Monday, 30 November 2015

South Coast Dropzone Open - Report

MY THIRD DROPZONE COMMANDER TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR

THE TOURNAMENT
The South Coast Dropzone Open is the third tournament I have attended this year for Dropzone Commander, and the second at my local gaming club. Run by the local Talon Simon, this would once again be a small affair, much less intimidating than the immensity of Autumn Invasion but still offering some good prizes and a competitive atmosphere.
Warlord's Retinue - my first tournament with the immense NT-8 Thunderstorm Custom
Attack ATVs and Bus-mounted Fighters and Veterans hold the backfield
The ever-reliable Resistance Fighters in their half-tracks, carried forward by the AT-77 Lifthawk
GAME ONE - Surging Strike
My first opponent was a gentleman named Dave, with some blue Shaltari focusing on Warstriders. Jaguars and Tarantulas protected by a Dreamsnare were my main target, but he was also running a Firedrake, a pair of Thunderbirds, Yari scouts and some Kukri AA skimmers, as well as the usual smattering of Gates and infantry.

The game started slowly, as the Shaltari played cautiously to let the Resistance rush into range. Initially this paid off, and they scored a lot of damage on the incoming Resistance forces, but ultimately it was not enough and the Freeriders closed in to overwhelm the alien forces. The Thunderstorm Custom was destroyed, but managed to bring down several of the Warstriders in the process, while the infantry secured the Focal Points. Dominating the table at the end, the game finished a 13-7 VICTORY for the Resistance. The Shaltari had scored more kill points, but their numbers could not match the sheer number of Resistance squadrons surrounding them.

Dave played well, but his Passive Countermeasures failed him and his fourth turn was a mess - failing to damage me with some atrocious rolls and allowing the Freeriders, Gun Wagons and Thunderstorm to cause massive damage on the Warstriders and Gates.

GAME TWO - Take and Extract
This game was against an old Infinity foe named Andy, and his new UCM force. Relatively inexperienced, he still managed to put together a nasty demolition-themed list which blew up one of my Objective buildings in the first turn! He then rolled incredibly well with his infantry, and secured his two Objectives by the beginning of Turn Two. I secured one Objective, but with the UCM whisking theirs off the board and denied my second Objective, I was playing to Draw.

Without the distraction of the Objectives, however, I was free to play for the kill in order to secure the central Focal Point. My forces eviscerated the UCM tank squadrons, running over them quickly and bringing down the flyers as fast as I could manage. The Hellhog destroyed the Kodiak while Freeriders smashed the Ferrum Drone Base, and by the end of the game Andy was reduced to two units of infantry, half a stand of Praetorians and two Ravens.

These infantry won the game for Andy, as they shifted between buildings with an Underground Monorail and evaded the brutal firepower of the Thunderstorm or the gas of the Attack ATVs. By the end, the UCM contested the central Focal Point, giving them the vital point to make it an 11-9 LOSS for the Resistance. Damn!

This was an immensely bloody game, with the Resistance scoring over 1,250 Kill Points. The UCM managed roughly 750, but Objectives win games! Kudos must go to Andy for his sneaky use of Underground Monorails and patience in waiting to launch onto the Focal Point at the end.

GAME THREE - Secure the Flanks
The last match was against Chris, the local Shaltari player and all-round Good Player, regardless of system. His force favoured skimmers, with two Caimans, a Ghariel HQ and lots of long-range demolition power. Great!

The game started poorly as the Shaltari destroyed my home Objective and began pulling down the central Objective building. Trying to concentrate on killing things in order to secure the Focal Points, I was stymied by poor dice and not being able to close the gap with the fast Shaltari. The Firedrake caused no end of trouble for my Freeriders and Gun Wagons, and managed to survive four turns worth of shooting from the Gun Wagons due to my inability to roll. Focusing on this left his Gates able to re-position his forces with impunity.

Chris played well as usual, but by the end he didn't need to - my forces were so ineffective I only scored 350 Kill Points to his 800+. I managed to secure one of the Focal Points, but with the Shaltari securing an Objective and earning three points from the Kill Point difference, the result was a 15-5 LOSS. Ouch.
The first band of Gun Wagons, escorted by wild Freeriders
A second squadron of Gun Wagons and Freeriders, led by the Peacemaker
The workhorse of the Forsaken, the J19 Hellhog. His performance in the tournament was decidedly poor, only managing to score minor damage against the Shaltari Tribes. Against the UCM, however, the bird did smash the Kodiak Command Vehicle
RESULTS
After the mess of the third game, I had still managed to score enough points to finish SECOND! Madness. Third place was only one point behind me, but Chris in first place had achieved a staggering sixteen more points with forty three - some seriously strong victories there.
The Attack ATVs were an interesting experiment, but only really worked to their full potential against the UCM. I feel they are very situational, and can risk being a bit useless in the wrong scenario 
They will see the field of battle again, but for the time being will be taking a backseat for more guns and anti-air!
THOUGHT AND CONCLUSIONS
The Resistance finished well, but their in-game performance was hugely mixed, and some poor dice rolls (or good luck for my opponent) caused big problems in Game Two and Three. Poor anti-aircraft rolls were not forgiving with only two anti-air units, while my opponent finding both Objectives in Turn Two (on a six) was a piece of randomness I could have done without.

This list is an odd one, lacking in long-range firepower and only really coming into its own on turn four and five - way too late in an Objective-based game when the opponent has already extracted all of the Objectives. This crippled me in the second game, where my best possible result would have been a Draw after turn two, while Game Three was a mess from the beginning as the Shaltari demolished my Objective and soon finished off the middle Objective too.

Overall this was a fun little tournament, very well run by Simon (as usual) with a full tournament pack including the scenarios and forms needed, and even a pen! Timing wise it was good, with a bit extra time for lunch as we all finished our games on time. Prize support from the store was excellent as ever, and I walked away with a gift voucher. I have no idea what this will find, perhaps Batman just to rile Simon up.

In the future, I think I will be returning some old favourites to the list to bring back the long-range threat, and also offer some more anti-air fire. My next idea for a list involves the following...

Warlord's Retinue
NT-5 Thunderstorm Custom (Leader CV3)
Three AH-16 Cyclone Gunships

Vehicle Detachment
Three Gun Wagons mounted in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft
One band of Freeriders

Vehicle Detachment
Three Gun Wagons mounted in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft
One band of Freeriders

Resistance Band
Three bands of Resistance Fighters mounted in MT-90 Jackson Halftracks, carried by an AT-77 Lifthawk

Resistance Band
Two bands of Resistance Fighters mounted in Battle Buses, carried by an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft

Rusted Fist
Two M20 Zhukov Main Battle Tanks carried by an AT-77 Lifthawk with AA Cannon
Two M9 Hannibal Main Battle Tanks
The first draft of the new list - a glad return for the AH-16 Cyclone Gunships and a chance for the M20 Zhukovs to shine
The main point of contention for this list is the Hannibals - for this 80pts, I can upgrade my Command Value, give more AA Cannons to the Lifthawks and upgrade some of the Resistance Fighters to Occupation Veterans. That, or more Freeriders. Quantity versus quality!

This list deserves some time on the table.

Thanks for reading,

George

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