Dropzone Commander review

Here it is ladies and Warmongers ITS HERE…

Produced by Hawk Wargames and is based around 10mm miniatures. So what does DZC bring to the world of wargaming? Well its main unique selling point is obviously the miniatures they are truly stunning like jaw floor-scraping stunning. Can the rules match them? Lets find out.

Like my other reviews I hope to do I will look at the following Fluff; Miniatures; Rulebook; Rules/Mechanics; what you get for your money and a Summary. Or FMRRMWYGFYMS for short.

Fluff

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.

So basically like all good Sci-Fi genre games humans are generally in a spot of bother 😉 and the remaining fluff in the book really helps build up the world of DZC, No more spoilers of me though.

Miniatures

This is a nice easy one to cover. Look at the pictures from the website listen to want has already been said by the masses who went to Salute!

Dave at Hawk Wargames has not messed about with these things. Yes prices can be a little scary but the detail is even scarier!! I have yet to hold one in my arms myself but I plan to oh yes.

On a side note 10mm has not been done much by anyone really before so will be interesting to see what is produce going forward.

Rulebook

So as we crack open the rule book what do we find?

Well it weighs in at a nice 150 pages and within those glorious FULL colour pages we have the usual sections in the book. 9 pages of fluff introducing us to the DZC world, then the actual rules which only account for 34 pages. As those who have followed the explosion of DZC will know the scenarios are one of things that could really make the difference for DZC and as such we get a whopping 15 pages of them. Finally we have the remaining pages held over for the 4 factions (including more fluff and their rules) which counts for about 20 pages per faction as well as a spiffingly sexy guest painter gallery of the miniatures.

Overall the book is amazing well presented the example diagrams are excellent with plenty of information within them

Rules/Mechanics

Next thing to look at will be the mechanisms and actual rules for DZC.

Everything is based upon the warm old blanket of D6 we all know. No odd D17 here oh no give me cubes any day 😉 oh and you can decide if you want to per-measure or not.

Game Characteristics

They are a few stats/characteristics you will need to know in the game although nothing to stressful.

Battle-groups

But first a word on Battle-groups, basically they are a selection of units (individual squads and transports) that get grouped into these battle-groups. This is important not only for activation (see below) but also limitations on what you can take in your force.

They are split into HQ, Armour, Infantry, Special and Fleet and for the most part you are only allowed maximums in the point sizes you are playing for instance in smaller skirmish games you are only allowed 5 battle-groups (and generally 1 of these MUST be of the Armour category). As an extra note no-one battle-group can cost more than a third of your points a handy way of making sure one single battle-group does not steamroll the opposition.

Miniature Stats

Everything from infantry to the dropships follow the same layout (although infantry get some bonus ones).

  • Armour – Scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best (I will let you guess what armour is for)
  • Movement – its in inches.
  • Countermeasures – Chaff! More on this later
  • Damage points – you shot me?!
  • Points cost – not even going to say
  • Type – So if you are a vehicle or a man/robot
  • Category – this is split down into several areas which include; Command, Troops, Scout, Heavy, Air and exotic.
  • Squad size & coherency – This indicates how many in a squad (most ‘tanks’ appear to go in threes 3/6/9). While coherency is obviously how close they have to be, this can be; Base-to-Base, Standard, Wide or Open. Although this is only for units not the entire battlegroup.
  • Close quarter Battles – Infantry only and used in building clearance, as close to hand-to-hand combat as you can get in DZC.
  • Fortitude  – Again infantry only and related to nerve in close quarter fighting
  • Special – Any additional rules can be here. Such as the Shaltari gate mechanism

Weapon Stats

Like every miniature every gun has some stats and here they are;

  • Energy – Scale of 1-13 basically your POWER 😀
  • Shots – How many dice you roll
  • Accuracy – Standard ‘to-hit’ rolls on D6
  • Range (full) – Range in inches of your gun
  • Range (Countered) – If shooting target with countermeasures then your range can be generally reduced.
  • Move & Fire – How far you can move and still fire
  • Arc of Fire – This dictates where you gun is really. A turret can shoot rear, side and/or front while a fixed weapon at the front may only be able to shoot narrow.
  • Special – Any additional rules can be here.

Deployment

Something else worth bringing up is how you deploy in DZC as this is one of the most tactical decisions you need to make due to dropships being so important. You have 3 different types.

Directly – In other words you place on the board to start with.

In Readiness – Start off the board but can be activated and move onto the board as if they were just waiting for the guys in front to move 😉

Reserve – Pretty standard roll to come on like many other games.

Turn phases

Now onto the phases in your average turn of DZC;

Initiation – This is where you roll to see who has the initiative during this turn (D6+Stat basically) it is also where you deal with any cleanup and also when you discard and draw new command cards into your hand for you to use. Finally as you would expect it is when you roll for your reserves mentioned above. Obviously this gets easier as the game goes on well until turn 3 onwards as then you only have to worry about the dread ‘1’!!!!

Activation – This basically a stop-gap between phases really. Players do a I-Go-You-Go thing with individual Battlegroups in order of initiative.

Actions – Now for the meat of the turn. What you do is perform the actions of one squad at a time within the Battlegroup you activated currently during this action you can perform an action (imagine that), so what can you do? well;

Movement – You can move up to your units movement value (put you could guess that anyway)
Shooting – Where you can blow stuff up 😀 Now obviously shooting is the main part of this game and to be honest you will not be surprised by how it works in DZC!

  • Determine which weapons can shoot (if you moved then some may not be allowed to)
  • Determine if you can shoot so range (this is where countermeasures comes in more on that later), LoS but also Arc of fire.
  • Allocate your shooting to individual targets from the unit and then it is a simple roll of dice which is ‘Energy’ of the weapon vs ‘Armour’ of the target
  • Then work out the damage and remove anything destroyed.

