Sunday, 28 February 2016

Ildari's Irregulars: The Mercury

Hello again fellow Commanders, I've decided I want to use this blog to spotlight some of the lesser used units in Dropzone commander, this may be because the current meta has uplifted a unit that fills a similar role or slot for your faction, leaving it a less desired choice, or it could be that the faction has moved away from a play style that particular unit used to find a home in.

Whatever the reason, this segment seeks to spotlight these units, extol their virtues and strengths, discuss frankly their weaknesses, and if possible make a case for putting together a list that celebrates that unit and its contribution (even if it's just a bit of fluffy fun). I will of course lead by example by attempting to put together a viable 1500 list for any unit I spotlight, as well as playing it for a batrep. Letting either Nick or Alex likely smash me into a paste as a result.

As a sign of my commitment to this endeavour, On Monday I'll be running a list featuring a unit I've never actually seen played; the humble mercury scout drone for PHR.

Preamble out of the way, let's get into the Mercury and see what makes it tick.

The Mercury is an automated, flying drone that occupies the scout spot in the PHR roster. A particularly interesting scout choice as it has no weaponry whatsoever.

The skinny

The drone is pretty darn fragile as aircraft go, the trade-off of being untouchable by ground units, any basic AA gun will 'seriously' threaten it (of course, any commander foolish enough to squander a round of AA shooting or reaction fire on a Mercury is doing you a favour anyway) The mercury has a 6" move and must be taken in a squad of four.

To compensate for the complete lack of weapons, the Mercury sports two interesting abilities.

For starters, the Mercury has the scanner rule, essentially mercury drones may assist troops within a structure in searching for objectives. This manifests itself as a -1 to the roll required to find the objective when searching. It is important to remember they can only utilize this ability on a single structure per turn, This does of course provide more bang for your buck if multiple squads are searching a single structure. Otherwise the multiple drones in the squad essentially exist only to give the unit some longevity, along with more eyes to spot for the second ability.

Secondly, and arguably more potent is the access to Skyhammer missiles should you have invested in a pair of Triton A2's to carry the squad into battle. This is in my opinion a mandatory inclusion, as their 6" move isn't sufficient enough to get them where they need to go quick enough to make them worthwhile on the table.

Skyhammers are indirect fire, E11 single shot missiles with a small to medium range. Line of sight is drawn from a Mercury drone to a potential target, and range to fire is drawn from the Triton firing the missile. these missile are limited to 2 per Triton, and can only be fired once per turn.

Why it's (currently) irregular

I feel the Mercury has fallen out of favour lately, as the meta seems to be focused on moving quicker than people expect PHR to, and throwing as many dice as possible (Helios, Medusa) the recent popularity of Valkyries as a scout choice have made the Mercury seem like easily trimmed fat when trying to shove a second Medusa or more Helios in a list.

"Kin I have a gun here pls B0ss?"

Why it might deserve a shot in your list

Other than being cute as a button? Well, despite the above issues of spot competition, I feel there is something to be said for the Mercury's unusual play style, And part of that is due to the utility and speed of its fellow scout unit, the Valkyries. Chasing the Valkyries around as they leap between buildings, and making that objective grab just that little bit easier. it is a gamble of points as to whether they will pull their weight in this regard, but it could be that earlier extraction that turns a held objective into an extracted one by games end.

All this is without the boon of indirect fire, high power missiles thrown into the mix (as a 'free' Triton upgrade, to boot!). In a faction of railguns, and constantly weighing what we can afford to walk on, vs, the versatility of a transport, and agonizing over being able to find a clear shot at anything, indirect fire is a boon you'd be foolish to dismiss out of hand. it's a single die, true, and you might roll bunk and it be a wasted shot. but it's an included perk with a lot of potential to take out that one irritating unit, or harry that skulking commander.

So these are my initial thoughts on the Mercury drone, as stated, I've had a shot at putting together a list that I'll be testing against Alex this Monday.

The list

A Mercurial assembly
Clash: 1499/1500 points
Standard Army
PHR Standard Roster [1499/1500 pts]
Hand of the Sphere [546 pts]
Nemesis: Nemesis(Grand Vizier) [310 pts]
Mercury Drones: 4x Mercury, 2x Triton A2(+RN-5 Skyhammer) [96 pts]
Medusa: Medusa, Triton X [140 pts]
Battle Pantheon [223 pts]
Helios Squad: 2x Helios, Neptune [160 pts]
Battle Squad: Phobos [63 pts]
Immortals [214 pts]
AM Rifle Team: 2x Immortal Longreach Team, Triton A1 [113 pts]
Immortals: 2x Immortals, Triton A1 [101 pts]
Pegasus Group [381 pts]
Valkyries: 2x Valkyries, Triton A1 [119 pts]
Valkyries: 2x Valkyries, Triton A1 [119 pts]
Medusa: Medusa, Triton X(+Miniguns) [143 pts]
Air Wing [135 pts]
Athena Squad: Athena [135 pts]

This list is also limited by my unwillingness to proxy this time, so it's probably not optimal, but I'll do my level best to win in the name of my pacifist drone amigos.

Expect my batrep for this list soon!


  1. I like it. I have also been trying with the idea of the Janus myself and mixing scout groups.

    So you can have a Squad of Valkyries with Janus so that you have some AA cover in that area of the board.

    One thing to consider for the Mercury, is they don't provide points for Focal points.

    Another thing is that they Scanner ability effects a building so any unit rolling in that building gets the -1 to the search roll.

    1. Mercury drones do in fact contribute to focal point calculations, as stipulated in the scanner rule :D. Thanks for the clarification on the building specification of their first ability, though.

  2. Mercuries do contribute to focal points. It's their special rule and it was clarified in the living FAQ on the Hawk forums. They're great units. I've found them to be very useful though Valkyries are also excellent.

  3. The downside I see on the drones is that you can't get just a pair. You must get 4, and then 2 Tritons (for 96pts). If you could get just a pair, I think they would see more table time.

  4. I like the list. Although I would change it very slightly.
    If you drop the athena and down to CV4 you could have another pegasus group with the Mercurys, then move the Valks and Medusa from the command group to the Pegasus group. With the added points I think another squad of Helios in a Neptune in the Immortal group

    1. That's inspired Mike, really nice and improves the list a lot. I tried to play with what I had when making the list, and am in dire need of another helios squad I think :P Thanks very much for the suggestion!