Monday, 15 August 2016

First Impressions: Phase 2 PHR

I choose you! (Old UK Lottery reference)

So here we are in one of the good bit of the poop sandwich that is the reconquest phase 2 review series. After Dans 'Yay Scourge!' and Mikes 'Boo UCM' here's my 'Yay PHR!' review.

Unfortunately due to the vagaries and shenanigans of the UK postal system I have yet to receive my copy of Reconquest Phase 2 so I've had to nab some info off those in the know. I'm also on occasion crouched in the corner next to my front door biting my nails and crying out 'WHY?!?!?!'. But that’s just my average Saturday.

Now it must be said that the PHR before receiving the duel hard infantry double whammy of the Medusa and the Valkyries struggled quite a bit to keep up with most other factions and relied on the Helios to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Now PHR are a real menace on the field able to respond and strike hard in some key areas, while still keeping the doctrine of being hard to kill very much in mind. The PHR if played properly are an extremely difficult faction to grind down. If only I was a better player, ah well.

Anyway onto my thoughts.

Let start with the Elephant currently floating on a cloud of Nanites in the middle of the room.

The Medusa:

Its interesting how much semi-porn you get by searching for 'Cyborg Medusa'
 Really I should have written an article on this girl a long time ago, but I didn't so deal with it. The Medusa is a hard hitting monstrosity of a concept while being inordinately difficult to wipe off the map. By now we all know what she can do and have seen the inevitable double Medusa lists skulking about at tournaments played by people with better list writing skills than playing skills (i.e. me).

In the official release however in the book a major change has come in. Her EN has now dropped to 6 which is pretty major actually, it means her damage output is greatly reduced, especially against buildings. Being EN7 meant that 50% of her hits damaged buildings with 16.6% doubling up, now at EN6 you can't double against buildings at all (remember focus fire only affects vehicles) and only 33.3% of her hits will damage buildings at all.

Now look at hitting tanks, on average to get the extra power needed to solidify a hit into a kill (I.E. Above the ARM of the unit) the Medusa now needs to score an extra hit. This massively reduces her killing power. That Hunter need killing? Now needs 3 hits to ensure its death. The Sabre gotta go? 4 hits. On average now you have to dedicate almost 2 extra shots in your strafe allocation per unit to ensure its death, which means the Medusa can no longer be confidently thrown into a fight with the reckless abandon she previously showed. Against an opponent like scourge that seem to like throwing around large squads of hunters she can confidently take out maybe 2 a turn now, whereas before she could smash 3. This will lead to a more cautious style of play with the meduas from now on I think, she can't just go off and Rambo an entire army on her own now, which as much fun as that was was too much.

They've also solidified the change that came in earlier on with the Triton-X bought with her now tethered to only being able to heal the Medusa it was bought with. Which halved the amount of wounds a Medusa could heal a turn, which was a naughty exploit now closed rather wisely by the Hawk Team.(I must say that I did use that exploit, but also pointed it out pretty early on in my defence)

I hesitate to say the Medusa is now balanced as I feel the meta has now shifted to take her into account anyway and also her numbers will now hold her back quite a bit making sure she is used more tactically rather than the very feminine sledge hammer she was before.

Dan's Mind Thinkings: The drop in Energy had been coming for what seems like forever, and I'm glad it's finally here. Much like an angry wife, she's still dangerous when being quiet, and if you put a foot wrong you're going to pay for it. The Triton-X change was just sensible. I still have my issues with the fluff of the Medusa, as she really doesn't fit the style of the game, and also is still another Infantry unit to search with and importantly claim double points with on certain missions, which I also disagree with. At least the AT has been toned down, and we'll see what impact that has in the warzone. As a footnote, thank god for Monitors.

Mikes eye gravy: Will we see 2 Medusa on the board much? I doubt it. 
Now that the killy output has been reduced, there are better/cheaper options for the same results. I would still take one, for sure as the versatility of being able to search, or shoot, or help out a CQB is just so very good. I just wish I enjoyed playing PHR, as I have a really cool concept for them.  