That is nice and simple I think you will agree. Something that I feel I should mention that none of the games I play (certainly at the top of my head anyway) do that DZC is you can do your movement and shooting in any order. This brings some interesting tactical choices into the game and I look forward to seeing what crazy things people try to do.

And as far as units go the same weapons must shoot at the same target but an individual with multiple weapons can split their fire without any issue (Anti armour at armour, anti infantry at infantry etc.

Roundup – General end of turn stuff. Check on any special rules, Check victory conditions etc.

Terrain & Structures

Terrain and buildings are very important in DZC so terrain is well covered. However structures/buildings are taken to another level as they are so important to the game scenarios (objectives can be found within buildings). This means the rules are pretty full on this also comes down to the fact infantry can shift enemy infantry from buildings (the close quarter battles stat from above). Think Modern Warfare games 😀 so although you could simply have a shot out the buildings and the interactions they bring really help to change the feel of this game from something other than a straight out sci-fi shooter. (There is going to be blog posts just about structures in the future it is that important).

Other stuff

NOw onto the less basic stuff that helps push the game from OK sci-fi shooter to something special.

Countermeasures

The countermeasures are an interesting concept as you have seen they are standard enough to warrant a stat place. They are also important when determining if your opponent is within range of you. Now you have 2 types of countermeasure in the game Active and Passive both appear to have advantages over the over.

Active – This has no rolling involved it simply happens. What this means is your opponent needs to consult their range (countered) rather than range (full) this can hurt some weapon types with the reduced range it causes.

Passive – Think shields in star trek! Or in other words you get to make a number of saves on a D6 depending on the hits you have received.

At the moment I am not sure which will be best but it will be fun finding out 😀

Command Cards

Now I mentioned cards earlier in the initiation phase these are the Command Cards and act in a similar way to the STAR cards in Spartan Games games which is you have a hand and can use them to gain advantages during the game. They don’t have to be used in a game so part of me would be tempted not to bother when learning the rules (each faction gets their own deck by the way).

Commanders

Moving onto commanders who are important for those cards. These come with a couple of stats. One being Sphere of influence (area that these cards can have an effect in) and also what battle size they are allowed in.

What is interesting is, a commander can go in any unit however if the unit does not come from the command category then the sphere of influence is halved. A nice touch as it makes such a commander needs specialist comms etc. in his unit to be his most effective.

Flyers & AA

You will find these are VERY important in DZC.

First AA has the ability to reaction fire which is an out-of-activation shot at flyers only and can only be used ONCE per turn. They pick the spot they will fire at but they can NOT pre-measure at all as your guys need to act pretty quickly to fire at a flyer. They also suffer an accuracy penalty which also makes sense.

As for flyers in any game of land & air there is some abstract thinking involved therefore all flyers are at a set height during the game they can also fly at lower altitude if need be known as ‘to the deck’. Obviously only AA and flying interceptors can shoot at flyers and if you destroy one then it crashes into the ground possibly causing mayhem!!

I have found the way that flyers have been implemented in DZC to be to my liking it just feels right for this type of game.

Transporters

Like flyers transports are another key part of the game and their rules for them are really straight forward. Units need to be within 3″ of the transport as part of the embark/disembark and the transport can only move half its movement if it wants to pick up or drop. Units getting in or out during that turn can not shot but the transport can as per normal.

As for landing and taking off this costs 2″ each of your movement and also counts toward your half movement as well so flying transports can be vulnerable as when they are on the floor anything can shoot at them.

Scenarios

Like all games you get a number of scenarios to try out. What is different is the number you get to play with in DZC a whopping 12 in the book as far as I know this is unprecedented due to the magic number usually being 6.

I can’t stress enough how important the scenarios are to this game (along with structures) and there is plenty of give within the individual scenarios to make sure you will not get bored with the 12 any time soon.

Finally something else to mention is all the factions have their unique selling points and rules and I will cover these in future posts.

What you get for your money

The cost of the rules is extremely good value for the price you pay. What I find to be really helpful of HW is that they have many many free downloads for in-game counters/reference sheets etc. Which is a great help 🙂 but for what you get it’s a thumbs up from me (a bear with no thumbs)

I know I have mentioned the price of the minis can be off-putting BUT the rulebook is super cheap so why not give it a go 😉

Summary

Final thoughts on DZC then;

Pros

The main mechanism within the game is extremely simple to get to grips with. Each part of the rules are going to come together and make a great game going forward for anyone to pick up and play with.

The concept behind the game is stunning. I honestly feel there is nothing out there like this which in todays current market is amazing to pull off.

The miniatures are stunning as the pictures show.

The price of the rulebook and its quality are just superb.

Cons

I have to mention the price of the miniatures but only as a small side note. Generally individual miniatures are very competitive but people wanting lots of bang for their buck in the box sets may be disappointed by the low savings on offer. Do not let this put you off proxy to start with if you have to.

Overall

I cannot speak more highly of this game it adds so many new dimensions to wargaming both with the miniatures they are offering and the types of games you can play. Seriously come jump and the band wagon there are plenty of seats and miniatures are lovely.

5 thoughts on “Dropzone Commander review

  1. Reblogged this on The Shell Case and commented:
    Dave has been waiting for this game for ages and unsurprisingly he wasted no time getting his grubby little paws on the rule book. Read his review here.

  2. Wow, are some of these designs almost direct copy ripoffs of other things or what. Romulan ships and robotech mechs are so much like the pictures here its scary. Can see some lawsuits coming out of this game.

    1. Been out over a year now with a fair bit of coverage by many internet sites and no news about anyone taking exception to them.
      Who knows what the future holds though.

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