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Arise! ARISE MY BLOG!! MUAHAHAHAHA!!!

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Quite clearly its been a while since I have been able to utilize some decent equipment to allow me to make any kind of post. Now, however I have a chromebook which will allow for much greater regularity on the posting front.

So, what have I been up to? Well quite a lot really. On the Warmachine front its all change.I have moved from Circle Orboros and back into Mercs in the form of the excellent Cephalyx with a growing hive mine to command.I have Pigs in the planning stages, sort of. The Privateer Press forum has a Secret Santa underway that I have joined in with, I requested a Pig Warlock for my prezzy. I will hopefully show what I am painting for this as well as some of my Cephalyx.

Warzone is underway for me as well. Cybertronic being the chosen faction. This has fallen by the wayside though as my group has taken up some historical Bolt Action ….erm…. …action. Japan is where I have gone with this with a sizeable force already assembled and ready for paint. I have also FINALLY picked up some Dropzone Commander via a shared 2 player boxed set. Really struggling with a colour scheme for the Scourge models I have and I have not yet managed to get a game in so I cannot report back on the game itself as yet. Same goes for Bolt Action. Had a try out game with some germans which was not played properly at all!

My man cave is no more. Alas I chose to give it up to become storage space. Got me some brownie points with “She who must be obeyed” at any rate. As a result painting has ground to a halt for the most part.

 

Something not wargaming related, I have been looking at in my spare time is conspiracy theories. Which is not to say that I necessarily believe any of them. I consider myself open minded enough to not laugh (not always anyway) but I have always been fascinated by the various things out there that people have not explain  or for whatever reason have decided to attach some kind of bizarre explanation to something simple. So I will from time to time post something about a theory that piques my particular interest. Don’t judge me, but do share opinions!

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Shellcase shorts 8 Winner

Reblogged from The Shellcase…

Shell Case Shorts 8 – Winner

Posted by Phil

 

August’s Shell Case Shorts was all about sci-fi as the prize was nothing less than a signed copy of Dropzone Commander from Hawk Wargames.

There was some great entries but the winning entry had to go to Erin Freeman (@SixEleven) for not only setting his story in the Dropzone universe but for telling the story from the point of view from a dropship pilot, something which is at heart of Dropzone Commander.

So, without further a-do I give you…

Seventeen Minutes – by Erin Freeman

Seventeen minutes. Seventeen minutes was the amount of time between take off and being knocked out of the sky. Seventeen minutes and my world would be turned upside down.

It was supposed to be a fairly routine mission, do it by the numbers and go home. We’d done a hundred like ‘em and there was nothing to make us think this time would be any different. What’s that saying about pride and a fall?

***

The roar of our twin vindicator cannons reverberated around the cockpit of the gunship, rattling the consoles in their frames and shaking the fillings loose in my head. Another target suppressed. It it rarely matters in war whether you hit the target or not, just whether or not they’re able to fire back. My gunner takes his finger off the firing stud as the temperature gauge starts to turn red and the lack of noise is striking. It doesn’t last for long as movement ahead provokes another withering hail of fire. Something vanishes into a push of red.

The special ops team we were escorting and providing close air support for had been on the ground for four minutes. In that time they had moved into the nearby building and were clearing it room by room. I could hear their comm chatter and bursts of weapons fire. It was messy in there. Above them, my tub and the dropship the special forces had ridden in on were doing their damnedest to keep out of reach of the anti-air fire coming their way from floors our boys had yet to clear. But for all their determination each pot shot only brought more torrents of fire from our guns on to their heads. 

A red light winked on the main console accompanied by a dirty squawk. I tapped at the light, irritated, the missile lock detection system had been playing up for days but none of the mechanics had been able to fix it. A swift thump to the console and the light went out and the squawking along with it. A burst of comm traffic from headquarters warned us of light PHR walkers in the area. I couldn’t help but smile. It was me that had reported them in the first place. Everything we’d seen on the West side of the river had been light walkers and infantry. Nothing we couldn’t handle.

Not that it mattered either way. The mission had been designated Priority-one which meant come hell, high water or immanent crushing defeat, we had to complete our mission. UCM Intelligence had indicated the structure the spec-ops team was in was a hub for a network of underground tunnels that connected to buildings two kilometres behind our lines. They’d been making monkeys out of us, and mince meat out of our men, for weeks and the brass had just about had enough.

