Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Dropzone Commander 2.0

I'm sorry, I don't have news of a new version of Dropzone Commander. It's just a title to draw you all in - more a hypothetical question really.

Now I have you here, and have your full and undivided attention I want to discuss what I would like to see in DzC 2.0

First of all I want to state for the record, that DzC is a damn fine game - probably the best table-top wargame I have ever played. It balances tactical and strategic thought with a sci-fi world for a truly cinematic gaming experience. Being at 10mm scale make it seem more real compared to the larger scale wargames. It is also NOT a "line up your army, shoot, then opponent removes all his models". It keeps you engaged all game and throughout the turns. Even when you are losing horribly, you can snatch a draw or a win at the death.
I love it

Dropzone 2.0 will happen, probably a few years in the future. It is over 3 years old at the moment. So what would I change, add or remove?

Infantry in Buildings
I like how stream-lined the rules are for infantry. You could get really bogged down with rules for everything they do in buildings.
I would make a few tweeks though

  • Falling masonry should be E4. This would give a greater range of affect to all the different types of infantry armour.
  • All infantry inside a building should have dispersed formation - the structures are massive, the likelihood of some falling masonry wiping out 2 members of a 10 man squad in a large office block is pretty minimal. 
  • Infantry should be allowed their dodge roll against falling masonry. They can dodge close quarter battles, but not a block of stone or and air con unit?
  • Search rolls should be based around how many bases of infantry you have searching rather than a straight roll, or maybe a new stat for infantry, something like intelligence which could have a generic +/- for a squad searching. 
  • Also with the searching, I like how it becomes easier the more turns you search. but should it not be more difficult the more casualties you take? Less boots on the ground searching would make it more difficult. 

7+ to hit
What's the point in modifiers if they don't harm your chances to hit? 
For example a Resistance Gun Wagon hits on a 2+, if it wanted to shoot a UCM Falcon it would need a 4+ (as the Falcon has Evasive +2) if said GunWagon was firing at the Falcon in the UCM players turn (reaction firing) it would be a 6+ to hit (+2 for evasive and +2 for reaction firing). 
Now think about the Lifthawkk AA gun. It has the same range, shots and energy as the gun wagon but it hits on a 4+. If using the same example as before, when the Lift hawk reaction fires against the Falcon it would need 8+ to hit, but it is capped at 6+ which means it is as effective as a gun wagon. 

It is one of many examples I could make. I don't think that a 6 should always hit. If you need more than 6, well tough luck, it's an impossible shot. 
On the reverse, a 1 does not always miss. There are several examples of a 1+ hitting mostly when healing your own troops (Hades and Triton X) also the Barrage blast doesn't miss on a 1, it just scatters. 
This can also cover objective searching. Bezerkers and Eviscerators in a large building are capped at 6+ when really it should go to 7+ for the first search roll. 

Fast Movers
This is a section that a lot of players want revisited. I like fast movers a lot. They may not be very tournament efficient, but the fear they put into an opponent, well you just can't put a price on that. 

I think the whole section of the rules could do with a make-over. Here are a few of my ideas:
I'd keep the attack run rule and roll, but make it easier to negate. If your fast mover was to come in from your deployment board edge then you get a +1 to the roll. 

I like the forward Air controllers (FAC) role, but think it should be within the battlegroup of fleet. What would be nice to see is a 0-1 Troop a 0-1 Scout plus the normal 1-2 fleet with a max of 3 squads for the battle-group. Any troops or scouts taken in the fleet battle-group are FAC and can spot for the aircraft. I would stipulate that the target unit needs to be spotted, not just any part of the opponents army. 

Finally, the need for the models. Currently you could realistically not even bother with the models on the table-top (not that I would do this). I don't know how to solve this problem, but I think it is one. 

Easy one really: 6+ turn 1, 4+ turn 2, 2+ turn 3 and automatic turn 4

Random Game length
I would introduce this into a few of the missions. A lot of wargames use it to try and mitigate the last game turn 'false moves' what I mean by this is the moves you make with your army that you only make on turn 6 to hold a focal point. You place your models in positions you wouldn't even think about on any other turn. 
Random Game Length can help reduce this, or give an opponent time to react. It doesn't need to be in all missions, just some. 

