Monday, 28 April 2014

How much is too much? - Conclusion

Too many ducks, or just enough?
Finally, my long journey to find the answer to my demanding question has come! Can you spam units and still be competitive in Dropzone? To briefly recap, I love this game due to it's balance, and have been on a mission to see if it is possible to 'break' it by spamming a strong unit.

Since my last post on this topic, I have played out two games against a UCM and PHR army with some interesting results. Let's remind ourselves of my army list again:

Coyote, CV4

Tarantula x 4
Kukri x 3

Tarantula x 4
Kukri x 3

Braves x 2
Braves x 2

Braves x 2
Braves x 2

Yari (Ion Cannon) x 2

Eden x 3
Spirit x 2
Haven x 4

Total = 1500pts

Some may not really regard eight Tarantulas as spamming, but in a game like Dropzone I would regard spamming as anything more than six of one unit (bar infantry, dropships and Prowlers) due to limited number of squads on the table. There are also 6 Kukri, due to the idea of this list still needing to be competitive. Three would have been too few, and without Jaguars the only other amount that can be taken is six.

Anyhow, to the games! (Warning - This is pretty text heavy, I forgot to take any pics of these two games...)

Game 3 - Folly's UCM - Targets of Opportunity

Mr Folly is newish to zone, so as such I was a little unsure as to include this in the synopsis or not, as I have had a whole heap more game time than him. On the other hand, this list was designed to be used competitively, and in the nature of something like a tournament you will now and then end up playing those with less experience than yourself. It gave me a chance to see how the list would bear up against somebody who plays wargames frequently, but was still learning all the nuances of zone so the decision to roll with it was decided. Unfortunately for poor Folly it turned out to bear up very well...
The Drones get the jump on me, and a particuallary meaty CQB

This was a typical Targets game; five objectives in five large buildings. He deployed heavily on his left flank with Sabres, Gladius and Rapiers, and hid his four Longbows (yes four Longbows, a nightmare which causes Shaltari to wake up with wet sheets), Ferrum and Kodiak back board behind buildings. He got one unit of Infantry out into his closest objective building, and flew the rest up to the middle buildings. I stomped my Coyote on and shot his building, got 4 Tarantulas out of Eden's mid-table and drove on one unit of Kukris. I got 2 units of Braves into my building, and had noticed that he had left one of his Ravens slightly too far from a building. I deployed my second unit of Kukris from a gate to take advantage of this if I got first activation (he was CV3, so I had a good chance of this). I did get the activation, went for the Kukris and shot down the Raven and all the infantry inside. Boom. I also found my objective when searching in this turn, which freed up my Braves. There isn't much you can do about natural sixes... As the game progressed his Drones gave me a head ache as half my AA were on the wrong side of the board (worth it though, as it reduced his Infantry count – play to the game, not to the kill) and his Longbows began to take their toll on the A8 Tarantulas. The Legionnaires in his building were having a mare, and in turn 4 still hadn't found the objective. Maybe the sheer amount of plummeting air conditioner units and light fixtures was putting them off, as falling masonry killed them later on that turn. A few heavy handed CQB's later, and a plucky climb manoeuvre which brought a squad of Tarantulas to bear down on his Gladius, won me the game. My Kukri's also brought down a couple of other Ravens, but with their troops already alighted. I'm not sure on the score but it wasn't something Commander Folly would want to tell a UCM general about.

Breaking it down – This is an interesting one, because I had one unit of Tarantulas that did more or less nothing (shot at 1 building...) but I still won the game. I'm going to put this mainly down to experience in the Dropzone environment. Folly is a good, experienced gamer but because of a couple of positional mistakes he lost an infantry unit and a couple of other Ravens to AA fire effectively stopping him from being able to win the game. It does go to show a little though that you can be out powered by your opponent (the block of tanks he did have was terrifying...) but play smartly and still walk away with a victory, which can't be claimed by a lot of games. Take from that what you will!
"You should see the view from up here!"

Game 4 - Skullsword's PHR - Targets of Opportunity

PHR are a hard draw for Shaltari, and if there is one person who knows how to use them it is Skullsword. He was using a slightly abstract list, as it included 4 Ares and only 2 Odins, so was trying something a little new. He also had four Mecury's and only three squads of Immortals, so this would be something new to play against also.

On deployment two units of Immortals got into his building, with the Mecurys disembarking next to it. His Possidon dropped of his four Ares and two Phobos in his third (which in hindsight I think was too early), and kept his Odins in their Neptune. I got out some Tarantulas towards mid table with some Kukris, and decided to walk the other four on. This definitely isn't something I would do again, but thought it would be worth trying to see if it could work. As it turned out all they did was end up shooting one and a half Odin's worth of DP, and that was in turn 4 so didn't really do anything else in the game. His Hyperions and Zeus strode on back board and killed two hull down Tarantulas. Yes, two. A six to hit one, and a hit and double up on the other with no passive saves made cued a grumpy Zombie... His Enyos shot my building, and one Brave squad got into it afterwards.

On turn two his Immortals failed to find his objective (even with the Mercury), but mine did find it (I have a habit of that, right?) and teleported into the left building. He also left a Triton slightly in the open (it happens to newbies and experienced players!) and I shot it down. I did no damage to the units inside, but as they were stuck out in the open three Kukris lit them up and caused 4 damage on a base (he used some beardy PHR card causing me to hit them only on sixes). They them got in the building, which I promptly shot. Cue lots more dead Immortals. He found his objective this turn and jumped a unit of Immortals of the board with the objective, and the other into combat with me on the left. I bolstered that CQB for next turn by bringing a second unit of Braves in, and my other two Brave squads went into the middle building for a ruck with his damaged Immortal squad. His Hyperions shot a building as they couldn't see my Tarantulas, and his Enyo's shot a building containing an objective. The Ares and Phobos trundled around mid-table and shot a Kukri, utilising the 'always a 3+' rule.

