Heya all, and today I just want to talk about my experiences with the Baron.
Now the Baron is something of an interesting oddity in the whole DE roster of special characters. He is the only IC that can't get into a transport as a result of his Jump Infantry status, and this often means that he will be hanging out with either some element that will keep up with him and/or something durable that could take some hits for him.
Another interesting thing about the Baron is that he allows Hellions to become troops and in many ways make them so much more useful on the table. His combat stats is impressive enough but I would prefer that he has a power weapon instead rather than a big baseball bat. His phantasms grenade launcher would also work great with units that do not come with grenades such as those beastmasters units. But I believe that the reason why he is amazing is because he allows the army to get a 1+ on determining turn order, and that could make or break some DE lists (alpha strike lists are definitely within this category). With his cheap price tag, one can see why he is a favourite these days.
So far I have tried the Baron with the Hellion buddies and pain token shenanigans with the haemonculus and wracks or another haemonculus a.k.a Hellionstar, and despite the amazing strength and durability of the unit, but I find it a very technical combination that requires the mission to allow the deployment of all the units needed for this combo on the table and also the primary set-up can be compromised. Of course one can play without the haemonculi and the wrack chemistry, but the feel no pain is vital for the unit to have the extreme durability that it confers, while the second pain token makes it a threat that your opponent could not ignore. This intricate set-up is why I am not really pleased with this combo, as I am relying too much on the idea that I can always set up the combo.
This is not to say that the Hellionstar is bad, but based upon my experiences they are best when they are acting as a large mobile cover for all the other elements in the army while becoming a huge magnet. The charging is always good with this unit, but I find that they tend to overkill and against parking lots, they could be exposed to return fire unless a fraction of it engages with an exposed infantry unit to allow for some sort of defense. For the point cost of the entire combo, I say it is kinda fun, but not as flexible as I like them to be. In addition, I never believe in the deathstar approach as an opponent who knows what they are doing will shred it apart or outplay the unit.
The other option that I find interesting is the beastmaster/Baron combo. This combo is simple and allows the beast units to have grenades and stealth which is a boon, while also providing wound allocation shenanigans to allow the whole group to survive even longer. And for a significantly cheaper cost than the Hellionstar combo, I am just as durable and small enough to hide among the terrain. In my opinion this combination is a much more viable combination than the Hellionstar as it is much more sneakier while sacrificing little offensive power. And it is a much more easier and reliable unit to use. The only thing preventing me from playing this particular unit is the issue of getting a model of the Razorwing that is much cooler than the GW ones, while also conveying a very swarm-like feel. Three birds on a base is kinda lame, and if I have to get one of these as a desperate measure I will make a mould and make tons of birds.
Combos aside, I believe that the Baron is actually a very viable character but he is not for everyone as he rewards a general that would want an alpha strike and/or generals who want to use the units such as hellions and beastmasters in their list. However, my personal preference of being a speed freak and my disdain for special characters prevented me from taking the Baron as my to-go HQ.