|Wargame published by
|No. of Players||2+|
|Essential Books||Dropzone Commander Core Rulebook (1.1)|
"My mother said violence never solves anything."
"So?" Mr. Dubois looked at her bleakly."
"I'm sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that."
- – Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers
Dropzone Commander (abbreviated as DzC) is a 10mm-scale science fiction wargame originally created and published by Hawk Wargames and now owned by TTCombat and a sister game to their orbital space combat game, Dropfleet Commander. As the name suggests, the game is mostly themed around highly-mobile units dropping into battle to contest and capture key objectives. Battles are set in the middle of larger cities on the so-called "cradle-worlds", previously human-controlled planets now overtaken by the Scourge, a parasitic race of squids who bumrushed humanity some hundred years ago.
DzC tend to be easy to get into, compared to many other, similar wargames: New units and updated rules are added in rulebooks bundled with lore and a continuation of the current plot, meaning you don't need new books every other week, packages with models cost half that of a Games Workshop unit box (though containing way less plastic), and a decent small army is easily aquired with the plastic starterboxes.
The key element that sets Dropzone Commander from other wargames is the emphasis on mobility. It's a 10mm game played on a 4'-by-4' board which is dense with terrain (mostly human buildings, since it's themed around retaking Earth and other human colony worlds), and each ground unit can only move a few inches per turn. The way they get to where they need to be is through dropships. So far, all of the factions have one "heavy dropship" that can carry nine standard vehicles or six heavy vehicles, a "medium dropship" that can carry three standard vehicles or two heavy vehicles, and a "light dropship" (or "assault" or "strike") with two variants: one that can carry a couple of light vehicles and one that can carry a couple of stands of infantry. The miniatures are all made to scale with each other, so you can magnetize your miniatures and literally place vehicles inside the cargo clamps of their transports.
The game is set in the late 2600's, but there's plenty of exposition leading up to that point.
In 2342, humanity are approached and greeted by the Shaltari after humanity pioneers their first foldspace (faster than light) drive. The Shaltari act as friends at first, leading the humans to a number of planets ripe for colonization, but it's all part of an attempt to manipulate them into serving as cannon fodder in their wars with other Shaltari. Humanity doesn't take this well when they find out.
In 2506, another alien thing found its way to Earth: a mysterious White Sphere, the size of a baseball but heavy enough to require the strength of two men to move. It defied study, and when it was inadvertently connected to a network, it locked all the doors and somehow escaped before broadcasting a message that humanity was doomed and should escape by going to Vega IV in one year's time. Enough people took it seriously that a civil war nearly broke out. In the end, the ones who went to Vega IV with the intent of escaping were given coordinates to jump to, and while a battle broke out between them and a fleet of ships sent to stop them from leaving, most managed to escape in the chaos.
Two days later, more aliens showed up on Earth and took it over. With the fleet still wrecked from the battle over Vega IV, there was no contest. About one percent of humanity managed to escape. The aliens went to the other major colonies of humanity, and so the only ones who got away were the ones who jumped to the really distant colonies and managed to reconfigure said colonies' Foldspace beacons to keep the aliens, since called the Scourge, from finding them.
Over the next hundred and sixty years, humanity rebuilt itself into the United Colonies of Man, with the eventual goal of retaking Earth. As they made scouting missions, they discovered that some populations of humans had survived on Earth, forming a resistance against the Scourge. Descendants of the humans who escaped from Vega IV showed up as well. They were post-human now, with cool cybernetics, and offered an alliance. The UCM demanded an apology for running and wrecking the fleet in the process. The post-humans refused, saying that history had proved them right, and furthermore told them that retaking Earth would be suicidal at this point. The UCM told them in no uncertain terms to leave and not pester them, and twenty-four hours later, launched the second invasion of Earth.
That's where the players come in.
Hawk Wargames started out with four factions. The 5th faction; called the Resistance was released in 2014.
United Colonies of Mankind
The UCM is the standard human faction. Olive green, sharp angles, wheels and tracks, lots of machine guns and railguns, the usual. They are twenty billion strong and all dedicated to retaking Earth. Their twelve main worlds are named after the Latin names for metals. Aurum is the largest and most urbanized of these and their present capital. Their dropships are named for birds, fast-moving aircraft for angels, tanks for swords, and wheeled vehicles for animals.
The nation is has a strange combination of a socialistesque political environment and a military-state. For example, there are politicians and they have power, but when push comes to shove, it's the military who holds most of the power. Not that anyone are really bothered by this; when you've been brought up with stories of the lost cradle worlds, among them the jewel called Earth, no one is gonna argue about too much spending on the military.
The UCM are a fairly normally looking faction populated by decent humans, so of course, they are - say it with me - the generalist faction. They have no glaring weaknesses, but no strengths either, can do most things well, yadda yadda. So, what's interesting about them? Well, for one, their airgame is among the best nowadays. They also have a few very weird but cool models, such as the drone-spewing Ferrum or the Mortar team, the only infantry with indirect fire in the game. In fact, UCM does blasts and barrages better than most.
Malicious alien brain squids who lead a fairly miserable existence without a host, they want nothing more than to share that misery with others by injecting their young into their prisoner's ear canals and making them a flesh puppet. They have a merciless glass cannon strategy and love blasting things with plasma. Those Scourge unlucky enough to mature past prime brainjacking age get permanently installed in a vehicle; these either float or walk.
The UCM doesn't understand how they communicate and coordinate; that's a big goal of the first phase of reconquest.
Their vehicles have been given names like "Despoiler", "Reaper", and so on, as a result of being generally nasty all the time.
Thanks to technology given by the White Sphere, the humans who escaped Vega IV have upgraded themselves into post-human cyborgs. They are only three billion strong, but very powerful on a unit-per-unit basis, with clean lines, tan colors, and walkers as well as tanks. The UCM don't like them because they think they're cowards, calling them "Abandonists", while the PHR don't like the UCM for being warmongering zealots. They aren't directly governed by the White Sphere anymore, but they do trust it quite a bit, and nobody (not even the PHR) knows where it really comes from.
Their vehicles are all named after gods from various mythologies -- mostly Greek and Roman, but Egyptian, Celtic, and Norse god-names are also used.
They also have Sirens, who are all-women elite warrior units who fight with twin pistols.
The Shaltari are extremely long-lived, having mastered the art of transferring their consciousnesses into new bodies. When death of natural causes is no longer an issue, they simultaneously fear death and yet venerate war as the only pursuit worthy of respect. People who haven't seen battle yet don't even get names.
Their greatest technological advantage is that, rather than carry their units, their dropships are actually teleportation gates. Units can enter one vehicle and get popped out of another one. In contrast to the Scourge and their homogeneous arsenal of plasma weapons, Shaltari weaponry is a mix of energized particle beams, focused microwave emitters, and the occasional extreme velocity railgun.
The various sub-nations of the Shaltari are named after the nations of Native Americans (of both continents). Their units are named for traditional weapons and totem animals of various pre-industrial cultures.
The Resistance are the new faction on the block, the descendants of the humans who managed to survive on Earth and escape capture and possession by the Scourge. Expect to see lots of salvaged and improvised fighting vehicles. Concept art and test models so far reveal the future-pickup to be the basic chassis for most of their vehicles. They won't have a lot of dropships or air vehicles, but they may have ambushes, tunnels, and other rules to fill out their mobility and support needs.
The Tau called, they want their dropships back.