Choosing a DZC Force, Part 5: The Resistance

Since DZCommenter hasn’t gotten off his butt to paint his Resistance yet, painted model pics are courtesy of Hawk forum member “killionaire.” Check out his awesome work here and learn about his painting technique here.

Hello again, Dropzoners, and welcome to the sixth article in our series breaking down the basics of Dropzone Commander!

Now that we’ve covered the game in broad strokes, we’re going to take a closer look at each of DZC’s five factions, breaking down how they play, their strengths and weaknesses, and contextualizing in terms of other games we’ve played in the past. If you’re looking to get into Dropzone, or are thinking about picking up a new faction but not sure which to grab, these are the articles for you.

For our final faction review, let’s cover the newest and most unusual of Dropzone Commander’s fighting forces – the rag-tag bands and iron-fisted warlords of the Resistance!

The Human Resistance
01-Jessie AdamsThe Scourge invasion of human-occupied Earth and Cradle Worlds was an extinction-level event. Billions died in torrents of plasma-fire, and billions more were captured to become slave-hosts to the nightmarish parasites. But not all those left behind suffered the same fate. The pockets of free men and women rebuilt their lives in the shadow of destruction, forming new societies and raising up new leaders from the ashes to take the fight back to the invaders. When the UCM encounters these forces over 160 years later at the beginning of their Reconquest, they find what are essentially entirely new human cultures: disciplined bands of fighters carefully tending ancient military hardware; creative survivors who have crafted strange patchwork weapons to turn the weapons of the enemy against them; savage tribes of bloodthirsty maniacs who terrorize Scourge and humans alike. Collectively, the UCM designates these wildly-disparate groups “the Resistance,” but the only thing all hold in common is the skill to survive and a burning hatred of their Scourge oppressors.

Visually, the Resistance pushes all the right buttons for me. Unlike other DZC forces (which very successfully maintain a clear, consistent design aesthetic), the Resistance is a mashup of outdated military hardware that harkens back to Cold-War-era technology (compare the Hannibal to a T-80, a Zhukov to a Gepard AA gun, or a Cyclone to a HIND-D), alongside field-expedient civilian vehicles straight out of the Mad Max films. Though this might sound like a rather ugly combination (and would be, in the hands of a lesser designer), Hawk has managed to pull this mix off beautifully, while also making the faction look and feel like an ancestor of the UCM. The little details like replacement armor plates, exposed engines, and individualized crewmen make them a painter’s dream or nightmare, depending on how fiddly you are!

Core Themes of the Resistance
Likewise, the Resistance is an army with two faces: the independent “feral” force, fielding piles of technicals, bombers flinging improvised munitions, and crazed berserkers under the command of brutal warlords; and the other, more-friendly “allied” force which benefits from UCM military advisors and air power. This dual nature informs the Resistance at every level, making their armies a study in contrasts – primitive vehicles without even countermeasures fighting alongside tanks with an extravagance and sophistication no longer accepted in the modern era. The duality of Resistance forces is what sets them apart from all other DZC forces, and what makes them so much fun to play and paint.

02-Battle-busOld Tech, New Tricks
As you might expect, two centuries of isolation means Resistance arsenals have incorporated civilian and older technology to make up for battlefield losses. Many of their core units, like technicals and wagons, lack countermeasures of any type (as befits what are essentially private vehicles with rocket launchers and AA guns bolted on!), which makes them vulnerable to all sorts of long-ranged abuse. Resistance fighters go to battle in up-armored “battle buses” or astride motorcycles, relying entirely on their driving skill and tactical prowess to stay alive. These shortcomings are rarely an issue when fighting the Resistance’s nemesis, the Scourge (whose plasma weapons are short-ranged and immune to countermeasures), but are accentuated when fighting more traditional armies.

