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Dropzone Commander Review

 Post subject: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:08 pm 
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Intro

My order of DZC has finally arrived! :spin

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UCM Army Box, Rulebook, and Kodiak ACV

The first impression on opening the box was that these products look very professionally done. The packaging is well layed out, certainly not amateurish in any way. A good first impression, and definitely a plus for any retailer that carries it.

Then I opened the Army box - and it was blue inside.

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UCM Army Box - Contents

Now this is a fantastic cross-promotion of KR products - the booklet is a complete KR catalog. As well as the minis and tray, there was also a hand-checked slip of the box contents; another sign of the attention to detail I'm coming to expect.

Now without even looking at the models closely I feel good about this company. There is an attention to detail you'd expect of such a personal enterprise combined with the professional look and feel of a much larger company.

However I do need some actual info on the model quality and rules to make this review worth the paper it's not going to be printed on...

Next - Models

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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:21 am 
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Models

Well the display models look great, but do they tell the real story? There have certainly been recent instance when this wasn't the case. So what I'll do is take some shots of each type of unit (the equivalent of a blister of each) and offer some comments. In each case I'm taking the minis straight out of the bag, nothing has been clipped, cut, or shaved off.

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Sabre MBT Section

Each tank consists of a main hull and three part armature for the cannon. The hull is extremely nice with virtually no visible mold lines and few areas that seem to be prone to flash. It does however have a chunky sprue attachment point under the sensor array. This component is in common with the Rapier AA tank. The armature is well designed, with a 360deg field of fire and the ability for the cannon to lay flat against the roof or with the arm raised about 75-80deg. The parts have some fuzzy flash and one of the guns has a bubble at the rear end but, like almost all the bubbles on the minis I got, it is in a location that does not destroy any detail - a flat face.

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Rapier AA Tank Section

The Rapier is another tank on the Sabre hull, and as such shares the main hull and bottom part of the armature. The other two parts are a slightly modified arm with a post hole to allow vertical traverse, and the main gun: a Gatling-style weapon. The parts share the same fuzzy flash as the Sabre's, however one of the cannons is missing half it's muzzle, as can kind of be seen on the far right component in the first photo. Frustrating, but fixable.

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Bear APCs

These are cast in two hollow halves and a small turret. There is an overflow vent coming off the taillight - don't cut it off (I won't make that mistake twice) Otherwise there are few problems - a bit of flash, a small amount of extra material on the rear where the sections join (on both halves) and there is a ~2mm bubble in one of the tailgates.

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Colonial Legionnaires

The only infantry in the Army Box, and one of two types the UCM can take. These are already covered to some degree by Tuffskull's review, but they are nice clean casts with no flash I can see. The poses are dynamic and realistic, with the exception of the second from the right (from the front) who has legs that appear to be different lengths and are a bit chubby.

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Kodiak ACV

This is not part of the Army Box; I just really liked the look of it and had to have one. Now that I have the rules I'm glad I got it - not only do dedicated command vehicles have some general perks, but the Kodiak can call in an Orbital Strike, an Energy 13, infinite ranged, indirect fire weapon (more on that when I review the rules). Plus it's just as awesome in person as it looked. It consists of the two parts of the Bear Chassis, a hatch to replace the Bears turret, a back plate with a glorified trailer hitch, a two part comms trailer, and a two part folding antennae. Aside from some tiny bits of flash I can't see any flaws in the casting I got.

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Condor Medium Dropship

You get three of these in the box; one each for the Sabres, Rapiers, and Bears. They are easily the most complex of the models I got, and also seem to have more problems. Fortunately like all the models no small amount of thought has been given to where air bubbles will tend to accumulate, and these areas tend to have no detail to be lost. It consists of a fuselage, 2x Wings, 3x Docking clamps, and 2x pairs of vertical thrusters. The Docking Clamps have a large attachment point on one side, but it is easily clipped and unlikely to remove any detail.

