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Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

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Hawk Talon

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Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostTue Aug 04, 2015 11:12 am


I. I want to put some stuff first as a premise to the whole thing fist. I know that these are my own personal views on the PHR and not the absolute truth taking written form but I will not put in or even discuss every other idea about PHR for simplicities sake.

II. Metas are important. There are a lot of different Dropzone Metas out there, for various reasons I would like to list because I think they change the game and the meta one is operating in. First off table size, different table sizes affect which units need Dropships and how valuable Speed and Ranges (in particular Infinite ranges) are. Secondly Terrain which Terrain do you use, how do you place it, do you play with 40 or 30 DP large buildings. Thirdly Missions which missions do you play, also where do you place Objectives or Intel. Those are only the most important ones, though sometimes there are also overlooked rules or simply different interpretations which can also change a meta.

III. This means whatever you do should keep your Meta in mind, most of the factors I listed are cases of different preferences. Of course tournaments have a bit of a more streamlined meta do to the tournament pack, but I would encourage people to try different "metas" if they dislike something about Dropzone.

IV. The term "German space magic" is a reference to FoW and the german special rule "Stormtrooper" there. Some see it as a form of "cheating" to make german tanks awesome. Others think you can still drown them in T-34.

Now after that Disclaimer to the main dish how do I think PHR should be played most effectively (because that is what this thread is about). Let´s start with more build up, for me units have various functions and I will first try to list those and sort the PHR units into these categories. After that I come to the point of what this means for PHR tactics.

Unit functions
Everybody might have their own system for this, some of them overlap here is mine:
1. Searching units => units that can search for objectives or Intel.
2. Scoring units => units that can score for focal points.
3. Infantry removal => units that kill Infantry either in CQB or with fire (Flame weapons).
4. Building demo => self explanatory.
5. AA units => common one.
6. Allround AT => common AT weapons in the case of PHR E11-10 railguns.
7. Templates of mass removal => against hiding targets or swarms.
8. Light Dropship Hunters => special case of AA, needs to be mobile but can have less shots.
9. Scouts => for Command cards.
10. Heavy AT => High E (12+) or Dev weapons.

This is not in Order of Importance. Also as you might have noticed units can fill multiple functions. All AT can be used as building demo if needed for example, most units score etc. also drop ships are not listed because their function is to enable another unit to fulfil it´s function. There could be made a case for subcategories but that would complicate things more then it would help. Also some things are not listed because they are nice to have but not always useful or that reliable like Miniguns, or more importantly E7 shots which can help but do not need their own category. They can be nice against Scouts or against buildings, not bad but not special either.

So how do PHR units Fill these Functions? A quick run down:

Athena A bit of (possibly late) building demo bad only for that purpose/ Good light Dropship hunter/ Ok, no reaction fire option, possibility to be shot down but flexibility.
Ares Scores and delivers Allround AT which can be used as Demo if needed or no targets present itself.
Phobos AA with good range but low volume of fire for it´s points, if you want to fight Gunships that is bad as those can have E+2 with means reaction fire with a squad of Phobos gives you 1 hit. There are there to secure the blob and score. Also desperate Demo.
Menchit Infantry removal and scoring. In my opinion outclassed by Sirens, as those also remove Infantry but search themselves. The A2 variant is slightly better.
Odin Same as Ares but far more resilient and bordering towards Heavy AT with it´s 2 shots.
Enyo Demo, short ranged all round AT. Scoring is a problem as you want to walk on with these.
Hyperion Heavy AT due to the Laser special rule and the infinite range. Scoring is a problem as while this unit could if you buy it a Dropships you should ask yourself why you are not packing Odins. A specialist like the Menchit or Enyo.
Zeus Quite like the Ares with extra resilience.
Janii Scouts and most importantly light Dropship hunters. They are a decent fast element and their AA abilities are often disregarded but that actually helps them, they are also fast enough to score distant focal points.
Taranis Same as Enyo but some anti Freerider power at the loss of Demo capabilities.
Immortals Searching, Scoring, some situational AA and AT.
Sirens Infantry removal, Searching and Scoring. Pretty good for anything that involves objectives and no Flames.
Apollo A Currently AT and some decent scoring with objective carrying.
Erebos A AT, bubble nice against Scourge or in bigger game. Not a good all rounder. After the Squad size change letting 1 rund around your own lines might be an idea.
Hades Heavy AT, Template, Scoring. It does those very well. Also healing has a synergy with heavy stuff like Type 2 walkers.
Mercury Drones Scout, helps Searching, helps Scoring. Can do neither of these on it´s own. Limited AT.
Helios AA against Gunships or small Swarms (Drones), should beware of A6 flyers with decent DP amounts. Also limited AT.
Longreach Like Immortals but no AA and decent AT.
Medusa Searching, Scoring, Allround AT with inbuilt flexibility to Heavy AT. Some Infantry removal.
Valkyries Searching, Scoring, Scouts. Some Infantry removal.
Thor Template, some Demo though you want it mainly for the template.
Aether Template, I like them more then the Thor as they at least have a chance to score and can be used against single targets without loosing to much efficiency. However against a real swarm of targets the Thor is better.

