I’m a fan of Dave Lewis’ Dropzone Commander sculpts, that are the best ‘hard SF’ 10mm miniatures around. I like the original 1.1 small game, combined arms hit-and-run company skirmish cityfights.
I’m also a fan of Blitzkrieg Commander, a fastplay no-book-keeping WW2-system that is firmly grounded in the Warmaster system. Designer Peter Andrew Jones developed, as side projects, also Cold War Commander and Future War Commander.
I’m unhappy with the Dropzone 2.0 Big Battle evolution. DropZone is 40K/Epic that is developing into a Big Stumpy Robots game. BattleTech-Gundam-Adeptus Titanicus. Godzilla. Anime. Not really my style of play.
So I was looking for an alternative, something that allows me to use my double armies and all my shiny Dropzone specials without falling in the Dropzone power creep trap. Then, Future War Commander emerged. It’s miniature-neutral, designed without a WYSIWYG model in mind. FWC is the SF adaptation of Blitzkrieg Commander. Transpose Dropzone to a Future War Commander list and you can play a very large battle, Dropzone Plus/Empire Strikes Back/War of the World. Cinematic. Climactic. Spectacular.
Why Switching Is Easy
For Dropzoners: Future War Commander is C.H.E.A.P. Only 11 dollar on Wargames Vault. The system is complete, logical, playtested, supported by Pendraken Miniatures and the author, with FAQ, 11 standard scenarios, a ‘skirmish’ supplemental variant and even an army builder online. Very complete. The game is WW2-inspired. According to Dropship Horizon blogger-reviewer Mark it is:
“a Fast Play set of rules (…) a great, fast moving game in itself, with a slick Command and Control system. There’s not an unnecessary die roll anywhere. (…) a very playable game system which is going to encourage more gamers to try out Sci Fi gaming, and allow those who are currently locked into their own Sci Fi miniatures game systems to play against each other on the tabletop. We think it’s a great chassis upon which to build our own vision of future warfare and also recreate the XBox and PC Sci Fi games.”
Will WW2 Put You Off?
The same blogger was however critical about the WW2-roots of the game.
“The fact that FWC is a development of Blitzkrieg Commander shows through like a bad paintjob. (…) For instance visibility and intelligence of the enemy in FWC is determined by Line of Sight – SORRY?, I thought this was Future War Commander not Napoleonic War Commander! Real-time intelligence? Integrated firepower? Individual soldier command interface? Netted fires? Electronic battlefield? I could go on. As for Recon……. (…) Despite the fact the author actually says “weather is a vital factor in war and often overlooked“, it’s relegated to three short paragraphs in FWC and equally, there’s no rules for fighting on planets with different or even no atmosphere, gravitational effects, environmental or seismological events.”
I must say that I don’t share his ‘I want a ‘realistic’ zero grav 2300 AD electronic warfare on a poisonous Neptunus Moon atmosphere battle’ critique – it’s nerdy. It’s impossible for us to imagine how such a battle would be. A Roman commander would not be able to imagine how a tank war would look like. Even worse: French commanders in 1940 couldn’t imagine how a tank war would be.
IMHO it’s not a disappointment but a big advantage that FWC (and DZC itself) are SF-adaptations of WW2/modern war-wargames. You have an idea how to play right from the beginning. And because both FWC and Dropzone are WW2-WW3-ish, switching is super easy.
Can FWC Replace DZC?
Depends. You can’t carbon copy DZC. DZC is a airmobile cityfight, a company skirmish, with Necromunda/Frostgrave elements. It’s an Epic-adaptation. In (original) Dropzone, the dropships are hop-on hop-off buses that bring the battlegroups to strategic positions on the table. A ‘commander’ is a moving giant cannon with special abilities. All units can activate and forces have equal point values. Shoooting distance is relatively short, hindered by skyscrapers that block line of sight.
BKC/FWC is combined arms warfare. It’s a Warmaster-adaptation. In FWC, dropships are more like gliders or transporters for airborne troops that capture positions ahead of the main force. Commander models are moving radio transmitters that activate groups, which is a gamble. Forces are unequal, focus is on scenario and casual gaming. Range could be 60, 80 or 120cm. Stealing treasures form the table is not a game objective.
The advantage of FWC for megabattles – as I see it – is that in the Dropzone rules the newer and bigger models are just stronger versions of first edition vehicles and planes, while in FWC models are specialist support weapons, artillery, selfpropelled guns, that only work in combination with good recon. Or they represent ‘commanders’ that look wonderful on the table, while not being stronger than a heavy tank.
So FWC can’t replace the small hit&run skirmishes, but it ‘s a contender in the 2-4hr combined arms/large battle segment.
Which FWC Army Lists Can I Use For Dropzone/FWC Conversion?
United Colonies of Mankind
UCM is a humanoid allround army. The FWC book has several humanoid army lists. I recommend the Pax Arcadian army with many tanks and different special forces. The Stargrunt/ Dirtside-inspired lists are even longer with some very large dropships.
The Scourge is a fast hovercraft close combat army. Eldritch Caste (pseudo-40K-eldar) or the ‘Cybernetic Species X31’ (pseudo T’au) seem to fit.
Post Human Republic
Cyborg with walkers. FWC has a Andrayadan Army list, based on Dark Realm Miniatures. Cyborg with strong airforce and small/ medium walkers. Many other Cyborg armies in the book only have giant walkers, so the Cybernetic Species X31 is less suitable.
From the BKC website I copied a BattleTech list with medium BattleMechs, see below.
Fast stealthy flying insectoid swarm with teleport ability and some walkers. The closest FWC cousin is the bug colony army list, a swarm that can ambush and attack with walkers. Pseudo-Tyranids, 40K-wise. The ‘tunneling’ ability (that I would rename ‘teleport’ but leave unchanged) gives this faction the opportunity to show up everywhere on the table, just like the DZC Shaltari.
I also found a neat Shaltari FWC conversion on the BKC website, that I make available here below:
- Resistance: An army with a fast swarm of bikes, slow strong tanks and tunneling ability. I don’t have these miniatures and didn’t study this army but they appear to be Dwarfish/Orkish, so I would use either the ‘MacGregor Clan’ list (Space Dwarfs), or the hunter-scavenger mob (‘Orks’) list or a combination.
All lists above are, btw, suggestions based on similarity of appearance. You can for example use the hunter-scavenger list for PHR, or in fact any list for any faction, or make your own. It’s your game, your fantasy.
A smooth transition
Sometimes newcomers get frustrated by the BKC/FWC system. As somebody in the FWC-forum wrote:
I know and I respect that most FWC gamers play the system BECAUSE of it’s command mechanics. I get the fact that it simulates the fog of war in an elegant and easy way. Today I made my second FWC battle (solo game, Orks versus Imperial Guard/Adeptus Mechanicus) and witnessed a bitter defeat for the Orks who managed to spoil nearly every command roll even after successful Recce communication. Personally, I’m ok with this – **** happens, even more on the battlefield. BUT: If I play this with a friend I want to persuade to use FCW, he will never do a second try.
He asked how others solved this commander clusterfuck. Answer(s)
An option is to permit an agreed number of rerolls per game. When playing solo I sometimes allow two rerolls a game (the estimated length of the game may change that number) providing the CO (in this I’m assuming FWC has a Commanding Officer piece) is within visibility and command range of the undesired command roll.
I’ve seen a few variants tried. One was to give each commander a guaranteed first order, no dice roll needed. second was to give a number of orders equal to their cv-6, so if your HQ has a cv of 8 then they always give 2 orders.