The other shadowy, intimidating Phoenix Lord who represents death and comes with a multi-use shooting/melee weapon. No, not that one; yeah, that second guy. The Eldar may not actually be very creative, y’all. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
Irillyth is the long-lost Phoenix Lord of the Shadow Spectres, a nigh-unknown aspect warrior temple that had been forgotten until recently but has since seen a resurgence after Craftworld Mymeara resumed contact with Eldar civilization at large and his armor was recovered. The fluff here is somewhat contradictory to other sources, as supposedly without a Phoenix Lord aspect shrines wither away and die for lack of new members being inspired to join them (hence the fate of the Spectres), but this is at odds with what we know about Shining Spears (whose Phoenix Lord was slain long ago, apparently for good) and Warp Spiders (who do not appear to have an associated Phoenix Lord) as well as many of the other, minor shrines.
Irillyth’s statline is pretty standard for a Phoenix Lord; 12″ movement is above average, of course, but it makes sense given that he is Jump Infantry. Weapon and ballistic skill 2+ means he will hit with most everything and strength and toughness four mean that he is actually reasonably resilient- especially combined with a 2+ armor save, something of a rarity among Eldar. Six wounds is also a very solid number, and four attacks let him be a nontrivial threat in close combat as well (although he’s certainly no Smash Captain.) At 160pts, Irillyth is definitely on the expensive side of things, but not outrageously so.
Special Abilities and Wargear
Irillyth comes with a large number of special abilities, some generic and some unique to him. Ancient Doom (reroll misses against Slaanesh in close combat) and Battle Focus (advance and fire weapons normally) are, of course, common to most Craftworld units- though the fact that he can effectively use both of them is actually somewhat rare. His Spectre Holo-Fields are likewise identical to those carried by the basic aspect warriors, forcing all enemies to subtract one from hit rolls against him in both shooting and melee; combined with his other defenses, it makes him a pretty tough nut to crack.
Beyond that, Irillyth has The Shade of Twilight, which allows him to deploy into reserves. Given his character status and excellent speed this won’t often be necessary, but the option is nice to have. He also has Reaper of Souls, which lets him reroll wound rolls of ‘1’ against infantry, making his attacks that much more deadly, although it only works with shooting attacks. Last but not least, like all Phoenix Lords he buffs any members of his aspect, though unlike most his buff is unlimited range- any enemy units within 18″ of him or any Shadow Spectre unit must roll two dice for morale and take the worst, which can be very powerful against certain units (e.g. Plaguebearers.)
Irillyth is armed with only one weapon, the Spear of Starlight, although it comes with profiles for both shooting and melee. As a ranged weapon, it fires much like the focused mode on regular Shadow Spectres- 24″ S6 AP-3 Dmg2 Assault 1, with every successful hit granting another attack with the weapon, up to a maximum of four. The additional range and damage are big boosts to the gun and combined with his reroll against infantry it can really clean up, but it lacks the flamer mode that the regular version has (a big loss, especially on overwatch) and without any rerolls to hit you often won’t be able to get full value out of it unless you stand an Autarch nearby. In melee the weapon is similarly fairly dangerous; it’s S5 AP-3 Dmg2, improving its damage to d3+1 when charging.
Although not the worst of the Phoenix Lords (that honor goes to Fuegan), Irillyth is not terribly impressive by most standards. True, he is a character with decent shooting, and as such he can sit behind a wall of Guardians, Wyches, etc, and do a fair amount of work; however, he is more expensive than similar options (Autarch, Maugun Ra, etc) and the bonus he provides to his aspect is actually a bit niche in overall scope, even if it does have the benefit of being extremely long-ranged.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t build around him. In combination with a way to get rerolls and some additional leadership penalties you can make a pretty nasty little setup for killing infantry- Irillyth and the Spectres can dish out a fair amount of damage and spread it around to various units and then force a bunch of morale checks, and if you can get a Hemlock into the area that’s a bunch of units rolling against Ld6 or Ld5 with two dice take the worst, which is pretty easy to force 2-4 extra casualties for “free” on each of them. If you want, you can dive even deeper by combining this with other morale shenanigans from Harlequins or Drukhari, such as Torment Grenades, the Shadowseer, and more.
Of course, going long with a gimmick like that is often not worth it from a tournament perspective, and in that sense Irillyth is unlikely to make any waves anytime soon. However, he is a fairly passable unit from a more casual stance, especially since he possesses a duality of shooting and melee prowess that (like Maugun Ra, who he resembles in a lot of ways) lets him do double duty by not only outputting some firepower against heavy infantry while simultaneously warding off attacks from weaker melee units. If some Sanguinary Guard or Primaris Marines get into your lines, Irillyth can make short work of them with his multidamage weapon, and if you slap Doom onto a vehicle he can also put in some pretty significant work on that front as well- though, honestly, almost anything in the codex will be murderous once you get Doom up.
Most armies won’t really need to counter Irillyth, per se, just be aware of how to mitigate him. He’s death to infantry models in his range and especially medium-weight units that are expensive enough to hate failing morale checks but not so durable that they will just be able to shrug off any damage he dishes out (or any morale checks he forces.) Don’t leave multiple squads of Guardsmen, or blocks of Primaris, or other juicy targets for him and his brethren sitting around and you’ll probably do okay; they require quite a significant investment to pull their tricks off (250pts for the Spectres, 160 for Irillyth, 110 for a Farseer), so if you can limit them to only taking out one squad per turn that’s perfectly fine from your perspective. Similarly, if you’re going to charge in with something near him, make it something that is sufficiently threatening that he can’t cripple or kill it with one round of attacks- either by virtue of number of bodies or sheer toughness.
Although he is probably a decent bit below the curve when it comes to Craftworld units in particular as well as characters in general, Irillyth is far from terrible and you could certainly make some use of him if you’re so inclined; in that sense, I think it’s safe to count him as a success for Forge World, as he comes in well ahead of most of the Badab War characters and their awkward ilk. With some small rules tweaks or a price drop to be more in line with the current Phoenix Lords, Irillyth could be a perfectly acceptable HQ choice come the next Chapter Approved, though I certainly wouldn’t expect him to be a priority.
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