The plan was drawn up with the usual flare that the UCM was renowned for. Turn up. Shoot our way in. Complete the mission. Shoot our way out. On top of that we only had a vague idea of which building possessed the tunnel network. It was only the volume of light weapons fire we took coming in that validated our suspicions. 

The comm burst to life in my headset again although it was chopped to hell with static. A lucky shot had hit the communications relay and was now threading everything with static. I recognise the merest sound bite long enough to recognise the voice of my wingman, Janus. I looked over to him waving to get his attention before tapping my head set and then drawing a line across my throat so he knew my comms were down. He nodded his understanding and signed that light walkers had been spotted moving on our position. I signalled my understanding and passed the information to my gunner who was already spinning up his guns.

***

Ten minutes into the mission and the barrels of the vindicators were glowing red as their ammunition ripped apart PHR infantry caught in the open and sawed through the legs of a light walker attempting to protect them. The entire area was choked with smoking wreckage and the burst bodies of the dead. The mission was going well, almost too well. Apart from having to continually adjust the dropship’s position to target the oncoming PHR infantry, the mission was shaping up to be as much fun as escorting a senior officer around a recently secured city sector.

What’s that saying about being careful what you wish for? 

I was torn from my musings by the threat detection console going crazy. System jammers sent the electronic countermeasures haywire and the missile lock warning shrieked like a frightened child. As I struggled to re-engage counter measures the world was suddenly replaced by a searing white light and the sound of shredding metal, explosions and screaming.

For what seemed like an age all I could see was white light as my brain tried to decipher just what had happened to it. As my vision gradually returned to normal everything felt simultaneously normal yet out-of-place. All I could hear was the chatter over the Comm informing me of the bloody obvious, that PHR heavy walkers were active in my sector. There was no howl of engines. No wind noise. And a strange sense of weightlessness. I had just enough time to realise that we were going down before the ground rushed up to meet me and everything went suddenly black.

***

I came to only moments after blacking out. My cockpit was a charred mess and the stink of burning plastics hung in the air, mixing with the taste of blood in my mouth. I numbly fumbled for the canopy release and with a systematic bang of exploding bolts it blew clear. I was immediately bombarded by the battle unfolding on the streets. The crack of small arms fire, punctuated by the crump of grenades all with the undertones of flyers streaking overhead and the familiar whine of vindicator Gatling guns opening up.

Bullets ricochet off the hull of the downed gunship with a comical spanking sound focussing my concussed mind.  Glancing behind me I could see that neither my co-pilot or gunner had to worry about being focussed ever again. How I’d survived a nose first impact with the ground has remained a mystery to me but I was eternally grateful none the less.

Above me Janus’ gunship was still airborne, furiously jinking and bouncing his aircraft in an effort to avoid the worst of the anti-air fire. The hull was scorched and dented from a few lucky escapes where explosives had glanced off or failed to detonate. A smoky contrail and a desperate near miss gave Janus a target of opportunity. I watched from my cockpit as he expertly wheeled on the spot and targeted a crumbling residential building two blocks down.

The familiar, comforting, sound of the vindicators rippled into life and the facade of the building exploded into an expanding cloud of dust and debris before the entire side of the building, already undermined from centuries of neglect broke away altogether and toppled into the street bringing with it broken bodies in opalescent armour.

I remember punching the air like some wet behind the ears, green back, rookie. The PHR deserved everything they got for standing in our way when by rights they should have been fighting alongside us. My elation was short-lived, however, when another rocket burst from the shadowy depth of a nearby tenement and crashed into the back of Janus’ gunship. Flames and smoke belched from the number two engine and the deep throaty engines became plaintive and stuttering.

For a moment I could see Janus struggling with the control stick, desperately trying to keep his bird aloft. He’d lingered too long, stayed on station to try to provide cover for what was turning into a cluster fuck. The gunship lurched upwards, looping drunkenly  down a narrow street. I lost sight of him but the explosion and resulting fireball reaching skywards moments later told me all I needed to know of the fate of my friend and his crew.

With nothing left for me to do but survived I yanked my rifle free from its magclamps on the cockpit floor and made a run for it. I already knew the PHR had me zeroed in as the odd opportunistic shot had come my way. I ducked, I wove and put as much covered as I could between me and where I suspected the sharp shooters were hiding. I felt a round tug at my tunic but ignored it. Stopping meant dead.

