Dropzone Commander Live Blogging Recap

Hawk Wargames is having a live blog discussion on their Facebook page about the game, Dropzone Commander.

You can follow the conversation here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hawk-Wargames/215887118516882

So, it sounds like rules are fairly interesting, but nothing too complex from what I can gather so far. Here are some of the things that jumped out at me:

  • Alternate activation in a similar fashion to Heavy Gear, where you activate groups of units, then your opponent, then back and forth until all units have been activated. Some units are capable of out of phase, or interruption fire (think Overwatch).
  • Units move an average of 4-6″, with Heavy Tanks moving 3″ and fast units moving 12.”
  • Dropships move between 12″-36″ and are said to closer to a “Rhino in firepower than a Land Raider.”
  • Dropships must start with a full load to avoid people putting a single tank in a dropship.
  • Units do not need to maintain squad coherency and each model within a unit can individually target an enemy as well as be individually targeted.
  • The game is meant o be played with a relatively large amount of terrain, but doesn’t have to be. They quoted at least 3 buildings to be fun, with the studio using 10-12.
  • A 4×4′ table was the standard, although larger tables worked fine.
  • The game was scenario driven, they often site Blackhawk Down as an example. Other examples were destroying certain buildings, attacking entrenched defenders, searching crash sites, etc.  Games where there are attackers and defenders will obviously necessitate certain force structures, sometimes the scenario will give a defender some ground troops already in place, with reinforcements arriving by dropship for example.
  • Points would be similar to 40K, with 1,000pts to 2,000pts being the norm.
  • A tank was compared to a standard infantry model in other games in terms of survivability.
  • Terrain is interactive, for example, buildings can be destroyed.
  • A system of “command cards” used in a type of resource management mechanic. The higher your commander’s leadership, the more cards he can have and use. If he is killed, you discard down to the next highest ranked commander. The cards can be used to increase the accuracy of a unit for a turn, all the way to creating way to move from building to building via tunnels and such.
  • Infantry are necessary for taking objectives, but won’t be able to form an army unto themselves.
  •  REALLY rough turn overview: 1) Initiation – roll for initiative, play certain, roll for reserves etc, 2) Actions – players take it in turns to activate one battlegroup at a time, completing the actions for each squad within it (move, shoot etc, although you can shoot then move also) 3) Roundup – act on any ‘end of turn’ abilities, check victory conditions.
  • Models said to be very high quality with minimal flash. Some models will hold together without glue, although glue is still recommended. The resin is flexible and won’t break like Finecast. It also does not need to be washed prior to use, and can flex without the paint coming off.
  • Terrain does effect movement.
  • Smaller dropships are faster and tend to be more flexible, but the larger ones can carry larger vehicles.
  • They plan on releasing tournament updates to the rules to keep them fresh.
  • Sounds like there is a FOC so that larger games don’t bog down with a ton of activations per turn. Models in a unit may fire through each other, while models not in a unit may not.
  • They have plans for a 5th army so long as the game sells well. They also plan to continuously release new units for all existing factions over time, equally.
  • An emphasis on combined arms. Game Designer said you will always need a mix of infantry, AA, Armor, and Drop ships to achieve mission objectives.
  • Countermeasures come in two flavours, Active and Passive. Active detects an incoming projectile, and destroys or deflects it before it hits the target, given enough time (think localised shields, decoys, defensive lasers, defection beams etc). Passive is an all-encompassing energy shield, and always has an effect (much more advanced tech).

    In game terms, Active effectively limits enemy weapon ranges when firing against most vehicles or aircraft. This makes moderate/ short ranges possible in games, and still maintains a sense of realism (a railgun would have a range of a few miles otherwise!). The faster the weapon’s real live velocity, the longer it’s Range (Countered) value is. Directed energy weapons get infinite range against Active countermeasures, since they move at the speed of light

    Passive countermeasures usually grant a saving throw, and almost always have an effect, regardless of how fast the projectile is. Units with Passive Countermeasures usually have Active ones also.

  • Rules to updated with a free PDF as needed.
  • Embarked units can get wiped out if the transport is destroyed, but there’s also a fair chance they might survive unharmed or take damage (rolled on a results table). With an aerial transport that would be ‘Destroyed in the Air’ (everything inside dies), ‘Crash Landing’ (everything inside might get damaged) or ‘Emergency Landing’ (everything gets out alive).

    The Shaltari Gates can indeed allow for instant transference between gates, although each gate can only perform one ‘extract’ and/or one ‘deploy’ per turn. This does indeed give them a distinct advantage in terms of speed and flexibility, and is one of the reasons why Shaltari Gates are unarmed (they’re quite useful enough already!)