All of the bubbles I've found save one are on the docking clamps and in the sharp rear edges of the vertical thrusters. None of the fuselages have any, and the only one on the wings can be seen clearly in the bottom pic. It'll take some greenstuff to repair, but it's an area compsed entirely of planes, and so it won't be hard to blend in. Two of the vertical thrusters in the same kit also lost a trailing corner as can be seen, but the other two kits did not have this problem at all.

Now for some scale shots. Here we have a Condor, a Bear, and a dry-fit Sabre with a Space Marine Landing Craft, Rhino, and Land Raider.
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Finally a shot of the underbelly of the completed Condor, with most of the repairs I needed to do visible (I think there's one that's not).
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Frankly, for the size of the thing and number of components I think that's a pretty reasonable proposition. I'm not sure I'll feel the same about the one that's missing the back of it's wing, but we'll see when we get to it.

All in all the models live up to my expectations: they are aesthetically pleasing, well produced, and require minimal prep for the most part. Some small bubbles shoud be expected, so have some liquid green stuff or similar product handy, but only one of the 12 resin models I got will require any putty, and that will be an easy fix with no detail to replace. Flash is minimal and paper-thin. Vents and pour channels are well thought through and easy to remove. I'll definitely be getting some PHR as an OpFor.

Next up: the Rules

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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:48 pm 
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Nice review SG, very informative.

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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:37 pm 
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Excellent review SG :).

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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:53 pm 
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moredakka wrote:
Nice review SG, very informative.

netepic wrote:
Excellent review SG :).

Thanks guys.
Tom: you might be interested to know their blisters are packed in Virtuweld products too...

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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:30 am 
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Slick - I'm loving the boxed sets, we are looking at designs for EW boxed sets at the moment to go with our new rulebook, the foam is a genius idea.

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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:16 pm 
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Looks like nice stuff !


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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:13 pm 
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The body of the condor looks very narrow compared to its length.


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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:19 pm 
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Generally 10mm vehicles fit in well with 6mm infantry ... actually closer in some case than 6mm vehicles ...

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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:42 am 
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Part 2 - The Rules: What you need to know.

The rules for DZC are simple but look surprisingly robust. They also add a few twists I've not seen before that make it unique.

Example Statline:

Sabre MBT
A/10, Mv/4", CM/A, DP/1, Pts/45, Type/Vehicle, Category/Support, S+C/3/6/9 Standard, Special/N/A

Weapons
'Avenger' Railgun: E/10, Sh/1, Ac/2+, R(F)/Inf, R(C)/24", MF/4", Arc/F/S/R, Special/Articulated
Heavy Machinegun: E/4, Sh/2, Ac/3+, R(F)/36", R(C)/12", MF/4", Arc/F/S, Special/N/A

So what does all this mean? Well many are pretty self explanitory once you get past the abbreviations.

A is the units Armor Value. Mv is it's movement. CM is countermeasures, which can be Active or Passive. Active Countermeasures reduce the range of many weapons, while Passive countermeasures act like a shield, giving a saving throw against incoming fire. DP is Damage Points. Points levels range from 500 for a small Skirmish to 3k for a large battle. Type can be Vehicle, Infantry, or Aircraft. Category defines how it can be used within the FOC. S+C means Squad and Coherency - it tells the allowed the allowed squad size[s] as well as the squad coherency, which can be B2B (0"), Standard (3"), Wide (6"), or Open (Unlimited). Special defines special traits, for instance Walker. Infantry also have two other stats: CQB, which defines how many dice a unit gets per DP in CQB, and F(Fortitude) which is a measure of morale which is also only used in CQB.

The weapons stats are as follows: Energy (E), how strong the weapon is. Shots (Sh), the number of shots the weapon gets. Ac - Accuracy, the "to hit" roll. R(F) - Full range, the furthest the weapon is capable of firing. R(C) - Countered Range, the maximum effective range versus Active Countermeasures. MF - Move and Fire, the maximum the unit can move and still fire the weapon. Arc - weapon arcs. Front, Side, Rear (all 90deg) , and Narrow (a 15deg cone directly to the front) are the options here. Then Special, where the special rules go.

