Good day, Commander. DZCasualty here to deliver today’s briefing encompassing a critical component of urban warfare that many officers overlook: demolition. Because of the relatively recent arrival of wargames wherein the terrain is destructible, demolition, both as a means and an end, is a strategy that many are not familiar with. But you do know that your enemy jealously covets his objectives, his vantage points, and those pathetic little structures which will temporarily provide the pitiful wretch with little pockets of false security. So it’s important to realize that you must frequently bring it all down in the pursuit of victory. Everything should topple onto your opponent to crush his laughably ineffective forces and extinguish his annoying little spirit. Let’s get started.
BLOWING IT ALL TO HELL
How often will a demolition strategy be useful? Good question. Let’s assume you will be randomizing or choosing scenarios from both the DZC base rule book and the Reconquest: Phase One book. Let’s ignore the Orbital Laser and Monorail scenarios, because you’re new and likely don’t have those yet (Get them. They look great on the table even if you don’t play those missions). In those two books, there are 18 “regular” scenarios. In 13 out of these 18 scenarios, demolition will be useful. In those 13 scenarios, you will need to either destroy structures and/or cause falling masonry to kill garrisoned infantry. That’s more than two out of three of all the scenarios.
So how often will demo be useful? 2 out 3 games…a.k.a. very often, Commander.
Also, with the addition of squads full of anti-material rifles, mortars, or flak guns, infantry has recently become quite a lethal “thing” in Dropzone Commander. Being able to counter enemy infantry often depends on your ability to shoot, stab, or root them out of their little rat holes. Demolition and falling masonry is the answer that nearly any unit can contribute to. Any player worth his salt should consider this strategy. As a matter of fact, when I asked my friend Gary here about who should consider demolition, he had a vigorous answer:
WHAT UNITS ARE BEST AT DEMOLITION?
Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately, if you’re infantry – Ed.), not all units are created equal when it comes to demolition. Here are some of the cream of the crop when it comes to taking down structures:
The UCM excels at demolition, thanks to lots of big guns with great ranges. There are many options in this army for turning buildings into parking lots, fast:
- Katanas: Great range and with two strength 9 shots (enough to damage a structure on a 2+/4+), each of these tanks has the potential to cause 4 points of building damage per turn. Katanas are also fast for a UCM ground unit, so it won’t be difficult to get a line on your target.
- Rapiers: These AA tanks take second prize for UCM demo with 3 shots at strength 7 per Rapier. Like the Katana, they have multiple high power shots, great R(F) range, and every single shot has the potential to do 2 points of damage (though they need a 6 to double up). However, be careful when using your rapiers for demo purposes; sometimes it’s wise not to fire and instead keep enemy aircraft wary of your reaction fire….
- Eagle gunship: This thing can generate some serious demo results – it was pretty much born for it. 6 shots per turn (2 shots at str 11 and 4 shots at str 9) each with potential to do two points of damage on a roll of 4+. This air asset can make the ground tremble.
- Honorable mention goes to the Gladius heavy tank. It’s just as destructive against regular buildings as Katanas, but is a bit more expensive to account for the extra armor, DP, and more powerful AT railgun.
Scourge’s best demolition units rely on the deadly plasma cannon. These weapons have shorter ranges but the squids make up for it with speed and the raw power of their attacks (plus Demo-2 on the plasma cannon). Scourge players will admittedly have to be much more mobile and aggressive to play a demolition game – pretty much how they need to fight all the time. Fortunately, even dropship weapons like the plasma hose (E9) or the Reaver’s plasma lances (E10) can contribute to early building damage before the tanks come in to finish structures off.
- Hunter tanks: These are extraordinarily fast for a main battle tank, and have a decent threat with 9” MF, 12” shooting range and an E11 Demo-2 shot from its plasma cannon. Taking 6 or more gives you dangerous demo power.
- Slayer heavy tanks: The Hunter’s bigger, meaner brother is a fearsome demo unit. While not quite as fast (still damn fast for a heavy tank compared to other armies), it packs double the firepower. With two E11 demo 2 shots, 4 of these can turn a skyscraper into a disaster in very short order. And with the rise of all the new infantry, enemy infantry still soil the floor when those Razor Worms also spill out of the Slayer.
- Desolater: The Big Squid can do serious damage to any metropolitan area. Like….seriously Japanese amounts of monstrous urban destruction. While it’s wide pattern weapon can do some damage to enemy units and nearby buildings, it turns a structure into sushi when the Ion Storm Generator fires in focused pattern. Being Demo D6 +1 means that on a perfect roll, you could do 14 points of damage to a single building.
- Honorable mention goes to the Reaver gunship; while its shots are not super powerful or rock Demo-2, it has plenty of power for good demo with E10 and E9 shots (so it can damage on a 2+/4+) and more importantly, 3 separate weapons which allow it to overcome the single shot syndrome and dish out up to 6 damage to structures per turn.
Like UCM, PHR is plenty good at the demolition game, with a fair number of medium E options spread throughout the force…including dropships.
