Friday, 14 March 2014

Getting Started: UCM Unit Overview

can I get a ‘hoo-rah?’
Edited: 6th May 2014 to include Fireblades
Updated 10th July 2015 to include Phoenix, Mortar teams and other errata changes

Good day to you all, today I want to talk about the UCM – the good guys. In this post I will go over the army and the units that comprise it.
I will follow that with how to expand from the starter set, followed by battle group synergy and advanced tactics. 

I started off playing UCM way back in October 2012, just after the game was released and all because of the Archangel models. I loved them – they are so sleek and menacing. I have grown my collection to probably more than 4000pts and I still don’t own any Scimitars (you will see why later) - I do now have a pair!   

Obviously this is will all based on my experiences and opinion, which is neither right or wrong………..but I am right. 

For Scourge, Shaltari, PHR and Resistance overviews, you are in the wrong place!! Just kidding, click on their names!


You have made it this far, which means 1 of 2 things, either you are interested in staring UCM and are wondering what the army does or you are filthy alien scum and want to infiltrate our ranks to find out how to kill us! If it is the latter YOU ARE NOT WELCOME, go and invade someone else's planet.

Right where were we? Ah yes the UCM - probably the most versatile army in Dropzone. The UCM can take a beating and keep coming back for more. They have the toughest armour available on their standard tanks, and whilst not particularly quick, they are not slow either. 
There is a myriad of different play-styles available to the budding UCM general. You can be balls to the wall aggressive and in your opponents face, you can hold back and play the war of attrition or you can load up with Aircraft to dominate the skies - the choice is yours.

There are negatives though, and weaknesses that can be exploited. 
The UCM have the worst infantry in the game. This means you need to be really careful with placement. Add to that, low armoured dropships - they make staying in the air a risky business. Finally there is not much access to Demolisher weapons. All these can be worked around.


Kodiak - High armoured, lots of damage points and able to shoot anything on the table with a super laser of doom. For me personally, I have absolutely no luck with my Kodiak. He forever rolls exactly 1 number lower than he actually needs. I have played entire games where he has not hit - even with assisted targeting! 
A very static model, it has Mf 0 so once in place has no need to move - this is the main problem with the Kodiak. It's expensive, especially when you add a commander into it, and you really don't feel a benefit for the points sink. In Focal Point missions you need to sacrifice turns of shooting to move so you can claim a focal point which is not ideal. 
Never buy a transport for this fella either  - it is a waste of points (unless you are particularly bothered about having everything in dropships) 
With the errata updates, the Kodiak gets a small blast. This really helps mitigate some of the dreadful misses and can really help with skimmers too. Also helps with a bit of building demolition. 
Recently I have been using a Condor with my Kodiak. It adds a lot more versatility. 

Phoenix - The second choice, a good choice. Still a choice. The Phoenix is a great centerpiece for the army. It has a huge array of weapons to abuse too. It is expensive though and lightly armoured. You will lose it a lot more often than you would a Kodiak. I like to run it with a Ferrum, the drones helps soak a bit of the fire normally directed at the Phoenix. Add to this the ability for it to score in focal point missions if you have a commander inside means it can be great for some last turn Focal Point grabbing. 

Raven, Condor and Albatross - All the same (low) armour with damage points increasing as speed decreases 1,3 & 6 and 24", 18" & 12" respectively. There is also the option of adding Missiles pods for different costs for each (which always confused me - same missiles, I think should be same upgrade cost). As a rule of thumb I never upgrade my Infantry carriers with missiles, as it would make me consider using the Raven as a gunship - which could get it shot.
I love the Ravens carrying the Infantry, they are very manoeuvrable and perfect for troop re-deployment. I also really like the Condors, at first I was a little meh with the whole dropship thing, but I have learnt how useful they are especially with some missiles attached as they can go tank hunting. I really don't use the Albatross at all, I tried it once and it wasn't to my liking - there just isn't enough room for 9 tanks to operate in 1 area (6 if you take Heavies). I think in larger games it will have it's place (Battle sized). 

