Occasionally, I play miniature games other than Star Wars: Armada.
Crazy right? Well, this weekend was one of those occasions as my buddy Dave brought over his Scourge and we got in a game of Dropzone Commander (DzC) by Hawk Wargames.
So, why am I writing about a game of Dropzone on my Armada blog? Well, the two systems actually have a bit in common and I think fans of Armada would enjoy the gameplay of Dropzone quite a bit.
While I am looking forward to the Armada tournament at GenCon, I will also be playing in a Dropzone Commander tournament. While I consider myself a pretty good Armada player, I've never actually played in a DzC tournament. There just aren't a ton of players locally. So, aside from practicing Armada, I will be trying to get in a few games of DzC this summer. I don't expect to do well in a large scale tournament, but want to play anyways if just to get to face a variety of new opponents and maybe learn some new tactics for the game.
DzC is a 10mm sci-fi miniatures game set in an original universe. The primary driver of the story line involves Earth having been captured by an alien race and the efforts of humanity to reconquer the Earth. There are other aliens involved as well and it ends up being a pretty neat setting.
Like Armada, the game involves alternating activations. In DzC you activate one battlegroup at a time. A battlegroup can contain 1 squad of 1 unit or up to 3 squads with several units each. In a standard game, each side is limited to 6 battlegroups and much like Armada, getting your activation order down right is a big part of the game.
The game includes a variety of scenarios and while killing the other guy is important, it is often secondary to the scenario objectives. The scenario we were playing is called "Secure the Flanks". It is played on a 4' x 4' table with the armies entering from opposite corners. Three of the buildings contained objectives that our infantry would have to search for. If they find them, you score 1 VP. If you can then extract the objective off your table corner you score an additional VP. There are also 2 Focal points. These need to be controlled at the end of the game. VPs are scored for having a unit within 6" of a Focal Point, with an additional VP for having more points in units than your opponent. In the photo below, the Objective buildings have a red marker on top and the Focal Points are green markers.
We were playing the tournament standard 1500 point game. When you build an army for DzC, there is a lot to consider. You need infantry to search for objectives, dropships to move the infantry and your other forces around, AA units to shoot down dropships and defend your army from aerial attacks, AT forces to knock out opposing ground forces, command units to help with initiative and playing command cards, scouts to spread your command around and act as spotters, exotic infantry to hunt down your opponent's infantry, and other crazy stuff. Building your army is like putting tools in a toolbox. You want to have something there to help with whatever the scenario demands and the tricks that your opponent can pull.
I have a PHR army that has excellent firepower and durability, but is just plain slow. My friend's Scourge are quite fast, but have less range and durability.
|End of Turn 1|
One unique aspect of DzC is that there is often nothing deployed on the table at the start of the game. The first game sees battlegroups flown onto the table by their dropships and begin to get in a position. Units can't do much while in their dropships, but get a massive mobility boost. Knowing when to drop your units is a big deal. I actually walked on a couple of my units. It hurts their ability to get in position, but I selected units that had the range to contribute either way.
I put some infantry in the near building to begin searching for that objective and set some other infantry up to move into the center building on the next turn. I tried to take a balanced approach and sent a large walker towards each of the Focal Points. My opponent, with his greater speed, flooded towards the center of the building and sent a much stronger force to the Focal Point on my right flank.
|End of Turn 2, the right Focal Point is getting crowded.|
My heavy walker started dealing some serious damage on the right flank, but was in danger of getting swarmed by opposing dropships and gunships. It had no AA itself and I was rolling poorly with my AA fire.
|End of Turn 3|
In spite of my confidence, the central CQB went poorly for me as I rolled fairly well below average and lost a bunch of my troops. Not good. My Hades on the right flank was still dealing plenty of damage, but was in pretty bad shape. He also managed to whittle down my AA, allowing his dropships the ability to keep pounding me. On the other had, his light commitment to the left flank made it look like I might claim that Focal Point uncontested.
|End of Turn 4 - not much left on the table.|
Turns 5 and 6 went fairly quick as there wasn't much left alive. He got his dropships into position to try and get the central objective off the board and sent another infantry squad to look for the last objective. We both consolidated troops around one of the focal points.
I had 2 chances to call in a Fast Mover, an attack run from a high-speed aircraft, to take out his dropship and keep him from getting the objective off the table. Some poor rolling meant the dropship lived. Average rolling would have killed it twice over. So, he got the objective off and tied the game 2-2. He didn't find the last objective, so it came down to the Focal points. We were both able to sneak a single unit into range of the opposite Focal Point allowing both of us to gain 1 VP from one and 2 from the other. So, the game ended tied at 5-5. We could have added up the points of what we killed for a tie breaker, but it was a friendly game so we just didn't care.
It was a close, fun game. I ended up with some of my AA badly out of position, which cost me badly on the right flank. He misplayed his elite infantry, which could have cost him, but he won out in the middle anyways.
Dropzone is a really fun game and I wish I had the opportunity to play it more often. I definitely need more practice before GenCon.