- Odin Type-2 Walkers: Two infinite R(F) E11 shots per walker makes the Odin good against both structures and enemy armor. Considering the fact you’ll often have them in your force anyway makes the Odin best PHR all-arounder for building demo.
- Enyo Type-2 Walkers: This dedicated structure destroyer trades 1 E and a much shorter R(C) on each of its smoothbore guns for Demo-2, making it much more limited versus enemy armor. However, each of these walkers can deliver up to 8 points of structure damage per turn, so if you are looking for pure demo power, the Enyo delivers…with unquestionable authority.
- Hades Type-4 Superheavy Walker: This Scorpion will reduce buildings to sand, thanks to 3 E12 shots form the tail and 6 E6 chaingun shots. While demo is rarely the Hades’ primary mission rarely is demo due to its huge points cost, Plus, the damn thing looks great!
- Immortal Longreach Sniper Teams: A full squad of two bases can deliver ten E7 shots into the receiving building – not too shabby for an 84 point unit (only 1.5 x the cost of a Enyo). Keep in mind this is slightly offset by the fact they have Sniper, and can only do 1 DP per hit. But as a bonus, the R(C) range is excellent, and with Shaped Charge they can also threaten enemy armor!
- Honorable mention goes to PHR transports, thanks to a healthy dose of E7+ spread on pretty much everything. Remember that your medium and big dropships come standard with Stealth Missile batteries – so use them every turn to fire on buildings. And don’t forget to fire with any Juno A1s or Angelos on the ground, either.
The majority of Shaltari demo units are expensive, but, as is the case with most pricy units, are fairly versatile and can fill other battlefield roles (anti-air, anti-tank, anti- infantry) as needed.
- Caiman heavy grav tank: This beast has great range, 3 E10 shots with a huge countered Range, plus 2 E7 infinite range laser pods that can also deal out demo pain. With a potential for each to deal out 10 damage to a building per turn, and paired with generally excellent anti-tank deterrence, they are a tough unit to beat.
- Ocelot warstrider: This giant’s massive particle cannon’s is a bit overkill for demolition, thanks to E13 and infinite range, but with an Demo D3+2 it can rock buildings to the tune of 10 DP as well as well as “one-shotting” nearly any vehicle no matter its protection.
- Gharial heavy grav tank: Thought it has a very short range and is a Command choice, this beast can put serious hurt on structures with an E12 main weapon and a pair of E10 Demo-3 neutron launchers (sadly, only limited to one shot).
- Ronin heavy warsuits: These are the real demolition rockstars of the Shaltari, with just enough power (E9), full range (infinite), and low cost (20 pts) to pile on massive damage to structures for a commensurately low investment. Plus, they have Lightning Reflexes, which allows you to Gate them around the table and put the hurt on a vulnerable building in the same turn if need be!
- Honorable mention goes to the Leopard warstrider, which is substantially cheaper than the ultra-versatile Jaguar but still can put some serious work in with 3 E12 shots.
Resistance forces, as the home of “overarmored and undergunned” units, shave great options for demolition thanks to volume of medium E shots spread throughout nearly all aspects of their forces.
- Barrel Bomber: Every weapon on this modified Lifthawk – even its machine guns – can go to work against structures, particularly the mighty Goliath Bomb which delivers an average of 14 points of damage to a structure on a hit!
- M3 Alexander: This command tank can put serious ranged hurt on buildings or enemy units with it’s many weapons, with 4 E7 chaingun shots, E10 Area launcher, and an E12 Demo-3 main cannon.
- M9 Hannibal: These heavy tanks are durable, cheap, and have 2 cannons that can each damage structures on a 2+. A versatile if overlooked choice in many cases.
- Rocket Technicals: Speaking of overlooked, these little guys are your premier demo units, since they are a Standard choice with an E7 36” range Shaped Charge shot and a rock-bottom price of just 10 points. You can easily pack in 12 or more of these little guys for the price of 3 Katanas or Hunters…even more if you consider you don’t need to invest in a transport for them!
- Honorable mention goes to the NT-5 Thunderstorm Custom: The monster of the Resistance, both in size and points cost, has four E12 Demo-2 plasma cannons, allowing it to vaporize small and medium structures almost singlehandedly.
DENYING THE ENEMY OBJECTIVES
Let’s say you and your despicable opponent are playing a scenario with mission objectives in structures (meaning Objectives, Possible Objectives, or Intel) that are scattered across the battlefield. Your goal should be to reach, discover, secure and extract as many of these objectives as you can, as early as you can. But your secondary goal during round 1 should be to IMMEDIATELY begin firing on buildings that contain objectives you think your forces are unlikely to reach and that your opponent is likely to secure. Provided you have long-range demolition (pretty much everyone other than Scourge), you should ideally put at least enough damage to make the opponent wary of entering that structure when the time comes.
Additionally, you will have to choose whether to fire on buildings where opposing infantry already present and trying to take an objective, or whether to fire on other, unoccupied buildings to deny these objectives to him outright. Generally speaking, it’s best to shoot at occupied structures over unoccupied ones – particularly those recently occupied – as you’ll have a better chance of accomplishing any or all of the following:
- Falling masonry kills all the infantry before they can secure the objective, and the building gets damaged. (That’s pretty good.)
