The Floating Citadel denizens made their annual pilgrimage to Salute – more on that in another post; to cut a long story short I am now a proud owner of Dreadball – a game I have been meaning to get my hands on for over a year.
In true servitob style, the test minis were up and painted within a matter of hours of the box being opened. The technique used here is apparently called “Greyscale Washing”, if any of you googlespiders want to know more details I can point you in the right direction.
The aim was to do something very quick to make the game playable in the shortest amount of time. Mantic stuff is so cheap that if I ever miraculously got enough quality time for actually giving a damn about multi-layer highlights and all that nonsense then I could simply buy new teams. For now, I consider 2.4 seconds a reasonable amount of time to spend per model.
I’ve also read through the rules – it looks like a very promisingly fun game!
It’s April, while to many people I imagine that means the potential for people to dress in large rabbit suits (damn furries!) and also an over-indulgence in chocolate eggs, for those of us with more of a bent towards pushing plastic and metal soldiers around made-up battlefields we look forward to a different kind of event.
This coming Saturday sees the annual return of the Salute event. Salute sees the gaming fraternity descend upon the London docklands in an orgy of gaming goodness. It takes place at the eXel centre, a huge complex of rooms where a number of shows take place at the same time. I’ve never seen any of them be as interesting as the toy soldiers show though.
Normally a gathering of gamers in a restricted space is nothing but a miasma of body odour and beard-generated static electricity but, thankfully, there’s enough headroom there in the hall that this isn’t an issue unless you want to get all friendly with some of the neck beards.
From my perspective I really look forward to this day. Despite the large amount of travelling involved from the floating citadel it’s very much an experience I look forward to. A day out with good friends, seeing the latest and greatest on offer from a hobby I’ve been involved in for 22 years.
Wondering if I should take the SLR this year to grab some nice piccies?
More grist for the Dropzone mill today as we take a look at the Cityscape terrain set from Hawk Wargames. When Carabus and I took a trip to visit Hawk and playtest the game prior to release we got to use the display terrain that we’d seen at Salute and that was in all the artwork. Dave explained about the customisation of the tiles and that they were going to be a premium product not designed for general consumption. I don’t think anyone was expecting it to be quite as expensive as it was, but there we go. Hawk also did release a lot of their terrain as free downloads which is more than a lot of other companies do.
Still, with a 10mm scale game rather than the far more prevalent 28mm we’re used to dealing with getting the right terrain means getting something in fresh rather than reusing something bought years ago. I’d seen the cityscape on Hawk’s website but not really given it a thought, I mean, a 6′ x 4′ battlefield for £30, can’t be all that good can it? As we kind of experience a gaming drought post Salute last year things around the floating citadel just didn’t play out as we’d all hoped. This meant that we didn’t get to see our DzC stuff on the table, nor show it off to anyone else as we had planned to do.
So it was that when we went to Salute this year Dropzone Commander wasn’t really on our radar. We planned on stopping by and checking in with Dave but not much else other than that. Fate it seems like to give us a good nudge every now and again. Gribblin and nBreaker got to enjoy a demo game, suitably impressed they bought in, as we knew they would. However, we also got to see the Cityscape up close and personal. It may only be card but it’s of a very high quality and looked excellent. Free buildings from the kit were being handed out on the stand too so we got to have a quick look at what they were like. For £30 this seemed like a steal now that I’d clapped eyes on the things so I picked one up to give us a battlefield that would be compliant with the scale, the objective based nature of the game and friendly on the wallet.
First up I need to tell you that the thing is heavy! We’ve actually got two of the things so I spent a lot of time with plastic bag handles trying to sever my fingers through the afternoon. This will also mean that we can have more than one game going at a time, or just use a really huge battlefield in a multiplayer game. When you open the box up everything is nice and securely padded with bubble wrap and it does feel like a meaty package. When you open it up you’re treated to all the flat packed buildings, pre-scored to make for easy assembly. I spent a couple of hours on Saturday putting the whole thing together. There’s a large stack of double-sided base tiles to use too. You may be better off choosing a layout and then gluing these to a board to give them some stability and stop them from moving on the table although obviously you’ll then have to store yet more terrain boards.
That really is a wad of card you get. Each building just pops open, the roof is then glued down to make the structure rigid, each wall then has a fold on top where you fold down a small flap to “warp” over the top to give you a lip to stop stuff falling off as well as make things look prettier than just having bare white card. I used common, run of the mill PVA to glue mine together. Not watered down, just fresh out of the bottle. I applied this liberally to the roof tabs and also to the flaps. If you want to save yourself a lot of time sat still holding things then I’ll pass on a tip we got from Bex at the show, use bull-dog clips! I put forward exhibit A to show you how I did it;
This works really well and I found that the glue stuck very quickly using this method. I only had the one pack of clips, which wasn’t a problem but I’d suggest people get two if they want to try assembly in this way as it would have just been a nicer experience if I wasn’t taking them off and using them again on the same walls of some of the larger buildings.
