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What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

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What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 1:50 am

Just thought I'd start a thread about what those of use who play space combat games were hoping to see in the upcoming "dropfleet" commander.

My personal list is a bit different from most I think. There are two main gaps in what I think space combat games are missing. The first is massive numbers of ships. Currently the fluff for DZC speaks about hundreds and thousands of ships in the UCMF. Most space combat games only deal with a few ships, not grand fleets. Understandably as you want to have nice models to paint and things should look good on the table, but still there may be a way to accommodate this into a game.

The second gap is 3D combat. In most space games 3D is conveniently forgotten or ignored because the models represent tiny ships in huge space. This drives me nuts as spaceships are not actual naval ships. A space fleet would have to design their formation to account for attacks from above and below or twist their ships around their central axis so certain weapons come to bear. Up and down are relative. Remember this is how Kirk beat Khan in "The Wrath of Khan" as Khan did not understand 3D combat. This being said one should not wander too far from the solar plane but altitude levels like found in Aeronautica Imperialis wouldn't be too far wrong.

Ship orientation might be important as well as one could have dorsal and ventral fire arcs along with forward, side and rear fire arcs. Ship design would take this into account as well, and tactics would change based upon racial preferences, ship role and design. If one could orient your ship in a dive, climb, side pose etc... it would allow you to present your armour or certain weapons to the correct direction. Like the honorverse ship rolling around to bring weapons or shields to bear against an enemy (

3D would also challenge gamers to think in different ways and make such a space game very unique and challenging compared to the battlefleet gothics, firestorm aramada's and starfleets.
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Creeping Dementia

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Re: What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 3:04 am

I like the idea of more 3D combat space/naval tactics. The trick would be on how to visualize it on a tabletop battlefield. The easiest way might be to just have 3 different depth levels (kind of like DZC has ground/on the deck/flying) 5 levels would be even better, but much more difficult to represent visually. I think just having markers indicating 'elevation/depth' would be too confusing and would really make the learning curve pretty steep.

I would also like to see enough 'terrain' in the space battles. Gas clouds, debris fields, asteroids, derelict space stations, and old mine fields would go a long way to making maneuvering and positioning more important.

Scale: I also hope the scale of the game is smaller than things like X-Wing. BFG is a good size, capital ships are small enough for many of them to be on the table, but fighters/bombers are also big enough to be represented.

Lastly, I'd like to see it be an objective based game, like DZC. With objectives being things like getting your cap ships to certain locations to launch dropships planetside, launching boarding parties to capture abandoned space structures, etc.
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Danger Mark

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Re: What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 4:03 am

3D would be good but might be too hard to implement. I remember when BFG came out and reading an interview with Andy Chambers in WD. He said they had tried to implement it but it was just too hard to pull off satisfactorily so they had abandoned the idea and stuck with 2D. Maybe, in the 15 years or so since he wrote it he might have come up with a way of doing it, who knows.
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Re: What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 6:44 am

3d is more than "altitude" it is also attitude and alignment, ie which way is "up", and if you really think about it vector movement. These are almost impossible to represent on what is essentially a 2d playing surface within the restrictions of a gaming environment, and unless the ships are encased in some sort of 360 free rotating cage \ base with extending stands I cant see how you would do it - or indeed why. Given the model scale to ground scale is going to be massively stretched then 3d is less relevant and would make the game very complex. I cant see 3d ship to ship happening until we have holotables, and by then the Scourge would be here :-)
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Re: What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 7:43 am

I'll be happy if it is similar to DzC:

Simple, flexible, balanced ruleset first and foremost
Interesting, subtle factional differences
No exploding dice :)
Relatively "realistic" sci-fi

Can't think of a better team to pull it off!

