Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Advanced List Building: Drop Tactics

All hands brace for landing! We have flak so hold on!

One thing I have seen from a few prominent people out there are questions regarding the my rule of thumb on Troopships and Strike Carriers. Well I will go into that for you here. . . Be warned, we may get into the weeds on this. I will have a few images from the book as well so Spoiler alert. . . wait. . .that is why most of you come here. . disregard ^_~

Check those locking clamps, we are going to go down hard and fast and give those uglies something to remember!

Now before anyone decries me for the above header, ask yourself. How ugly are we hummies to the Scourge or Shaltari? Oh well, lets move on! 

For those of you who have not seen my rule of thumb it is pretty simple. When you take a Troopship, I recommend 1 for every 750 points if you are the Scourge and UCM. For the PHR and Shaltari it is 1 for every 500 points. The PHR have the best troopships in the game in my opinion with the flexibility of the Ganymede, and the versatility of the Orpheus while the Shaltari have a requirement of needing an Emerald Class Mothership to even get troops onto the ground. 

For Strike Carriers, I recommend 3-5 for all levels of play. This will change once Corvettes are out. 

The Why:

So lets break out the reason for this highly opinionated rule of thumb shall we. When you look at the game, it is all about gaining points. You "win" the game however by owning the most sectors in a cluster (well the highest 'value' overall in a cluster). This means that getting troops onto the ground is vital! 

There are some things though to know about Troopships vs Strike Carriers and what they bring to the table. 

The Assets:

So there are three types of Ground Assets. Hopefully we will see more in the future for some crazy fun times but for now there are just the three. They all have a Ground Combat Save and a Bombardment save as well as a number of attacks.

Infantry: 5+/3+ 1

Tank: 3+/5+ 3

Defense Battery: 3+/3+ 0

From the above we can see that a single Infantry token gets a 5+ save when it takes damage from a Ground Asset but it gets a 3+ save from bombardments, it also gets a single die when rolling for Ground Combat. 

Token Sheet from the 2 Player Starter Box

A Tank on the other hand is reversed, it gets a 3+ save in Ground Combat but a 5+ against those pesky bombardment cannons! It gets three dice though to the Infantries one die 

Defense Batteries are special. They get 3+ against everything but if they are the only token where an enemy is, they get destroyed, so you better protect those batteries! Defense Batteries cannot move either, so where you drop it can be important. 

Now in Ground Combat, you roll a number of dice equal to your attack value and for every 4+ you can deal a damage to the enemy token of your choice. So if you have two Infantry and a Tank you will get five dice to roll. 

What drops what?

Now lets get into what ships drops what. To begin there are two different types of dropped "units". They are the Dropship/Gate which is dropped by the Strike Carrier/Mothership through a Voidgate, and the bulk lander which is dropped by a Troopship. Since there is not delay between dropping and landing ground assets you just need the Ground Asset tokens, so you will not have to worry about tokens for bulk landers and dropships. You will need to know what the ranges are though for each type. 

Dropship's have to be within 3" of the sector you want to drop it at. Bulk Lander's need to be within 6". Sectors are the circles inside of a Cluster. 

Cluster Tokens from the 2 Player Starter Box

Now Dropship's can either drop one Infantry or one Tank token. Since they are the faster and cheaper ship you can get several of these but we will go more into that in a bit. 

Bulk Lander's drop either three Infantry tokens or a single Defense Battery. Remember, once you have a Defense Battery in a cluster, you can shoot at any bulk landers and dropships that try to make a landing. 

The Troopship looks weak at this point right? You only get three Infantry tokens which is effectively the equivalent of a single Tank token right? Well, yes and no. First off, every Troopship can drop two bulk landers a turn so you could get up to six Infantry tokens a turn to a Strike Carrier's single Tank token. Not bad right? It gets better.

Critical Locations and Surveying Clusters:

In Dropfleet Commander there are things called Critical Locations. How they work is pretty simple. On Turn 4 and Turn 6 you measure 6" from the center dot on a Cluster that is a Critical Location and check for every ship that is in Low Orbit and count up their Tonnage Value. Well, Troopships have to be in Low Orbit anyways to use its bulk landers so it is a simple win-win right there. 

The second part is Surveying a Cluster. To survey a Cluster, you have to be on Standard Orders, in Low Orbit, and has to be part of a battlegroup with a total Tonnage of 5 or more. Sounds suspiciously like something a Troopship would want to do. 

To Survey a Cluster you have to roll a d6. Now each player can only survey each cluster once per game. To do this you have to be in position like I stated and you roll a d6. On a roll of 1-4 you get a Victory Point, on a roll of 5+ you gain a victory point and the cluster becomes a Critical Location. It can only becaome a Critical Location once. 