I slid to a stop behind a pile of concrete just as a PHR heavy walker lumbered into view. I recalled the garbled comms transmission. Heavy walkers active in your area. No fucking shit. In the area they looked like plucked chickens. On the ground they looked like big scary chickens with massive guns. It’s torso swiveled, weapons tracking skywards as it sought out fresh targets. 

They say in combat time slows down and reactions faster and senses heightened. I don’t know if that’s true or but because when something big comes up against something equally big hell breaks loose to the extent your mind wants to find the darkest corner possible and hide. When the shooting started my instincts took over. I’m not sure how I managed to scramble beneath the debris, let alone curl up into a fetal position, clutching my head as the ground reverberated with the concussive forces being unleashed around me. By the time silence has returned to this corner of the city two more aircraft were smoking wrecks on the ground and the third had bugged out, smoke pouring from its engines.

I risked a glance over the debris and felt the colour drain from my face as barely 10 feet away stood the walker, weapon systems smoking and the sensor dish mounted to its body clicking and whirring. I had no doubt in my mind it was looking for survivors, something else to shoot at. After a few long minutes it loosed a volley of shots into my downed craft almost, it seemed, out of principle and stalked off with what I can only describe as a sense of disappointment.

***

I stayed put for a few minutes to make sure the walker had genuinely moved on before I broke cover. I had to link with the special forces unit and somehow get the hell out of this God forsaken city. With no chance of rescue, at least not from the air, I had to move. The first rule of being downed behind enemy lines was evade capture and, frankly, I was too pretty for prison. My options were clear; either try to hot foot it back to base or link up with the spec-ops and exfill with them. As base was the other side of a war zone it was really no option at all. The second rule of survival training was await for rescue. In the absence of rescue I decided I’d settle for the next best thing; somewhere to hide.

I peered over the balcony rail of an Easterly facing apartment on the 5th floor of an old tenement. In its heyday it would have been quite luxurious but the centuries, and the Scourge, had been cruel. Overlooking the crash site I was in the building diagonally opposite that of the spec-ops team who were plying their trade in. I could only cross my fingers that they were having a better time than I was. 

I stood watch at that balcony for what felt like hours when in reality on minutes were ticking by. The scene below me was oddly calm, the nature left to run-amok oblivious is to the sudden violence unleashed moment before. The scene was ruined seconds later by the walker once more striding into view. It’s body swiveled, as it began to scan the ruins and buildings in the area once more, seeking easy prey or any survivors it might have missed. Hot on its heels a couple of units PHR infantry, clearly emboldened by the presence of such awe-inspiring weapon of war, trotted into view. I immediately dropped down behind the balcony, gripping my rifle tightly. I’m not ashamed to admit that I felt fear or, for that briefest of moments, gave into the real chance that I might not make out in one piece.

I risked a glance over the balcony, with great timing as ever, as I’m just in time to see the target building implode. Spec-ops had continued with their mission, despite the chaos unfolding outside. As the PHR forces scattered I realised that the spec-ops were already out and moving to envelope the PHR infantry. Caught unprepared and in the open the PHR infantry were torn to pieces. The walker, quicker to recover turned and began stalking towards the UCM infantry, its weapons spooling up. I wanted to shout a warning but at this distance it wouldn’t be heard.

My eyes scanned the sky in vain for some sign that reinforcements were on the way to save the out-gunned elite soldiers. And once again my timing was uncanny as no sooner had the thought entered my head but a second squad of special ops broke cover from the building opposite my own. It turned out they were keeping tabs on the battle all along and had been waiting for the opportune moment to strike. The walker had its back to the men as it stalked towards the first squad. To my surprise they ran for the building I had taken refuge in. My angry objections died in my throat as the entire bottom three floors of the building they had just vacated disappeared in an expanding cloud of fire, debris and shattered glass.

The PHR walker immediately span on the spot, forgetting all about the spec-ops team it was hunting. It gave the soldiers the opening they needed. Aiming for the weaker knee joints of the walker both teams unleashed their anti-armour rockets, blasting apart the poorly armoured joints, smashing the legs apart and pitching the walker into the ground with a fatal and final thud.

Time seems to slow down as I watch, such a fearsome machine of war put out of action by the simple act of surprise and a few well placed high velocity armour-piercing rounds. The earth shakes as it crashes down into the ground, smoke trailing from a variety of wounds. I can’t say the sight of it doesn’t fill me with a mixture of emotions, the first of those is vengeance for the downing of my fellow pilots, pride in the ability and quick thinking of our troops comes a close second.

