Rules FAQ

These are FAQs specifically for the Rules of Dropzone Commander. For more FAQs please visit our FAQs landing page and navigate through to the appropriate area you are looking for answers to. If you cannot find your question, please contact us >


Be sure to read the game overview in addition to this section!

What is the game's most unique aspect?

The focus on dropships is the game's most unique aspect. The models and rules have been built around this core concept from day one. Moving your troops by air also opens up some interesting scenarios (think Blackhawk Down!)


How easy is to learn the rules?

We've taught playtesters that we've never met before while playing the game, and by the end of a 3/4 hour match they'd pretty much picked up the rules. Feedback confirms that the rules are very accessible.


Does the game use reference tables?

The game uses only a few reference tables, all of which can easy fit on a single reference sheet. Unit stats are fairly complex however, so until you're really familiar with your army it would be best to have a copy of the rulebook to hand.


Does the game use/need tokens and templates?

The game uses a small number of tokens. There's also three blast templates (which are also used to determine whether aircraft have enough space to land). Most other tokens are optional and seldom needed, so if you don't like sullying your majestic battlefield with abstract tokens, a modest amount of record keeping will see you through.


How long are the rules?

The rules are fairly extensive, and cover all aspects of the game. Since it's a full sized battle game the rules do cover a lot of areas. They are about 15,000 words long including explanations - this equates to around 35 A4 pages including plenty of graphics.


What is a general overview of the turn structure?

A turn moves through three distinct phases: 1) Initiation - roll for initiative, play certain abilities, roll for reserves etc. 2) Actions - players take it in turns to activate one battlegroup at a time in order of initiative, completing the actions for each squad within in (move, shoot etc). 3) Roundup - act on any 'end of turn' abilities, check victory conditions.


What is Alternate Activation, and how does it work?

Dropzone Commander is an alternate activation based game. This means that players take it in turn to activate 'chunks' of their armies, known as Battlegroups. These usually contain a modest number of squads which are usually related. For example, a support Battlegroup might include tank destroyers and artillery. Some are more flexible than others - it's best to think of them as mini army lists.

Armies usually contain around 5 Battlegroups in medium-large games. It's the size of the Battlegroups, not the number of them that generally increases with game size. As such, it's easy to keep track of things, and each turn doesn't contain a bewildering number of activations. It's a good idea to subtly indicate (with markings etc) which Battlegroups units belong to.

An opponent's activation can sometimes be interrupted by certain actions (such as air defence reaction fire and aircraft intercepts). In any case, you rarely have to wait long before you get a chance to react to an opponent's actions. Overwhelming force can seldom be brought to bear in one go.


How long does a typical game last?

A typical game with a good sized army (anywhere between the Large and Mega army deals in size) lasts around 2-3 hours, with players who know the rules reasonably well. Obviously this depends a lot on scenarios etc, but most games should easily be playable in a typical games night. Games usually last around 6 turns.


Will all factions be supported in future, or will you be focusing on new ones?

All factions will always be supported equally! Most likely, new races will be released alongside expansions, which will include new storylines, plot developments, new rules, scenarios and new units for all existing races. Hawk Wargames will always support those who have already invested, rather than force you into using the latest army  -power creep will be avoided at all cost!


How will new releases be represented in the rules?

Any new units which are not in the rulebook will get free stat lines available online as soon as they're released. If they're released ahead of a major expansion, the rules will be printed in that expansion as well.


How will you handle any emerging balance/ rules issues?

Obviously, ANY new ruleset will be at least partially picked apart by the tournament scene, and while we're being as diligent as we can we're sure there will be things we missed/ didn't foresee. It would be unrealistic and arrogant to suggest otherwise- there's just so many things to consider with a game that involves this much (and a brand new game at that!)

In the modern world we believe that the best way of resolving issues in the short term will be to issue free pdf updates. That way it costs you nothing, and everyone gets fast access to any changes that might be needed. you shouldn't have to pay for any mistakes we make!

Obviously there will be a 2nd edition sometime down the line, but this would include more than just alterations!