Bear APC -  I have 2 of these from the starter set I originally bought, they are still not painted (They now are painted! yipee). I don't find bears useful at all - they have reasonable movement of 6" and armour 8 with 2 damage points, but because you have to buy 3 stands of infantry to go inside it works out very costly indeed. If I could take 2 bases of infantry in a Bear I would probably get to painting mine, until then it will be left in it's undercoat. Also the Bear has no gun worth talking about, not even as an upgrade. 

Sabre - For a long time the only Standard choice. I have experimented with 3 and 6 of these, never 9 though. I like them a lot, they are cheap and have respectable movement. They have the best armour available in the game and a long range railgun. Downsides are only 1 damage point and the strength 10 gun, although is a strength 10 gun really a downside? Against PHR yes, the others no. Recently I have only played with 3, they work well as a deterrent and great back up/shield for the Gladius. Oh and don't forget, they have articulated turrets, but that will be for a different post.   

Katana - The new shiny, these are a great addition to the UCM; faster with more shots (albeit less powerful) and cheaper too. For my liking maybe a little too cheap I think if they were 33-35 points each it would be a fair price to pay, even though they went up in points I think 35 would be the right cost. The Katana has Armour 9 and its weapon is strength 9 with 2 shots. The range is reduced, but still has a very good effective threat range. If you drop turn 1 you are still likely to be shooting something turn 2, if not then there will be some serious holes in a building somewhere. I think the Katana would work best in a battle group with 2 squads of 3 in condors. 3 on their own seem a touch fragile. I tried 9 in an Albatross but there is not enough room to manoeuvre that many tanks around. Also they are an excellent demolition group with an Eagle

Rapier - I believe this is probably the best AA unit in the game. It's a bold statement - let me explain. The Rapier squad has 9 strength 7 AA shots, with 360 degree arc of fire, an articulated turret and a very sturdy armour 10 tank chassis. I understand that Scouge get stronger AA which hits more accurately, but fewer shots and ridiculous short range. Shaltari have more shots, but weaker strength and the tanks are made of paper. PHR have longer range and 2 damage per Phobos but less shots, weaker armour and far more expensive (per model).
Let's not forget that the main gun has 2 fire modes, the focussed and wide pattern. The wide pattern has an unbelievable amount of shots and will ruin infantry in the open or lining the walls.  

Ferrum - Probably one of the only auto-includes in the game (other than the stuff you have to take). The Ferrum is certainly uber-versatile. The drones are scouts (great for spotting for Longbows and Kodiaks) they have AA with a super-fast movement which can catch lone dropships out if you get them early enough add on to that Focus-4 and they can take out the heavy armour too. I forgot to mention, when they die the Ferrum can replenish the drones (4 per turn). This all sounds amazing, and it is; so what's the drawback? The drawback comes in the form of the Ferrum itself, it's a very big model with slow movement and weak armour, yes it has 5 damage points but it is so easy to double up on that when shot it goes down pretty quick and when the carrier is gone the drones fall out the sky (don't feel too sad for them). The usual trick with the Ferrum is to hide it at the back out of LoS and range, but that is getting increasingly difficult with units that have looong ranges with powerful guns (Hades, Hyperion, Ocelot, Caimen, Firedrake and Scimitar etc). I always play with a Ferrum and do well with it, but in my list it's not the best unit (that award goes to my 4 Gladius), and I have played against lists with 2 Ferrums and beaten them everytime (using UCM, Scourge and PHR!). Players may be tempted to spam the Ferrum because of it's versatility, I don't think it works. The Carrier is too fragile to make the list balanced enough.    

