Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Tag: hawk wargames (Page 1 of 2)

6 x 6 Gaming: Dropzone Commander and Pandemic Legacy

Early last week I got a reminder that a group of us were going to hit Dropzone Commander this past weekend.  I had some units that were still primed from my big priming spree before winter so I decided to blitz through a few and finish them up.

Up first was the new Skulltaker.  This aerial transport is the model for the special commander that first appeared in Reconquest Phase 1.  In Reconquest Phase 2, they made the model a general unit so that you didn’t need to work with the special commander rules (which are usually experimental in nature).  After some errata, the unit was actually playable and so I was happy to finish this one out.

This makes the fourth “Lifthawk” style model I have done and they are looking quite eclectic.  I also have a Hellhog (blue) in the back to round out my aircraft units.

While the Skulltaker is a big beast of a unit with upgraded guns and weapons, its main purpose is to transport psycho berserkers quickly to a key close quarter battle. These berserkers were the next item on my list.

With these quick paints complete, I was able to complete my list and be ready for the game.  I haven’t been keeping up with the Dropzone tournament scene but apparently 1250 points is becoming pretty popular.  We decided to try out that sized game. I went with a pretty balanced list with a good bit of anti-air, infantry, and anti-tank.

We had four players and split into 2 separate games.  I was on the ruined map layout and was going against my friend’s UCM list which featured a heavy load of air units and anti-tank but light on the infantry.

initial setup

The detail on the layout that our host setup was great.  His burned out cars and dead bodies really add to the atmosphere of the scenario.

We decided to play Secure The Flanks scenario and started up, each approaching from our respective corner.

We both settled in on our close objectives, me with my Freeriders and the UCM with their Legionnaires from a Raven A.

I started down the main street lane when the UCM sent a few air units to sweep by.  After a horrible whiff, they all fell to my Gun Wagons.  My front Kraken (missing in the pic above) was caught not far enough behind the building and was lit up by the UCM main force of anti-tank units.  I rolled especially bad and lost 5 of the 6 (red) Gun Technicals.

white primed dropfleet ship subbing in for another condor

The UCM quickly took up position around the right focal point. He had two Gladius, a unit of Sabers, and a unit of Rapiers all defending this spot.  The scatter terrain was really favoring this position since all his unit have articulating turrets to see over the debris.  For whatever reason, my massive Thunderstorm Hover-building with gunship lasers mounted on the top does not have the height or articulated turrets rule so I could never really get line of site on anything and it became a huge waste of points. This seemed pretty ridiculous so for future games we’ll house rule that LOS will measure from the gun mounts.

poor thunderstorm. guns mounted 2+ inches off the ground but can’t fire over a simple rusted out car

Moving on! I decided to centralize my forces in the middle buildings for the middle objective.  Unfortunately, the UCM had came in with their 2 squads and got in the building first.  I sped in with my Skulltaker and shot up the building and flamed it but found that the flame weapon on the Skulltaker (usually a great anti-personnel weapon) is pretty lackluster.  I dropped off my Berserkers and in the ensuing close quarters battle, they wiped out the Legionnaire squad with a 4:1 dice advantage.  Since the UCM had two squads in the building, they only needed to commit one squad to my Berserkers.  The other unit got a lucky roll and found the objective in one turn and was off the map before I could do anything about it.

We both still had our close objectives but his anti-tank and orbital laser-firing commander soon reduced my objective building to rubble. Playing tit-for-tat, I rushed my Barrel Bomber over to his objective building and launched my goliath bomb to knock the building down to 2 hits remaining.  The debris falling killed all but 2 Legionnaire figures.  My next salvo did no more damage and I couldn’t finish off his objective.  His next turn, the Legionnaires got another lucky roll and found the objective on their second try, then got out and left the map again before I could stop them.

Things were looking grim.  I was down 4 VPs to zero and there were no more objectives on the board.  The only way I could win now was to occupy both focal points at the end of the game and make no unit of his could make it within 6 inches, and then also win on kill points.  I had three rounds to defend and eliminate his units.

First, I sent my Cyclone helicopters in to assassinate his commander.

Then I cleared out some entrenched Legionnaires from a building near one of the focal points. This time the flame weapon worked, though this one unit only had 2 guys left.

And finally, I wiped out every last one of the crazy armor 10 tanks from his entrenched focal point.  It was round six and he had one dropship unit left: a Condor carry a single Bear APC with 2 units of Flak squads.  They set up in the building I previously cleaned out (getting them in focal point range) and I sent the Skulltaker back over.