I'd like to see how the game works in the real world. Do you plan on releasing something which will give players an all-round example of how the game plays?

 We're working on getting one or two clubs that we're playtesting with to write battle reports. These often work well for giving people a feel for the game, and we think it will also be good to hear people unaffiliated with the company talking about playing DzC! This won't be posted for a few weeks though, due to our tight schedule and heavy workload.


Do the four factions play differently?

All four factions have distinct and different playing styles. They'll be much more on this in future, but for now, here's a basic summary:

 The UCM are all-rounder's, with the ability to field a good number of troops. The UCM also has a lot of choice for air power, such as the awesome Seraphim. Their dropships are some of the cheapest in the game in terms of points cost, and as such they can normally get a few more ground units onto the table than other armies.

The Scourge are fast, aggressive and devastating at close range. Shrewd players will benefit most from their abilities, since left exposed their units can absorb less punishment that those of the other races. they also have several unorthodox units (such as the Desolator), which gives them some interesting modes of attack.

The PHR have the widest range of weapon options and upgrades, as well as some of the toughest units in the game. what they lack in numbers they make up for in quality. Almost every choice is better equipped than equivalents, although normally cost more points.

The Shaltari operate very differently from the other races, since they use teleport gates to deploy and relocate on the battlefield. This gives the player a wealth of tactical options. their units are lightly armoured, although this is offset by their use of 'Passive Countermeasures' -all encompassing energy shields which effectively give them a saving throw from shots at any range or power.


Does the game work with more than two players?

Yes, the game works fine for any number of players, although 2-4 are recommended. Any more than that and the game might drag by a bit, unless each player controls a battlegroup rather than an army - this isn't officially in the rules but would be an easy way of introducing/ including more players.



How many models do I need to play?

DzC can be played with a few models, right up to massive engagements with hundreds of tanks. However, the amount of models you get in the starter armies is a good benchmark for the smallest sized game which can involve most of the game mechanics. Multiple Army Rosters can be used for truly vast games, and so there's no limit to how many models can be fielded, although such a game would require some serious space and time!


I'd like to build an army but obviously I haven't seen the rules or Army Rosters. Is there a guide I could use?

At this stage, your best bet would be to use the army deals as a guide to a well balanced army. Even if you don't wish to buy this much all in one go, they should give you an indication of the sort of content an army will need. There's a good amount of flexibility in the army lists though.


Are the army deals good/ playable forces?

The army deals represent flexible and well balanced forces, and will be playable as they are! Having said that, remember they are not exactly points balanced with their counterparts from other races (they are balanced by model content so everyone gets a similar deal). Having said that, they should be pretty good matches for each other. Either way they'll give you a well rounded pool of troops!


Why are the starter sets quite large, and could you play a game with less models?

You could play with less units than you get in the starter, but the reason they are what they are is that it's the minimum size to get a feel of most for the DzC's core mechanics and to experience the game as it was intended (with the dropships, interplay of elements etc).


Will the game utilise a points cost system for choosing your army, and what in general terms is the 'feel' of this system?

We're still in the last stages of finalising points costs, but army wise it'll be similar to 40k in base (e.g. 1000-2000 pts per normal game). The Large army will be more than adequate for tournament play (about 1500pts for a comparison), the Mega army for grander tournaments/ giving you more flexibility in choices. This depends on what sort of tournaments clubs want to organise though, as the starter sets are playable armies themselves.


How much flexibility is there when building armies and are certain unit choices limited?

Army lists have a fair amount of flexibility, but you can't field massive hordes of unsupported infantry for example. More devastating and specialist units are somewhat limited in availability - you certainly can't have a whole army of strike fighters! Balanced armies are nearly always best in games anyway, since you will need a wide range of abilities to achieve a tactically flexible army.


Will force composition vary with scenarios, and how will this work for tournament/ casual play?

There is a 'standard' Army Roster to use with most games. The scenarios which use this chart will form the backbone for tournaments we imagine. Other, specialist scenarios will allow different compositions and might be best suited for casual/ pre-organised play. How this will all work with tournaments is something we intend to help organise once the game is out.


