The Orpheus class is my favourite ship class of PHR and it is the only ship that have been in every, single game I’ve played with PHR so far. I have looked forward to explaining why I love this ship so much, so let’s dig in.
Armed like a cruiser
The Orpheus is a troopship, but unlike the Chimera or the San Francisco, it has the armament of a cruiser. It is almost identically armed as the Ajax-class, though its broadsides are not linked. However, in most matches, you only have one or two opportunities where this is really important (and maybe one or two where it is nice, but not really important), so it’s not that great an issue.
This means that the Orpheus enjoys the possibilities of the light broadsides giving it good frigate killing abilities and secondary abilities as emergency corvette or bombardment vessel – all abilities that are perfect for a ship, that will most likely end up around a cluster or a space station.
In short – when adding an Orpheus, I don’t feel like I am choosing between a combat ship and a troops ship. I’m basically taking a decent combat ship and equipping it with some troop launch capabilities.
Hull like a heavy cruiser
On top of the excellent armament, it has the hull of a heavy cruiser. That both includes the durability of one of those lumbering hulks (which is awesome in a troopship), but it unfortunately also means a thrust of 7″. This is quite a distinct disadvantage when comparing it to the San Francisco or the Chimera. In two rounds of directed, normal movement the effective ranges for dropping troops for these ships are:
- Chimera: 26″
- San Francisco: 22″
- Orpheus: 20″
This gives the Orpheus a distinct disadvantage when space stations and sectors are placed in the middle of the table, as is so often the case. This means that we need to give some consideration as to how to move the Orpheus correctly.
How to move your Orpheus depends a lot on the target it has to reach. This creates many different scenarios and I will not explain them all here, as it would be very long and confusing. I will instead explain the basic entry methodology I use and then talk a little about variations.
I normally try to move at least one Orpheus onto the board on turn 1. However, it can also be viable to keep one in reserve to field towards a cluster where there are no heavy, enemy guns nearby.
In the first turn, I tend to go first with the battle group including the Orpheus (as the other one is normally one that want to do a double tap with) and I max thrust towards my goal. I do, however, rarely make the full move but rather move just within 13″ of at least one sector or space station that I want to drop into. I want to keep distance since I have a minor spike. I might drop to low orbit, depending on what I expect my opponent to field around here and if I think his ships might drop to low orbit (I want to be at another layer than him, if possible, to get a bit of protection against shooting). If possible, I hide behind a debris field.
In the second turn I will want to activate as late in the turn as possible. I will then do a normal move and drop to low orbit, firing with a weapon system if a viable target is available. Now I am ready to drop troops at the end of the round – assuming my opponent aims to drop at the same spot, I would consider dropping a defence battery. From here on I will either continue to circle this sector and drop to it, or I will already start to turn around towards my next goal.
In some cases, I have a space station or sector closer to me than to my opponent. In that case I might refrain from doing a max thrust in the first round if that target is within 13″ of where I start, and instead aim to be able to drop troops there.
I will sometimes also aim for targets further away than 24″. In that case, in my second round I will activate early and do a silent run and in the third round I will activate late and see what course of action makes the most sense. I might take another round at silent running if that means keeping my opponent moving closer and away from what I consider more important targets. I might also just do a standard order to fire and drop troops. If you play the hiding game, remember that you cannot drop nor change layer while silent running, but you can do a standard order, drop to low orbit and drop troops even if you are hiding in high orbit.
Space stations or sectors
I was just arguing, why I think the San Francisco is usable against space stations, but probably not that much against clusters. The Orpheus, however, it is a truly all-rounder able to handle both. It does – as all troopships – have some advantage against space stations compared to strike carriers, but its high durability keep it in the air around clusters long enough to be able to drop something. It is approximately 62 % more durable than the Chimera and 36 % more durable than the San Francisco (using my durability analysis tool). Even when factoring in cost, it is still 31 % and 16 % more durable per point, respectively.
In short – I use the Orpheus for everything. I usually also include a couple of Medeas as they are also in themselves very good (and can do the aforementioned double tap), but I do not have an “Orpheus only for space stations” policy.
Isn’t the Ganymede just as good?
Now, this is not an article about the Ganymede – I will get around to that eventually. I will, however, argue shortly for why I think the Orpheus is superior.
The Ganymede looks good on paper. It has nice bombardment, which seems like a nice supplement when dropping to sectors. It has medium calibre batteries, which are somewhat more flexible than a light broadside you would thing. So why not field the Ganymede instead or at least as a supplement? The answer to that is no, and the reason is, that it when you look into the situation in detail, you see that it is actually inferior.
First of all, the Ganymede loses that wonderful light broadside that is the perfect tool for a troopship. You can shoot enemy strike carriers (in or outside atmosphere) and you can even bombard, in a pinch. It is a versatile tool for any situation.
The bombard the Ganymede gets instead seems good, but it is very circumstantial. First of all, it is only useful against clusters, so if you go to a space station (a troopship favourite), it is useless. And since you can’t bombard in sectors where you have troops, a savvy opponent will use that to his advantage making sure to drop into your sectors and contest them rather than standing in the open being bombarded for no obvious gain. Then late in turn 4 and 6 – when scoring occurs – he will drop into any empty sectors to score those critical VP (or at least deny them to you). In short – bombardment is not really useful when both you and your opponent have plenty of troop deploy capacity.
The medium batteries and turret are fine, but they are three independent weapon systems that individually isn’t really all that dangerous. So in order to really get any use of them, you need weapons free. Besides the major spike (which is not that big a deal – you will have a minor most of the time anyways) you are also forced to move at least 3,5″ straight ahead as a minimum, and that might cause you to move outside range of the sectors you are dropping to. With a course change or station keeping order, staying close is easier.
On top of that, you pay a 5 pts premium for the Ganymede. It should really be the other way around (and still I would not choose the Ganymede).
In short – the Ganymede might be better than the Orpheus in some very, very specific circumstances but it is not worth a premium. The only case where I would seriously consider a Ganymede is if I want to include two troopships in one battle group and want to be able to split them further apart than 6″.
The Orpheus is my favourite PHR ship. It is a troop ship with the durability of a heavy cruiser, the firepower of a cruiser and the perfect toolbox for dropping troops on the ground or in a space station. I cannot see any non-experimental list where I do not include at least one, atndpreferably two or three.