Conclusions and the dreaded Speed issue

Some units have multiple roles they can fill, those units are of course preferable for tournament play or games where you do not know the mission. By implication specialists suffer from those conditions.
Some units compete for functions, in some cases this can lead to coexistence as they fill the role different enough Phobos/Helios or Ares/Odin in others one unit becomes less desirable Enyo/Taranis, Sirens/Menchit, Hades/Hyperion.
But PHR covers all those areas, so we have all the building blocks we need to a decent army which leads us to list building.

As noticed above I omitted Dropships as they mostly help other units to serve their own function. Thus a Min/Maxed list wants as few points of Dropships as it can get away with without hurting the function of it´s units more then the saved points help it.
It is also related to the main issue most people have with PHR, the speed. PHR are mostly slow that is fact, Dropzone is a game about manoeuvre so this might lead to the conclusion that PHR has an inherent weakness which cripples it. I do not think this is true, while Dropzone is about manoeuvre and positioning. Neither of these mean you must move more then your opponent or faster. If you arrive at your destination on time it does not matter that the Scourge Grav tank arrived there 3 Turns earlier and is having a pick nick or if Shaltari materialise out of thin air and claim they are not late.

So the question PHR players should ask before each game is where do my units have to be? So you have to plan your movement and factor in that you will have a hard time changing that plan on a fundamental basis. If you hate that PHR might not be the best factions for you.
But what did I mean by "arriving on time"? Well fist off it depends on the scenario of course. I will not list every single one but the 3 "basic" types. Objective based ones (Targets etc.), Intel based (Recon) and Focal Point based ones (Land Grab). I omit kill points as I do not think PHR has trouble with those and I mainly focus on tournament based scoring.

Out of those 3 win conditions only 1 requires the slow PHR walkers to get anywhere until T6. Focal Points, the others require the Infantry to be there on time and the rest has to support them. Which can be from behind. So Speed is not that important, but let´s go through each Scenario Type (with the "base" version I put in brackets as the example):

-Targets of Opportunity
At 1500P there are 5 objectives, 1 in each player half and 3 in the middle. The one in the other half is lost for you, you cannot have it if the enemy is halfway competent or does not roll abysmal. In Particular with PHR, you will search there at earliest at T3-4 and that is if the enemy AA is kind enough to let your Triton pass and the enemy has not deployed there himself, or you wipe out the enemy presence which either hurts the building (Demo) or take more time (CQB). So this building is of no value to you, so it has to be put down with all the shots you have at the start, all those E7 shots are not amazing at demo but they are better then not shooting, all the AT you have will contribute far more to your victory by shooting this building then by trying to recreate the battle of Kursk with the enemy AT.
The same goes for "your" objective building, the enemy will try to destroy it so search fast and think about allocating 2 Squads to it, preferably Troops as those dislike CQB against Exotics and you will have at least 1 Squad of them.
So the interesting part are 3 objective buildings in the middle. Assuming that no side has an advantage/disadvantage with the objective in their half you will need 2 of those to win. They should be around 20-24" away from you so in T2 you will be able to search there, there is little reason in this scenario to cross the middle line, if the enemy tries to hunt your dropships he will come to you and will do that faster then you will be at Intercepting him. If he tries to shoot your building usually he will do that from far behind the front lines safe from most your AT and until you can get there either you got your objectives or the building is dead. The exception from this is AA, in my functions light Dropship hunter and AA that is bad at shooting buildings (read all PHR AA), the PHR has some good units for this, the Helios, Janii and the Athena. All of which have decent enough speed to arrive behind such a building in T2-3.

Again your Infantry has to move and the rest should support it/kill buildings at the enemy side of the table, preferably the smaller ones. You might face more of an issue with enemy AA intercepting your Infantry as you might venture more into the enemy side of the table, but as long as you roll more often on the Intel table then your opponent your chances of winning are better and he faces the same problem. Whether you must cross the centre line or not (aside with Infantry) depends mostly on the enemy AA and LoS the terrain grants you. If you just want to win denying the enemy to search in your half and searching more in middle should lead to victory in most cases (aside bombs) also PHR is the only faction which can positively influence the Intel roll.

