The Phoenix Lords are undying incarnations of each of the Eldar aspects of war. They excel in battle (as waged by the aspect they founded) and are overall the most dangerous models that we can field. They all come with an extremely good statline, a 2+ armor save, and Eternal Warrior, along with the standard Eldar rules.
Asurmen is the first of the Phoenix Lords, founder of the Dire Avengers. He shares the Counter-attack rule with his aspect, and carried a twin-linked avenger catapult and a special master-crafted, +1 S diresword. He has a 4+ invulnerable save, and he can increase it to a 3+ invulnerable in a challenge, as long has he only makes one attack. Combined, this all means that he can hack through most any units in close-combat and he’s a nasty opponent in a challenge. High initiative, S5 AP2 attacks will do a number on most targets. He doesn’t add much firepower, but more than most characters. His invulnerable saves make him the most durable of the Phoenix Lords.
Asurmen is really set apart from the other Phoenix Lords by his warlord traits. Rather than having a set power like most special characters, he gets D3 traits. To my knowledge, he’s the only character in the game with multiple warlord traits. This could work out with him getting the standard single trait, but it greatly increases the chances of getting at least one useful trait. By far the best trait for him is Fate’s Messenger, allowing him to re-roll saving throws of 1. None of the other Phoenix Lords have this trait, and it essentially gives him a re-rollable 2+ save, further increasing his already impressive durability.
I think Asurmen is one of the most useful Phoenix Lords on the table. Strong close combat ability and durability combined with multiple warlord traits to support your army make him a good choice for his points.
Jain Zar, like her Howling Banshees, is all about quickly closing with the enemy and slicing them apart. Her warlord trait, Falcon’s Swiftness, adds +1 to her unit’s run roll, which means that she and Howling Banshees will run D6+4 inches. That’s pretty fast, and helps Howling Banshees with their biggest problem, reaching assault.
Once she reaches assault, there’s not much that will stand up to Jain Zar’s AP2 Shred attacks. In addition to that, she’s got a AP2 assault 4 ranged weapon; it’s only got a 12” range but it’ll hurt whatever she’s about to assault. Finally, her banshee mask imposes a -5 penalty to weapon skill and initiative on the enemy, making them easy targets.
Jain Zar emphasizes the issues Howling Banshees already have; they destroy units in assault, but they have to get there first, and Eldar don’t have a reliable way to get them there. Even with Jain Zar leading the charge, they’re not durable enough to cross the table on foot. However, their relatively fast speed makes them a good counter-charge unit. Even so, you should be able to counter most assault units without bringing Jain Zar.
Karandras epitomizes the brutal and efficient nature of the Striking Scorpions. With Infiltrate, Move through Cover, and Stealth, he can get close enough to the enemy to launch an assault without taking too much damage. Once in assault, he has a power fist that strikes at normal initiative. He’s got Monster Hunter to deal with tough targets, and Stalker will give him the edge against most characters in a challenge. His warlord trait, Ambush of Blades, will allow nearby units to re-roll 1’s to wound for a pivotal turn.
Karandras is perhaps the most straightforward Phoenix Lord. He’s got a pretty reliable way to get into assault, and once he gets there, he’ll tear through just about any target. For these reasons, Karandras is my favorite Phoenix Lord.
Fuegan, like all Fire Dragons, specializes in destroying any target that presents itself. He carries a firepike that can shoot twice due to Fast Shot, and his warlord trait allows him to Split Fire. When paired with a squad of Fire Dragons, this will allow them to engage two target every turn with a good chance of taking out both of them.
Despite coming from a shooting based aspect, Fuegan also excels in assault. His attacks are S5, AP1 Armourbane, and he gains an extra point of strength and attack every time he suffers a wound. If you can pair this with a Spiritseer with Renewer to heal his wounds but allow him to keep his enhanced strength and attacks, he’ll be a real monster. Also, he gets a bit of extra survivability due to Feel no pain. It’s not as good as Asurmen’s invulnerable, but it’ll keep him alive longer than most of the other Phoenix Lords.
All in all, Fuegan can handle himself with short-range shooting and close-combat. He’ll deal with most enemies if you get him close enough. In my opinion, he’s a strong choice to lead your army for his cost.
Baharroth was probably the weakest of the Phoenix Lords in the last book, but he actually got a pretty significant upgrade in this codex. The biggest upgrade is that he has Battle Fortune, so he has a 4+ invulnerable save. That alone makes him just as durable as Asurmen, as long as he’s not in a challenge.
He comes with swooping hawk wings and a grenade pack, and has the Herald of Victory rule so that he won’t deviate when he lands. This pairs well with Sun’s Brilliance, which forces enemy units within 6” of where Baharroth deep strikes to take a Blind test. While this ability is ridiculed on the Warp Talons, it’s pretty useful when you can place Baharroth exactly where you want. Even so, it is situational and should only be used against low initiative units. Tau and Necrons will hate it.
He carries a hawk’s talon, so he’ll add a fair amount of fire to a Swooping Hawk squad. Additionally, he has a power sword that also causes Blind. Not exciting, but not bad. Finally, he has Hit and Run and Night Vision.
I see Baharroth as a very flexible harassment unit. He can drop in with a squad of Swooping Hawks (perhaps blinding a vulnerable enemy) and then assault into whatever vulnerable enemy squad he can find. He’s fairly tough and should be able to stay in combat with most units for two turns, before using Hit and Run to bounce to another vulnerable unit. If the enemy starts to close in, he can Skyleap to get escape. You’ll have to be careful with him as he’s not a wrecking ball like Karandras, but his speed should allow you to pick the best combats for him. Slaughter Troops and firepower units, and run from anyone that can actually threaten him in combat.
Maugan Ra, like his Dark Reapers, is a strong shooting unit. With 5 rending, pinning S6 shots each turn (thanks to Fast Shot), he’ll do significant damage even at long range. His warlord trait allows him to split fire, which is pretty nice given his firepower. Night Vision also helps, and Marksman’s Eye means that he’s got a good chance to take out upgrade models and maybe even some characters.
Impressively, Maugan Ra can also handle himself in close combat. With 4 S6 AP3 attacks, he can take on most units, but should avoid serious assault specialists. He’s also quite capable of cutting up most vehicles.
Maugan Ra is a great example of a rare species: a shooty HQ. Take him to add to your firepower and give yourself a decent counter-charge unit. Unlike the other Phoenix Lords, he’s actually best when not paired with his aspect warriors. The Dark Reapers have to stay still to fire, while Maugan Ra can run around the table and fire to full effect. Pair him with a unit advancing on foot (Wraithguard seem very appropriate), and he’ll be a real threat to the enemy.