How do Battlegroups work in terms of activation and coherency?

Squads within Battlegroups activate simultaneously, then each squad within the Battlegroup completes its Actions (moving, shooting etc) in turn. Squads within Battlegroups do NOT have to stay in coherency with each other though, and can thus go their separate ways.


How many upgrade options are there for units?

Some armies have more upgrade options than others, but generally you can't upgrade units much for now, as it's difficult to keep track of what unit has what. This will be an area where the game can expand in future, where extra parts that can physically represent upgrades on the model can be introduced.


Does every vehicle operate alone, or is there a squad mechanic?

Tanks etc operate in squads, and move together. They CAN independently target though, and be independently targeted. This works well in practice, and heightens realism. Also, it makes a situation where a squad of 9 tanks is facing 3 enemy squads containing 3 tanks each a fair fight  (as it should be!)


What are the advantages/ reasons for units to be part of a squad?

Deploying in squads gives you more units per slot in the Army Roster mainly. Also, since they activate together they can make an impact in one go. Generally, squads are there to keep activations and organisation manageable. Also, squads need to be of a certain size to fit into dropships, which must start the game filled.



How much scenery do I need to play?

DzC is designed for all sorts of battlefields, but functions best with at least partially urban areas, Indeed, many scenarios require at least 3 structures. In general though, the more the merrier! We've mostly been playesting with around 10 structures on the table.

We will be providing high quality modular resin scenery (more on this soon!), as well as low cost card flatpack buildings. Before these are released however, you can use model railway N-scale buildings (10mm scale is 1:188, and N is 1:200, a very close match). Also, a lot of 6-15mm scenery will often also be suitable.

Rules exist for rivers, foliage, woodlands, ruins, contours and similar scenic items, so feel free to design all sorts of interesting battlefields !


What size table to I need to play?

We recommend a minimum 4'x4' table size. Much of our playtesting has been conducted with medium-large sized armies at this table size, which is usually more than sufficient. Much larger tables can be used though, and will enhance the dropship based system even further, since their greater movement speed will become even more crucial. For armies as larger than our Mega Deals, we'd recommend at least a 6'x4' table, simply to prevent the table being too crammed with models!


How complex are the rules for structures, and can they be destroyed?

Structures are very important to the game, and there is an extensive ruleset for them including garrisoning, shooting from windows and linked structures. They can indeed be destroyed also. Some units (such as the UCM Seraphim with its bunker busters and the PHR Enyo Seige Walker) are designed specifically for this purpose!


Does scenery affect movement?

Yes! See the 'MOVEMENT' section of this FAQ.



What are the typical movement distances in the game?

For ground units, the very fastest skimmer can manage 12" moves, and the slowest tank plods along at 3". About 4-6" is typical for most ground units. Dropships are considerably faster (12-36" normally).


Are there rules of different terrain types, and does a vehicle's design have an effect on movement through different qualities of terrain?

Yes, there are various rules for terrain types, and the unit's mode of movement does have a effect! For example, a skimmer can pass over impassable ground (rivers, lava flows etc) and move over tough ground (e.g. uneven, rocky areas) without penalty, but can't move through area features (like forest), since they have no ground traction. A walker can move through tough terrain without penalty also, and can plough through area features without penalty. A normal treaded or wheeled vehicle gets movement bonuses when travelling over exceptional ground (such as roads). Flyers can obviously fly over anything less than 6" above ground level.


Does movement always come before shooting?

No. You can shoot before moving or move and then shoot. However, you can't move a bit, shoot, then move a bit.



How does shooting work, in general terms?

First you roll to hit (1D6 per shot at weapon accuracy +/- modifiers), then roll to damage (1D6 per hit against the Energy vs Armour table, again sometimes with modifiers). This table is offset slightly from what you may be used to, so an Energy 10 weapon will need 5+ to inflict a damage point on a unit with Armour 10. Two damage points are inflicted if the required roll is beaten by 2 more (e.g. rolling a 5 when a 3+ is required). Some vehicles have passive countermeasures, so get a saving throw.


