Thursday, 13 February 2014

Getting Started: The first step

They are all so beautiful, so which one?
So, your down your local games club and one of your friends show you some bitching new models you don't recognise – in fact not only are they bitching, but in a universe of hero sized models they are to scale too. Of course the first question that comes to mind is 'Yo dude, where's those models from?! They're totally bitching!' (insert appropriate real life banter where appropriate). This friend is then as happy and enthusiastic as a new GW staff member to tell you 'Bruv, they are Dropzone Commander models, get on this shizzle! (once more, with the appropriate speech). At this point you of course started crying with joy and immediately jumped on the net to start throwing your money at the screen.

Okay, so this scenario isn't going to be applicable to everyone, but by whatever means you first heard of / saw some DzC models drool is almost certain to have flowed from your mouth and the quandary of picking a race to play became an immediate issue. Over this post, and some to follow in the future, we will help as best we can to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the races, provide help with which units to purchase first, and provide a base tactica.

One thing I will note before we get into the meat of this advisory pie (mmm pie) is that the game is very balanced, and there is no power creep in any one direction. Every single list is competitive. Dave, the creator, is very aware of this problem in other wargames and has gone to great lengths to make sure this doesn't happen. Which is both uncommon, and totally awesome.

In this post, we shall start with the initial question:

Which race do I pick?


As is typical with humans in all games, the UCM are the most balanced race in the game and I would say the easiest to learn the rules with. Although they are the, for lack of a better term, most standard army the depth of their units makes sure that they are not dull in the slightest to play with or against. They feature all rounded tanks of good armour and fire power and a prominent air program if you are willing invest the points in it. The UCM's weakest area is definitely their base troop units (think the troopers from cannon fodder...) but their exotic (elite) troops unit more than makes up for their short comings.

Would I advise UCM to a beginner? - Yes, is the short answer.

How much depth does the army have? - Even before the release of the new standard units, great depth. I haven't found one choice in the list that isn't worth taking.

Am I gonna kill all the stuff? - Yes and no. Although killing an enemy is obviously important, objectives are the key in this game. No objectives, no win. As such the UCM are built to attack and control, rather than eliminate.

Strengths? - As mentioned, great depth.

Weakness? - They lack manoeuvrability in my opinion. Once deployed you will find it hard to move to another quarter of the board with your tanks (although the tanks aren't slow they are certainly not fast). If you deploy correctly however this shouldn't be too much of a problem.


The obligatory alien invaders, who arrived to take over the cradle worlds in search of our universes ultimate cup of coffee. Well, I say coffee, I really mean a motel to crash in. And by motel to crash in, I really mean warm fleshy human hosts. The Scourge are the second army in the box set (UCM being the first), and although they are the obvious nemesis to the UCM (having burned down their homes and eaten their babies and family pets) I don't see them as the second easiest army to play. They are the ultimate glass hammer; their fire power is utterly devastating within 9 inches, but more than that and you have problems. The Scourge are all about getting up in their enemies grills, and with their exceptional speed (boy, are those squidmen fast) you shouldn't find it too much of a problem. Once an opponent shoots back though be prepared to take your models off the table.

Truly an army for a player with big brass ones.

Would I advise the Scourge to a beginner? - This is a tricky one as they are in the starter box, but probably not. They have no crazy hard special rules to learn, but the way in which they deploy is hard to get the hang off and could be frustrating to new players who keep getting their transports blown up.

How much depth does the army have? - Am okay amount, but they do have a few units which lack (on paper at any rate). The units worth taking though are completely kick arse; crazy face huggeresk units that jump on tanks and inject acid, dissolving the crew in seconds? Yes please!!

Am I gonna kill all the stuff? - If you get to that magic 9 inches then yes my friend, all the stuff is going to get blown up, disintegrated, dissolved, and generally torn apart.

Strengths? - Their punch. If you time it right, it can hit hard and fast and leave the opponent with very little option. Also they are so freaking quick, and have the fastest units in the game.

Weaknesses? - Don't get shot. Simple. This might seem like a base rule for every player but you really don't have the armour or the shenanigans (wait for the Shaltari section...) to survive a counter attack even with your skimmer bonus. Once there is nothing left but smouldering slag in the enemies deployment zone though, who is going to shoot you back? Also I think they lack AA a little, which can be an issue. It's very strong (as is the Scourge way) but limited so target priority is key.