Falcon - If you looked up 'glass-hammer' in the dictionary, you would find a picture of the UCM Falcon. Before the Eagle was released it was the only way of getting something greater than energy 10 on the front lines, but a 1 shot E11 gun hitting on a 3+ mounted on a 1 damage point armour 5 Raven chassis just doesn't cut it. The drop in points from rulebook 1 to 1.1 was very welcome but normally when an enemy reaction fired at a Falcon you knew it was dead. Unfortunately the Falcon is now pretty much a redundant option. For 18 points more than 2 Falcons you get an Eagle which has the same amount of E11 shots, 1 more damage plus 4 E9 missile shots. As Kevin Bacon would say it's a no brainer! 
Well the errata changes everything. Welcome back my little puppies. I love running 4 Falcons now. The Evasive countermeasures really help keep these birds in the air and at only 40 points each they are perfectly costed. 

Eagle - Another new and very shiny unit. The model is very sexy indeed. It utilises the Condor chassis but ramps it up somewhat, with some big-arsed railguns and missile pods. I have covered most of what I think about the unit in the 'Quick and dirty new unit review' and I still haven't had a chance of playing with one yet. I have, however, played against it. It is, as predicted, brutal. It does building demo very well and the long range E11 is quite formidable. I still wish it had 4 damage and possibly, able to be fielded as 1-2 in a squad.
I have used and abused the Eagle. It still holds up. The 24" range E11 guns are just terrific, coupled the E9 missiles makes it a very effective weapon.

Longbow - Another versatile unit for the UCM. 3 different weapon modes for 3 different situations. I find I use the E8 medium blast mode the most, I thought it would be the smart smoke, but attack is the best form of defence. The best way to utilise the Longbows is with a large squad of tanks, either Sabres, Katanas or Gladius. When not playing PHR, I like to put them on top of a building, it keeps them out of harms way and if the opponent is shooting a non-important building then he/she is not not shooting your valuable units. They do have a down side, only 1 damage and armour 7. Dropships with guns (which is most of them) are perfect for hunting down longbows, and normally you don't want to be shooting a dropship once it's payload has been deployed. 

Fireblade - Wowsers this unit is excellent. 3 of these in a Condor backing up some Legionnaires works beautifully and you can smell the enemies flesh burning for days afterwards. 18 E4 shots that can directly target units inside a building is just mean, on average you will cause 12 wounds on a toughness 2 enemy, 8 wounds on a toughness 3 enemy and 4 wounds on a toughness 4 enemy. Remember though that all the toughness 4 infantry only have 3 dp per base. 
Not only do they burn well, they also make your opponent fear going near a building with them lurking behind, they make excellent board control units.

Legionnaires and Praetorians - The squishy meat-sacks of the UCM. They are both cheap units compared to the other factions. The Legionnaires are great at getting in and out quickly, if they stay too long, falling masonry will destroy them. The Praetorians pack a big punch with a CQB of 3! they can go toe to toe with the best and hold their own. The way I use my  infantry is always in Ravens. As a comparison 6 bases of infantry (2 squads) in 2 Bears and a Condor (with missiles) is 11 points less than 3 squads of 2 bases in Ravens. The 3 squads in Raven are more versatile and more efficient, they can search for 3 objectives/intel at a time and are more manoeuvrable. I play the infantry quite cautiously, you can't be gun-ho with them. Infantry win you games, you must keep them alive. You also need enough. I have found 4 units to be about right in a 1500 point game which is 3 units of Legionnaires and a unit of Praetorians. I try to wait out the enemy troops and double up on them when I can.  

Mortar Team - A very interesting unit. They utilise the Barrage rule from Reconquest but it is only E6 (although shape charged). It will cause havoc to resistance players and anyone brave/silly enough to put an infantry unit in the open. The concussive round is something I'm liking a lot. It means you can almost guarantee getting into a building. Hawk need to clarify the IF shooting from a building. 
Only 2 bases in a squad and can only be transported in bears, makes it a perfect backfield unit. Share with 3 bases of legionnaires for a massive 6 point saving but some extra utility. 