Again the flame weapon did it’s job and wiped out a full flak unit and then I launched a salvo of rockets and heavy machine guns to knock the building down around him to try to finish off that last unit.  All my salvo shots failed and that was the end of the game.

Final score:

UCM: 5 VP  581 kill points

Resistance: 4 VP 1,021 kill points

Definitely an interesting game.  When the objectives were found and removed before the end of round 3, I figured I was out of the game and we could have called it.  I was surprised that it actually remained as close as it did and I almost wiped out his entire army.  I need to rethink my use of the Thunderstorm Hovercraft as it seems to really struggle to do much in a game and can fall very quickly to concentrated anti-tank fire.  Couple that with the need to keep anti-air units around as protection and it becomes a big point sink.

A few weeks back, we also finished up our game of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.  The second half saw us lose a few more game and definitely got a little tougher but we were able to pull through and finish the entire campaign out with the best ending result.

I was happy to see that my character, Bobdoh Johnson, survived the whole campaign and was pretty key to our success.  With two scars, he had a few close calls but my wife bailed me out to keep him around.

I can’t really go into detail (even in the redacted style I did last time) as it starts to spoil too much so I’ll just talk about some final thoughts in general terms.

While I thought the campaign worked very well and I liked where the story went, I didn’t really ever have an incentive to switch characters.  They kept adding new characters throughout the campaign (even in the second to last month) but I felt such history and duty to stay with my character that I felt that was only an option when/if my character died.

In the last few games, I got a particularly nasty scar (the orange stickers on the lower right of the character card).  Initially, we didn’t think it was a problem but then things changed on us and the inability to trade cards ended up being pretty crippling.  Even with that major handicap, I still was loathe to just ditch him and start with someone new.

The other thing that became tiring was the hidden bonus cards that you got to scratch off when you completed certain tasks or won a previous month.  This was novel the first couple of times but soon became a real chore to do and the mess it created was less and less novel.

Other than the lack of a compelling reason to change characters and the lottery scratch off cards, the game was a lot of fun and we’re looking forward to trying out Season 2.

from BGG (taken from the publisher)

Dropzone 2.0 Is Coming

Last Friday, Hawk Wargames capped off a week of image teases with a major announcement for their flagship game, Dropzone Commander:

image from Hawk Wargames

The game is now five years old and the publisher/designer felt like that was long enough to gain feedback and refine the system’s clunkier rules.  Dave Lewis from Hawk Wargames sat down for an interview from the folks at Beasts of War and it looks like several welcome changes are coming:

  • Renewed emphasis on using Dropships
  • Dropships disassociated with Battlegroups, lessening their restrictions.
  • Revamp of how Fast Movers operate
  • Streamlining force building and making it less restrictive
  • Updating Command Cards and allowing for customization

There was a bit more in that video link and none of it is fully vetted but Hawk is looking to release the new ruleset in time for the Christmas holiday.

Over on Facebook, Hawk did confirm that the two supplement rulebooks, Reconquest Phase 1 and 2 are not getting updated but rather, an errata sheet will be provided.  Dave said in the interview the stat lines for units will largely go unchanged but we’ll see how that plays out.  My faction is the Resistance and all of their content is in the Reconquest books so not updating them is an interesting decision.

Overall, I’m pretty excited and will definitely be hanging around the Hawk booth at Gen Con for more details.

Dropzone Commander: Bringing Tanks to an Infantry fight.

A couple weeks back, I was able to get in another game of Dropzone Commander at Funtastic Games‘ Dropzone Commander monthly get together.  This time, my friend and I went to a 999 point Skirmish battle.

I don’t recall the name of the scenario but it featured a reinforced bunker in the center that was used to house an objective marker and two downed UCM Bear transports to use as focal points.  I decided to go thematic with an Allied Resistance force who was trying to recover the wounded UCM soldiers and get the last bits of intel reports from the bunker.  My friend had his Scourge force coming in to sweep out the area.

We both knew that this game was going to center around that bunker.  The grey pieces on the side were the only entrance points to the structure.

I actually messed this game up by starting on the wrong corner of the map.  We decided to let it play as we were already through the first round before we realized the mistake.  My Lifthawk trundled in to get as close as possible to the bunker.

