Saturday, 10 January 2015

Lessons learned

Can you point to Eden Prime on this map?
Invasion is coming. Had you heard? I'm not sure we've mentioned this before, but Invasion is coming. INVASION IS COMING! What is Invasion? Only the largest, hottest Dropzone tourney in the world at the moment!

We here at Orbital Bombardment take tournaments seriously (another fact you may not have realised), and as such this is our woodstock, nay, our site of pilgramage. In fact, once an Invasion finishes we immediately start planning on our list for the next one (the level of our geekness has just hit me like a rock to the eye...)!

As well documented for the last few months I have been playing with Scourge, and I would like to think I have learnt a few things about our Jelly Overlords in my short(ish) time as a host. This post is going to feature the lessons I have learnt, and hopefully help some of you beautiful readers out there (and the ugly ones too!).

Get a decent CV – The Desolator may be poop, but having a high level CV is imperative to get the jump on people, and also to get all those lovely Scourge cards. Due to Prowlers and minders you should have scouts in abundance, so the ability to play your many cards anywhere on the table can't be overlooked.

Don't overstretch yourself – Dropzone is a game of temptation sometimes. When faced with 5 focal points, a lot of the time there is only one thought that will cross a gamers mind; how do I win all five? I had an epiphany playing Skullsword earlier this week; you can't. Deal with it and learn how to win three instead. I've been told Scourge are a small margins force, but I have been so used to playing with Shaltari that my old alien greed ran through me like a Firstborn's blade, and I ignored the advise.

Well I have leant the hard way so you don't have to people; focus on three objectives, and make the other two secondary factors. By objectives I mean actual 'objectives' and focal points. Although Scourge infantry is strong, we lack bodies on the ground with any real points value attached to them to control focal points. There may be Prowlers and Hunters a plenty knocking about, but on average you will lose half of these units, which ends you up with a paupers amount of points to allocate to securing focal points. On top of this, to rub salt and pour vinegar in our wounds, the Desolator doesn't count towards focal points. This is a huge disadvantage! Every other race can, turn 5 or 6, dump their 200 point plus commander onto a focal point and start pointing and laughing at you. Before the game even starts we are down 200 points on focal point claiming. I have moaned my balls off about this, and will never stop until command units with a CV value can claim focal points, be in the air or not!

All in we have to restrain ourselves. We can't power forward and take every objective, but you can make people think twice about going for yours and a central one. Something worth remembering is that Prowlers are very using for contesting focal points. Just one, one simple, little, beautiful crab machine will earn you precious victory points in tourneys.

Take as many Destroyers as you can – I really mean this. We're talking two, minimum. MINIMUM people. In order to facilitate my questionable need for Prowlers (which sadly has had to be reined in) I ran one unit of Destroyers, two Warriors and one Aged Ones.

“Aged ones you say? That's pretty cool. Like, old veteran warriors who use their bloodthirsty nature, guile and cunning to get loads of dice in CQB? That's awesome!”

No. Just no. It's more like wheeling a group of agitated pensioners into a building and having them flail their walking canes and zimmer frames about for a turn, before being quickly shoed to death by any enemy infantry knocking about. “But all the dice Zombie!!” Yes 20 dice is awesome, but dieing like Warriors is not! And unlike Warriors they are not expendable, as you have spent a whopping 84 points on that squad! Add on the fact that a base of Destroyers is only 3 points more expensive, well, the evidence speaks for itself really. It doesn't? Okay, well let me explain:

Destroyers are the biggest pain in the arse in Dropzone.

Mm, flakey
They just don't die! In addition to this they also get decent amount of dice in CQB, which means in combats
stretching over a few turns you are likely to come out on top. The requirements for any Scourge list should really be: 1 x Command, 2 x Destroyers. In an army which flakes like, well, a flake, Destroyers offer something a little more steadfast and immovable.

Get the Alpha strike – This is very important. By Alpha strike, I mean get the jump on your opponent and shoot first. In order for our army to work efficiently you have to use each of your units to its highest level. We can't stand out in the open for long, which means you need to make sure you kill what you target. Using more than one unit to lay the pain on a squad which must die will make or break your game. Also, don't be afraid to pump too much firepower into something. Dice are, as is well documented by every wargamer in the world (except possibly Skullword), backstabbing like cubes of remorselessness, and will lay your best laid plans to waste. As I type this I'm having flash backs to three Hunters triple 1ing one of Mega Mike's Jaguars... Using more than the necessary amount of fire power will normally guarantee you the kill. And don't worry about not getting to kill the other stuff that turn- Scourge are quick, and we can always catch up with any cowardly units running away!

Have a plan a stick to it – Well duh, right? No not really. I have laid out plans in the past, in my mind a tightly constructed a web of tactics and guile, only to be caught out when being to greedy and moving my Hunters into a stupid position which has lost me the game. This fits nicely with my first point of not over-stretching yourself, that once you have made up your mind stick to it as best you can. I'm not saying not to move that one Prowler two inches to win you a game because it is not 'part of the plan', just simply know the foundations of what you are setting out to do and stick to it.

