Prep Time: Your First Drop

It’s almost time to build your first army list, and then soar haphazardly headlong through the hellish war-torn skies of the bleak future. Soon your detachment will be touching down in an almost hopeless, apocalyptic death-trap, and will shortly become the target of every enemy in the sector. I cringe at this tragic and brutal stage where your force will mount its desperate last stand against such an unyielding tide of complete annihilation. So let’s quickly go over a little list of knick-knacks and gizmos that will make your first DZC experience as pleasant as possible!

The Errata: Hawk frequently refines the rules based on player feedback, including points values and rules, so you should take a look at the Errata. You’ll want to review the rules updates for the Revised 1.1 Edition and Reconquest Phase 1. It’s a good idea to get familiar with the few changes they’ve made – some may well be to your advantage!

FFOR: The Fighting Forces of the Reconquest (FFOR) is a third party, Hawk endorsed, piece of freeware that all the cool kids use to build their armies. Download it. It’s not perfect, but it’s damn good. With an internal error checking system, it instantly lets you know when the list you’re building breaks the rules. The user interface takes a couple of tries to get accustomed to, but it allows you to print your army list, a model list for that army, and a stat quick reference sheet for all the units in that army (hyper-useful mid game). FFOR is very frequently updated with new rules and units, and the author is always ferreting out any reported bugs. All of the above Errata has already been incorporated as well. I‘d be suspicious of any army list that wasn’t composed (and validated) by FFOR, especially armies constructed by new players.

Cheat Sheets: This Rules Quick Reference Sheet will also greatly speed up play, and minimize the delay of rulebook diving. This 2 page guide provides you with the turn order, CQB sequence, frequently used modifiers, weapon types, unit abilities, and no less than 11 oft-used charts. Hat tips to both Jarec and Simon for the mutual effort on the sheet. We’ve used it in every game we’ve played. Thank you again gentlemen.

Templates and Tokens: You’ll need to print out Hawk’s templates and counters if you didn’t get the two-player starter set; these same images are located on pages 152 and 153 of your DZC rulebook. For a little extra durability, print or copy them on cardstock if you’re able. You could even laminate the counters after cutting them out. Since they are indispensable for game play, cheers to Hawk for providing these at no cost.

But, if you’re anything like me (frothing acrylic accessory addict and narcissistic gaming snob), paper just won’t do. There are a handful of more durable template options out there, such as:

Tokens for Tracking Activations: Keeping track of your battlegroup activations is critical and fortunately, very simple. Assuming you printed the FFOR army sheet, perhaps the easiest way to track which of your battlegroup activations is by using a marker (DRY ERASE MARKER! More on that later…) to simply write the number of the turn next to each battlegroup entry on the sheet as you activate it. You could also use 4 to 10 small coins or tokens by placing or removing one from the printed battlegroup entry each time one of your battlegroups activates. I’m using the Dropzone Faction Tokens made by Litko because they have the faction logo, and are the right size and shiny. Commenter uses them because he’s a simpleton (ED: Waitaminute…).


Dry Erase Markers: Say another “Hello” to those DRY ERASE MARKERS. You need a quick and easy way to remember what each of your dropships is carrying. That is, unless you cheat by playing Shaltari, or you’ve magnetized all your models so your dropships literally do carry their contents…I despise and envy you, either way (ED: Thank you very much). You can just scribble a short reminder on the flat acrylic base beneath each dropship to track what is (or was, or will be again…) onboard, upgrades to your dropships (additional weapons, sensors, special cargo etc), or to track damage instead of using dice (that sometimes accidentally get removed from models mid-game).

Hawk also provides some downloadable Carriage tokens that fit on the dropship bases, and they should do for your first few games with the contents of starter and box sets.

Reserves Tracking Sheets:  Since reserves in Dropzone Commander work differently than other games (particularly for units that leave the table mid-game), it can be tough to keep track of when and how hard it is to return your reserves and fast movers to the battle. Fortunately, this is one of the very few times that Commenter has deigned to create something original and useful without a foot on his neck (ED: Heeeeeeey…); he even went so far as to make a flavor for every faction, plus a generic version:

This placard chronologically organizes your regular Reserves, Fast Movers, and Interceptors, and notes the number you need to roll to bring them into the game (including a Forward Observer reminder). To use the sheet, simply place the units on the tracker, and roll to bring each squad on at the beginning of each turn. Units that come out of reserves either go into play (or Readiness if they’re a fast mover); those that don’t slide one space to the right for next turn.

And as a bonus, if you laminate the reserve sheet, you’ll also be able to mark on it with ye’ olde Dry Erase Marker to keep track of points scored and mid-game notes.


Counters for Tracking Building Damage: You’ll need a way to do track building damage once you realize that demolition is often times the only way to hit hiding enemies (whether it’s enemy infantry trying to find that objective inside a building, or enemy vehicles sitting a little too close to that building).Dice are cheap and plentiful, but often accidentally get rolled during play, so what to do?

You can always use different size/color dice, or write on small pieces of paper placed on each building to start with – both of which are cheap and easy. If you get tired of that, then graduate up to Litko’s acrylic building damage markers or these stitch/crochet row counters you can order from eBay or your local arts & crafts store. The counters feature two plastic number dials meaning they can be dialed from 0-99. We’ve used the markers and the counters; they’re both great and relatively cheap.

As you can see, the items above are easy to come by and cost very little – under $20 if you buy frugally. They are, however, a worthy investment, guaranteed to make your games smoother and free up spare headspace to focus on the mission and enjoy the spoils of victory.

Good Luck, Commander…


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