Introduction to Dropzone Commander

What is Dropzone Commander?

Dropzone Commander is a 10mm wargame of manoeuvre and combined arms fought largely in urban environments where the mission trumps raw carnage. Breaking from the traditional igougo system, it uses the more modern fashion of alternate activation.

Dropzone Commander Artwork

What is the back story of Dropzone Commander?

Set in the current millenium, humanity takes to the stars. It meets a race called the Shaltari, who help them colonise a series of rare earth-like planets we never would have found otherwise, known as the cradle worlds. Eventually it turns out they want human colonies to act as a buffer between them and other factions of their race who may embroil humanity in their racial wars. Humans get upset, and relations sour between these factions. In the 25th century, an awesome white orb lands on earth and delivers a message – humanity is at risk of being annihilated, meet in orbit of a certain planet one year henceforth to be saved. A year later, humans shed human blood as a fleet of abandonists who wish to heed the warning fight with a human navy hell bent on preventing their escape. During an intense three hour battle abandonists activate their FTL drives having received secret coordinates, the naval fleet is damaged and some of the larger slower abandonist vessels are destroyed, and a few days later a race of blood drinking monsters turn up and conquer the non-militaristic cradle worlds and earth itself. The remnants of humanity flee to the outer colonies, destroying beacons on the way to prevent pursuit.

What kind of players would like Dropzone Commander?

For players of 40k DZC offers you a chance to play a sci-fi wargame with balanced mechanics and rules. The lack of a codex cycle, and notable power creep means that games are always interesting, and seem to come down to the last turn more often than not. You get to use vehicles you’d never use outside of apocalypse, and the game resolves very quickly with it’s streamlined (but very effective) rules. So, it’s like using your favourite big units and squads of tanks in a tournament balanced game system that doesn’t take all day.

For players of fantasy DZC offers you a chance to play a manoeuvre based tactical game, where it comes down (generally) to skill rather than guessing ranges and sacrificing units. In DZC, you don’t need to be pedantic about declaring charges etc and overrunning. This is a game of manoeuvre where the pieces keep moving. There’s no blocks grinding into each other, and no units (as of yet) where the owner is denied control. No random charge distances, no dodgey magic phase, and no wood elves.

For players of the myriad of skirmish games, this offers you a chance to quickly accumulate (and paint) a larger force. Terrain is very cheap and easy to acquire, and the overhead in the game is very low. No one unit will (in the vast majority of cases) win you a game against a decent opponent, combined arms (something very hard to represent in skirmish games) is what will win you the game.

Are the models any good?

The models are beautiful. The detail on these 10mm models is simply unprecedented. The resin used in their manufacture is amazingly resilient to falling damage.

What factions exist in Dropzone Commander?

There are four main factions, with a newly announced but as yet unreleased faction.

The factions are the United Colonies of Mankind (UCM), the Post Human Republic (PHR), the Scourge and the Shaltari. The last (as of time of writing) unreleased faction is the resistance, the remnants of those left to their fate on Earth and the cradle worlds.

How should I start playing Dropzone Commander?

Hawk Wargames have announced a two player starter set, which provides starter forces for UCM and Scourge, a full rulebook, dice, tape measure, buildings, and a 33″ x 48″ street-scape to start you off with for around $100 (60 GBP). This product is launching on September 28. It is the best way to get started, assuming that you are interested in either the UCM or Scourge. If you are after the PHR or Shaltari, it’s probably still a good starting point anyway. Leave the UCM and Scourge unpainted, play some starter games with friends, and if you decide to buy a PHR or Shaltari starter, sell the UCM and/or Scourge to friends (or online). The starter units are great core models that existing collectors will still be happy to pick up on ebay in plastic.

Who is behind Hawk Wargames?

When DZC premiered at Salute 2012,¬†Hawk Wargames was pretty much a one man show. It’s lucky that this one man happened to be Dave Lewis. Not only did he bring his phenomenal design skills to DZC, but he launched a brand new wargame with an amazing set of rules. Complex enough to reward creative play and tactics, simple enough to pick up quickly, and scalable enough that you don’t get the blowout of time you see in some other wargames when you scale up the forces outside a relatively narrow comfortable range.

Who are the UCM?

When mankind fled the cradle worlds and Earth in the wake of the mysterious invasion they landed on the frontier worlds. Not beautiful earth-like worlds, these were the brutal, utilitarian worlds intended to supply the cradle worlds with their industrial output and mineral wealth. And as such the perfect starting place to rebuild the military might of humanity, with the aim of eventually retaking the worlds they had lost.

The UCM design their units with a few points in mind:

  • Easy to manufacture
  • Easy to transport to/from orbit
  • Tough enough to take a beating

This is born out by their play-style. The UCM generally field larger numbers of models, their tanks have the highest armour possible in the game, have an average speed but a generally weaker main armament. UCM tanks are equipped with articulated turrets, which allows them to “peek” over objects up to 1″ high on the battlefield and take shots from cover. As a great all-rounder army, they have the ability between armour and the articulated rule to see off an offensive scourge army or alternatively take the fight to the slower PHR with their superior numbers.

See the full range of UCM miniatures on the hawkwargames website:

UCM dropships delivering their cargo with Falcon gunships in support.

Who are the PHR?

Days ahead of the launch of the UCMs campaign to retake the cradle worlds, the abandonists returned. A society with a population of only several billion where every life is important, these guys emphasise technology over numbers. Instead of tanks, their armoured forces are made up of durable walkers mounting powerful weapons. If you play the PHR, every battle will be the last stand of the 300 spartans. Waves of enemy forces will break on the armoured speartip of your force. On the downside, their units are both expensive and slow. The PHR are more dependent on their dropships than other races, needing them to get into the action. The PHR have one of the most powerful flyers in the game, the Athena, an extremely capable interceptor and ground attack unit (for a price!).

See the full range of PHR miniatures on the hawkwargames website:

A combined PHR force

Who are the Scourge?

The scourge are a parasitic race, who inhabit the bodies of other races. Their invasion of Earth was an attempt to secure more hosts. Their vehicles are generally bio-mechanical constructs: floating gravity tanks, flying giant squid monsters with lightning, and ravening hordes of infantry. Scourge vehicles are universally lightly armoured, rapid moving, short ranged, but with devastating firepower. Their short range favours an aggressive play style making use of cover to approach without heavy losses. Perhaps the closes example in another system is 40k’s Eldar – light, short range, specialised, devastating.

See the full range of Scourge miniatures on the hawkwargames website:

Scourge dropships and a Desolator

Who are the Shaltari?

An elder race of the galaxy, the Shaltari have the unique ability to teleport. Instead of “normal” dropships, Shaltari dropships are more akin to flying teleporters, spewing out units where they are needed the most. Units can leave the field through one portal, and reappear out of another portal. Their technological advantage means that Shaltari units have “passive countermeasures” aka forcefields. This means that their lightly armoured, quick units can stand up surprisingly well to firepower, it’s especially rewarding to see your opponent’s super-weapons bouncing off your lightly armoured grav-tanks. The Shaltari have access to one of the most powerful weapons in the game, the fearsome Particle Cannon, capable of reaching out and giving your enemies a taste of it’s “Awesome Power” anywhere on the battlefield.

See the full range of Shaltari miniatures on the hawkwargames website:

Shaltari forces swarm across the countryside

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