Her everyone, Reecius here to discuss some DzC tactics! As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more great articles.
This is an interesting topic that comes up in my games often. My opponents often take a max level commander, or at least level 4 in order to max out their command cards and to increase their odds of winning the initiative roll each turn. I always take a commander with no upgrades. Why? To save points. I have found that my basic units are really solid and I prefer to take more of them to win the head to head battles that take place on the land and in the air. It’s also worth nothing that I play UCM, and our command cards are pretty crappy in general terms. I often find that they serve little purpose and are only situationally useful. Another unit of Sabres though, is ALWAYS useful.
UCM units are durable, long ranged, and tough. I find that having more of them means I am more likely to win the war of maneuver and to achieve local firepower superiority with greater numbers. It also means I can chew through key enemy buildings like nothing which in DzC is a big advantage. The generally long range of the UCM also means that if you can predict where the action will occur, you can deploy into great firing positions and then dominate the key locations of the table. Again, saving points on a cheapo commander means you can get more of them.
As for the initiative roll, I simply assume I am always going to lose. It actually makes planning your strategy easier. It removes a variable from the equation. Instead of hoping you win the roll, you pretty much know you are going to lose it. Often, this makes it easier to predict what is going to happen. I then deploy defensively often, or present the targets I want my opponent to try and target. This means I am controlling the flow of the game, despite not being the first mover each turn.
So give it a whirl sometime if you want to try it out. In most miniatures games, more boys less toys usually pays off and I have found this to be especially true in Dropzone Commander.
What level commander do you typically use?