Wolverine As and Bs - aka the batman tumbler. I love the models for these and I like them in the game too. The A's are great backfield drive-on AA and pretty cheap too. The B's were my favourite unit. I used to run 8 and cause mayhem with them, now though I just don't have room for them in my lists. I find other units do what they do but better. Being scouts is great, it increases the SoI and also helps spot for Longbows and the Kodiak. I really need to play some larger 2000+ point games so I can run all the units I want.

Praetorian Snipers - I like and I don't like. The units abilities are great, the 18" range for the AA sniper shot, hitting on a 2+ is superb especially at E7. This means though that you need to be lining the walls of a building, therefore turn 2 you get into a decent sized mid-table building for a shot on turn 3. You have to go for the middle otherwise you won't be shooting the dropships you need to. Being in the middle of the board has it's own problems though - enemy infantry can obliterate you in CQB. Calling these boys praetorians is wildly inaccurate. They should have a CQB of at least 2. The other downside is that they get wiped out by falling masonry as easily as Legionnaires do. The final nail in the coffin - 1 unit in a raven is 12 points more expensive than Praetorians. I know which I'd choose.   
The errata helped. CQB of 2 and dispersed formation make them a viable choice. Still expensive though.

Gladius - Love, love, love this unit. It's tough and powerful and sends out a volley of fire that not many can deal with (unless you happen to be an Odin....grrr). It's very slow but still manoeuvrable enough to get around - 3" makes a lot of difference (that's what I keep telling myself). You can drive them on for first turn building destruction, turn 1 drop from Condors is normal but I have used a turn 2 drop right into the heart of an enemy a couple of times. Coupled with Longbows for a smokescreen the turn you drop makes for a very points efficient battlegroup. The Gladius soak a lot of firepower, but don't be to hasty to get shot, it is still best to keep hidden until you want to pounce.    

Scimitar - I'll try to remain positive with this....nope sorry I can't. I just don't see the point. It has Mf 0". In a game based around clever deployment and re-deployment, moving and firing, tanks that cannot move and fire have no place. Scratch that, the Shaltari Ocelot has a place, as it has Demolisher, and E13 and pierces through passive saves. The Scimiter has E10!! that's it. 
Give it E11 and Mf 1" boost it to the same cost as a Gladius and then we are talking, or keep it E10, make it Mf 1" and let it pierce through passive saves. 
Thank Hawk for being so generous with the errata. They must have read my post! So E11 and Mf 1" perfect. I have now bought, painted and used my Scimitar to great effect. They add another dimension to play. 

Fast Movers
Archangel - Cool name, cool model, good price, good stats. Shame about the fast mover rules. They are just not efficient enough for their un-reliability. I really want to use my Archangels more, when you use them it is very difficult not to make NEEEEEEOWWWW sounds as they streak across the battlefield. Archangels are death for dropships. They are low armoured and only 1 damage point but they should be that way. If you can make your opponent use his AA by saturating the skies the Archangels can really dominate (if they turn up). 

Seraphim - Another very nice model, really tough - not easy at all for enemy AA to deal with. Armour 7 and 2 damage points is tricky without the need to reaction fire it. The load out on the Seraphim is great, I kinda wish they could fire their weapon and drop a bomb in the same turn, I would also like the moon on a stick please. The Seraphim suffers as much if not more from the Fast mover rules making it really not worth it unless you are having a big casual game. 

So that's my round up of the units on offer for the UCM. I will revisit this post when new units get released, and update if any rules change. 

Tune in next time to hear my wise words on expanding from the starter


  1. Interesting points with the ravens. I have always felt they were a bit to sensitive to only have ravens as transport. To easy to kill, in my opinion. While condors require dedicated AA fire to take down. Also, I have always just let buildings have falling masonry take care of the 2 bases of UCM infantries. After some damage they hardly possess a real threat even if doubling up. Sure you can use them to search and all that but three bases require more effort from the enemy to kill off. As you wrote 2 bases can be used to double stuff up.

