The 1.1 DZC rules have been a big success, many of the included fixes have revived units that are never seen on the battlefield, and have improved gameplay immensely (looking at you, falling masonry rules). Dropzone commander’s strengths lie in a “combined arms” approach to materiel and logistics. Dropship deployment allow slow-moving units to strike into the heart of the battlefield, in a game where seizing the objectives is the most important factor. What are the key improvements I’d like to see in the next version of DZC?
Close Quarter Battles Don’t Happen Often
Close Quarter Battles are extremely bloody and decisive combats. The problem is that while each race has units which are very good in Close Quarter Battles, they aren’t considered a good unit to field, simply on the basis of their specialised nature. Praetorians for instance, are a good example. They don’t count towards your troops choices, they are expensive, and while they are super-awesome in CQB and great at getting into buildings, they just don’t get into CQB battles often enough to be a core part of most UCM lists.
Now it’s no good griping about these issues, what are the solutions?
Firstly, I agree with Hawk that these specialised troops shouldn’t be used as general battlefield troops. They are far too specialised for that kind of generic use. Assuming that the cost of exotics is “fair” compared to the cost of troops (ie there’s no benefit to spamming them, because it takes points out of your other options) then perhaps allowing exotics AS troop selections is a good idea. Thus any group of legionaires can be replaced by a unit of praetorians. The troops choices of an army could be entirely made up of Praetorians in Raven As. It would certainly mix up the gameplay, and Praetorian just seems extremely unlikely given the downsides to deploying smaller squads, especially ones with no extra protection from falling masonry. A second option could be allowing “parachute” insertion, with their light dropship deploying conventionally from readiness to pick them up afterwards. This would allow your “commandoes” to attempt deep insertion behind enemy lines, with the possibility of being wiped out for their objective and/or simply being wasted. The third option is new CQB focused missions.
The Ferrum is too good
I personally think that some of the arguments against the ferrum are overblown. That said, it’s an extremely attractive package. The ability to scout with Mv 30 flyers, which cost nothing and can use the new focus rule to trade in three E 6 shots for one E 13 shot is amazing. Combine this with (non-reactive) AA, and it’s a killer. The Ferrum needs to be less generally good. From a simple mechanistic perspective, one scout on it’s own is a free alternative to a squad of wolverines, and one that can spot while standing off a considerable distance. The force projection the ferrum displays is ferocious.
Solution 1: The ferrum launches a max of one drone per damage point it has left and/or can only keep drones up and functioning equal to twice it’s damage points. In theory the ferrum is hard to “get at”. This allows risky flyer attacks and/or scout attacks to attempt to take some of it’s damage points, and gives a tangible benefit to the attacker. Because at the moment, they seen no benefit until they kill it entirely.
Solution 2: Drones can be configured to be either SCOUTS with the AA rule (no reaction fire), or they can be equipped with missiles capable of pounding ground targets which have the Focus 3 rule. This means that three hits gives you E12, and two only gives you E9 instead of E10. E10 for two shots is a fully fledged AT shot at 1:2 ratio. That’s pretty damn good, especially as you decide AFTER seeing the result. This solution caps AA shots at E 6 with SC, and at least pays lip service to the idea that you have to manage your drones to a particular outcome. Drones that are within 15″ of the ferrum can choose to move to another point within 15″ of the ferrum and forgo firing to reconfigure into a drone of another type.
Solution 3: Price Bump. With a unit this good, 160pts is on the light side. It should be around 180 minimum. The risk with repricing is that you get to a knife-edge on price/utility. A unit this good has to cost serious points, but ponying up the “fair” price means that you might simply buy a gamut of replacement units, each better at their specific roles, and simply drop some of the functionality. Long answer short, it’s hard to price a very good unit extremely fairly. Better to reduce it’s capability, or give other players a mitigation mechanic. A good example is the hades. While it’s extremely powerful, the game mechanics around it’s movement and impact on the game at hand, mean that in many battles it will struggle to return it’s point value in game effect, simply because the enemy will avoid it and play more carefully. You can’t do this against drones with 30″ MF.
The Taranis is not powerful enough
At 45pts the taranis is an interesting unit. They look amazing! However it’s R(C) of 18″ means that it’s very difficult to deploy effectively against an enemy. It is a slow unit, with a short ranged weapon. On the surface, it looks like the taranis is constrained to demolition duty, but here it competes against the Enyo, an A10 P5+ walking tank with two cannons that get Demolisher 2 automatically.
Solution 1: Demolition Master – Automatically has the demolisher 3 rule rather than D3, giving it a good damage output. Alternatively, coupled with more usage of reinforced buildings, it’s E 13 against structures automatically.
