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DZC – 1st game of DropZone Commander

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Having “ummed and ahhd” about this game for the last year I finally got a game of DZC in. I had skimmed my old Version 1 rulebook and wondered how complicated it would be.

When my gaming buddy Dan offered to show me the game I jumped as I really do love the models.

We played at our local NWGC, Stockport. Sadly, I couldn’t quite get the camera to focus properly despite taking a number of shots of Dan’s beautifully painted Shaltari force. I only had my phone camera and I always seem to struggle indoors with these. The Shaltari have an insectoid look to them that when painted really shows the functional yet aesthetically pleasing designs. The designer has done wonders creating the models.

Having seen another army being played (PHR) that were also brilliantly painted (by James I think?) I have to say that the bar is set hight on painting these forces.

So, is this just about nice models or is there a good game?

Dan set up the basic poster mapboard, buildings and starter scenario from the starter set. He used Shaltari not UCM, I took an unpainted Scourge army. The points value for these basic forces is about a 550 point ‘skirmish’. That gave us 3 battlegroups apiece, one infantry plus transport, 1 tank plus transport, 1 AA unit plus transport. the Shaltari were a pretty new force for Dan and the transports (Gates) seem to work a little differently to the standard transports. That aside, we got stuck in.

The missions mean scouting out buildings with objectives and searching them. Once successful, the infantry need to get the objective out of the building and back off their baseline to capture it. As there were three objectives to take, the winner would be the one with most captured and removed from the table.

On Turn 1 Dan won the activation roll and moved one of his units. He got his infantry into the building on Turn 1.  I then moved a unit – tanks I think by dropping them off my dropship in cover. The activation is done alternatively until all battlegroups have moved (the unit and their transports).

He positioned his Gates on the board – it looks like the Shaltari and use the Gates to move around the board instantly. Nice. I need to read up more on these guys!

We then moved alternatively until the turn was ended – I used my infantry to take the central building.

Dan got the initiative again. His infantry searched the building on this turn and got the objective. I spent three more turns trying to get the objective in my building.

Meanwhile I had left my infantry transports in the open (silly me) and got the dropship and an APC blown up.

My forces took it in turns to fire on the building that Dan’s infantry were holed up in. Dan pulled the objective out of his building but couldn’t get the troops out so quickly – the Gates I think have a restriction on how much can pass through them in a turn.

Gradually that building was destroyed before Dan could get his men out. My tanks, infantry and AA kept pounding it and it collapsed, killing the occupants and one unfortunate Shaltari transport that was too close to the building as well.

My infantry were killed off down to two damaged stands but I got the objective and left the building. With only one APC left for them, they had to try to get off the map.

At the end of Turn 6 (end of game), my APC was just 4 inches form the edge of the board. Dan won by 1 objective to nil.  If I had grabbed one, it would go to kill points. Dan had destroyed most of my infantry and a whole unit of my tanks. I had only killed his infantry unit. Well done Dan!

The aim of this game was for me to “learn the ropes”.  Afterwards Dan showed me how a close combat works. Basically it was a fight in a building that took three turns. It was pretty evenly matched. That would have tied up those forces for most of a game!

What did I think? Brilliant. Not only are the models good, the game mechanics are good too. It’s not too difficult to pick up the rules quickly and the game plays quickly too. Units roll on to the table, carry out their missions and support each other. The end result was a close game. Having an alternative unit activation mechanic means that each player is on the alert all the time, not waiting for “their turn” to come. It spices up the game. A unit may not get to move exactly when you thought it would as you may lose initiative.

The contents of the starter box (Scourge and UCM) plus all the buildings, map boards, counters, templates, dice, tape measure and rulebook really are good value.

Now that the starter forces (4 of them) are in plastic, the game has become good value and “do-able” even on a budget. You can build on the core force to build it up to 1000, 1500 or 2000 points.

I am really hooked now and want to get into this game. The system reminds me of the fun of playing the old GW epic space marine (2nd edition) but is a little more complex. There’s a lot more to discover as you can have Commanders and Command Cards. More to take on board! Looking forward to my next game! Big thanks to Dan for taking the time to play my first game through. Thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Apologies for some fuzzy pictures… it gives a flavour even if I couldn’t quite get those lovely Shaltari Gates and vehicles into focus.

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