DropZone Commander – It’s Alive!


Well it is finally here, the journey is at it’s end… Wait a minute, that’s wrong it’s just begun! Hawk Wargames’ new website is now LIVE and you can see DropZone Commander in all its glory as the pre-orders are now available.


It is the Year 2670

A Golden Age of humanity has passed into history. A time when mankind
advanced implacably and unopposed through the stars has gone beyond living memory.

Planet Earth and the original Cradle Worlds are lost to the great foe, the Scourge.
The shattering invasion of this terrible enemy has torn the domains of man asunder.

The remnants of human civilisation now exist in a collection of frontier planets.
Thinly spread and underdeveloped, they are pale shadows of mankind’s former glories.

However, this is not an age without hope.
Humanity has found new strength, unity and purpose in these times of dire fortune.
The colonies are undertaking a period of vigorous, dynamic expansion, unrivalled in the history of our race, united by a common purpose – Reconquest.

The armies of the United Colonies of Mankind march towards humanities’ former heartland, battling the dreaded Scourge one world at a time. Many enemies and allies await on this journey; an odyssey through the stars towards a distant and
glittering goal – Earth.

www.hawkwargames.com

www.hawkwargames.com

So after a few teething problems with the launch date I stayed up enthused with a host of fellow wargamers on Facebook (sad I know) patiently waiting for the site to go live on the 8th, bashing my F5 key, it was close and went up about the 1am GMT on the 9th. I had a good look round the site with tired eyes, making mental notes on what I liked to buy from the PHR range (Mega Army deal it looks like) and then comparing them to the other forces to get an idea of what I might face and what ZombiePirate may buy. The rest of the 6inchmove team are all interested as well but I have been discussing DzC with ZombiePirate daily since Salute.

Website

I think the art direction of the site is excellent, clean, crisp and sharp filled with great photography and ease of navigation, it’s what I expected from Dave to be honest. Each faction is clearly marked for ease of access and each miniature can be accessed with its own information and most have multiple images from many angles as well as unpainted versions, which I like. Thumbs up for that.

Army Deals

PHR - Army Deal
PHR – Army Deal

The army deals look to be the standard collection you would expect with a good mix of ground and dropship mix, the Shaltari seem to have a high number of gate ships in the larger army deal, I wonder if that is due to the rules? Lavish painted miniature throughout and excellent group shots.

I don’t think it’s been a secret that I have a soft spot for the Post Human Republic (PHR) and I really like the look of the Premium PHR Mega Army for £250.00 (pictured above) it ticks all the boxes for me; Walkers, fighters, cool looking dropships, tanks and infantry. All a growing wargamer needs 🙂

For an extra £30 over just the miniatures pictured above Dave at Hawk Wargames has teamed up to offer the army deal in a KR Multicase. So not only do you get an awesome army but you can have a case right from the start cut to fit your army into it! Awesome.  Note, this is a web exclusive and may only be available on Hawk Wargame website as a package, I expect the individual items to be available seperatly.

“This Premium version comes packaged in a special Dropzone Commander Standard sized KR Card Multicase with custom cut soft blue foam. This will hold some additional units (but not many, since there are so many in this deal!), allowing you to expand your army.”

PHR army in a KR Multicase
PHR army in a KR Multicase

Terrain

The terrain is not currently available at the moment which is a shame but we are treated to some nice rendered images.

Hawk waragmes - Terrain
Hawk waragmes – Terrain

Forum?

I dont see a forum as of yet? I think there are a few members of the 6inchmove team that plan to be quite active on the forum, it is somthing I have mentioned to Dave on the odd occasion, look forward to that happening. I think it’s a shame there is not one available now though, it would be good to get as many people as possible together talking about the game now while pre-orders are available and create a central community for Hawk wargames. While not a big fan of social media like Facebook and Twitter I can see the need and usefulness of them. My other half posted about watching a program and talking on the phone about something, this is why I avoid it. But to add information about new lines and products to a consumer is where they shine, but it’s even better if you can get them all on a forum dedicated to your own product line.

Forum now please!