So how would a single unit's turn play? Let's follow our Sabre around for a bit. We can safely assume we have already played the Initiation phase, where you roll for initiative, discard and draw command cards, and roll reserves.

Our Sabre is on level ground, and moves 4" forward (its maximum move). It has several potential targets, but let's concern ourselves only with a Scourge Hunter MGT partially hidden by a ruin and a Scourge Warrior Horde in the open. Our Sabre decides to fire on these two targets, since in DZC you are not restricted to fire on a single unit. The Avenger Railgun will shoot at the Hunter MGT and the Heavy Machinegun will attempt to mow the infantry down.

The Hunter has active countermeasures, so the railgun fires with it's Range(Countered) of 24", and finds it is within range. It has a 360 arc so the Hunter is in-arc. Avengers have Ac2+ and one shot. 1d6 is rolled, coming up 4. A hit! The Hunter has A8, so the E10 Railgun would normally do a point of damage on 3+. However, the Hunter is Hull down (10%-50% of the tank is visible) which adds +2 to its armor. E10 vs. A10 needs a 5+ instead. A 5 is rolled, which hits, destroying the Hunter as it only has 1DP.

Now the Warrior Horde is infantry, so it has an armor of only 2, but 5DP (one per troop). It also has no active countermeasures, allowing the Heavy Machinegun to use its Range(Full) of 36". The Horde is in arc, which for the HMG is Front and both sides . It rolls its two shots at Ac3+ and rolls a 3 and a 1. Only one hit. However E4 vs. A2 damages on a 3+, and a 6 is rolled. The Horde stand takes a damage, but has 4DP remaining.

So, what innovative, unique, or just plain cool features does the game have?

Close combat (such as there is) uses the same mechanisms as shooting. Only when two opposing infantry units try to occupy the same structure does something resembling CC occur, called CQB

Infantry are accounted for individually even though there are 3 or 5 to the base. They not only have 1DP per man, but their Small Arms have RW-1, meaning Reduce Weapon-1. These weapons get one less shot for every damage a unit takes. With a Heavy Weapon and 4 shots on the RW-1 weapons, it is a very simple way to track who's left.

The idea of active countermeasures reducing range is likewise really neat, because you can do a lot for the character of a weapon with those two ranges. For instance the Avenger has an infinite uncountered range, but a fairly modest countered range. Scourge weapons, however, are not affected by active countermeasures, so their R(F) and R(C) are equal. However they are also shorter; the Hunter's main gun has only 12" range, which is equal to the longest ranges in the army.

Only infantry can enter buildings, and most of the objectives will be found in buildings. However Infantry are horribly vulnerable and not too effective en masse so you end up with an environment where infantry are critical but most of your units will be armor to support infantry operations.

Rules for demolishing structures are also included, allowing those with a nasty streak to simply deny objectives or in some cases bury entire squads of infantry.

You have several activations (usually 5-7) that are alternated between players, but each activation may contain several squads or even several types of unit. Only squads have coherency, so ordering an activation may affect several areas of the board at once.

Solidly written rules with some mechanics I've not seen and are extremely smart. Particularly some of the ways infantry are dealt with are unusual but easy to grasp and very intelligent.

Next up: The Forces - how they play.

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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:54 pm 
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Picked up the rules and a couple of blisters at the weekend. Impressed so far.

One blister turned out to be a missing one set of guns, but that has been resolved nice and quickly by the retailer so all good.

Just need to have a good read and then get a trial game in at some point.


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 Post subject: Re: Dropzone Commander Review
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:22 pm 
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I had the opportunity to play an intriductory game on the SPIEL 2012 games fair in Essen, Germany.
It plays really nice and the models look good too! :)

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