The subject of today’s post is somewhat of an echo of what Phil from the Shell Case posted up over the weekend. I’ll start out by saying it was a genuine pleasure to meet both him and Lee, as well as being able to have a good banter about all things gaming. The reason that the four of us were suddenly thrust together in suburbia was a rather out of the blue invite from Dave at Hawk Wargames to have a tour of Hawk HQ and get our hands on the goodies and see the game for ourselves.
Not ones to pass up an opportunity to drive half way across the country with an eye-watering early start; Carabus and myself fired up the thrusters on the floating citadel and went on a merry jaunt southwards. Upon arriving we got to fawn over the painted models again that we’d seen at Salute. Amid scattered parts, print outs and various books DzC comes to life in Dave’s office. Before I even talk about the game itself I’ll just have to say that Dropzone Commander deserves to be a roaring success if for nothing else than the amount of blood, sweat, tears and torture of his long-suffering girlfriend that has gone into realising something that most of us within the gaming fraternity do nothing but dream of. We were regaled with tales of just what Dave has sacrificed to bring his vision to we eager and ever-hungry gamers and I’ll doff my hat to him for the tremendous efforts he’s expended.
Getting up close and personal with the models was once again a joy, we got to see the unpainted as well as painted versions, including some of the variants we’ll be seeing once the rulebook hits the shelves. It’s all looking rather stunning and it’s really evident how much thought has gone into production of the range.
However, you didn’t come all this way over here to read 400 words of me babbling on about what a dashing young fellow he is or what a nice chap he is for putting up with us all for the day and letting us fondle his goodies. I know you’re all itching to find out about the game from people who have had first hand experience with playing it!
I imagine that the easiest way to try to explain it is by comparing it to another war game, something that will evoke in you the idea about how it really plays, perhaps 40k with its vast buckets of dice rolling, Epic 40,000 with its detachments and world ending weaponry. So dear readership I give you the game that is closest to Dropzone Commander……… Chess!
WOAH THERE!!! Before you go bolting out the door let me explain! This is not a bad thing! Obviously it’s not really chess, however, thinking about our experience this really does fit as an analogy. Chess has the alternating activations, immense strategic depth and endless re-playability. The only thing chess is missing is cool aliens and massive lightning farts that are designed to kill all humans. In our game of UCM vs The Scourge we got to see the large army deals face off against once another. We had played what is apparently the default scenario to capture objectives scattered around the board. I have to say that despite enjoying plonking down the UCM infantry and capturing our closest objective turn 1, watching the Scourge zip across the board and start hitting the middle ground in the same turn was more than a trifle disconcerting.
We spent a lot of time discussing the game as our turns went on, we even got to give some input into the rules and some changes to the cards that we’ll be waiting to see if they make it into the final edit. Just as chess is a game of individual skirmishes and long-term strategy so is DzC. We’ve obviously only had one game but you really need to think about how and where you are going to apply your forces. Each army list gives you plenty of choice about what to take in a battlegroup and the battlegroup compositions themselves (as well as the limit of what each unit can do) should mean there isn’t a chance to unbalance a force. Dave has been really careful about ensuring that it’s not possible to take an army that wipes the floor with another in a couple of turns. In our game, despite the first few turns looking like the game was heavily weighted in the favour of the Scourge a little luck and some good strategy on our part (or all luck if you talk to our opponents) allowed us to walk away with the win in the final turn. Things did go back and forth and things were only decided at what was virtually the last throw of the dice. As we assaulted enemy held buildings, tried to evac our own objectives while the building was literally coming down around the ears of our troops we were also constantly aware of having to ensure that we had our dropships in the right place to provide evac to our troops. The Scourge didn’t make it easy after their flyers made an attack run to eliminate an APC that was carrying one of our objectives and headed for the table edge.
The Desolator made its presence felt late in the game by cutting a large swathe through our AA battery and tank formation (as well as dropping a breeze block from a nearby building on the head of one of its own infantry bases), even with such a huge loss to a lot of our strength putting some thought into the order of our activations and where and when to move our forces played into our hands to pull out a win. DzC is a game that is going to reward someone who can plan ahead. You’re going to deploy your forces and want to be in a place to support and evacuate them when the moment is right without exposing things to too much of the enemy’s fire.
For our game things went the full six turns and after speaking with Dave that’s apparently how the vast majority of games turn out. I think this is tremendous as I am sure that all of us have favourite memories of those games that went down to the last shake of the dice. Dave has asked us very kindly to not go into specifics but after having played I hope you’ll trust my judgement that this is a very different game to that which most of us are going to be used to. Hence my chess analogy.
So, I guess you’re wondering what we were given in order for us to wax lyrical about Hawk Wargames’ first foray into the market? In all honesty, not a thing. Here is a chap that is proud of what he’s done and wants to give something to the community that will ultimately make this game a success or not. I feel very privileged to have been invited along to try it out and it has cemented the fact that I’ll be adding it into my repertoire. If you want to know just how much fun we had I’ll tell you here and now that I’m planning on grabbing the UCM Mega Army set myself. It was always going to be about the rules for me and if they were good enough or not to warrant me forking out the cash to play. After I’ve seen it in action I’m happy to say I had a lot of fun and I can imagine that people wanting a departure from a lot of the other small-scale games on offer are going to have fun with it too.
What’s not to like? Stunning models and a tight ruleset. Not only does Dave deserve all the success he can get due to his hard work and Herculean efforts but also because he has a solid product on his hands that shouldn’t just be lost in the myriad systems clamouring for gamers attentions these days.
Not only did we get a nice trip out in the car, we got to play a new game before most other people as well as meeting some genuinely nice blokes. It more than makes up for the fact that I was awake for 20 hours! If you were sitting on the fence about getting into DzC let me give you a nudge that sends you on your way to a new and enjoyable experience. Sure it’s expensive but I can see me having a lot of fun with it.