Asurmen and Jain Zar specifically. We'll be covering the rest of the Phoenix Lords in this post.

Baharroth - Swooping Hawks Phoenix Lord

Baharroth is once again, a glorified Exarch of the Swooping Hawks. He comes with the standard apparel of the Swooping Hawks (which includes his own Grenade Launcher, nice to have but even more expensive at 200 points compared to the MSU Swooping Hawks), a power weapon, a decent shooting gun, the normal Exarch powers (which allow him to jump back into reserves and never have worse than a 4+ to hit a vehicle in combat) and hit & run. Again, for three times the cost of a normal Exarch, you get the same on a Phoenix Lord statline.

Hit & Run is nice, and unlike Jain Zar's Furious Charge, his unit gets it as well but he just doesn't do much, even for a unit of Swooping Hawks. Sure he can poke Marines in combat and can put out a couple of S5 shots a turn, bounce around and into reserve and come back in with a nice large blast but for 200 points? He's not killy enough and doesn't have much utility to even add to a single unit (Hit and Run could be great with Howling Banshees but he can't be attached to them). His only boon is he can move 12" unlike the other Phoenix Lords so he can actually reach combat and if he does, with Hit & Run + Skyleap, he can bounce around a bit.

Potential Uses

A distraction. Throw him in a unit which can get him to the front lines (i.e. something which can move 12") and launch him at the opponent. He won't last long but without a bunch of power weapons or AP2 weapons thrown at him, he can survive for quite a bit on his own and if things get tough, he can always retreat to reserves. The ability to bounce around with Hit & Run means he's going to be hard to pin down and you can ensure maximum damage with him. Haywire Grenades + Intercept + S5 gun means he can at least threaten tanks and a decent statline makes him a good beater unit but he's not going to tackle anything too tough and he's a very expensive bouncy ball with more bounce than punch.

Potential Changes

The ability to assault from reserve along with any Swooping Hawk unit he joins. Add in Swooping Hawks as Troops (and a mild improvement for them which shall be discussed in their post) and you've got something going there. His ability to bounce in and out of combat and in and out of reserves combined with the ability to assault from reserves and give bouncing units Troops status is an army in of itself. These changes would make his utility as a harassment character go up quite well.

Karandras - Striking Scorpion Phoenix Lord

Karandras is actually pretty decent but still not great. Why is he decent? Stealthpants, lots of attacks base (six) with weapons which benefits from this and infiltrate. With the recent BRB FAQ, any unit with stealth gives it to his whole unit which means Karandras' ability can be conferred to any unit he joins - 3+ cover anyone? With the ability to infiltrate with whatever unit he joins, Karandras can put a unit up close and personal to the opponent which has pretty decent defenses from the get-go. Shows how long it has been since I've played with these guys ^^, Karandras can only infiltrate with Striking Scoprions which greatly limits the application of this ability and unlike before, he no longer has a Biting Blade and a Scorpions Claw so he can either get bunch of initiative attacks at S5 or I1 attacks at S8. Still lots of ability to damage tanks, MCs and multiple infantry types with such a high base attack number though.

Remember as well, Infiltrate confers the ability to Outflank which if combined with a couple of Striking Scoprion squads (who can get this ability naturally), means you can get a few Wave Serpents coming in from a flank to annoy your opponent.

Potential Uses

The question becomes - how to use him? A lot of people like to run him with a large Wraithguard unit where he gives them Infiltrate and Stealth + some serious combat scariness in himself but the unit is still prone to being bogged down in combat and without Farseer support, shot off the table. A Wraithguard unit, Farseer and Karandras is a big points investment and one would expect it to be so durable, yet this durability again relies upon psychic powers. Otherwise, any unit Karandras can get closer to the enemy with Infiltrate and which would benefit from Stealth would like to have him along. Harlequins leap to mind as they can get much improved cover saves if anything can actually shoot them and a big bad wrecking ball they can take with them though they lose Hit & Run which can really dent their durability. Karandras can always detach himelf and be a lone-wrecking ball but you have the issue of no invulnerable save rearing its head and he can get pasted by low AP weapons pretty quick.

Otherwise, any way you can make use of Stealth in a unit with a character who packs a bunch of attacks can make use of Karandras, even if it is horribly inefficient.

He's still not great with his own Aspect though as Scorpions don't have Fleet.

Potential Changes

Scorpions becoming Troops is again, a given and with a couple changes there (discussed in their post), this might actually be a good thing. Karandras himself though is a lot of alright assuming Stealth stays the same, he gets a points reduction and a 4++ to go along with it. A stealth aura in place of his current stealth wouldn't go amiss and would give him uses outside of just a Scorpion Troops enabler.

Fuegan - Fire Dragons Phoenix Lord

A BS7, range 18" meltaweapon which cannot have cover saves taken against it and always adds +1 to the penetration roll is always appreciated but at 205 points? Hmmm. Once again we have a Phoenix Lord which is basically an Exarch on super drugs though Fuegan at least has a few extras going for him such as a S5 power weapon in combat which allows him to act as a monstrous creature against tanks and he runs around with FNP. But we again roll back to the fact for his cost, you could get another Fire Dragon squad with Exarch and a Wave Serpent. Sure you don't have that nifty BS7 18" meltaweapon which ignores cover but you get five regular BS4 meltaguns to replace it and you have a pretty tank to drive you around everywhere.

