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PostSubject: Dropzone Commander   Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:28 am

Come now, you didn't think I wasn't going to make a thread about this, did you?

Yesterday I made a serious attempt to find a miniatures game that matched the criteria that I wanted; sadly, a lot of the stuff I liked was either still in the crowd-sourcing stage, really pricey, already came assembled and painted, or was defunct.  Mind you, I wasn't looking to buy anything, I just wanted to find something that... well, here.


  • The cost of the game had to be justifiable.  If it was pricey, did the game itself balance out that cost, whether in sheer number of pieces and offerings or whatever.  For me, 40K is becoming too pricey, especially with the constant updates and upgrades and and and.

  • Needed a war based science fiction theme.  With mecha.  All's Quiet on the Martian Front seemed like a good choice, but it was also rather limited in scope.

  • Needed a real army feel.  The thing I like about tabletop war gaming is that you get to control an army, but when was the last time that happened?  Give me options, tactics, strategy... not just in the army build phase of the game, but during the game as well.  With rules that reflect that.  Flames of War was perfect, but it didn't meet the scifi requirement.

  • Models that I can assemble and paint.  That meant no Battletech.

  • It needed to have a high approval rating.  Well, I can't say high... how about average or better than?


After all that, there were a few games that looked interesting:  Firestorm Armada, where you command gigantic galactic fleets... still looks interesting, a bit like Star Wars Battleships... but it's pricey and the models come assembled and painted (but does look good though; Robogear and CAV Strike Operations looked like nice contenders for a Battletech style game; and Dropzone Commander.  After looking at all the models, the storyline, the different options and whatever, I started to get excited about Dropzone.  Later in the day, I placed an order for the starter box, which in itself was an excellent bargain.

Dropzone met all the requirements, and was a grand departure from the other miniature games I've looked at or played.  

1.  Terrain and obstacles are free to download and print: the game takes place in the city, though I'm certain we can always make a wilderness setting for a bit of variety.  They do make resin and plastic buildings, but they are the same scale as the ones you can print off for free.  It is suggested that you print them on a heavy card stock though.  The maps can be turned or adjusted so that, even though you may be using the same two maps that come with the starter, they can form 16 different street layouts.  Also, going back to the buildings, the buildings are stackable; want a taller building?  No problem, place another on top of it; even works with the resin kits.  And get this: the buildings even have the heating ducts and air ducts / fans that can be placed as well.  The paper models are just that, paper models, but they're a breeze to assemble.

2.  The models are to scale with each other.  Ever play a game like 40k and wonder how it is the infantry squad can fit in the carrier or the exo-suit?  Sure, the basing determined the scale, but the army was never in scale onto itself.  Not so here!  The creators designed the game so that everything was in scale, and that it would fit or work "in real life".  15 infantry can fit in an APC.  The drop ships can transport three tanks or two APCs; some modelers have magnetized the vehicles so that the drop ships can actually carry the vehicles.  The terrain is in scale to the models as well... no more moving your troops into the woods where the trees are the same size as your figures.  As a reference, a tank roughly the size of a quarter.





3.  The model details are amazing.  For a 10mm scale game, the amount of detail is surprising, at least for me.  Tires have visible lug nuts, tanks have rivets, there is even detail on the infantry boots.  The dropships have clear canopies so you can see inside the cockpit.  Turrets do turn and elevate.  Even parts that are normally hidden from view are detailed (tank suspension is an example).

4.  The two player starter box contains the usual fair, and then some.  Maps, buildings, a tape measure, dice, two equally balance armies, and a full rulebook.  Not the type of condensed rulebook we're familiar with (thanks Games Workshop!), but a full rulebook, complete with all the fluff and extra information.

5.  FREE UPDATES.  The game is in version 1.1 right now.  If you have version 1.0, you can download for free the rule changes and updates that were put in 1.1.  No need to buy a new book.  As a matter of fact, their website has a ton of free downloadables... including an army generator program, designed specifically for the game.

I was hooked.

There are currently five armies.  From what I've read so far, there is room for many more.  I haven't told you the backstory, but you should be able to pick it up from the descriptions.