Mission Victory Point Scoring
Along the same lines as the random game length I think adding some mid-game scoring into missions could really help. It means that you would need to place models in harms way earlier. 

This is not an exhaustive list, just some thoughts about where I'd like to see some changes in the future of Dropzone Commander.
I would love to hear your thoughts on it too, maybe just maybe some of the suggestions could make it into a new version if/when it is released

That's it for now, a few of us are at Warfare this weekend, so if your around the Reading area why not pop in to the convention and say hi! 


  1. Be very careful!
    I read that title and thought "oh no". Reached a point with Games Workshop where I seemed to just be buying books. Got fed up with none stopped changes to rules and codexes. Had I not had the wits to read first, I might have cancelled my pledge to Dropfleet.
    Say what you like about Age of Sigmar, at least the rules are free and you can get unit rules for free.

    1. Chill, Tom. I've been reading your comments on the DFC Kickstarter thread. You really need to learn a LOT more about DzC, Hawk and the community before you spout off as you have been. Do some research, join the Forum, read what others have said and observe before you stick your foot in your mouth again. Hawk Wargames are an extremely responsive company to their user community; they listen to us, and they respond with tweaks and modifications that have just made DzC keep getting better and better. It is by far the most balanced tabletop wargame that I and many others have ever experienced it. They are in no way on the same low level as GW...

      Just like you immediately judged this blog post by its title (good thing you bothered to read it), don't be too quick to judge Hawk Wargames until you've actually spent some time in the community, and actually played the game and interacting with Hawk.

      And keep in mind, please, that there are only 6 Hawk employees, with the sixth one just having joined them a few short weeks ago. There's a lot they need to do to run the company on a day-in-&-day-out basis on top of this crazy Kickstarter they've got going.

      Welcome to the community, and Peace...

  2. I agree w/ some, but not w/ all. One thing you mentioned I've been thinking about myself a lot and that is the random dice rolls on intel and obj that many don't care for in a strictly competitive scene. My thoughts were for competitive play to change intel to just a point, no roll, and objectives to some kind of time token being placed on the building dependent on building size. Then as infantry squads are activated these time tokens are removed, and upon the final token being removed the obj is found and allocated to one of the currently activated squads. Any objectives not found by end of gain are automatically allocated to the occupier.

    I've really liked scenarios where you score at points in the middle. My suggestions from experience are no scoring central goals prior to T4. I go back and forth as I've watch some players really struggle and get tremendously slow when scoring in the middle of the game. It's most likely an experience thing and I suppose I shouldn't cater the new.

  3. Let's see:
    i'm unsure on the dispersed formation for masonry. I don't think it's meant to represent a single rock falling from the ceiling, it could easily be an entire room coming down or stairs collapsing or something. And i would assume that the ten men are not evenly distributed in the building. In the end you can always make up a wide variety of background justifications. From a gameplay standpoint i could see tweaks but i'd have to think some more about specific ones.

    Searching by bases is something i'd like to see included in some form, and casualties are automatically rolled into it as squads start losing bases. I think going by damage points is too fine grained to be worth the effort.

    As for my own suggestions:
    Add four to every armor value and inflict damage when energy plus damage roll is greater than armor, that way you can just do way with the damage table.

    That said, i'd actually like to see a move away from 1d6 rolls, they only allow for a very coarse differentiation and a small range of meaningful values. Thinking back to Warmachine times, i could possibly see 2d6 working, it requires separate rolls for each attack instead of just a handful of dice but i could possibly see it still working with the number of attacks in a dropzone game. Another option would be d10 or d20 which keep a linear distribution but allow for more fine grained stats.

    1. I like the idea of bases searching buildings instead of squads, especially if 'search' was added as a stat. It needn't be a numerical value, it could just be 'good/expert', standard and 'poor', plus n/a. Each rating could correspond to a roll on a table. 'Standard' would be roughly what we have now. 'Good' would start on a 5+ and decrease by 1 every turn. 'Poor' would start on a 7 or 8+ and decrease by 1 every turn. Note that don't want GW style 'reroll 6s to get higher target numbers'. But you could sacrifice a base's roll to add one to the roll of another. So 3 bases of poor searchers could roll one dice needing a 6 rather than 3 dice needing 8s (which would be impossible).