Us Jellyheads and the PHR have to do this the most of all races. UCM and Resistance are manoeuvrable, come in abundance and can take a kicking, which means they can alter plans mid-game. Don't even get me started on Shaltari (It's not pot-black any more, I've been Hedgehog clean for 4 months!)... Because we are so frail (and the PHR so terribly, terribly slow) we have to be careful about where and when we deploy, which means sticking to the plan. This also brings me nicely into my last point, which is...

Be patient – This is important. Very important. If you can't make a meaningful impact on turn three with your big unit of Hunters, just wait until turn four. Typically speaking as long as you kill what you set out to, it doesn't matter when it happens. Keeping your units in the air makes them a little less vulnerable (depending on drones and FM of course) than on the ground, and keeps your opponent guessing as to what to deploy where. When we lay down the hammer on something, it is devastating! However if you use this a turn to early, well, lets just hope you enjoy removing your models from the table.

These are a few lessons I have learnt over my shortish time playing Scourgey-Worgey. They are an unforgiving race, but when it works, boy does it work. You will get moments which bring a wide smile to your otherwise perpetually gurning maw (at least my face does that whilst wargaming, it's all that thinking), like one turning a Hades with 6 Hunters and a Despoiler. It's so satisfying! The lessons above is what I have found to work and not work, and hope they help you in some format.

As a footnote it is worth mentioning the awesome cards the Scourge have. They're awesome.

You want more than that? Jeezus, alright here you go:

Abandon All Hope – Use on the turn you get it, and laugh to yourself after your CV3 opponent discards all their cards
Agression – Very useful on a Despoiler or a squad of Reavers (I have three in my lists, so being able to re-roll any of my NINE shots that miss is awesome)
Core Overload – A Prowler favourite. Did you fail to kill that Ferrum, hang on a tick... boom! Also I've just realised that this is really useful for getting rid of free riders, as templates deal D6 hits to bases (which happens even with DF)... Hmmm... BIG HMMMM!!
Enemy Within - “No no, I'm sorry, your pathetic Legionnaires seem to have given me all their grenades and six of their attack dice, enjoy your four. MUAHAH!”
Jink and Weave – Only being able to hit Hunters and Reapers on a 6+ is obviously useful, but this is also good if you deploy in front of enemy lines, as you don't get you skimmer bonus after deploying
Razorbirds – Just really, really good. Try and use on low DP and/or armoured infantry like Sirens and Freeriders, and then just after your opponent removes the targeted base play them this clip.
Relentless Advance – There is nothing funnier than Prowlers scuttling 9” after a unit of terrified Kukri's

A few cards like Paranoia, Overdrive and Take Them Alive are cool, but not that useful really. More generic cards that you will find in each deck are also useful, like using Assisted Targeting on your Despoiler (yes it get re-roll each missed hit from its stupid Ion weapon) and Quick Thinking works well to get that Alpha Strike.

If you have learned anything you think is worth knowing, please share it below!


  1. I agree with most of what you say. I prefer Agression on Prowlers though! But then I run 8 in a squad to your squads of 4. Make sure you read the card thoroughly though ;-)

  2. I have now played a couple of times against 4 freeriders, sorry the Resistance. One thing that worked pretty good was using assisted targeting on a squad of infantry manning walls. As I use three squads that meant a bit more damage. Although our meta is different (with a population of 4 people getting more into DZC is kind of hard in Sweden) I prefer the larger infantry squads and 2 small squads. I might try 2 destroyer squads to Invasion but I'm not sure. All other Swedes keep using fast movers to take the transport out. Then again. If I only have one destroyer squad in a dropship it tends to die first. This way I would have two....hmmm.. I guess we'll see...

    A good article! /Egge

  3. There are only 4 people in Sweeden? How does anything get done! (I know it's not fair to ridicule your second language, considering I only speak bad English, but when an opportunity presents itself...)

    You got to have two squads of Destroyers! I had two bases hold up and CQB against two squads of Braves and one Firstborns the other day.

  4. Great article. I got a Scourge army for Christmas. So I'm proud to know that I now have the two hardest armies to win with in DZC: PHR and Scourge! LOL

    One of the first units I've painted is... two squads of Destroyers. :D They look totally badass, great models, and I'm glad to read how useful they are.

    1. I think that they are both hard to make a "take all comers" list with. If you play a casual game where you know your opponent and mission, they are both formidable forces. They are however completely opposing play-styles. Good luck with your learning curve!!! It will be steep.

  5. Didnt the rules for flying commanders an focal points change? They contribute their points now, dont they?

    1. They did indeed, long after this post was written though. It could probably do with an update!

    2. Oh... Sorry then, I have been following the changes only from time to time and thought they were older.