Monday, 30 September 2013

Dropzone Commander Starter Set

Mr Visa has kindly provided another new shiny wargame project, the Dropzone Commander Starter set. Now I already have two of the starter faction boxes, so this was a bit of an extravagance, but as it's such a great deal, it was hard to refuse.  Besides, I might try and rope someone from the club to help paint these up.  Btw, Mr Visa is great for this kind of purchase, coming just before payday, but he does have an annoying habit of demanding to be paid on time!  Come on, lighten up...

Dropzone Commander has been out for about a year now and, judging from various forums and the blogosphere, has gained a fair player base.  Despite a lot of positive reviews, DZC initially drew attention to itself by simply being very expensive, in terms of cash, to get into. The resin starter sets were a touch on the pricey side, but the big issue was the range of resin buildings (no need to go over old ground, but they were phenomenally expensive.)

One of three identical UCM Sprues.  Lots of small, plastic parts!

Hawk Wargames, the publishers, have obviously taken this to heart and, over the course of the last few months, taken steps to mitigate these criticisms.  Firstly, they reduced the price of the resin buildings; still expensive but a welcome decision.  Secondly, they released templates for gamers to print out their own card buildings and table at home, for free, great stuff.  Thirdly, they released a card building and terrain box for those who couldn't or wouldn't print their own.  This new starter box caps this off this process by producing two of the four starter factions in plastic.

To illustrate the saving, the RRP of this starter set and any of the original faction boxes are the same, but this new box gives you double the number of miniatures as well as all the extras.  As I understand it, Hawk Wargames are, or were, originally something of a one man band, so I can only commend them on producing a fantastic game.

An excellent rulebook; concise, clear, filled with great pics and background material.

So, what do you get in the box?  Well, first off there are the two sets of miniatures, the United Colonies of Mankind (UCM) and the Scourge.  Each force consists of three dropships, six tanks, two APCs and six bases of infantry.  The miniatures are identical in design to the original resin models, but the detail to my eyes is slightly shallower on the plastic.  In particular, the infantry seem to suffer from this more than the vehicles. Bear in mind that DZC is a 10mm scale game, so on the tabletop, you won't see any different between the two materials.

In addition to the figures is the rulebook.  It's an updated 1.1 rulebook, so those of you who own the original rulebook will notice some changes.  Just so you know, all the rule and unit stat changes in the new rulebook are and have been available on the DZC website, so you're not missing any crucial information here.  The rulebook itself is pretty lush (do the kids still say lush?)  156 pages long, 53 of those being introduction, rules and scenarios.  The remainder covers the game background, the individual factions and their army lists. Plenty of gamer porn is on display; some of the displays are gorgeous.  Topping things off, the rulebook has a brief contents and a comprehensive index.  Nice.

The Scourge sprue, only the dropship needs any real assembly.

The two paper maps are placed next to each other to create a 4x3' urban table, on which the ten card buildings can be arranged to suit. The buildings are all from a fairly hard cardstock and, although they stand up on their own, will need glued together for an actual game.  DZC has a distinctive, almost art-deco style for the buildings; I personally think they look great, but I can see how they wouldn't be to everyone's taste. The buildings are a fair old size too, not like the old card Epic 40K buildings, the skyscraper is a good 9" tall. As this size of a building has an impact in game with the different flying units, it's good to see this this in the starter box.

In addition to the rulebook and terrain, are there three reference sheets, an assembly guide and a sheet of cardboard tokens and templates.  The reference sheets haven't appeared as is before and are very clear and well laid out.  The reference sheets cover the turn sequence, the main combat tables and all profiles and rules for the forces in the box.  Although there are several scenarios in the main rulebook, the reverse of the main reference sheet has a scenario specifically balanced for the starter armies, again, great attention to detail.

The UCM Bear APC.  Although it's in six parts, I put this together in a couple minutes.

The tokens are a handy addition.  Although many gamers will have a fair collection of tokens and blast markers (GW?) their inclusion here makes that a moot point.  I'd have preferred a thicker cardstock here, but that really is splitting hairs.  There are plenty of tokens, more than you'd likely need for even a large game.

Rounding off the box is a bag of ten D6s and, charmingly, a miniature Hawk-branded tape measure.  A lovely touch.

10mm scale.  Small, but an impressive level of detail.

In my opinion, this is easily the single best starter box available for any wargame, ever.  The Warmachine/Hordes are pretty close, but the fact that everything you need to start playing is here, terrain included, coupled with the price, means this is a real winner.  Actually, not only does the box have everything you need to play a small game, but there has been enough attention to detail for you to easily play a small game; tokens, reference sheets, scenario, even a tape measure.  Great stuff.

Obviously I haven't yet touched on the background or the rules mechanics; I'll have another post at some point covering these.  Until next time...


  1. Every review I have seen for this set just makes me want to buy it even more! Especially since I've been wanting a sci-fi game in a smaller scale that had dropships.

  2. The dropships are the highlight but Mr.Visa can be a bit touchy some times!

  3. I've been looking at Dropzone Commander but so far helf off because of the price and YAG (Yet Another Game), but this starter box is really making me reconsider.

    Good overview of what's included! Seems like a very solid starter box with really everything you need.

  4. Oh i am glad I am not into Si-Fi or I could be in trouble :-)

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  5. Oh i am glad I am not into Si-Fi or I could be in trouble :-)

    Can you pop over to my blog so you can send me your details for Secret Santa


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