  4. Disagree on most points.
    E4 for falling masonry makes sense: It valuates A3 infantry that aren't getting love now, and has clean rules implications for our A4 infantry (you can remove their special rules regarding masonry)
    Infantry do NOT need DF in buildings. It greatly reduces the ability of attacking the building to harm troops to an unnecessary extent. Plus, falling masonry is an abstraction for casualties taken due to concussion to the building itself as well.
    7+ to-hits are not needed. It makes the game actively worse. A '6' needed is bad enough for many attacks (try reaction firing on that Pathfinder!) but a 7+ makes them effectively impossible.
    Reserves are agreed however. I've played games where FMs fail to show up the entire game.

    1. I agree with a lot of this^. Plus, FMs do need to be reworked, just not sure how. They could be devastating if they were "too reliable", but as it is, they're too unreliable to take even infrequently...

      I have no problems with using D6, and I detest D20s, which is one reason I never got interested in Infinity.

      There's other things I'd change, but they're on a Unit by Unit basis, not broad core rules, so best left for another, more appropriate discussion...

    2. I wonder if my 7+ to hit has been misconstrued. I don't want to change the D6 system. Not at all. I like it, it is familiar.
      What I'm saying is why does a 6 always hit. A 6 doesn't always wound, so why does it always hit?

    3. On the other hand I'd be interested to hear what is so terrible about d20 :P

    4. A change like removing the 6+ to hit cap would have to go hand in hand with reducing E+X values. Otherwise most AA could not reaction fire to Aircraft with E+2 thus making those either to effective or giving them quite a point rise.

      I like the E4 falling masonry idea, it would also help to reduce the advantage "Suits" have in that department. Though I feel all your changes combined + 30DP buildings mean falling masonry is sidelined to destroying the building.

    5. I think always hitting on a 6 is one of those "abstraction" elements, necessary for the game to function properly, at least as Dave first tested it out all those years ago.

      And I just dislike D20s, Bistromatic. I feel that they are too round and prone to inconsistencies in their construction that cause them to not roll truly randomly, maybe they're better these days, but I don't trust them. When I played AD&D back in the early '80s we didn't have D20's, or at least none we could trust, so we used a combination of a D6 and a D10, where a 1-3 on the D6 = 0 in the "tens" place, and a 4-6 was a 1. So if I rolled a 4 on the D6 and a 9 on the D10 that = 19. I trust D10s a lot more than D20s, but in the end, as Leopold said, the game is structured around D6's, and it's a lot easier to acquire the number of D6's you need to play DzC than it is D10's, or D20's, or D8's, etc...

  5. I like the rules they way they are, no need to make things more complicated.
    I disagree with everything except: Reserve suggestion, FW+FAC (maybe a FAC if it is on the board it can also add +1 to the reserve roll too for the FM and tweeking some missions/inventing new ones.


  6. I disagree with pretty much everything too. Falling masonry to E4 or 5 I could live with quite happily but inreally, really, really, really fecking hate random game length. Talk about a random dice roll deciding the game! By Thor's hairy balls does random game length suck ass!

    Fm would be improved, for me, if you could pass on their activation if they fail to come out of reserve. At least you wouldn't be a full BG down for 1/3+ of the game.

    I've played a few games that use 7+ to hit it works in Epic A, where you throw tons of dice but I really don't see any need for it in DZC and do think that it would be to the detriment of the game's overall balance.

    Reserve change seems sensible.

    No random bloody game length though.

    Regarding objectives, I think a better way would be to increase the number of dice rolled. So 1 dice per base, or just make it a standard roll 2d6 for each squad. A roll of 6 on either dice finds the objective on turn 1, a 5 on turn 2 etc. It would cut down on, the I rolled a lucky 6 in turn 1 and now I win factor that plagues the objective missions.

    Oh and no shiiva damned, crappy, random game length. Did I mention I really fecking hate random game length?