Taking these two things together means you want to have a couple of Troopships. Lets move on to what I think is one of the more important reasons to take a couple of Troopships.

The Missions

This is the reason you take multiple Troopships. The reason why you want a good host of Strike Carriers. Each mission will cause you to prioritize clusters as targets. Sometimes those targets will be stations, regardless of what they are, you will want to be able to split your forces to be able to drop units and capture targets. 

So why at least two Troopships and four Strike Carriers in a 1500 point game? Well look at the Take and Hold scenario. You have five clusters to get troops on. This means that you will want to claim at least three of them and even try for that fourth cluster. To do that, you need to have the forces to spread out and put pressure on each cluster. Sometimes you will need to send out a group of Strike Carriers to a single cluster so that you can flood it with Tank tokens, or you may need a Troopship to drop that Defense Battery. Since the game is won more often than naught by who holds the most clusters, it is important that you have the resources to throw out there.

Some things to know about clusters and the sectors in them. Each sector has a "Value", a city has a value of 1, where an industrial sector have a value of 2. Who ever has the most value at the end of the game wins that cluster and the Victory Points. So it is important to know what targets are the most important, 

Approach Types?

Approach Types are new. They were not in the Beta but I think they are ingenious! Now only do they change how each mission plays, you actually have to build with each one in mind. This will lead to people facing hard decisions when they build their battlegroups.

Click to expand
Each mission has a suggested approach type but you can easily mix and match. For instance, in my upcoming tournament D-Day over New Eden, I am running Scenario 1 Take and Hold with Column like it suggests but then I am running Scenario 3 Erupting Battlefront with the Approach Type of Distant when it suggests Rapid Response. You can change how a mission plays out this way and adjust how tournaments and game days run.

Lets take a look at Scenario 1 Take and Hold and the Column Approach Type. On Turn 1 you pick just two Battlegroups to come on this turn. This prevents players from just Active Scanning ships and destroying them as they can which is okay but tactically meh. This requires players to plan out how Turn 1 will resolve and what priorities will they place. Players may want to not place Troopships in a battlegroup with their Strike Carriers because it would mean that their Troopships might be out of support range. On top of that, you many not want too many Troopships due to losing firepower later in the game when you need to take out the enemies Troopships. 


In the end there are many things to consider when you build a list. Troopships and Strike Carriers are vital to every game however. From taking stations, to landing troops on the ground, you will always need both. You can take only Strike Carriers or only Troopships but you can lose out to those who don't specialize if you are not careful. It is all about movement and the amount of assets dropped in the end. 

Remember that the Enemy's Base is always down.

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  1. Great article. Thoroughly enjoying reading your posts!

  2. This is great. Thanks again for your contributions to this awesome game. I say this without actually playing yet. I broke down and got a 2 player box and phr starter. I just can't wait for my kickstarter anymore

    1. I broke down as well. Don't worry, you needed those ships anyways

    2. Heard that you can't make battlecruisers with the 2 player sprues. Any truth to this and if so does ucm really need battlecruisers?

    3. No you cant make Battlecruisers with the standard Cruiser Sprue. They have a specialized resin piece(s) that needs to be used in conjunction with the Cruiser Sprue.

    4. So even the starter armies can't. Have to wait for the cruiser sprue? Guess battlecruisers will be out of list builds for awhile then

    5. Yup. Battlecruisers, Battleships, and maybe most other ships will be Resin or have resin pieces.

  3. Thanks! Really learnt a lot from this.
    Subscribed! 😀👍

  4. Hey man thanks for all of your work. this was one of the remaining aspects of the game that I have been really curious about. By feeding us information on the game and Shipsheets it has scratched the DFC itch I've had since the summer.

    1. No problem! This has helped me scratch my own itch so it is a win-win all around. The game is excellent and deep enough to have new things occur every game so enjoy it!

  5. This was a good one. Well organized and articulated. Good job!

    1. Thank you. I had no plan set up, just popped on music and went with it.

  6. Do you think that a list with 0 troop ships/strike carriers could work? Fill the list with Orbital Bombardment, Corvettes and bruiser-cruisers (my term for the damage dealers)
    Then proceed to wipe out the opponents troops and win the critical locations.
    You will have 4 turns to remove the opponents troops-ships before the clusters score.

    I think it could work

    1. Hmmmmmm Possible. . . The issue is if you lose that bombardment and they get even one token onto the ground at the end of Turn 6 and you will possibly lose.

      I think the UCM can do it the best though. Double Tokyo Bombardment Battleships, Lines/Pathfinder with 1 Madrid or more. Hmmmmmmmmm Possible but it has to be a HIGHLY aggressive list. You will also have to use the Madrid's to Survey and own Critical Locations.

  7. What about shaltari? How many motherships/voidgates fot every 750 points?