The Central Planets are lost
The Scourge are conquering all before them, and assimilating everything in their path.
Humankind has been forced to flee to the outer colonies, slowly building and reforming. Now, the embers of revenge burn brightly…
Product: Dropzone Commander
Company: Hawk Wargames
Dropzone Commander Review
Dropzone Commander is a fairly new, but quickly growing, 10mm SciFi wargame from Hawk Wargames. The battle size is more a ‘company scale’ game focusing on vehicles and dropships over infantry, although infantry are still given an important, albeit specific, role in the game.
With four unique factions in the main rules and a fifth, The Resistance, released in the first sourcebook, “Reconquest: Phase 1”, there are plenty of options for gamers. Even within each of the five factions, United Colonies of Mankind (UCM), Post Human Republic (PHR), the Shaltari, the Resistance and the Scourge, players have a wealth of choice. Each force has many units to select from and arrange, using Dropzone Commander’s army building mechanics, so that even forces from the same faction can look, feel and play very differently.
The background of the game sees the human core worlds having been invaded by the Scourge, a remorseless alien race that uses its victims as hosts. As we enter the game timeline, humanity has lost. They have been pushed to the outer colonies, and fragmented.
The UCM, humanities finest, are determined to reclaim and rebuild the central worlds.
The secretive PHR, finding way of bettering humans, and taking a more methodical approach to the reconquest of Terra, they are moral odds with the UCM and often in conflict with them.
The human Resistance hang on, just, to whatever they can in the central worlds. Some hold on to the hope the UCM will return and rescue them, others become warlords trying to carve out their own empires.
Not alone in the galaxy, humans share space with the Shaltari, an advanced alien race. Organised into many tribes, their relationships with humans varies greatly, with each tribe having their own outlook on humanities plight.
The all-conquering scourge cleave a path of destruction wherever they go. Their only intent seems to conquer and grow, something they are very good at. The scourge occupy humanities central worlds. Very little is known about them.
LOOK AND FEEL
The Dropzone Commander books are a very good quality. They are full colour, glossy, softcover books that contain the rules, background and army lists. The rules themselves are concise, with diagrams and pictures used to illustrate examples throughout. As expected the diagrams assist in understanding the intent of rules, and add clarity. The rules are also not too wordy, it is an easy read to get through, and although there is some ambiguity in the writing, none that some extra reference and thought won’t clear up.
The miniatures for Dropzone Commander are very crisp and detailed for 10mm miniatures. The casting is excellent and has only improved with the move to plastic. Each faction has its own unique style and it is clear which faction a miniature belongs to, even down to the bases of infantry. Most miniatures require a little assembly, but this is a fairly simple process. In a show of excellent design, most joints fit snugly together and articulate (if not glued). The miniatures really set the theme well for the game.
GAME SYSTEM AND MECHANICS
The Dropzone Commander army building mechanics arrange individual miniatures, or units, together as squads. Multiple squads can then form a Battlegroup. These battlegroups act together in a turn.
As an ‘IGOUGO’, turn based game each player alternates activating Battlegroups. Once a Battlegroup completes all its actions, play then passes to the next person.
Dropzone Commander uses a simple set of mechanics at its core, roll d6 and beat a target number. Each unit has an Accuracy rating, indicating how successful it will be at hitting the enemy. A chart, indexing a units firepower against the targets armour, gives a target number required to inflict damage. A nice change sees a target of 5+ being the normalised requirement, as opposed to a 4+ that many other games use. I feel this small shift adds a slight bit of range to a d6 system.
Countermeasures are the defence mechanism used in Dropzone Commander. There are two types, Active Countermeasures, which most units have, reduce the effective range of weapons a substantial amount, and Passive Countermeasures which are rarer but potentially more powerful. Passive Countermeasures allow a save against any damaging hits.
The focus of the game is definitely on combat vehicles and their dropships. With a standard table being 6′ x 4′, most vehicles can only move around 4″ in a turn. The ability for your force to manoeuvre comes down to your use of dropships, which are much more speedy, moving anywhere up to 24″ depending on size and carrying capacity. Utilising your dropships is a key tactic to playing Dropzone Commander, one that may take a while to master but is well worth the time spent.
Infantry do play a small but important part, as the only units which can search and hold buildings, they are usually small in numbers but tasked with an important role in the game.
There are a few other nice touches the game brings. Most weapons are effectively unlimited range, unless their target has Active Countermeasures. This will then impose a range limit, based on weapon.
The building rules are also very detailed yet simple. Units should have less issues hitting the broad side of a barn now, as buildings are big and the rules support this by having buildings be hit on a 2+. Buildings can also sustain a certain amount of damage before they collapse, based on their size and construction. The amount of troops able to garrison a building along with the rules for building collapses are all contained in the base rules, in a very well written section.
The base rules also come with twelve complete missions, each having a number of variations. The default setting for a game seems to be in a city environment, however an outdoors or wilderness environment work very well, possibly even better in my opinion.
Hawk Wargames support is excellent. Hands down one of the best in the business.
The forums are active and the developers respond and interact with the players frequently. New units are often made available for players to use, which then forms part of the feedback and playtest cycle. During the course of playtesting new units, stats and abilities are always being watched and adjusted as needed to maintain balance. Finally, the unit will be released as an official unit, often in an expansion book. This is fantastic to see, and I wish more companies would do this, as it keeps players engaged and makes a much larger playtest group.
I have had dealings with Hawk Support and I can confidently say that if you have problems with something, or a miscast miniature, you will have it resolved, in as timely a manner possible. Like I said, they are hands down one of the best around.
This was a longer review than intended, and as such the regular Opinions section has been split into a separate post.
Publisher: Hawk Wargames
Contents: Rulebook. There is also a Starter box in which you receive two, approximate 300 point forces, rulebook, dice, tape measure, tokens, cheat sheets and paper terrain. Excellent value!
Game Style: 2 or more player (core rules cover multiplayer games) IGOUGO system of alternating unit activations. D6 based, roll and beat target number, with modifiers.
Price: get a price on Dropzone Commander Rulebook at Amazon.
get a price on Dropzone Commander: 2 Player Starter Set at Amazon (currently 24% off).
What do you think of Dropzone Commander and this review? Share your thoughts, experiences and ideas in the comments section.
Some pictures of a game in progress are below.