Monday, 4 January 2016

Establishing A Force: PHR

So, you've just graduated from Sphere Academy, and you're ready to face the galaxy head on. Your monthly subscription to Bionic Bonanza means you are up to date with all the latest electronic implants, and the 'No Oil, No Spoil' diet has helped you lose that beer gut and slip snugly into your all-purpose PVC jumpsuit. Basically, you're the personification of cyber swag.

So why is it that when you jump in your Zeus and prepare yourself to take command in your first non-simulated battle, your body starts to shake uncontrollably? It turns out that even androids get the jitters! Well never fear young cyborgs, an experience implant is here! Simply plug it in to your neck socket, but be careful not to cross the stream of your quantum spoonificator.

As promised before our festive break, here is the first edition of my new series; Establishing A Force. In this and the following articles, you will find lists to help give a little direction to the spending of your Christmas bonuses, and the reasons and tactics behind the build of the rosters. I'm going to be running through the different factions alphabetically (not alphaspaghetically this time), which starts us with the all-spherical PHR!

Since our Christmas lists last year, a lot has changed for the PHR; sleigh loads in fact! The injection of two units, the Valkyries and Medusa, has dramatically changed the way PHR play, and they are now very dangerous foes indeed! More so than this, the army is a little more forgiving to new players. The static, stoic PHR lists of ye olde floppy disc times are, or should now be, ancient history, and you will instead find yourselves with flash-drive quick (but still ultra-dangerous but limited) units. The meta has evolved beyond the need for clunky vehicles like the Taranis, Hyperion and Enyo, and if you are a starting player I would advise against picking them up to begin with.

This 1000 point list is based around the plastic starter kit to keep costs down at entry level. You'll notice the lack of Juno's I'm sure; they're just not useful any more with the introduction of the high flying Valkyries (I'm not even sure if they were ever useful to be honest)!

This is a mean 1k list. I mean, it's really nasty. I almost regretted showing it to the rest of the OB boys when the torrent of abuse streamed in; apparently they don't want to play against it.

The very nature of Dropzone Commander dictates that you need a balanced force, and annoyingly fitting all your requirements into 1000 points is nigh on impossible for most races. The crutch in this list is the lack of dedicated infantry, with only the two squads. One of those squads is hyper-manoeuvrable however, and once in a building the Valks can more or less ditch their Triton and bound between structures instead. If you find yourself in need for more infantry though, the Medusa can always be used to fill the gap, such is the utility of the unit.

Let's have a peep at the 1,500 point follow up list:

As you can see, it is pretty much more of the same but just expanded. The inclusion of the Ares and Phobos make it an easier step up to a competitive list, and everyone wants to use a Hades! Let's break the lists down into a few key areas, to explain the reason behind it:

Multiple mobile fire-bases:
PHR have always been the king of the AT and AA fire-base, but up until recently they have been incredibly static, and castling was really the only way to use the firepower effciently. Now instead we have something incredibly predatory, which I will from now on be calling;

The Pyramid of Pain

The Helios are my favourite utility unit in the game. They provide brutal short range AA cover with six shots a piece (three shots a profile, which means you can elect to reaction fire a profile at a time to save potential shots - tricksy, but legal), and boast as much potential AT output as a unit of standard tanks due to the shaped charged rule on their guns. To top this off they are robust at A8 with 2DP and the skimmer rule, which in turn means they are quick at 6". They sound unbalanced, but Hawk have their points bang on the money at 60 a pop, and with a Neptune you are paying out a not-small fee of 160 points; I will add though, that they are worth every penny!

The Achilles heel of Helios however, has always been being caught on their own by predatory units.
Units like the Hunter have been able to pounce on an unsuspecting squad, annihilating them with high energy weapons. In fact with E11 in abundance within the current meta, you have to be very careful where you deploy these tanks as not to lose them immediately. What you need is a deterrent, to stop these kind of units taking advantage - Enter the Medusa.

Techboy's Pyramid
By deploying your Medusa at the tip of this pyramid (see picture), you form the deadliest and quickest mobile fire-base in the game. They prowl around at 6" a turn, being able to annihilate anything in their path due to the sheer number of dice they churn out! UCM Generals will be thinking twice about chucking their Gladius out to take down the Helios, as the Medusa will land some serious pain in return. On the other hand, you can't fly units like the Raider towards the Medusa, as the Helios will blow them out of the sky!

