Thursday, 19 January 2017

January 2017 Errata, FAQ and Tournament Pack Review

The entrance to Hawk's Botanical Gardens
BuuzzzzzBuuzzzzzBuuzzzzzBuuzzzzz-Buhh?-BuuzzzzzBuuzzzzz-Just 5 more weeks- BuuzzzzzBuuzzzzzBuuzzzzzBuuzzzzz-Fine, fine, I'm up! Tech Boy, did you set this thing wrong? It's only meant to go off when Hawk get some Zone content out! Oh, they have? Hang on, how long have I been asleep? 3 MONTHS?!? Alright lads, time to get up. Oh, Mike's up already, and Bethany's bed looks hardly slept in; Joe, don't worry about it, you lay in for another 4 months and dream of fantastical posts which will never happen.

I wouldn't have called what's been happening here a total black out, cryo-sleep stylz, more that of a prolonged hibernation (the bear is the OB spirit animal, in more ways than you could possibly realise). It's no secret that nothing has happened in Dropzone Commander since, realistically, June, and we had been pretty much scraping the barrel for content which wasn't negative (read R:P2 release reviews...), and that was made even harder by the delay in DfC!

But, butbutbut BUT, there is content! Not strictly new content persay but instead the trifecta of rules updates; an errata, an FAQ and a glossy new tournament pack. That's right, a 2017 tourney pack at the beginning of the year! Before Invasion!

I've had a thorough read through the three, so shall we walk hand in hand (yes that much touching is necessary, and no gloves, I want to feel your greasy palms on mine) through Hawk's Botanical Gardens, where all rules are grown and nurtured? Of course we should, now stop pulling away and link fingers with me!

Our first stop is the Errata Shrubbery, where sprawling and overgrown rules and units are re-planted and shaped to fit the needs of the larger garden. And Hawk have certainly had their secateurs and hedge trimmers out, performing more than just aesthetic changes to a few of our favourite (and least favourite) units;

Reconquest Phase 1 & 2 Errata changes of note
Ferrum - Starsprite Drone Focus changed to E3 - Pillow fisted. That's what they say about the UCM behind their back, that they pack a punch like an Enya album. The Ferrum was the first real controversial unit in the Zoneiverse, and perhaps reducing its AT and AA abilities may have been welcome a year and a half ago but the UCM are seriously out gunned in the current meta and needed the Ferrum to be a little OP. A change is necessary I think, but I would have removed Scout from the drones, as it would force interesting army list choices.

Broadsword - 24" range changed to 36" - Come on guys, know your game!! The introduction of Critical Locations has all but eradicated the castle army, so what good is the 12" extra range? The Caiman gets away with it because it's quick and general Shalnanigans allow free movement around the board, but the Broadsword has neither of those qualities. I like the Broadsword, as it is great for dumping on Focal Points and Critical Locations and the UCM need that, but when it lands it is useless at clearing the LZ. I would like to see the weapon become multi-profile, or a 'close assault' variant of the tank released (although if that happened the Broadsword would likely go the way of the Hyperion...).

Attack ATV - Squad size for Kraken cleaned up - There was an issue with this? Okay, cool.

Skulltaker Lifthawk MV change to 24" from 16" - A Lifthawk as quick as a Falcon?! You can dump how many Beserkers into my objective building on turn 2?! The 8" move change seems a little drastic, but maybe it's worth its points now? It's still expensive and the 200+ point squad is still bad on securing all objectives, so I'm not convinced we'll see too many more than we do now.

Crocodile - MF on Particle Cannon (High Power) changed to 4" - I'm going to be honest with you, I have no idea if this will change anything. The idea of an 4" MF Ocelot gives me a nosebleed, but the Crocodile is still expensive for what is essentially a demo unit, and guess what; buildings don't move (unless you count the Thunderstorm as a building)!

Overseer - 15pt increase and AA gun reduced to 6 shots - Really? 2 shots does literally nothing to change the prolapse monster, apart from perhaps make it slightly less good at bringing down medium dropships. The extra 15pts is laughable too, as it just makes it better at capturing FP and CL! For the sake of the Scourge, change the damn weapon, both the AA and the boost effects. I've never seen so many similar scourge lists since it landed, and these changes will make no difference to that.

Panther - 6+ on reaction fire - This is a change in the right direction, although I'm not sure if it is the change anyone wanted. I'm not sure if it was the unit anyone wanted either- let's not get into that, stay positive Dan. And after all why shouldn't I be positive? It's a big enough nerf to reduce its effectiveness down by a large margin vs medium ships, and a chunk against light Dropships too. I can't help but feel that perhaps this pushes the unit into obscurity, rather than making it a balanced choice... Such is the nature of units which were unbalanced to begin with.