The only problem I see with the whole thing is that the buildings are probably going to easily be knocked about a little when gaming. Now this is nothing new but as this terrain is so light in individual pieces I can see this being more of an issue than with other, heavier terrain pieces, but for the price I’m not sure you can really argue against it.
We’re hoping to have a game using it very soon, if I’m feeling generous I might even take some piccies of it in use. However, from an assembly point of view and seeing it all together I must say that this really is a bargain and a very nice set, for the price you’d pay for a single kit from other manufacturers you have a full battlefield to play over. I am really looking forward to using it. Although I might let some of the other guys have a go at assembling the other set so I can get on with getting my army painted.
As servitob has already so eloquently described the 6 Inch Move crew descended from our sky fortress this past weekend. As is familiar to gamers everywhere we recruited our 5 man party, journeyed without any summoning stone shenanigans to the capital of our great nation. As is also familiar when we reached our destination we found out that three fifths of the group hadn’t yet done the required attunement quest. Carabus and I therefore joined the queue for the Salute instance while the other three went off to make suitable supplications.
This meant that Carabus and I got to spend a little over an hour in the show before things got really busy. First order of the day was to find me a TIE fighter to finish off my X-wing army. However, within seconds of the event starting all the X-wing stuff sold out at every stand simultaneously. There was some on one stand, but the Machiavellian stall owner had rapidly repriced all his TIEs with a 33% increase over the RRP (despite the other ships still being RRP). Unsurprisingly I bit my thumb at him and snorted deridingly before walking off in righteous indignation.
It was nice to get in as part of the “Priority” queue for having pre-purchased our tickets. We got to see a lot of stuff before the show really got busy, although we didn’t really do much detailed searching as we wanted to check out lots of stuff as a full group.
I’m always a little hesitant when going down to Salute. In 2010 I didn’t think there was much there, it certainly wasn’t as good as when I was there in 2006, however, both 2012 and this year I have to say that the show was excellent. It really does showcase how big the industry has gotten, there is so much to see there across numerous genres and you can see the direction things are going. There are a ton of terrain stands now where there wasn’t really anything of the quality we can get now. I’ve included a couple of photos of the cityscape from Hawk Wargames. It’s a full 6′ * 4′ gaming table for £30. We’ll be doing a full review of it shortly and it’s rather impressive considering it’s just card stock.
We probably spent longer outside the Hawk stand than anywhere else, probably because of Gribblin and nBreaker getting a demo game. As Servitob also said we got a quick demo of the Mantic game Dreadball, seemed quite good however we picked up the rules faster than the Mantic guy demoing it could explain it and he was getting a couple of things wrong from his own explanations which was kind of off-putting.
I think that the main thing that I took from the show (other than the couple of things that I bought) was a reinvigorated feeling towards my gaming after what has been a very quite year for me. Real life definitely has been a curve ball but yesterday I got my DzC stuff out again and have set about actually painting some of it and working on getting the army finished and ready for the tabletop. Now we’ve got the proper scenery too I’m starting to feel really good about where we’re going now.
Watch this space to see just how that all pans out.
Owing to me cashing in all my wife points in order to go to the EVE Online Fanfest next week in Reykjavik I really didn’t think I would be going to Salute this year. An eleventh hour bonus allocation changed all that and soon enough I was onboard ZombiePirate’s DeLorean with the rest of the crew, cranking it to 88 miles per hour to get to the UK’s if not the world’s premier one day game show.
We arrived with only Carabus and ZombiePirate having tickets, and facing a queue four deep and three miles long nBreaker Gribblin and I decided to head out for some breakfast. We came back later only to find that the queue was actually now longer and more snaked than ever before. With survival supplies in hand and camping equipment ready we joined the back. The very back. Our waiting was not in vain however for when we finally got in both nBreaker and I were given goody bags containing hallowed golden tickets meaning we had won a free army case backpack each courtesy of KR. Not just some pokey little number; a proper massive army case. Well impressed. Trying to get into the KR stand to get our prizes and buy extra stuff off them was a bit of a challenge as for some reason they had modeled their stand on the interior of a midget submarine crewed by the Oompah Loompah navy. But free stuff is good, and decent free stuff even better so I wasn’t complaining.
