DropZone Commander: Wargaming without a second mortgage.

There’s a new kid on the wargames block, and he’s kicking over the chairs and scribbling his name on the walls: DropZone Commander. Well, it might not be quite like that, but what it is doing is giving us a great new game for which you can buy all you will ever need for £265.

£265 for dropships, tanks, troops, a commander, a deck of command cards, custom-cut KR-Multicase foam trays, and an aluminium carry case.

Don’t adjust your eyes. You didn’t misread that. Of course, someone’s going to have to pop £15 on the rulebook, too, but that’s it.

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The minis are incredible. At 10mm scale you might worry that things are going to get clunky, but Dave Lewis of Hawk Wargames has done an amazing job. Vehicles were sculpted digitally, and are so detailed that tanks have tiny moveable parts. Troops were done the old-fashioned way – by hand – and yet these absolutely miniscule figures are superb (and too small for my 50mm macro lens to get a fix on).

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It’s called DropZone Commander with good reason: The scale may be 10mm, but your battlefield is, for medium-sized games, 48X48mm. That’s only two feet shorter than your average 40K table, and your troops are not going to run their little legs off crossing all that on their own. Even wheeled / tracked vehicles are sitting out in the open for too long. No, you’re going to need to airlift your army into position with Dropships, or they aren’t going to make it.

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We’ve used books for buildings in this game: Dropships in flight are measured as being 6″ from the table surface, so it’s important to know how tall your structures are. But DZC tactics can also rely heavily on destroying buildings, so books gave us the ability to remove layers and leave the foundations in place. Hawk Wargames has – for free, mind you – gorgeous buildings that you can download from their website and print onto stiff card.

Yes, again! I’m not having a seizure, I’m not making this up! A games company which gives you free support from its website, and even encourages fan-made extras! Stick with me on this one.

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The armies from this particular game were the United Colonies of Mankind (UCM), and PostHuman Republic (PHR). There are currently four armies in total: The UCM are the remains of the once-great Human empire; the PHR split off and are now cyborgs; the Scourge are body-thieving parasites; and the Shaltari are ancient and advanced aliens. Flavour-wise the UCM are sorta kinda Imperial Guard-ish, the PHR are a bit Tau-ish, the Scourge are Tyranid-like, and the Shaltari are vaguely Eldar. Play-styles, though, are entirely different.

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The obligatory size comparison shows a Tactical Marine between a PHR Janus Scout Walker, the smallest Walker the PHR have, and a PHR Neptune Medium Dropship.

I like it. I like it so much that I’m picking up a Premium Shaltari Mega Army in the next few weeks. In fact, I’ve been terribly cheeky and asked Mr. Troo if I can have it for my birthday. So you can expect to see a lot more of DZC on this blog over the coming months (or years).

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40k: Grey Knights vs Imperial Guard vs Eldar

Morning all,

I was supposed to be playing a game of Warhammer 40K this weekend, but I wasn’t feeling too well, so I ended up spectating.

The chaps went for a 1,000pt three-way game with rules of Mike’s devising, the gist of which are:

  • One central objective worth 5 victory points
  • One objective in each player’s deployment zone worth 3 points if you hold your own, or 4 points each if you capture one which wasn’t yours to begin with.
  • Kill points for wiping out a unit, or when a unit dies but you killed the majority of it. If two players draw, the last player to kill a model in that unit scoops the point.
  • No First Blood (because the player going third is at an unfair disadvantage).
  • No Warlord Powers.

 The chaps have already uploaded the battle report, so without further ado, here it is.

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The Secret World

I’ve been known to MMO. Once or twice. *cough*. Mostly Lord of the Rings Online, with a small side-order of World of Warcraft when I got tired of grinding level 50 pigs. Yep, you guessed right: WoW didn’t last long at all, because I got tired of grinding level 20 pigs.

So when Mr. Troo found The Secret World on special offer in December we did consider whether we’d just tire of it when we had to grind pigs of any level whatsoever. But we bit the bullet and gave it a try. It had, after all, just gone Free to Play.

You may know this already, but The Secret World is a very Call of Cthulhu-esque game. There was a great deal of promise in the online buzz about how little grind there is.

Set in the modern world in which secret societies have existed for centuries but are now scrabbling to save life as we know it, TSW borrows heavily from Lovecraftian Mythos and tabletop roleplaying games.

Your character has whichever abilities you want to learn.

That’s right. No classes, no predetermined cookie-cutter list of the skills and abilities you can buy from. You can buy whatever you have the XP for in the Ability Wheel.

You earn Ability Points through XP. The only limitation on spending them is that you cannot bypass cheaper skills to reach the more expensive ones in the same tree, and you must have maxed both inner trees of an Ability Type before you can progress onto the outer ring for that Ability. Don’t worry, though: you earn AP’s like they’re going out of fashion.

You also earn Skill Points, which you can place as and where you choose. Skills boost your abilities, and determine what level of talismans or weapons you are able to wear / wield. Devoting all your skill points to your weaponry will leave you stranded when it comes to finding awesome talismans (which can boost your health, traits, and abilities, so are vital to keeping you alive – especially if you solo).

Helping you decide what Abilities you want to purchase is a massive in-game table which allows you to search, filter, and explore every ability the game has to offer.

Also you can stand around looking cool with your shoulders on fire, which clearly everyone wants.

I like it a lot so far. There was, alas, serious – yes – grind in December, because TSW ran an event to coincide with the Mayan End of the World. What this meant was that Mayan zombies would spawn under your feet, under the feet of mobs you were killing, under the feet of shopkeepers you were selling rubbish to, and under the feet of the other Mayan zombies you’d just survived. This turned any combat anywhere into a hard slog for, while the Mayans were usually passive, if they spawned while you were in combat they’d pile right in.

But now, thankfully, they Mayans are gone. The world didn’t end (at least, not the way they thought), and my Illuminati friend and I may continue on with our possibly-doomed attempts to save life as we know it.

Overall: 8/10. Would certainly recommend (except to small children, because when I say Cthulhu-esque I really mean it).

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Gatecrash Pre-Release

I’m looking forward to Gatecrash. It has more guilds in line with my favoured colour combinations than Return to Ravnica did, and the mechanics released in the spoiler drip-feed look more relevant to my play-style.

In particular I’m hoping to get hold of some of these:

I do occasionally like to float the Millboat, which (I know, I know) makes me a bastard. But let’s face it, the Duskmantle Guildmage is going to be lovely with Jace, Memory Adept (or “Jace the Mill Bastard”), and already the cost of a Jace, MA, has leaped to the highest I’ve seen in months. Seems I’m not alone in this (very obvious) train of thought. And Mind Grind? Well now. I think I just got a little overexcited. Excuse me while I go take a cold shower.

The Crypt Ghast is an Extort enabler, and protecting it will be a serious priority if it gets cast – similarly removing it from your opponent if he’s fielding Orzhov against you is going to be one of your top goals. High Priest of Penance? Good god, yes. You need to slow your opponent while you nibble them to death with Extort, so dissuading them from attacking you is great. Nobody wants to trade a valuable, targetable nonland permanent for a WB 1/1. Pop some Illusionist Bracers on him and they’ll be doubly reluctant to let you kill him off as a chumpblocker. And if you can make him more resilient? Well, then he’s just exponentially lovely!

Hopefully Gatecrash will have some affordable counters and removal, or Sealed format could be a nightmare for anyone facing off against any of these cards.

Obviously I hope the reverse: That I pull all these lovelies and that nobody can take them off me!

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