The Njord Assault Dropship:

When I first saw the model for this I didn't care about what it did I just saw four awesome looking rocket pods and went weak at my geeky knees. Rather wonderfully it didn't disappoint either! At 110 points it is a hefty price tag for a transport but I feel its worth every point. The Poseidon chassis is as tough as all hell and a nightmare to get rid off. Usually. Add on the fact that now the Njord can hit back, with a hefty 4 EN 10 shots and you've got a pretty scary beast!

Another reason to love this is that it only carries 4 units now. 'What?! Why would carrying less things be good?' I imagine I hear you ask. Well carrying less things means that now you don't have to buy that many things which saves you a lot of points, like a metric tonne of 'em. This gives a huge amount of flexibility to the PHR now, you can have that four walker command squad now that you've always dreamed of. Or carry a pair of Phobos onto the board along with a pair of Menchits drop the Phobos off early and the Menchits later to flame face further on and still have a badass gunship floating overhead like a concerned and angry mother. Or as I did the other day slap 4 Menchit A2's in a Njord in the support slot of an Immortals group and have a horrendously scary battlegroup threatening central buildings turn 2!

Things to remember here, it specifically says it can only carry walkers, so no chance of multiple Angelos, Aether or Helios in Njords. Which is probably just as well really.

So a really good transport unit with some really interesting uses and combos yet to be tested, but I suspect you'll be seeing a fair few Njords at upcoming tournaments. As a measure of how much I like this unit I have already painted one up for use!

[Side note, why does the EN10 Stealth Missiles have Shape charge? Nothing is ARM 12 to warrant that in this game, I'm assuming its a thematic thing, but its just odd to see.]

Dan's Mind Thinkings: It's interesting to read that Ed, as a PHR player, thinks the Njord is value for money. I guess they're used to being overcharged. It's pretty pricey for a unit which will primarily be used as a demo tool, due to the countered range of 9". That said, he has a very good point about being able to bring smaller squads, so weirdly perhaps its lack of capacity is worth the extra cost? Weird backwards logic that, but hey, if it works. Njord+Hera+Apollo spam is about to become common I think, which is fine. Do you know what I do like about the Njord? It's E10, just normal, average E10. That's healthy. Oh, and can all you cyborgs PLEASE stop moaning about not having a gunship now!!

Mikes eye gravy: I like it, it's too expensive, but I like it. I t adds more variety into the PHR list. There are many things that will utilise it well, but I think the best will be Hera/Apollos. The inherent problems with heavy dropships (apart from Scourge) is their speed, or lack there of. The Hera/Apollos make the Njord fast, as it doesn't need to go half speed when dropping off it's precious cargo. Move it on 9" (so it can fire) and drop off payload, then bounce around all day long. Wonder if I'll need a bit more AA now!!

The Aether:
I'll be honest, I'm not sure about this plucky little guy.
The background is awesome and has sparked off a little idea in my head for something. I really like the idea of this, but I don't think this is gonna get much game time. Its too odd a unit and doesn't hit hard enough in the role its intended for. Luckily they gave this thing the small template it needed which it did not originally have. It sits in a similar position to the Angelos, in that it doesn't seem on paper at least (As I haven't run this in a game as of yet) to actually be able to do the job it wants to do very well, i.e. hunt tanks. Yes it can do it concealed and out of line of fire but the Thor does that better and from further away. At EN10 and unable to hurt buildings this just won't hit hard enough.

But there is a use for it, just not in its intended design. This is a pretty nifty Hard Infantry hunter, Medusa and Free Riders hate templates, and yes they have Evasion countermeasures and the template is only a small one but the Aether can still be sneaky with its shots and there will usually be two of them in the squadron. But it does require Mercurys to spot for them (as the Valks will be too busy inside a building to spot), food for thought.

Unfortunately I just don't think you'll see many of these guys around, the Helios is just better and Apollos are quicker and can grab objectives easier. The Menchit A2's synergy better with the Infantry and Erebos do more to affect the opponent than the Aether.

I will happily take suggestions on how to use this little guy though, I'm eager to make him work if only because I like underdogs.

Dans Mind Thinkings: The Aether suffers from the same issue that tanks like the Gladius do; there is nothing wrong with it, and it's actually fairly decent, but there are just better options for a PHR player to take. To start, you don't need template weapons. Sure, they're always handy, but with Hellios and Medussa being a thing they will do a similar job in AT and anti-infantry role that the Aether would sit in. If it's IF you're interested in, the Thor is far and away a better choice. Shame really.

