Sunday, 6 March 2016

Drop Zone Commander - Escalation Month 2

First Friday of the month, and it was time for the club's second DZC escalation league night.

Above: Amit, Bryan, Stephen and Tim prepare for battle.

Month one had allowed us to take the starter box for our chosen faction, Resistance, in my case. Month 2 allowed us the luxury to choose 750 points, and, if we wished, to take a command choice. 

So what can I get for 750 points? I started by looking at what the starter box had given me:

- Two Hannibals with Lifthawk 160 points
- Three units of Resistance Fighters with Jacksons in a Lifthawk (AA Cannon) 205 points
- Kraken with three Gun Wagons 113points

A total of 478 points. This would make solid core to my 750 point force if I wanted to stick with the same models. However! our two missions for the evening were to be Military Complex (three central buildings, one large, two medium, each containing an objective) and Surging Strike (three focal points). With these in mind I decided that infantry were the way to go, and chose the following list:

Vehicle Detachment - 113 points
Gun Wagons: 3x Gun Wagons, NT-1 Kraken

Resistance Band - 286 points
Fighters: 2x Resistance Fighters, AT-77 Lifthawk (+AA Cannon), 3x MT-90 Jacksons
Fighters: 2x Resistance Fighters
Veterans: 2x Occupational Veterans (Jackson has Spider Launcher)

Resistance Band - 276 points
Fighters: 2x Resistance Fighters, AT-77 Lifthawk (+AA Cannon), 3x MT-90 Jacksons
Fighters: 2x Resistance Fighters
Veterans: 2x Occupational Veterans

Infiltrators - 70 points
Freeriders - 2x Freeriders

Total: 745 points

I decided against a commander. The Alexander is 135 points, and the Thunderstorm, a massive 185 points. Without even considering the command value cost, they are both large outlays within a 750 point game. The counter argument is that whatever focal point you stand next to you will win, their shooting (especially the Thunderstorm) will be something your opponent will rightly fear, their command cards will have their uses, and finally, you will almost certainly always win the initiative roll. However, despite all this I felt that having more feet on the ground would be more beneficial. 

The first thing everyone has said to me when seeing the list was, 'bloody hell, seven troop units!' The second thing they said was, 'oh, but where is you anti-tank?' The answer the the second question, is the Kraken, Lifthawks, Freeriders and Occupational Vets. Not much, but with the points limit I risked that my deficiency in this area would not be pivotal in the results.

Game 3 - Military Complex vs. Ed with Shaltari

This was not a kind match up for Ed. He had only three units of Braves, and so if he went for all three buildings, he risked being out numbered in each. He decided to leave the central building alone. Two units of Braves overcame a unit of Fighters and Vets in the left hand building and Ed scurried away with that objective. But on the right hand side, the lone Braves unit could not defeat Fighters and Vets combined. Ed's Jaguar had a slim chance to destroy the departing Lifthawk, but despite my fears, the Jackson was able to take away the valuable prize.

Ed had correctly targeted my Jacksons whilst the combats took place. But, the central building remained standing and Fighters holding that objective won me the game. Thanks to Ed for the game, and helpful advice during it.

Game 4 - Surging Strike vs. Nathan with UCM.

My next opponent was Nathan, who had famously won a game at the recent Invasion tournament despite not having gained any kill points! This was a tense game. Although I outnumbered Nathan in infantry, my concern was that at least one of the focal point buildings was coming down, so it required me to contest the building in his deployment corner. Plan A, was for the fast moving Freeriders to take a road trip.

The bikes made their way across the table, but were then seen by the Wolverines, who called in an orbital strike from the Kodiak. One direct hit later four bikes were dead and they bolted for a nearby building. Some Legionnaires then came a knocking, and the remaining bikes were no more. 

Plan B. The middle building was now near death, so my Lifthawk collected a unit of Fighters and Vets to make a charge for the focal point on Nathan's side. I massively misjudged the distance to the building, and left the Lifthawk high and dry surrounded by Rapiers and Wolverine A's (Gulp!). But The Lifthawk is a tough old bird and it took some time to bring down, leaving the Jacksons carrying the Vets and Fighters on the ground sweating until the next turn.

Meanwhile, Nathan's plan for contesting my building was to lift his Sabres (who had now brought down the Middle building with help from Hazard Suits) and to fly a unit of Legionnaires in a Raven. Although I was able to destroy the Raven and the Legionnaires with my Gun Wagons, two Sabres avoided the incoming fire from the infantry in my building, and successfully contested it on turn six.

Over on the other side, things were equally tense. The Fighter's Jackson was destroyed, but unfortunately for Nathan, the Vets Transport shrugged off the incoming fire, and it, the Vets and one stand of Fighters reached the safety of the focal point building. 

I know how difficult the last two turns were because I forgot to take photographs of the action. So the game was a draw on objective points, and there was only a 29 point difference in kill points to Nathan, so the result was draw as you needed to have 100 points or more to swing it your way for the victory. Phew.

Thanks to Nathan for a terrific game. He said, and I totally agree with this, these smaller games are brilliantly tense affairs. You feel much more connected to individual models as one good, or lucky shot, can swing the game or the result. 

Next time, for month three, we move to 1000 point games.

Happy wargaming to you all.

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