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Re: What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 8:01 am

Had experimented with 3d in an airship game once. Ended up using car aerials which visually looked great but transporting the models was a bit of a nightmare (The way I did it was ships slowed down to change altitude 1 level and could not turn)
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Re: What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 8:13 am

I hope there is some sort of fighter combat. Of course, not individual fighters, but "squadrons" like infantry bases. I heard Dave say in an interview that the UCMS Avenger is one of the smallest ships we'll see in Dropfleet but there's something about that mass fighter combat (Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica style) that I love. Squeezing a lone pilot in to get a missile past the countermeasures. Gotta be done! :D

Really hope they put this in.

Also, can't wait to see the non-UCM ships. They're gonna look sweet! (Teleporting Shaltari ships???)

As for the 3D element i'm just not sure how to pull it off well, so i'm tempted to say don't bother and just make a great game without it. Either ridiculously tall bases, silly looking height counters or... no, no idea. Well if anyone can pull it off, it's Dave and the guys. 8-)
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Re: What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 8:55 am

I have no experience with Battlefleet or similar, nor do I know very much about space (it's just some fancy buzzword acting as a substitute because the aether was trademarked by the Mi-Go), but I do very much look forward to hearing more from this project. Seeing the different fleets of the factions is going to be great.
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Re: What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 7:14 pm

ok well having played full thrust for the last 2 and a half decades (yes i started with the little booket) i wound be very happy if it was like that, heck the battle fleet gothic rule book had a thank you to jon tuffy who wrote full thrust so my hopes are high . plus some of the ideas that are in a call to arms are neat (if a little under play tested )
i dont want to see large numbers of ships , mind you its depends on what you mean by "large" full thrust can handle 20 odd per side easy in an evening 3 to 4 hours depending on how well you know the rules (works in cm and inchs as well ) starmada can more but it becomes too abstract "you sunk my battleship" means nothing when you have another 8 of them. plus it will matter what scale the ships are the bigger the model the less space to have fleets in
For me NO 3D if its 3d im more than likley not going to buy it (i will just buy the ships and convert over to full thrust )

on the numbers front i have for starship games
42 klingon ships for A Call To Arms Star Fleet
72 NSL ships for full thrust
15 scan fed, again for full thrust
all off which have a name painted on the base no ship of my has ever gone into battle without its own name , i have enough bad luck with dice
of course the LZ is hot thats how you your going to the right place,
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Re: What do you want to see in Dropship/fleet Commander?

PostWed Jun 04, 2014 7:44 pm

I'm new but wanted to weigh in as I've spent years playing spaceship combat games. :)

---Battlefleet Gothic---
-Fast Pace
-Low Learning Curve

-Faction power creep
-Model scale creep

This is my first space ship game I ever really played. Still one of my favorite to this day and only GW game I "like". :)
Game used the metric system (speaking as a US person, yeay!) and generally had ship speeds that ranged from 15cm to 35cm. Weapons had ranges of 15cm to 60cm (rare exceptions of longer range) and weapon arcs largely were front and port/starboard with some occasional 270 degree turret arcs. You had a Leadership value on a ship which you would roll 2d6 against to perform special orders, all stop, brace for impact, etc. One of the most unique things that I liked were the blast templates. When a weapon system hit a ship with a shield, a blast marker was placed. This caused two things, 1: indication of shield being down, 1 per blast marker and 2: caused a modifier to hit if you had to shoot through it. I would still play this game today if I hadn't sold my models back in 2006 (Stupid me). My only major issues with this game was towards the later years. More factions were added (always good) but some had some massive power creep and other has scale creep where the ships started to get stupidly big and caused play issues on the table.

---Babylon 5 ACTA (A Call to Arms)---
-Fast Pace
-Low Learning Curve

-Disliked the fleet building mechanic

I did not like the fleet building mechanic. No normal "points" but it had weird tiered system.
Patrol, Skirmish, Raid, Battle, and War. You might play a five point Raid game, that would mean you'd have five choices at raid level, but there were rules to up or lower the tier. One raid point could net you two skirmish choices or two raid points could net you a single battle choice. There were other weird splits, one war point could be a single battle choice and two skirmish ships. It was just odd and never set right with me. As to actual game play, I played this one for a couple years, great beer and pretzels game as the pace was generally fast and the learning curve was fairly low.