How much damage can units absorb before they're destroyed?

Some units are fragile (e.g. scouts) and some can absorb multiple hits (e.g. heavy tanks and large flyers). Obviously armour is also a big factor in survivability. DzC is a massed battle game, designed to play out in a gaming night with a good number of units though, so don't expect your tanks to absorb massive punishment! Think of them as 28mm soldiers in terms of survivability. Obviously, bigger units will absorb more punishment!  Infantry bases have lots of damage points (typically 5), so are best dispatched with rapid fire anti-infantry weapons. An anti-tank shot will REALLY spoil one or two guys days, but won't be able to wipe out a whole base in one go.

Having said that, the games is as much about movement and positioning, and the actual killing of the enemy is often secondary to achieving your aims.


Can anti-infantry weapons damage vehicles?

Anti-Infantry weapons are virtually useless against heavy armour (AK47's having no chance against an M1 Abrams in a real life example). however, heavy calibre machineguns will just be able to damage the lightest of combat vehicles.


Will there be rules for destroyed weapons on vehicles and/or mobility damage etc?

You won't be able to destroy individual weapons or inflict mobility hits, since it becomes unnecessarily fiddly to manage larger games, and avoids piles of tokens + excessive record keeping. DzC is a massed battle game after all!


How much range do weapons have?

Range is often a sticky subject in Scifi wargaming. Some games arbitrarily give high tech laser weapons absurdly short ranges, while others give them realistic ranges, often precluding the fun of fire and manoeuvre on open battlefields. In Dropzone Commander, weapon range is limited by the kind of countermeasures the target unit possesses. All weapons feature an 'Range- Absolute' and a 'Range-Countered' value. Practically all vehicles and aircraft utilise 'Active Countermeasures', and as such the more limited range will be used to fire against such targets.

 This range will then be governed primarily by the weapon's velocity - something like a railgun will have long range (24"), whereas a missile will have a much shorter range (6-12") - since the countermeasures have time to lock onto and destroy the incoming projectile in time. Directed energy weapons generally have an infinite range.


How does the Countermeasures mechanic work?

Countermeasures come in two flavours, Active and Passive. Active detects an incoming projectile, and destroys or deflects it before it hits the target, given enough time (think localised shields, decoys, defensive lasers, defection beams etc). Passive countermeasures are all-encompassing energy shields, and always have an effect (much more advanced tech).

In game terms, Active effectively limits enemy weapon ranges when firing against most vehicles or aircraft. This makes moderate/ short ranges possible in games, and still maintains a sense of realism (a railgun would have a range of a few miles otherwise!). The faster the weapon's real life velocity, the longer it's Range (Countered) value is.

Passive countermeasures usually grant a saving throw, and almost always have an effect, regardless of how fast the projectile is. Units with Passive Countermeasures usually have Active ones also.


How does line of sight work?

Line of sight is measured from the centre of the firing unit's main body to any visible part of the target's main body. If more than 50% of the target's main body is obscured, then the target is hull down, and the shooting weapon suffers a +2 accuracy modifier (i.e. the roll to hit would change from 2+ to 4+)

This is however not the case for aircraft. Actual altitude vs physical flight stand height would be a constant sticking point! As such, LOS is normally measured to/from a point 6" above the centre of the flying base. This also avoids the need for overly tall and unstable flight stands!

Solid features (e.g. buildings) block line of sight, as do other units. Insubstantial features (such as woodland) may block LOS, depending of density and depth.


Can all weapons shoot at aircraft?

No. Only anti-air weapons can shoot at aircraft, unless the aircraft is landed - this includes dropships and gunships. As such, having sufficient air defence is vital.


How dangerous are AA units, and do they effectively set up a 'no-fly zone'?

AA units are pretty brutal against aircraft (they're supposed to be after all!). Skilful placement of these will protect your units from strafing/ having units dumped right on their doorstep. Obviously, you can and should use your tanks to neutralise air defence. All this gives much cause for fire and manoeuvre, even for ground units.


Can fighters effectively replace anti-air ground units in the AA role?