UCM - This is the main human army.  They've been rebuilding their army for the past 160 years for the sole purpose to retake the Earth, so their weapons and vehicles are geared towards aggressive brute force.  Large in numbers, but the weapons use rail technology and what we have come to expect / have seen in movies involving Marines from the future.  **Think of them as Imperial Guard**





PHR - When humanity first made alien contact, a splinter group of humans decided that it would be best for them to leave the world.  They left the Earth, and advanced their level of technology; these people were not on Earth when it was invaded, so the technology is a bit higher than UCM.  Cybernetics, teleporters, and so on.  Small in number, but high in technology.  The UCM hate the PHR, calling them deserters; the PHR dislike the UCM, seeing them as warmongering brutes.  **Think of them as Tau**





Resistance - There were some humans still living on the Earth, and have been fighting the invaders ever since initial contact.  They use scrounged parts, and have been able to blend the alien tech with their own.  **Think of them as the resistance from Terminator**





Shaltari - No good way to describe them, other than to say **think of them as Eldar**.  They are neither humanity's friend or foe.





Scourge - They came to the world, giving us advances, leading us... making us into cannon fodder and a slave race.  Before humanity new what was happening, the Scourge invaded and attacked the homeworld and many colonies.  They are a parasitic race, their craft a blend of technology and organics.





(please note that my "think of them as" parts aren't necessarily accurate.  for a better description, check out the Hawk Wargames website)

For some reason, I am unable to access the website from my work computer, but I can do so from home; I brought my laptop with me today to get onto the site (or to see if it is a server issue).

I've also been watching a bunch of videos on youtube regarding this game: unboxing, demo games, how-to, stuff like that.  I believe I'm getting a good feel for the game.  The rules are pretty straight forward and aren't anywhere near as complex as some other games *cough* 40k *cough*.  There are three ways to win: carrying the objective(s) off the board for two points per objective, holding onto more objective(s) for one point a piece, or in the event of a tie, by kill points.  There are many ways to achieve these goals, but I'm not going to list them or anything.  Been typing for a while now and I'm starting to lose steam.  If you watch any video, make it the demo game video, parts 1 and 2.  They're lengthy, but they are presented from a newb standpoint, and answers a lot of questions.






Last note - the model images don't show all the models available. And, as in the email from yesterday, I am not asking anyone to buy this, nor am I commanding anyone to do so either. I'm just sharing something I found interesting.
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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:21 pm

I've just read an article where they made a different comparison with the factions. After reading more stuff off and on today, I like these better.

UCM - Terrans

Scourge - Zerg

Shaltari - Protoss

PHR - Xel'naga (though I cannot admit to the accuracy of this comp, seeing as how this is from Starcraft 2).
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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:57 pm

soothsayer wrote:
The creators designed the game so that everything was in scale, and that it would fit or work "in real life". 15 infantry can fit in an APC. The drop ships can transport three tanks or two APCs; some modelers have magnetized the vehicles so that the drop ships can actually carry the vehicles. The terrain is in scale to the models as well...

...Except for the "normal" humans of the Resistance. We're not sure yet if they're using souped up and armored golf carts, or if their gunners have evolved into giants whose heads are bigger than pick-up truck back wheels. Could be a bad example, but I also like the picture where it appears that the gunners in the backs of the trucks also have heads bigger than the side windows of the trucks. DAMN! Scale indeed!!! Thumbs Up lol!

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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:16 pm

This picture?




The people do look rather big... maybe those are S10s or the Toyota that's seen in every third world nation village.
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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Sun Mar 15, 2015 3:17 pm

Mother puss bucket...  hit the backspace, and the browser page changed, erasing my entire post.  Okay then, back to square one.

Decided what army to choose.  It was a combination of backgrounds (what I was able to pick up from the Hawk Warmgames site), tactics (from forums and videos), and models, but also a healthy dose of elimination.  Elimination as in "I don't like the way the models look" to "I don't want to play the same type of army I always do" and a sense of "seen it before".

With that said, I'm going with the UCM.  Chances are, people probably thought I'd go with the PHR, but that's something I already play (Tau).  I will admit, it was the PHR models that first drew my attention, but every time I see the UCM, I keep hearing the female pilot from Aliens saying 'five by five' and the dropship sropping the APC.  I love the look of the Resistance, and they were a close second, the the UCM present a unified appearance.

