Friday, 12 August 2016

First Impressions: Phase 2 UCM

First off I want to start with an apology. I'm sorry for what you are about to read. Second off I want to remind you all that I am not Dan. It's Mike, Honestly!!

Third off, and roughly back on track; I get to do the UCM first Impressions of Reconquest Phase to? too? two??? 2??????? you pick.
Bringing sexy back

UCM are my first and long time love in DzC. Even with pants infantry, no area effect for the Kodiak and an abundance of E10 shots, I still loved them. Then they got good, powerful some might say (not many might say). Have they peaked already? Did the UCM reach their pinnacle and it's only downhill from here?

Read on to find out......

I'll start with the new additions, these are the units only the talons have seen. Personally, I think that the rules should have been up as experimental for a couple of months first. The community could have tested them as we do with the others. Then little tweeks can be made before the final print run; but I also understand the time pressures that Hawk are under, already 2 months late with Dropfleet, and still a small team working long hours, attending shows and generally working their asses off.

Anyway, I digress, I'm sure I said something about new units......

BEAST MODE activated

Broadsword
General Wade's Broadsword has made it to the main force. Let's start with the facts, just the facts. It's a Heavy choice, can be fielded in squads of 1-3 and in wide formation too. It costs a whopping 79 points with 4 damage points. It has 1 E11 Dev-2 shot, a countered range of 24" and a Mf and Mv of 4".

All seems ok, and that's just it. It's ok. For me, it's far too many points for 1 shot. There is absolutely zero utility/versatility. Plonk it down, shoot something. Plus it will miss or not wound a fair percentage of the time (approx. 30%). Ok it's nice for PHR walkers......shame we don't see them anymore, or perhaps against the Resistance is where it will shine, they have multiple damage points on almost all their things. Against Shaltari it can punch through warstriders and mini-warstriders as long as the pesky passive doesn't get in the way.

It is all about correct target choice with the Broadsword - which is how the UCM play. Choose the correct tool for the job. The problem for me is the extortionate cost and the solitary shot. How often will it claw back it's cost? I almost feel you could drop it's damage points to 3 and make it 10 points cheaper. 69 points for a single shot beast is about right. I dislike comparing across factions, but look at the Odin (still a solid choice btw). It has 2dp, armour 10 and 2 E11 shots with a 24" range oh and a 5+ passive all for 65 points. There is a reason it is probably one of the best Heavy choices in the game. With a Condor it comes in at a cool 110, and yes you really do need a Condor for it. With Critical Locations becoming a thing now, you need you get your expensive stuff on to them as early as you can. Rolling on the back is not really an option anymore.

All that being said, I will certainly try out this bad boy. Not sure the Broadsword makes it into a take all comers list due to it's very one dimensional nature.

I have an idea (this is written the day after I wrote the previous). If The Broadsword has something similar to the Ares' superior targeting, THAT would make it an attractive proposition. Look at the massive targeting array next to the gun!! If it always hit on a 3+ (at worse case) I would definitely consider using it a lot more!!

Joe's thoughts;
I fear this unit will get taken a lot, it is a lovely model and people are going to want to field it. Will there be enough people against the current rules to make the ever so slightly small change it may need to fit right in. Personally I think that the devastator rule is the only thing it has going for it. On a plus side, its hard to kill and i think it will become an area denial unit.

Ed's thoughts;
Along with Mike in the OB Team I'm a long running UCM player although I haven't used them in ages with the PHR taking my full attention. I really like this unit, it looks awesome and packs a big punch. But apart from the extortionate price tag attached to it this unit has too short a range, yes its a railgun but a countered range of 24" leaves this thing massively vulnerable to Nemesis and Caiman because it can't deny an area without the range to do so. 36" would be much more reasonable. Also compare the Broadsword with its competitors for that heavy slot. For 39 points more you can have 2 gladius  which is 4 times the shots, may not be Dev 2 and En11 but its still a respectable amount of dice to roll. Maybe this should become a command mount with the option to buy 2 Bodyguard Broadswords? Could be a meaty command choice then. Basically its nice but I don't feel you'll see these in too many upper table lists.

They really do look cool!

Falcon B's
Every other faction would lap a unit like this up. A mobile anti-air aircraft. It has versatility with its 2 E8 missile shots too. The evasive +2 helps keep it alive, especially against reaction fire, and at 50 points each it is well priced.

So why the long face Mike?

