Hello again, Dropzoners and welcome to the fourth article in our series breaking down the basics of Dropzone Commander!
Now that we’ve covered the game in broad strokes, we’re going to take a closer look at each of DZC’s five factions, breaking down how they play, their strengths and weaknesses, and contextualizing in terms of other games we’ve played in the past. If you’re looking to get into Dropzone, or are thinking about picking up a new faction but not sure which to grab, these articles are for you.
Next up, we talk about those mysterious, cybernetic, A.I.-hugging, post-human elitists, the PHR!
The Post-Human Republic (PHR)
The forces of the Post-Human Republic are a human offshoot, descendents of men and women who heeded the warnings of a mysterious A.I. known as the White Sphere and fled Earth prior to the Scourge invasion over 200 years ago. In the centuries hence, the PHR has formed its own advanced, but insular, society with arcane politics and even more inscrutable motives. What do they want, and whose interests do they seek to advance during the Reconquest? That, as so much about the PHR, remains to be seen.
There’s a reason that many players (including myself) find themselves attracted to the PHR when they first encounter Dropzone Commander, and it’s the look of the faction. The combination of the sleek design lines of Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed, the echoes of the Terminator in its dropships, and a prevalence of walkers similar to Battletech and Macross make for DZC‘s most visually unified and “futuristic” looking faction. Their reliance on unconventional units (at least to us modern humans) over things like tanks only makes them feel more exotic and elite.
Core Themes of the PHR
PHR forces can be defined by three aspects: their high technology, their great toughness, and their excellence in nearly everything they do. The PHR are the most well-armed and armored of DZC’s three human factions, with sophisticated and specialized tech that lets them go toe-to-toe with even the alien races and win.
The tradeoff the PHR makes for this all-around greatness (“Yes? You rang?”– Casualty) is higher points costs on average and slower-overall speed – their elite forces are nearly always outnumbered and outmaneuvered by enemies who field lots of aircraft and skimmers. Fortunately for the PHR, their ability to take hits and then hit back harder means enemy victories in these engagements are often going to be pyrrhic ones.
The March of Death
Walkers are the PHR’s visual and gameplay hallmark. Unlike the armies of the UCM and the Resistance, the PHR has replaced antiquated tracked vehicles with versatile battle walkers to great and intimidating effect.
PHR has an amazing variety of walkers, spread across 4 classes: medium class Type 1s, such as the Ares and Phobos, which act as the standard armor choice for the army; the heavy Type 2s, such as the Zeus command walker and Odin, which mount bigger guns, passive saves, and greater armor for protracted engagements; lightly-armored Type 3s, such as the Apollo and Erebos, that have lighter weaponry, but greater speed and exotic tech, like jump jets; and the massive Type 4s, such as the Hades and Nemesis, terrifying, scorpion-like walkers bristling with weapons, which are the biggest and toughest units in the game (at least for now).
Having walkers instead of more traditional armor (like tanks) provides the PHR forces with significant advantages. First and foremost, the fact that walkers are literally twice as tough (2 damage points standard) as other vehicles of the same class, which gives them a vital edge in long-term shooting battles and Focal Point missions. Additionally, the height of their walkers (about the size of a standard 28mm or 40k model), allows them to draw line of sight from higher up, denying sneaky UCM and skimmer tanks from exploiting cover to their advantage.
The PHR also represents the pinnacle of human technological development. Their guns are more powerful, have longer range, and higher rates of fire than comparable weapons from nearly any other army; their heavy walkers have passive countermeasures comparable to those of the Shaltari; they have the greatest fast-mover in the game; and they are the only human force to field skimmer tanks or reliable laser technology. No matter where they fight or which units they bring to the fight, the PHR always fields the best of the best.
Beyond the overall quality of their wargear, PHR forces sport gadgets that even many of the alien races don’t have access to. The Erebos walker, for example, exudes a disruption field that hampers nearby enemy unit’s accuracy. Apollos can use limited flight to speedily disembark from dropships or hop over buildings for surprise attacks. The Hades walker can release clouds of nanomachines to attack enemy vehicles or repair friendly walkers. Mercury drones’ advanced sensor package improves their army’s chances to quickly find intel and objectives… and can conveniently spot for cruise missiles. These dirty little tricks give the PHR tremendous advantages that can quickly turn the tide of battle in their favor.
