Tag Archives: Rulebook

Dropzone Commander – Rulebook Review

DropZone Commander Cover Art

Last night I sat down to start working out the basic force for my Dropzone Commander UCM army. I’ve read the rules cover to cover now and am therefore trying to make a list so that I know what to assemble and paint first, there’s no use me frantically putting everything together and then trying to get a game in and finding that the stuff I’ve yet to get to is exactly what I need. After some brief Maths I found that the UCM Mega army comes in at 2320 points. That’s without organising things into battlegroups and without taking any upgrades or paying for a commander. The Kodiak is included but you’d need to spend at least another 35 points to get a basic commander in there.

However, that’s not really what I want to be sharing today. After having spent a good amount of time with the rules I thought I’d share my thoughts on them as well as on the actual book itself. When the 6 Inch Move posse first clapped eyes on DzC way back at Salute we were blown away by the quality of the models and I believe that we weren’t the only ones. Reading various fora on the Internet has certainly shown that we were not alone. One thing that did concern us was that on the day Hawk were remarkably quiet on the pricing and any details on the rules. Obviously this trend continued as we counted down the days (and in some cases hours and minutes) until the various milestones were met.

While the models were screaming at us to buy them, they really are very nice after all, we were very worried about the rules. As with any game the rules are the meat and potatoes, without a set of rules these fantastic models would just be ornaments sitting on a shelf. After we saw the website go live and were then privy to the costs we were even more worried as we then saw that this game was going to require a significant outlay and we didn’t want to spend all that money only to have the rules suck and then we’d feel rather short-changed.

As you know luck was with us as we got invited down to Hawk HQ for a game with the man himself. A great day was had and although it was rather a long one (the Burger King on the way home helped) it left us in a much more favourable position concerning the game overall. After that initial taste Carabus and I both threw down our cash for a Mega Premium army each and all we’d done was play one game. Getting our greedy little mitts on the rulebook itself was something we were then eager for as the release date approached.

Now that I have the thing physically in hand I must say that my first impressions are very, very positive. I’d seen the draft during our visit and I’ll admit that I had concerns about the quality of the book, £15 isn’t a lot after all as I’m used to seeing books in the £20-30 range. However, once I opened it up and had a flick through it I can happily say that I ate my words as I’ve not seen many books that are of this quality. The heady waft of “new book smell” aside the paper is nice and thick, the printing very good and the layout is among the best that I have seen. Everything appears pretty much where you’d expect it to be as you go through. The wording is clear and concise, things are explained well with diagrams where necessary. I can’t see there being a lot of room for dispute with things in DzC, from a first read through things look very tightly written. Obviously final judgements will have to be reserved until we’ve got some games under our collective belts but I’ve read rules in the past where I’ve picked up on things very quickly that could be ambiguous or interpreted in various ways. GW are rather infamous for leaving things open to interpretation.

The book starts with a brief introduction into the history of the galaxy, all from the UCM’s point of view, something I like very much, not least because they are my faction but because it makes sense to see things like that. You learn about mankind’s contact with the various alien races as well as where those dirty PHR folks came from, traitorous scum that they are! Then follows the rules, laid out in a nice format that explains every section in the right amount of detail. There wasn’t much that seemed difficult to understand and nothing that was really tricky if you spent a few minutes looking things over and giving it some thought. Once you’ve gone through all the rules each faction has its own section of the book which explains their individual background and technology before giving you the complete army list to select your force from. Each army section also includes the battlegroup force organisation chart for that particular army. While these look a little complicated to start with they’re actually quite simple once you figure it out and all the information is there for you to do it. Building an army list is quite an involved process as you make sure you adhere to the various rules (no battle group may exceed more than a third of the total army value for instance). You need to make sure your stuff has the right transports for use in the game as well as working out where in an activation you want certain units if you have a choice of which battlegroup those units can go in. I must say that I like having to think about things like this.