    Then again, it seems you have been thinking and trying it out for a while so I should be totally wrong.

    I feel overall that the weaker units in the UCM army is on the right point levels and the stronger units are a bit over the top. Increasing the effectiveness of the weaker units calls for codex creep. Since the experimental units are very often a bit over the top perhaps they will see some difference of their point values at the end?

    Also, I missed something about the command cards. How should UCM have their commander and how strong for a 1500 battle?

  2. Just typed out a lengthy reply which just got eaten by the computer gremlins grrrrrrr..... I guess I will just summarise what I wanted to say!
    I haven't really touched on commanders, I will get to it at a later stage. UCM commanders are a fine balancing act. The cards are weak and the commanders expensive. I tend to use a CV3 or 4.
    On troops, I find the main problem with Bear/Condor combo is that it is susceptible to anti-tank fire. Anti-tank is more prominent that AA in most armies and a bear will go down easily to most anti-tank. If you are using Ravens the you know only AA can hurt you, therefore you can play avoidance or saturation to keep your Raven alive. Mostly it is situational as to how you play them, and a Raven is versatile.

  3. played starter set couple times and no matter what scourge wins fairly easily. The speed of scourge and skimmers means running 6+ to hit and usually they are hitting me at 2+ because the have the speed to get hull down and then move out to engage me without hull down. What am I doing wrong? Im a very experienced minis player that is trying to find advantages with the ucm starter box but do I need other units to achieve parity ie a bad mathup??

    1. Hi Keith, welcome to Dropzone. The UCM v Scourge starter set is pretty balanced and should be quite a close game. Remember that when the Scourge Hunters deploy from their Marauder, they do not get their skimmer bonus, so if you can sneak an early shot it's 2+ to hit then 3+ to kill, also worth remembering your Rapiers can hurt the Hunters and Reapers, they ignore the skimmer bonus as they are AA and need magic 6s to kill, but with 9 shots is quite likely. Make sure you use your range advantage. Sabres have a 24" range, this means you should get a turn to shoot before the Hunters. Sabres also have the articulated rule meaning you can conga line them. That means that your opponent will need 4+ to hit the back 2 Sabres. Also it's worth trying to take out the Invaders and the Marauder which carries the Warriors. If the Warriors can't extract their objectives then they are stranded (this works both ways though). Sometimes activation can be key. Always let your opponent go first on the first turn, this way you can see what he/she does and can counter. Hope this helps a bit

  4. thanks for the advice im having a problem getting the first shot as they are hidden by buildings with more than double the speed of ucm tanks they deploy fairly early in game, how do I take advantage of that? with 4" movement it seems tough to maneuver. If I use the dropships I cant shoot on the disembarking turn

    1. You should always be dropping your Sabres and Rapiers turn 1.
      If your opponent decides to stay in his Marauder on turn 1 and move up to 24" then deploy your Rapiers almost dead opposite, if the Marauder moves into the open with a full load you can reaction fire it and possibly blow up the contents.
      If your opponent drops on turn 1 the maximum he can be on the board is 12" move from the Marauder + 3" deployment + 4" Hunter move = 19". Therefore on tun 2 he can move 9" and soot 12" which is a total of 40". If you hold back and don't have them past 8" on the board on your turn 1 drop, you can cover up to 24-28" from your position on turn 2.
      With regards to buildings etc, if you are playing targets of opportunity you will have 3 buildings along the centre line and a few dotted around on each player half. The time to strike is when the Hunters are around the middle, either in their dropships and hit them with your AA or on the ground and hit with the Sabres.
      If all this fails then maybe you can suicide your Rapiers, deploy them just within reach of the hunters, it could force the opponent to come out in the open to take out the Rapiers and be shot by your Sabres backing them up.
      Let me know if any of this helps