The rules

I am really interested in how the rules will work as I am a firm believer that they can make or break a game. You can have the best looking miniatures in the world (DzC is one of the best IMHO) but the game can get shelved if it is just no fun to play, I am a little nervous about the rules as I really want to play this game and have years of enjoyment with it. So I will get the rules what ever my choice to invest in the game or not and bring you my thoughts on how they play and what the game feels like as soon as I can. I will not read them and say, wow these are good or bad, I believe I need to actually playtest them and give you an informed and honest report.

The rules are listed at £15, which is not a bad price at all for 152 page A4 full colour perfect bound rulebook for Dropzone Commander. Contents include: Core Rules: All the rules you need to play. Background: Rich and detailed setting for the DzC game universe, as well as in depth background for all.

Cards for the Rules

There are command card packs available for each of the factions:

“Deck of 40 full colour PHR command cards. These add flavour to games, and are central to the game’s command mechanics. Games may be played without commanders, but these provide many additional tactical options and surprises!”

These sound interesting, I look forward to the suprises I can spring on my enemies.

There is an FAQ section on the site giveing more information on the rule system which I put here for you now:

Rules FAQ

These are FAQs specifically for the Rules of Dropzone Commander. For more FAQs please visit our FAQs landing page and navigate through to the appropriate area you are looking for answers to. If you cannot find your question, please contact us >

How many models do I need to play?

DzC can be played with a few models, right up to massive engagements with hundreds of tanks. However, the amount of models you get in the starter armies is a good benchmark for the smallest sized game which can involve most of the game mechanics. Multiple army lists can be used for truly vast games, and so there’s no limit to how many models can be fielded, although such a game would require some serious space and time!

PHR in City
PHR in city

How long does a typical game last?

A typical game with a good sized army (anywhere between the Large and Mega army deals in size) lasts around 2-3 hours, with players who know the rules reasonably well. Obviously this depends a lot on scenarios etc, but most games should easily be playable in a typical games night.

How easy is to learn the rules?

We’ve has taught playtesters that we’ve never met before while playing the game, and by the end of a 3/4 hour match they’d pretty much picked up the rules. Feedback confirms that the rules are very accessible.

How long are the rules?

The rules are fairly extensive, and cover all aspects of the game. Since it’s a full sized battle game the rules do cover a lot of aspects. They are about 15,000 words long including explanations – this equates to around 30 A4 pages including plenty of graphics.

What turn structure is used?

Dropzone Commander is an alternate activation based game. This means that players take it in turn to activate ‘chunks’ of their armies, known as battlegroups. These usually contain a modest number of squads which are usually related. For example, a support battlegroup might include tank destroyers and artillery. Some are more flexible than others – it’s best to think of them as mini army lists.

Armies usually contain around 5 battlegroups in medium-large games. It’s the size of the battlegroups, not the number of them that generally increases with game size. As such, it’s easy to keep track of things, and each turn doesn’t contain a bewildering number of activations. It’s a good idea to subtly indicate (with markings etc) which battlegroups units belong to.

An opponent’s activation can sometimes be interrupted by certain actions (such as air defence reaction fire and aircraft intercepts). In any case, you rarely have to wait long before you get a chance to react to an opponent’s actions. Overwhelming force can seldom be brought to bear in one go.

Games usually last around 6 turns, although this can vary considerably with scenarios etc.

Shaltari on the Warpath
Shaltari on the Warpath

How is shooting and weapon ranges managed?

Shooting is often a sticky subject in Scifi. Some games arbitrarily give high tech laser weapons absurdly short ranges, while others give them realistic ranges, often precluding the fun of fire and manoeuvre on open battlefields. In Dropzone Commander, weapon range is limited by the kind of countermeasures the target unit possesses. All weapons feature an ‘Range- Absolute’ and a ‘Range-Countered’ value. Practically all vehicles and aircraft utilise ‘Active Countermeasures’, and as such the more limited range will be used to fire against such targets.

This range will be governed primarily by the weapon’s velocity – something like a railgun will have long range, whereas a missile will have a much shorter range (since the countermeasures have time to lock on to and destroy the incoming projectile in time). Directed energy weapons generally have an infinite range.

