The one (canonical) Phoenix Lord who has definitely Gotta Go Fast, Baharroth. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
Baharroth, translated as “the Cry of the Wind,” is the youngest and most active of the Phoenix Lords; his eager sense of justice moves him to seek out the forces of evil and strike them down wherever he is able, and though he is countless millennia old, his sense of youthful purpose and determination remain with him. Eldar mythology has him as one of the Phoenix Lords who will meet his final death during Rhana Dandra, the final battle when Chaos consumes the universe and the last of the Eldar race is extinguished.
Baharroth’s statline is fairly standard, all things considered; he comes with an extra pip of strength and toughness compared to most Eldar (with fours in both), but this merely puts him on par with the majority of other HQs in the game. 2+ weapon and ballistic skill also make him fairly average overall, and we would have to consider it a lack if he didn’t possess them. Six wounds and 2+ armor keep him reasonably protected, and four attacks mean that if he gets into a fight he can probably hold his own. He does have a movement of 14″, which is pretty outstanding, but since he is master of the Swooping Hawk shrine we should hardly expect anything less. His big selling point is his price, however- at 110pts, he is the cheapest of the Phoenix Lords by a fair shot and he comes in quite a lot below expensive fellows such as Asurmen or Maugun-Ra.
Special Rules and Wargear
As with all Craftworld infantry, Baharroth comes with the Ancient Doom and Battle Focus rules. The latter is probably where you will get the most mileage, though with his other abilities and natural mobility it is perhaps less needed on him than on some other models. Still- being able to move a bit further if you don’t care about charging is a pretty handy feature, especially when you’re trying to overfly some enemies to drop bombs. Like other Swooping Hawks, Baharroth can be set up in reserve in the usual fashion before the game starts as well as being able to re-enter reserves later in the game through the use of Skyleap.
Like an exarch, he adds +1 to the leadership of nearby aspect warriors (increasing to +2 for Swooping Hawks.) More importantly, Swooping Hawk units near him can reroll 1s to hit in the same fashion as an Autarch- though, bizarrely, Baharroth himself does not benefit from this ability.
Of course, his rather impressive suite of abilities is hardly the end of it- he also comes with a veritable arsenal of wargear. For starters, his Grenade Pack can cause mortal wounds to any unit that he passes over (when moving) or lands within 12″ of (when appearing from reserves); in both cases, you get to roll three dice and each 4+ causes one mortal wound, though you are limited by the number of models in the unit when rolling the dice for it. Even so, a 50% chance of causing a mortal wound to a big target is nothing to sneeze at, and against the common run of infantry he can be quite dangerous, especially for Marines and their ilk.
Beyond that, he carries a Hawk’s Talon (S5 24″ Assault 4), which is a pretty reasonable gun, though not hugely impressive. He can lay 2-3 wounds onto almost any infantry target per turn, and combined with his dropping of grenades can prove quite inconvenient for your opponent. Should he end up stuck in with the enemy, he also carries The Shining Blade, which is a S5 AP-3 DmgD3 sword that gives any enemies struck by it a -1 penalty to hit for the turn- great as long as he is swinging first, such as on the charge.
Baharroth is, I think, the best of the Phoenix Lords for a very simple reason: he brings extreme mobility, which is always important in a competitive environment, with a very low price point while still having the full suite of abilities due to a Phoenix Lord. Even when lining him up directly with guys like Fuegan and Maugun-Ra, it’s hard to say that he is all that much weaker overall; certainly the two of them shoot a bit harder and Asurmen or Jain-Zar punch harder than he does, but it’s not as though they are in a completely different weight class from him despite being 40-60pts more expensive. Baharroth costs about what you would expect from a lot of generic HQs, but brings far more abilities and gear to the party than you would expect from most of them.
Mobility, as I already said, is absolutely key in competitive games. If you can’t get in range of the enemy, you can’t affect them- period. Likewise, if you aren’t fast enough to get to the objectives when you need to, or to intercept enemy units that are attempting to do so, you aren’t going to score enough points to win. Good players focus on list-building and mathhammer, but great players focus on the movement phase, because how you move your models can win or lose a game. Baharroth, then, is the king of mobility when it comes to named HQs- with a 14″ speed and the Battle Focus rule, he can whip across the battlefield at a pretty intense pace and still keep active in the battle when he does so; he can shoot and drop bombs every turn without ever slowing down, if that’s what you want. More than that, he has the Fly keyword, allowing him to bypass terrain and models as well as withdraw from combat virtually at will, even bombing the enemy as he does so.
As though that weren’t enough, Baharroth also has the ability to set up in reserve if he so chooses, appearing anywhere on the battlefield to accompany his aspect squads to the fight, and he can return to the skies on any turn as long as he isn’t engaged with the enemy- either to keep himself safe (perhaps because the enemy has shifted their line towards him) or to more quickly redeploy (as he can drop back in anywhere on the field once again, even crossing the entire table if he so pleases.) This ability to be virtually anywhere he cares to be is incredibly strong and is a big part of why I think he gets the gold medal when it comes to the Phoenix Lords- while Jain-Zar may be pretty speedy when running across the field, even at her fastest she is merely keeping up with Baharroth and she lacks his ability to “teleport” across the battlefield virtually on a whim. Being able to go where you want, when you want him is a key feature of Baharroth and a key feature of many units and armies that do well in competitive games.
