This past weekend saw my local gaming group send myself and four others up to the Brighton Coastal Assault Tournament (held at the Dice Saloon), one of the largest independent tournaments for Dropzone Commander this year. Since advertising it some weeks past, we had been gearing up for the tournament over the past couple of months with rampant list-discussion, practice games and last-minute painting.
As discussed in a previous post, this list had been constructed over the five games of the recent Escalation League, and had been tested three times - the three missions of the tournament, luckily! Achieving two solid wins and a draw, I was confident this list was reliable and would work in the upcoming missions. I was especially happy with the formation of the infantry Battle Groups and the Warlord's HQ, while the Vehicle Detachments and Freeriders had proven difficult to kill.
NT-5 Thunderstorm Custom with Leader (CV3)
Barrel Bomber with AA Cannon
One band of Scout ATVs
One band of Resistance Fighters and one band of Occupation Veterans mounted in Battle Buses (one with Rocket Battery), carried in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft
Three AH-16 Cyclone Gunships
Three bands of Resistance Fighters in MT-90 Jackson APCs carried in an AT-77 Lifthawk with AA Cannon
Three Fire Wagons mounted in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft
Three Gun Wagons mounted in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft
Three Gun Wagons mounted in an NT-1 Kraken Hovercraft
Two bands of Freeriders
|The Chase Begins|
Game One versus UCM - Bunker Assault
The first match of the tournament was drawn against Paul, one of the guys from my gaming group! Brilliant. His UCM were relatively unknown to me given I had only played him once before at a lower-level game of the Escalation League, but I knew he liked to run a lot of flyers.
As it stood, his forced featured a Phoenix, Ferrum, handful of Legionnaires and Hazard Suits in Ravens, one unit of Rapiers, one unit of Katanas and one unit of Sabres, some Wolverines and a trio of Falcon Gunships.
The game started badly for me, and did not get much better! In an attempt to deal with the Falcons, I deployed all six of my Gun Wagons and failed every shot. They were promptly smashed, and my Barrel Bomber followed shortly. The Cyclones were brought down by the Starsprite Drones. By Turn Four, I was tearing my hair out as every roll I made failed while Paul consistently caused damage with each attack.
The game turned as my Thunderstorm Custom got into range of his tanks and started smashing them apart - accounting for eight of them in two turns! In my desperation, my Occupation Veterans also started shooting out of their Battle Bus, bringing down a Raven, and my remaining infantry finally entered the game to secure some of the Bunkers. Looking closely, I realised that Paul had committed himself to certain Bunkers and would not be able to re-deploy in time to stop me consolidating Focal Points and contesting the others.
With the Thunderstorm surviving on a single Hull Point and some key deployment of Resistance Bands on the final turn, I managed to dominate three Focal Points and contest two, while Paul only held two and contested two. Paul managed to score more Kill Points, but with the game finishing 8-6 on Scenario Points I had won! 12 - 8 VICTORY.
Looking back on the game, I'm still not sure where it all clicked and I realised I could win. Probably halfway through Turn Five! Paul slaughtered me and had some outstanding dice (especially combined with my atrocious rolling in the early turns), and had he pressed the advantage even further I'm sure would have denied me a chance to secure the Bunkers. At the end of the day Dropzone is all about those Scenario Points...
|Grabbing victory from the UCM at the last minute!|
Facing another guy from my gaming group, Karl, was a bit of a disappointment, but I had not actually played him at a proper game of Dropzone so all was not lost! Running UCM, Karl's force included a Kodiak, Ferrum (of course), some Wolverines, a unit each of Katanas and Fireblades, a pair of Scimitars and a pair of Rapier squadrons. His infantry were a mixed bag of Legionnaires and Praetorians in Ravens.
Military Complex is a mission I quite enjoy as my main demolition units (the Thunderstorm and the Barrel Bomber) don't worry about the enhanced armour value of the buildings. With this in mind, they quickly demolished the righthand Objective-building while infantry flooded my home Objective and the central building. Karl unfortunately failed to find his own home Objective while mine was whisked off on Turn Two.