DropZone Commander

What I have missed out is that between the rules and the army lists there is a selection of scenarios. These are also very well laid out, it gives you recommended terrain levels depending not only on the size of your game but also based on how many players there are. Dave has obviously put a lot of time and thought into what people are likely to want to do with the game and tried to cater to those possibilities.

For those of you still on the fence about the game let me give you a few details on the rules now things are out and about. Believe me when I say you could do far worse than spend £15 on the book and then let that guide your decision of whether or not you want to play.

A typical scenario runs for 6 turns in an alternating activation turn sequence. Activations are performed by battlegroups which is a collection of squads and their transports. There is plenty of customisability in just what you take in each battlegroup. For instance in a clash (the mid-sized game) you are required to take one command battlegroup, one infantry battlegroup and one armour battlegroup. Within each of those groups you have a choice again of what to take to fill that group, the options available fit with what type of battlegroup it is. For example you won’t be putting in your heavy tanks into an infantry group. There are also a maximum number of battlegroups dependant on army size.

When a battlegroup activates all the models in it activate, they can move and shoot or shoot and move, but all units have to perform those actions at the same time. This gives the order in which you activate your battlegroups an extra layer of importance, you’ll have to be thinking ahead as well, just because you’ve activated one battlegroup to set in motion your grand plan doesn’t mean your opponent won’t screw it up if he activates the “wrong” battlegroup in the following activation before you get to activate the group you want in order for your plan to work.

The fastest moving models are generally the drop ships, anything ground based is normally significantly slower although I will mention that the Scourge APCs little turbo boost rule came out of discussions between myself, Carabus and the Shell Case chaps when we were playing our demo game. Movement must be considered as you can only move up to half of your allowance if you want to embark or disembark transported units. You’ll also not necessarily want to be exposing your stuff on a drop-off. Movement is vital to how this game plays and will need to be carefully considered. Most units have weapons with which to shoot. Close combat only happens in buildings when troops fight each other, normally over an objective. Other than that everything is a shooting attack, after all, why bring a knife to a gun fight? Every unit with a ranged weapon has a chart which provides details of that weapon. They each have a number of shots they fire and an accuracy value. The accuracy of a weapon shows the results on a single D6 that is needed for a hit. There are also two ranges to the weapon, a full range and a countered range. The countered range is used against a target that has Active countermeasures (pretty much everything in the game), against anything else you use the other value. There is also an MF value which is the maximum value that the model can move in order to shoot that weapon. If a hit is rolled you use a table to work out the roll “to wound” this pits the weapon’s Energy value (a number between 1 and 13) against the Armour of the target (a number between 1 and 10). For instance if an Energy 8 gun hits an Armour 8 target then you need a 5+ in order to damage it. If a model has Passive countermeasure then they can take a saving throw to stop the hit. Otherwise it’s a single damage point with each unit having a number of DP. Once the DP is gone that unit is destroyed. It’s a simple enough system to learn but with plenty of variety that I don’t really have the space to go in to. There are also a number of special rules for other weapons that make things really interesting in how they are used. Generally each weapon falls into either anti-armour, anti-air or anti-infantry and they don’t tend to be all that good when used outside of their main purpose.

DropZone Commander

Battles are not really geared for a straight up shoot out either, you’ll be playing over objectives in every single one of the rulebook scenarios and I’m really happy with that. All too often some games systems come down to a giant melee in the middle where the vagaries of dice rolls have more to do with the result of the game than a player’s strategy and tactics. Personally if I want to win or lose on a dice roll I can play Snakes and Ladders.

