What is not to love about a Frostheart Phoenix? If you army needs a fast moving, durable, anti-horde hero and has 280 points available and any wizards on the table this unit is for you.
I like to use my phoenixes as flying anvils, in the right list they are extremely durable; the special rule Witness Destiny allows it to ignore any wound or mortal wound it suffers on a 4+, glorious. As if a 50% damage reduction wasn’t enough Attuned to Magic adds 1 to the phoenix’s 5+ save on a 2+ every time a spell is cast within 12″ friend or foe (more on this later). The final nail in this triple threat defense combo is Blizzard Aura Enemy models within this aura subtract 1 from wound rolls within range of this aura.
To quantify this a phoenix that has had two spells proc Attuned to Magic crashing into a 4+/4+ no rend unit is going to mathematically tank about 430(!) attacks before finally going down.
Obviously this is in a perfect scenario against a no rend, base line infantry but it is also with only two procs of Attuned to Magic, in a recent one day event I had a phoenix deep in the enemy’s back lines with +7 to his save roll which is definitely at the upper end of the spectrum but not unachievable.
An upgrade to this which I have always ran is the spiky anvil, its like a bloodletter bomb but in reverse.
Buff the save roll with every wizard you have throwing out spells then hit the phoenix with a Shield of Thorns from a unit of sisters of the thorns not only does this give you the chance of another +1 to your save from Attuned to Magic but you now deal a mortal wound to the attacking unit with a successful save roll of 6 or more!
In the above example against the 430 attack 4+/4+ unit you are dealing 35 mortal wounds back, reflecting on 4+ saves and in my one dayer I was reflecting mortals on a 2+ against up to rend -3 with my +7 and rerolling failed saves to boot from Shield of Thorns AOS 2.0 made this tactic so much better, enemy units can no longer opt not to attack and malign sorcery bought us the Shardfist Pelt from Ghur which is a fantastic artefact on the phoenix essentially an impossible to fail, unbindable Shield of Thorns without the reroll to save and freed up 220 points from the sisters.
With their 16″ move at full wounds and hero keyword Phoenixes can be great early objective grabbers, taggers or debuff units. Grab an objective then pass it off to a slower unit next turn, fly up the board and tag a dangerous shooting unit or fast unit to keep them off your support pieces or just flap up and apply the Blizzard Aura to as many threatening units as you can. You do have to be cautious of over extending past wizard support for your next battle round but being conscious of this and running wizards or bringing wizards fast enough to keep up with them can negate this. Also worth noting is that Attuned to Magic will proc off any spell so if you can get them within 12″ of an enemy wizard you can force difficult decisions, cast the spell and buff your bird or lose out on some spells this turn.
I’ve covered a lot of this above but a quick rundown would be;
12 Wounds, a bracketed 16″ move, 5+ base save, 9 bravery
Damage output isn’t it’s greatest characteristic but it’s no chump with four 3+/3+/-1/1 attacks from the halberd and eight (bracketed) 3+/3+/-1/2 attacks from the talons.
Blizzard Aura – Enemies models within range of the aura must subtract one from wound rolls when they attack (starts at 9″ bracketed)
Attuned to Magic – If a model within 12″ successfully casts a spell whether or not it is unbound roll a die on a 2+ add 1 to the save rolls for the Phoenix until your next hero phase.
Witness to Destiny – Whenever this model suffers a wound or mortal wound roll a die on a 4+ that wound is negated
Captain of the Phoenix Guard – Command ability, Phoenix Temple units within 8″ of this model re-roll failed wounds in the combat phase.
Units That Synergise With It
ALL ORDER WIZARDS!
Specifically though all below I have ran;
Archemage on Steed – Cheap and fast enough to keep up with the bird, the 6+ save after the save is a little redundant but still nice if no other spells need casting.
Archemage on Dragon – Personal favorite, take the book for 2 spells, drain magic goes off on a 4 and dispels endless spells while still buffing the phoenix through attuned to magic.
Battlemage on Pegasus – A steal points wise, 2 spells on the cheap and fast enough to keep up, unique spell is nasty as well.
Spellweaver – Cheap caster and a once a game dispel not bad.
Evocators on Dracoline – Still in early stages of testing this but liking it a lot so far, keeps up adds punch where the phoenix needs help and empower procs attuned to magic.
Knight Incantor on Dracoline – Goes with the above unit in my double bird goon squad.
Sisters of the Thorn – If you don’t want your army from Ghur (pfft) and still want to play the spiky anvil or if you need the artefact elsewhere (You don’t) Fast enough to keep up and great unique spell.
Aventis Firestrike/Lord Arcanum on Tauralon – Not a bad option, pricey but packs a punch and keeps up.
Battlemage on Griffon – Not terrible but I think there are better options around for the points.
Shardfist Pelt (Ghur) – I don’t leave home without it.
Phoenix Stone – Watch you opponent seethe as the 1 wound those 40 attacks did last turn comes back, thematic and hilarious but the pelt is better. Same goes for all other healing artefacts.
Funnily enough for a unit in a faction with no wizards the model thrives on some magic synergy, bring him along as an ally or play mixed order for juiciest combos.
Mystic shield – +1 from Attuned to magic and reroll 1’s I don’t think there is a unit in the game that enjoys this more than a shardpelt Phoenix.
Shield of Thorns – For a non-Shardfist bird
Every other spell within 12″ is great especially if it is easy to cast.
Phoenix temple one isn’t flash.
Slides into some Sylvaneth wargroves pretty nicely.
Your flight stands will all snap, insert a thread and get threaded metal rods or get creative and base on ruins/trees. the pose is very mono so if your running multiple look into manipulating the angle they’re at or how they’re based.
Anointed is an easy magnetize for travel or (heaven forbid) mounted and unmounted get different points at some point.
They come with the wrong sized base (yay) so will need to order some, I went MDF and got a bunch of 120*92’s for my birds and dragons (also on old squares)