Tag Archives: UCM

Dropzone Commander – Unboxing the UCM

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.

7 Days to go…. and Counting!

Officially we are as of now at T-minus 7 days until (we hope) Dropzone Commander is officially birthed into the world, hopefully not like John Hurt in the original Alien movie… you know the one Ridley Scott directed that wasn’t an incoherent mess.

The only concern here is that all is quiet on the Hawk HQ front. Ideally we’d be wanting something to let us know that everything is on track. This presents us with two possible options, either Dave has finally spontaneously combusted due to below WHO recommended sleep levels and a heavy workload, or, all hands are to the grindstone getting things ready for a week today when the website tells us to expect shipping to start.

For many of us I guess this is a most telling time for Hawk Wargames. We’ve seen the models, many of us have signed up to buy the product, now we need to get our greedy mitts on it. Speaking with Carabus today and he’s expecting another delay. We always thought that some of the deadlines were tight but sometimes that’s a good thing as it helps to focus the mind and ensure that things get done. I know that those of us here at 6 Inch Move are very eager to play some more and are hoping that everything is ticking along smoothly. Only time will tell.

Considering there isn’t much news right now in this arena I thought I’d do a bit of a lengthier post regarding just why it is that I’ve gone ahead and bought the Mega Premium army. After all, dropping £250 on something that I’ve played once probably seems a little nuts to a few people and even for those that understand the hobby it’s a lot of cash to drop in one go on something. For me, it all came out of the play test that we had recently down at Hawk HQ.

By now I hope that you’re all familiar with the various army deals so I’ll not be reposting them all here. I suppose the first thing to talk about really is the price and the saving. I’ll be the first to admit that £250 is a huge amount of money for me, it’s probably a good three of four months of “normal” gaming spend in one fell swoop. I looked at it like this; individually the units themselves cost a few silver pennies over £290 AND the premium version comes with the custom-cut foam to keep it all in. In my head the case is worth at least £30-40 for all the stuff that’ll fit in it so in total that brings us to about £330. If viewed like this the saving becomes really obvious, at least to me.

The next point is the variety of the units involved, in essence I get at least one of everything I want. What I did like about the Mega is the extra unit of AA tanks. During the play test I really wished that I had more AA and this set gives me that option. AA is very useful considering how much stuff is flying around in a game of DzC. It also presents some handy choices. You can either try to gun down something in your own turn or wait for your opponent and the react to him. With initiative perhaps changing every turn this then gives you a genuine choice to make before proactive or reactive fire. You’re more than likely not going to drop a heavy dropship with a single squad’s fire in one round. However, should you intercept an attack run by enemy aircraft you could potentially hit them both on the way in and the way out, depending on how you have deployed your forces.

While we didn’t get to customise how our forces were made up on the day I’m hoping I can cram in those extra bits I want as I can see me making a lot of use of the various AA vehicles. Sure they can’t target ground units but I have plenty of other stuff to try to deal with that anyway.

The heavy dropships are really what sold me on UCM. Their weapons aren’t going to win you any engagements on their own but the cargo they carry (bought and assigned at the army list stage) are. I look forward to packing these with vehicles. Obviously each dropship has a limit to what it can carry as well as how far it can move. I’ll be very studiously looking at my forces in terms of what I want to include in each one. Do I want a smaller squad of something but put it into a faster dropship so it can get to its target quicker, or do I take more vehicles knowing it’s going to take me longer to get them into position before they can start affecting the battle.

In terms of the tanks I’ve not seen the tank destroyers in action yet so will hold judgement. They look cool though and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do. The MBTs though, I really like the Sabres and they did some damage to their Scourge counterparts when we played. As you might be able to guess from the Gladius the only real difference between the two is that the Gladius gets an extra shot per vehicle. This is another unit I’m keen to use. They’ve got good range on their guns so I can see me loading an Albatross with these tanks, possibly the other Albatross with all the Rapier AA vehicles and deploying accordingly. That allows me to then use the Condors to drop in Bear APCs further up the field to get my slow-moving infantry into position backed up by some Ravens packing either Praetorians or a couple of AA configured Wolverines.

I know I’ll probably not be able to fit it all into a standard sized army, after all the Mega really is a rather prodigious load of resin, but I’ll have plenty of options and I can already see me thinking around the various assault vectors of how I can deliver things into place and then extract them when the time comes.