From my vantage point it looked like a slaughtered bird, letting out various groaning sounds that I could only assume were its systems and power plant failing before the walker’s shattered body gave up and went limp, fluids and gases venting from its cracked armour like blood.

The loss of the walker took the fight out of the PHR troops who turned tail and ran for it…towards the building I was hiding in. Broken or not they spotted me soon enough and a hail of gunfire was spattering all around my vantage point within moments. Abandoning my vantage point I ran back into the building, looking for the nearest stair case to move higher into the structure. I dive into the stair well, my heart pounding. Below me I can hear yelling and then a flurry of gunfire. The blood rushed in my ears as I gripped my rifle tight, risking a glance over the railings to determine how much time I had.

I could feel the icy effects of panic creeping over me, threatening to drain my energy and slow me down. Evade capture, evade capture, evade captures. I repeated the mantra over and over giving me drive to move my aching muscles once more. I hit the stairs just as an explosion below shakes the building and I get knocked from my feet. I didn’t wait to find out what happened I just ran.

***

Bursting through the door to the seventh floor I darted into the nearest room and behind the first piece of cover I can find. Rifle resting on what I suspect was once a sofa, before nature claimed it, I had a perfect view of the staircase so I could cut down anyone that came after me. I clicked the selector switch from semi-automatic to full automatic as the sounds of gunfire gradually moved up the stairs. 

As the last of the gunshots rang out I screwed my eyes shut and waited for the inevitable. Who was I trying to kid? I was a pilot not a soldier and I didn’t stand a chance against a single PHR ground pounder let alone a squad of them. The sense of panic returned and I didn’t have the strength to fight it off. As the door slammed open I dropped down and cowered behind my makeshift barricade.

I remember the slightest tremor of heavy footsteps entering the room. It seems like an odd thing to notice now, but, back then, the headset I’d been wearing the entire time was hissing static. The shot that had caught my tunic had severed the wire from my headset to comms pack and I hadn’t even noticed. It’s funny what your mind focusses on the moment before you die. But instead of feeling the cool metal of a gun barrel against my head I feel a strong hand grip my shoulder and pull me bodily upwards. 

“Hey, get ready to move out.” The gruff voiced beyond my tightly shut eyes commanded me. My heart soared; it was a voice I recognised, or at least a dialect I recognised. Peering through flinching eyelids I was met by the glassy stare of a gruff spec-ops squad leader. He was covered head to toe in shit and gravy and looked every bit the grizzled elite soldier he truly was. I know full well I grinned at him like an idiot. At first his distaste is evident but it eventually gave way to a barely perceptible smile and points out of the window to the west. I stand up and look out. Shielding my eyes against the sun I could just make out a huddle of APCs churning up dust as they raced to reach us.

I slid to the floor and let out a sigh. I glanced at my chrono and smirked. Mission complete T plus 31 minutes.

 

Dropzone Commander, Initial thoughts…

So I have had the Dropzone Commander book for a while now and have managed to read through it for a cursory idea of whats happening. What follows is a short review of the book itself and my thoughts on the rules and fluff contained within…

The Book…

The book itself is full colour from front to back and this is a nice touch. Though by no means necessary, it does mean that you really feel that you got your monies worth just for the quality of it. All the non-diagram artwork has used actual models placed in to battle scenes with a little image editing here and there which I really like as it helps you to place your models into the battlefield situations you place them on the tabletop in to a more dramatic image of the carnage in your head. The font is a good size and easy to read, which is not always the case with these books, there is nothing cluttering up the page like some rulebooks (I’m looking at you Mordheim!) so your focus is not automatically drawn away from the words you are reading and trying to understand so you can “spot the fish”…

There it is! No wait... Over there!

The Rules…

The rules themselves are very clear to understand and there is no immediate area for concern regarding ambiguity so far as I can see. The only thing I have struggled with is the stats. This will most likely be because I am used to GW and Warmachine/Hordes type stat lines. It will take a little getting used to as the vast majority of the Dropzone Commander stats are completely new. In fact it can look a little busy on the stat lines and this is where most of my confusion lies at present. No doubt I will adjust but it would have been good to try and keep to what people know already with some extras, just to make it easier to get into the game. This is a very minor niggle at most so I won’t go on about it.

