As discussed at the conclusion of my Phase 2 board building, one of the main goals pushing me forward is creating a sustainable solo experience for Dropzone Commander. With that in mind, I have the Alpha version of my solo rules ready and I’ve ran through a playtest already (report next time). This is just a summary of the rules and concepts at this point since things are pretty untested.
Reviewing the v2.1 rules TTCombat released, they will form the bones of the game structure and I’ll modify some existing rules so that they work for a solo experience. Using the existing rules also ensures that the game is still “Dropzone” and not going so off the rails to be considered a different system altogether.
One of the biggest components will be AI. Obviously in a solo game, you still need the game itself to be a fitting opponent. Complex AI routines work best with computer support (like modern video games or app/board game hybrids) so I’ll be using very simple methods for the fauna in the game.
For fauna, they will be governed in two types: Infantry and Non-Infantry. Infantry fauna are the simplest in that they appear through events and never move. During their activation, they just attack any non-fauna units in the building until their targets die/leave or they die. Using the standard CQ rules, this makes things pretty simple.
Non-Infantry Fauna are more complex since they need to freely move about the battlefield. You can always play them more intelligent than any simple system I can give but for this system, fauna are just random killing machines. If they have line of sight to a target, they move to it and attack with everything they have. If they don’t see anything, they move in a random direction until they see something.
When there are decisions on who to attack, I have the fauna attack units that it can successfully destroy. This means Vampires prioritize Aircraft first before considering other targets. Larger Fauna like Maulers or the Apex then target vehicles they can destroy and try to have them target vehicles that are the biggest threat. So an Apex would target my Hannibal tanks first over my weaker Gun Wagons, assuming it can damage the Hannibals at all.
The other big change is event cards. These cards will be used to randomly drive the deployment of obstacles, traps, and fauna used to prevent the player from succeeding in the mission. Since most every game of Dropzone Commander involves infantry manipulating the scenario to win objectives, that will also the be the main catalyst for the event cards.
Event Cards will form a deck that is drawn from whenever an Infantry squad uses the search action. Usually, searches take place in buildings so this should help drive the game. The event deck will contain the scenario objective and the scenario will drive what this objective requires to end the game. To keep the game short enough, I settled on the event deck being 24 cards with buildings having a maximum search capacity based on size. This will make sure that the player has to move around the board to keep searching and can’t hole up in one defendable location.
To ensure that the game continually moves forward, if a search action isn’t taken by the player, a simple event table is also used to randomly spawn more fauna.
While the v2.1 rules will work for the solo games, I did make one general change to fit my own game preference: units disembark from transports at 3″ from the center (up from 2″ normally) and can only move half speed (down from full speed). This follows my preferred rule from the 1st edition of the game is just a house rule I’ve been using.
While the disembark rule change is a house rule, there is another rule that I felt had to change specifically for the solo game and that is Occupier’s Advantage. This rule is used normally to give the current infantry occupier some defense against incoming threats but too many awkward interactions with the solo rules were coming up to make it worth while. Also, the implementation created issues in the results of close quarters combat so I got rid of it completely.
Being a solo game and starting off with a small army force, I got rid of the whole first phase of the rules (Initiation). This is mainly because initiative is not used in the game and the force is small enough to not use commanders so command cards are not used either (this may change in more testing).
The last modification to the rules is adding a “Fauna Activation” segment to Phase 3 (Round Up). This is when you check to see if a random event needs to happen (because the player didn’t search) and activate all unactivated fauna on the map.
All the fauna stats come from TTCombat’s Army Builder or the Fauna Rules they posted earlier. I did make an exception by creating a new fauna option – the Abandoned Razorworms. I wanted some variety to the infantry fauna and thought they would be the best option. I can’t imagine Scourge forces actually go and pick up deploy Razorworms after a battle so these ‘leave behinds’ are potentially still out there among the ruins of previous battles. Though starving and weak, they still pose a significant threat to the common soldier.
So there you have it. That is most of the rule changes and concepts I have for my solo Dropzone Commander sessions. Once I get a few more games in to tighten things down, I’ll post the full rules and event cards in case anyone wants to try it out themselves.