This weekend saw a lot of Dropzone as we celebrated a friend’s birthday with a bunch of Dropzone Commander games going off simultaneously.  With 6 players, we had all five factions represented and I did a poor job of capturing the event as we had several interesting games going on.  My map featured the orbital defense laser in the “Laser 2” scenario from Reconquest Phase 1.  The Shaltari v UCM was  river defense layout and the Shaltari v Scourge was a custom narrative scenario with some elevated highway terrain.

My opponent had a full PHR list, eschewing command by taking a relatively weak level 2 commander while I went the opposite route and went as high as I could go in the points bracket we were playing in.

The list has a lot of standard items in it but a bit light in infantry for this faction.  The weirdest thing was taking a drive-on battle bus for the mandatory troop slot then filling out the rest of the infantry with expensive MF-R CQB (close combat) specialists.  The map was set up where objectives were in each corner of the map and the laser was a focal point in the center.  If you occupied the laser, you could nuke all the buildings in a straight line from laser center point.  I figured I’d have the battle bus saunter in and drop off infantry into one corner while the freerider bikers zoom into the other corner building.  The MF-Rs would then beeline to laser and get in to start nuking my opponent’s objective buildings before they could find anything and get out.

Things went mostly according to plan in the beginning except I forgot how slow that bus was going to be by driving on so my infantry didn’t make it into their building until turn two. I did get a surprise drop-n-shoot shot with my commander as he dropped on the board and had a sniper shot between two buildings on one of the PHR Anti-Air walkers. The shell struck home even with the penalty and wiped out the AA threat.  We are still grappling with how to proceed regarding using v1.1 rules or the beta v2.x ones so we’re hybridizing things a bit using mostly 1.1 with flexible transports and drop-n-fire rules from 2.x.

As expected, turn two was going to see the critical take over of the laser. I had a clear advantage with initiative and won it, allowing me to activate my MF-Rs to get inside.  Not so fast though! my opponent had card that could interrupt my activation and activate a squad before (like his Valkyries that were waiting nearby).  But then I had a card allowing me to interrupt his interruption but then…. he played a card to cancel mine.  I’d have to re-read my card again as I think about it more, I’m not sure if that interruption would have been legal.  It was denied anyhow so PHR gets the drop on me and gets into the laser first, winning the critical “occupier” role and can control the laser.  My MFR go in next and have to wait until the next round to get into close combat and hopefully wipe the Valks out.

Things go from bad to worse as his first infantry unit finds their objective on the first try.  The rest of us whiff.  We trade a few units trying to whittle each other’s anti-air down and my second group of infantry get into their building. My opponent dumps salt in the wounds by cancelling my high command rating for the next turn.  The resulting initiative roll plays out obvious and I lose initiative and have to dump a bunch of cards.  He activates the laser and decides to blast two buildings instead of focusing on just the one I’m in.  The laser auto hits and then deal massive damage to the building (15) on a 2+.  He vaporizes the first building then throws a “1” on the building I’m in.  I’m able to survive but it takes me 2 more rounds of searching to find the objective.  The resulting CQB is a blood bath.  I wipe out his two bases of Valkyries and take only 2 wounds across 2 bases of units.  I now control the laser for turn four and beyond as he has nothing to threaten my MFR.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter as he finds his second objective and vacates the building.  At least I don’t have to worry about the laser hitting my stuff anymore and with all my MFR in there, I have a ton of point controlling the focal point, if I can survive to the end of the game.

We battle back and forth and my opponent realizes he would be best served destroying the laser to kill off my guys so he focuses down on it.  By the end of the game, he has whittled the laser down to 3 points but can’t finish it off.  I, meanwhile, finally find my objectives and get them off the map.  The end of the game finds me trying to get units to the laser to contest it while killing his units while my opponent focuses on trying to bring the laser down.

It stays up and we count points to see who had control.  The final tally is 534 points for PHR and 565 for Resistance so I take the focal point and it’s critical bonus VP. It was a very tight game with a lot of ups and downs but ultimately, a lot of fun.

The fun didn’t end there as I also got a chance to play through the first 3 rounds of a Dropfleet Commander game. I’ve been staying away from the game as they blacklisted my faction but with hints of a “Remnants” faction coming and the show-only Remnants model, it looks like the winds are changing.

We knew we didn’t have time for a full game so we put together some basic lists and grabbed a scenario to get us started.  I really just wanted to see how the game runs and so I ran all my ships out to one side and my opponent did the same.  He said, normally you wouldn’t likely play this way as there are a lot of subtle things going on but I wanted to see how all the combat aspects worked so we just went down and got to it.

The preview was interesting and I see a lot of options available during the game (that I wholly ignored in favor of maximum carnage). I’d have to see more of the game and not be so focused on destroying everything before I finalize an opinion but if it didn’t have the DropX ties and IP themes, I don’t think I’d pursue the game any further.  I have Star Wars: Armada and I like that game a lot.  While Dropfleet is good, I don’t think I’d need it over Armada.  If they make a “resistance-like” faction then I’ll probably push into the system but until that happens I’ll just play it when everyone else wants to and see what all I missed on the first run through.

Lastly, I had to do some work on my CNC machine.  The assembly that holds the router didn’t quite fit my router’s model so I bought a new one from Millright CNC and installed it. I found it to be quite the pain in the ass as the mount is connected from inside the Z-axis assembly and requires you to first take apart that assembly, then remove the old mount.  Installing the new mount then required you to reassemble the Z-axis plate, including snaking a belt through a bunch of tight pulley configurations.  Finally, I had to do a bunch of leveling measurements to make sure the new mount was as plumb to the machine as possible. I don’t have any sophisticated equipment so I know it will never be fully plumb and square.

To make sure the spoil board is square with the new router placement, I cut it down again.  After a few hiccups shaking the rust off my CNC skills, I planed the spoil board down again and found that it didn’t “shingle” as bad as it did before or maybe I’m just glad the whole thing still worked, either way, I’ll count it as a win.

I need to test some cuts out again to make sure they are working correctly before I dive back into some of my original projects.  First I have this little boat mock up from the Jefferson’s Ocean bottle we had at Gen Con.

Then I have another non-gaming project regarding my unhealthy obsession with Batman event series, Dark Nights Metal.  Mmmm. Metal.