Well, it's not exactly what we need in the UCM. Everything it does, is done better by the Ferrum and it's Starsprite drones. Ok, the drones are not as survivable, but they don't cost anything, so when a few die, we can release more. The only way I can think of fitting Falcon B's in is as a single unit to go hunting with, but only if I have a spare support slot and a spare 50 points. I really do like it, but I just can't see where it fits into the UCM. That being said, I think we will see them in a lot of lists. Not everyone likes the Ferrum (looks/rules) so this unit will be a good way of running a UCM airforce. Now we need a standard choice that flies!!

Final statement on this is more aimed at Hawk, where the F%&K are the machine guns? Raven, Raven B and Falcon all have them. Is this an oversight?

Joe's thoughts;
Okay can the Resistance get an allied version that has mini-guns and has the option to choose the E8 missiles? I think this would work well alongside the Longbow's ravens as a bit of a support AA after they have dropped the cargo. My main issue is the cost. Drop the E8 missiles and make it the same points as the other Falcon

Ed's thoughts;
I like it. Nice price, good theme and a great little hunter. Yes the ferrum does all the above and better, but this is a nice alternative. 

Hazard Suits
Weapon strength down to E6, still focus 2 and +3pts per base. I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed.
I completely understand toning down a unit, if it is deemed too powerful. Was there any call for this though?

Before the Hazard Suits arrived the UCM were screaming out for anything that could survive a bit of falling masonry and had a bit of versatility. The Hazards filled that hole, rather well. They have their good points - ability to shoot down even the hardiest of tanks, armour 4 and only wounded on a 6 by falling masonry, they have their drawbacks too - CQB 1 and can only shoot OR search, not both.

I thought they were well priced and a good unit. In discussions between Hawk and OB, it was mooted that there would be a drop in E of their weaponry. I didn't agree but I could see why they were doing it, now the new book's out and not only do they have a drop in Energy but they've gone up in points too. It's too much. One or the other. I think just the point increase would have sufficed, leaving the guns at E7.

Not a happy bunny!!

Joe's thoughts;
One of my favourite things is to play, and play against cool lists. Lists that are all mainly aircraft or military tanks only etc, a bit of fun and flavour; I feel the energy was okay but the points increase is going to make it harder to have an army built around heavy infantry. Only seeing one squad of a fun unit fielded becomes a little boring and less fun to field. When you are dedicating a whole action plan around not being able to search, now that IS fun! 

Ed's thoughts;
I agree with Mike just an upping of points would have done here. It seems Hawk are moving away from Infantry being able to hurt buildings at range (compare with the Medusa). However that said this is still a great unit.


I didn't know how much detail was on these models. Resistance 'Allied ' players - mount them on Gun Wagons!!

Legionnaire Flak Teams 
Weapon range +6" R(f) and R(c). This is a really good, positive change. I'm now really considering a squad or 2 in Bears and a Condor. They can search and shoot, and a squad will kick out 6 E6 AA shots at 18" range - what does this mean for the poor Praetorian Sniper. Don't forget, they can also reaction fire too. Now all I have to do is actually buy a blister!!

Joe's thoughts;
This is defo the right move to try and get more bears on the battlefield. Gun Wagons watch out, even more can shoot you now!!!

Ed's thoughts; 
This unit is now Naughty. If I were an investor I'd buy shares in UCM ammunition makers now.

Phoenix
I'm gonna hold my hands up and say that this is probably my fault. During Invasion earlier this year (you know, the one I won) Simon was watching one of my games where I rolled on with the Phoenix and did 12 damage to my opponents objective building. Simon asks me how, so I told him. Chain-guns did 2 damage each and the missiles did 8 (demo-2 area weapon, becomes demo-4 when fired directly at a structure) Simon's face was a picture, then the bad man spoke.... "well that'll change then" So, true to his word, Hawk have removed the Demo-2 from the missiles. Probably warranted as the Phoenix is not supposed to be a demo monster, it does mean that late game I will still have them to use, which will be pretty useful.

Joe's thoughts;
I feel this is a fair change, the UCM already do building demo. Not being able to put any infantry in your home building because they brought 1 model.. Just No!! 
The Phoenix already does so much. I do think it's a bit big on points cost.

Ed thoughts;
Yup Demo 2 removal was warranted. Glad they didn't change anything else as this Command choice is mint.

Retailiator 
Goes from L-2 to L-3 - yay it can actually be used more. Still think it should have lost the Alt-1 on the weapons (as with all 'bomber' type fast movers). Not much more to say on this really.

Ed's thoughts;
Fast Mover ground attack.
Still shrug. 

Conclusions
Where does that leave the UCM?
Before Phase 2 was released I would have put the Factions in this order:

PHR/Shaltari
Resistance/UCM
....
....
...
..
.
.
Scourge

PHR and Shaltari were pretty level pegging at the top of the list, with Resistance and UCM level together just behind the top 2 and way, way down were the Scourge.
I feel Phase 2 has delivered steady improvements for PHR, Shaltari and Resistance, massively important improvements for the Scourge, and only very minor improvements for the UCM.