Alright, quit struggling, you can have your hand back, sorry if I squeezed a little too hard on occasion. Let us sit in the shadows of these trimmed bushes and reflect on the tweaks for a moment. When first viewing the FAQ I hadn't found myself disappointed, but rather expectant of what I was reading. I'm not sure how long this FAQ has been in the works, but it is clearly a duct tape secured bandage over the wounds of R:P2. The changes were minimal, in some cases irrelevant, and some units where missing altogether (in a word, Typhoons). This all said, let's look on the bright side; at least there are changes to be examining. That's a good thing, surely?

Migraine skank time, too many squads, to-too many squads
Right, let's get a move on. The Gardens are no small affair, and we have ground to cover. Looming up in the distance along this dusty path is the Forest of Correction, a confusing maze of flora made harder to navigate by the lack of sign posting. Never fear though, as I am a ranger of this particular forest, and will show you all the tourist spots! I took an exam and everything (a D- is still a pass).

Most recent FAQ updates
FAC spot in buildings - A subtle attempt to make people actually remember which squad is the FAC, and to also promote FM's. I see no issue with this

Clean up of Infantry in buildings, specifically determining Aggressor and Occupiers and mixed BG CQBs - This is a confusing subject which needed clarification. Mike and I wrote out some suggestions for clarifications back in the middle of last year, and I'm happy to say that it is mostly there and clears up some of the prior timing issues. One nit to pick, it mentions but doesn't answer the question of when you pick which squad is in CQB

Critical location confirmed to act like FP for command cards - That type of common sense rule that needed clarifying officially

Says Infantry can enter and leave building in the same turn (they can't) - This is actually a clanger. In the rules as soon as Infantry enter a building their turn effectively ends. Allowing them to enter and abandon a building in the same turn means Infantry can grab objectives and add a massive distance to their movement for extraction. It needs amending pronto!

Specific breakdown of the order in which Command Cards are played - Necessary and a really good addition

Confirmation of some Razorworm fidgyness (objectives, for example) - Razorworms sure are fidgy, and again this was required

The forest certainly is murkier than usual today, so if I have missed anything just comment below. As we escape the shadowed cannopy, the dirt path becomes cobbled and better taken care off, and that can only mean one thing; we're en route to Hawk's showpiece of the Gardens, The Planetarium! This exhibit shows of the gardening skills of competitors from all around the world, where they battle to see who is King/Queen Flowerboy/girl!

Tournament pack
There is 861 combined years of tournament
experience in this picture
This pack is much better and far more thorough than previous packs, and gives more direction to event organisers which is a great thing. I think those of us that have been running tournaments for years take the construction and piecing together of an event for granted, and Hawk providing a ample frame to build on is welcome. One criticism would perhaps be the mission choices, which are... interesting. They all have an air of 'safety' about them, sensibly removing non-tournament suitable missions like Search, but also not including great scenarios like Careful Advance, Defence Line and Grid Control, which admittedly can throw up a large difference in VPs (although they kept bloody Recon). All in, good stuff!

Time to be frank (you can still be yourselves, don't worry). I can't be alone in noticing that the DzC community has dwindled over the last six months. The forums and social media have been gobbled up by Dropfleet, generally by either angry backers slating Hawk, or patience enthusiasts telling them to shut up and wait. This has left me personally getting tired of waiting for something to happen whilst my favourite game turned stale, and as a result I haven't played a game of Dropzone in about four months. I bring this up as I hope beyond hope that these rules updates are just the beginning of Hawk's reinvestment back into their main game (I guess it's still their main game?), and that they can kick off and have a great 2017. A little rebuilding of community and trust is going to have to take place, but with some careful planning and an intelligent release schedule the interest will begin to build up once more!

And that ladies and gents is the end of today's tour. I hope you found it informative and entertaining, and that our guide didn't get too handsy. Please check out the gift shop on your way out, you know your cousins need a I <3 being Oppressed t-shirt and cap combo!


  1. Replies
    1. I thing the overseer should be a special commander as its presence forces you to take certain units more than others. In this way it's more simmilar to commanders like general wade the give a discount on tanks and boosts them

    2. Is it though? I mean, the disenchantment of your group has been evident for months and months both on the blog and also on the podcast (which, I for one, have stopped listening to because of the personal 'inside joke' banter outweighing the useful information and tactical analysis that it used to have).