The show itself was as entertaining as ever with plenty of people to meet and plenty of stuff to see. In the visual entertainment sense there were some excellent displays. There was a great big D&D diorama (part of which is in the photo above) which I thought was suitably nostalgic. Warlord Games had done an excellent eastern front themed Bolt Action display and someone had decided to recreate the Battle of Waterloo in 28mm. This was truly epic and probably one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever seen. I apologise I can’t recall who it was by but I’ve got the feeling it was by two guys from Essex. If this is what people do down there when they aren’t fitting bass-bins to their XR3s I was very impressed.
There were demo games aplenty, ZombiePirate and I tried DreadBall which was actually really good, a better game system than I was expecting. I would probably get in to this if I didn’t have so many games to play at present. nBreaker and Gribblin played Dropzone Commander and were suitably entertained to each buy a mega army, meaning everyone in the Floating Citadel bar myself has dropped serious cash and committed to much painting for this system. I’ve yet to play it so maybe it’s just a matter of time. Gribblin also continued his hoovering up of every Zombie themed game ever made and splashed out at the 7TV zombie stand. Something else that really piqued my interest was a Wings of War-like game based in the age of sailing ships, by the same company. It won’t be out for a good while yet but I will keep an eye out.
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.
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.
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.
It finally happened! Almost a week ago the long-awaited and much-anticipated Dropzone Commander appeared in the wild. Those of us here at the 6 Inch Move floating citadel have been positively aquiver with excitement. After all, we’ve been waiting since Salute and while we’ve been treated to a few news items here and there, information has been a little sparse since we first stumbled across the stand at Salute.
Due to various issues of home finance I didn’t get to put in my pre-order until very late. I had it all planned by then a spanner was thrown in the proverbial works and I had to wait. I managed to put in my order on the last day of the pre-orders being set for shipping on July 27th, although it was rather late in the day when I managed to get to do it. I received my goodies on the Wednesday of last week, which was good news as I had the rest of the week off work. Unfortunately my wife is on her holidays at the moment and therefore I had to share my time and actually had to go out and do things rather than being allowed to play with my new toys. Nevertheless I’ve managed to get some good time with the rulebook and have read most of it other than some bits of the background in the army lists. However, I’ll be reviewing the rulebook separately in another post.
As I made mention of on multiple occasions now I am a big fan of the large and mega army deals. I personally went for the UCM Mega Premium, yes it’s pricey but it contains everything I think I’ll be needing for a good while. I actually first unveiled this to Carabus as he had already received his PHR Mega Premium the previous day. We had a good rummage through before I put everything back in the box to save for later. I’ve therefore included some photos in this post to show how things arrive. The Dropzone Commander case is your basic KR cardboard one but with the faction specific foam for your army, this is really good as it gives everything a home right off the bat. All your models are crammed into the various holes and the cutouts are there to safely cushion and transport your goodies as they are taken wherever they’re going to give someone a good drubbing. It’s really nicely put together. My only real criticism (and it really is very minor) is that it would be nice to have a paper sleeve around the case to show you what you get in it and to give you some references to work from later. As I said this is a very minor concern and I understand why there isn’t one considering these deals are not available in any stores, online or otherwise, outside of Hawk.
When you pop it open there really is a lot of stuff crammed in there. Mine all arrived in good order. I’ve had a chance to look through pretty much everything that came with it and am very happy with the standard of casting. There are a few tiny miscasts which will be irrelevant once the miniatures are painted. In fact the worst that I have to deal with is literally two or three tiny bubbles on the rear engine cowl of one of my Albatrosses. Other than that everything is the same quality as what I saw at Salute. I know Carabus has a few more issues but we’re expecting the odd thing here and there with a new product line and I’ve not seen anything on the same scale that puts this in the same basket as Finecast.
Each unit comes in its own little bag so as soon as you crack one open you’ve got a whole squad ready to use there and then. As mentioned in the “Working with Resin” download from the Hawk site the resin glues together VERY fast and I am not kidding you when I say you will not break that bond. I think the resin will actually decay first before the glue weakens so another voice adding to the caution you should take when putting stuff together. Make sure you’ve got stuff positioned right because once you press two things together you’ve only got a few seconds before it’s stuck for good!
I hope the pictures help show what you get for your money. I’m really happy with the stuff that I have, I’ve not heard anything from anyone outside of Carabus yet so I’m just putting my personal experience out there. I’m a happy customer and looking forward to getting this stuff on the table. I have a colour scheme in mind and things are already starting to be assembled. I’m already anticipating not being able to fit everything I want into my army so we’ll have to see how I go. What list I pick will also determine what stuff gets painted and done first.