I’d like to build an army but obviously I haven’t seen the rules or army lists. Is there a guide I could use?

At this stage, your best bet would be to use the army deals as a guide to a well balanced army. Even if you don’t wish to buy this much all in one go, they should give you an indication of the sort of content an army will need. There’s a good amount of flexibility in the army lists though.

Are certain unit choices limited?

More devastating and specialist units are somewhat limited in availability – you certainly can’t have a whole army of strike fighters! Balanced armies are nearly always best in games anyway, since you will need a wide range of abilities to achieve a tactically flexible army.

How do infantry operate, and do I need to paint up hundreds of little men?

Be sure to always have some infantry squads in your army. Infantry are the only units which can enter buildings and secure objectives (although once captured they can often be passed to vehicles). Infantry are highly vulnerable and slow on the open battlefield though, so fielding hordes of them on foot would be unwise! The game is primarily vehicle based, so you won’t need to field too many of them.

Do I need dropships for all my ground units?

The rules don’t generally force you into taking dropships, although some scenarios do insist on 100% air mobility, since the game has been designed around dropships. Ground units are generally quite slow, and as speed and flexibility is more often than not key to victory, it’s advisable for most units to be given air-drop capability.

Do dropships need to physically contain their cargos?

The models have been designed so that every single ground unit can actually fit into appropriate dropships. This was done mainly for the benefit of keen hobyists and for increasing the sense of realism – everything in DzC is truescale!

The rules certainly do not ask you to represent carried models physically, although it seems many will be using rare earth magnets for this purpose. While this will often work well, please bear in mind that they weren’t specifically designed for this, and it will be more difficult to make this work with some models.

We will be providing carriage tokens in the near future which will fit onto the stems of dropship flying bases, representing what’s being carried efficiently and cheaply. These will be available to photocopy/ cut out from the back of the rulebook, and are high on our priority list to get made in card/ acrylic.

UCM Command
UCM Command

Can all weapons shoot at aircraft?

No. Only anti-air weapons can shoot at aircraft, unless they are landed – this includes dropships and gunships. As such, having sufficient air defence is vital.

Do the four factions play differently?

All four factions have distinct and different playing styles. They’ll be much more on this in future, but for now, here’s a basic summary:

The UCM are all-rounder’s, with the ability to field a good number of troops. The UCM also has a lot of choice for air power, such as the awesome Seraphim. Their dropships are some of the cheapest in the game in terms of points cost, and as such they can normally get a few more ground units onto the table than other armies.

The Scourge are fast, aggressive and devastating at close range. Shrewd players will benefit most from their abilities, since left exposed their units can absorb less punishment that those of the other races. they also have several unorthodox units (such as the Desolator), which gives them some interesting modes of attack.

The PHR have the widest range of weapon options and upgrades, as well as some of the toughest units in the game. what they lack in numbers they make up for in quality. Almost every choice is better equipped than equivalents, although normally cost more points.

The Shaltari operate very differently from the other races, since they use teleport gates to deploy and relocate on the battlefield. This gives the player a wealth of tactical options. their units are lightly armoured, although this is offset by their use of ‘Passive Countermeasures’ -all encompassing energy shields which effectively give them a saving throw from shots at any range or power.

What extra gaming equipment do I need to play?

Dropzone Commander requires only a small number of gaming aids, most of which you probably own already. Since DzC is D6 based, a good number (20 ish) of these would be useful. No other dice types are required (since D3 rolls can easily be simulated with D6’s). Various measuring devices are useful (all ranges in inches). Also, a direction determining device (such as a spinner) will occasionally be needed. Laser pointers may be useful for line of sight, but are not essential.

Does the game work with more than two players?

Yes, the game works fine for any number of players, although 2-4 are recommended. Any more than that and the game might drag by a bit, unless each player controls a battlegroup rather than an army – this isn’t officially in the rules but would be an easy way of introducing/ including more players.

Does the game use/need tokens and templates?

The game uses a small number of tokens. There’s also three blast templates (which are also used to determine whether aircraft have enough space to land). Most other tokens are optional and seldom needed, so if you don’t like sullying your majestic battlefield with abstract tokens, a modest amount of record keeping will see you through.