-Land Grab
While some people appear to hate it that you only score at T6 in focal points, this is a blessing for PHR. As it gives you time to reach them in force. The deployment is different and other factions benefit more from direct deployment but all you need is to move a units around 6" of a focal points, and survive there while killing the enemy. Surviving and killing stuff are PHR strength and you got the time to get into position. As 1 focal point is in each corner and the others are in the middle, both sides start with a good claim on "their" focal point. And the other 3 are "neutral". With tournament focal points scoring (1 for being there and another 1 for having more points instead of 2 for the latter) 3 held focal points and one contested one you cannot loose any more, or if you have 2 and contest the 3 others it is a draw. So one of those 2 variants is the minimum aim. PHR is definitely suited for the first. And with non-tournament scoring that variant would be even better as you win if you get this. If you want to win contest 2 instead of 1.
So here we have to move the big stuff to the focal points again little reason for Type 1, 2 or 4 Walkers to cross the centre line. But we have to to be able to react (which is not that great) so PHR should deploy in the middle slightly behind the centre focal point this way you have reasonable distances to 4 focal points so there your main force should be. Infantry, Apollos and Scouts are perfect to contest the other 2 focal points you need in the last round. While either Infantry or slow units can be used for the one in your quarter.

Lastly I want to emphasise that there is more to mobility then Speed. Battlefield mobility means that not only are you fast enough to move from A to B but that you can also survive moving there and stay there. PHR units are pretty good at that if you deploy your "Blob" of Walkers in a way that forces the enemy to move around it you have better mobility as you dictate the enemy movement and where the fighting happens. It is the difference between Fencing and taking a two handed Hammer to smash the enemy. PHR do the latter and they do that well. The second part will be around list building and arrive at a later date when my fingers and hands have recovered. Discussions are welcome and I will live with all critic that is not insults. I hope I did not write to much but as I intend to use this also as a sort of beginners guide (primarily the second part about list building) some basic stuff had to be put in there too.
Last edited by Lorn on Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:46 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostTue Aug 04, 2015 11:13 am

List Building

So what does the above mean for PHR list building or list building in general?


A good general advice is to go for the maximum number of BGs, meaning 6 for 1500P so you can activate some BGs after the enemy and look what he is doing. Though not all of these 6 BGs should be equally sized. It is usually a good idea to have some BGs you can buy time with (like an Immortals Phalanx) or activate when you are "waiting" for the enemy to make a move with certain units be it heavies or Infantry. For the other BGs it might be a better idea to mass certain capabilities in them. For example AT shots or Infantry removal, or building demo to hit hard in a certain area once you activate. Also it let´s you activate all/most units of a certain type at your first activation if needed.

Meta & Mission research

Before you build a list you should adapt it to your Meta. What do people play, which missions are played (or at least likely). Also one should keep in mind whether this is a competitive/tournament game or a friendly/introduction one. I will be concerning myself with the first type.

I. Core elements: Infantry

Among the most important things for a list is that all elements work together, war is a team effort, in particular in a combined arms game. But what does that mean in practise? It means that you should start with the mission winning units and select units to help them perform their duties and hinder the enemy from doing the same.
So you start with Infantry as these guys win you 2/3 of the standard mission types and remain useful in all. Of course the number of Squads is dependent on the game size but I would go for 3 for Skirmish, 4+ for Clash and 5+ for Battle. The reason is objective numbers, Targets has 3/5/7 (depending on the game size) you will not need Squads to search the buildings in the enemy half, as this is rather unlikely for PHR, so this becomes 3/4/5 giving you in theory 1 Squad per building you want to search. While I would not advise to allocate Squads equally on a 1 per building basis it is a good rule of thumb for the minimum.
Let´s say you play Targets of Opportunity at Clash size, you will need at least 1 Squad in the building in "your" half of the table, preferably 2 to search quicker enabling you to help with the middle building and to leave the building before enemy demo units bring it down. This leaves you 2-3 Squads fort he remaining 3 buildings. Meaning these should either be CQB specialists or they need assistance in form of Infantry removal (Flamers).