In the centre of the board, Karl deployed his Katanas, Fireblades and one Rapier squadron close to the centre, where the Freeriders and Cyclones started shredding them. The Gun Wagons gunned down the Condors, which landed on their deployed units and smashed them, and then began chasing the Ravens packed with infantry.
Things did not improve for Karl in the second half of the game, as his home Objective still refused to be discovered and my Thunderstorm promptly flattened the building. The Freeriders broke through to his deployment zone and destroyed the Ferrum, and then surrounded the Kodiak, while my infantry gutted his own in CQB and secured a second Objective.
The game ended with the UCM down to a single Scimitar and a lone Rapier, while the Resistance had only lost a handful of units. Karl was unfortunate not to kill more, but his placement of units and loss of initiative allowed me to overwhelm his tanks before they could fire or avoi them entirely, while his infantry played too cautiously and suffered for it.
Failing to secure any Objectives while I had taken two off the board, and with maximum Kill Point bonus, the result was an 18 - 2 VICTORY. A brutal game! I feel some remorse for Karl, he didn't deserve to lose like that, but sometimes the dice turn on you!
|I AM AWAITED! ...on Table Two|
Game Three versus UCM - Ground Control
Up on the heady heights of Table Two, I quickly realised that I was drawn to play Mike from Orbital Bombardment - winner of the most recent Invasion Tournament and so the European (Worldwide?) Number One. Next to us on Table One was Ed and Dan of Orbital Bombardment fame, which was disconcerting! I played Dan at Autumn Invasion, and found it a real pleasure, even as he took me to pieces. I suspected something similar would happen in this game.
Mike's list was a nasty UCM force (UCM again, joy!) with a Phoenix, Ferrum, two units of Katanas and a unit of Fireblades, pair of Falcon Gunships, an Eagle, a single Longbow, group of Wolverines and a smattering of Hazard Suits, Praetorians, Legionnaires and Mortar Teams in various transports.
I soon realised the power of the UCM bombardment game as my Kraken Hovercraft started taking a pounding, and forced me to hide as much as I could - not great for a scenario where I needed to take ground! The Freeriders suffered the attentions of the Fireblades, surviving a few turns before finally being caught, while my Thunderstorm advanced up the centre, took down a building (just too late to catch the troops inside, who rapidly redeployed) and a handful of Katanas before the UCM bombardment took it out. The Gun Wagons lasted as long as they could, taking out the Falcons and keeping up the pressure, but some large templates finished them. The big success story was probably the Cyclones, who advanced up the flank, took down some Katanas and then sprang their attack on the Ferrum, destroying it in one round of shooting!
The infantry arrived in the final turns to grab some ground, but realising how much of the UCM army was left (and could rapidly redeploy with their Underground Monorails and Raven dropships), I was forced to pour everything into one quarter and try not to lose by eight points! The game finished with the Resistance holding one quarter while the UCM held the other three. We did not play the adjusted mission but used the rules straight from the rulebook, with no extra points for contesting.
Final result, 2 - 6 on Scenario Points, with a bonus two Kill Points to Mike (449-726, roughly). 4 - 16 LOSS.
Thinking about the game, I can't think of any grand strategy I should have played to win this mission, only small changes. I should have played a little more aggressively with the Freeriders to take out the Fireblades instead of running away from them - as it was, they died anyway, just a turn later. If I'd gambled, maybe I could have destroyed two of them! Using that Quick Thinking card elsewhere would also have enabled me to destroy a building with Hazard Suits in, earning some vital points. Overall I'm not too disheartened with my choices, just disappointed with some failures in judging distance - had those two or three measurements gone my way, things may have been a bit different! Things like the Barrel Bomber being half an inch away from flattening a building or being able to target a Raven packed with troops was really, really frustrating in such a high-stakes game! I doubt I would have won the game, but perhaps could have avoided the 16-4 smashing.
