Hawk Wargames held their annual Autumn Invasion Dropzone Commander tournament on the 23rd & 24th of September 2017 and following Mike Burch's record-breaking win with his Allied Resistance I spoke to him about his list and his experience of the weekend. Mike is a familiar face in the community so I knew he would have a great deal of wisdom to impart!
Winner Mike with Hawk Dave.
Interview: Hawk Scott & Mike Burch
S: What is your history with Invasion and how well have you done previously?
M: It’s difficult to answer this question without sounding overly smug, but I’ll try!
I attended the first ever official Dropzone Commander tournament, Invasion, in Feb 2013. I had only been playing the game for about 2-3 months and I took my UCM and came 5th out of the 16 players that attended. From 2014 Hawk ran 2 Invasion tournaments per year and my first win was in Jan 2015 using Shaltari. This was the start of a hat-trick of Winter Invasion wins in 2015, 2016 and 2017. I used UCM for the ’16 & ’17 wins and have attended every Invasion tournament (9 in total), never placing lower than 5th.
S: What made you choose Resistance for the tournament?
M: Those that have listened to the Orbital Bombardment podcast may know that I have been planning a ‘secret project’ for a couple of years now, which happened to be an L.A.P.D. themed Allied Resistance army. As this was the last chance to play the original Dropzone Commander I wanted to finish them and take them but alas I didn’t finish painting the army in time!
Also, Resistance had never won an Invasion tournament before. They were the only faction without a major win so I took it as an opportunity for a challenge to try and change that!
S: How was your experience of the tournament and weekend in general?
M: Obviously my experience was great! The tournament ran pretty well (especially considering it was Hawk Liam’s first time [running it]!), and the only minor complaint was the choice of Ground Control as one of the missions. It’s just not a very fun mission to play at a tournament in my opinion, as not a lot happens in the game for 4 turns and then it becomes a game of Math-Zone Commander to see if you can control quarters.
It seemed like all the players were enjoying themselves throughout the weekend and I had 5 great opponents, who gave me plenty to think about during our games. It's always good to meet both old friends and new players!
S: Could you take us through the list and explain any combos or synergistic units?
M: Sure, I’ll start with the Command battle-group. This contained the trusty Thunderstorm and 2 Typhoons which were primarily used for urban renewal and dealing with tough units. Ideally I would have liked 3 Typhoons, but you can’t have everything.
Next my armour group, which contained 3 Gun Wagons in a Kraken and 3 Thunder Wagons. In my experience with playing against Resistance if there is a battlegroup containing just Gun Wagons and their Kraken it is normally destroyed by turn 4, meaning you are a battlegroup down which can affect your end of game battle plan. The Gun Wagons are extremely reliable AA, throwing out a decent amount of shots with high accuracy.
In Dropzone I like to keep my Infantry to as few battle-groups as possible for one main reason; to maximise activation efficiency. With Resistance a standard army will have more infantry than any other faction. I took 6 squads but have seen Resistance armies with 8-10 squads of infantry! As you can see from the list I relied quite heavily on exotic choices like Sappers, Occupation Veterans and Marine Force Recon, including only 1 squad of basic troops (the Resistance Fighters). The major weakness of the Resistance is their shortfall in movement when moving between buildings and extracting the objectives off of the table; this is why I included the MFR and Freeriders.
My next battle-group is the Zhukovs. They are a formidable AA threat striking fear in the hearts of many UCM, Shaltari and Scourge generals, and although they won’t normally achieve their points back they force your opponent to play around them.
Lastly is the fleet group, sporting a single Archangel Pathfinder. As a UCM player I don’t like fielding only 1 fast mover as it will lead to being down a battle-group activation more often than not, but how can you not have a Pathfinder? 2 E7 shots, hitting on a 2+ anywhere on the battlefield makes them an irresistible choice!
S: Were there any missions that your army was more suited to or struggled in?
M: The Resistance (and my particular flavour of Resistance, Allied) struggle with missions featuring Critical Locations. As they score each turn from turn 2 it is very difficult to get units on them early enough, but luckily for me there was only one mission (Crucible) which contained Critical Locations.
Where the Resistance shine is Focal Point domination. The majority of units within a Resistance army are ground based and that means a significantly greater amount of scoring units than most other armies, coupled with some great infantry Bunker Assault becomes a daunting prospect for an opponent.
S: Did you have a squad that performed better or worse than you expected?
M: I’ll start with the unit that under performed for me; the Zhukov. It suffers from ‘one-shot syndrome’. The Zhukov is a horrible model to play against having done so with Scourge, UCM and Shaltari. They are normally the first things I go for. As such I had high expectations for them, but found them slightly underwhelming. They still forced my opponents into playing more defensively so it wasn’t all bad.
The absolute winner of a unit was the Typhoon. I already knew that the Typhoon was a bad-ass and even though I had high expectations for the unit it easily surpassed those! I don’t think that there was a single target that I shot and didn’t destroy with them apart from possibly an Odin (but I did wound it). The Typhoons put down a storm of bullets and on a tough platform. If I’m honest I think they are a touch too cheap and fast (move and fire). 3 E10 shots, Strafe and the ability to increase range by dropping shots made them my MVPs!
S: Do you expect to see large changes in the metagame once 2nd Edition is released?
M: Oh for sure! The game will play completely differently but feel very familiar. I am both nervous and excited about V2. I have lived and breathed Dropzone Commander for 5 years, it is an amazing game, but I see the need for fresh impetus and a larger player base.
One of the great things about Dropzone Commander is that list building is a tremendously significant part of the game. You have to make sure that you have a decent balance between anti-tank, anti-air and infantry, and have the right units in the right battle-groups. I believe this will stay in V2 from seeing and playing the beta rules.
Where Dropzone Commander shines is the missions and the choices you make within the games. I am intrigued to see what the new missions will be like and how they affect list building. I can’t wait to see what the new version will bring and how lists and games will evolve!
Resistance scouts survey the occupied city.
Congratulations to Mike who, alongside several other notable players, run the Orbital Bombardment podcast covering both Dropzone and Dropfleet Commander.
Mike's Winning List