Once the belle of the ball among my gaming group, Dropzone Commander has fallen far from the graces of our table and it wasn’t even the mighty COVID, the Destroyer, that did it in.
The folly that has been this once shiny light of army combat with combined arms writ large in glorious 10mm has been a constant shaking of heads and gnashing of teeth within my circle. Product on any shelf, rules in constant disarray with multiple FAQs and errata not making the system any clearer or seemingly balanced, and, yes, COVID disrupting player lives let alone hobby and game time as well as shipping and production from the publisher.
To TTCombats credit, they are trying. It’s just eventually you have to realize that trying isn’t good enough. They may think they have a great game on their hands and made something special but the blindness to the truth is holding them back. What they really need is a reality check. An objective “come to Jesus” moment that lets them acknowledge the flaws and truly fix the game. I think this was sort of in their plans as they would tepidly address serious glaring errors with a “let’s see it play out on the table.”
Unfortunately, no one has this on their table. I don’t mean now, no one has shit on their table period. The year run up to the worst global catastrophe in the last half-Century still didn’t see Dropzone hitting the table. Without it hitting the table, the designers are caught in a chicken/egg situation. They don’t believe the game is wrong but could if enough games proved them otherwise. Instead we have a scattering of maybe a few “big tournaments” that yielded a handful of players with nothing gained but a few unit tweaks.
To be fair, their latest FAQ has maybe addressed one of the singular most glaring issues of the core scenarios. I’d love to try it out and see if the game is getting back to a balanced center but the current social situations are still preventing this… maybe.
Tabletop Simulator is becoming more and more my way out of this mess. I’ll definitely play in person again and I still prefer physical minis and the creative outlet hobbying provides. TTS, however has firmly shown itself to be the hero I need in these darker times. With the eye-opening work that Dice From Hell and VaulSC did in showing how to import your own painting miniatures into the system, I was able to accept a digital compromise to my tabletop gaming.
Leveraging what I learned with importing my Infinity models, I moved to see what I could do with Dropzone. Unlike Infinity where there is a large and motivated fanbase, Dropzone doesn’t really have this. Nothing was clearer to me in how far the game has dropped even within the fans of the old publisher, Hawk Wargames, and the current torch-bearer, TTCombat, when I saw a beautiful port of its sister game, Dropfleet Commander on the TTS platform.
The learning curve is a little steeper as the models are fundamentally different than standard humanoid figures on a standard-sized base. Measurements must be used each time and compared post-import to make sure they are consistent but I’m getting there.
In fact, I’ve got a starter army based on the original Hawk Wargames starter (roughly 500 points). This is all based on my painted minis while pulling existing board assets from a variety of other small-scale games already on TTS.
I don’t know Blender or 3DMax or other 3D programs so my models show some mesh issues owing from my lack of skill as well as issues in photographing odd-shaped models (comparatively speaking) that my turntable wasn’t necessarily designed to shoot. At the end of the day, this is still far and away the best option I’ve seen and if it takes off, maybe we’ll see better artists importing their models like what goes on with Infinity.
I did get lazy and only shoot one version of my models even though most of my vehicles sport some kind of uniqueness, especially when it comes to the repurposed civilian crafts.
Mirror matches wouldn’t make for much of a fun game so I borrowed Colton’s Scourge faction and got a starter of them ready as well.
There are some cool things that Dropzone did in its physical form where the dropships could carry the physical models (mine are all magnetized as this is the way). Doing this on TTS is a pain in the ass (if it works at all) so we’ll have to figure something else out for the time being.
Outside the models, I just needed to make a template and the game is ready to run. I plan on setting up a game with Colton after we refamiliarize ourselves with the rules and FAQ/errata. After we get a game or two in to iron out any issues, I’ll work on packaging it all up to the workshop for others to enjoy.
Maybe with some repeated games and some uptick in the DZC community interest, we can help the publisher iron out a proper way forward and find the game the community has lost in the edition change.