But it’s not just speed that he brings to the table; Baharroth is good because he plays in almost every phase of the game, albeit some more than others. He can drop bombs in the movement phase, shoot his Hawk’s Talon in the shooting phase, and then assault something with his multi-damage better-than-a-Power-Sword to clean up- and he can potentially do all three of these to completely different units thanks to good movement and good range.
The grenades, in fact, are worth specifically calling out here. Baharroth gets three dice (or the number of models in his target, whichever is fewer) when he drops his bombs, much like a regular Swooping Hawk squad. Unlike a Hawk squad, however, his bombs “hit” on 4+s, meaning that he will commonly land one to two of them every time he overflies a unit- and with each one causing a mortal wound, that is not trivial damage. While it won’t generally wipe units off the table, it can certainly force morale checks (on weaker units) or whittle away at stronger ones- especially if you follow it up with his shooting and/or melee. It’s quite common during a game to get stuck with several weakened (but still active) units hanging around on sections of the board, and Baharroth can be a great way to get rid of several of them at once. Most basic units will struggle to hurt him in combat, whereas his S5 AP-3 sword will cut apart the majority of foes he faces- though I wouldn’t recommend throwing him into any Terminators or their like. But basic troops like Scouts, Rangers, and Cultists are pretty easy prey for him, and all the more so when he’s accompanied by some friends- which he should be.
Baharroth’s main aura ability is to let all Hawks within 6″ of him reroll 1s to hit in both shooting and melee- though you typically don’t want them in melee, of course. But especially if you have dropped into the enemy’s backfield and are cutting down their shitty little objective-camping units like Mortar teams and Company Commanders, the additional security of having some rerolls (without having to send your precious Autarch over) is nice to have. Rerolls are always good, no matter who you are.
All of this sounds like a lot, and I would say that it is. Baharroth does a lot of stuff pretty passably, though he’s not amazing at any one thing. What really makes him shine, though, is that he isn’t priced like most named characters- he is a real bargain for the sheer number of rules and wargear you’re getting. 110pts is less than what you usually pay for an Autarch, around the same price as a Farseer, and cheaper than the HQs in a lot of other codices- in short, he is a great little piece of utility. Don’t make him your first HQ, and probably not your second one, either. But as your third, or fourth choice in a list? He is well worth thinking about. I’m not sure he’s “winning the Best of Craftworlds in the ITC” good, but definitely a solid little piece worth thinking about.
So if Baharroth is such an amazing utility piece, does he really have any weaknesses that can be exploited? Oh, you bet your ass he does. Like all (or, well, almost all) of the Phoenix Lords, Baharroth does not come with an invulnerable save of any kind, so every point of AP on a weapon helps against him- and AP-4 weapons like Meltaguns or many of the unique swords that some armies have access to will absolutely tear him to pieces. This is particularly notable because a lot of other characters carry excellent melee weapons, so if he isn’t getting to swing first he is in pretty big trouble. Models with T6 or higher (such as Custodes jetbikes, monsters, etc) will also present some serious problems for him- although he is okayish in melee, he is merely okayish and can’t really handle tough targets. Models with high toughness, lots of wounds, or a good invuln will probably be able to grind him down without too much difficulty if he stays in the fight (though of course Fly means he can leave pretty easily.)
More generally, while Baharroth is decent at a lot of things, he isn’t great at anything- and the big flaw in being a generalist is that sooner or later you will match up against a specialist who can beat you by simply playing one game better than you. Baharroth is not going to outshoot a Tau Commander, outfight a Tyranid Hive Tyrant, etc- if he’s forced to go toe-to-toe with most things, he will lose. He can be very slippery, but if you can kill him in a single turn, none of that matters- and T4 W6 2+ just isn’t that hard to finish off for good, nor are his Swooping Hawk bodyguards. Don’t get baited into chasing him around the field aiming for long charges; instead, force him into a confrontation at a range more favorable to you and then turn the tables on him with a fast round of shooting or assault.
Baharroth is much more in line with the new way of thinking for unique characters- they don’t necessarily need to be super-expensive (even the ones that are big actors in the lore), but rather that they should do something that other models of their type can’t. In this respect he succeeds quite well and is not just an interesting piece for building lists, but also cheap enough to be worth looking at in a variety of situations. He may even be good enough to make the breakout into tournament lists at some point- although he’s priced a little higher than most of the HQs that Craftworlds tend to run, he has a lot of abilities that may be enough to become worthwhile in the meta, depending on what else is popular.
As always, remember that you can buy wargaming supplies from the Frontline Gaming store at great discounts every day, whether you’re looking to expand an existing army or start a new one.