Thursday, 17 March 2016

Dropzone Commander Escalation League - Round Three and Four

LANDING ZONES GET HOT AS WE REACH THE NEXT STAGES
ROUND THREE
PREPARATION
The third round of the Dropzone Commander Escalation League was drawn against Paul and his UCM forces, a fairly green force but packing a lot of aerial units and with some respectable results in previous games. In the second match, I had seen he favoured a LOT of infantry in Raven dropships, supported by Falcon Gunships and Katanas for demolition. For this round, he had expanded to include a Phoenix command gunship and a lone Archangel.

The match was Targets of Opportunity, but with five Objectives - three  along the centre and one in each of our table halves. My force was similar to the previous round, but I dropped the three bands of infantry in the Lifthawk for a pair of Kraken Hovercraft carrying busloads of infantry - slower, but cheaper in points and still enough bodies to drown the UCM Legionnaires.

One of the reasons for this was my addition for the third round - a brand new Battle Bus in electric blue. I love this models, absolutely crammed with detail and character! I looking forward to painting my double-decker bus in the future, and my undamaged, unconverted civilian buses. Painting something clean like that will be something different!
Another re-purposed civilian vehicle joins the fleet
Silver-blue is still visible under the rust and bolted-on armour plating
Brutally efficient for the mission at hand, I am very pleased with how this force worked out
A tide of hovercraft crest the horizon
  • NT-5 Thunderstorm Custom with Senior Commander (CV2) 
  • Barrel Bomber with AA Cannon (in the Warlord's Command Group)
  • Two bands of Resistance Fighters mounted in Battle Buses, carried in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft
  • Two bands of Resistance Fighters mounted in Battle Buses, carried in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft
  • Three Gun Wagons mounted in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft, accompanied by a band of Freeriders
  • Three Gun Wagons mounted in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft, accompanied by a band of Freeriders
This was a tight list, reliant on the Thunderstorm for the punch while the Barrel Bomber smashed buildings, the Gun Wagons targeted the air units and the infantry grabbed the Objectives. I was content to let the enemy claim their Objective as nothing in my list would be able to get there in time to stop them, but if I could deny two of the central Objectives while securing the third and my own, it would be a solid win. 

THE GAME
The UCM forces began their attack as I predicted, claiming their own Objective while forces moved into two of the central Objective buildings. Paul had the advantage of speed and got into the buildings first, but this allowed me to pick my targets effectively and cause havoc for the UCM troops before piling in with my own troops.

The Barrel Bomber and Thunderstorm collapsed one of the buildings with incredible speed, while the infantry assaulted the battered survivors of the central building and cut them down. They secured the central Objective, and began to flee. My own Objective was similarly secured, giving me the advantage as Paul was now running out of troops.

Paul's counter-attack began with his aerial assets, and the Gun Wagons managed to bring down a number of the Falcon Gunships and cause a lot of damage to the Phoenix Command flyer before they were destroyed. Rapiers brought down the Barrel Bomber, but in turn the Freeriders and Thunderstorm destroyed his Rapiers and the Katana squadron.

The game ended there, before I could withdraw with the second Objective. Nonetheless, I had scored three Objective points to Paul's two, and with the bonus Kill Points for destroying more of his units, the final result was a 13-7 VICTORY. Nice!

This was a good match, and I enjoyed the efficiency of my list a great deal. The combination of the Barrel Bomber and Thunderstorm was overwhelming in such a small game, while the pair of Gun Wagon squadrons caused the UCM Air Cavalry a great deal of trouble. I was gutted to get the Phoenix down to one DP and not finish it, but can't complain too much about the final result!

ROUND FOUR
PREPARATION
The next round was drawn against my old friend Adam (also known as Coxer). You might have seen his PHR on this very blog, as he has been writing some posts for me to chronicle his Dropzone adventures. The mission was Secure The Flanks, one of my favourite missions as it has a mixture of Focal Points and Objectives

I wanted to run something new for this mission, so quickly painted up a pair of Scout ATV bases, ready to ruin Adam's day. They would either target the big Type-4 walkers, or (I suspected), would spend their time confusing the Helios AA skimmers. Reducing their accuracy would allow my aerial units a better chance to bring down the PHR forces. 