Without wanting to sound like a gushing fanboi this is one of the nicest books I’ve had in my hands for a long time. I quite like reading rulebooks for stuff and have far more than I am ever going to use for gaming. We are all aware of just how much hard work and effort Dave has put into his products and this is another piece of evidence of just how important quality is to him. I’m very happy with it. Now, to properly review it I must put any negatives there are. Luckily, these are slim and easily correctable. We’ve seen the Errata grow in the past week to correct some of the errors in the book, overall all that I have found has been some typos and a few grammar errors (over my past two jobs I’ve edited stuff in a very unofficial capacity within the departments I’ve been in, I’m known as being a stickler for properly punctuated and grammatically correct sentences). These stand out to me because I’m rather hard on myself when these things crop up – so Dave, if you need another proof reader I’m happy to offer my services 🙂

I look forward to now sitting down with hobby knife and superglue and getting my stuff on the table so I can really start to enjoy what we’ve got here. Personally, I think there are going to be a lot of happy hobbyists out there as I think the excitement of this game is just beginning.

Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition – Impressions of the Book

The world awaits with a collective held breath. Tomorrow sees the general release of the eagerly awaited 8th Edition of Warhammer Fantasy, the book that can also be used to fatally resolve all rules conflicts. There are many fans who already have their grubby little mitts on a copy, legal or otherwise.

I took a trip out to our friendly local games store yesterday to grab my per-ordered copy as Thursday is delivery day. Due to being a normal(-ish) person though work has crippled the time I was able to spend perusing the Sherrif’s latest work. Going out last night to see Predators also didn’t help. Not trying to boast but I am quite happy that I have my hands on the book already, while my focus is still in preparing for War of the Ring I am looking forward to diving in and seeing what this new version is all about. Just like when Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 the new 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy rules build off what has already been in use for a while elsewhere. Mainly this means that certain rules that we see in War of the Ring are amalgamated. This isn’t surprising when you look at the Rules section which is handily attributed to Mat Ward one of Games Workshop’s most polarizing games developers. While his work on War of the Ring is considered very good just as many people would like to string him up by his manhood for the travesties his works in other games systems have been. To misuse a popular internet phrase, I believe the sentiment behind Mat Ward and his work is “LOTR or GTFO”.

While I am not currently going to comment on the rules themselves, I have afterall yet to give them a full read through, I will talk about the book itself. It is easy to navigate, the book is split into two sections, one concerned with all the rules for the game and then another for all the “bumf”. All the information for the background of the armies as well as painting, army building and conversion advice etc… Now, I happen to be of the same opinion as someone else that I was reading earlier this week. I’d be happier if they split the book into two. I understand that they want to give some background of the races for their world and keeping in a few pages would be fine but really there are that many rules in this book that you could massively reduce the size of the volume by splitting things up. People might be happier if they got just the rules for £20 or £25 and then they could choose whether they wanted all of the extra stuff and pay for it appropriately.

The new book really is well made, being in full colour and everything I have to say it is a quality piece of work. Yet there is a load of stuff that doesn’t really NEED to be in there and if someone was looking at getting into the game then they would be better off waiting until the new box set in September, however there is some discussion on just how expensive it is going to be. Producing a pure rulebook, even a soft back version, at a reduced price would be enticing to the market and bring GW into line with their competitors. Anyone that didn’t want to fork out for the (guesstimated) £60-70 would then have an option to grab the rules and whatever models they wanted to start the game with.

I’ll put up my thoughts on the rules changes once I’ve been through them but I still hold out that £45 is too much, despite the fact that it is a really well put together product. Once I have read the rules changes I’ll be more of an opinion on whether it was worth the £40 I got it for, but I must say that my first impressions are favourable.

Hands on With 8th – First Impressions

I took a half-day off work on Friday for various reasons and ended up at our local game store as I knew they’d have their store copy of the new 8th Edition Warhammer rulebook. The poll we are currently running has the majority of people in the category that they will not be picking up the new rules. I put myself in the more conservative stand point that I needed more information before making a decision. I am happy painting my War of the Ring force at the moment and things are progressing really well on that front right now, but Warhammer is a big game and there are many of the 6 Inch Movers who have armies for it, not least of which is my fledgling High Elf force that I was preparing for this very edition before Tolkien falcon punched his way into the fray.