Mikes not very worthwhile eye gravy: Lovely looking but not sure it will be that useful. Very difficult to know how to make it more viable. Upping the Energy of the weapon is a no-go for me. Maybe giving it a limited (like L-1) healing shot, so it can be a little more useful.

The Hera:

In conversations with the Hawk guys I detected somewhat of a worry that by releasing the Hera as a command unit in combination with the Njord that they would completely invalidate the Zeus. So they have answered this by making the Hera more expensive than the Zeus. At 96pts its a bit hefty, but well worth those points. The Hera can leap out of harms way (or into it as needed) and comes with a mean pair of EN10 shots, its also heftier than its fellow type-3's with an extra ARM, E+1 Countermeasures and an extra DP which means its actually quite tough to kill. The guardian Hera being cheaper is a brilliant move opening up some cool theme options.

Has the Hera invalidated the Zeus? I don't think so.

Yes the Hera can hit hard and will be a real annoyance to an opponent but sometimes you need a fighter that can rope-a-dope the full six rounds. In those times when you need a unit that will sit on a focal point and take a cackload of punishment the Zeus will do you proud. The Hera despite its upped armour and its E+1 counter measures doesn't have the ability to just say 'No' to a shot that the Zeus can, I've honestly seen a Zeus take an entire army’s shots and not die, they are just that tough, with their 3+ Passive, 2DP and ARM 10. Of course there are the times they fall on their back like a lemon but that happens. So to me the Zeus still very much has a place.

I'm looking forward to seeing just how far I can push this unit, especially that sweet Njord plus 2x Hera and 2x Apollos combo is just gonna be fun. (Incidentally its 442pts with a level 4 vizier, could be worse)

Dan's Mind Thinkings: The Hera can be seen as the final push away from the stoic PHR of old, and a leap towards the hyper-maneuverable PHR of new. Does it replace the Zeus or Nemesis? Definitely not, but do I think it will be more common than its counterparts? Why, yes I do. It's just pretty neat! It's nothing fancy (really just a pimped Apollo, but will be seen as an adrenaline shot into the normally very slow command squad. Games against PHR will become for more cat and mouse, as on paper dispatching a Hera isn't too difficult, but in reality it will be. The bodyguard special rule will turn out to be very important, as you'll have to wade through 2/3 Apollos before getting to your prize. That said I'm not too worried about facing one, as it is very killable by all armies. You wait until a Panther snipes a Hera though, and all hell breaks loose...

Mikes eye gravy: This changes a lot for the PHR. You can almost take an entire force of fast moving things. Only the pesky standard choices are holding back the cyborgs now, and lets be honest, 2 walk-on Phobos to cover the back board is still very useful. Personally I dislike that you can just get 1 type 1 as it means it is very cheap to open up a battlegroup. Anyhoo, back to the Hera, it will die, more often than the other PHR commanders, but it will be a constant pain in your opponents arse. I guess I will have to read up on the bodyguard rule now, there must be some ways around it........  


Gone up 2 points per base and dropped 5 shots off their weapons profile (although that happened in the errata still worth pointing out here) and these are still absolutely essential in any PHR army.

The Valks are far an away more important to the PHR than the Medusa ever was. But the Medusa got a lot of the attention because of how weird and shiny she was. The Valks are the toolbox unit that the PHR needed. Able to react to situations quickly and get from buildings to building with almost impunity. But they are fragile, being CQB 2 and 5+ dodge is nice but keeps them only from being ripped apart in one round of CQB but being ARM 2 they take hits like nobody's business. So if they get locked down in CQB you will probably lose them. Their nearest equivalent is probably Occupational Vets for Resistance, but the big difference there is that there is usually a lot more bodies and bases to soak hits in the Resistance CQB in comparison to the lower numbered PHR. So use them carefully.

Anyway my point is that Valks are great and every PHR army needs at least a squad of them, (I usually run two squads) the changes to them don't make them any less worth while and were probably fair enough.