  • Some vehicles such as the UCM tanks, can use Hull Down more easily thanks to their articulated weapons systems.
  • Mechanics of game should be largely familiar to wargamers.
  • Most ‘standard’ units (medium tanks) have one damage point (except for the PHR), heavies generally have two and larger models 3 or more (the desolator has 4). Infantry have 3 or more per base (normally 5 for a 5 man base). As such, high rate of fire anti-infantry weapons work best against them (an anti-tank round will REALLY spoil one or two guy’s days, but a minigun will be more effective).

    You won’t be able to destroy individual weapons (at this level anyway), since it becomes unnecessarily fiddly to manage larger games, and avoids piles of tokens + excessive record keeping.

  • They do have plans for other theatres, linked campaigns etc, but that’s something for the future as you say. There will also be other races – this is by no means it!
  • Armour can indeed hold/ move objectives once out in the open, but you’ll normally need infantry to locate and capture them first
  • Sheltari Gates move and deploy troops just like normal dropships, although they aren’t physically carrying them. Multiple Gates can also be activated to transfer units from one gate to another, but each gate may only perform one embark and/or deploy operation per turn. Aside from the speed, a big advantage is that your units are safe until deployed. A disadvantage is that should the Gate be destroyed, there’s no chance of troops getting out onto the battlefield after a crash landing – you’ll need to send a new Gate to the target area.
  • The Scourge and Shaltari are sometimes unforgiving of bad decisions, so both of those are a bit harder to play well than the UCM or the PHR. Of the two, I’d say the Scourge are probably the most difficult to play well, although one of the most rewarding once you’ve got it right 🙂
  • They could do, but you can’t always rely on your fighters to turn up every time you need them, so it’s a risk. Also, they can’t operate well in confined, high rise environments. Fighters are equally vulnerable to enemy air defence, so might not be able to make a pass without exposing themselves to enemy fire.
  • your Infantry indeed land on roofs if they’re large and unobstructed, and can enter from the roof if there’s an entrance. UCM Praetorians can fast rope straight in, and make an entrance with breaching charges if there isn’t one to hand!
  • The Taranis is best employed against structures, where it can operate from a long way away, safely tucked behind scenery. It’s range against vehicles is much more limited due to countermeasures, although PHR rockets manage a slightly longer range as they employ stealth technology. The Taranis is also excellent against infantry in the open (air burst mode!) It isn’t the best ant-vehicle weapon though (can’t be good at everything!)
  • The Athena is multi-role, as it packs a pair of rail-repeaters (anti-air), a pair of cruise missiles (anti structure) and stealth missiles (moderate power anti-vehicle)
  • Anti-Infantry weapons are virtually useless against heavy armour (AK’s having no chance against an M1 in a real life example lol). however, heavy calibre anti-infantry (like UCM vehicle mounted machineguns) will just be able to damage the lightest of combat vehicles.
  • There will be a ‘standard’ chart to use with most games. These scenarios will for the backbone for tournaments I imagine. Other, specialist scenarios will allow different compositions and might be best suited for casual/ pre-organised play. How this will all work with tournaments is something I intend to help organise once the game is out.
  • The Shaltari are quite self serving, and thus fight for their own, often incomprehensible reasons. each tribe has very different motivations, and they often fight each other! They’re quite warlike, and believe in trials of strength. Also, they hate the Scourge just as much as everyone else! Scourge attacks on the Shaltari are unknown to humans (from whose perspective the background has been written from), but no doubt it’s happened at some stage!
  • You can always hold/play one command card per turn, even without a commander.
  • The starters are playable as small armies (although not exactly points balanced) – think of them as 40k battleforces if it helps! Having said that, DzC supports smaller games than 40k and does not demand massive armies, so you can have fun playing with just the starter armies. I’d consider the Large army deal to be a good sized army, and the mega being a big/very big army
  • Some common ranges (against countermeasures) – directed energy- infinite, railgun 24″, cannons 12-18″, missiles 6-12″, anti-infantry (generally) about 12″, although infantry don’t usually carry countermeasures, so the full range (normally 36-48″) can be used against them – try not to leave your infantry exposed: they won’t last long!

    The reason there isn’t a painted full albatross is that I’d need to paint an extra 9 folded tanks, and simply ran out of time! Expect to see one in future though (at the very least unpainted), the tanks do fit properly!