So... if anyone else gets these, in particular the two player set... I'll readily trade the Scourge models for the UCM if a trade is asked for.  I'll leave those unpainted, just in case.

As far as painting goes, I've also decided to do away with my Testors.  I'm not throwing them away or anything, but the thickness of the paints would obstruct a lot of detail.  I could thin them down, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wouldn't get the same consistency with future purchases.  Instead, I'm going in a totally new direction paint-wise: Vallejo.

Just ordered their World War II Allied Paint Set.  I'm hoping that with these I can start a painting technique called washing; being water based, it'll be easier to mix my own washes and blending.  Or at least I'm hoping it'll be.



{EDIT} Of course, once I've looked at things and thought about some more things and and and, I decided that I'd like to do something a little different with the UCM: give them a Cobra Command theme. If anything, they may be viewed as having a nighttime or an urban / police color scheme, but we'll know better. Oh yes, we'll know. As such, I found a Vallejo paint set offer where you can order any eight paints; got three different blues, two greys, a black, a flesh tone (caucasian), and scarlett. At least with these colors, should I change my mind, they can be used in conjuncture with the military set ordered... for highlights or optics or whatnot.


Last edited by soothsayer on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:58 am

The Unboxing

I have no idea why there are so many videos out there of people opening boxes and reviewing the box and layout of the contents. Seems rather stupid, quite honestly. They do this for everything, from cameras to toys to yes, even games. I am posting the official unboxing video here because this is what I am going to criticize. There is no need for you to watch it, not unless you want to; let's just say that it is full of amazement and wonder and plenty of... well, general propaganda, which is to be expected.




Now, my box arrived yesterday, very same box. I'm not doing an unboxing here, I just want to clarify some things. You may have looked at the box description on a mail order website, or you may have watched a video, but are any of those the real true story?

1. The box itself. The video above takes great effort to let you know that it is a flip open box. Oooh, amazing. Really? What's the big deal? If anything, in my opinion, that just makes the lid get in the way of things. The lid does not come off, it is a flip open box. But the video makes it seem amazing and wonderful.

2. Bubble wrap. I had bubble wrap lining the interior of my box, three layers worth. A nice touch, one that I thought I would make mention of because it isn't in the video; perhaps it's a new thing.

3. The blast templates. I'm rather disappointed in these, as they're made out of card stock. On one hand, I suppose it made for a price reduction for the box set (as compared to Games Workshop and their plastic blast template included box sets), but it's still card stock. The video above is all about the oohs and ahhs that this games comes with the blast templates, but they don't say that they're cardboard. You can order some plastic ones though. I'll be measuring the markers later today to see if I just can't buy a small sheet of plexiglass and cut my own. Or hell, cut them out of a dollar store report cover!

4. The rulebook. Holy crap, this is nice. Constructed out of the same high grade glossy pages that Warhammer codices are made from; soft cover, but is not flimsy or weak. The box set cost me $80 (off of Amazon, free 5-8 day shipping), and I'd have to say that a good portion of the cost could be justified simply by the book itself. I haven't bought a book of this size in a while, so I have no real way to compare cost, but I'd say it could probably go for about $25. **Just did a price check, you can get one for $23. Yay for guessing!

4b. What, a second 4? Yep. This is rulebook version 1.1, the latest edition. It does not contain information on the Resistance, which is rather disappointing, but at the same time it isn't. They didn't make a new rulebook simply because they made a new army. Remember, additions and updates can be downloaded for free from their website! So yeah, I'm sad the the newest book is missing stuff, but at the same time, it's nice to see that this company doesn't have a mad-on to make new editions whenever someone sneezes.

5. Yes, the buildings are card stock, and yes, the free maps are just made of poster paper, but it's a nice touch. I'll probably be gluing my maps onto a foam board to give it some strength, and so I can add some extras, like scale sized trees and traffic lights. **Note - 10mm scale is almost equal to 1:140 or 1:160 (so make it a 1:150 and call it a day); this is N scale, as in train sets

6. The models. To read about the detail, to see them, in the videos, they do no justice. These are nicely done. Granted, they aren't as detailed as larger models, but for what it's worth, these are nice; the video above doesn't lie. They are of a strong solid plastic; the weight alone of a sprue is three times that of a normal sprue. They are a resin color, which makes me wonder if they aren't just resin injected (which explains the weight and detail); won't really know until I begin to clip the pieces off and glue them.

