Dropzone Commander: Review

Today I’ll be giving you the lowdown on a game that was introduced to me just a few months ago; Dropzone Commander. More specifically, I’ll give you my opinions of the two player starter set and how I think it plays.

Dropzone is a 10mm scale miniature, sci-fi action, tabletop game created by Hawk Wargames whose core mechanics revolve around picking up and dropping off your army of tanks and APC’s filled with soldiers, to attack and defend from your opponent.

The game is set in the 27th Century on Earth and to summarise the prologue:

An Alien race invaded Earth and took over. Humans were left to survive on some frontier, colonial planets. The human colonies eventually band together to form the United Colonies of Mankind (UCM) and set off to reconquer what they’ve lost. Fighting ensues!

Please bear in mind the fluff in the rule book is well written and much more expansive than my summary. It really had me pumped to play my first game. It also explains the how the other two races in Dropzone join the fight but as they’re not in the starter set, I’ll leave that for you to investigate. (:SPOILERS: They’re cyborgs and ancient, advanced aliens).

Now to be honest I was a bit iffy when I heard the game was about transports (what is this, a sci-fi courier simulator?!), but saying that, it really is quite strategic, fast paced and most of all, fun! More on that later.

For now let’s check out what the starter set contains.

The very reasonable priced two player starter gives you:

  • 2 opposing armies, one being the Alien race – the Scourge, the other being the Earths defenders – UCM.

For each army you’ll be given 3 dropships, 6 tanks (3 ground and 3 anti-air), 3 APC’s and 6 bases of infantry, all cast in plastic and quite detailed. Not huge armies by any means but enough to play quite a few varied games before you start to feel like expanding.

  • The Dropzone Commander rules in a 154 page book.

The cool thing with this book though is that it contains not only the standard rules but also the army unit details along with rules and background stories for the four currently available army types (the UCM, Scourge, Post-human Republic, The Shaltari). It also has 12 different scenarios to play out as well as pretty pictures and painting advice for all the armies.

  • A bunch of tokens, templates, dice and a tape measure.

The tokens and templates are used for scenario objectives as well as blast markers. I really like the idea of including a tape measure, although it’s small (key ring size), its plenty big for the game.

  • Nifty looking scenery

One of the best things about this set is that you’ll also get two A1 sized posters. One side has some art for the game and the other serves as a playing surface!!! As with the rest of the set, it’s quite detailed. The only issue I have is that the fact that it’ll take a while for the folds in the paper to straighten out. Only a small gripe given the quality of the rest of the set.

To go with the mat are 10 different pre-cut and pre-scored cardboard buildings. Again, these are also detailed and are simple to assemble. All you need to do is bend them a little and glue in the roof. Quick, simple, effective.

  • A quick start guide for the rules and two armies

Just what every good starter set should include. Something that allows you to jump straight into the game.

All of this I picked up from an Aussie independent stockist for $100 posted. Bonza!

 

Rule book, quick start guide and buildings. Oh my!

Rule book, quick start guide and buildings. Oh my!

I’ll quickly touch on the miniatures for a moment before explaining how the game plays.

The miniature sculpts and casts are fantastic! There’s very little cleaning needed and all the figures are extremely detailed. Not only that but they’re quite imaginative in terms of assembly. All the tanks are cleverly cut so that you can pose the turrets any way you like. My favourite thing though are the dropships. They’ve been designed so that once assembled, they actually hold the tanks inside the miniature.

The UCM ships hold their tanks like those claw machine games at arcades and cinemas where the Scourge dropships have shelf like protrusions which the tanks slide onto. It’s all quite cool and surprising. The ships also have small, clear caps which the flight stands plug into. So after you’ve painted the figure, glue the cap into the space provided then you can connect and disconnect the flight stand. It’s an awesome idea that eases the pain of transporting figures on flying bases. In my humble opinion, all miniature companies should do this.

The only let down for me, would be the infantry sculpts. Although they’re detailed, they’re a little flat for my liking. Looking at them front on is fine but turn them on the side and they almost disappear. Painting may improve this but from raw plastic, they aren’t spectacular.

 

My undercoated Scourge dropship

My undercoated Scourge dropship

Alrighty-roo, time to play the game!

My first game was against the friend who introduced me to Dropzone. Using only the starter set we were able to knock out a game in an hour… without me knowing a thing about the rules beforehand.

Playing a scenario of ‘Find the objective and get out’ we deployed on opposite side of the table. Taking it in turns we placed one unit each, alternating until we were all set.

The game turns are also played out this way with each of us ‘activating’ a unit to move, shoot or a bit of both. Once that unit had finished it was unable to do anything until the next turn. Anyone who has played Epic 40k or even Warmaster will understand this system. It makes for a more interactive experience as opposed to each player moving everything they own and then waiting for the other players to do the same. The system also makes for a more reactive game.

Movement, shooting and armour saves are all easy to follow using the easy-to-read charts included in the quick start guide and the rule book.

… and that sums it all up really (without getting into the nitty gritty of strats using your fast moving dropships to pick-up and drop-off your slower moving artillery and APC’s to where they need to be).

The few games I’ve has me excited to see where this game goes. I’ve already ordered a large PHR (post-human republic or cyborgs if you will) army and keen to see how differently it plays to the UCM or Scourge.

To anyone who’s keen for a smaller scale scf-fi romp, Dropzone Commander is the game you’re looking for. It’s easy to pick up, expansive, strategic and reasonably priced. The two player starter set is a recommended purchase.

Now I just need to find the time for more games!

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