Having played with the Resistance for a few months now, I thought it was time to write about some of my experiences so far - favourite units, enjoyable missions and the like. I cannot pretend to be a Resistance expert. (and I must recommend the Orbital Bombardment Blog for advice on building a tournament-worthy Resistance force), but I have played a few games and tried to get myself used to their playstyle, winning the majority of my games and working on a solid list for the upcoming Autumn Invasion.
The Resistance are not an easy force to play - they lack the brutality of the UCM, the durability of the PHR, the speed of the Scourge or the sneaky tricks and overwhelming firepower of the Shaltari, yet they offer an exciting mixture of strengths that drags down the enemy and often results in a narrow yet satisfying final score. Rugged and versatile, playing the Resistance has proven (so far) a great experience, winning despite the odds after weathering everything the enemy could throw at them, before pulling out some last-minute trick that turned the tide and won the game.
Looking at the Missions and the opposition out there, what have I learned about the Resistance, and what should I try next?
As with any Dropzone Commander force, versatility through different units and strengths is the key to victory. Focusing on one gimmick or aspect of the game will give you an advantage in some games, but cripple you in others.
Unlike most other factions, the Resistance have access to cheap but effective squadrons courtesy of re-purposed civilian vehicles. These units are lacking counter-measures and armour, but carry good weaponry and tend to be quite fast, and work in conjunction with hovercraft transports to launch surprise attacks and hit-and-run missions. Gun Wagons and Technicals are squishy, and need to support (and be supported by in turn) the more militaristic vehicles like the M9 Hannibal Main Battle Tanks or the AH-16 Cyclone Gunships. Concentrating on only one aspect of the Resistance force may make for an interesting and good looking force, but it will be missing out some of the best combinations.
Transports stand apart, with powerful Hovercraft needing a tactics article all to themselves! They are all fairly well armed and armoured, with good Damage Point values and rugged construction. I would always favour a mixture of hovercraft-based civilian vehicles and Lifthawk-mounted military vehicles, but would also consider entering the board via the Breaching Drill (for the smaller, subterranean units at least). The Resistance cannot really pull off an Air Cavalry list, needing a wide variety of unit types to succeed. This broad variety of transport options gives the Resistance a different look to the aerial UCM or Gate-reliant Shaltari.
The Resistance commanders are highly aggressive, especially when played with certain cards. To get the best out of the NT-5 Thunderstorm Custom or the M3 Alexander, you need to be close and visible to the enemy - it carries the chance of losing the commander, but this is a risk you must consider.
ALLIED OR FERAL?
The Resistance come in many forms and flavours, and though in the background I prefer the Doomsday-cult Mad Max insanity of the "Ferals," having access to the Marine Force Recon and Archangel Pathfinders of the "Allied" Resistance is becoming more and more attractive. Solid AA and Objective securing is something that the Resistance can do, but these guys do it better. The cards for the Allied Resistance are also very useful, buffing the commander and assisting across the board.
By contrast the Feral deck is much more aggressive, and I will always love cards like the I.ED. for scoring that crucial kill. Being able to improve the CQB abilities of the Resistance Fighters can come in useful, but I have rarely drawn those cards when I needed to. The true advantage to the Feral side is the Barrel Bomber and the Berserkers - though really the Barrel Bomber alone is worth it. Using this guy to demolish buildings is delightful.
To conclude, I say model them neutrally and play both sides until you find the one you prefer. With clever painting and modelling, you can almost get two armies for the price of one! If you don't fancy this, just pick the one that feels coolest to you - they are both well-balanced and you will not be penalised for choosing the "wrong" one. Just keep in mind that regardless of how strongly you feel about one side or the other, you will want to try them both eventually!
Unsurprisingly, the Starter Set is a great place to start the Resistance. Gun Wagons make for a fine AA unit and Standard Choice, infantry in MT-90 Jacksons carried by a AT-77 Lifthawk are a fine investment for your Resistance Band, and two Hannibals in a Lifthawk are a solid anti-tank unit. Of the three, the first I would consider dropping would be the Hannibals, in favour of AH-16 Cyclone Gunships or M20 Zhukov AA Battle Tanks, but in smaller games they are still great.
To bring this force up to 1,000pts, I started by adding a cheap commander in the form of the M3 Alexander. Powerful anti-tank and another Lifthawk was a fine addition, and though a NT-5 Thunderstorm Custom is perhaps the better, more aggressive choice, it is also a whopping great piece of resin with a high cost and a huge footprint on the battlefield. Something for bigger games, I think!