      You have to understand, if you are disenchanted with the game, fine, but either through good writing, tactical analysis, or lack of a better alternative, you guys have a good deal of sway regarding this game. You need to think mindfully about what you are saying, lest your fears regarding your beloved game become true; that your own negativity around the game end up contributing towards that loss of a player base...

    3. I take an amount of pride in how candid we are as a group, and that we will be honest with our opinions and reviews of the game. Nothing we say is ever meant to hurt the game or deter people from playing it, we just want to speak our mind. Also our criticism is typically constructive, in the hope of making things better.

      This said I appreciate your point of view, and perhaps we do take our posts a little lightly of the potential effects on the community. Also, thanks for the feedback on the pod, that is good to know (and I agree with you to a degree).

  2. Good article, hopefully there will be a resurgence of DzC with Invasion etc :-)

    1. I sure hope so! I love this game more than anything else I'm playing right now but I'm definitely carrying everyone I play with on my own purchases.

      Last year there was a tournament at the NOVA Open. Although it was small it was fun, and it was something. This year nothing. I really hope that turns around in the states because it's hard for me to get excited about other wargames after playing DzC.

    2. Las Vegas Open
      Feb 3-5, 2017
      Bally's Hotel and Casino
      Las Vegas, NV

      There are always cheap flights to Vegas, baby! You still have time to be impulsive!


    3. Oh, now see there... that's tempting. Unfortunately my job has very strict limits on when I can take vacation, and they're in session leading into and after that weekend. Sure woulda been nice though.

    4. Well, there's also Adepticon in March or April, that's in Chicago (out by O'Hare), then Origins in June, I think, then the Big Kahuna, Gen Con, in Indianapolis at the beginning of August.

      Of the three, I'd say Gen Con is the best to try to go to, if for no other reason than it's the biggest. But best to book your room now, if you're going. Indy in summer is nice, as opposed to Chicago in early Spring. LOL.

  3. I'm looking forward to invasion and my first opportunity to use the Overseer!

    So I can't really comment on its fairness or cost efficiency, but I would like to question whether it's possible to balance it without making changes elsewhere in the Scourge list.

    I was so pleased when the Overseer came out, not because it was good, but because it works and because it fits. The Desolate just didn't seem able to work and didn't complement lists it was in. I've never used the super-crab, and maybe it's fine, but that doesn't fit in a fast, skimmy Scourge list either.

    If the Desolator was improved, the Overseer might not even need changing. Perhaps it would still be too powerful, but I'm sure that could be sorted out. Basically, I'm not against balancing the unit and making it fair, but I think it needs to be looked at in the context of an army that was struggling and that needs (needed?) other changes to make the whole army more viable.

    1. I can agree the scourge needed something but they have been at the top 5 several times before the overseer. People also tend to forget the, for me, mandatory worm shooter and monitors and how much they add to the army.

    2. I think they may have been top 5, but before the overseer it was a long time since they had won anything big, and they had been severely underrepresented in the top half with awful average placings. The scourge were no fun at all and encouraged a very hidey and negative playstyle because tehy simply couldn't compete unless your opponent made a huge mistake.

      I think I'm in the minority, but I really don't think that the overseer should be changed unless the rest of the list is improved. Yes its pretty busted, but nerfing it is like nerfing the ferrum, without it the faction just won't compete, so I'm glad that in this round it got off lightly. Improve the rest of the army whils nerfing it and I guarantee you we'll start seeing more variety in lists.

    3. I basically agree with you. It's hard. I think the Overseer is good not just because it's actually good, but because it offers you synergy and a fun unit to play with.

      The Desolator was constantly frustrating and felt like a 'tax'.

      I think that a few new units have made the Scourge competitive in a way they haven't been in a long time - but also made them more fun to play. (Not because they win more, but because you have the satisfaction of your army working more.)

      So I worry that nerfing the Overseer too much will just make players feel that it no longer works and we're back to where we started. I'd actually prefer a general toning down of units across all the armies than sweeping improvements to a swathe of Scourge units, but I agree with you that the root of the problem is the Scourge army rather than the Overseer.

      That said, let's see if I change my tune after I've had a chance to actually play with it!

  4. Nice post, Dan thanks. Very clever metaphor, the Gardens.

    As far as the Errata go, I'm not disappointed. Could there have been more? Sure. Could there have been less? Well, some people have been whining about the Ferrum for so long that it seemed inevitable. I disagree that the drones should have lost Scout, as that's what drones do, and every faction has (at least?) two Scout options -- although, your reasoning makes sense, more list diversity, but it would make Wolverines mandatory, and while I like Wolverines I dislike anything being made mandatory.