---Babylon 5 Wars---
-Massive choice and variety
-Ship weapons had unique arcs and independent rates of fire

-Massive detail and depth

This one will always have a special place in my heart. It's complicated, oh is it complicated. Each ship basically has a full page character sheet of sorts. Weapons, thrusters, systems, etc are all represented with check boxes to track damage. On one hand the level of detail is fantastic, weapons have distinct arcs of fire, engines provide X thrust, thrusters can handle X thrust, power levels can be manged/shifted, fighters can be launched/recovered, EW (electronic warefare) points were used to disrupt enemy weapon locks or create weapon locks of your own, weapon range penalties greatly varied (from -3 per hex to -1 per 5 hexes), and the game used hexes! But playing a game required either a small game to allow a single evenings play or hours upon hours to resolve. Once nice fact, depending on your perspective, games rarely ended in a "all the enemy is destroyed". Often ships would remain barely functional, but largely drifting. Gave a nice feeling of real conflict results.

---Full Thrust---
-Fast Pace
-Low Learning Curve

-Setting feels generic and empty
-Ship building is open to abuse

I've played this one on and off for a while, I like the basic concepts of the game, easy to learn and play, but I could never really get into the setting. Felt rather generic and only seemed to exist for the purpose of having a setting. Spent more than a little time building ships, but when that was allowed it caused all sorts of one dimensional ships. Glass cannons to pick off damage at massive range or carriers largely gutted of structure to carry more fighters. Fun yes, but just be careful with the building rules.

---With Hostile Intent (
-3D! But can also be played in 2D
-Details! But not Babylon 5 Wars level!

-Setting feels generic
-No official rulebook, just play testing rules and ship sheets.

This has slowly been replacing my desire to play Babylon 5 Wars. It has a level of detail I find rewarding, but not going crazy. Same concepts of B5Wars, weapon rate of fires, individual weapon arcs, check boxes for damage, etc, but scales it down into a more manageable way. There isn't a lot of background at this point, but Todd has done a fantastic job explaining how FTL travel works and how it interacts within the game.

I would have to say the movement is the first thing you need to get used to. Your ship has thrusters at the front/back/port/starboard (and top/bottom if playing 3D). You use those thrusters to pivot, roll, and pitch your craft. But more importantly, to provide directional thrust. You see, you track your movement in each axis (game typically uses squares but inches work too). So from a 2D plane perspective pretend your ship is stopped. You apply 2 thrust to the rear thrusters and now your ship has a forward movement of 2 each turn, no thrust is needed to keep that speed going. Now you apply 1 point of thrust to your starboard thrusters and your ship will now have a movement of 1 to the port. If you're still reading, your ship each turn, will move 2 forward and 1 to the port. Want to pitch your craft? Apply a point of thrust to start the pitch and it will continue pitching each turn until you apply thrust to stop it. This is how movement works and how it adapts to 3D. You track how much speed you have in each direction, move a square/inch per to complete each direction.

Sounds complicated, but tends to work very well in my opinion. He's got all sorts of angle adapters to track ship movement and pitch/roll/yaw. Pretty cool stuff. But at the end of the day, I've not had great luck in game speed short of playing with only a handful of models. But those crazy 3D games were still some highly entertaining games.

As much as I love 3D, I don't think it has a place here. My personal hopes/desires for Dropship/Fleet Commander are below.

1. Scale. Please do two things. Keep the ships scaled down in size so ships flying near each other don't constantly bump into each other. Second thing. Keep the ships in scale with each other. I don't mind if some are greatly larger in size than others, but only if they're actually supposed to be that different in scale.

2. Take some influence from BFG. I know Andy is on board, which makes me happy/hopeful, but I think BFG had a lot of what would work well with what I've come to expect with Hawk Games. Personal bias yes, but still think it has a lot of good features that could be 'borrowed'. :)

3. Keep doing what you're doing Hawk Games. I'm still new (picking up some DZC starters) but from what I've read, watched, and the little I've played, you guys are doing things right. Don't stop.

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