I wasn’t sure about the Wolverine models when I first saw them but the AA versions look very cool and they pack a punch for how small they are. Their ability to act as spotters for the Kodiak’s orbital strike is also very useful as you try to peg an opposing APC that’s fleeing the scene of battle (we missed more often than not though). I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll always be taking the two Archangels due to their usefulness in at least intercepting any enemy craft (unless they start stacking AA too). I look over it and see stuff I know that I won’t leave at home (will probably have to paint those parts first) and enough other items to give me options to try to see how I do with them.

I’d love to talk more about how everything works but I’m really not supposed to. I guess people are just going to have to wait until next week when you can hopefully see it all for yourselves. I hope you all will have as much fun with your first game as we did!

A Wild Dropzone Commander Appears……

…and sadly rather than a friendly Pikachu or conflagration of doom spewing Charizard I’m stuck with a pokeball full of Carabus! Of course I jest, he knows I wouldn’t go into battle without him.

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.

Dropzone Commander Army Deals Part 2

It’s another day here at the 6 Inch Move floating citadel and once more the halls ring to the sound of various things all Dropzone Commander. I’ve not seen this level of excitement grip people for quite a while, even with the prospect of a new version of 40k on the horizon.

I am not seeing the attraction to new 40k when for the expected cost of the new rulebook and a codex I could get a starter army and rules for DzC, everything you need to actually be able to play the game.

Anyway, I digress, we’re here to dissect the next in the army deal sets, we know they’re balanced around models rather than points values so things should be broadly similar but after Carabus begged and then threatened me that I needed to do the PHR deals next….

I bring you…… the UCM deals!

In the UCM Starter Army set you get the following;

3x Condor Medium Dropships

3x Sabre Main Battle Tanks

3x Rapier AA Tanks

2x Bear APC’s

6x Colonial Legionnaires stands

1x 40 card full colour Command Card deck

I must say that I actually really like this set, my fickle genes are a tingle right now. If you wanted to grab all these things on their own it would cost you £82.50 so the deal represents a really decent 17.5% saving, not bad for the lowest level box set, considering the saving getting the Premium version of this would seem like an absolute no-brainer to me.
The next set if the first of the web only exclusives and nets you some of the larger models as well as more variety in what you can put on the field of battle.

Then we have the UCM Large Army;

1x Albatross Heavy Dropship

3x Condor Medium Dropships

2x Raven Type B Light Dropships

6x Sabre Main Battle Tanks

3x Rapier AA Tanks

4x Bear APC’s

4x Wolverine Scout Buggies

1x Kodiak Command Vehicle

12x Colonial Legionnaires stands

2x Archangel Interceptors

1x 40 card full colour Command Card deck

That really is quite a large amount of models and really pads out the range with some of the really juicy models like the Albatross. This version of the army equates to £177.50 although the Scout cars are missing from the site on their own so I’ve had to make a call on how expensive they are going to be. I don’t see this massively altering the calculation though. The cost of £140 for the set is a 21% saving, such a substantial saving for the Shaltari was only available when you got up to the Mega Army level so the UCM are saving you more money, however, the way I see it it’s likely that the UCM have cheaper stuff in game terms so you’d be needing more on the table which may swing things on what you choose to take. It’d be nice to try and get the points costs for each force so you know how much you might need to supplement each army dependant on which one you get.

Finally there is the amazing UCM Mega Army, these forces contain so much stuff I’m very impressed with them, even if they do come in rather pricey.

2x Albatross Heavy Dropships

4xCondor Medium Dropships

2x Raven Type A Light Dropships

2x Raven Type B Light Dropships

6x Sabre Main Battle Tanks

6x Rapier AA Tanks

4x Bear APC’s

4x Gladius Heavy Tanks

2x Scimitar Tank Destroyers

4x Wolverine Scout Buggies

1x Kodiak Command Vehicle

12x Legionnaires stands

4x Praetorians stands

2x Falcon Gunships

1x Seraphim Strike Fighter

2x Archangel Interceptors

1x 40 card full colour Command Card deck

That really is a massive amount of models you’re getting if you stump up the cash for it. Separate purchases would be a wallet crunching £291.50 again working on a guesstimate of £10 for the 4 Scout cars. My maths says that this is almost a 25% saving if you grab the set, if you bought the Premium version for the case you’d still be saving over £40 on the models alone! I’ll have to admit that I am really impressed with this set and while I love me some Shaltari walkers the savings here and the awesome models are tempting me back to my original first choice…. curse you Mr. Lewis! Th addition of the excellent Gladius Heavy Tanks is what also tempts me towards this set. I’m allowed to sell my firstborn to finance this right?