    1. Let me get this straight, you want some form of random game length? 😉
      😂 😂 😂

    2. Yeah, I hate random game length, too, with a passion...

    3. But not as much passion as stomp!!
      Maybe mid turn scoring is a better option than random game length tobhelp solve focal point issues

    4. Is there a focal point problem though? Everyone knows the objective, so if someone manages to jump a ton of points onto the points in the last turn - what were you doing for the last 6 turns?

      The problem with mid game scoring is that it favours some armies, unfairly over others. Great for the Scourge who are nice and speedy and would love nothing more than to have their opponents move forwards and into ambush range nice and early. Nice for Shaltari who can pop a unit out, score some points and then cock off elsewhere at the flick of a gate. Not so great for PHR who are slow, relentless and deliberate. Anyway, aren't objectives a form of mid game scoring?

      Lol, yeah I really fecking hate random game length.


    5. DADBLAMMIT! Random length games are the SH!TS, scum, bottom of the barrel, we hatessss them!!!

      -- Passionate enough for ya, Mike? 8^P

      Scoring Turn 4 & 6, rather than 3 & 6 mitigates that problem somewhat, Stomp. If you're not taking the newer stuff for PHR, which are mostly very fast, then you should probably be taking plenty of dropships for what you do have, right?

      We've done some things with scoring at different turns than just 6, and depending on the scenario it works out pretty well, and does smooth the curve a bit in terms of scoring.

      Please feel free to try out our Battlefront scenario, where you score after every even turn (so 2, 4 & 6), but after you score the 3 FPs move 12" AWAY from the player that controlled them that scoring turn. It mitigates any slowness or walk-on heavy lists nicely...

    6. Damn! I felt like blogging and making videos about how awesome random game length is! :-)


    7. Haha! Ooooo, I have tasted my own medicine and it is a bitter pill. :)


    8. I don't like random game length, but I dislike it less than last turn rushes into stupid positions. If this problem could be solved another way, e.g. by mid game scoring, then great. If not, then I'd agree with bringing in random game length for some missions.

    9. I think scoring focal points on Turns 4 & 6 helps a great deal. Turn 4 is better than Turn 3 for "slower" factions such as the PHR... Try it in a few games, and make a mental note of the final scores, and which factions played, and see if you don't agree...

  7. At a risk of entering the lion's den, perhaps the Command Value could influence more than just the initiative roll, the number of Command Cards and focal point grabbing. Could a high level commander increase the chances of reserves or fast movers coming on? With my limited knowledge of the game, it seems that for some armies having a level four or five and getting the first turn jump on someone isn't such a loss. As a scourge player, I am always surprised, and very relieved, when a UCM or Resistance player tell me they are only level three.

  8. Something I'd like changed is the way that a roll of a 1 to damage is always a fail. I think if you are hit by something that is 5 Energy higher than your armour, it should just be automatic, and 2 damage points on a 3+

    It really bothers me, since according to these rules, I would have a 1 in six chance of surviving a direct hit from a tank shell, and be in a state where I'd be able to do everything I could, prior to being hit by it! That just seems crazy.

    1. It's an abstraction, Threxis. It helps reduce the need for record keeping during the game ("Now, which weapon did I lose the last time that tank got hit?") and simplifies the game without dumbing it down.

      There's lots of things in DzC that don't make complete sense when you try to explain them in real life 21st century ways, but when you chalk them up to abstraction, they're very livable, IMO...

  9. Interesting post. It is not hard to take a look at what I think but;

    FAlling masonry would be enought to go to E5, I think. A base should be that armour 2 should be damaged on 2+. It means there is a little more point in having three bases in a squad. E4 is better if one wish to use the entire scale but I like the idea to remove "tough" and double A4 infantry on a six.

    Dispersed formation I would like to keep.
    Differentiated search rolls are something that could be cool. I don't really wish for it but don't think it is a bad idea.

    The idea of making it easier to find with more infantry is a good one. Especially if you consider making it worthwhile with medium transports for the infantry instead of only light ones. Don't know how it should be done, though.

    7+ to hit. Meh. Don't care much.

    Fast movers. Can use an overhaul but mostly I like to have a point with the model. Using it as a marker for next round's entry post and if you enter around there you don't need to roll for availability would suffice. Most important is that FM should never be to powerful.

