Friday, October 21, 2016

Dropfleet Commander: Building your lists

How the heck do I do this!!!

List building can be confusing at the start of any new game, so in this article I will go over how to build lists and some things to consider when you do. This can be a daunting prospect when you look at it for the first time and can be a little confusing but I will break it all down today.

Firsts things first, What is list building like in Dropfleet?

List building in Dropfleet is a very unique process similar to Dropzone but far less restrictive. This results in being able to adjust how a list plays out just by changing a few units around. This leads to a very dynamic style of list building with a lot of variety and a lot of customization to any list.

The Chart:

Here is a look at the Fleet Organization page. I will explain exactly how it works.

So the first thing that draws the eye (well, mine at least) is the vibrant colors of the chart. This chart is important!

Building a Battlegroup:

I will use the Pathfinder Battlegroup for this part of the explanation;

The Pathfinder Battlegroup can have up to 3 groups of ships in it, these groups are determined by the Group value of a Ship. 

As we see with the Azurite it has a Group value of 2-3. This means that when you select this ship, you have to take at least 2 but no more than 3 per Group Slot in a battlegroup. The next thing is Tonnage. The Azurite is a Medium tonnage vessel so in a Pathfinder Battlegroup, you can only have 0-1 Medium ship Groups.

When we look at a Frigate which is a Light Tonnage vessel we can see that some have a minimum limit of 2 (not all) and some can get all the way up to 6! Well, in a Pathfinder group you can have up to 3 groups of ships. So you could in theory take 18 Djinn here in a single list. There are just some rules to follow. 

The first is when playing in a Skirmish (up to 999 points) a single battlegroup can not have more than 50% of your points. So, if you are playing a 750 point game, a single battlegroup can not have more than 375 points. In a Clash (1,000-1,999 points) and a Battle (2,000+) you can not have a Battlegroup with more than a third (33%) of your points value and that does not include your Admiral. So if you wanted 3 FULL groups of Djinn you would need to be playing at least a 2400 point game or so.

Now in a game you ignore the group value of a ship. If you have 10 Djinn in a single battlegroup they are now a group of ships and will need to stay in coherency with each other (3" for a Frigate and 6" for a Cruiser). If they attack the same target they pool their dice together so that D6+2 Close Action weapon just became 10d6+20 *shudders* and all that comes out to 430 points! So perfect in a 1500 point game. . . Joy. . . 

Putting the Battlegroups Together:

Once you have your desired battlegroup you will need to place it into the fleet. Now you will notice that depending on the size of game you are playing it will limit your choices on how many of each type of Battlegroup you can take. So in a Skirmish you can not take a Flagship Battlegroup and can only have a max of 4 battlegroups. 

So lets take our Djinn Pathfinder Battlegroup and place it into a Clash Battlegroup. We would have the minimum amount of Pathfinder Battlegroups at this point. We would still need at least 1 Line Battlegroup though to make the List "legal" and as much as 4 more battlegroups spread out as we want as long as we do not go over the maximum that a Clash allows of 2x Pathfinder, 3x Line, 2x Vanguard, and 1x Flagship Battlegroup.

Things to consider when building a Battlegroup:

Strategy Rating is equal to your Tonnage Value so use the above picture to get an idea of how that works. When you flip a Battlegroup Card you will compare the Strategy Rating of that group as it was at the start of the game (no, it does not change when a ship is destroyed just for the sake of less tracking required). The player with the lowest rating goes first and does his activation. 

This is important because you will want to predict how your opponent will activate. This will allow you to determine how to best counter and or force your opponent into a bad situation. You do not want ALL high cost battlegroups either because your opponent could take out key units if he is always going first.

The first thing to consider is what the goal of that battlegroup is. Is it a combat heavy battlegroup? Is it a light battlegroup that wants to manage launch spikes? What is your goal?

From there you want to determine how high of a Strategy Rating you want to sink into that type of group. A group that wants to be able to shed spikes through Standard Orders will want a lower Strategy Rating. A combat heavy group might not care about its Strategy Rating. You will have to test as a player to figure out what you will want in the end.

Launch Asset Limitations:

Due to some people in the beta, Launch Assets were given a Hard cap based on the size of the game. Thankfully this only applies to Torpedoes, Fighters, and Bombers. (I am one of those you can blame and not in the LEAST ashamed of it)

Fighters and Bombers are strong augmentations to any force and bombers can destroy or cripple anything with enough of them. Torpedoes also fall under this category but they are a single use weapon so plan on how you use them carefully.

What makes bombers so good? Well for one they have a max of 24"-30" of range, UCM and PHR have the prior and Scourge and Shaltari the latter. The do not need to see a target in scan range to make an attack and can be used against a variety of targets. This means they are flexible!

The Dragon has a Launch capacity of 5
Remember that units that Launch something during the Launch Asset Phase (what I will call it at least if it is not already in the book :P ) do gain a spike so plan how you will handle that as well.