The Fluff…

The fluff is detailed enough that you can relate to the various factions motivations (except those of The Scourge perhaps) but leaves enough information out that you want to read more as soon as you can. The fluff is mostly based in the UCM point of view. To give a brief overview of it for each faction…

United Colonies of Mankind (UCM), formerly just humans, have been kicked out of Earth and the initial main colonies, that were well established, by The Scourge. It was sudden and brutal and, apparently, simultaneous across all the main Human worlds. The fringe worlds now form up the UCM. They have been isolated as much as possible from a kind of Warp transit system that requires a known co-ordinated exit point, this has prevented The Scourge from finding them as they build up to retaliate.

The Scourge seek to assimilate worlds to use the occupants as hosts. That seems to be it so far as motivation goes. A lot of the infrastructure of the occupied worlds remains intact and they seem to be using it. All their dropships appear to be one way insertion vessels meaning there was never any intention to leave the planets again, once they were cleared of non-useful humans. Something yet to be acheived as there are small pockets of resistance even after hundreds of years.

The Shaltari Tribes motivations vary from tribe to tribe. They are a warlike people split into many tribes. Initial contact with the UCM turned out to be one tribes efforts to secure large numbers of troops to use against another tribe. It didn’t work, unsurprisingly and has lead to tensions with the “friendly” tribes. The unfriendly ones are close to all out war with humanity already anyway. This tribal system seems to be one that has come about through mutual agreement as a way to prevent the species from stagnating, which is a fascinating concept and really causes me to like the Shaltari, not sure why that is though.

The Post-Human Republic is a human faction (Duh!)  that broke away from the origional colonies after a mysterious sphere came from outer space and warned of impending doom. People, who became known as Abandonists, gathered at the place the sphere advised at the appointed time with ships to await the next instructions. They were confronted by the military of the time, Some of the Abandonist ships fired first and drew the away the military whilst the remaining abandonist ships received co-ordinates and dissappeared off. These break away people were then guided by the sphere (mysteriously liberated from a research facility) and created the Post-Human Republic. Their motives are largely unknown and reconciliation has been made impossible by the UCM, who view them as cowards for fleeing like they did. So the cybernetically enhanced Abandonists are their own advanced human faction.

The main fluff of the story relates to the beginning of the UCMs attempt to liberate Earth and the other occupied worlds from The Scourge. Quite how well this will go is yet to be seen. Personally I have found the fluff engaging both on a faction by faction basis as well as the main storyline itself. It has great promise going forward. The plan is for the fluff to progress ala Warmachine/Hordes, with new books advancing the story for all factions.

The Rest…

All that remains is the pictures! As stated earlier most of the art features the actual models with some pictorial manipulation to get some good action shots. Each faction area is finished with alternate paint jobs for various models. I have yet to find a colour scheme that is not awesome. The only models in the whole range I dislike (and thats a strong word in this case) are the Scourge Dropships and the UCM Heavy Dropship. Everything else in the range is fantastic.

In summary then, The book is excellent value for money, being full colour and well presented. The rules are clear and concise additionally my book came with an errata slipped in for tiny editorial type mistakes and there are more on the Dropzone Commander website as well, which makes me feel that they are keeping on top of things from the word go. There are no “Rule” erratas just little glitches that slipped through the cracks. As far as playing goes, I have to save up to buy a couple of starter forces and then I will be able to play some games and review the game itself properly. I will also review the models at this time. In the mean time the book is a good place to start and well worth the purchase even if you do not buy fully into the game, my congratulations go to Dave and the whole Hawk Wargames team.

Ooo pretty!

Comrades! Below is the cover art for the approaching Dropzone Commander by Hawk Wargames. It looks awesome and will only increase the excitement that’s spreading through the wargaming community for this game….

20120719-120622.jpg

Look out over on the Shellcase for more stuff as well. Heck maybe il have something to show you first, then I won’t have to copy past this kind of awesome!

Dropzone Commander first look reviews…

 

The guys from 6 Inch Move, The Shell Case and myself were invited by the wonderful Dave Lewis, of Hawk Wargames fame, to his personal bunker on the 23rd June to try the game out for ourselves and maybe even have a little input into it, as they are still in the closing stages of playtesting the rules. (Worry ye not those that think there is not enough time for the book to be ready for the release date, there is a deal with the printers for a rapid print run.)

Unfortunately due to a family emergency I was not able to attend. To say this was gutting would be understating it massively. However My good friend Phil of The Shell Case with one of “The Chaps”, his gaming group, and 2 people from 6 inch move went along and spent a whole day trying the game as it presently stands and gave a little feedback and made some suggestions to boot. They have both respectively posted on their blogs regarding this so I encourage you to check out both. It is interesting that they both use the same game to compare Dropzone Commander to, having never previously met and not really communicated in a big way since going. Needless to say that they are good reads and should have you salivating for the release of the game!