Does the game use reference tables?

The game uses only a few reference tables, all of which can easy fit on a single reference sheet. Unit stats are fairly complex however, so until you’re really familiar with your army it would be best to have a copy of the rulebook to hand.

How much scenery do I need to play?

DzC is designed for all sorts of battlefields, but functions best with at least partially urban areas, Indeed, many scenarios require at least 3 structures. In general though, the more the merrier! We’ve mostly been playesting with around 10 structures on the table.

We will be providing high quality modular resin scenery (more on this soon!), as well as low cost card flatpack buildings. Before these are released however, you can use model railway N-scale buildings (10mm scale is 1:188, and N is 1:200, a very close match). Also, a lot of 6-15mm scenery will often also be suitable.

Rules exist for rivers, foliage, woodlands, ruins, contours and similar scenic items, so feel free to design all sorts of interesting battlefields !

Scourge Desolator
Scourge Desolator

What size table to I need to play?

We recommend a minimum 4’x4′ table size. Much of our playtesting has been conducted with medium-large sized armies at this table size, which is usually more than sufficient. Much larger tables can be used though, and will enhance the dropship based system even further, since their greater movement speed will become even more crucial. For armies as larger than our Mega Deals, we’d recommend at least a 6’x4′ table, simply to prevent the table being too crammed with models!

How does close combat work?

There are no specific close combat rules in DzC, since fighting with swords is not a major feature in wars where advanced ranged weaponry is commonplace! Close combat on the open battlefield is a rare occurrence, and is absorbed in the normal shooting rules by assigning a weapon a range value of CC, which simply requires physical contact to be fired.

The closest real equivalent to close combat is Close Quarter Battle (where blades, clubs and teeth may indeed be utilized!). CQB is a very important aspect of the game. Often, it becomes necessary to storm the building and enter the unforgiving world of room to room slaughter. Up close and personal, bloodshed is assured and likely to be high! This is almost always the best (and sometimes the only) practical way to dislodge/destroy enemy infantry inside a structure. Specialist troops (such as the UCM Praetorian special forces) and murderously efficient at this job!

Will there be more information about the rules before launch?

Certainly! To start off with, Dave will be available for live chat from 9am to 9pm GMT on Monday June 11th our facebook page. Don’t worry if you miss it though, he’ll be adding many of the key points to this FAQ after that, and will be doing other live chats in future! Also, keep an eye on the Download section for sneak peeks, battle reports, testimonials and perhaps even videos covering the rules.

I will try and get you a summary of the Q&A’s from Mondays sessions with Dave, I have a few questions of my own.

Well there you have it folks. Now to either resist temptation to buy a whole army, get a few miniatures to paint and review for you or wait and read the rules and then decide…?

What should I do?

Carabus

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3 thoughts on “DropZone Commander – It’s Alive!”

  1. I hung in as long as I could. Left about twenty minutes before the site went live, so I could so see Prometheus. Horrible waste of time. Should have stayed for the launch. I, too, grabbed a PHR army. Looking forward to following the game on 6 Inch Move! I too hope Hawk gets a Forum section set up so we can all chatter about this game.

  2. Glad to have you here! Yeah I was too tired when it was up, was looking with bleary eyes, goodness know how Dave was lol. I hope we can provide lots of info for you on DzC. The forum will come after the products release!

    1. Thanks Carabus!!!! Glad to be here. Three of us here, state-side, have ordered our armies: Scourge, Shaltari, and PHR (me!). I’ve got a ton of scenics from back in the glory daze of Battletech (mid-80s) that I’ll be dusting off, and we’re planning on demo-ing the game at a LGS or two, to try and boost interest as best we can. I’m feeling better about the “rules” with each hint Mr. Lewis has given. Anyway, we’ll try and post some pix of the first big outing or two – we’ll have to do some gaming at home before we take it on the road. Not sure where we’ll post them up. Looking forward to following DZC here, though. I’ll be telling my boyos to come visit! Nice site/blog, by the way.

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