Friday, 14 February 2014

Getting Started: The Foundations To Awesomeness

We will be forming a slightly different foundation, but just as awesome
So you have picked your race (and if you haven't stop reading and choose now!) and the urge to spend your rainy day money / max out your credit card / invest your life savings in some beautiful tiny resin models is becoming unbearable; but nagging questions beckon in your ear - how do I play this game, and what do I get first? What really works in the game? How do I make friends to play this with?!?

Well I can't help with the last part but I should be able to put you on the right path with the other details! Like all wargames Dropzone can be a little daunting to begin with, and over this post I will do my best to help with some of the non-race specific beginning points which should help you get started in and before the game. We will be following this up with race specific guides, featuring easy lists to use which are effective in a balanced game.

I will note now that the advice below is structured around a 1500 point list, for use in tournament missions (which are variations on 3 missions in the book; targets of opportunity, recon and land grab.) I strongly recommend downloading the invasion 2014 pack as the missions change things up enough to keep everything fresh.

But for now get ready to learn the basics, so put on your socks, pull up your braces and facepaint your spirit animal (mine is a Sea Otter), here we go!!

1) A balanced army list

You will find many games in which having an abundance of the biggest, meanest, jammiest, beardiest, and leastfuntoplayagainstiest units will auto-win you games. This will then domino to your army as you have to compete with your power gamer friend, which in turn makes you a power gamer losing you your friends and morphing you into a social pariah, to then be banned from your games club, living a life of stagnated depresion until your neighbour notices the smell coming from your flat, and the police find you decomposing into your computer chair, your fingers clicking your WoW character around through some kind of muscle pattern engrained into your brain...

Lucky for you though you are starting Dropzone Commander, a game which thrives upon balanced lists! In fact it gets to the point where if your list is to unbalanced you will be missing important parts of an army, and will be overwhelmed by your happy (and slightly smug) opponent. A balanced list is comprised of:

Enough AA to control to sky around your units - Without AA enemy gunships and dropships will be able to run riot around your army which greatly enhances their manoeuvrability and cripples yours.

A solid backbone of base tanks - Having 3 Hades or 6 Jaguars is all well and good, but the big units are slow and will suffer from a limited amount of shots meaning you will lose control of the board quickly. 

Enough troops to win you the game - This I will explain in section 2. It's worth the wait, trust me!

One decent commander - On the face of it having to spend all your points on a boss for the sake of initiative and drawing cards seems like a waste, but not having the initiative when you most need to activate that killer unit can lose you the game. Having a CV of 3 or 4 (maybe even 5 for Scourge) is important, so don't forget it! Also don't bother with more than one commander, it's a waste. Command units are built to last and unless you are using them wrong shouldn't die often.

And one last thing, if you can fit it in:

A hammer blow battlegroup - To smash the enemy to the ground with! One large, tasty battlegroup can be incredible for removing an opponents key unit before they get to activate them. There is nothing better than seeing your enemy remove his favourite tanks from the field, and feeling the fire rise in your belly from the victory! (that could be last nights dinner however, us gamers don't tend to lead particularly healthy life styles)

2) Four units of troops

As mentioned this game is won on objectives and troops are essential. I always take 4 troops, or 3 troops and 1 exotic choice to the battlefield with a quick mode of transport to get them of the board with those shiny objectives. Having four troops means you can be in four different buildings at one time, or gang up in CQB on some poor lonely enemy troopers. If you are in a building first you are the occupier, which means you roll for and claim objectives found. Having 4 troops means you can get in as many buildings as possible and have the potential to remove more objectives than your adversary. Alternatively, you can react to enemy troop movement and catch them out in an overwhelming CQB!

3) Number of Battlegroups

And the magic number was 6. Not 1, not 2, not 8, 6. Tactically 6 battle groups will give you the best spread of activations. It means you won't be left with your opponent able to activate 2 battlegroups after you have finished, giving them a big advantage (especially in the first turn). Even if your sixth battle group is 2 bases of squidgy Legionnaires it doesn't mater, trust me on this! For instance, in my Invasion 2014 army I had one battlegroup of 3 Yari's. Size doesn't matter (that's what I keep telling myself anyway).

4) Activation order

Activating the right battlegroup first is key. Always be 100% sure which units you need before you choose an activation. Do you need to jump in that building before the Immortals? Do you need to get rid of those damn Gladius because they are putting holes in your line? Your first activation is key, and make sure it counts!

5) Play to the mission

This is as straight forward as it sounds. If a mission says take a focal point, make sure you have the most points on it. If it is the most objectives get all the objectives! Don't start your master plan, only to be derailed by the prospects of killing those 2 tanks, and then oh look, I can get those if I move this here, and those guys if this goes here... The greed of the kill can ultimately lose you games.

These 5 key points should help you though your first few games, and hopefully win a couple. Finding the right balance of units to begin with will be tricky but persevere, you will get there! However if you are still looking for a touch of advise keep you eyes peeled on the blog as race help will be incoming in the near future!


  1. Some very useful points especially having as many battlegroups as possible and bringing enough troops, keep up the good work.

    1. Cheers! I appreciate the feedback, and hope it helps!

  2. Why not more than 6 battlegroups? You say why not fewer but not why not more.

    1. Because you can only have up to 6 in a Clash! 7 BGs in a Battle would be best, if you're playing 2k+ games.