While this might paint a pretty grim picture for the Resistance on the tabletop, the truth is that they have found methods to exploit their unusual arsenal in new and interesting ways in play. For instance, the faction has no light or heavy dropships of their own, so instead employ hovercraft to provide countermeasures to their unprotected vehicles and to make lightning assaults unparalleled by more sophisticated forces. Rather than relying on aircraft for speedy extractions, they have re-purposed massive drills to burrow under and create safe passage to and from the battlefield for Resistance fighters and light vehicles. And one cannot overlook the Leviathan and Thunderstorm Custom – titanic hovercraft (literally wider than 6-lane highways in scale) with immense transport capacity and festooned with guns…even overcharged plasma cannons from Scourge tanks! The unusual tactics these sorts of innovations provide make the Resistance the trickiest of all factions to learn, short of the Shaltari…but when you are fighting superior opposition, fighting dirty is your best chance of winning!

They’ve Got the Guns….
True to form as a faction with two faces, the salvaged (and very old) military technology used by Resistance forces stands in sharp contrast to its makeshift line vehicles and bodged civilian tech. Contrary to what most of us would think of when we imagine 160-plus-year-old weapons, the tanks, APCs, jets, and helicopters available to the Resistance are actually of higher overall quality than their modern counterparts, having been built in a time when the peace and prosperity of humanity’s golden age allowed for extravagances, even during warfare. Hawk Wargames commonly describes this old military gear as “over-armored and under-gunned” – bristling with heavy armor and lots of weapons systems, but with power and range tending to be weaker than those of comparable modern counterparts. If you’re a historical buff, imagine the tanks made at the beginning of WW2 versus those built at war’s end and you’ll have a good sense of the differences in play.

03-Hellhog

As with their civilian tech, however, the Resistance turns these could-be weaknesses into unique strengths. Though terribly out of fashion for orbital-strike forces, the Cyclone helicopter gunship is arguably the best in the game, rocking heavy armor, 2 anti-tank missile systems, and a powerful indirect-firing barrage missile system, all on a mobile frame. The Warthog Hellhog ground attack jet can shred whole formations with its appropriately-named Satan chaingun, and act like a gunship or fast mover at will. And the Lifthawk assault dropship (in my humble opinion) is the finest dropship available, thanks to its great durability, powerful weaponry (very heavy machine guns, missiles, and optional 360° AA gun) and ability to carry any number of Resistance APCs and tanks.

And speaking of tanks…they are good enough that they deserve their own paragraph. Even the lightest Resistance tank is at least as tough as the heaviest UCM model, and rocks two separate cannons, making them all a serious threat to structures and numerically-superior opponents. The Zhukov AA tank replaces its main cannon with a hyper-accurate and long-range anti-aircraft railgun capable of downing anything short of a heavy dropship in a single shot. At the top of the pyramid is the super heavy Alexander command tank, which (aside from having an excellent and sagacious name) can lay down fire that can level buildings or entire battlegroups with equal impunity. Only the foolish and the dead underestimate the firepower a committed Resistance force can bring to bear, even if it is a bit less powerful than others’.

…And They’ve Got the Numbers
04-Freeriders-DrillBacking up these elite military relics and civilian conversions are the heart of the Resistance: the infantry. Prior to the most recent waves of releases for DZC, the Resistance was the faction with the most infantry choices in the game, from frothing Berserkers to resolute Occupation Veterans to speedy Freerider bikers. They can be taken in small units and mounted in APCs aboard a Lifthawk for searching a broader area; packed into battle buses to drown CQBs with the weight of raw numbers; and mix up Troops and Exotics within the same battlegroup (or even the same dropship or hovercraft). This flexibility combined with the excellent morale and low points cost of basic Fighters makes the Resistance DZC‘s de facto “infantry army” – a distinction it’s unlikely to lose anytime soon.

Looking beyond raw manpower, the low costs of many core Resistance units also makes it possible to field the closest thing Dropzone Commander has to a “horde” army. Both types of technical are just 10 points following the most recent errata, and up to 24 can be jammed into a single Leviathan hovercraft for right around 300 points. If tiny cars with missile launchers aren’t your speed, the reliable flak-spewing Gun Wagon, building-clearing Flame Wagon, and the artillery-churning Storm Wagon can be had for a maximum of 25 points, giving you the opportunity to saturate the table with AA fire or barrages easily alongside more elite units.