    Reserves. Great idea. Or you always get in minimum 1 unit when rolling on 2+ for reserves (ie automatic turn 3 if only having a single unit in reserves).

    Random game length...I don't know. Didn't really like it in 40k. I see the point and the general purpose. But if you score both turn 4 and 6 in DZC for focal points then I don't think we really need random game length.

    Mission points. Mid game scoring works just fine as is. I think this is more of a mission specific idea.


  10. In a DZC 2.0 I would like to see:

    *More rules for non-urban terrain and battles. Nothing too complex, but interesting enough to make battles interesting.

    *Less complicated infantry rules. It seems odd to me that the infantry rules are so granular. Tanks have a few stats and a few special rules, but infantry we record the loss of every casualty, the impact that has on the base's firepower, etc. You can get used to them, and I don't have a specific complaint, but if they could be simplified a bit, I would do so.

    *More scenario / narrative play. I like that DZC is balanced and tournament friendly, so I'm not calling for a change in the rules here, rather a change in emphasis. Just a bit more attention in the game on the narrative side of things.

    *More ground troops and/or missions which don't assume that everything has a dropship. Walking stuff on from your backfield turn 1 isn't what I'm after. More missions where one side starts with ground troops already deployed to the battlefield. Not every battle should be a 'meeting engagement'. More battles should be attacks by one side against positions (fixed or temporary) of the other.

    *Finally, I'd like to reign in the use of special rules and odd stats to balance units that otherwise don't make sense. A good example of this is freeriders. I'm not complaining about game balance - I don't play enough to have any opinion on whether or not they're fair and balanced. What I don't like is that a guy on a motorbike with a homemade bomb is one of the hardest units to hit (and hardest hitting units!) on the battlefield. If men on bikes were really so effective, everyone would be using them, and modern armies would be using them today. But actually, men on bikes are not militarily viable - at least in a combat situation. If we want biker models, I'd like to see them given rules and a role that reflect what they could be good for (like scouting and spotting, for example) rather than balanced with rules that other armies and units don't get access to.

    PS Good to see some of you at Warfare yesterday - I look forward to finding out who won!

    1. * I'd agree with more/better non-urban rules. But I'm perfectly happy playing in all urban settings. As a TO, it's hard to set up one non-urban table out of three or four tables needed for a tournament -- not everyone will (may not) get the chance to play on it, and is that fair to the field and what would be the effect on tournament results?

      * Honestly, I think the CQB rules are pretty straightforward. Yeah, they take a bit of getting used to, but you just take all of your attacks and divide them up amongst all the bases you're attacking (if more than one squad) then add together each squad's total number of dice allocated to them, then roll. A certain number is needed vs every Armor value, and very few units have a Dodge or Passive Save, so if you hit the target number or higher per die, that's a dead guy. It's much simpler than, say, CC in 40K...

      * I would definitely like to see more narrative vehicles for organized play!

      * As far as more mission variety, just think up some things you'd like to try out, work them out on paper with your mates, give one or two a go, adjust based on how it went, wash, rinse, repeat... The Endgame guys have come up with a lot of creative scenarios, as has Ravager over on the Hawk Forum. They don't necessarily have to be "official" from Hawk, let your imagination roam!...

      * Sounds like you have an issue with Freeriders, specifically, mate, despite your protestations to the contrary. At E9 and Acc3+ for the Sticky Mines, they're really not that powerful vs A10, and against most other lower armor units those are usually either have much higher numbers of DPs, like PHR Type 4 walkers, or they're skimmers, so it's 5+ to hit with the Sticky Mines. Personally, I just use my Freeriders as Scouts and spotters for the Cyclones, as you're looking for them to be used; they're no longer the go-to AT units that they were when they were E10, IMO...

      Just my $0.02, tho... 8^D

  11. Oh, I would also like to have Forward Air Controllers in Fleet Battlegroups. It would solve the problem of having a 'blank' activation and it would make it simpler and more thematic to construct armies. If you want to use the FAC rules now, you have to plan for it at army selection as well as during the game, so it makes sense to make it easier and less distorting to do this by adding the unit to the Fast Mover option. It would also avoid the problem of some illogical choices being used as FAC and some logical choices (like scouts!) not being used for what they're supposed to be there for.

