Starter Box Battles is a series of battle reports where we try to showcase either the starter box of a game, or a game played using only two basic faction boxes. Today's Starter Box Battles is The Second Class Elitist versus Ali Alcatraz in Dropzone Commander.
A couple quick ground rules for SBB. First, we know in many (okay, probably most) cases the SBB won't be a "legal battle" by the rules, but it will give you a bit of an idea for how the forces in a game are supposed to be played. No entry substitution is allowed, but where possible, wargear or other abilities may be added- just not more models. Earlier or alternate sculpts of models are allowable, so long as only the content of the starter box is played. I think that's the list. If not, we'll add more as we go along.
game with Merek, and Ali hadn't tried to play it yet, we decided to start off with a little 10mm action. The forces for the Dropzone Commander Starter Box Battle were real easy to decide on: after all, the UCM is my chosen force, and Ali- the evil army loving, necromantic squid player that she is- was obviously more interested in the Scourge.
The board was set up according to the insert in the starter box. The objective of this mission is to search the three buildings on the centerline for the objectives (those red counters) and claim them. The game times out in six turns. You score one point for each objective controlled, and two points for each objective you escort off the table via your deployment zone. I win initiative, and decide to go with the left side of the board.
Dropzone doesn't have you move models by unit, or individuals, but by battlegroups- models coordinated for a specific task. Since the task at hand is to try to collect the objectives, the first thing I did was activate my Infantry group. The Condor dropship flew in and touched down just short of the building, allowing the Bear APCs to roll out. One parked up on the building so the Infantry could start searching, while the other started to speed off to the center building.
Ali goes for a similar tactic, moving her Marauder into position for the middle building. Not sure yet where my armor and anti-aircraft are going to come in, she wanted to make sure she kept everything well hidden. Her Invader APCs disembark. One deposits troopers into the central building, the other waits for a chance to roll out when the coast is clear.
Turn Four begins with Ali again dominating initiative. Wisely, the first thing she activates is the only thing that matters- the objective laden Marauder. Rather than stand and give me a decent parting shot at it, it runs for the hills (or, in this case, the table's edge) as fast as its little xeno-engines can manage. Due to the inability of the UCM to cover enough territory to manage a tie at this point, we call the game 2-1 in favor of the Scourge.
THOUGHTS ON GAME MECHANICS: For a game with a lot of tactical complexity, the actual mechanics of Dropzone Commander are very simple. The d6 system is never cumbersome, and has a short list of always/never conditions to remember, making everything else reasonably quick to pick up. The movement rules get a little sticky at points, but since movement and positioning is in fact the entire focus of the rules set, it makes sense, and it's what gives the game its flair.
THOUGHTS ON THE UCM: If you really want to play real-world armor, but your club focuses on scifi, the UCM is the faction for you! Everything in the list has a very realistic modern or near-modern feel to it, and it's "tangible tech" that easily makes sense. There's no end to painting options as well, which really seems to be the norm in 10/15mm non-historical games.
THOUGHTS ON THE SCOURGE: Fast, and hard hitting, but a bit of a glass cannon honestly, If you want an all-or-nothing playstyle, you'll enjoy them. If you like evil aliens, you'll enjoy them. If you want a force of evil aliens that can take a pounding and keep coming...you're gonna have a bad day. As with the UCM the options for painting are immense. They're definietly a viable faction if you like playing aggressively.
THOUGHTS ON THE STARTER SET: Get it. Don't even think about it. If you and a buddy have any interest whatsoever, it's worth it. First of all, the models are worth more than the box. And then there's the FULL SIZE rulebook. And a small table's worth of terrain. And a freaking tape measure! Seriously, this thing is jam packed with everything you need to play. Grab a floor or table and this guy, and you have everything right there, no waiting. As far as beginner boxes go, this is the most complete one I've ever seen on the market.
Hope you enjoyed this Starter Box Battle! Also, don't forget to go vote for either Dropzone Commander or one of the other games we're offering up in our 2015 Campaign Contest. You could even win a Scourge or UCM force of your very own!
See you on the other side of the table,
The Second Class Elitist.