If you’re an Aeldari player like I am, I’m sure you’ve been waiting for an update for a while now, and geedubs has delivered in the form of the Phoenix Rising book, the first of their new Psychic Awakening series. 

I’ll divide this review in two parts, the first focussing on Drukhari, the second on Craftworlds (I won’t be reviewing Ynnari since they remain mostly unchanged from their White Dwarf rules). So if you want to know about the dark kin and their new toys, read ahead!



The main thing Drukhari got in this book are the custom obsessions, which allow you to pic two traits from the below lists instead of one from the codex when making your army. Unfortunately, default obsessions were already pretty powerful, and just as a heads-up, none of the new ones are clearly better, with most being plainly worse and a few giving alternative ways to play, specially once you take into account that, unlike Space Marines Successor Chapters, there’s no way to get get Kabal/ Cult/ Coven specific warlord traits, relics or wargear if you choose the custom obsessions. That said they are very interesting for more casual play and even offer some competitive options, so let’s dive into them.

I’ll be rating them in three categories:

  • Competitive: this option is really good and will be see frequently at tournaments.
  • Solid: you can expect to see this used competitively but wont be the meta.
  • Average: might seem some tournament play, but it won’t be what everyone takes.
  • Bad: could have a niche use, but in general it’s worse than most other options.




  • Dark Mirth: -1 ld within 6″ of your units (doesn’t stack) and the first time an enemy fails morale, every unit with this obsession gains +1ld. It’s worse than the other already bad ld debuffing army rules as it doesn’t stack, and the buff is mostly irrelevant for kabal units which tend to be min-sized.
  • Deadly Deceivers: allows you to charge with units that fell back and when you get charged you deal a MW on a 6+. Not only the two parts don’t synergize between each other, but kabals aren’t a melee subfaction, besides usually dying when they get charged. 
  • Disdain for Lesser Beings: apart from having the coolest name, it gives your units the boon of only one model fleeing if they fail morale. Not very useful unless you’re trying to play hordes of Kabalite Warriors, which you shouldn’t, and if you’re going to they will probably die before they even get to roll for morale.
  • Meticulous Flayers: they always benefit from the Eager to Flay benefit of PfP (which allows you to re-roll advances and charges), and unmodified hits of 6 always hit and wound automatically in melee. Would be decent if Kabals had melee units apart from the Archon, who doesn’t have a high enough volume of attacks to really benefit from this obsession.
  • Soulbound: can re-roll the 6+++ rolls of 1, and gives 6+++ to vehicles. Not bad, as it boosts the durability of Venoms, but you’re better off taking Black Heart.
  • Webway Raiders: can use the Webway Portal stratagem twice per game, meaning you can DS up to 4 units. As of the current meta, Webway Portal is almost never used.
  • Toxin Crafters: poisoned weapons gain +1 Damage when you roll a 6 to wound. The best of the bunch, and yet quite lackluster when you compare it with Dark Technomancy from the Coven obsessions.
  • Mobile Raiders: model with the FLY keyword get +3″ of movement. Meh. Useful for Venom spam lists without doubt, but there are better options.


Like most of the new Aeldari stuff, the new kabals suffer from competing with really good options in the codex, in this case Kabal of the Black Heart and their access to Agents of Vect, Labyrinthine Cunning and Writ of the Living Muse. You could make a point for a more damage oriented Kabal with Toxin Crafters combined with something else, but I would argue that a) utility from BH is still better, b) Covens do that better now and c) if you want it to be a Kabal, Flayed Skull is also better at damage dealing.




  • The Art of Pain: while in melee they treat PfP turn as one higher. Useful to get the +1 to hit if you charge on turn 2. Not bad, and also I’ve heard of people having success with big units of Wyches coming from DS, in which case if there’s any left by turn 3 they’ll become immune to morale.
  • Berserk Fugue: unmodified rolls of 6 cause one extra hit if it’s the first round of combat, but can’t be combined with Precise Killers. If you want volume of attacks in melee you’ll probably always prefer the Cult of Strife, but a case can be made for this one if you also want another trait.
  • Precise Killer: unmodified wound rolls of 6 have -1 AP. Another mediocre melee buff at best, choosing between this one and the above depends on what you want your wyches killing.
  • Slashing Impact: causes a MW on a 5+ for each model that ends a charge within 1″ of the enemy, but only against infantry, bikers and monsters. Uhhh… can’t think of an effective way to use this. 
  • Stimm Innovators: the Hyperstimm Backlash strat (double the effect of your combat drugs but suffer MWs) only costs a single CP on units of this detachment. Another cool buff for blobs of wyches, where this is most worth it, but still nothing impressive, specially considered other Wych Cults can still use it for 2CP.
  • Trophy Takers: opponents testing morale because of a melee weapons must do so with 2d6 discarding the lowest. Even with all the morale debuffs available to this codex this still isn’t worth it.
  • Test of Skill: +1 to wound vs VEHICLES and MONSTERS. Cult units aren’t designed to take down monsters or vehicles, and no, I don’t think this will make Hellions or Reavers viable. I’ve read people suggesting this to buff Venoms, since it affects their Splinter Cannons , but I don’t think Venoms want to shoot big targets and, if they did, Dark Technomancy would still be a better choice.
  • Acrobatic Display: +1 Invul in melee but can’t be combined with another trait. Now this one is interesting. Wych cults aren’t used much, but when they are it’s usually because of their No Escape special rule. This means you don’t care as much for your wyches killing as you do for them getting stuck into melee and surviving there, and this is the only of the new obsession that directly helps doing that as it makes wyches surprisingly durable in melee. 