So, after getting my hands on the actual book I thought I’d give my first impressions. Originally I have been in the “they are charging too much for this and some of the changes seem odd” camp, however, I know that sometimes the Internet rumour mill can be a little on the pessimistic side to say the least. Therefore I am willing to admit where I am wrong and give things a fair chance. Has anything changed now I have seen the book? Only slightly, I am more tempted to pre-order but that is more to do with the fact that our store is offering a number of deals for the new book, the one I am interested in is the 10% off the list price if you pre-order, so that’s the rulebook for £40, still a lot of money and I don’t think it is really worth that much. OK the book is bigger than previous incarnations but that is not necessarily a good thing. A larger book doesn’t always mean better rules or better explanation of rules. When I was looking over the Always Strikes First rules and it was talking about the re-rolls you can get I can direct quote that it says “re-roll failed misses.” Yeah, that may only be a few words lifted from the rulebook but as far as my English comprehension goes failed misses are a hit. I know we all are aware what the rule intends to do but once again the Sherrif has dropped a proverbial testicle and that was found with only a cursory glance through the rules. GW does have a rightly earned reputation for poor English and bad explanations in its products and it doesn’t look like 8th is going to be much different. If the inherent mistakes we have found in previous products are not removed how can they justify charging their customer base almost a third more money just for a rulebook?

The book itself really is huge, I think it’s slightly smaller than the current one in terms of its cover but it is a lot thicker, supporting it with one arm to flick through it could be an Olympic event, you can’t hold it for long before you have to sit down and rest it on a table, at least, not with my bandy arms. I think my laptop for work weighs less actually. The production value is high, I’ll give them credit for that but the rules pages seem to go on forever and then there is the obligatory hobby and background sections. If I’m honest I’d be more inclined to buy the book if they cut down on that side of things, OK you want to introduce people into the Warhammer world if this is their first foray into it but you could vastly reduce this considering the amount of background you get from the army books themselves. Provide some basic background and some models pictures so that people can decide what they want to play but the majority of the stuff in the book is unnecessary in my humble opinion. You could then reduce the size of the book and that would bring costs down too, although knowing the greedy old Sherrif he’d keep the price the same. A stand out example of how I like things is the War of the Ring book, sure it’s not the cheapest rulebook on the market but it has all the rules, all the army lists and some decent hobby information in there too. You don’t need to go out and buy any other rules you can just grab the models you want and play. I consider that a much better use of my income than a £45 rulebook a £17.50 army book and then having to buy the models. I cannot think of any other game that costs over £60 to play before you have bought a single model…

Warhammer 8th will sell a lot, their customers are pretty loyal, even after getting shafted repeatedly. I’ll admit that I knocked up a 3000pts list over the weekend as a kind of preparation. Not using my High Elves, I made some calculations on my Daemons, no Siren Song gifts, no BSB with Gifts as well as a magic banner and within the limitations placed upon army construction by 8th edition.

Personally I’m not sure about bringing back the percentages, I can see that people may want to move up to 3000pts as that gives a lot greater freedom with making choices for your army as well as being able to take a lot of the big critters. For my Daemons I doubt I’d ever take a Greater Daemon at 2000pts, you are limited to 25% maximum on Lords and all Greater Daemons are 450pts, leaving you able to upgrade a wizard level or take one or two Gifts, not ideal so I’d stick with Heralds.

If you want a run down of all the rules changes there are many forums out there with a full break down so I am not going to just repeat things here. I am thinking about a pre-order as I can get the book cheaper. £45 is a no-no for me but even with that minimal £5 reduction for some reason I find that easier to stomach, especially as I have seen it in the flesh. I know that Gribblin will be picking it up and I may do the same but I’ll have to speak to the others around here to see if we are going to keep Warhammer Fantasy on the play list when War of the Ring is already here and seems like a much better game.