On turn 3 I found the objective on the left, and from then it was basically game over. I had him locked in combat on two fronts, with another Immortals squad out in reserve, which meant he couldn't get to the other two objectives. From here his Immortals over performed brilliantly in CQB and banged up my Braves pretty well. I gated to be the occupier in the far right building when his last Immortals squad came on from reserve to stop him potentially holding it at the end of the game, a snivelly manoeuvre I know but I will always play for the biggest win possible! He kept trying to kill my Coyote, who was dancing around on the back of the board, and my Tarantulas eventually killed his two Odin and two Ares. All in all we were playing it out for the sake of it from turn 4, which can sometimes happen in all games.

Breaking it down - Again I was faced with another game in which my army underperformed, but I had won. In this game I had deployed incorrectly, by bringing on one squad of spiders from back board, but even so had I been nearer it wouldn't have changed a lot. It would have presented Skullword with more pressing targets to shoot at, but Infantry won this game and with only three squads of troops he was always going to find it tricky playing against Shaltari. In regards to the army itself, it did very little. The Tarantulas were out gunned, and because I had no firebase I couldn't impose myself on the game at all.


I played four games with this list, and won three. The first through an oversight from my opponent, the second against a relativity new player, and the third because of some Infantry trickery. If you look back over the reports you will find that only one of the games was won because of my Tarantulas (the first, through VP's on a focal point) and this was only with one squad. In each game I found my army restrictive and a pain to play with. I had taken too much AA, because without the second squad there wasn't enough. I had no fire base as Tarantulas can kick out fire power, but they cannot under any circumstance take it back. I also really missed the Firstborns which I couldn't afford because I needed that sixth battlegroup (the Yaris). Braves are great and all but sometimes you need some mean bastards with big swords to secure CQB's. An even greater problem with this list was that deployment was, quite simply, a bitch. Deploying a total mass of 12 in one turn, without wanting to overspend on gates, is a real pain in the arse. You get the same problem when using Jag's, true, but they are tough enough to go down first and form a backbone to work around. I found myself constantly hiding all the Tarantulas, which would have been fine if they hadn't been my entire army...

It's hard to say if whether the other armies in Dropzone would have similar problems to mine, but I would say probably. For UCM eight Gladius would be so incredibly slow, and twelve Katana to flimsy to hold anywhere efficiently. Twelve Hunters would just be too expensive and would leave you with gaping holes in your army. I have witnessed a PHR army with three Hades (in a tournament no less) and it drew or lost basically every game!

So, to answer the question; can you spam in Dropzone Commander and still be competitive?

If you have the know how and experience, then probably yes depending on your list. However, and this is a big however, if you are new to the game, or (without trying to make myself sound to big headed) average at the game, then no.

I'm coming home boys!
For players old and new, good and bad, I can assure you that if you spam too heavily you will find it restrictive and irritating. Even when I won games I didn't take too much joy in it, as I just did not enjoy playing the army. I'm even talking to the UCM commanders with three Ferrums out there; yes, even you! DzC is a game of balance, and is one of the few games out there in which almost every unit is worth taking because of the need for an evenly spread list. Anybody reading this and feeling a little disappointed shouldn't be. It just means we are playing a game which has mechanics hardly any other can boast!

I hope you enjoyed reading this topic. Maybe in the future I'll come back to it if there is a major rules
change, but I honestly can't see that happening. My reward for these few months of grind is that I now get to lay to rest this bloody nuisance of a list, and use my Jag's again! If you have any questions please feel free to ask, and I will do my best to answer you!


  1. Hey! I saw you playing at Salute the other week. Really impressed with your unusual colour scheme. Am thinking of starting Shaltari myself.

    1. Thank you buddy! You should give them a go, the learning curve is pretty high but once you click all the objectives will belong to you!

    2. Hell yes those Shaltari look great. One of the very best colour sets I have seen.

      First off I am not a tournament player but for me and my gaming group the fact that it is a balanced game is a good thing. As a refugee from 40k, I have never looked back since I started Dropzone. This stated I have a PHR army that is deliberately unbalance – but not in the way that power players would expect. I don’t like the heavy walkers and I don’t like the Hades miniature. I love the Juno and Taranis miniatures; the Apollo strike walkers are my ‘too much’.

      I field 6 Apollo in 1500, the only heavy walkers I have are a Zeus and a Hyperion. The Apollo’s are fragile and anti-tank can be done better by other things. But ‘spamming’ these gives amazing speed and nobody every expects that from PHR. The spamming of this unit throws my opponents, sure scourge or shaltari do this better, but PHR none expect. It also makes games against other PHR players fun.

      Is it competitive, well no. I loose just as many as I win. But it is more fun and you still win alot.

    3. You flater me sir! If I ever play PHR I think I'd probably take 4-6 apolos as well. They're pretty underestimated for the potential they can bring to a game. In fact, Scourge are the only army that has better back board harasser's!

  2. Agreed love the color scheme. I'm curious what sort of yellows did you use to paint the army?

    1. I started with a white primer, and covered in a watered down home made dark red (in hindsight, using a red primer would have been tonnes easier...). Next I used Flash Gitz Yellow, then went over any details I had strayed into with red, and another coat or two of yellow over this. It's highlighted with yellow mixed with a little white.

      It's a bit of a labour of love, and requires persistence and practice to get an even coat. Once you get the technique down though, it comes up pretty nicely! One thing I will point out, is that your first layer or two of yellow will look terrible. It's only after defining details with your base colour, and then going back over with the yellow, it really clicks.