Monday, June 27, 2016

Dropzone Commander - Thoughts On The PHR Thor Bombard

by Novus

I've used a 4x Thor battle group in 3 games (2 vs Resistance and 1 vs Shaltari) since their rules have been released and they are everything the Taranis isn't. You thought the Medusa was game changing? Wait 'til they get a load of these! They pair very well with a squad of Mercuries. Mostly because folks don't spend a lot of time shooting at Mercuries. They'll make Valkyries a top priority, instead. But vs Mercs, there's always a better target. The insignificance of the Mercury is its armor.

Thors eat targets without active countermeasures for breakfast lunch and dinner. Seriously, if the target doesn't have active countermeasures, Thors are a BIG problem because the barrage value doubles, which can bump them to Dev 2 if you have 4! Plus, four of them have a 42" reach with a Large blast against targets with active countermeasures. That's extremely reliable.

At E11, there are no bad targets. You've got a 50/50 chance even against A10! And you can hit multiple units in the squad or across a few squads! That Large template is to be feared.

I really haven't had the chance to use Thors for demo, yet, but they should be slightly more reliable on the demo output than Taranis (I typically roll lots of minimums on the Demolition rolls).

vs UCM
I haven't played them vs UCM, yet, but I can see Bombards being an issue for Ferrums, in particular. It will be a race between the Thors and the Starsprites; will the Thor squad destroy the Ferrum before the Starsprites kill the Thors? Likewise for the Kodiak. But, the Kodiak can actually hit back, blow for blow. Falcons may see a resurgence, too. I think the UCM has less to fear vs the Thors than any other faction. They seem to have the most tools for just this situation

vs Scourge
Scourge won't be able to rely fully on the Skimmer bonus as Barrage weapons never completely missing makes the Bombards an excellent tool against these xeno-parasites. Screamers, tightly packed squads of skimmers, Prowlers, and Stalkers/Ravagers are prime targets.

vs Shaltari
Shaltari are used to hiding and jumping out at the last possible second to secure a focal point or grab some intel or even move a captured objective. Frankly, it's very hard to hide completely during a game and still win. You have to move your units which exposes them to enemy line of sight. Which, in turn, exposes them to the Bombards.

Yari, Ronin, Samurai, and even the Haven are very vulnerable if they stick their heads out. The ground game becomes difficult for Shaltari as there is currently no direct answer that I can see vs a squad of Thors. The Firebird will help once it is available... but until then, times might be tough.

vs Resistance
As mentioned, units like Gun Wagons and Freeriders will have major issues with the Bombard. I think we'll be seeing less of the Wagons and more of the Zukhovs and Hannibals in the coming months Placement will become a concern when using the lighter Resistance units. That Large blast covers a lot of real estate even when you have a dozen Rocket Technicals. They either bunch up behind a building to hide from direct fire and maybe line of sight or they spread out to mitigate the template and then get shot up by the other units on the table.

vs PHR
This may be where the biggest impact is felt. Thors will be amazing vs the most hated PHR unit, the Medusa. Rarely missing with d6 hits will be devastating for players that rely solely on the Medusa. I can also see artillery duels between Thor squads happening soon, too. It will be an interesting situation: do you shoot at the opposing Thors or the advancing Medusa? Can you destroy enough of either to keep the upper hand? Should be very tense and fun!

Some of this was covered in the Hawk Forums, of course, but I wanted to write up what I found based on the few games I've played with them.

The Taranis was merely OK. They worked well for me against Freeriders and Screamers, but not much else. I think the Thor, on the other hand, is very capable in a more general way, priced well, and is certainly not invincible at A7. They fill a gap the PHR have had since the beginning: a good indirect fire platform. And, they force the enemy to come get them; they must advance and kill the Bombards or face a rain of shells for the entire game.

Of the recent releases, I'm most pleased with finally getting some good artillery. Well done, Hawk!

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