Dropzone Commander: Do you need a high level Commander?


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?



About Reecius

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

29 Responses to “Dropzone Commander: Do you need a high level Commander?”

  1. Avatar
    Hadrian December 7, 2014 12:21 am #

    I love my UCM Command Cards, but I tend to play Fast Mover heavy. Between the cards and Forward Air Controllers (FACs) I am able to turn my Archangels and Seraphim into precision weapons. Especially if my opponent goes AA light.

    My ground pounders love themselves some colonial navy angel support. Get some!

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 7, 2014 10:20 am #

      I love my Seraphim, but I can never get the Archangels to perform. How do you use them?

      • Avatar
        Hadrian December 9, 2014 1:14 pm #

        I use my Archangels in a hunter-killer squad of two, typically save them for my last activation of the turn, then hunt in areas where AA is either not present or has already been expended. Either the enemy holds their AA fire for them (at which point their denial of enemy shooting AA for the turn is worth it and I feel no obligation to bring them in) or they leave a section of the board open for me to hunt down.

        Toward the end of the game they are excellent for hunting the enemies back-field corridor as the battle is in full swing and AA units often start pushing to center or have been destroyed by anti-tank weaponry. This is when light dropships are the most vulnerable and when central objectives are typically being found.

        • Reecius
          Reecius December 9, 2014 1:56 pm #

          Sounds logical. My issue is that they almost never do any actual damage. The two mid strength shots with mid level accuracy just leaves me with no kills almost every time I use them.

          • Avatar
            Hadrian December 9, 2014 3:09 pm

            Do you use them in pairs or as singles and what targets do you typically go for?

          • Reecius
            Reecius December 9, 2014 3:56 pm

            Typically 1 or 2, and I try to take down other flying units with them but rarely succeed.

          • Avatar
            Hadrian December 9, 2014 5:30 pm

            It could be a measure of luck when rolling the dice. Mine will typically shred a light dropship, down an injured medium, or occasionally kill a medium outright.

          • Reecius
            Reecius December 9, 2014 6:32 pm

            Yeah, sounds like you have better luck than I do with them. I want to like them as they are beautiful models, but I just have no luck with them.

  2. Avatar
    Amon Abbath December 7, 2014 2:35 am #

    I am playing Scourge and I always found a high level commander very useful. The deck is very good and allows some very cool buffs for example Ion storm with reroll to hit or Hunters with Skimmerbonus and evasive maneuvers.
    Then the skimmers are very vulnerable when they are deployed, so with a high commander you usually get first activation next round preventing your opponent to shoot at them before your movement.
    Third point the units are very hard hitting but die quickly, which makes double taps (last activation and first activation) very useful, for example with prowlers, usually disembark as last and try to surround the enemy to prevent an escape and then activate first for a happy plasma barbecue.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 7, 2014 10:22 am #

      Yeah, for Scourge I can totally see the need for a high level commander.

  3. Avatar
    Weidekuh December 7, 2014 7:11 am #

    If i have a lvl 5 commander and my oponent has a lvl 1 i’ll totally abuse it to the max.

    A strategy called double tap: I give you initiative. Then as last activation i charge my heavy group forward open fire. Then win initiative. Shoot some more and move behind building. chances are your whole unit is dead and my hard hitting squad is hidden behind cover. Works very well with fast units. Scourge are master of this.

    Or i transport an AA unit neyt to your important transports, win next activation and have fun while your transports go down in flames and i retreat behind the corner of a building.

    Just like you plan on always losing initiative, high vs low commander you can plan on winning it. Which can be a huge advantage. Remember: If you win, you can choose to go first or second.

    I think you should either go big or nothing. lvl 2 or 3 commanders are wasted points. The command radius are too small to do anything meaningful and you still lose most initative rolls.

    Also it depends on the race you are playing. As PHR always take highest lvl. Their command cards are just way too good to pass up.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 7, 2014 10:23 am #

      I agree that going level 2 or 3 really doesn’t help a ton. And yeah, PHR command cards are ridiculous.

  4. Avatar
    Natfka December 7, 2014 7:15 am #

    My personal opinion is that every army is different when it comes to commander level. some are important and some are not.

    UCM: Not so much. Average level deck, and long range guns, with a large amount of flexibility. Take two lower level commanders or make sure you have enough scouts to increase your sphere of influence.

    PHR: Less important than even the UCM. However they have a stronger deck than UCM with some nice surprises there. So a level 3 is nice to have to move through some cards.

    Scourge: Scourge have one of the strongest decks, and gain the most by winning initiative. A level 3 is minimum here in my opinion. Level 4+ is ideal. Your speed is important, and going first after going last the previous round allows the Scourge to cover massive amounts of ground. So take a high level commander and maximize number of battle groups to take advantage of it.

    Shaltari. The trickiest of the armies. Take a level 3. You can cover the most ground with this army, more than any other, and the deck is decent. Its also one of the hardest to dig into the points for a commander, as you are having to decide…… extra gate, or higher level commander. So start off with a level 3 and go from there.

    Resistance. This is still out for now. I have personally done well with more models on the table than high level command. Cards seem to have some good personality so far but as of right now I have been going with low level commander and more units on the table.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 7, 2014 10:24 am #

      I agree with your analysis, Natfka. UCM love their scouts and I know I take tons of them. Plus, lots of their cards are global effect.