The Resistance in Warhammer 40,000 Terms
Hordes of infantry and ramshackle vehicles backed up by tough-but-rare elite units sounds a lot like Warhammer 40,000‘s infamous Orks. While the Resistance doesn’t have the same irreverent streak that the greenskins do, their tactical doctrines are quite a bit alike (especially ferals): spread out, absorb your losses, and smash their faces in! Units like the Barrel Bomber—a dropship loaded with truck-sized bombs rather than transports —or characters like the chainsaw-wielding maniac, Gunnar the Ferryman, scream “Orkish delight.” If you’re a fan of the fungal horde, you’ve got a home in DZC.

The Resistance in Warmachine Terms
The sub-factionalized nature of the Resistance reminds us a lot of Warmachine‘s Mercenaries. Like the Mercs, Resistance armies field previous-generation heavy armor alongside diverse and unconventional infantry to great effect, and are often limited in how many of any one unit they can take (namely by the Rare unit rule). And, like Mercs, owning the Resistance is like owning two forces in one: the sub-faction you choose fundamentally changes which units you can field and how your army plays (since you also use a different command deck, specialized units, and special characters).

The Commenters’ Opinions

DropzoneCommenterHS3Dropzone Commenter:

For me, the Resistance was love at first sight. I am a died-in-the-wool Scourge player, and had long planned on picking up PHR as a second force just for something completely different to paint and play. Then I saw it: a starter box loaded with trucks straight out of the Road Warrior…Soviet-meets-Art-Deco tanks and dropships…helicopters! And they were the perfect opposing force for my Scourge when teaching friends to play the game? It’s like the stars aligned; we were meant to be together.

I’ve only had a few chances to play my Resistance thus far (I’m forcing myself to completely finish painting my Scourge to avoid gamer ADD), but what I’ve seen I’ve really liked. The force has a tremendous diversity in its unit choices, and—as befits an army entering the game well after its original launch—there are no units that are clearly “filler” or outmoded by others. Currently I’m running a “makeshift military” allied force with lots of Cyclones, tanks, and APCs backed up by Archangel Pathfinders and Marine Force Recon themed partially around the show Falling Skies, but I also look forward to grabbing some Barrel Bombers and running a Road Warrior-inspired list of crazed feuding warlords featuring Gunnar the Ferryman in his fire-spewing dropship of doom! The possibilities really are endless…once I get my Scourge done, at least.

DropzoneCasualtyHS2DZ Casualty:

I’ve played against Resistance once with Scourge, and at the time, battlefield circumstances demanded that I use…unconventional tactics in order to compensate for less than optimal attrition rates. In short, Resistance had the upper hand for most of the game. It was difficult to take out the Lifthawks, due to their high DP. Commenter’s Resistance used combined arms (Tanks, Cyclones, Technicals and Freeriders) to quickly eliminate my anti-air units, and then those damn Cyclones loitered over (translate: shat upon) my ground forces and were able to cherry pick targets at leisure. Resistance seemed to have good mobility, surprisingly strong air power, and a very diverse variety of ground units. It’s a very different force than the initial four factions and offers players a unique approach to the game.

Fight the Power!
The Resistance brings a lot to the Dropzone Commander universe – a look into the lives of civilians before the invasion, creative and great-looking new models, and a great “multi-faction” that supports a wide range of playstyles and army builds. Whether you want to play an elite army with tough, versatile military units, a post-apocalyptic horde of maxed-out madmen, or a force that simply looks fantastic all painted up on the table, chances are the Resistance is right for you!

Whew! That completes our review of the DZC factions! Next up, we’re going to talk nuts and bolts – how to get into the game and build an army that’s fun with a starter set and about $100. See you in a week, Commanders!

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