Followed by the rest of my forces: a duo of Cyclone Helicopters, a Thunderstorm commander craft, some Anti-Air units (Gun Wagons and Gun Technicals) in their Kraken hovercrafts, and some Attack ATVs and Freeriders to take up the rear.

My friend brought in his Scourge Prowlers to stalk the side of a building with car debris as cover.  Then he drove on a whole division of tanks from the board edge two sets of Anti-Air Reapers and two sets of Anti-Tank Hunters.

By the start of round 2, he was able to get one group of Warriors into the bunker at the cost of their light transport.  That transport thought it was going to be a badass and stay “to the deck” but must have clipped the bunker taking off as it spun out and crashed to the ground.

My Kraken launched a bunch of Gun Technicals to take down more light aerial transports but only got one.  The Prowlers came in to respond, one even trying to take a leak on my shiny Gun Technical.


The Scourge are able to get a second group of infantry into the Bunker as I drop all three of my infantry groups inside.  I definitely have the numbers to hold out in there but we’ll see if the Scourge can find the objective next turn and get out before the battle gets too pitched.

Round 3 starts with the infantry battle and I wipe all the Scourge clean down to one lonely Warrior on one final infantry stand. I send my APC’s around the side and ‘nade that last stand but it totally fails.

My Cyclones get in on the action after seeing the Scourge Anti-Tanks come around and shred my Thunderstorm command unit.  I can’t have those Hunters running free so my Cyclones go full out and wipe out three tanks.  At this point, each Hunter unit is down to one tank.  My Cyclones fall quickly to the Scourge Reapers but it was worth it.

And I get a lucky Objective find and get an infantry group out of there and head home.

Meanwhile my Freeriders have been hopping building to building until they got over the far focal point, where they will camp it out.  The Scourge only have a Reaper to try to claim that focal so I’ve locked that one in.

My Attack ATVs try uselessly to weaken the Scourge Reapers but get taken down instead.

My objective is still trying to make it home while I repair my Thunderstorm and keep my Gun Wagons covered, waiting for the Scourge Overseer to try to come out and make it’s final push for the focal point.

The Overseer comes out but shrugs off most of my Gun Wagon hits.  It won’t take the focal point so my side has this one secure.

I run my remaining APC over to the far side focal point as insurance and take this one at the end of the game as well.

Finally, my Lifthawk makes it to my starting zone and takes the objective home.  The final result for this one were firmly in the hands of the Resistance. I got some really lucky rolls in the mid-to-late game that took out a few key Scourge tanks but I think the biggest thing was being able to overwhelm them with my infantry. With only one objective, this swung the game pretty well in my favor and starting in the wrong corner next to a focal point didn’t hurt either.

Showcase: Dropzone Commander Starter set (Resistance)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been getting more and more into miniatures games.  It started with Fantasy Flight’s X-wing Miniatures Game which spoiled me with prepainted minis and no need for any terrain building.

My game group had seen a relatively new game around by Hawk Wargames and it looked fun but I didn’t want to jump back into the whole hobby side of modeling, painting, and terrain building unless the game was truly great. At Gen Con, Dropzone Commander, a 10mm skirmish war game had demos and we were able to finally try it out.  The game was a lot of fun and the miniatures seemed easy to paint with very little assembly.  To make it even easier, Hawk Wargames had the brilliant idea of making easy and great looking paper terrain so once you pick up a starter and do any minor assembly, you can throw it all down and get started.

Why I liked X-wing so much was because it was zero effort from open box to playing on the table.  Dropzone Commander isn’t zero effort but if you don’t mind unpainted minis, it is pretty darn close.  My friend picked up the main starter set and I decided to focus on their post-apocalyptic themed Resistance army.

I’m decent enough at painting but I also want to get the game to the table as quickly as possible so I usually limit myself to a small palette of colors.  This army was a little tough for me as it wasn’t a standard regimented army and so the color schemes had to be consistent but still varied and “hodge-podgey” to represent the army’s ragtag theme.

I decided that I’d have the bulk of the army in a dark black scheme but have random vehicles in an entirely different scheme to represent newer acquisitions.  The army would keep it’s cohesiveness with a telltale red blood stripe down the center.  Red is my usual player color in games (if given a choice) so I was happy to add this element to my army.

Since the models have a few interchangeable options with weapons, I decided to magnetize these options so they can swap out easily. The gun on top of the Lifthawk dropship pictured above has magnets to swap out for non-gun versions and magnets on the undercarriage to carry different vehicle options.