The bully boys of the DzC universe. ED-209's babies can take a serious beating, and doll one out too. And boy, oh boy do they like blowing up buildings. In a happier alternate universe I like to imagine that they would be employed as the galaxies official demo corps, blowing up smelly old 50 story towers for the UCM to build shiny new 150 story towers to share with their Scourge brothers, and the Shaltari would make some kind of wazzy lift system.

Anyway, back to point; they love to stand in one place and shoot stuff. These boys like to saunter around with the swagger of a pimp daddy, but are not mobile in the slightest. This doesn't tend to be too much of a problem as if there is a building in the way, you can simply remove it. The PHR are very slow to balance their suburb fire power and tough armour, and as such can be a very stationary army. This is actually why I bill them as the second easiest army to begin with after UCM. They are (dare I say) the most point and click of the armies, their base troops are good and their exotics excellent, and all in all are very forgiving to errors. Man are they slow though.

Would I advise the PHR to a beginner? - Yes, just behind UCM.

How much depth does the army have? - Great depth! With 7 main walker types (including boss), good support units, and with the arrival of the Hades a good heavy option.

Am I gonna kill all the stuff? -  It is a definite possibility. They feature great long range fire power, but the number of shots is a little limited and due to the slow speed line of sight can become an issue. At the end of the day, if you can get the shots in things are going to blow up.

Strengths? - The good fire power with a solid range, and they are irritatingly hard to kill! Also they can blink at buildings and they fall down. Had I mentioned they're incredible at destroying buildings?

Weaknesses? - Speed and manoeuvrability. They have the worst of both in the game, which to be frank fits the army well. A force as durable as the PHR had to have a draw back like this. Although their troops have quicki(ish) flying transports they can still find it hard to reach objectives and focal points before the enemy.


'I despise that hedgehog, Cluck. Despise him with all my metallic heart.' - Dr Robotnik

They are interstellar space hedgehogs of colourful madness, and the masters of shenanigans. The Shaltari will make an inexperienced wargamers head explode with their deployment; they use gates in preference to dropships, and bring their units in via an advanced teleportation network. Pretty awesome I hear you say? You would be right, but to the casual gamer it could be confusing and it is the reason I place them as bottom choice for new players. Once you get the hang of the slippery bastards though you are in for some fun times.

The Shaltari don't hit overly hard, but can react well to the oppositions movement and this is where their strength lies. Instead of being confined to one dropship you can hop a tank in one gate and literally appear over 40 inches away from another in the same turn. In addition to this every single model (bar troops) has a 5+ passive save (think invulnerable / ward save) against almost every shot! As overpowered as this seems they make up for it by using piƱatas as armour and if a shot gets through the unit will likely die. This also makes their tanks suspect to enemy AA so positioning is everything.

Would I advise the Shaltari to a beginner? - As a man who started the game with the Shaltari, I wouldn't wish my learning curve on anyone. However once you master it the rewards are there for the taking!

How much depth does the army have? - It's alright, about on a par with the Scourge. A few choices are a must, but I think with the new standard units coming out this will change and add a new edge to the army.

Am I gonna kill all the stuff? - Quite frankly, unless you get a bit lucky, no. They have good solid weapons but no numerous big guns, and you will find average armour a problem. The game is not really about killy death as mentioned earlier though, objectives win you games. Which takes me onto...

Strengths? - Outstanding manoeuvrability. It is important you don't mistake speed for manoeuvrability; Scourge are the quickest, the Shaltari the most manoeuvrable. What does this mean? It means you will be in and out of buildings with your troops (which I haven't mentioned, are the best in the game. Think 8 foot tall warsuits who walk through falling debris like it were a spring meadow) in the speed of light, and you have the ability to snatch focal points out from opponents noses. In addition to this they kick out AA like no one else. Lots of it, and at a strength good enough to do the business.

Weaknesses? - If somebody gets within your lines or if you lose a couple of key units you can be in trouble. They will fold easily under pressure, so deployment and thinking 1 to 2 turns ahead is key.

This is all my opinion of course, but I feel I have a firm enough grip on the game to give a true analysis on the armies. As I said at the beginning no one race is better than the other (even if I have accidentally made it seem so) so you won't be disadvantaged by picking one over another.

I hope this has helped you choose the army for you, and if it hasn't then just pick your favourite looking. If you still can't decide, then roll a dice. If you still can't decide how do you get through life?!?

Next time round, basic tactica! 

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