If you're anything like me, even if you paid for the $99.99 pack and have a fair shot at getting them all to 7* in time, you may have seen this https://swgoh.gg/db/events/artist-of-war-legendary-event/ and thought you had no way to level them to 80 and gear them to 10 in time. Fear not. I've been playing with Phoenix extensively in GW and I believe we'll be able to beat it at level 65 - 70, gear 8. It'll just take some good mods and a thorough understanding of their abilities and strategy. For the sake of this part of the Phoenix guide, I'm leaving Sabine out of the discussion, as she is the hardest to get and most will not have her ready for Thrawn.
It starts with understanding the squad focus, as this is unlike any squad I've yet played with. Biggs and Wedge helped take out a Death Star; they are heavy hitters and their abilities in game show it. Phoenix are all about hit and run, whittle the enemy down, survive to fight another day. Keep that in mind, be patient and take your time, and we can do this.
Let's start with Zeb and Kanan. This is the backbone of your squad. How so? These guys can keep your team alive. Their uniques, which are applicable to the whole team under Hera's leadership. Kanan: Counter attack and recover health when he suffers a debuff. Kanan actually makes the team benefit from suffering a debuff! Zeb: Bonus max protection based on health and recovers protection at the start of his turn. Protection recovery doubled when debuffed. These are the healers of your squad.
One of the biggest things I think I've seen people ignoring is their 2nd special. Zeb and Kanan both give themselves and a chosen ally protection up with their second special. They have other side effects (Kanan cleanses debuffs, Zeb provides tenacity up or retribution), but I don't even keep that in mind. Protection up. Spread the love with extra protection as often as possible. Many times this will be put on Chopper or Kanan to help them survive a few extra hits when taunting, but don't forget Ezra and Hera. Be prepared for anything by using these moves often.
Since we're talking about survivability, let's talk about taunts. Kanan's taunt (his first special) lasts for two turns, and Kanan is a slower character; this is your long lasting taunt. Load him up with protection up and let this fly. A nice side effect, because of his counter attack he'll be spreading around offense down with his basic. Chopper is more situational. Chopper is a fast toon and his taunt lasts for only one turn. Use this move when the enemy team is all high on TM, or you're ready to soak up one big hit. When he uses his taunt move, Kanan can also dispel debuffs on another character. Nice.
Before we move off of the subject of pure surviving damage, keep in mind Hera's Backup Plan special move. Not only does it revive a character if he dies when he has it, it also will heal the character over the next three turns. Besides uniques, this is your one health healing move. Don't be afraid to use it.
But survivability is more than just taking damage; it's also about reducing the damage coming in. Kanan and Zeb, again, are key here. Kanan's basic can apply offense down, which is guaranteed to apply if he crits. Feel free to load him up with crit chance (modding guide coming later).
Zeb's basic applies daze, which is semi-useful in itself, but it gets more interesting. If that enemy was already dazed, staggered, or exposed, he stuns the character for a turn. But a move that takes two hits to apply stun? How useful is that? It turns out, very. Hera's first special, Play to Strengths, calls another character to assist, dealing more damage and with more potency. Use this with either Kanan, to apply offense down on another character, or Zeb, to stun the character he just dazed.
But wait, that's not all. Ezra's second special is two-fold: First, it's a variance of call another ally to assist. For what it's worth, the other ally attacks first, and then Ezra attacks, but this is another way to get Kanan to apply offense down to another character or for Zeb to stun a character he just dazed (or to daze a character, blocking a counter attack, so he can stun him on his turn). The second part of Ezra's special is the bonus. Both characters chosen receive protection up if the assisting ally is a tank, or gain TM if the assisting ally is support. You may use this move if Kanan needs a bit more protection for his taunt, for example, or if you want to regain some TM by using a support character like Chopper or Hera. If Chopper is wearing down, the TM he gains from this assist could help him lose his taunt early.
You'll notice I haven't yet talked much about their attack strength. That's because that's not what's important. Focus on what they need to survive, their hit and run tactics, and as a side effect you'll whittle the enemy down. Other combinations can be found with a strong attacker to help them out, but for Thrawn you won't really have one, but that's okay!
Ezra's basic can hit twice, and he has a high chance of doing this if he's not debuffed. His first special is another move with multiple uses. Use it to remove an enemy's buffs or, my favorite, if the enemy has no buffs Ezra gains A LOT of turn meter and reduces the cooldown of that special by one. Feel free to use it often.
Chopper can also remove buffs with his second special, with a twist. For each buff removed he gives your squad turn meter and removes it from the enemies.
There's still more to this team, but that should get you started for the Rise Up and Thrawn events. Focus on their survivability, both through taunts and protection up moves, as well as through dazes, stuns, and offense down, and your win will eventually come. Don't forget to mod them well and get them up to at least gear 8 for the Thrawn event if you plan on shooting for the 6 or 7 star Thrawn. Happy hunting.
EDIT: To correct the notion that Chopper is not a tank.