A High-Tech Sledgehammer
The high points costs, great toughness, and plodding speed of the PHR forces them into a pretty straightforward battle doctrine: in simplest terms, “right up the middle and smash the enemy’s face in.” Once the PHR commit to a battle plan, it’s not going to be able to change it up easily, and losses of dropships often strand their cargo far from the fight. Good strategy and anticipation of the enemy’s plan are essential components to PHR victory.
Beyond their speed challenge, the PHR also needs to focus its limited numbers on a narrow front in order to avoid being surrounded and destroyed by larger forces. Having smaller numbers, generally speaking, means making fewer shots at the enemy, so a spread-out PHR army can easily be overwhelmed by superior numbers and unable to mount an effective response in kind. The high cost of PHR units means every loss hurts them far worse than those inflicted on their opponents, so PHR commanders need to do everything they can to keep their units together and alive for the endgame to win.
PHR in Warhammer 40,000 Terms
The PHR play a lot like Space Marines should play per the 40k fluff: they are the elite army, filled to the gills with tough, well-armed units who tend to be good at nearly every battlefield role. Like Marines, they have only one basic infantry type, but those troopers can shoot accurately, fight in assault well, and can suck up damage to boot. The PHR’s armor strength is in its lumbering walkers (like Dreadnaughts), but they also have excellent, multirole dropships, and the best air superiority fighter in the game. When the PHR is pressed in a relatively small front, there is no other force that can stand against them.
PHR in Warmachine Terms
In Warmachine terms, PHR are definitely similar to Khador. Their walkers are top-notch—being tough and hard-hitting, but slow—and their infantry are elite when put toe-to-toe against any other army’s. Like Khador, PHR tend to be a “hammer” force, being slow enough they’ll have to take some losses getting to the fight, but can absorb enough fire that they’re still able to hit with maximum force. And, like Khador, when the PHR swings that hammer, the results tend to be pretty decisive.
The Commenters’ Opinions
Personally speaking, I love the PHR. They were the very first DZC models I spotted at the FLGS a few years ago, and I was infatuated. I always thought they would be my second force…until the Resistance came along, at least. As a longtime fan of Space Marines and, well, pretty much everything from Warmachine, fielding a pile of big stompy robots with bigger friggin’ guns is super-appealing. Along with those Terminator-looking dropships…and the Athena…and the Helios…and the Nemesis…and…
There’s no doubt that PHR for quite a while was the sports car that got buyers onto the lot. All the forums, reviewers and blogs each sung with desire when it came to which faction new players wanted to drive away with: PHR. And who can blame them? They have great looking, mechy models; hard hitting weapons; unique units (Mercury drones, Apollos, Hades walkers, Angelos, Helios); and a super powerful Command Deck. The tourney results thus far support the fact that PHR is a top tier force as well, and with the rebalance from the April 2015 errata, they likely have only gotten better.
But I’m so above all that. I don’t follow the lemmings. “Yo no soy marinero; soy capitan, soy capitan!” I could go on, but I have some painting to do… Sweet Nemesis command walker…
For the Sphere!
The followers of the White Sphere might be Dropzone Commander‘s most characterful faction: paragons of high-tech sci-fi warfare able to kick ass, Heinlein-Starship Troopers-style. They’re the exact opposite of my Scourge–slow, tough, with amazing shooting, and elite, all-rounder units–and demand a very different playstyle and careful strategy. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the models are fantastic to boot! So if you’re into the big, the tough, and the badass when you play wargames, look no further than the armies of the Post Human Republic.
Next up in our series, we’ll look at the fourth and most unusual faction in Dropzone Commander—the alien masterminds of the Shaltari Tribes. Until next time, Commanders!
Choosing a DZC Force Series
- Part 1: The United Colonies of Mankind (UCM)
- Part 2: The Scourge
- Part 3: The Post-Human Republic (PHR)
- Part 4: The Shaltari
- Part 5: The Resistance