 

6 Inch Move Post is here.

First post from The Shellcase is here.

With a follow up post here!

 

6 Inch move have also featured all the pre-order army deals for Dropzone Commander on their blog so why not check those out as well to see the goodies for yourselves!

Dropzone Commander Delayed

Comrades, sad news. Hawk Wargames have announced that due to various circumstances they have had to delay the website launch and subsequently game release day, by 1 week. A press release was sent to me and I have included it here with permission of Hawk Wargames to help get word out…

 

Hi everyone!

I know this is something no one wants to hear, but we need to delay the launch of the full Hawk Wargames site by 7 days. This is due to a number of reasons (not all bad though!):

 

– Final assembly of the site is taking a little longer than expected, since we’re working on extra content.

– We’ve been making several improvements to our line after user feedback, as well as adding extra army deals (There will be three for each race).

– Simply keeping up with the overwhelming response from Salute has taken a while, but this is no bad thing!

 

We’re working our hearts out to ensure that the site does not disappoint. Hopefully you’ll agree that taking the time to get it right was worth the wait when you see it!

 

The site will now open for Dropzone Commander pre-orders on June 8th, to ship July 23rd (since this delay has a knock-on effect to our schedule). In the meantime, the daily previews will keep coming!

Thanks for your patience and apologies for the short delay,

 

– Dave Lewis

 

I urge all comrades to be supportive of Dave and his crew. They have been going flat out to get this game out to you. Lets face it, one more week, to help ensure all is as good as it can be is no hardship at all. In the mean time, here are a couple more previews of light dropships…

 

 

Hawk Wargames previews…

For your delectation and pleasure I present all the Hawk Wargames previews thus far shown on Twitter. I will post more as I get a few together but to see them as they are posted (They are trying to do one every day!) follow @HawkWargames on Twitter! (…and me while you are at it! @jamesmewilson)

pic.twitter.com/9a3whB8o

pic.twitter.com/QcKfemuH

Little bonus shot above of how the ground units can physically fit in the dropships!

Mmm. Delicious.

Dropships Inbound! An interview with Hawk Wargames…

Greetings folks! today I have a little something special, especially if you went to Salute. I have managed to convince Dave from Hawk Wagames to take the time from his manic schedule to answer some questions for me about his new company and upcoming wargame Dropship Commander! His salute stand caused a heck of a stir being the most consistently busy stand! Even Forgeworld died down eventually, once they’d sold out anyway. So without any further prattling…

 

"Dropships inbound!"

 

1. You caused quite a stir at Salute! For those that could not make it please tell all the folks a bit about yourself and your company.
Dave: Hawk Wargames is a brand new company, with the simple aim of producing the finest quality miniatures and games. I’ve pretty much dedicated the last two and a half years of my life to the pursuit of this goal (I’ve seen rather too many 2am’s for anyone’s taste so far!) My ethos is to always work a little beyond the limits of my ability, and to never cut corners. As such I’ve always tried to go the extra mile and to choose the best processes at every stage.
My first taste of miniatures design was as the main sculptor/ designer at Spartan Games in its early years. I designed all the original ships, and most of the new releases up until the Shroud Mages and the Elves (my last two fleets). My time at university also gave me hands on experience at the forefront of rapid manufacturing technology, knowledge I built upon with this project.
Dropzone Commander started with a desire to develop something I could entirely call my own. At the time I decided to take the plunge, I’d just left university and had a lot of options. Figuring that this was likely to be the only chance I’d get to do something like this, I grabbed the opportunity!

 

2. So far as anyone can tell, you came out of nowhere! The Dropzone Commander stand being one of the consistantly difficult to reach. Were you surprised by the reaction?
Dave: It was a truly intense day at Salute, and one I’ll never forget! After years of working in virtual isolation it was thrilling (if a little overwhelming!) to finally see peoples’ reactions to what I’d created. I’m not sure what I’d expected to be honest, but the level of interest and passion totally blew me away! I went through the whole day on pure adrenaline I think. My team worked their hearts out too, without them I’d have been completely swamped!

 

Unbelieveable detail, astoundingly clean.