The tops of these APCs have magnets as well to go into any of my dropships.  The Infantry are on clear bases as that is my favorite basing style since it is relatively easy and works amazingly well on flat, smooth game mats.

These gun wagons are part of the Resistance Army’s signature ragtag appearance and so I broke the red stripe theme and just made some post-apocalyptic trucks.  The guns are magnetized as well to swap out for the various wagon unit options.

That completed the starter army but I quickly expanded to a full 1,000 point army, which is a good beginner size that allows for some army build flexibility but keeps things small enough to not overwhelm new players.

To get up to 1,000 points, from the 600-ish point starter, I added a few new elements.

I added a Barrel Bomber and added more magnets for army building flexibility.

Then added the awesome Cyclone helicopter models.  The rotors are magnetized just so they can easily be removed for storage.

Before Hawk made some rules adjustments, Freerider motorcycles were a mainstay of every Resistance army.  Here, I mounted them again on clear acrylic bases.

Finally, I capped the army off with a commander unit. This time, I used Salakahn’s “famous” commander model to double for the general M3 Alexander super tank.

Recently, I was able to add a bit more to push my army to the standard 1,500 point tournament size.

The massive Thunderstorm hovercraft transport became my new commander unit.

Along with their crazy Walord’s Retinue.

I branched into the Fast Flyer rules with Foley’s J19 Hellhog.

Another Resistance signature item with their Breach Drill.

And at last, a unit of Battle Buses. The gunners are magnetized to the defensive bunker, which is also magnetized tho the buses themselves.

With all this work, I didn’t want to risk damaging any of the models so I used pluck foam to fill out a box and use it all for safe/easy transportion.

This box carries everything except my rule books and terrain.  It also will have enough room to expand with the other models I have waiting to finish painting.

Gen Con 2016, Part 2

If you missed my part 1 post, you can see it here.

Gen Con 2016’s Thursday was coming to a close, or at least the dealer hall was as it was getting into the late afternoon.  Fortunately for me, my day was finally getting into full gear.  It was Blood Rage Tournament time!  This was a series of two Blood Rage games and the top 4 total scores would play a final game for the tournament prize: a full Kickstarter Exclusives set.  Pretty choice swag if I could get it.

Competitive board gaming is kind of funny in that it takes people who likely do very well at the game in their own private circles, gives them an incentive to really do well, and turn them into unfun rules-lawyery robo-gamers.  I have to fight that tendency with a big stick as I can get ultra-competitive.  Some gamers don’t fight it and our first Blood Rage game went almost 2.5 hours.  The tourney was only supposed to run for 4 hours and I had an event following so unless I did well enough in my games to wait for the top cut to announce, I was going to have to bail.

My first game was pretty crappy and I was fourth but had a pretty decent score so I stayed with it to play in the next round.  I ended up scoring very well in the second round but after watching the scores of some of the other tables, I quickly determined I was going to be in about 6th place so I bailed and headed to my next event.

I haven’t played X-wing in awhile and someone decided to run a free-for-all based on the Hunger Games concept so I was in.  Unfortunately, I was a little late so all they had left for me was a loaded down Lambda Shuttle.  More unfortunate was they loaded it down with random upgrades and so it was like a blinged out space cow. I realized I needed to make some friends fast so I worked with the two guys to my left and we created a loose alliance.

The triple alliance of Shuttle, YT-2400, and Firespray worked out well in the beginning but their maneuverability left me in the dust as I wandered the space corners alone trying to turn the cow back into the fight.  I finally made it into a scrum and picked off a random TIE Fighter.  I was holding my own but most people just got out of my way and blasted at each other, realizing they could always outmaneuver me later and finish me off. My YT-2400 friend was getting into trouble with a decked out Firespray chasing him so I told him to lead him into my killzone.  It worked and our combined fire took him down.