- Falling masonry causes a lot of damage to his infantry, or the building is close to collapse, so the opponent abandons the building because he doesn’t want the infantry to die (Coward.)
- The building collapses, killing all the infantry and removing the objective from the game (Hurray! Your opponent loses those dudes and objective denied!)
- The infantry secures the objective, but suffer enough damage that the next time they enter a building they are more vulnerable to being wiped out by falling masonry. In large games, or games with a lot of objectives on the board, this kind of attrition takes a very heavy toll.
Don’t forget the 50% rule!
Always remember that when a building is at less than 50% of its starting damage points(DP), falling masonry triggers on a 4+, instead of the usual 5+. This means that infantry dies much more quickly in heavily damaged buildings. Continue to inflict as many damaging hits to the building as you can, because for each point of damage you do, you get an additional falling masonry die. With an E6 hit each time, most bases suffer damage on 2+/4+ or 3+/5+ die rolls, making it likely to wipe out whole bases of infantry in a single round of focused demo fire.
If the enemy has no infantry in buildings yet, or you are not sure which one he’ll go for first, fire on smaller buildings first. Do this because your belly-crawling opponent can more quickly discover and extract objectives from smaller buildings (Search rolls are easier in medium and small structures than they are in large ones), plus smaller buildings don’t have nearly as many DP. It’s OK to split your fire between 2 buildings to mentally manipulate and threaten your opponent; once your opponent sees even a few DP on each of the smaller buildings, he’ll be less likely to have his infantry jump into those buildings. Ideally, he’ll have to settle for the larger buildings, which will slow him down on those search die rolls which start on a 6+.
CRUSH CARELESS VEHICLES
Always watch where your enemy places his vehicles (particularly transports, artillery, and other low-Mv ground vehicles). If the center of a critical enemy vehicle model (not flying aircraft!) is within an inch of any outer edge of the structure, you should strongly consider bringing down the building. Vehicles within an inch of a structure that collapses are destroyed on a 2+ die roll, with no saving die rolls allowed. Those are damn good odds…even for crummy rollers like DZCommenter. This is especially useful if enemy has already moved this unit this round (since they can’t move out of danger this round) and you still have plenty of demo-capable units still to be activated. This strategy is even more effective if you have a high level Commander or Central HQ Directive to help you win initiative next round as well, since you’ll have even more opportunities to drop a building before your victim has a chance to escape.
FOCUS ON FOCAL POINTS
Demolition is not only for objective and intel based missions, however. For instance, smart players love to establish staging areas behind structures near focal points from which they can pounce on for a round 5 or round 6 late game “pile-in” with vehicles, or which they can fill with infantry to contribute to that point’s scoring. Punish such tactics by leveling the building(s) providing cover – possibly destroying vehicles that were too close to the collapsing building, or killing infantry in it – then open up on his units. Be sure to shoot transports first so ground units can’t get to the focal points in time to contribute points. It’s tough for the enemy to make a game pile-in when he has nothing to push with!
DON’T GET DEMOLISHED
The best piece of advice to avoid suffering from a demolition-happy opponent is to always take a healthy number of infantry units in objective- or intel-based missions. You’re likely to lose at least a few in the bloodbath of Falling Masonry and collapsing buildings that will ensue. In a 1000 point game, I recommend a minimum of three infantry units.; at 1500, take a minimum of four. On round one, dump your infantry into the most forward objective buildings that you can reach and dump your infantry into; this is because your foe is less likely to have his guns fully deployed, and you’ll start searching the same turn he will likely be bringing his first guns to bear on structures. If you’re really concerned about falling masonry or demolition, be sure to activate your infantry battlegroups first to search, discover and escape before your opponent activates and fires at the buildings.
Whether you enter the large buildings first or smaller buildings first depends on how much risk you can stomach – small buildings are much easier to pull objectives out of, but can rarely survive a single turn of committed demolition fire. Look for smaller buildings where it’s difficult for your opponent to get line of sight or range (smaller buildings shielded by larger ones, or smaller buildings in extreme corners on your side of the table) to improve your odds of surviving to find the objective. For larger buildings, consider dumping multiple units into the same large building to get multiple search rolls on the same objective to maximize your chances of discovering and extracting it as quickly as possible. If you have a good number of infantry units and a lot of objectives you can reach, put an infantry unit on each objective. Your numerous infantry squads will make it tough for an enemy to kill them all (either by demo or CQB), and you might even be able to trick him into splitting his fire in order to stop your multiple units.
One last tip: be sure to keep all of your vehicles farther than one inch (remember how that’s measured: from the center of the model) from all structures at all times, just in case a nearby building comes down.
There are many times in a game when dropping a building can turn a game –either by destroying enemy units in, on, or next to the building, or by denying objectives to your opponent. If you have a unit that has a E5 or higher weapon (like a dropshi), and that unit can fire this round, find a building to shoot at. Remember:
- An unused weapon is a useless weapon.
- You force is bristling with weapons.
- You should be firing them almost every turn.
- Even if you can’t see the enemy, you always have targets: Buildings.
Good Luck Commander……