There you go, my unboxing is done. Time willing, I'll be going over the rulebook today, and then hopefully give a better overview of the rules.
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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:49 pm

The Rulebook

Wasn't able to post last night, so I really wasn't able to present a review of the book.  Wasn't because of an internet thing or anything, but surprise surprise, it was a Windows fiasco.  Had a slew of updates to do (a whole 14), but in order for me to check for additional updates, I had to first take care of those updates.  Took forever to download, but only half that time to install.  Checked for more updates, and wow, there were a bunch more!  I figured whatever, might as well take care of them while I was already irritated.  By time everything was said and done, I thought it best to just forget the whole thing.

The book's 156 pages, softcover; version 1.1.  It contains the usual fare, or things we've come to know or expect from other miniature wargames: background story, rules, scenarios, and numerous pictures.  Unlike Games Workshop (but like Privateer Press), there is an army section, detailing the different factions with the noted exception of the Resistance; they did not come out as a playable army until after the book's release.  All gaming updates, from new models and armies to errata, can be downloaded for free from the company's website.  I know I've said it before, but it's just worth saying... it truly seems they have the gamer in mind with this system.  In fact, the game designer has even said he doesn't like how expensive the hobby is, and that the only way it can flourish is to make it accessible and reasonable for new players.

But anyway, back on topic.

Every section of the book is color coordinated.  You don't have to flip through the book to find a number here or there.  I like that.  It's simple, and colorful.  The rules themselves only take up 36 pages.  To break that number down even further, you could essentially remove the photographs and reduce the number of pages by ten.  SO now we're at 26 pages.  Remove the obligatory "what you need to play" page, unit descriptions (we know what infantry, vehicles, and dropships are), the page of fluff, scenario information, and all the other junk... if you just keep the rules, the description of each phase... you have six pages (with pictures).  SIX pages of rules!  Seven pages (with pictures) for the glossary, maybe six pages (without pictures, but they have pictures, so it's more like 11) of weapon descriptions, movement does and don'ts, and special rules.  There you have it, all told there are about twelve pages (sans pictures) of actual rules or rule related information.

Twelve scenarios.  Twenty pages dedicated to each of the four {original} armies.  Then there's the usual "feel free to photocopy these pages" pages.  Oh, and an index.  They make mention of that in the video.  Big woop.  It's only two pages.

The font's of decent size, large than standard book print.  Double spaced (or is it 1.5 spaced?).  Oh, and get this... there's only one chart.

One.  Chart.

Or table, whatever you want to call it.  But wait, it gets better!

Apparently, there is a cheat sheet for each army; UCM and Scourge sheets come with the set.  Their specific ruleset is right there on the sheet, and the chart is there too.  As long as you know the general rules of turn phases and movement, the sheet is all you need!  Unlike some other money grubbing companies who shall go without mention *cough* gw *cough*.
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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:15 pm

Model Test

I only did this because some sites and videos stated that the models were resin. And, because of the weight of the sprue, there was some question in my mind.

I cut a section on the sprue with the clippers; went through with little effort. Shaved and trimmed those sections with an X-Acto knife, no problem. Bonded two pieces of the trimmed sprue with a liquid plastic cement, and the pieces stuck together. I did manage to separate those two pieces about five minutes after initially putting them together, but that could have been because a) the pieces were the border pieces of the sprue, and were shiny / smooth or b) I didn't hold them tight enough together along the entire length. I'm going to glue the pieces together again, but this time maintain the allotted amount of pressure / time to set and see what happens.

All told, these are plastic models and not resin. Perhaps, when the game first game out, they were resin. They certainly aren't know.

**The sites and videos that described them as being resin were dated from 2013, from when the game first came out.
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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:01 am

Model Assembly

Assembled the Scourge models yesterday afternoon.  The models are not that complicated; there aren't too many parts to worry about, and the instructions are along the lines of actual models instead of a breakdown illustration.