They could do, but you can't always rely on your fighters to turn up every time you need them, so it's a risk. Also, they can't operate well in confined, high rise environments. Fighters are equally vulnerable to enemy air defence, so might not be able to make a pass without exposing themselves to enemy fire. As such, ground based AA is normally more dependable, and a better deterrent.



How do infantry operate, and do I need to paint up/ buy hundreds of little men?

Be sure to always have some infantry squads in your army. Infantry are the only units which can enter buildings and secure objectives (although once captured they can often be passed to vehicles). Infantry are highly vulnerable and slow on the open battlefield though, so fielding hordes of them on foot would be unwise! The game is primarily vehicle based, so you won't need to field too many of them.


Do infantry possess any anti-armour capabilities?

Standard infantry have anti-tank capability, but only at short-moderate range or with limited power (that big gun in the PHR immortals squad is an anti-materiel rifle for example)


Do infantry possess any anti-air capabilities?

The combined effect of storm of small arms fire from handheld assault weapons can damage aircraft. Such weapons may fire a single, modest AA shot at close range rather than their usual shots.


Can infantry be fired upon when they are inside structures?

Infantry inside a structure can be fired upon directly from the outside if they've elected to fire from the windows. Otherwise, you'll need to either flush them out with your own infantry, use flame weapons or demolish the building! Also, falling masonry damage will kill occupying infantry, so they can be harmed before the building actually comes down!


How does close combat work?

There are no specific close combat rules in DzC, since fighting with swords is not a major feature in wars where advanced ranged weaponry is commonplace! Close combat on the open battlefield is a rare occurrence, and is absorbed in the normal shooting rules by assigning a weapon a range value of CC, which simply requires physical contact to be fired.

The closest real equivalent to close combat is Close Quarter Battle (where blades, clubs and teeth may indeed be utilized!). CQB is a very important aspect of the game. Often, it becomes necessary to storm the building and enter the unforgiving world of room to room slaughter. Up close and personal, bloodshed is assured and likely to be high! This is almost always the best (and sometimes the only) practical way to dislodge/destroy  enemy infantry inside a structure. Specialist troops (such as the UCM Praetorian special forces) and murderously efficient at this job!



Do I need dropships for all my ground units?

The rules don't generally force you into taking dropships, although some scenarios do insist on 100% air mobility, since the game has been designed around dropships. Ground units are generally quite slow, and as speed and flexibility is more often than not key to victory, it's advisable for most units to be given air-drop capability.


Can units 'walk on' to the battlefield?

Units can sometimes 'walk on' depending on scenario. This can sometimes make sense on a relatively unobstructed battlefield for tank destroyers and artillery for example (both of which have a long range!)


Do dropships need to physically contain their cargos?

The models have been designed so that every single ground unit can actually fit into appropriate dropships. This was done mainly for the benefit of keen hobyists and for increasing the sense of realism - everything in DzC is truescale!

The rules certainly do not ask you to represent carried models physically, although it seems many will be using rare earth magnets for this purpose. While this will often work well, please bear in mind that they weren't specifically designed for this, and it will be more difficult to make this work with some models.

We will be providing carriage tokens in the near future which will fit onto the stems of dropship flying bases, representing what's being carried efficiently and cheaply. These will be available to photocopy/ cut out from the back of the rulebook, and are high on our priority list to get made in card/ acrylic.


Can a dropship start the game half-empty?

Dropships have to be filled at the start of the game (it's militarily inefficient after all!). This prevents players taking heavy dropships with just one tank in!


Do dropships have a purpose once they deploy their troops, or do they leave the table?

Dropships generally stay on the field, and can be used to re-locate their cargo. this is often necessary as the tactical situation can change very quickly during the course of a game, and dropships will always speed up the movement of your ground forces.


Can dropships play an offensive role by themselves?

Most dropships are armed, but almost none carry massive firepower, since they'd simply dominate games! It's better to think of them as transports which are useful multiple times during a game.


Is there any advantage to taking one heavy dropship rather than three medium ones?

