Some tips for beginners

Dropzone is a balanced game. Basically as long as you have a army that has a balance between it’s type of units it will always give each player a chance to win the game. It comes thus down to skill.

After an amazing tournament in Sandviken (part 1 and part 2) I came to realize it is easy to miss a lot of things when it comes to army building. So I thought to give you an introduction to what a typical 1500 points army includes by describing the units you need. Hopefully experienced players can link to this so that beginners understand what kind of units they should buy, especially after the starters.

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The main reason for this article is to let new players escape some of the beginner traps. Because in Dropzone commander you might find yourself without any tools for the basic jobs if you make one of these mistakes. This is very frustrating and can ruin a game pretty fast. However the balance between units worth the similar purpose is more a choice of style and preference in models. For instance you can use the Shaltari Tomahawks or the Tarantula for basic AT units but you will need at least one. But you can make either work.

So this is a list of checkpoints you need to follow (kind of) in a 1500pts army:

Battlegroups: Always maximize your battlegroups. Dropzone is a game of position and maneuvering and a vital part of it is to disclose your position as late as possible. So for 1500pts you need 6 Battlegroups.

Commander: You must have a commander and you will want to have a commander with sphere of influence purchased to that model. You will want to have some addition to the initiative roll and some command cards. At the very least you will need a CV 3 leader (though experienced players have success with lower CV it is always to think you need a lvl 3 as a minimum in the beginning) and could initially think higher until you are more set in your CV preference.

Actually one of the first converted and special armies I have seen. I really like the Feral style.

Anti Aircraft: As a basic rule you will need 2 squads of efficient AA. With that I’m taking about solid shooters of several AA shots (or harder shots). Many uses more and some uses less. But it is simpler to start with at least two squads. This can be a bit harder to define the units so below is what I take as solid AA (and in brackets units that you might not expect to fulfill a full solid AA units role on the field):

UCM: Rapiers and Archangels (Ferrum, Wolverines, Falcon, Snipers, Flak teams, Legionaries and Phoenix command)
Scourge: Reapers and Ravagers (Minders, Corsairs, Vampires, Warriors, Overseer, Harbinger).
PHR: Helios, Phobos and Athena (Janus and Immortals).
Shaltari: Birdeaters, Kukri and Warspear (Yari, Totem, Panther, Braves and Jaguar)
Resistance: Gun wagons and Zhukovs (Hellhog, Leviathan, Veterans, Fighters, Gun technicals).

Some units are often questioned if they are part of the main or secondary AA (mostly fast movers) and the resistance have their amazing Lifthawks that I have ignored as they should be considered bonuses to any AA you decide to have. Same with shaltari gates. 

Now a minimum of 2 units should be chosen as AA. And each solid squad is 1. And the ones in brackets can be arguable be considered 0,5 squads. So take at least 2 of those in brackets to compensate for 1 solid squad.

The amount of AA is always under discussion and you need to find your balance. But 1,5 to 2,5 is the basic principle of any army. Less you will feel heavily outmaneuvered by a player at the same skill level and more you might miss out on needed AT.

Infantry: This is also under debate. A basic principle of 4 squads is good. Or 1+ 1 for every 500 points in the game. But you can manage with 3 (Shaltari) and sometimes need 5 (Resistance).  Also it is worth considering some light dropships. At least 1 of your infantry should be infantry that somehow are tougher in CQB with some exceptions (UCM can manage without the Praetorians).

Sirens. Lots of cc attacks. 

Scouts: Every army at 1500 points need at least one scout unit. You will notice that most scout squads have a dual purpose (for instance Scout+Infantry, Scout+AT or Scout+AA) and so it usually add double effect to your army. Some like to have 2 thus. But 1 is kind of mandatory.

Dropships: The mainstay of any army. When you do your list start with assuming you need a dropship for basically all units and plan for that. At a later stage you will find which units which does not need transports but the list below are the ones you will most likely not consider a dropship for:

UCM: Ferrum
Scourge: None.
PHR: Hades and Nemesis
Shaltari: Aim for 4 Eden gates, 4 Havens and 2 Spirits. Some use more and some less.
Resistance; Freeriders.

Other than the above units start with assuming that any unit that can have a transport will need one. Again otherwise you find that a unit of yours does nothing in a game.

So after you have bought the small starter set you need to aim for:

  1. Starter set.
  2. Commander
  3. Command cards
  4. More infantry (at least one squad exotics)
  5. Scouts
  6. Another Anti Aircraft squad
  7. Fill with Anti-tank units and cool stuff.

If you follow the above rules you will find yourself with a playable and balanced Dropzone commander army that you can build on. While some people will have other specific preferences I think absolute most people will agree that it will be a very playable army you have and will be enjoying the tough as nail games that Dropzone commander provides. After some games you will be able to fine tune your army as befitting your style. 

7 Responses to Some tips for beginners

  1. Amit Sharma says:

    Good Post.

    For the scouts you say that 1 is needed, but you don’t explain why or what they do that other units don’t. For any New player reading I think it is important to explain the reason for choices, why something is done and not just what is done.

    I think you could expand on this topic. For me the types of missions also play a part in how I build a list. Do I have enough in certain battle groups to hold focal points? Can I get objectives off in a turn? etc. That just might be me, but I think there is more knowledge you can share with new players.

    I think these types of articles are really good for the game, so good job.

    • Thank you for reading giving good solid feedback!

      I do agree that most issues here need extra filler to make someone fully understand their choices. In this case I was triggered by a Facebook post where someone asked for what an army contains so he could buy it in one go. I think that most people who make an army with my suggestion above will find themselves being able to play the game without feeling that something is extremely missed in their army but as you note a selection can be pretty bad when a person plays as one scout unit might play entirely different than another. It can be a missmatch to the players style.

      When it comes to missions I am actually pretty bad at focusing on a single mission as I’m a tournament player I always need balance.

      I think it could be very interesting to write a series of each type of unit and how to use them in the game. I’ll see if I can get there 😀

  2. Angelic Despot says:

    So… Why do you need scouts? For the command radius? Or something else?

    I’ve only played Scourge up till now and always take two scouts to unlock my exotic infantry so I’ve never really thought about it. It helps that I like the scout options I have too: being cheap, I feel I can normally find a use for them. But I take them primarily to open up Destroyers and Eviscerators.

    Why does everyone else need to take them?

    • Extending Command Radius for Sphere of Influence command cards.

      As a Scourge player, you’re probably taking a CV5 Commander, I’m guessing, Egge, so you can reliably get Initiative. As a PHR and UCM player, I don’t have as much of a need to do that, but need those extra points elsewhere, especially for PHR. For UCM, our cards are currently very meh (hoping that will change dramatically with the Second Edition 56 card decks and a deck building component to the game), so not as much of a need for a higher CV commander. PHR have great cards, on the other hand, but a Nemesis or a Hera is likely to be dead by Turn 4, at least in my meta, so I don’t really feel like investing in too high of a CV just to have it assassinated at a crucial stage of the game.

      That, and unlocking Exotic slots, and giving me the max number of battlegroups… Often the only way to efficiently get to the max number of BGs is to take at least one Scout BG.

      • Sorry, Angelic Despot, I thought you were Egge replying… But the same applies to you, I’m guessing, with you having only played Scourge up until now…

        • AngelicDespot says:

          Thanks J.D.

          I tend to take a Level 3, occasionally level 4. And always wish I could take higher. I’ve heard – and seen – that we Scourge seem to value commanders of as high a level as possible though, and more so than players of other factions.

          So I suppose I kind of take it for granted what the mid-higher commander can do.