 

3. Tell us about the concept behind Dropzone Commander, the way the game is likely to play, rules, dice used etc.
Dave: Dropzone Commander is an alternate activation based 10mm scale sci-fi game designed for large battles (although it can easily be scaled from titanic clashes to small skirmishes). It primarily uses D6’s, although a few cards will also be involved to inject additional flavour.
The whole project has been built around the central theme/ concept of air mobile forces. Often, speed, rapid reaction and flexibility will bring you victory. While you can play a simple ‘fight to the death’, the game will work best with scenario based gameplay. Tactical operations in modern warfare is rarely a simple battle of attrition.
An example I like to use is a Blackhawk Down/ Battle of Mogadishu situation. Perhaps you need to capture VIP’s from multiple locations, and extract them safely from the combat zone – you might not even have a friendly table edge!
The rules have been written, but are still in the playtesting phase, so this might change a bit. However, we are always working with this goal/ flavour in mind.

 

The Scourge... So many Eyes!

 

4. Why scale it at 10mm?
Dave: A lot people have been asking this, and it’s nice to get the chance to answer this question. There’s a whole set of reasons:
A) The project started with the concept of air mobility. I wanted to give gamers something fresh (very hard to do in the world of Sci-fi, which can be quite ubiquitous). As such, the entire game as well as its models were designed around this central tenet. That way the whole thing could stay pure to its ideal.
In 6mm, the miniatures would have frequently been too small and fiddly to achieve the designs I had in mind for such a game. 15mm scale would certainly have given me that freedom, but would have made the game too unwieldy to play. 15mm scale works fantastically for WWII games, where the largest unit you’re likely to field is a King Tiger Tank, and games tend to revolve around infantry actions, supported by armour. However, DzC is far more focused on vehicles, many of which are very large (e.g. heavy dropships able to deliver nine main battle tanks to the fray!) These would have been very big in 15mm, making the fielding of groups of them unrealistic both in terms of cost to the player and space required. I wanted a 4×4 table to be fine for a normal sized game. Also, buildings (capturing, garrisoning etc.) are central to the way the game plays. These would have been too large to be practical for most gamers (above small houses anyway).
B) I always intended to be as accurate as possible in scale, with as little abstractions as possible. 6mm would have required over-thick gun barrels etc, detracting from the realism. Also, I feel that 6mm infantry usually possess very little character. 10mm I think is the minimum scale to inject some real personality into infantry models (at least of the kind ordinary mortals can see!)
C) Heroic (ish) 28mm scale has proven so popular over the years, because I believe that’s about the ideal size for a miniature (at least for a ‘standard’ sized unit). In 10mm scale, my tanks are around 30-35mm in their largest dimension, closely matching the size of model people seem most happy with. Since you will be fielding mostly units around this size, it makes it familiar and friendly in terms of handling.
D) As Dropzone Commander will be a complete game, with a full range, rules and design ethos, I hope people will buy into this wonderful scale, previously largely overlooked by the mainstream. In terms of scenery availability, we intend to provide a full range. This includes the highly detailed resin modular stuff shown at Salute, but we also have plans for a modern style ‘flatpack’ city, which will be inexpensive. This will allow players to play with a highly portable city, reducing the investment needed to play in urban environments to a small amount. Also (although no one seems to have picked up on this yet), at 1:188 scale 10mm is very close to model railway N scale (1:200), where plenty of affordable scenery is readily available. Of course, 6-15mm natural scenery can easily be used for 10mm games. Sorry for the long justification – it’s just nice to get this out there to end the speculation! (My pleasure! – James)

 

Seriously, these things are all incredible in the flesh


5. For the fluff junkies out there, tell a little about factions and story line etc.
Dave: There’s plenty of background in the book, since I believe gamers should know when/ where they’re fighting, why they’re fighting and what they’re fighting with. Dropzone Commander will introduce a rich game universe from the outset, giving people plenty of scope for developing scenarios, campaigns and narratives.
In essence, the game is about hope and vengeance (not the usual dark drudgery!) Mankind has previously suffered a horrendous defeat at the hands of the Scourge. The greatest planets in mankind’s former hegemony (including Earth itself) are all in enemy hands. Humanity has had to build a new culture from the ashes, based around the previously unglamorous and marginalised frontier colonies – the United Colonies of Mankind.
The opening of Dropzone Commander sees a resurgent mankind launching an epic invasion to wrest its lost heartlands from the hands of the Scourge, one planet at a time. This gives scope for battles both on the colonies and on Scourge occupied worlds.
The other two races play a crucial (albeit a supporting) role in the overall tale. The Shaltari are a highly advanced alien race, based in tribes. These tribes are often capricious, frequently violent and often unpredictable. Their motives and attitudes can be wildly different, and always challenging for humans to comprehend. As such, their role can vary hugely – giving the player plenty of scope.
The Post-Human Republic (PHR) are the once human descendants of those who fled the central planets before the Scourge invasion. They have developed entirely separately form the rest of humanity, and have recently emerged from isolation a changed species. They are greatly enhanced cybernetically, and no longer think of themselves as human. They have achieved this advancement (as well as their timely escape in the past) with the aid of mysterious council…
As expansions are released the timeline will actually progress, giving players new insights into the story, as well as an ever increasing range of battles to fight.

