Dropzone Commander Introduction by TinBane

TinBane is back with an overview of Dropzone Commander! For more tactics and break-downs, check out the Tactics Corner.

What is Dropzone Commander?

Dropzone Commander is a 10mm wargame of manoeuvre and combined arms fought largely in urban environments where the mission trumps raw carnage. Breaking from the traditional igougo system, it uses the more modern fashion of alternate activation.

Dropzone Commander Artwork

What is the back story of Dropzone Commander?

Set in the current millenium, humanity takes to the stars. It meets a race called the Shaltari, who help them colonise a series of rare earth-like planets we never would have found otherwise, known as the cradle worlds. Eventually it turns out they want human colonies to act as a buffer between them and other factions of their race who may embroil humanity in their racial wars. Humans get upset, and relations sour between these factions. In the 25th century, an awesome white orb lands on earth and delivers a message – humanity is at risk of being annihilated, meet in orbit of a certain planet one year henceforth to be saved. A year later, humans shed human blood as a fleet of abandonists who wish to heed the warning fight with a human navy hell bent on preventing their escape. During an intense three hour battle abandonists activate their FTL drives having received secret coordinates, the naval fleet is damaged and some of the larger, slower abandonist vessels are destroyed, and a few days later a race of blood drinking monsters turn up and conquer the non-militaristic cradle worlds and earth itself. The remnants of humanity flee to the outer colonies, destroying beacons on the way to prevent pursuit.

What kind of players would like Dropzone Commander?

For players of 40k, DZC offers you a chance to play a sci-fi wargame with balanced mechanics and rules. The lack of a codex cycle, and notable power creep means that games are always interesting, and seem to come down to the last turn more often than not. You get to use vehicles you’d never use outside of apocalypse, and the game resolves very quickly with it’s streamlined (but very effective) rules. So, it’s like using your favourite big units and squads of tanks in a tournament balanced game system that doesn’t take all day.

For players of Fantasy, DZC offers you a chance to play a manoeuvre based tactical game, where it comes down (generally) to skill rather than guessing ranges and sacrificing units. In DZC, you don’t need to be pedantic about declaring charges, etc. and overrunning. This is a game of manoeuvre where the pieces keep moving. There’s no blocks grinding into each other, and no units (as of yet) where the owner is denied control. No random charge distances, no dodgey magic phase, and no Wood Elves.

For players of the myriad of skirmish games, this offers you a chance to quickly accumulate (and paint) a larger force. Terrain is very cheap and easy to acquire, and the overhead in the game is very low. No one unit will (in the vast majority of cases) win you a game against a decent opponent, combined arms (something very hard to represent in skirmish games) is what will win you the game.

Are the models any good?

The models are beautiful. The detail on these 10mm models is simply unprecedented. The resin used in their manufacture is amazingly resilient to falling damage.

What factions exist in Dropzone Commander?

There are four main factions, with a newly announced but as yet unreleased faction.

The factions are the United Colonies of Mankind (UCM), the Post Human Republic (PHR), the Scourge and the Shaltari. The last (as of time of writing) unreleased faction is the resistance, the remnants of those left to their fate on Earth and the cradle worlds.

How should I start playing Dropzone Commander?

Hawk Wargames have released a two player starter set, which provides starter forces for UCM and Scourge, a full rulebook, dice, tape measure, buildings, and a 33″ x 48″ street-scape to start you off with for around $100 (60 GBP). It is the best way to get started, assuming that you are interested in either the UCM or Scourge. If you are after the PHR or Shaltari, it’s probably still a good starting point anyway. Leave the UCM and Scourge unpainted, play some starter games with friends, and if you decide to buy a PHR or Shaltari starter, sell the UCM and/or Scourge to friends (or online). The starter units are great core models that existing collectors will still be happy to pick up on ebay in plastic.

Who is behind Hawk Wargames?

When DZC premiered at Salute 2012, Hawk Wargames was pretty much a one man show. It’s lucky that this one man happened to be Dave Lewis. Not only did he bring his phenomenal design skills to DZC, but he launched a brand new wargame with an amazing set of rules. Complex enough to reward creative play and tactics, simple enough to pick up quickly, and scalable enough that you don’t get the blowout of time you see in some other wargames when you scale up the forces outside a relatively narrow comfortable range.

Who are the UCM?

When mankind fled the cradle worlds and Earth in the wake of the mysterious invasion they landed on the frontier worlds. Not beautiful earth-like worlds, these were the brutal, utilitarian worlds intended to supply the cradle worlds with their industrial output and mineral wealth. And as such the perfect starting place to rebuild the military might of humanity, with the aim of eventually retaking the worlds they had lost.

The UCM design their units with a few points in mind:

  • Easy to manufacture
  • Easy to transport to/from orbit
  • Tough enough to take a beating

This is born out by their play-style. The UCM generally field larger numbers of models, their tanks have the highest armour possible in the game, have an average speed but a generally weaker main armament. UCM tanks are equipped with articulated turrets, which allows them to “peek” over objects up to 1″ high on the battlefield and take shots from cover. As a great all-rounder army, they have the ability between armour and the articulated rule to see off an offensive Scourge army or alternatively take the fight to the slower PHR with their superior numbers.

See the full range of UCM miniatures in our web-store!

UCM dropships delivering their cargo with Falcon gunships in support.

Who are the PHR?

Days ahead of the launch of the UCMs campaign to retake the cradle worlds, the abandonists returned. A society with a population of only several billion where every life is important, these guys emphasise technology over numbers. Instead of tanks, their armoured forces are made up of durable walkers mounting powerful weapons. If you play the PHR, every battle will be the last stand of the 300 spartans. Waves of enemy forces will break on the armoured speartip of your force. On the downside, their units are both expensive and slow. The PHR are more dependent on their dropships than other races, needing them to get into the action. The PHR have one of the most powerful flyers in the game, the Athena, an extremely capable interceptor and ground attack unit (for a price!).