This leads to a "standard" set up of 2 Exotics, +1 Troop, +1 Troop/Other. The Troops are for searching the rear "safe" building and to support the exotics/hold up the enemy. While your Exotics have to clear buildings and wipe out the enemy Infantry (in particular Troops). If the enemy has a similar set up ganging up 2 Exotics on 1 of his would be ideal if possible. So PHR could take 2 Squads of Sirens, 1 Squad of Immortals/AM Rifles, +1 Squad of either Valkyries or Troops. I did not mention the Medusa here as it is not that suited to replace Sirens but while it is quite good as a rear unit soaking up falling masonry it is somewhat expensive for this and people might not want to "waste" an exotic slot for this kind of role. The Medusa assists these operations and is in my opinion better at a flexible AT role. With the bonus of performing Infantry duties when needed, much like Freeriders. All walking Infantry needs Transports to work, and they are a decent idea for Valkyries too as they need the initial speed push those provide. If you need one for the Medusa should depend on her role in your army if you use it as an AT asset on a small table I think no Transport is required otherwise I would take one.

II. Core elements: HQ

Next up the Commander, I will exclude famous ones as they are usually not allowed in competitive games and would require their own section. So PHR can choose between the Nemesis and the Zeus (+Squad). As I like to use a commander to shift focal points in my favour I would take a transport with excludes the Nemesis as it suffers from taking one and becomes to expensive. So Zeus and as I want to be in the thick of fighting an Odin as a shield. Or if the enemy packs much armour/Shaltari walker blobs you can take 5 Odins and 1 Zeus though this will dominate your lists AT.

III. Core elements: Standard

Now from the mandatory choices we just have Standard left, there PHR has the distinct advantage to take AA as Standar, the Phobos. While the Ares is by no means a bad unit I prefer other units for AT duty and thus would rather take the Phobos to fill the Standard slot. The exact amount of AA is heavily meta dependant. If your meta is light of Gunships and FM, 1 Squad and some light Dropship hunting AA can be sufficient. While metas heavy on Gunships and FM, couple with flying Commanders and Ferrums tend to use 3 Squads. I would take 2 if I was unsure about the Meta. To much AA can be troublesome in focal point missions, as PHR is not fast enough to build up a bubble to keep the enemy away with it and it performs most other duties not as efficient as other choices. Though total Air dominance lists might overwhelm your AA this should give you breathing room to win the mission and whittle them down to acceptable levels.
So 1 Squad of Phobos for the Standard slot and rear defence, with 1 Squad of Helios (preferably in a Dropship) for hunting Gunships/Drones and light Dropships.

IV. Scouts

Now we have a decent amount of Infantry, AA and a Commander while filling out all mandatory slots, I would take 1 Squad of Scouts (if you did not already take Valkyries), I am a big fan of the Janii as these tend to be forgotten by the opponent and can provide unexpected AA shots and their speed often disorients opponents. Though be prepared for them to die a lot, Scouts tend to do that. Mercury drones are another option to boost ones Infantry but I would not try to replace a Squad of Infantry with them nor would I take them if I knew that Recon is not played. I think the latter mission is their main strength and without it I would prefer other units for nearly 100P. Also you will need 1 Scout unit to take 2 Squads of Exotics in a clash sized game.

V. Shiny stuff and AT

Then I would fill up my list with AT units, Apollos for harassment and objective delivery services. A Hades for heavy AT and a template. And even a FM might fit in there. Aside from taking a bit more AT this part of the army list is most open for preferences, if you want to include a certain unit for example a Medusa do it at this step. This ensures you do not take away vital parts of your army for such a "shiny" choice.


Usually I take a commander (not a command unit) last for my army. Because I think Squads/Units are far more reliable then Command levels. First off if you have only 1 level less then your opponent you will already only decide around 2 times who goes first as a rule of thumb the exact numbers (for the first roll re rolling draws is not factored in) are 11/36 in your favour and 20/36 in the opponents. While if your Command level is 2 levels lower you get 8/36 to 23/36 (again no re rolls of the draws but of course they favour the enemy in both cases). So if you want to rely on getting the initiative you should get a commander at least 1 level higher then your opponent. That is expensive, a PHR level 4 commander costs 120P that is around 1 Squad of Infantry. Also relying on getting to decide the initiative builds up dangerous expectations. Your plan should preferably not hinge that the 1 round where the enemy rolls a lucky six and steals the initiative from you is not this one and that is if you have the higher Command value. As all things this is a matter of taste as the commander does contribute to focal points and let´s you draw cards but those should are not to be relied upon either. A bit like FM a better commander can be awesome and game winning but it can also be close to useless for it´s points. That does not mean that you should not take any, or only the lowest ones but that the army should not revolve around a high level commander and that he let´s you win initiative rolls and draw the right cards. So I spend the last points I have on him, or points which are less useful elsewhere. Leftovers from the commander go to miniguns for Tritons or rockets.

