Tuesday, 8 April 2014

How much is too much? – Evidence so far

The question of too many continues...
You may remember a short while ago I posed a simple question, one directed to shake the very foundations of the game itself – is it possible to spam units and still be competitive in Dropzone Commander? As is my nature, I may have inflated the question a little there, but never the less it is a query worth asking. If you can't remember, or simply haven't read my first post, then click here to do so (otherwise the following will mean very little to you. Feel free to continue, but I am telling you now it's not worth it.)!

Since the time of the first post I have managed to fit in two games using the concept, the first with the list as shown and the second tweaked a little (I'll explain how a little further on). I still plan to have 2 more games using a variant of this list but thought it worth showing my feelings towards it so far. I'm not going to be listing full battle reports as it isn't really necessary, just an overview of the games and thoughts on the outcomes.

Game 1 – Mega Mike's UCM - Land Grab

Mega Mike is probably the best player I know, so the decision to play him was very deliberate. If there was a man who was going to push this list to it's limits then it would be him (though another reason may have been that everyone else already had a game... lets call it a lucky draw). He was using a typically balanced list, but had his Eagle ready to use for the first time and was bouncing around in anticipation like a school girl off to a Bieber signing.

Direct deployment is always a bit edgy against UCM due to the Kodiak, but I chose to deploy all 6 Kukri and the Coyote so I could push a little deeper around the board early game. He proceed to decimate the focal point on my side, while my commander swaggered around and broke a few windows in his. He brought his Katanas and Longbows round to my right flank and his Rapiers and Gladius to the middle/left to stop me taking the left focal point. His drones rocketed up my right flank with gusto. 1 unit of Kukri's went to the left with the Yari's (and effectively did nothing all game because of this) and the other to the right (who were eventually whittled down by Katana shots). I brought my first unit of Tarantulas out in turn 2, which could have been a big mistake. I only had 2 Edens, and as I elected for all 8 Tarantulas to be in the mothership if he had shot one of the gates down I wouldn't have been able to bring them on. Luckily I won the initiative roll and got the other 4 out near my deployment zone. I'll skip the third turn (his drones did something, he shot a few spiders, I shot down a few Katanas, nothing of note) but around the 4th turn I decided to use the 'gimicky' Climb rule to jump 2 Tarantulas onto the roof of the central building. This actually prevented them from being shot by the Gladius and allowed me to destroy his focal point with their grav guns. Now, only three focal points remained. My boss swaggered into the middle to take control of the central objective, and I had enough Tarantulas on the right to win me that focal point (oh yeh, there was a big combat in that building too. My Braves shone and beat his legionnaires to death with their own boots, helping me rack up the VP's). Mega Mike had completely forgotten that I had no way to contest the left objective and had left it a touch to late to move to the centre. All in all I won by a single VP.

Breaking it down – Now, I am happy to admit that I played like a touched 7 year old in this game. By the time we started playing I had been up for 14.5 hours, including a full day of work and a jog, and I was shattered. As such I only won by a stroke of forgetfulness on Mega Mike's part, and can take no credit for the win at all. Having said this, I did win due to the sheer number of scoring units I had on the ground, and this was something that I hadn't predicted. If you can get 4 Tarantulas onto a focal point they are worth an enormous 220 VP's! Also Coyotes are only good at calamining focal points at 205 points (with a CV4 boss). Mine might as well shoot delicious jelly beans at the enemy for the good he seems to do. Taking only 2 Eden's was an oversight and one I wouldn't make again. It turned an already clunky list into one that had to go first turn 2 or risk losing half my AT force. Bringing them out on turn 2 was also silly. I was waiting for his Katana's to drop, but I'm not really sure why, so I blame this on fatigue. If you think this was a bad mistake though, just read below...

All in all, I didn't really enjoy the army (which is arguably the most important part of the game) and it had little synergy. Yes, even though I won.

Game 2 – Mega Mike's Scourge - Encroachment

Trying (and failing) to make up for my blunder
Yep Mega Mike again, but this time with his Scourge (our club has more than 2 players, I promise. We just give each other as good as we get in games!). He is newish still to using the Scourge, but has had enough games under his belt to really get the knack of them. He was using 3 Stalkers with 3 Hunters, to give a little depth to his ground force, and 16 Prowlers. 16 sounds like a lot but we both agree that you have to go hard or go home with the squids, and 12 to 16 is a solid (and dangerous) amount to take. For this game I dropped one Spirit and a Yari, which allowed me to get a third Eden and 2 more Haven's for exactly 1500 points (That never happens!).

