Dropzone Commander Review: Assembly & First Battle

DZC_Logo_white_web_grandeHaving cleared some painting space I assembled enough of the DzC boxed sets to get a game on the table. Just baby steps really, with half-built models and whatnot. This was just a way to get a general idea of the flow of the thing rather than an attempt to play a proper game of DzC in all its glory.

The following isn’t a full review by any means. Instead it’s just a few thoughts based on actually assembling some of the models and then trying them out on the tabletop.

The_Shaltari_Invade_1024x1024

Assembly

  • The resin Hawk use is lovely to work with. It’s texture is smooth and soft and it cuts and sands beautifully. Although I am very much not a fan of superglue I’ve acquired some industrial strength stuff and used that to assemble the pieces. Seemed to work fine.
  • Mould lines and flash are present on some models and some are in slightly awkward places right next to details (eg on the side of Neptunes). They are easily removed although you have to be careful to avoid trimming too much away because the resin is so soft.
  • Assembly of the models is an odd mix of carefully considered joints (Neptunes main hull) and the abysmally ill-thought out ones (Juno hulls). The Neptunes went together smoothly and just took a  bit of care removing the casting stubs. The Junos were a bit of a faff as one pair of halves didn’t want to align the sides properly and took some persuading. I now have the job of making the seam line disappear on both vehicles – a task I’d rather not have but without which they will be spoiled.
  • The stalks on the flight stands need a bit of work to go into the holes in the bases. Nothing major, but you need to do something or they won’t fit (and you really do need them in DzC).
  • Overall, nice resin to work with, good looking models, but a few choices in the design of moulds and breakup of parts that could have been improved.

The_PHR_Advance_1024x1024

First Game

  • We needed a QR sheet. Mostly this was for unit stats which we kept having to refer back to the book for. A single sheet would have done it. I expect there will be one somewhere online – I just haven’t looked yet. Bob thought that there should have been one included in the army boxes.
  • We did some stuff wrong. This was kind of expected, and wasn’t that important as the aim was to get a general idea of how things worked which we did.Bob didn’t much care for the Shaltari and cared for them even less when they died in droves (not helped by my failing to realise they had a save – sorry Bob).
  • It was obvious that the game would move along at a fair pace when we knew what we were doing.
  • I don’t think that this size of game (smallest of the three army boxes) is going to keep people amused for very long, and it’s plain that it’s on the cusp of being unplayable or at least missing out on a lot of how the game really functions. Really want at least twice this amount on the table. Apart from anything else, only infantry can go into structures, and that’s where objectives often live. There simply isn’t enough infantry in the smallest set to last long.
  • The game has an encouragingly different flavour to most whilst remaining familiar. The mechanics are straightforward enough, it’s the style of play that is different. Foot and vehicle units are very slow and need the dropships to cart them about. This makes for a fun change of pace as units are deposited, do a job and then get picked up and redeployed.
  • The 6 turn limit to almost all scenarios seemed perhaps a little short and I thought failed to really capitalise on the whole idea of the dropships repositioning things. The process of dropping, doing, picking up, moving, redeploying, etc takes too many turns to really do it more than 2 or 3 times in a game and if this is one of the USPs it should be allowed to shine more. If that makes sense.
  • Other than the turn limit the scenarios were a nice mix and the rules for objectives and so on well considered.

I’ll keep other thoughts for later when I’ve played some more. For now let’s just say that it’s a promising start with only a few reservations.

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17 Responses to Dropzone Commander Review: Assembly & First Battle

  1. Ben says:

    I picked up a couple of PHR blisters and was surprised at how soft the resin was. I almost sliced through one model whilst trying to clean it up.

    Looking forward to hearing how a full game goes as DZC commander is very much on the wishlist.

  2. G says:

    Hi Jake

    Thoughtful and informative as always! This game has definitely piqued my interest and I may have to pick up some bits at Salute!

    I wonder if you wouldn’t mind contacting me directly as I would like to have a quick chat with you about my own site?

    Thanks

    Greg

  3. mlhphotology says:

    im loving DZC its one of them penny drop games, you play a few games and think how cool, then the penny drops and you go OMG this is amazing if i play this tactic, and the entire game transforms. the shaltari are squishy but due to their counter measures they are a very annoying to remove, if in cover and moved fast enough, they are hard to hit, and the few hits you then cause are often negated by their saves. don’t forget the skimmers are harder to hit if they move fast enough.

    only clunky thing i find in the rules is the infantry fighting in the buildings, that said it flows really nice now, but in the early days was a pain.

    also download the latest errata and experimental rules, it really help the game a lot, also on the forums one of that player has done some printable unit cards that really help the flow of play.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks mlhphotology. As I suspected… some play aids online 🙂

      I have heard that there were lots of errata and so on, I just thought that for a first outing I’d get the details wrong anyway so I’d concentrate on the basics. Now I’ve got a feel for the general flow I’ll download the latest FAQ/errata and take it from there.

      There are a number of clunks here and there, or at least apparent ones. They could also be my unfamiliarity with the rules which is why I don’t want to point them out just yet.

      Nice to hear from an enthusiast 🙂

  4. Tim says:

    Here’s the builder I’ve been using:

    http://www.dzc-ffor.com/

    Can be a bit troublesome to get working if you’re not Java friendly, but the printouts are top notch.

  5. davekay says:

    Agree with your points on the movement and game turn limit Jake. It was the first thing I noticed reading through the rules, and I’d love to see this change to allow the game to live up to its own billing more. It’s supposed to be a game about the rapid deployment and redeployment of troops yet the rules don’t allow for this.
    Still a great first edition game though.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I need to play more and bigger games to really tell for sure – this just stuck out as a bit of apparent self-contradiction. I do like the idea though. Seems a shame to sell it short.

      • nathan payne says:

        DZC looked awesome last year at salute why oh why he didn’t want to sell there and then i’ll never know.
        He said it was because the rule book wasn’t ready. Well he missed out on one hell of alot of trade that day. Well
        it’s passed me by now, other games have my attension. The minis are really nice but i’ll stick to Gruntz new book on its way :).

  6. nathan payne says:

    he said everything was cast and ready just waiting on the book. When i’ve got the upto date Gruntz rules and givenbthem a going over, i’ll sort us a game out jake. 🙂

  7. That`s our main problem here, the game is advertised with the dropships playing a huge role and when it comes to the game they don´t really play that much of an important role.

  8. james says:

    its a new game with all games there is only so much people can find problems with there own stuff this rules edition might be out there to see what people like and dislike so he can add it to the rules also as at the end of the day you buy the models you play with them how you want to the rules are there so you and your opponent can agree on the same rules for everything then if you and/or your opponent doesn’t think the turns are long enough add turns if both players agree

    simples 🙂

    • james says:

      the last sentence change to “you and/or your opponent doesn’t like something like the turns are not long enough,add turns if both players agree” sorry if it didnt make sence in the first place

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