I now had 2 kills on my Shuttle.  Mama space cow will be so proud.

while not the actual model I used, this is what I envisioned during the match…

Some how I picked up some Autothrusters and Opportunist so I started to be a threat.  I couldn’t turn or aim but that didn’t stop fools from accidentally landing within range 1 of me and watching helplessly as I rained 5 dice with a full compliment of dice mitigation options at my disposal. The results were rarely pretty. Finally, I got hung up on some asteroids as one of the big YT-1200s started harassing me.  The game whittled down to 5 ships, two YT-1200s that were almost untouched, and then the Three Amigos: me, and my YT-2400 and Firespray buddies. We saw public enemy #1-  Lando’s YT-1200, flying Lando crew, Palpatine, a Rebel Captive, and a whole host of other nonsense, attack the other YT-1200 so we pounced and helped finish him off.  This left Lando in a bad arc of all three of us chasing her down.  Even with all our firepower we had a hard time cracking her and she destroyed our Firespray pal.  I kept harassing her and stressing her out (with a Rebel Captive of my own) and we got her down to 1 hull.  I had 3 remaining and YT-2400 had 2 left.  She Lando’d with two focus, shot and obliterated me but then barely missed evading YT-2400’s last shot. Victory was “ours.” It was a very fun event and I was proud to take my Space Cow all the way to top 3.

Reese and I hit the Yard House for some celebrations and then called it a night. Though we couldn’t help stopping at the new “arcade” on the way back to the hotel.


Friday was my most open day and my planned “dealer hall day” so I got in at 10am when the doors opened and started browsing.

I didn’t have time on Thursday to actually look at the Hawk booth so I corrected that error right away.



They had some great painted displays of their upcoming Dropfleet Commander game.

Next, I stopped by the CMON booth and saw the new Rising Sun game that will be coming soon.  This is supposed to be the “spiritual successor” of Blood Rage so I’ll keep my eyes open for this one.


There were a few other games in the CMON case but Rising Sun was the big announcement they had at the Con.  After hanging around the CMON booth and picking up some Blood Rage KS exclusive via their “coupon” tickets, I headed over to this weird robot battle game.


This is GKR – Giant Killer Robots: Heavy Hitters from Weta Workshops (the same Weta that did all the CG in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies).  Cryptozoic is attached (likely as a distributor) but there are some big plans for this game.  Giant robot stomp-a-thons seem to be the next big thing as I think I’ve seen at least three high profile games of this theme slated to come out soon.

The GKR booth was pretty slick and they ran a well-manage queue system to demo the game.  It didn’t take long and soon I was on the field controlling my mega mech of doom.  Two playable factions in the demo but the game plans for 4 factions total.  Each faction consists of a big mech (the Heavy Hitter) and some smaller drones. These small drones act as support and give the game a little more depth beyond just smashing each other.

The game is card driven where the card deck is also your main mech’s life.  If you run out of cards, you lose.  Combat is initiated using the cards (I play card X to shoot my big gun) and then dice to determine hits and damage.  The game is pretty quick and seemed swingy but I had fun.  There is an alternate way to win by controlling enough buildings on the map so it doesn’t have to be all smash-n-smash.


The minis are pretty amazing.  Highly detailed and really large, almost toy-sized, making them feel imposing on the puny city landscape. I asked if they will be pre-painted like the models I was playing with (heavy hitter prepainted, drones in solid color) and the demo guy said he wasn’t sure but he thought they had to be because one big feature of the game that we weren’t using was that it will have AR. AR as in Augmented Reality.

my weak and smoking mech plays keep away from the big blue opponent

my weak and smoking mech plays keep away from the big blue baddy

Basically those markings on the mech will allow some App tech to put virtual visual enhancements to the game.  Fire your big rocket barrage? The App will animate the scene overtop your real-time camera view, or at least that is how I was understanding it.  Sounds really cool and very “toy” like.  Kickstarter is supposedly coming soon and so I will definitely check it out.

Fantasy Flight did their big report on Friday so I jumped over to their display to see what all the fuss was about.


I imagine I look this cool when I play horn

They announced a new minis line set in their Terrinoth universe.  I’m not a fan of Warhammer-style minis games so this is an easy pass for me.  Minis look really nice though.


With only a few minutes left before my Friday events start up, I ran over to Firelock Games and checked out the Kickstarter I almost backed: Blood & Plunder.


This is a historical Age of Sail minis game in 28mm (or thereabouts). Great detail and a crazy low entry price (for minis games) that include resin ships.  The combat can account for a lot of scenarios including ship to ship, ship to land, and land battles. I look forward to seeing more.


The main reason I didn’t back was because I didn’t want to be responsible for buying two factions and trying to convince my friends to play.  One look at the board, the minis, and the pricing and Gen Con (and Firelock Games) did the convincing for me.

I’ll continue with the end of Friday and the thrills that were Saturday in my next post.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén