Hedgehog Drop Pod – First Impressions of Dropzone Commander

As Dropzone Commander lands in our gaming group, and an extra Shaltari starter set available its hard for me to keep my paws out of it… Mr. Easter’s UCM forces skrimishes against Chaos Beakies Scourge can’t be left alone, can it?

After taking our time in the Warhammer world’s and battling in Middle Earth for several years (for me it’s been 12 years of High Elves now!) people are getting restless to try out different things. And why shouldn’t we? Right now there are loads of different games out there to try. While it was only a year ago that we jumped through the Breach, Mr. Easter and Chaos Beakie decided to try out Dropzone Commander. (This was together with supporting Dropfleet Commander, so technically they are into that as well.)
The Colours
I was a bit reluctant to start another game at first, as the diverse research projects I am involved in takes a lot of brain capacity. It did not take too long of whispers of Dropzone Commander this and Dropzone Commander that  to awake my curiosity. I watched over the geezers’ backs when they did a game and I decided (after the usual back and forth, but I realized it would be worth it just to try to paint something in 10 mm scale) to take over Chaos Beakies other Starter Set – the Shaltari. He was torn between the Scourge and Shaltari, so he embraced the change and picked up them both. (Did he know he could trick me? Probably. Git.) I actually preferred the initial impressions of the Resistance, but reading the Reconquest fluff for them left me with a bit of flat feeling. The characters were also stereotypical. In the book my the illustrations of the Shaltari caught my eye, and here we are. (Let’s just say that in the end I was both intrigued by the description of the race, and their playstyle. It’s still another question if a player who wants to easily play pick up games should choose a challenging faction, but I’ll let time tell me that.)

This is as far as I’ve come with painting so far. One test model Tomahawk, and a few WiPs. Having spied on other peoples paint jobs, I decided I liked the orange of the posterboy Shaltari tribes on Hawk Wargames. I still wanted something different, and also brighter, so aimed for a transition effect as many do (with airbrush I suppose, but that’s not going to stop me). If they communicate by minute colour changes, why wouldn’t they transfer it to their ships. Sometimes I want them to be yellow, sometimes more vividly orange, but I think this will do very well.

The Rules
The first possibility was to do it like Mr. Sustainable Centre (see youtube) who, according to Mr. Easter, learned the rules from other players rather than reading the books. It seemed time efficient. After watching a game, and having it narrated, it certainly would be possible as the rules are not overly complex. On the other hand with only two players it would be good to get another mind into the books as well. So I read them.

My first impressions are:
The rules are very much like 40k. Disappointingly much in fact. Compared to what I have seen of Malifaux, Saga and Infinity who all have some mechanisms that makes it so much different (deck use and duels with Malifaux, and Command dice for Saga). The game essentially feels like a toned down 40k, with differences in movement ranges amplified and reduced to the old school only troops can score. Add initiative rolls as in the Hobbit and you are set.
-The wound chart is key. You shoot much fewer shots, but you are more likely to know the outcome of the shots. Often you hit on 2s or 3s and wound on 2s or 3s. Weapons are much more specialized and spread out in terms of efficiency than in 40k.
-The Troops win the game. Mr. Easter told me the exact opposite at first, but I disgree completely with that statement. Troops take the victory points. They are incredibly slow however, so they need the movement of their transports to find the paperwork and file it in the right folder.

The Game
Last Friday Mr. Easter took and gave me an intro game with Starter sets against starter sets. It won’t be an actual batrep, as I don’t know really what to say about it. 🙂 We did the starter mission with some Objectives to be dug out from three buildings on the central line. Mr. Easter was my Kindergarten teacher for the first turn or two, but then it wasn’t too hard. Of course the minutiae and tactics are lost to me, for now. As are any gate shenanigans.

Now afterwards I think its a neat game in every sense of the word. Like in Lord of the Rings you have quite straight forward rules that feel very natural. Also, while the game is not too far from 40k the very steep wound chart and the differences in movement you actually end up with a very different game. I have been previously been comparing Warhammer to chess meets Risk meets RPGs, but for this game the chess part is much more central. Movement is everything, not only the current turn but you also should have a much stronger sense of the game flow as you need to activate and resolve several squads (i.e. battle groups) at one time, and be able to counter the opponent and move up to grab the objectives before the opponent catches them.

Also, comparing to Malifaux, I like the game mechanics better for the Wyrder game. DZC wins (in my opinion) with the number of rules you need to know. Each unit has a statline, and a gun or two. In Malifaux each unit has a statline and a handful of abilities that you need to combine to be ultimately successful. Comboing all the way through the other side is fun as hell, but if you want a more pick up and play style of game DZC is just that.


2 responses to “Hedgehog Drop Pod – First Impressions of Dropzone Commander

  1. Pingback: UFO-hedgehog First Strike: A Shaltari-UCM BatRep | Poison Tail's project work-things·

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