Mike was a fine opponent, certainly unforgiving but not in an unpleasant manner. I learned a lot about the game, and he complimented my use of the Gun Wagons, which was nice! He could not offer any strategic advice, admitting his force was good against Resistance in his scenario. I hope to hear his views in hindsight if they release a podcast on this tournament in the future!
|That about sums it up|
Finishing the day with a minor victory, a big win and a big loss left me with a score of 34 - certainly not too shabby compared to the Autumn Invasion. I finished Seventh overall, which was somewhat disappointing as I had hoped to reach the Top Third bracket, but I can't fault my placing given the performances in all three games.
Of my teammates, Adam finished 4th (I'm going to challenge this, no way Adam finished higher than me...), Simon somewhere in the mid-table, Paul 15th and Karl 17th. A mixed-bag of results no doubt. Simon also placed third for Sportsmanship, which I'm sure was well-earned.
Some serious competition at this tournament saw the prize go to Dan from Orbital Bombardment for his lovely Scourge force. They are stunning to look at and I enjoy his conversions too. I was disappointed not to get the prize, but it is always difficult to win with the same army, and my Resistance are a force that look good when looking closely, rather than striking from a distance. Dan's has a great look from across the table, and I voted for him myself! (Note to self... do not do this next time!)
Here's a handful of the best armies on display - shamelessly stolen from the Twitter feed of Orbital Bombardment - all credit to them for these pictures!
|Ed from Orbital Bombardment's striking Tron-style PHR|
|Our own Adam's simple yet effective PHR - looking great on the tabletop|
|My own Resistance... Second Place in the Painting Competition|
|Dan from Orbital Bombardment's stunning Scourge - overall Winner of the Painting Competition. Nice work!|
|Local Talon Simon's gorgeous UCM - Third Place in the Painting Competition|
The venue and organisation were good, very nice place to play with a lot of space and some fine food. The draw resulting in so many of our team playing each other over the weekend was a bit of a shame, especially as some of us ended up playing two out of three games against fellow club members. Nonetheless, there was plenty of time for each game and for lunch, and no major rules issues that couldn't be sorted out very quickly.
I must mention the terrain - the standard cardboard buildings for Dropzone, plus some lovely MDF Blotz-style terrain, but only nine or ten buildings per table made for a very different experience! Making it easier to shoot across the battlefield made for a more difficult time for the Resistance...
Playing UCM three times got pretty tired fast - those damn Ferrums! After the first game where I ignored the Drones (and promptly suffered for it), I dedicated a unit of Gun Wagons to cutting them down in Game Two and Three, and this paid off well. Both these games also saw the Ferrums destroyed in the later turns, but I was never close to achieving this in the first match.
Overall I am pretty happy with my performance over the weekend. Not the results I had hoped for, but respectable enough! The army did what it was supposed to do, though there were some notably unimpressive units that might not make it into future games! With the loss in Game Three, my Coastal Assault army list has broken it's five-game unbeaten streak, and I can try running something new.
Of the "new" units used this weekend, the Scout ATVs and Barrel Bomber proved themselves as well as they had done in the Escalation League. The price of having to play Feral is entirely worth being able to flatten buildings!
Big question marks rest over the Fire Wagons, which never fired a shot, the Occupation Veterans, who did very little for me, and the Rocket Battery on the Battle Bus (again, never fired). I'm willing to drop these units to get the points for more violent AA units, even the Fire Wagons that held so much promise. Perhaps the opposite is true, and I need to use them more in order to learn how to use them... we shall see!
So what does the future hold for the Resistance? I think it is time for the M20 Zhukov AA Battle Tanks to return to the field - I miss them and want to cause some serious damage to those b£$&^%d Phoenix's that seem to be popping up everywhere.
I am asked often when I will be starting another Faction, but I think I will be holding off on that front - I have a lot of other projects and games to think about, and want to wait until Dropfleet Commander is released. Then I think we will be seeing a bit of a fall in interest for Dropzone!
So there we are, a good set of games and an enjoyable day out to Brighton. Roll on the next tournament!
Thanks for reading,