Scout ATVs negotiate the ruins of the old world
They are covered in dishes and scanning arrays
The feral horde approaches
Significantly lower tech than my usual lists, this favours assets on the ground to secure the objectives
  • NT-5 Thunderstorm Custom with Senior Commander (CV3) 
  • Barrel Bomber with AA Cannon (in the Warlord's Command Group)
  • One band of Scout ATVs (in the Warlord's Command Group)
  • Two bands of Resistance Fighters mounted in Battle Buses, carried in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft
  • Three Cyclone Gunships (in the Infantry Battle Group)
  • Three Gun Wagons mounted in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft, accompanied by a band of Freeriders
  • Three Gun Wagons mounted in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft, accompanied by a band of Freeriders
  • Two bands of Freeriders
This list was pretty nasty, with a LOT of Freeriders but lacking in infantry and only five Battle Groups. This was a risk I was willing to run because their were only three Objectives - one Adam would claim, one I would grab myself, and the central Objective would hopefully be demolished. The lack of Battle Groups was mitigated by the smaller size of the game and the large size of the Battle Groups. By contrast, Adam was running six Battle Grous]ps, but three of them only contained a single unit. If I could isolate and destroy them quickly, I would soon have the advantage. 

Adam's force looked nasty - a Zeus and Odin in Neptune, a small group of Mercury Scout Drones with attendant Tritons, two Battle Groups of Immortals in Tritons with a squadron of Helios each (in Neptunes), a lone Phobos AA Walker and a horde of Valkyries  with Angelos transports and a Medusa alongside them. That was a lot of AA, and that Medusa was worrying me. The speed of the force was also nothing to be sniffed at - a lot of units could reposition quickly to grab the Focal Points. This was not a slow, foot-slogging Walker list but a force of fast skimmers and infantry. 

THE GAME 
The game began pretty much as expected, with the PHR moving as fast as they could to spread out their forces while the infantry concentrated on the home Objective. My own forces did the same, with the Freeriders splitting to charge toward the two Focal Points while the infantry secured the Objective and fled the board. The Thunderstorm and Cyclones destroyed the central Objective, while the Barrel Bomber moved past it and targeted a building containing the Valkyries. As the game progressed, this unit would target the Freeriders with their machine guns, but would be destroyed as their building collapsed. 

The Scout ATVs targeted the Helios AA skimmers, allowing the Cyclones to machine gun the Medusa and target the skimmers, but the PHR proved resilient and the Freeriders were forced to get involved. After a bloody skirmish around the ruins of the central building, the Freeriders, Thunderstorm and Cyclones destroyed all of the Helios, Angelos and finally brought down the three walkers in the last turn, while the Gun Wagons cut down the Neptunes. This denied Adam the chance for big redeployment, and also cleared his side of the board!

In turn, the PHR force whittled away at the Freeriders and the Thunderstorm, destroying it in the final turn. The Medusa and a unit of Immortals worked to destroy the Gun Wagons, a Kraken Hovercraft and a band of Freeriders defending a Focal Point. Both sides were battered and bloody, holding on dearly to their Focal Points

The game ended with both sides holding an Objective and a Focal Point, leaving it a 10-10 DRAW. The Resistance forces had scored significantly more Kill Points, but these are not included in the final result as it was a tied match.

A great game! I had a lot of fun against Adam, and though I did kill a good amount more than him, he played the mission well and was efficient at clearing out my troops from the Focal Point. Special mention to the Medusa, whose incredible attacks caused havoc for the Gun Wagons, and the Scout ATVs who annoyed the Helios and later the Odin to make sure my units stayed alive. I like this unit a lot, and will be trying to fit them in future lists!

THE FUTURE
The last game of the Escalation League will be 1,500pts and also work as good practice for an upcoming tournament in April. With this in mind and looking at the scenarios there, I am intending to try out Flame Wagons for the first time. Bunker Assault and Military Complex will be a great opportunity for flame weapons, and the Ground Control mission gives bonuses for infantry in buildings - where the flamethrowers can target them! Burning things like Freeriders and Medusae will be very important. 

I also considered painting a second Barrel Bomber, but as fun as that might be the missions would not reward such ridiculous behaviour... I will have to wait to unleash that horror on someone after the tournament! The second big addition to the larger force will be the return of the Lifthawk with three units of infantry - always a solid investment in the tournament environment.

How far I go converting the Flame Wagons is something I have not decided yet, but I think I will be trying something special, perhaps a little Mad Max-themed, perhaps with some converted civilian vehicles, UCM Fireblades and a great deal of large canisters, tubes and flamethrowers. Watch this space! 


Thanks for reading, 

George

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