Mikes eye gravy: Yes, I am still pissed because Hazards went up by 3pts a base, and Valkyries only 2. I actually think that the Valkyries should have stayed the same points, but they should be able to be reaction fired at as they building hop. I dislike that they can pretty much go where they want without the need for a transport. With their E+1 countermeasures most units would hit on a 6 in reaction fire, but I think it would make the opponent feel like he's part of the battle if it could happen. 

Or maybe the possibility of some of the Valkyries getting squished by the side of a building as they try to hop from one to the other with enough speed to evade enemy AA fire. Probably too late for all this now. They are still the first thing PHR players will look to add into their lists. They are that good. I don't remember the last time I saw a list without them. 

Dan's Mind Thinkings: Valks are the most important PHR release of all time, with none other coming close. Every army takes them, and why wouldn't you? They're ridiculously fast, good in CQB, and great at anti-infantry. It's all these qualities that make me believe that a rules change to their jump was necessary over a points increase. They can pretty much do what they want, when they want, and all a price increase does is make them worth more on focal points. I agree with Mike's reaction fire rule (I think it was actually my idea, suggested at last Invasion!), as it would give the player something to think about rather than the general cavalier use of the squad. 

Menchit A2's

Refer to the post I wrote about them for my thoughts on this cool little unit. (spoiler alert, I like them).

Overall Verdict:

I think the PHR definitely got a great bunch of stuff in this book and have really got some interesting options for any future lists. I'm looking forward to making some lists up now. Even though a couple of weeks back I ran a list with 5 Odins and a Zeus in a Poseidon which was a lot of fun as you may expect. Oh and also planning a Shaltari army soon...

But I think the PHR will remain my one true loves haha.
Happy hunting fellow Cyborgs.

Upload complete.............

Prettybut Deadly; 'Cyborg' by nanopao


  1. Ed!

    You missed the thor!

  2. I'm not really buying the Njord hype. IMO its still too slow to be an effective transport, and way way too expensive. On top of that, there are much more cost effective ways to get some E10 or better shots in a PHR list.
    That said, there will be a fair number of them showing up, but that will be because of the 'cool' factor, and from certain PHR players that have been longing for a gunship for years. Im doubtful their use will be because of how effective or efficient the unit actually is.

    I'm loving the Hera option (without Njord), its going to be weird having a more fragile commander after years of the Zeus, but it will be a nice change.

    I'm more in the camp that the Medusa cuts have gotten to be too much. E6 plus healing nerf while still at 130pts, ok. Leaving them at 140 just seems like too much. Much like the Hazards, did they need both the point bump AND the E drop, I don't think so. There will be a lot fewer Medusa around though, so I guess PHR opponents (and those that don't like their fluff) got what they wanted.

    I like the Aether, would like them even more if the Janus was usable. Going to try out some 'artillery' PHR lists with Thor and Aether and see what happens. At least they really don't have to have a Neptune due to the decent range.

  3. I understand the Medusa hate, but does anyone really have a problem dealing with them anymore? It's common mine fails to survive the game (unless I'm playing vs Scourge).

    Kinda bummed you can only take walkers with the Njord but I'm excited that it can be 4 of them! I like the 2 Phobos and 2 Menchit A2 idea, BTW. I think it'll be a great transport because it can actually act like something other than a pickup truck with a pea-shooter.

    Looking forward to using the Hera... that will make the game quite different.

  4. The Medusa didn't make an appearance at all in any of the PHR lists at our last little mini-tourney. 6 players, 4 of them PHR, 0 Medusa... and that was when she was still rocking e7 power. We all freaked out here for a bit about how to handle her then we figured it out (oh hmm, what's this machine gun do again?). I think the Medusa nerfs have gone too far at this point.
    -Major Awesome

  5. In reply to the last two comments, I don't think anyone has an issue any more, but only because of the changes to her and tweaks to other armies, the biggest obviously being Scourge. I certainly wouldn't change her again (despite my grievances), but the change needed to happen for the health of the game.

    The nerf to the Medussa falls into the same category as that of the Hazard Suits and Freeriders. These were all units who were far too good at killing tanks, and have been reigned (sp?) in to match the vehicles they will be matching on the battlefield. Just because no Medussa turned up at your tourney doesn't mean that 2 Medussa hadn't appeared at other tourneys at the time and taken names.