    I'm not sure I'd want to say that FAC must see the target itself though. It would be logical, but in many cases very hard. Fast movers are often used against backfield or hidden targets that are hard to spot. Requiring the FAC to see the target could greatly lessen the utility of Fast Movers. Perhaps a compromise would be to say that the target must be in view of someone in your army, even if not the FAC?

    1. I would love to see one Troops squad slot added to the Fleet BG with a 0-1 limitation. I guess that's all you'd need to do; you'd still be required to take at least 1 Troops squad in your Troops BG, so it wouldn't be a way to game the army roster, and then you would have a pretty good chance that you'd still have that BG to activate most of the game...

      I guess I just find that most of the time when I do allocate a squad of Troops to be FACs that they never have time to get to the walls to search in a timeframe that works for the FM, they're either stuck in CQB, getting an objective off the table, or moving on to search for the next objective or piece of intel...

      But it would be a nice modification to the Fleet BG and be more synergistic with the FAC rule/role...

    2. *"...never have time to get to the walls and SPOT", is what meant to say...

  12. I'd like to see the game change from a single die roll to a 2 die roll system just to get a bell curve for the statistical analysis. The randomness of a single d6 is basically what I'm hearing as an issue in many of the rules, like FM, searches, etc.

    1. But then, how would that work, since it's a bell curve? Do you say, for the first time you roll that on a 5-9 whatever you're trying to do happens, then on a 4-10, then a 3-11?

      See what I'm saying? When it's based on a single d6, you can say 6/4+/2+, but on a bell curve of 2d6 you can't say "6+" or "5+", since you're just as likely to roll a 5 as you are a 9, or a 6 is just as likely as an 8...

      So, how would 2d6 work for things like FMs, searches, etc?...

    2. ...It's all well and good to complain, but how would you implement your proposed solution?...

    3. This makes just about zero sense. You can very well say x+ on 2d6, there's absolutely nothing preventing you from doing it, just like you can say 2+ on 1d6 even though you're just as likely to roll a 5 as a 2.

      The bell curve distribution applies to the individual possible combinations, if you look at them as "at least x" you get an S curve.

    4. What are you talking about? (Or to put it in Team OB terms, "What are you playing at?")

      If you add the results of 2d6 together it is always a bell curve. It doesn't make any sense to say "roll a 4+ on 2D6"; if you're adding the two dice together, the most likely number you're going to roll is a 7, the next most likely numbers you're going to roll is either a 6 or an 8, and then a 5 or a 9, etc. Haven't you ever played craps? You have to start at the apex of the bell curve and step your way to the right and the left in equal increments.

      Unless you're saying "Roll two 6-sided dice, and if either one of them is an X or higher", but that's realky wonky... Now you're playing it like Psychic Powers dice in 40K, and if so, YUK!

    5. No, i’ve never played craps, i don’t think it’s very common here.

      And yes, the most common result on 2d6 is 7, then 6 and 8 and so on. However that in no way compels you to start from the center of the curve.

      I even made a nice little graph showing the probability of rolling X+ on 2d6

      In fact, Warmachine heavily relies on beating target numbers with 2d6, both for hit and damage rolls. You try to exceed the opponents [defensive stat] with your [offensive stat] + 2d6. Or in other words, [defensive stat] minus [offensive stat] gives you the target number, aka X+.
      (I also suggested this approach in my post above, no matter the dice i find it more intuitive than the current damage table)

      I’m sure there’s plenty of other games that rely on X+ rolls with 2d6. Traveller comes to mind in the RPG department. And hell, even Dropzone uses 3+/4+ on 2d6 for To The Deck rolls.

    6. I could see a 2 dice system working for objective searches It could be structured as such

      First turn of searching 12+
      Second 11+
      Third 10+
      Fourth 9+ and so on

      Then you could get bonuses (and penalties)
      1 base searching -1
      2 bases 0
      3 bases +1
      4 bases +2 and so on maybe to a max of +4?
      Bezerkers and Eviscerators get -1
      Mercurys give +1
      You could also add squads in, for instance if 2 squads are searching, instead of 2 rolls, make 1 improved roll (by totaling bases searching

      I'm no games designer, but it could work

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