I know it is all theory, but I believe that overall the factions are tighter than ever with regards to how they fare against one another, but (probably for the first time) I think that the UCM are marginally bottom of the pile.

PHR/Shaltari
Scourge/Resistance
UCM

I genuinely believe that the UCM are now the slowest faction in the game. With Critical Locations being a thing, you need to get your ground assets there quickly, and they need to hold it too. The UCM are severely lacking in quick moving, mobile ground vehicles. Maybe it needs a different way of thinking about, a new way of taking the UCM.

In the past few weeks I have been trying to decide whether to take UCM or Scourge to Invasion. I spent hours working out UCM lists as I feel connected to the UCM. They are MY army, but none of the lists pleased me, I couldn't get them to work how I wanted them to. All I could see were other factions hard counters to every choice I made. I took a break from it, so I spent a few minutes making a Scourge list and it just made me smile, I was eager to play it. That was my epiphany. I'm taking Scourge.

See you on the other side boys and girls, I'm getting my parasite re-inserted



Oh and finally, we need to start a drinking game, mainly for Dan's Shaltari post which will be coming up in a few days. 
Get a bottle of what ever you fancy, pour a shot, drink every time you read the word BULLSHIT.
I swear by the end you won't remember the beginning.  

24 comments:

  1. The Phoenix should be band under articles of war... Nothing should be able to take out three bases of freeriders from the otherside of the table in one frigging shot...no i am not bitter.. Rob

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    1. I want to feel bad about that, but Freeriders deserve everything that comes to them!

      It did feel a little off though, being able to do that...

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    2. How does that work? If i remember the rules correctly, only infantry under the center of the template take d6 damage, everyone else just gets 1dp.

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    3. Almost correct, if the blast marker covers the centre of the infantry base then it is D6 hits on the base. As infantry coherency is base to base, it is easy to get multiple bases under a large blast marker

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    4. Thanks for the clarification, looks like i had a bit of a mental switch-up going on.

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    5. no worries - we all do it, it's what we are here for.

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    6. It's better than a downstairs mix up.

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    7. Downstairs i go by Bob Ross: "We don't make mistakes, we just have happy accidents."

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  2. So how does one kill a Phoenix then?

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    1. With Resistance? It hatea Zhukovs,tempt one into the open. I killed one at Invasion over 2 turns by double tapping Gun Wagons. 5 hits, and 4 wounds on average, you only need to be a little lucky to kill it. Because you can deploy and shoot its not to hard to get the jump on it.

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    2. Also, Scourge Ravagers. *shudder!*

      Also, PHR Phobos, because E7 vs A5. (What's the equation again? A+4/the inverse square of E+D6, carry the two... Oh, sod it, I'll just look at the table...) (Yes, I owe you a reply, Bistromatic and jgcpalmer; sorry, been sorta busy the last two days (see below), will get to it... But basically, Stompzilla had it right...). Anyway, if you hurt a Phoenix enough it will limp away with its tail between its leg, because it can't weather two attacks like the one that brought it down to 4 DPs or less, even with a Field Repairs. Bloody its nose and the Phoenix becomes a Chicken, and with its restrictive Mf the first thing it's going to do is run away from the AA bullies that just punched it faster than King Arthur and his k-niggits from "MP &the Holy Grail" running away from the Killer Rabbit, which will take it out of range of the fight for at least 2 turns... If it's not shooting, you're not getting shot at by it. You just need to finish it off before it jumps on a FP at the end of a game (gotta get used to CLs now, too), so getting those AA bullies and their ankle biter buddies, like Vampires (see, there is a use for them) to hang around the corner Focal Point store will help keep the Chicken away from that FP...

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  3. I also think the UCM are lagging but it is a bit of a mixed feeling. I still think the Ferrums are the defining unit of the UCM but with critical points perhaps people will opt for units that are more sensible with transports? In that case it might be easier to squeeze in the new Falcons. The new broadsword might be then one you want to place at a critical location because of 4 DP armour 10 at 79points.

    So overall I like the new units. Few special rules is great and I think that if you re-consider the UCM army lists without a Ferrum suddenly your army makes much more sense. Before the Kodiak and Ferrum rolling in together with some Katanas was perhaps ok to roll on. Now I think the max roll on for the UCM is one squad.

    It was a good read. I really like getting more opinions in one post as well. Well done.