In support of this, the next "Must Have" unit for the Resistance was the scout Freeriders. Fast, hard-to-hit and packing some powerful close-range weaponry, the Freeriders are nasty pieces of work against any foe. I use these in an anti-tank role, as their Sticky Mines have E9 and if you use the terrain well, they can hit combat with a LOT of attacks.
After these two units were added, it was time to expand three areas of the force organisation - Anti-Air, Anti-Tank, and Infantry.
Necessary for everyone in this game, the Resistance have one of the most feared AA units in the game - the Gun Wagons. With an effective 29" threat radius when mounted in a Kraken, the Gun Wagons can fire a large number of very accurate S6 rounds into the enemy - almost guaranteed to bring down a light flyer or cause serious damage on a larger unit. I also include one squadron of Gun Wagons in a Kraken, but need to practise more with keeping them alive - as it is, I get tend to get one good round of shooting out of them before they are destroyed. Would I consider a second squadron? Definitely in larger games, but at 1,500pts I have some serious competition.
The AT-77 Lifthawk offers some AA with their upgraded cannons, and where possible I always try to take this option. It may not be great in Reactive Fire, but offers something extra in the shooting phase against smaller flyers, and can also be a shock for skimmers.
The M20 Zhukov offers serious firepower with a E8 Devastator-2 Rail Cannon, and I have used these to great effect against the Shaltari. Expensive and with only one shot, the Zhukov cannot be wasted shooting empty transports unless the game depends on it, and I would hesitate to use them on anything minor - save them for the Phoenix, the Firedrake, or the Triton full of Sirens that absolutely need to die. A great tank, it is limited by cost and low speed - adding a Lifthawk makes them even more expensive, but I would always want to take one.
Similar sources of AA fire can be found on the Battle Buses, Gun Technicals and NT-4 Leviathan, but I have not used these units yet.
In addition to the M9 Hannibals, the Resistance has a lot of options for anti-tank. I favour the AH-16 Cyclone Gunships, as they are difficult to bring down and their Barrage weaponry is incredibly powerful - though I have not taken advantage of the Indirect Fire much yet!
The M3 Alexander offers a singular (but potent) shot at anti-tank, and if it hits you can almost guarantee the enemy will suffer. Unfortunately I rarely achieve more than one good round of shooting, as it swiftly becomes a top priority target.
Freeriders, as mentioned above, are very good when they hit combat. E9 will cut through a lot of stuff, and even the powerful tanks of the UCM or PHR will fear their multiple attacks. If they had kept their E10, I would be running eight or more bases every game!
The J-9 Hellhog is one of my favoured choices at the moment - the incredible Satan Chainguns quickly chew through enemy tanks when it Transitions into Hover Mode, but you must be careful to avoid or get rid of enemy AA fire beforehand.
Rocket Technicals and Storm Wagons are an unknown quantity for me, but I am in the process of painting some Technicals and the price decrease on the Storm Wagons has got me very intrigued.
The basic Resistance Fighters in MT-90 Jacksons carried by an AT-77 Lifthawk make for a great start to the infantry, but I find carrying all of my Objective-finding capability in one unit a bit of a risk. Even if they are not shot down, it will take them a long time for the Lifthawk to move them across the board. To save points,
I rarely upgrade the Lifthawk carrying the infantry with an AA Cannon - it will be hiding behind buildings for most of the game, and is an easy source of 15 points.
To supplement these units, I have had good experience with a second unit of Fighters and a unit of Occupation Veterans mounted in Battle Buses, carried in an NT-1 Kraken. Discussed more below, the Kraken brings them on near to the closest Objective, where the Fighters will try to find Objectives or Intel while the Veterans go tank-hunting. Two units of Veterans would be cool, but I cannot justify the extra cost. I prefer the Veterans in a Battle Bus as they can fire from the windows, at good range.
Berserkers and Marine Force Recon are still an unknown quantity to me - I find Berserkers unnecessary where I would prefer to spend points on more guns and normal infantry can do the job with certain cards played on them, while the Marine Force Recon look like a worthwhile investment, but still very expensive.
Check out Part II for my experiences in tackling the Missions and facing the different factions of Dropzone Commander!
Thanks for reading,