Wych Cults are not seen so little in the tables because they lack punch, but because they lack a good way to reach melee, and none of this obsessions help in that department at all, though it is true Acrobatic Display offers some extra protection once you manage to pull off a charge.




  • Artists of Flesh: -1 damage (to a minimum of 1) but prevents you for choosing a second obsession. There’s literally no scenario in where I’d choose this over Prophets of Flesh.
  • Dark Technomancy: when shooting a ranged weapon you can choose to “overcharge” it and it gets +1 to wound and +1 damage but if you roll any unmodified results of 1 when wounding you suffer a MW. The best obsession in the whole book, making Coven transports incredibly more damaging. If you’re planning to use this to kill vehicles and monsters with your Venoms, I would seriously consider using Raiders instead, which, for just an slightly increased price are considerably better against tougher target with their disintegrator cannon, though it is true they’re still worse vs most infantry.
  • Hungry for Flesh: +1 to charge rolls. Main use would be to help charging from DS, but the thing is Covens are one of the few armies that can actually afford to footslog through the table thanks to their superior durability, making this trait a bit pointless since you want to be Prophets of Flesh for that. Still deep striking two big grotesque units and managing to charge with at least one of them can be quite useful.
  • Master of Mutagens: 6s to hit with poisoned weapons automatically hit and wound vs non vehicles and non Titanic units. Pretty nifty in combination with Dark Technomancy, not only because it also affects ranged attacks, but because it reduces the chances of rolling 1s to wound. That said I probably like Experimental Creations more.
  • Mass Torturers: the Torturer’s Craft stratagem (re-roll to wound in melee) only costs 1CP. I think the obsessions that affect stratagems are an interesting idea, but they didn’t go far enough with them, making them not that useful.
  • Obsessive Collectors: if an enemy unit is destroyed in the combat phase you can either heal 1d3 wounds to a model in the unit that destroyed it or, if it was a wrack unit, it regains d3 dead models. Like other durability buffs, it is worse than Prophets of Flesh and, in this case, abysmally so.
  • Dark Harvest: causes a MW on a 5+ for each model that ends a charge within 1″ of the enemy. Basically a slightly buffed Slashing Impact, but still definitely not worthy, specially taking into account the lower model count of Covens.
  • Experimental Creations: +1 S and +1 to wound with poisoned weapons if the target has lower T than your unit. Also pretty good for transport spam in combination with Dark Technomancy, as it gives an additional +1 to wound to your Venom’s Splinter Cannons vs most infantry out there. 


All in all I think none of these will replace Prophets of Flesh as the best choice for a real Coven detachment, composed of Talos and Grotesques, however I believe Dark Technomancy and either Master of Mutagens or Experimental Creations make for a very interesting glass cannon detachment focused around spamming Venoms and Raiders with Wracks (with a hexrifle and maybe an Ossificator).



c0532ad108577ed403d02e194387e6cfApart from the new obsessions we got in this book, GW updated the rules and models of the Incubi and their most feared champion, Drazhar. If I had to rate the models I would probably give them a 10/10, and I think the sculptor (Darren Latham, look him up on Instagram) did a superb job. Incubi were probably already my favourite dark eldar models both in design and in the lore (and if they weren’t yours too it’s because you haven’t read the Path of the Dark Eldar trilogy) and I definitely still feel that with their new iteration. However, the rules don’t reflect this at all, and I still believe Incubi to be one of the most underwhelming units of the whole Drukhari Codex, with still no realistic way to reach combat. That said Drazhar is quite a beast now and I’m very excited to try him out in the near future.

  • Drazhar: now comes with damage 2 demiklaives and +1 to wound, as well as rerolls to wound if he’s your warlord. Having a guy with 12 d2 attacks on the charge and character keyword protection can come pretty handy, specially when you’re only paying 120 points for him, which isn’t much for all he offers (unless you compare him with Iron Father Feirros of course).
  • Incubi: got their offensive capabilities quite buffed, but lacking the character keyword Incubi can’t footslog through the table to assault like Drazhar can, as they’re still only 1W apiece with T3 and a 3+ save. Their other options are being transported or dropping from the Webway. The first one implies making the mistake of believing Dark Eldar transports provide some significant protection, which they definitely do not, and the second one means you’ll have to pull off a 9″ charge, which isn’t ideal either. Fortunately they at least aren’t too expensive, so if you really want to field them nevertheless, they won’t have a big impact on the points you have to actually bring useful things (I might end up fielding them sometimes because of that very reason).



While I’m usually quite positive about 40k and the usefulness of units (I mean, I play mono-Slaanesh at tournaments), I’m sincerely let down by the new Drukhari stuff. Of the 24 new obsessions there is only 1 I’m remotely excited about (Dark Technomancy), and even then I feel it isn’t too thematic to field a Haemonculus Covens detachment only because of their Venoms. The fact is that instead of trying to fix the faction’s internal balance issues, this book only brings new content, which won’t be used much because what we had was already pretty great. I would rather have Prophets of Flesh and Black Heart nerfed if that means other stuff like Wych Cults or Mandrakes for example gets more attention. I mean, most of the new Kabal rules buff close combat, how can GW expect for anyone to use those?? And specially after the codex and supplements Space Marines got, and Craftworlds getting quite a lot of new useful stuff in the book, it just feels insulting to Drukhari players. But anyways, we got new models, and amazing ones at that, so that’s cool, even if Incubi will see zero competitive use. 

Sorry guys if this review was a bit too salty, but it’s just the way I feel about it. Keep tuned though, because a much more positive craftworld review will follow up soon!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s