One large dropship is cheaper in points than three medium ones and cheaper in real terms too! Also, they sometimes carry heavier weapons (eg the Scourge Despoiler). The medium's are more flexible, can carry smaller squads and are generally faster.


What happens when a transport is destroyed?

Embarked units can get wiped out if the transport is blown to pieces, but there's also a fair chance they might survive unharmed or take damage (rolled on a results table). With an aerial transport that would be 'Destroyed in the Air' (everything inside dies), 'Crash Landing' (everything inside might get damaged) or 'Emergency Landing' (everything gets out alive).


Can dropships land on roofs?

 Dropships can land on roofs if the landing area is large enough and unobstructed, and infantry can enter from the roof if there's an entrance. UCM Praetorians can fast rope straight in, and make an entrance with breaching charges if there isn't one to hand!


How do the Shaltari Gates work, and can they transfer units between each other?

Gates move and deploy troops just like normal dropships, although they aren't physically carrying them. Multiple Gates can also be activated to transfer units from one gate to another, but each gate may only perform one embark and/or deploy operation per turn. This does give them a distinct advantage in terms of speed and flexibility, and is one of the reasons why Shaltari Gates are unarmed (they're quite useful enough already!)

Aside from this tactical flexibility, a big advantage is that your units are safe until deployed. A disadvantage is that should the Gate be destroyed, there's no chance of troops getting out onto the battlefield after a crash landing - you'll need to send a new Gate to the target area.



Do I need to have a command unit?

 You don't have to have an HQ (they're not in the starter armies after all!). They are good units though, so there's excellent reasons to field one! You can always hold/play one command card per turn though, even without a commander.

You also don't have to mount commanders in actual command vehicles, but the commander's field of influence is halved if they're in a unit not designed for the role (weaker communications suite).


How do the command cards work?

The command cards add small but often influential tactical actions to games. On the simplest level it might improve a unit's accuracy for a turn, but sometimes it'll be much more complex, such as intel discovering an underground tunnel between two buildings. You can hold/ play a certain number per turn - the higher ranking your commander, the more cards you can play! If your commander is killed, you discard down to next in chain of command.


How big will the command cards be?

We're still finalising the exact size, but hopefully we'll get it the same as Magic the Gathering cards, then they'll be compatible with standard sleeves. Failing that, they'll be the same size as regular playing cards.


Will there be 'special characters'?

There will be Famous Commanders, which may have special abilities, and may even allow modifications to the Army Roster (force organisation). Such individuals have potent abilities, and can only be used with the other player's consent - strictly for casual play!



Will the scenarios be predesigned, or will there be a generator-type mechanic?

Scenarios are predesigned, but each one gives you a lot of flexibility on setting, so you can radically change the way certain scenarios play out (mainly by varying building content and layout).


What are some typical scenarios?

The classic scenario involves both armies dashing to capture, and fighting over multiple (usually 5) objectives spread throughout the battlefield and inside structures. You'll need to send in your infantry, secure the area and evac the objective/s from the table, while at the same time trying to stop your opponent doing the same thing!

 Other scenarios will involve demolishing certain structures, attacking an entrenched defender, searching a crash site... there will be plenty! Games where there are attackers and defenders will sometimes necessitate the use of special Army Roasters. For example, the scenario may give a defender some ground troops already in place, with reinforcements arriving by dropship.

We will also be releasing new and free scenarios online from time to time, so they'll always be new games for you to play!


Can vehicles hold objectives?

Armour can indeed hold/ move objectives once out in the open, but you'll normally need infantry to locate and capture them first.


and lastly...

Will there be more information about the rules before launch?

Keep an eye on the Download section for sneak peeks, battle reports, testimonials and perhaps even videos covering the rules. Please bear in mind though that we're working tirelessly to deliver the best possible product to you all, and on time. As such, we might not have time to show you everything we'd like to at this stage.

These are FAQs specifically for the Rules of Dropzone Commander. For more FAQs please visit our FAQs landing page and navigate through to the appropriate area you are looking for answers to. If you cannot find your question, please contact us >

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