The first thing I noticed when preparing the models is that obvious lack of clean up needed.  I clipped the pieces from the sprues using a flat bottomed / angled crafting clippers, flat side pressed against the piece.  The pieces came off cleanly, with little to no trimming with knife or sanding required.  I still ran a fine grain emery board across the area where it was clipped, but that was mainly to ensure a proper fit when glued.

The second thing I noticed was that there wasn't any flashing or mold lines.  None.  I did see what could be a mold line along the spine of the UCM Condor, but that same line is visible in the rulebook photos, so either it's supposed to be there, or the designer was lazy.  In this small scale, I expected to see some molding issues, but surprisingly didn't.

The pieces were dry fit; they were snug, but not overly tight.  A bit of the liquid glue was enough to provide some lubricant for the pieces to slide together without having the tightness.  The pieces stayed and did not snag.

**I make mention of this because on one site, a guy was complaining about the model quality.  Flash all over, wouldn't glue properly, nothing fit, everything was warped.  He could of had a bad run, but I'd think quality control would have spotted that.

Another thing of note was that there were a couple pieces that showed ejection pin marks... those circular marks that indicate where the sprue was ejected from the mold... however, these marks were faint, and those areas were where another piece was to be glued.  It was nice to see that the designer of the modeling process was able to hide the marks like this, makes for a cleaner model.

All in all, the models were easy to assemble, with no worry about clean up. For me, this is a big difference when compared to other miniature gaming systems. Even with Games Workshop's self proclaimed high standards, there was plenty to clean, and assembly based off the breakdown illustration was always a chore. I do like the larger pieces, but as of right now, I haven't much to complain about. However, let it be known that this is just a passing review of one army from a starter kit; it does not reflect what the production values are on blisters or other armies (blisters for UCM should be coming in this week).

I suppose the next post I'd be making would be painting. As mentioned before, I won't be painting the Scourge in case I can find trades with someone here or at a store, or sell the online.
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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:24 am


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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:06 am

The. Them. Whatever.

Drinks!
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PostSubject: Re: Dropzone Commander   Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:31 am

Blister Packs

I'm only doing this now for the sake of completeness: a review of the blisters I ordered a week and a half ago (came in this past Monday).

The blisters are of the generic plastic construction, with that heat / crimped seal.  But, before you pull out your knife, take note of the blister back.  There's a flip open lid there, making the opening of the lacks quite easy.  Kind of defeats the purpose of the heat seal, doesn't it?  I mean, anyone who notices this lid can easily pop it open, extract the parts, close it back up, and no one would be the wiser.

The blisters are arranged in a particular order.  Starting at the secret lid, you have the card stock backing; next are the clear pieces (if you ordered flyers), followed by a square of black sponge foam; on top of the foam is the kit itself.  I don't know why the clear is separate from the plastic pieces.

One thing of note with the clear plastic pieces.  The bases, it seems, are cut from plexiglass.  You know how plexiglass has that paper stuck on the bottom of the sheet?  Same here.  It'd be no problem to produce bases, though finding the right material and thickness for the stems might be a tad difficult.

The models themselves are still of a high quality, with no visible flash or mold lines.

Now then, there are a couple bad points.  First off, there are no assembly instructions.  For the most part this isn't a bad thing, as many of the kits have very few parts... but I did order a couple kits that had considerably more parts.  I haven't been to their website to see if instructions are there (I'm sure there are though); likewise, I ordered some kits that were not in the rulebook, and as such I have no idea what their stats are... so make that another search on their website.

As much as I like the idea of this company putting everything online for free, at the same time it makes me kind of cringe to witness just how dependent we've become on internet access.  Can you imagine trying to do this kind of stuff from McAllister?  Or from one of the many cellphone dead zones in this county?

Another bad point with the blisters is that it is obvious that some of these kits are resin, while others are plastic (weight and color indications).  While that itself isn't an issue, it could be for those who might not recognize the difference.  I was also surprised to see that one of the blisters had metal pieces.  Though this just means there's more detail, it also means having to use different glues and different paints; again, not an issue for us, but it could be for someone first starting off as a tabletop miniatures gamer.
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