  5. Avatar
    NIK2286 December 7, 2014 9:32 am #

    I agree with Reece on UCM but have found that PHR almost NEED a big boss to win. Dictating the action when you have fewer, hard hitting units is key. If PHR get out activated you are just waiting to lose.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 7, 2014 10:24 am #

      Agreed. Those PHR cards are just too good to pass up on.

  6. Avatar
    Egge December 7, 2014 12:38 pm #

    In the tournaments we have played the high level commander armies have had a higher placement in average in my experience. Double tapping against an army with low CV is a very effective thing to do. It allows you to enter a building last and search the first thing you do next turn and get away. Or place your AA units in the center of the enemy army and then activate them first next turn and shoot down 2+ light dropships to strand infantry where they are and so on.

    I’ll admit that it is very easy to choose a low level for UCM but damn, you will need to make sure that the opponent’s double tapping doesn’t work all the time. Those espionage cards are very important to get also. I think that UCM would need a lvl 4 at least.

    But it shows how great the game is when you have people aiming with low level commanders also – shows on balance in my book.

    BTW it was a good read. Great with some love for dzc. Thanks.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 7, 2014 2:23 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed the article! Yeah, I can see the benefit of the higher commander but I often play pretty defensively. I don’t usually engage unless I know I can win the fight, so it rarely matters for me. I just played a lv5 commander PHR with no upgrade UCM and won. Not that is definitive evidence or anything, but I always roll with low leadership and it hasn’t been an issue so far. I will play at the Adepticon DzC tournament, so we’ll see how it goes there!

      • Avatar
        TinBane December 7, 2014 2:53 pm #

        I agree Reece.
        Especially with UCM/Scourge, you can often buy a lot for your commander points.

        Lose two levels of commander to your opponent, and gain a unit of light tanks, or scouts. An extra set of prowlers.

        I mean, is an extra 30 percentage points of likelihood of going first, really delivering more value to contest than 8 prowlers in transports? It depends on the mission, but I find in most cases the answer is probably no. And the answer is probably no, more often, if you are a less experienced player.

        • Avatar
          Erik Robertsson December 8, 2014 3:30 am #

          It is very interesting that you feel that. For me a specific tactic is to move your AA up behind enemy lines in the last activation and then activate them first next turn and most likely have several of the opponent vital dropships as targets. Having +1 in CV is (~ish) 70% chance of winning and about 85% if you have +2. For me who plays aggressive that is basically a seize on 2+ next turn. Although I recognize the idea of knowing you will not go first and thus you can play like that I use several Scourge units who will be placed in a “need to go first – and will do so” which really helps the Scourge.

          Pretty cool we have such different ideas.

          Either way, will Adepticon be a big DZC tournament? Man I really wish I was a rich bitch and could go!

          • Reecius
            Reecius December 8, 2014 11:56 am

            Yeah, Frankie and I will be playing DzC at Adepticon! It will be at LVO, too!

            That is a good tactic you describe. I usually don’t leave my Dropships exposed as I tend to play defensively with UCM. I typically hold back until I can engage decisively.

          • Avatar
            TinBane December 8, 2014 3:38 pm

            Totally depends on your list, and experience.
            Alpha strike hunter spam scourge – you probably want to have a good commander. PHR, I can understand the temptation, seeing as the cards are so good. But is an increase in the chance of getting some of those decisive cards worth the cost of making your already meagre forces, even slimmer?

            If you are planning a breakthrough force, then initiative is key! However, most players don’t put themselves in a position to use this. So in my opinion, for many players, it’s a waste of points.

    • Avatar
      Crisp Mini December 8, 2014 2:06 pm #

      Do you know the spread of command values and placement? Just curious if it was a somewhat even spread, or if the majority of the players were rocking CV 4-5

      • Avatar
        TinBane December 8, 2014 6:10 pm #

        Anecdotally, most players seem to “play it safe” with a high level commander.

        This might be biased by the proportion of PHR, but honestly I think even PHR are better served with more units, for most players.

  7. Avatar
    TinBane December 7, 2014 2:45 pm #

    I think it’s one of those huge decisions, in DzC, that make similar lists play very differently.
    A higher level commander, gives you more confidence in your plans that require priority. As a force multiplier, it can often be more valuable than the price you pay.

    However, that said, I think a lot of the time we spend too many points on commanders, on the assumption that it will give us the benefit we seek. I’d recommend newer players to use lower level commanders (not super low, just medium level) regardless of faction, and spend more on forces. And decide to up the level, if you find your plans are being disrupted.

    After all, if you have no plans that require set cards and/or messing with initiative, then it’s just a cost that isn’t paying it’s way.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 7, 2014 3:54 pm #

      Agreed. The upgraded commanders are quite expensive. I find the extra units to be more all around reliable.

      • Avatar
        Crisp Mini December 8, 2014 2:03 pm #

        I’ve been using a lvl3 for the most part. When building a list the commander is one of the last things I add in. The command vehicle is put in first as it is required, but the commander is last as it can range on price.

        More models on the table help more in my opinion, though having a point heavy commander can help win Focal Points. Especially as a last turn surprise gate move for Shaltari.

        • Avatar
          TinBane December 8, 2014 6:08 pm #

          Yeah, I sit at LvL 3 on most lists too.

        • Reecius
          Reecius December 8, 2014 7:56 pm #

          It’s cool that all of play it differently, well. That is awesome.

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