“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice
From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.” – Robert Frost. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
Fuegan, the Burning Lance (a name he takes from his massive Firepike), is in some ways the grimmest of the Phoenix Lords. Although Maugan Ra might wield the occult powers of death, it is Fuegan who has focused all of his craft- and indeed his whole life- on the mastery of destruction. He hopes to one day bind the serpent that is synonymous with ultimate destruction in Eldar myth, and in doing so avert the very doom of the Eldar itself- though according to the augurs of the Rhana Dandra, he will fall in the twilight hours of that battle, his smouldering fury finally quenched in the galaxy-shaking tremors of that destruction.
As a Phoenix Lord, Fuegan comes with a statline that is pretty hefty for an Eldar but pretty standard for most other races. He has toughness four (standard for his brethren, but higher than most Eldar) and a rather surprising strength of five- especially odd given he is nominally from a shooting aspect. Weapon skill and ballistic skill 2+ are pretty standard for any HQ, and four attacks is likewise about on par. Six wounds and a 2+ save make him fairly hard to bring down with weight of attacks, especially given some of his abilities. His price has come down a lot since previous editions, but he’s still a solid 150pts- far from cheap.
Special Rules and Wargear
Fuegan, like all of the Phoenix Lords, comes with a whole array of rules and gear to make him A Very Special Boy, though some of them are more special than others. Like all Craftworlds models he has Ancient Doom and Battle Focus, and like other Fire Dragons he can reroll 1s to wound against vehicles and monsters.
Fuegan comes with quite a pile of unique rules, perhaps to make up for the fact that his wargear is a bit underwhelming for a Phoenix Lord. Unflinching Focus allows Fuegan himself and any units of Fire Dragons within 6″ to reroll 1s on their hit rolls- as such, he will rarely miss his shots and any companions of his will be nearly as accurate. Last to Fall gives him a 5+ “Feel No Pain”-style effect to ignore any wounds he takes- perhaps not as good as an invulnerable save, but still a nice bonus to have. It also pairs well with his final ability, Unquenchable Resolve- at the end of the first Fight phase in which he takes a wound, he permanently adds +2 to his strength and attacks- bringing them up to rather impressive values of seven and six, respectively.
Fuegan carries his Firepike, which is identical to the ones that you can upgrade a Fire Dragon exarch to- apparently, he couldn’t manage to get ahold of a version that was at all improved in the last thirty thousand years or so. He also has Meltabombs, but since they are almost purely worse than using his Firepike (and you can’t fire both), so it’s virtually impossible that you will ever want to use them. Finally, he has his Fire Axe which… okay, the name is not great, yeah. It sounds like he should more be recuing people from buildings than carving a swathe of destruction across the galaxy, but you get what you got, okay? In any case, the Axe gives no bonus to strength in combat (because it… is worse than other axes?) but has AP-4 and damage D3, both pretty good. While unwounded he is a solid fighter against other basic-tier melee characters and after losing at least one HP in combat he becomes a serious threat to vehicles and monsters as well, though sadly he ends up being just shy of wounding typical infantry on 2s. Boo-urns.
So Fuegan is a shooting character, which is something you don’t often see. Or at least he sort of is- he’s got that single super-Meltagun, which is hardly a bad weapon by any standards. But the problem is that is all he has going for him in shooting; he’ll likely put 3-5 wounds onto a vehicle but won’t really be killing it on his own. Coming in at roughly the same price as a Tau Commander who carries four melta weapons with the same profile he definitely feels fairly lackluster overall- and yes, he’s got a whole pile of other abilities that they don’t, but very few of those help him in his primary role of blasting away at big tanks.
He is fortunate at least that he comes with one of the better aspect bonuses for the Phoenix Lords, and one that applies to him as well (as opposed to Baharroth, who apparently won’t listen to his own orders), but since that bonus can be replicated with the presence of an Autarch– who will be 20 to 70pts cheaper, it might be noted- it’s hard to make an argument that he is really particularly necessary except for thematic purposes.
The unfortunate reality is that Fuegan, despite coming down by a huge chunk in points, is still too expensive for what you get- because most of the time, what you get is a single Melta shot. While his axe is a pretty good weapon and built-in ability to ignore wounds is neat, neither of these are really powerful enough to justify his price, comparative lack of utility next to the Autarch, or other issues. While he isn’t horrifically or unusably bad, there is almost no reason to bother taking Fuegan at the end of the day- an Autarch Skyrunner equipped with Fusion Gun and Laser Lance is some 25pts cheaper, has a very similar statline, moves more quickly, provides bonus CP (and is allowed to get a warlord trait), and is just generally a superior guy in a ton of ways.
If you are going to use Fuegan, he pretty much requires a transport to bring him to the party- probably a Wave Serpent, since it is more durable than the Falcon and also is less worried about having to move around the field or advance in order to get where it wants to be. And, since you have room for more than just him in that transport, you probably want to be bringing along a set of Fire Dragon friends for him to buff as well; though he doesn’t do it as well as some other models, he still hands out a non-trivial bonus to them and even he plus a minimum-sized unit can offer a significant threat to most vehicles in the game. His melee capability even adds a bit of deterrence to anyone nearby that is thinking of charging the Dragons to prevent them from from getting to shoot.
I almost feel bad writing anything in this section, because if your opponent is bringing Fuegan to the field they are already handicapping themselves a fair bit. I mean, he isn’t quite that bad, but there are lots of superior options that they could’ve included instead. Still, protocol demands that I include an entry here, so I will.
Fuegan’s big problem, apart from being outclassed by other models, is that he operates only at very short ranges. Now, this is a pretty central idea to his aspect as a whole and to many other Craftworlds units, but it applies in particular to him because he is a little trickier to deliver. He can, of course, run upfield while using his character status to stay protected from return shooting- and you should never underestimate how frustrating a Meltagun that you can’t get rid of can be. But if he’s in range to get the most out of his gun, or if he’s in range to use his melee capabilities at all, he is going to be easy prey for units maneuvering to shoot back at him or to assault him. Fuegan is moderately tough thanks to his 2+ save and 5+ to ignore wounds, but if you get someone in there with a Thunder Hammer and start whaling on him, he is gonna go down pretty quickly regardless- lacking any invuln he is easy prey for most high-power weapons in the game, and virtually all factions have a number of these in their common lists.
I try to be reasonably-positive in these articles, but I also strive to give readers a realistic assessment of what units can do- and there is very little that Fuegan can do that someone else can’t do better. He still suffers from his old problem of “I’m a 150pt meltagun” and when you could just be buying some Fire Dragons or another HQ instead to get a similar effect, that bodes even worse for him. There aren’t a lot of units in the Craftworlds codex that I would straight-up say just aren’t ever worth taking, but sadly I think Fuegan is one of them. However, the silver lining to this is that Fuegan is one of the very, very few units- arguably only three in the whole codex- that I would give this rating to; every other unit, though it might not be so strong that it ranks for competitive play, is at least good enough that I can think of a plausible scenario where I would want to put it in a list, and indeed most of the units from the book I have run at some point or another, with varying degrees of success. Though it can’t be said that the Craftworlds codex is without flaws, I think one of the things that it showcases best is that 8th Edition is all about making more units viable than have ever been before, and I really appreciate that.
As always, remember that you can buy wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.