Solution 2: Utility. Much like the longbow, give the taranis some utility to strike at the enemies of the PHR in a less conventional method. A good example might be an IF range infinite “friendly” shot that can heal 1 damage from any type 1 or type 2 mech. Or perhaps the ability to target the ground and deploy mines (whether for damage, or something else like slowing enemy units), as long as they are deployed a certain distance from enemy units (or are within R(C)).
Solution 3: Improve all-round performance. Perhaps give the Taranis an AA round, which means that they combine AA duty (for instance a fast movers deterrent) with their existing rules. Single E8 AA “kinetic kill” missile, with the 18″ range. Alternatively, allow them to “go nuts” and unload all their missiles for the game in one huge barrage… tell me that wouldn’t be fun!
The Falcon’s Performance
As you can read here, the falcon is an under-performer. The enemies it will perform well against generally have a good supply of long range AA firepower, the enemies that don’t it doesn’t perform well against at all. As a single DP A5 flyer, it’s incapable of taking any punishment, even light AA weapons are likely to down it with a couple of shots in reaction fire. It has only one fire mode, which uncomfortably is a single high-energy shot.
Option 1: Make it more accurate. With only one shot per model, and likely only a single round of shooting to make use of it, the Falcon needs to hit. This is a vehicle firing thousands of rounds in a barrage, and yet it’s represented in game terms by rules used for single uber-shot weapons. I understand that this may represent the overwhelming weight of fire, but the fact that it’s a stream of lead should improve the accuracy vs a railgun, rather than dropping it! Either give it 2+ accuracy (and frankly, some benefit against skimmers) or represent it with more lower energy shots. Something like six E 7, four E 9 or perhaps two E 10 shots. My preference would be four E 9, simply to differentiate the profile. However this needs some serious spreadsheeting.
Option 2: Broaden it’s abilities. Give it a more general role, so it’s not a throw-away alpha strike unit. If it’s energy is massively dropped, consider allowing it to target loitering dropships (with a penalty). Hell, give it a “tracers” rule that means that it a falcon hits it’s target IF weapons have sight to it, and get a bonus to their range when firing at it. Anything that allows the falcon to synergise with UCM gear, will massively ramp up it’s utility.
Dropships serve no use after the initial drop
Now, I don’t actually agree with this. There seems to be a prevailing mindset among some players, that it’s a “waste” not to fire at a target if you have the option. In general, this mindset means that people are loath to use dropships after deployment, because the cost is a loss of firepower. I think in many cases, the mission would be better served by redeployment, rather than firing on a building full of infantry in the hopes of killing some of them. Far better to reposition to take out their ride, in general. That said, there should be some additional advantage to being able to keep your dropships operating in close proximity to your fighting forces. The rule I advocate is that if the dropship and mounted unit move 1/4 distance rather than 1/2, then the mounted unit can fire with a +1 penalty to hit. This will incentivise keeping your dropships within close range of your tanks and other assets in order to make this possible, the risk is that they’ll be shot down, preventing the use of them in this way later in the game when it’s essential. This will also allow the slower moving units of the game such as PHR heavies additional movement at a cost to their accuracy. In general your dropship will be behind your unit by 3″ or 4″ or so. The PHR can therefore up their heavies’ movement from 2″ to 4″ or so at a cost of accuracy.
Roads aren’t much used
Roads in DZC are generally only used to rush objectives off the battlefield, or when there’s absolutely no benefit to other options. The bonus 2″ of movement from roads should be applied to the Mv value of units that make their entire move on roads that turn. Therefore if you deploy a sabre directly to a road from their condor, they should move 3″ rather than 2″ (1/2 of 6″ instead of 1/2 of 4″). Likewise, some weapons should have MF values higher than their movement, allowing fire while driving at a fast speed on a road. A tank driving on level ground at a fast combat speed is capable of quite accurate firepower with present day technology. I imagine with the computer-assist technologies of the DZC setting, roads should be a bonus at the cost of predictable pathing, not an option at the cost of firing. The benefit should also apply at least in part to skimmers, I imagine that with less energy and focus going on dampening any variation in surface level they could also move further. Something to consider.
Minor Misc Suggestions
Rather than allowing someone to declare that their skimmer is “moving” while staying still, if a skimmer is CAPABLE of moving 6″ in it’s turn, it gains the skimmer bonus automagically. This is already how I play, and all it does is remove the need for players in a tournament environment to repeatedly declare that their skimmer is or is not doing something.
Throw us your suggestions!
These are just things that I think can be improved, on an already amazing game. Some of these suggestions are already apparently in the works with Hawk (Falcon and Ferrum, definitely). Others are things I’d prefer to see in the game, not because they necessarily benefit my main faction. But because they’d make for a more interesting/immersive game. Comment below if you’d like to add a suggestion, or even comment on aspects of the game you’d like to see changed.