See the full range of PHR miniatures in our web-store!

A combined PHR force

Who are the Scourge?

The scourge are a parasitic race, who inhabit the bodies of other races. Their invasion of Earth was an attempt to secure more hosts. Their vehicles are generally bio-mechanical constructs: floating gravity tanks, flying giant squid monsters with lightning cannons, and ravening hordes of infantry. Scourge vehicles are universally lightly armoured, rapid moving, short ranged, but with devastating firepower. Their short range favours an aggressive play style making use of cover to approach without heavy losses. Perhaps the closest example in another system is 40k’s Eldar – light, short range, specialized, devastating.

See the full range of Scourge miniatures in our web-store!

Scourge dropships and a Desolator

Who are the Shaltari?

An elder race of the galaxy, the Shaltari have the unique ability to teleport. Instead of “normal” dropships, Shaltari dropships are more akin to flying teleporters, spewing out units where they are needed the most. Units can leave the field through one portal, and reappear out of another portal. Their technological advantage means that Shaltari units have “passive countermeasures” aka forcefields. This means that their lightly armoured, quick units can stand up surprisingly well to firepower. It’s especially rewarding to see your opponent’s super-weapons bouncing off your lightly armoured grav-tanks. The Shaltari have access to one of the most powerful weapons in the game: the fearsome Particle Cannon, capable of reaching out and giving your enemies a taste of it’s “Awesome Power” anywhere on the battlefield.

See the full range of Shaltari miniatures in our web-store!

Shaltari forces swarm across the countryside


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

18 Responses to “Dropzone Commander Introduction by TinBane”

  1. Eldarain April 17, 2014 12:42 pm

    This game looks amazing. I will definitely be looking into this further as I purge my excess 40k forces.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 17, 2014 2:22 pm

      It seriously is a fun game. We like it a lot, here.

  2. Natfka April 17, 2014 9:06 pm

    I can’t say enough about this game. The rules are clean enough to learn the game quickly, but the tactics and battle can get quite intense. Ive been getting 2-3 games of DzC in a month.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 17, 2014 11:43 pm

      Yeah, we’re excited about it, too. Plus, the company is run by gamers who seem to have a passion for what they do.

  3. XinZ April 17, 2014 10:01 pm

    This just sold me on the game. The scourge sound so cool and the aesthetic reminds me of the reapers from the Mass Effect series. Now I just need to find other local players…

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 17, 2014 11:43 pm

      If you have a starter set, you can show other people the game!

    • TinBane April 18, 2014 12:07 am

      Awesome, glad you like the article.

      The scourge are a lot of fun to play, if you are interested in them the best place to start is with the two player starter kit! The plastics are phenomenal and if you find someone else to play with you can share or even buy two and split them up!

      I’ve got an article that should be up on here soon about where to expand to after you have the starter set.

  4. Mister Shine April 18, 2014 12:16 pm

    I love the diversity of missions in this game. Fighting for control of one building is an entirely different feel from 32 objectives spread across a board with a mad dash to find the 5 real ones in a turn-limited game

  5. Zeos April 18, 2014 5:13 pm

    I am really enjoying the game, I like how the scenarios alter tactical priorities away from “trying to win a battle” to trying to complete your mission. I think the lore that exists is good and would like to see more of it produced.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 20, 2014 12:06 pm

      I agree, I want more fluff! The story of a game is what keeps me interested, personally.

      • TinBane April 20, 2014 4:25 pm

        Hawk have a full time writer/artist now, called patrice. He’s putting out some amazing work! Expect more fluff, and more of it in the form of short stories!

        • Reecius
          Reecius April 20, 2014 5:10 pm


  6. Egge April 20, 2014 6:55 am

    Great seeing some love for this game here! So far top armies in the tournaments has always been pretty balanced which is a pretty good grade in my book.

    One very important aspect of the game is that you will need to fire at buildings a lot. But you will need to balance this with shooting at enemy as well. The beginners typical mistake is that you will fire to much on the enemy and pretty much crush their army but the opponent plays the mission and wins. Since getting objectives is an ongoing process in most missions (on the contrary 40k has much more focus on “being on the right place the last turn”) every time you shoot at an enemy which you don’t need to kill instead of something that will affect the mission you loose more easily in the battle. So it is vital to be able to give the opponent delicious targets to make him ignore the mission (which then is typically something like a building which doesn’t shoot back).

    Also, the battlegroup system is amazing and add extremely much to the game.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 20, 2014 12:08 pm

      I like the battlegroup system, too. Heavy Gear does the same thing. It is more interesting than the IGOUGO system 40K uses.

      • Egge April 21, 2014 7:07 am

        And epic armagedon which, I must confess, consider one of the best games I don’t play out there.

    • TinBane April 20, 2014 4:27 pm

      Absolutely! I think the battlegroup systrm is huge. Alpha strike is hugely important, but harder to do. It’s not simply a matter of loading up on one type of unit.

      • Reecius
        Reecius April 20, 2014 5:10 pm

        Exactly. And Battlegroups is faster then switching unit by unit, although I enjoy that too. It just doesn’t scale up as well.

  7. Stone May 13, 2014 9:44 pm

    Outstanding battle report. Thanks for posting. As a Dropzone Commander newbie it’s great to see everything in action and get a sense of the game. I really like the focus on mission goals rather than just smashing each other. Really brings alot more strategy into the game.