    Which leads me to the FAQ and why the hell did the Apollo need to get a hidden nerf in Deployment when they were addressing some gamey git trying to deploy a Hellhog during the Deployment step? That's just unnecessary. Feels draconian, in that it feels like they're trying to insist the we take dropships for Apollos, and, well, dammit, I'm just not going to, damndamn and double-damn!

    Otherwise the FAQ was good to see, some good new additions, a few re-wordings, but good to have an official document. Now here's hoping they stick to their promise and keep it updated frequently (which, in and of itself, is a relative word)...

    Otherwise, I must say, y'all seem a bit whiney lately, but maybe that's needed to offset your overall cheesiness as a team (yeah, I went there -- Ha!). Seriously, though, I get the impression you've had this amazing toy to play with, and it really is The Best Toy in the World, even if not everyone realizes that, but you've gone and tossed it out of the pram because mummy hasn't given you anything new to go with it in several ~months~. :o Well, kiddo, there's a new baby in the family, and like it or not, mummy was a wee bit preoccupied with a very nasty and long labor and a rather messy birth! And while the baby is adorable and full of spunk (although you don't seem to think so), mummy is still recovering and she's finding it a challenge just to walk without wincing in pain. (Talk to any woman you know who has had at least one child and you'll understand that metaphor a little more.). But she's back in the kitchen and all will be right with the universe soon, but baby brother isn't going away, and, yes, mummy is going to split her time between the two of you, but she loves you both equally, even though that may be difficult to fathom just yet while she's still walking funny.

    Well, so much for that creative outburst! If I can ever get time on my own laptop I might come back here and steal some of that for my own blog!

    Eh, likely not... ;-)

    (But you never know....)

    Anyway, good review.

    One more thing: while the Tournament Pack itself is very well done, the mission choices are horrendous, IMO, at least half of them are! No Careful Advance? And Ground Control?!? When there's Domination? And we just had a tournament using Crucible, and, really, that's a terrible mission, too, but I detest Take & Extract even more, so there's that. Military Complex is solid and I've always felt that Surging Strike is underrated, and under-utilized, so that's good, but otherwise, as a regular and frequent TO of Dropzone Commander, I'm frankly very disappointed with the mission selection...

    1. I missed the Apollo thing, was it that they have to walk on and can't leap on? If so that's always been the case, and I think they should be pushing people towards using dropships for everything (clues in the game name).

      As for being whiny, perhaps we are, perhaps that's just our general disposition. Perhaps we're bored of waiting for something to happen and being vocal about it. I find your explanation a little patronising; of course we know fleet came out, and of course we know it had 'birthing' problems (good metaphor btw), but it should not have affected Zone like it has, especially after telling the public it wouldn't.

      I don't view this post as whiny or negative. Critical, yes, but this is the location (see what I did there) for those type of reviews, it always has been and it always will be.

    2. The Apollo thing is that they can no longer direct deploy (which they could do in the past), they must start in Readiness

    3. Yes, that Apollo thing. Thank you. Not everything needs a dropship, Dan -- Apollos certainly don't, as for the cost of a Neptune I could have a third Apollo, which has an effective gun, can score on CLs and FPs, and will actually do something besides being dead weight after Turn 1. If you want everything to have a dropship, require that everything have a dropship -- don't penalize one unit because the way you designed it negates the need for a dropship (even with its cool rule, no value in taking a dropship for any Apollos).

      As for being patronizing, that wasn't the intent (well, maybe a little... ;-)

      As for Fleet not supposed to have affected Zone, shit happens, best laid plans, and all that. Best if everyone rolls with it rather than kicking Hawk when they're already down. It certainly sucks for us, but it is what it is, and I'd imagine it's much more painful to be a Hawk guy and dealing with all of this than it is to be a Hawk consumer. I know from my own work history that when something unexpected but cataclysmic happens its hell on earth until you've got all the fires under control, and that doesn't happen overnight -- it usually goes on much longer than you thought it would, certainly much longer than you'd like it to, and you didn't expect it to be such a cluster f*ck in the first place, so every day is a shit storm festival. It doesn't help when people aren't helping matters when they could be, simply by understanding the perpetual crisis that you're currently living in (even though they didn't contribute to the crisis, and they are being affected by it).

      A little patience, compassion and understanding goes a long way.

      Just sayin'...

    4. ("They", as in "they didn't contribute to the crisis,...", refers to "people" in that last sentence of the big paragraph, not Hawk, BTW...)

    5. Agree with JD big time here. I think Hawk might have bit off a little more than they could chew with the Kickstarter, but they did it earnestly. I like this game (well, both games) enough to stick with them while they straighten it out.