Potential Uses

He can ride along with any squad and give them a very potent and reliable anti-tank shot whilst also providing them with a bunch of combat power - much like an Autarch with a fusion gun but at an improved level. The problem of course is Fuegan isn't really providing anything for the army and is really just making one squad mildly better and potentially more dualistic. If you want to pay over 200 points for this with the knowledge he can tear into quite a few units without fear of getting hurt in return, well go for it ^^.

Potential Changes

FNP is granted to the unit? Vulkan-like ability where all flamers/melta weapons within the Eldar army are twin-linked? There aren't that many but it would certainly bring forward the use of Storm Guardians to an extent. Fire Dragons as Troops wouldn't be nearly as bad as everyone imagines it might be. Consider how lamb-blasted suicide melta units are when they are Troops for other armies - it would certainly be a strong option but without fire points having Fire Dragons as your only scoring options would be limiting. Just being able to free up some Elite slots for other units though, well that alone would be worth taking Fuegan if he did move Fire Dragons around.

Maugan Ra - Dark Reaper Phoenix Lord

A HQ with a heavy weapon is a rare thing and generally a nice option to have when you want to make a shooting list and whilst Maugan Ra has a decent enough gun which is Assault based, it's a very expensive weapon. One of the few Phoenix Lords who isn't similar to the Exarch version, Maugan Ra is more like a Harlequin Death Jester on steroids - he can move and shoot a decently impressive gun though it lacks any decent AP to make use of Crack Shot (Rending isn't enough) and packs a S6 power weapon which strikes at initiative. He also has Acute Senses so those few times Night Fight comes up, he's more useful compared to the rest of the Eldar army.

All in all not bad but really too expensive to be of much use. Shave 60 points off though...

Potential Uses

Because Ra has a mobile heavy weapon and is no slouch in combat, he can find a few uses though not taking a Farseer or Autarch which will benefit the army needs a seriously good reason why if you're looking for a good list. The question, as with any of the semi-useful Phoenix Lords, is where to put him? The pre-dominate build of Eldar is shoving everything inside a vehicle and running from there and without firepoints, what's the point? Ra can join a Harlequin squad and avoid being shot whilst pumping out some decent firepower himself but they lose the ability to Fleet if you want to shoot his gun (why one doesn't take Death Jesters often) and Hit & Run if they make it into combat. You could add him to a Guardian Defender squad on foot though they are very vulnerable to being shot off the table. A Wraithguard unit? Sure though it become super expensive and Karandras really is the better bet here for 3+ cover. Dark Reapers? Sure throw some AP5 shots in with those AP3 shots so they can be allocated away.

Ra in the end is probably one of the more usable Phoenix Lord entries simply because he has a decent heavy weapon (which is assaulted based) but considering his price tag and inability to find a home, it's hard to find uses for him. If you really want to run a Footdar list, Ra could find some good uses and counter-assault ability as well but you'll have given up the mobility and durability of the Eldar vehicles.

Potential Changes

Maugan Ra could probably get away with only a few changes. The usual reduction of points and addition of a 4++ would nearly be enough assuming one could find a squad worthy of sitting him in and throwing shots out all game. Moving Dark Reapers to Troops along with some drastic changes from them would be an excellent backfield scoring addition to many Eldar armies and if he were able to benefit them more in some way (slow & purposeful?) - well they and Ra would see a lot more use in conjunction. 


The simple understanding of Phoenix Lords is they need a complete re-write. Keep the statline, add a 4++, add some FoC swapping and then rebuild them from the ground-up in what they provide for their Aspects and the army as a whole. I feel the best way to do this is FoC swapping though having so many FoC swaps available might be a turn off for GW writers (despite the fact that finecrap Aspect Warrior boxes would walk off the shelves in droves - could you imagine the build possibilities with having 11 different Troop options?). I don't like restrictions but potentially allowing two-three squads to be taken as Troops and none in their original slot? Or like what Pedro does for Sternguard and make them scoring? Though this doens't solve the FoC issue Eldar currently run into... The restriction on Phoenix Lords not joining other aspects is annoying and probably should go as well, even though it makes sense from a fluff perspective and a lot of their future usefulness will depend on how well they are made and how well their respective Aspects are made (assuming FoC swapping is indeed included). Importantly they need to work beyond being just multi-wound/better statline Exarchs otherwise buying another squad + Exarch is generally always going to be more advisable for roughly the same cost (if not cheaper).

Beyond that, there are few but simple uses of Phoenix Lords and most of them you are just paying through your nose for something you don't really need. Maugan Ra is a great fire support HQ but way too expensive and hard to find a unit for. Baharroth makes a great bouncing ball but will get fried if he ever meets a power-fist and doesn't really have the combat capacity to reliably rip through units. Karandras has stealthpants and is quite good in cc - something which can always be found a use for but like Maugan Ra, needs to be on foot to truly provide such support. Fuegan is a very reliable and very overpriced meltagun who otherwise just punches things in combat.

They can all be used and do some good in armies - most things can, you just pay far too many points for what they do compared to what you should be getting. Hopefully these will be the biggest changers when the new book rolls around along with a couple new Phoenix Lords. Until then, use them sparingly and only if you can fit them into a viable Eldar build and when doing so, always consider if taking another squad with Exarch would just be a better bet instead.

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