This Pyramid truly deals with all threats, and deals with them well. There are a couple of drawbacks to be aware off, as with all units. The effective range of 18" can be tricky to wield, and also fitting them in the same battlegroup is very awkward, meaning every so often they will be within 6"-9" away from each other. Not a big deal, but one that could be exploited by a canny player.

*I know some of you are thinking 'Wht noy the Triangle of Terror, as it's 2d?' The AA makes it a 3 dimensional!

Old-school fire-bases:
What is the PHR army without it's walkers, right? They may be slow and clunky, but for providing solid, old-school fire bases there is no-one better (and no-one greeeeater). a lone Phobos on back board is a cheap fast mover deterrent, and will help pick off gunships too. The Zeus and Odin are beasts and will be more difficult to remove from a focal point than a group of well-experienced squatters. The Hades also brings its own unique presence to the board, which is almost like a 'no drive' bubble within range of its tenplate weapon.

Decent CV: 
I firmly believe this is necessary for PHR. Your cards are so good, and getting first (or second) activation these days can be so important I suggest a minimum of CV4, and stretching to CV5 if you can spare the points. Although this is a hardy list, it can and sometimes will be hammered by an opponent, so getting those alpha strike activations with your Pyramids can help considerably.

Valkyries are the dogs genitals:
Just so, so good. A +1 unit, maybe even a +2. They are good at combat, great at shooting 'hard' infantry units (like Freeriders and Medusa; they get 30 shots!), and more importantly don't often suffer if their Triton is shot down. These girls are bouncier than the opening credits of Baywatch, and can leap an outrageous 12" between buildings (embark/disembark + 9" move). Oh no, there's a building in the way, but it's less than 6" tall? Who cares, we'll jump over that too! The icing on the cake is that they can never be reaction fired either... This manoeuvrability means the jet-setting ladies can leap indiscriminatingly between buildings, and ignore the risk of Fast movers and quick AA destroying their transport.

Be careful though, as any Exotics will ruin your day (except Occupation Veterans to be fair, who are fairly equal). Expect your ladies to become prime Destroyer and Firstborn fodder, as they are huge targets!

Changes to the list can be made depending on your style, and on units which you own. The Zeus and Odin swap out neatly for a Nemesis, for example. This is simply a guide, a foundation if you like, so swap and change as you like!

If you have any questions please feel free to ask!


  1. Nice article for beginners, but that was the point of it.
    Remember nubes- convert those PHR starter Junos to Helios or Angelos by kit bashing.


  2. I'd play against the 995 Points list... no issue... but nice article...

  3. I think these beginner's stuff is going to be great! Well done and I look forward to more.

    A suggestion though; you should have one more label at the top besides the ones you have (Home, podcast, tactica e t c); "For beginner" otherwise these articles disappear.


    1. "Pinning" these to the top of their respective Army tab would also work.

    2. There is a New Starters tab chaps, just before the armies!

  4. Wait, I've got this... it's a Pyramid because you have the Triton X hovering over the top (healing the Medusa)?

    1. Yep, that and the the AA qualities of the Helios add the third dimension to their threat!

  5. I think that if games were played on open terrain instead of within cities, Junos would be well thought of.

  6. I think this is really helpful - thanks.

    At some stage it would be great if you could go back to the beginning and see if you can write about how to make 'traditional' armies work. So walker-heavy PHR lists, for example. Not necessarily armies without any new units, but armies which are much closer to the original feel and style of the army as it was first released.

    When you have time!

    1. That's very interesting, I may well do that. Perhaps a piece on using lists pre-dating Reconquest... hmmmm...

    2. There's kind of two ways you could do it. 'Pure' pre-Reconquest lists, which might be helpful for beginners who are starting out with the main intro box.

      But actually I was thinking not of excluding any particular unit, but how do you create lists and fight games using lists which still have the original feel. e.g. If you were initially attracted to the PHR because you loved the idea of lots of those cool bipedal walkers, you might not like being told that the way to win is to load up on Valkyries and Medusas.

      So if you wanted to make that kind of list today, you wouldn't necessarily object to having a single medusa in the list... you just wouldn't want loads of the new stuff at the expense of all the old stuff.