I think I've nailed down what my only serious problem with PHR as a faction in Dropzone Commander is... their dropships.
Now, I know the PHR theme is slow, good punch at long range, and high toughness. But, with PHR dropships the theme seems to have been deviated from. The difference in point cost (typically over-valued compared to the other factions), punch (virtually no real offensive power), and speed (or, more accurately, lack of speed) is a triple handicap, I think. Mitigating just one of these would really help them be less of an "uphill battle" type of faction.
This unit, even with the latest point reduction, is still near the middle of the pack in regards to cost, yet it is the slowest and arguably has the least offensive punch in the game. Sure it is slightly more survivable than the other factions' ships, but so what? That means nothing when you can't even drop the units you are carrying where you need to drop them.
Earlier last week I had a game against Scourge. The photo below is an approximation of what happened.
My opponent effectively blocked my Turn 2 drop just by being within 3" of the LZ template in the only place my Poseidon could effectively drop. He had managed to get a squad of Prowlers far across the board and had another squad of Hunters nearby, as well.
My Type-1 squads couldn't move forward because the Poseidon didn't have enough movement to fly over a couple of medium buildings and then drop (the yellow circle is my half move drop distance, the blue circle will be referenced farther on in the post). The 6" drop move ensures the LZ template didn't fit well on boards with densely packed buildings. I couldn't drop in the only open ground there was (because a Prowler hiding behind a building would be within 3" of the LZ template. And, I couldn't press forward and try to outrun the Hunters (which are GROUND UNITS!) even if I elected to drop on Turn 3 because not only could they keep up, but he had Ravagers in the middle of the board, too. He could have chased my Poseidon anywhere on the board and kept me from dropping its payload or just plain shot it down.
I had roughly 300+ points trapped 12" from my table edge. This lack of options is a big handicap in an objective mission. Sure, I might have been able to kill the Prowler, but what if I didn't? I'd have a fully loaded transport sitting right in the kill zone. Further, he really didn't need to fear my Stealth Missiles because he had so many units, many of which were skimmers (at 5+ to hit)! Even if I scored a hit, I would kill only one of them if I got lucky enough to roll that 6 (E7 vs A8).
So, I had to drop where I was. 12" from my board edge, far from the objectives, and blocked by buildings.
The Neptune is the best dropship the PHR have. It's tough and almost quick enough to have some options when dropping units. That said, the cost of its current configuration is as silly as is the weapon it carries.
You don't have quite the same problems as the Poseidon, but you do need three to equal the carrying capacity of a Poseidon. That's a 50 point difference for an extra 2" of drop movement, 3 extra DP, and 2 extra Silly Missile weapons! Now, if all of those extras were on one unit, you might have something. To me, having a payload spread across three different transports isn't an advantage because it's not very hard to drop a 3DP transport and likely kill at least some of the units on board.
I think the Neptune needs tweaking, but not much.
I don't have a big problem with the Triton. I never arm them, though I used to (as you can see, above). I now think that if my Infantry transport is in a gunfight, I have probably made a serious mistake. Tritons are fairly quick for PHR (but still slow overall), and compared to other Infantry dropships, they have great armor. They are slightly harder to kill, but only slightly in the current meta.
That said, they are still very easy to kill and they may still be over-costed compared to other light transports.
PHR are a very unforgiving faction to play and, again, I think this is mostly because of the theme as applied to their dropships. The PHR ground game makes sense thematically and play-wise, it works. But, I see no reason why the theme should be applied as it is to the dropships. Technically, the theme isn't applied uniformly to both ground units and dropships, the dropships have nothing the other factions FEAR.
Here are some things I think could help from a dropship point of view. I would be ecstatic to see just one of these implemented...
- Only make them quicker. Either make the overall speed higher or change the half move restriction to a three-quarter move when dropping payloads. An 8" drop move on a Poseidon (the blue circle in the game scenario approximated above) would definitely have made a difference. Don't make the weapon stronger, don't drop the points, don't do anything else... just more speed. It's amazing to me that a Poseidon could be blocked from dropping its payload because ground units are fast enough to keep up.
- Or... give the Poseidon and Neptune a weapon that can clear an LZ. Something very short range that is a serious threat to a SQUAD of skimmers/armor. Something like one of these: The LZ Sweeper (E9, S3, AC2+, R(F6"/C4"), MF 8") with maybe the Ares Scanner. If the theme doesn't allow them to outrun an enemy, they sure as hell should be able to clear the LZ of them. Aren't PHR supposed to have PUNCH!?!
- Or... drop the points. PHR dropships have no substantial advantage (in relation to what their job is) over any of the other factions' dropships. The extra armor helps minimally, but it's still pretty easy to down any of them when you consider the amount and strength of AA now available to the other factions. Why should they cost so much, comparatively speaking? The Neptune, as currently configured, should only be around 31 points, I think. The Poseidon could drop to 65pts. This is mostly because once these units drop their payload, they typically have no significant effect on the outcome of the game other than scooting units around. They sure as hell aren't going to be destroying much armor or demo'ing many buildings with one shot at E7, even with Shaped Charge.
- Or... allow PHR to drop as long as there are no enemy units inside the LZ template.
Having both the slowest ground units and the slowest dropships (and least punchy and fairly costly) in this game seems like piling on the disadvantages when you consider the speed and offensive flexibility of the other factions. I think something needs to be done to open the PHR up a bit. Helping them on the dropship side of things might just do it.
All that said, this is just one Armchair Commanders opinion. What do you all think?