Turn 1 he whooshed half way over the board to me at the speed of a Concord and stayed in his transports. I strutted on the Coyote, drove on one squad of Kukri and brought a squad of Tarantulas through two Eden's and raced the other up my left flank. Turn over. Can any one seem the first mistake? Yep, I forgot to drive a squad Kukri's on the board. That's half of my AA against a very potent air-driven Scourge army. Let's just say that for a few minutes my language turned into that of a Glaswegian who has been refused at a pub... Anyway, turn two rolled around, and I moved my Tarantulas to minimise the threat from his Reavers (who failed to do anything as it turned out). I shot 2 down with my Kukri, drove the others on the board and moved my gates to avoid his Reapers. His prowlers and Stalkers got out, his Hunters got a little closer and his troops moved into my large buildings. Can anyone spot the second mistake? This turn I had used two gates before I activated my second squad of spiders, so couldn't bring them on (Same mothership issue again). The air got colder than a Russian winter... By the time I could bring them on he had Warriors and Destroyers in an adjacent buildng, and their AT shots blasted the poor tripod's to pieces. I tried to swing it back with some cheeky shenanigan play, flinging my Coyote to his corner and giving him a 2+ passive save (with the Raise Shields card) and getting all my Braves in his buildings but it wasn't enough, as by that point 6 of the Tarantulas were gone. A decent win for the Scourge.

Hiding from hunters, I should have really
been worried about the Destroyers though...
Breaking it down – Fatigue was a small issue in this game, as I had had an identically long day as the game before, but to be honest I was fairly alert and simply wasn't paying attention (I blame Skullsword and Edchopp playing next to us). Not activating your gates correctly can be punishing for any Shaltari army, but for this one it is game breaking. Also not being able to play with my full compliment of Tarantulas in turn 2 is a real pain, and takes a huge threat away in early game. Maybe I'll toy with adding a Gaia in but I don't like them (they feel very clunky), and would have to lose a CV point or a battlegroup, in my Yari's, to fit it in with 2 Eden's.

All in all maybe not the most revealing two games due to my below par gaming, but it gives us a little info in any case. The army doesn't flow due to the units I've been forced to take by having 8 Tarantulas, and I don't feel like I have the ability to counter every situation. I am having a bit of trouble with deployment and I would regard myself as an accomplished Shaltari player, so if you were new to the race it'd be a nightmare. Who knows, maybe a Red Bull and a caffeine enema would sort this out...

Most importantly though I'm not enjoying the army. It's too heavily weighted one way and I can't take a couple of Jaguars, who are the second best utility unit in the game, due to points spent elsewhere. My standard army has only 4 spiders, and in 3 games they have taken out 3 Phobos, 4 Odins, a Hyperion and helped whittle down a Hades. I haven't done this kind of damage with 8. This is possibly due to the lists I am facing, but I feel it is mostly because I have more freedom with them due to my Jaguars holding my deployment zone. In this 8 Tarantula army I can't be so free with them and have to keep a few back to support the AA and commander.

Next time I will finish things of, and hopefully have some kind of answer to the original question!



  1. Interesting information, I'm picking up some of the new units on friday and will be trying out 4 Taran's which I think is the optimal number, I to couldn't do without a squad of Jag's.
    I'm also picking up a Caimian, have you tried it out yet? Looks ok but could do with a E11 gun.

  2. I currently run 4 Tarantulas and 2 Jag's and love the versatility between the two! I can't see myself using Tomahawks again to be honest, the Tarantula is just so much more useful. I have found myself punching out of my own half, which used to be unheard off!

    I haven't used the Caiman I'm afraid, but hold the same reservations. It 'should' destroy a A10 enemy a turn, but as it can't be guaranteed it seems like a big points sink. Having said that it could have a big psychological affect on your opponent, and attarct fire away from your more useful units. Guess we'll never know without playtesting; let me know how it goes for you!

  3. To bad you don't feel the Tomahawks are worth it. I would just love pure walker armies as well as a cool skimmer based Shaltari army.

  4. The Tomahawks are fine for smaller games, 1000 points or less, but they are just mostly ineffective at anything larger. 4 Tarantulas destroy more than 6 Tomahawks, fact, and they are cheaper too! I'm looking forward to testing them in a truly competitive environment, but that may not be until September when the next Invasion rolls around sadly.