Combined arms

It is important that all parts in your army serve a role, and that they fit together. If you take Flamers you will most likely not need as much CQB specialist, as those units compete for a role. Removing Infantry from the game, if your strategy does not revolve around this particular concept (basically hoping to kill all enemy Infantry in the middle with fire and CQB) you should take either not both. If you take 3 AA units taking a FM also will cross into overkill territory for 1500P. Those are extreme examples but unless you know what you are doing do not take to many units performing the same role. Unless they are flexible to perform another.
Also do not split your army if it is not necessary, if there are no focal points deploy in the middle if LoS is not to much of an issue and put stuff like a Phobos behind your other walkers. Their targets usually fly, and they are a good target for enemy AT. If all your units are together it is harder for the enemy to strike at isolated parts of your formation or to use the simplest strategy of throwing all of his AT assets against a portion of your army. Unless it is necessary do not split your forces.

Example list

Lastly how would such a "standard" list look like at 1500P (edited to let the Apollos be in a Squadsize of 1-6 and to include Valkyries):

Standard Army
Clash: 1498/1500 points
Standard Army
PHR Standard Roster [1498/1500 pts]
Hand of the Sphere [216 pts]
Command Squad: Zeus(War Advisor), Odin, Neptune [216 pts]
Battle Pantheon [326 pts]
Battle Squad: 2x Phobos, Neptune [166 pts]
Helios Squad: 2x Helios, Neptune [160 pts]
Immortals [141 pts]
Immortals: 2x Immortals, Triton A1 [101 pts]
Apollo Squad: Apollo-A [40 pts]
Immortals [233 pts]
AM Rifle Team: 2x Immortal Longreach Team, Triton A1 [113 pts]
Apollo Squad: 3x Apollo-A [120 pts]
Pegasus Group [378 pts]
Sirens: 2x Sirens, Triton A1 [129 pts]
Sirens: 2x Sirens, Triton A1 [129 pts]
Valkyries: 2x Valkyries, Triton A1 [119 pts]
Heavy Pantheon [205 pts]
Hades: Hades [205 pts]

Of course people can and should shift around stuff to fit their preferences but the list includes all my above suggestions. The Squad of 3 Apollos could even be shifted to the Hades for 1 big AT BG for more focused AT fire. Otherwise you have 5 Infantry Squads, with 3 in 1 BG, all AA in 1 BG and not BG that is easily completely removed. Decent at least.

End Part

This concludes German Space Magic, for now and I will see how things go at Invasion with those concepts.
I hope all of it or at least parts help others with their list building and game play, at least the more competitive oriented part. I would like to stress that people should experiment with different table sizes, terrain density, missions (though attacker/defender ones are mainly suited for casual play) and objective buildings (mainly 30/40DP for the big ones and the size of buildings you place your objectives in).
For me 6'x4' is the best table size, in addition to that placing objectives (not intel) only in large buildings enhanced game play greatly. In addition to that I prefer the standard 40DP for those buildings, as this leads to less dominance of Demo units and allows Exotics to shine without missions such as Bunker assault.
Last edited by Lorn on Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:13 am, edited 5 times in total.

German space magic for PHR would you like to know more?

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Hawk Talon

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Re: Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostTue Aug 04, 2015 8:35 pm

Nice article!

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about war: Somebody wins,
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Re: Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostWed Aug 05, 2015 12:25 am

Very good
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Re: Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostWed Aug 05, 2015 7:09 am

I am going to reread this several times. Thanks for putting your thoughts together here on this!
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Re: Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostWed Aug 05, 2015 9:24 pm

We have evolved beyond mere flesh and bone. We are the Post Human Republic.
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Re: Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostWed Aug 12, 2015 8:18 am

Well done, Lorn. Awaiting Part 2...
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Re: Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostWed Aug 12, 2015 8:30 am

Thanks I will try to do it today. First off I will add the new units to part 1.

German space magic for PHR would you like to know more?

German space magic for all and this time it is in Space!


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Re: Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostWed Aug 12, 2015 2:38 pm

Added part 2 and the Medusa+Valkyries to part 1.

German space magic for PHR would you like to know more?

German space magic for all and this time it is in Space!


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Re: Lorns Guide to PHR or German Space Magic

PostWed Aug 12, 2015 8:24 pm

Great write up. Confirmed some things I'd been thinking and gave me some new ideas as well. I absolutely agree on the usefulness of the Janus as a supplemental AA option.

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