Another thing to consider is that Launch Assets right before the end of the turn, right after the last battlegroup is finished activating. So if a carrier is destroyed, you do not get their Launch Assets. . . 

Ending Remarks:

Test EVERYTHING! Do not just take my word for things, test it out. Play with it in your area. This game has so many dynamic pieces to the puzzle that you could find something that likely missed! 

OH if you do, help a blogger out! Let me know what you think or what you find. 

All images are from the Dropfleet Core Rulebook and are owned by Hawk Wargames (C) 2016


  1. Hmm the last piece that needs to fit together (besides the remainder of the SpaceHogs), is the ins and outs of Torpedoes. I'm not sure what their "effective range" is and if there is effective countermeasures.

    I'm assuming they're like Bombers and have a defined range apart from Scan (else they'd be normal weapons)

    1. Torpedoes will be done ^_^

      Space hogs part 2 is tomorrow

    2. Torpedoes effectively always count as being thrust*2 which is basically their range.

    3. Compel has the right of it. Torpedoes have a thrust of 9" but they attack at the end of the target ship's next activation. Coincidentally, that is how bombers work when going past their first thrust range.

      So a Shaltari Bomber going 18" out attacks after the target ships next activation.

  2. It's looking good. The info I mean. I am still a little,confuse do with a few things but that is due to not yet reading the rules. Will you be covering ground assaults and space stations too? How about missions? Also it seems by what's been posted, PHR seem to be the harder faction to play.

    1. Hahaha, yea I did not want to cover those since I did not know much about them. I just got my rule book in a couple of hours ago so I was unable to provide too much in depth rules as I relied on the sources I had who owned a book (most in other countries).

      I will be doing those over the next few weeks.

  3. Everything discussed here is covered in the Rulebook, folks. Frankly, Damion, this is a bit confusing. I wouldn't just regurgitate the Rulebook, if I were you... Just my $0.02, tho...

    If you want to add value, then please discuss the answers to some of your questions. For example, what kinds of tasks/goals DO I want each Battlegroup to perform? Since there are mixes of Light, Medium and/or Heavy Tonnages allowed in the different BGs, what does a mix of one Medium and two Heavy Groups mean for a BG, for example? What are the kinds of goals they SHOULD have in order to meet most mission examples?

    You've done extensive playtesting -- convey what you've learned, applied to the updated rules, rather than just parroting what's in the book, albeit in a somewhat disjointed fashion...

    1. Sorry, meant to say one Medium and two Light Tonnage... But you get the point, right? What are the kinds of goals each BG should be looking to perform, in concert with the other BGs in the fleet?

    2. A little harsh I think on your part.

      The whole reason I made this post was because there have been questions and arguments over list building. The other things you suggest to expound on will be covered in another post. This is just basic information.

    3. One issue with your idea of each battlegroup is that it is . . . limiting.

      In a Pathfinder Battlegroup you could have upwards of 12-18 frigates and that could do the same function that 3 Light Cruisers, or several normal cruisers could do. They just behave differently.

      Limiting the mindset that each battlegroup is good at one thing means a limited tactical play book.

    4. I don't mean to be harsh, but I do mean to critique.

      You bring up having to decide what your BGS' goals should be, so I'm not sure why the pushback:

      "The first thing to consider is what the goal of that battlegroup is. Is it a combat heavy battlegroup? Is it a light battlegroup that wants to manage launch spikes? What is your goal?"

      That's from this post. So, what kinds of goals should each BG have, in order to form a well functioning Fleet. You were in the Navy, but I wasnt -- what are the kinds of goals a BG needs to set for itself? If you start with a group of models as your choice, you're not setting a goal first, you're just deciding "I want to field 12-18 of these, because I think it would be cool." But that's not a "goal of each BG"...

  4. Good article for those that are still awaiting their Kickstarters (rather impatiently I might add:). I played Battlefleet Gothic and Firestorm armada, I think I can figure out which ships I intend to build when I get my stuff! Many thanks!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. You can tell how impatient I am based on the amount of articles I write

  6. Am I better off designing a clash fleet as a whole or have a skirmish fleet and bolt on additional BG's? - Just asking from a "what mini's to buy/make next point of view.

    1. Better to build a 1,500 point list from the ground up. It often doesn't work to "bolt on" 501 points effectively to a 999 point Skirmish list.

      1,500 points is the "standard" sized game, so best to shoot for that in terms of what to build out of your next Starter Set box(es).

      Also, I'd be sure to include at least an AV3 admiral in your 1,500 points, so that you don't have to retool your list when command cards come out early next year. AV3 is only 40 points for every faction, but you can't just shave 40 off of a 1,500 point list you've spent a lot of time testing, building and painting...

    2. (Sometimes you can drop a frigate out of a group and squeeze an admiral in, but usually not -- better to plan for, and get used to building you lists with, an admiral now. Otherwise, a retrofit might not work out for the models you'll have then...)