  • Using the UCM as an example, you’d have one group with 2 infantry squads, in one Bear each, both in a condor. You’d have a second group with the Sabres (+Condor), and a third with the Rapiers (+ Condor). An obvious unit/s to add would be a command unit (which would go in a new Command battlegroup), fighters (Air battlegroup) and Scouts (these normally go in command also)
  • You don’t have to put your commander in a command vehicle, but the commander’s field of influence is halved if they’re in a unit not designed for the role (weaker communications suite etc). Lower ranking officers (sergeants etc) work well in standard units though, since they extend chain of command
  • Infantry stand a chance, and can hold their own when garrisoning a building (there’s modifiers for shooting against them here for accuracy AND energy, since they are concealed behind solid walls)
  • PHR are a good choice if you like magnets – they’ll be fairly straightforward to do in most cases, except for the occasional flying base mount conversion (in some cases there isn’t quite enough room for the transported units and the flying base). Thinning it at the top or using a long pin is an easy fix :-), especially since the models are lightweight.
  • Fliers measure all distances from the center of their base, and LOS from 6″ above their base.
  • energy generally cooks at one thing at a time (very precise weapons usually!) In the case of the Shaltari Ocelot’s Particle Cannon, something gets REALLY crispy!
  • The rulebook focuses on the UCM’s invasion to recapture humanity’s lost worlds from the clutches of the Scourge. Future expansions will expand on this and develop the timeline, and obviously introduce new elements. We’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit, but at least you’ll know there’s more planned in future, and that you aren’t seeing the end of the story
  • The models are VERY durable. To show people, I’ve been throwing Shaltari dropships against walls! (not that I’d recommend anyone try this obviously!) So far I’ve never had one break, and the resin accepts super glue really well… a little too well sometimes! Once they’re glued, they don’t come apart easily!
  • As I said earlier, saying that the game will release devoid of balance issues would be both unrealistic and arrogant of me – there’s just so many things to consider with a game that involves this much (and a brand new game at that!) I think in the modern world the best way of resolving issues IS to use free pdf updates. That way it costs you nothing, and everyone gets access to the changes. We’re obviously doing our best in playtesting though!
  • The expansion books will contain new units, updated rules, additional factions and will advance the storyline – sometime in the future though, we have enough to be getting on with atm!
  • The warstrider’s heads are indeed movable; they come on a pivot style joint so they can be positioned as they are in the photos – great for adding a sense of movement and life
  • The Mechit is a specialist anti-infantry unit, and since the PHR have a few more units than the other races (in the form of variants) it was impossible to squeeze them all in while still giving you equivalent anti-tank firepower. The Menchit is great at clearing buildings though (it’s got a flamethrower :-D!) so it’s quite a useful add-on in some situations.
  •  There will indeed be! Special Generals, which will have various abilities, played with player consent only 🙂

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About Reecius

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8 Responses to “Dropzone Commander Live Blogging Recap”

  1. Cap'n Stoogey June 11, 2012 3:20 pm
    #

    This is looking really cool! Now I just need to make sure people are gonna play…

    • Reecius
      Reecius June 11, 2012 3:21 pm
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      Yeah, I am very excited for it! We preordered our rule book, so as soon as we get it, we’ll do a review.

  2. Axientar June 11, 2012 3:39 pm
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    I read this earlier, coupled with the prices way better than GW (deal for 40k 1500 point equivalent with a KR case for less than $300) and the amazing models, I am really anticipating this… 🙂

    • Reecius
      Reecius June 11, 2012 3:42 pm
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      Yeah, me as well! I love 10-15mm games too, and this one looks like it really has the legs to go. Can’t wait to read the rules!

  3. Kralizak June 11, 2012 5:27 pm
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    This looks awesome. The rules can’t be THAT bad, considering this Q&A and all the playtesting they claim to be doing…I’m excited.

    I really want the Premium Mega army deal for the UCM, and I’m gonna work my ass off to try to get it, but if not I’ll settle for the Premium Large (still a lot of work to do). 40K never had me this excited or willing to spend.

    Again, this looks awesome!

    • Reecius
      Reecius June 11, 2012 5:37 pm
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      Yeah, I am juiced for this game, too! I think the rules sound solid. I was a little worried when they said they hand’t finalized the points values of the units yet, and the rule books weren’t printed, but they did say they would support the game with consistent PDF updates to keep things current and balanced, which is awesome.

      GW could take some lessons from this!

      If you are close to us, we will for sure be playing, you should come by the store!

      I like UCM, but being a store owner, I will play what no one else plays. PHR seems to be the most popular so far.

  4. Sean Ireland June 11, 2012 6:38 pm
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    Very cool, thanks for posting, I hadn’t seen this. Already pre ordered some of the post human guys, can’t wait to actually play this.

    • Reecius
      Reecius June 12, 2012 11:58 am
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      Come by the shop when you’re ready to go. We have two tables of 10-15mm terrain (most of which is painted) and I will be getting some stuff too, as will Will, once we’ve read the rule book.