    I don't think they'll touch her again, and I don't think they need too. (You wait until I play 2 at Invasion and whine my arse off)

    1. Thanks for the reply! I didn't intend to say that our meta was representative of everywhere, just that as a group seem to have gone from drone-stroking, nanite-snuggling, Medusa-lovers to... thinking of her as a Meh-dusa. Every PHR list in our area used to have 1-2 in it a few months ago, now none. I really really hope she still has a strong place in the game in her Phase 2 incarnation because DANG she's cool!

      Although... wait a sec... maybe if she's no longer the end-game boss-level threat she may be in a better spot. If she's no longer target priority #1 for everything and the kitchen sink maybe she won't take as much fire, thus contributing in some way longer? I'll have to think on that more...
      -Major Awesome

    2. She's great bait, too. Just throw her out in the cold and watch her draw 90% of your opponents fire.

    3. Love these posts guys, it is my morning ritual to check OB for to see if a new faction is up within 10 min of waking up. So far my gf has not said anything... but there was an eyebrow cocked this morning... Im fearing for the safety of my tablet...


    4. Sounds like you have 2 options. Either thrust the tablet in her face and shout 'GET IN THE ZONE, BABY!!' or get her to give me a call, and I maybe guarantee that perhaps she might be more accepting after our conversation. I like option 1 best.

  6. :D So do I, And Im so going to do this! dont care what it costs me!!! :D

    1. I don't think I've ever broken up a relationship before. That's one of the bucket list!

    2. Is it always you getting dumped Dan? Does this sound familiar "It's not me, it's fucking you!!"

    3. You've been speaking to my wife, haven't you...

  7. One thing the Medusa is still pretty good at...Bodyguard /Healer

    It's fast enough to keep up with everything, and if you keep it near a Command Squad / Priority target it has the fire power to kill any gribbles that get close or can heal a DP a turn (whilst giving an extra dice to any nearby combats). Its no longer a "shock" trooper, but its an excellent support unit.

  8. The most obvious thing to do with the Medusa to me was to make it a rare choice that you could only have one of. It would have matched the fluff and reduced some of the difficulties people had in facing them.

    I don't know if it was ever considered, but I guess by the time anyone was thinking about if and how to nerf it, loads of people had already bought two, and while it's one thing telling people off the bat that a unit they're buying has limited use, it's quite another telling people who've already bought stuff that they can't use them.

    Thanks for the review - this is a great mini-series!

  9. Wow. All these great new units, and it's still the Meh-dusa that gets the vast majority of the comments... LOL...

    And, yes, Ed, dear boy, you skipped the Thor, which is an amazing unit, so you owe us a separate review of that.

    Otherwise, GREAT write up!

    I'm not sure I'll run the Njord with a Type-3 command squad, but I like the 2 Phobos/2 Menchit A2's idea very much. As I mentioned somewhere else, I watched Darryl give Major Awesome fits with his two Menchit A2's in a Neptune (oh, wait... I still haven't written that blog post yet, have I? Balls... >.< )

    I got my Phase 2 stuff this past Monday, and now I'm trying to decide between a very fast list (lots of Type-3's) or an IF oriented list... Or a blend of the two... So many choices! (What's that, Mike? My UCM "experiment"? Well, yes, what about it?... But, but... New PHR shinies!!! PHR! PH-freaking-R!!! My firstloves... And, and, (OK, I'll say it!),... A GUNSHIP!!! A PH-freaking-R gun-freaking-ship!!! Oh, I know that Major Awesome will field two Panthers as soon as he can, but still... !!! My UCM will wait for me, they know I love them, and while I'm sure they're jealous, they're used to being my secondloves... I'm sure it hurts their feelings, but they're always ready to give it a go when I do decide to take them out for the night. And while it's not the same level as Invasion, the LVO, our version of the Big Dance (at least here in the SouthWest) is coming within sight, and I've got to get ready!!! *sigh* Just for a little while, I'll dally with the cyborgs, and then decide who I'll spend the rest of this year with...)

    Where was I?

    It's late... Nuff said... Fast list on Friday... Thanks again, Ed!

    1. I really like the Njord but I'm surprised it can't carry ground transports... it being an "assault" dropship, and all. Also, having just two weapon profiles limits it a bit. I'm still excited to try it out.