Dropzone Commander 2.0 : The PHR Strike Back!

This, my third game of Dropzone 2.0 (hope I'm not boring you guys), was soooo different compared to the first two.

This time, after reading a bunch of online blogs, I realised the key is, as always, FOCUS ON THE MISSION. (Yes, that's so blatantly obvious, I know). In this case, win or lose, the PHR need to focus on the objectives. And the only way to get the objectives are Infantry for this mission (although armour squads can carry them off table). There's also some other strategy that can be done: PHR focus on a narrow front, don't commit too early because they can't easily reposition...

So in this game (same mission and forces as before, although I did add some more buildings to the 3x4 table) the PHR did some pre-measuring and made sure to keep out of the Scourge tanks' threat ranges. They did not rush to commit their forces.

The Scourge, seeing this, decided to take advantage and sent their Warrior squads into two buildings to attempt to grab the objectives. A lucky roll of 6 on a d6 was all they needed. They failed, but all the Scourge units disembarked.

What the PHR did next was: now the Scourge had committed themselves, they fired on a building one of the Scourge Warrior squad was in! The building could only take 10 damage and before long, the infantry squad had 1 casualty per unit (thanks to collateral damage), and the building was down to about 4 damage.

Shocked, the Scourge reciprocated on the empty building on their left flank, knowing they did not have any infantry able to go there anyway and they wanted to deny that objective to the PHR. The Hunters' plasma cannon was deadly, and soon the building was left with a mere 1 damage. If the building was destroyed, so was the objective, denying it to both sides!

It looked like both sides were banking on the objective in the center building to win.

On turn 2, Warrior B squad entered the building and found the objective in the center building on their second action, wasting the Scan token from their Invader IFV. Warrior A STILL could not find the objective despite needing a 4+ with their first action (thanks to a Scan token from their IFV) and a 5+ for their second action. (EDIT: I forgot the infantry only get a "free" entry if they disembark directly from their transport. By right, that means they only get ONE search action. Oh, well.)

Then the PHR swung into action. The Junos disembarked from their transport and delivered BOTH Immortal squads into the center building while their Neptune dropship pounded the building containing the hapless Warrior A squad.

The Junos did the same while the Immortals rushed the building and fired on Warrior B squad, reducing it (even with re-rolls of hits) to 3 troopers. 12 casualties after rolling 40 dice on the attack! Shades of WH40K!!!

Not looking good for the Scourge. Then Immortal A squad shot at the Invader IFV waiting downstairs with the Longreach rifle but failed to damage. Immortal B fired on the Warrior A squad in the building next door (since both Warrior squads were foolish enough to park themselves on the building's edge, hoping to find easy PHR prey like the previous game). 16 shots only caused 1 casualty. The Longreach rifle caused another. Warrior A squad now had 33% casualties!

Stung, the Scourge surged forward. Only 2 Hunters could target a Juno (the third, not having LOS, decided to bring down the building next to it). The Hunters hit the Juno... but failed to do damage!

The Reapers moved up, and not being able to target anything thanks to their 9" range, take it out on Immortal A squad, causing 4 casualties. The Marauder dropships follow up and deal only 1 casualty, but since Immortal A had taken 50% casualties, that triggered a Fortitude test which it handily passed.

The remaining PHR forces demolished the building Warrior A squad was in, destroying the objective and leaving only ONE survivor in that squad... who promptly FAILED its Fortitude test! It ran away. To add insult to injury, the falling debris destroyed the waiting Invader IFV parked next to the building. The remaining Invader was destroyed by an Ares walker.

(Too shocked to take any photos)

The Phobos walkers finally disembarked from their dropship, eyeing the juicy Marauder dropships hovering in range of their Rail Repeaters but to their commander's chagrin, realised the landing zone was too hot for them to fire their weapons in an AA capacity. So they took it out on the hapless Warrior B squad, wiping it off the face of the planet. The objective was now unclaimed!

(This served as a salutary reminder to the PHR commander: NEVER take your eye off the mission. Instead of eyeing the Marauder dropships, the Phobos should have had the Warrior squad as its primary target! The PHR were lucky there.)

At the end of turn 2, casualties were fairly light. 2 Scourge infantry squads, 2 Scourge IFVs in return for half a squad of PHR infantry.

Turn 3 would be the decider. If the Scourge got initiative, they would pound the centre building to rubble, ensuring the game would end in a draw (but they would need to dish out 20 damage to do so).

If the PHR got initiative, all one Immortal squad needed to do was claim the objective...

...exit the building and into a waiting Juno IFV transport...

...which would then move over and embark onto a nearby Neptune dropship...

...which would then fly off like a bat out of hell!

Which the PHR proceeded to do and just like that, the game was over!

Sure, the 2 sides could still have continued to duke it out, since the game officially runs to turn 6. but it was already 2.30am and there wasn't any point. There was no way the Reaper AA tanks could reach the fleeing Neptune in time. Technically, they could have tried but if they got picked up by a dropship and chased after the fleeing Neptune, they still couldn't shoot in the same turn, and the Phobos AA walkers were still waiting to shoot at the Scourge dropship, and the Ares AT walkers would've shot at them had they disembarked.

And so the PHR got their revenge and won the game handily 2-0.

AAR: That was such a different battle! I needed to wrap my head around the PHR limitations, as well as their play style, and also the DZC philosophy which actually ENCOURAGES destruction of terrain as a viable tactic for victory. That and area/objective denial instead of rushing forward to kill off the other side (which, to be honest, is what I'm more used to doing).

This game, the PHR escaped with just a scratch. It was the Scourge turn to flounder, as the PHR didn't try to chase after them with their ponderously slow units. Whereas before the Scourge were bold, darting in to rip up the PHR armour, now they had to play a cagey game of remaining outside the PHR threat range while still being able to deal damage themselves. It was a puzzle the Scourge commander couldn't crack in time.

So now I need to learn to play the Scourge properly if I'm facing a canny opponent that doesn't want to rush in.

And final lesson: yes, the infantry can dish out serious damage. But are still squishy as heck, being infantry. So next time, don't be greedy and stay in the CENTER of the building (where infantry can't be shot at from outside) unless juicy targets of opportunity present themselves in which case all they needed to do was to move to a building edge and fire. And never take your eye off the objectives.

I find I'm enjoying this game more and more, for its combo of infantry, armour, AA and air units giving a true combined arms feel to the entire game.

Lastly: so much for the theory that fully painted units will roll better dice! 😂