 

"We also Scourge from the floor"

 

6. Tell us about the miniatures. These were the cleanest sculpts I have ever seen, how was this achieved?
Dave: The majority of the models were computer developed, and rapid prototyped into masters using the most advanced high detail processes currently available. I worked to the very limits of detail this technology could provide, giving discernible features as small as 0.1mm in size, as well as smooth curved surfaces, completely devoid of stepping. This was quite an investment (both in time and money!), but I believe the results speak for themselves.
I hand sculpted the infantry, since I believe that traditionally sculpted biologicals always feel more ‘alive’ somehow than digitally produced ones. I certainly don’t believe that sculpting is dead, it’s just a case of horses for courses!
The commitment to quality extended to preparation of the thousands of sub-master parts, all of which I meticulously prepared myself. It was by far the most gruelling and least enjoyable aspect of the project (imagine months of nothing but cleaning up metal parts – talk about RSI!) However, this way I could be sure that the detail and quality was maintained.
Almost all the models you saw at Salute were actual production models. We’re using state of the art casting techniques to deliver this level of quality at a large and affordable scale.
Every single ground unit (except those of the Shaltari, who use portals) is physically dropship mobile. This means they will physically fit into their parent transports. While this isn’t required in game terms, the fact that it’s possible heightens the realism and gives plenty of scope for all sorts of hobby projects.

 

My favourite ones to look at

 

7. What difficulties have you faced with designing your miniature range?

 

Dave: Aside from the myriad and solvable technical issues, the major difficulty I found was working in isolation. It’s hard to push yourself every single day with no one around to raise your morale and share the pain. At uni we always carried each other through the hard times, with an ‘all in the same boat’ sort of camaraderie. Also, it’s hard to tell what people will think of the models when you’re trying to keep it quiet, so it’s hard to keep doubt from your mind. That’s why it’s so refreshing to finally be able to talk to people openly!

 

8. What can we expect to see in the coming months leading to the release date?
Dave: I’ll be trying my best to release a promo image on twitter (@hawkwargames) (Followed!-James) and facebook (Don’t like facebook-James) every day until June 1st, when the full website (www.hawkwargames.com) (Bookmarked!-James) goes fully live. At that point we’ll be announcing the prices and you’ll be able to pre-order, for shipping on July 16th. The only thing at Salute that won’t be released at that point will be the buildings, since we’re focusing on the models for now (there’s only so much a body can do at once!) They will certainly be coming well before the end of the year though.

 

The tiny joints!

 

9. There were a large number of attractive young ladies at your Salute stand, speaking as a Geek thats just about snagged one woman and married her to keep her around, how?
Dave: Lol! Well I frequently wonder why Bex (my ever supportive girlfriend) has stuck with me though all this – I honestly couldn’t say! She was wonderful at Salute. My friends and family were also there to help throughout the day, and I thank them all for their hard work and patience! Without their tireless support I could never have had a hope of producing this game.

 

10. Are there any other games in future of Hawk Wargames?
Dave: Oh yes, plenty. I have plans to extend the Sci-fi universe I’m weaving around Dropzone Commander to other games, as well as branching out into previously untouched territory. I won’t say any more for now, but if this project goes well I have at least a decade’s worth of plans in the making! Expect to see many expansions and new releases for DzC as well.

 

These can physically attach to the dropship, 6 of them!

 

And there you have it! from the horses mouth to my pixels. My pixels to your eyes. What is seen cannot be unseen. Please follow Dave (@HawkWargames) on Twitter to get up to date pictures for all your eye candy based needs and to support him on this new endevour! and keep an eye for the website to go live!

My eternal thanks go to Dave for taking the time out to answer my nonsense, and to his entire team for their efforts at Salute and the production of this game!

 

Cheerio for now!