    BTW I think I must add one thing for my next wish list to hawk; all UCM ground units except Wolverines, Flame tanks and Move or fire weapons should have MF4. That represents the tech level they can place on normal ground units. In that way a heavy Gladius becomes slightly more effective in moving, the Katanas had to slow down a bit and the standard Rapier and Sabres are unaffected. Of course it is just a idea but I think I miss that in the units; different MF from the MV value in both ways. It would be cool if the Shaltari Caiman had MF 4" but Move 6". Then it becomes a choice. I miss when the minders had MF 4" and their Move was 2". Really cool.

    /Egge

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  4. Really good read, guys, thanks! Been looking forward to this all day and night. Funny, too; well done. Some favorite moments:
    - "Simon's face was a picture, then the bad man spoke..."
    - "This unit is now Naughty."

    And more. Well done. 8^D

    I could see the Broadsword being a LOT cheaper without changing any of its stats, OR getting your suggestion of an Advanced Targeting Matrix Thingy a la the Ares so that it always hits on a 3+ or better. Since you really must take a Condor for it, it's kinda suspicious to me that the combo comes in at exactly what an Eagle costs,... Almost as if by design, to MAKE you choose between them!... I smell a conspiracy!

    I really like the idea of the Falcon B, but with Hazard Suits going up 3 points (boo!) I'm not sure where I'd get the extra 10 points per model over the Falcon A to fit them into a list. But I'm on a crusade to win with UCM without a Ferrum, and these guys bring some much welcome airborne, evasive AA, so I'm gonna have to do something...

    Hazard Suits - Yeah, they didn't need the double nerf. Dropping the E was good enough. We'll see what happens when the next errata comes around...

    Flak Teams - Ed, you are right! This unit IS Naughty now, and Joe's right, too, I think we'll see more Bears in Condors hauling various Legionnaires squads around, which isn't necessarily a bad thing...

    Yeah, having those missiles on the Phoenix for late game is going to be the silver lining of them losing the Demo-2 ***that I spaced on them having to stack with being an area weapon in the first place!!!*** Sheesh, I'm an idiot... Still, my command unit of choice (but I know that Darryl tends to prefer the Kodiak-yak-yak-yak, so yay for diversity.)

    Still haven't built my regular Seraphim, and not in a hurry to get a Retaliator. To many other things need to get built and painted...

    You forgot the Crossbow, Mike... D'oh!

    I agree with your conclusion, that the top 4 factions are very close together, maybe even all on the same line, time will tell, and UCM is now slightly (or maybe a little more than slightly) behind the other two... CHALLEGE ACCEPTED!!!

    8^D

    Thanks, guys!

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  5. Well, you've heard of The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, right? Well, I guess I live on The Court of Broken Promises (the street I live on is called Cloudbust Court -- get it?)

    I'm SO SORRY, guys, but I have failed you in my promise to write a blog post about last Saturday's tournament conclusion! But my wife kidnapped me and MADE me watch TWO NIGHTS' worth of Olympic coverage! She literally threw me down on the couch and handcuffed me to the end table ("Well, this has gotten interesting", thought I) and FORCED me to watch Michael Phelps and Katie L. and that Manuel chick and the other female USA swimmer who snatched gold from the highly favored Hungarian, and all of our swimmers continue to dominate the world in the pool, and then last night's glorious Gold and Silver performances by Simone and Aly of the women's gymnastics team! I couldn't tear my eyes away! I thought about chewing my wrist off to escape the handcuffs, but then how would I ever hobby again? And then, and then... the Sweeeedish women's soccer team defeating the USA women, the reigning champs! Oh, the shame, the agony, the humiliation! I was curled up in the fetal position sobbing uncontrollably after that. And by then, I was spent; it was too late to craft the glorious blog post that I promised you last night...

    Well, OK, most of that didn't actually happen, the handcuffing part and all, but it was made very clear to me that for the sake of my marriage I'd best park my skinny white butt on the couch next to her and watch last night's AND tonight's Olympic coverage with her. That part's true... Sorry... I'll try to bang it out tomorrow, but she's got a full day of doing chores to get the house ready for our daughter's return from her mission on Tuesday, and I really need to work on the piece of sh!t pool that consumes energy and chemicals in my backyard but is too fooking small to actually swim in, so it might be Sunday by the time I can get around to it... sorry... Really, really sorry...
    D^8

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    1. 8^(

      Yeah, that looks better. D^8 just didn't cut it...

      Actually, more like this: 8'^(

      Yeah, sorry... I'll make it up to you... I will, you'll see...

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  6. Thanks for the post guys - and I like the format too. A 'lead' writer and additional comments from others works very well.

    As always, my perspective is as someone looking at this mainly from a setting / 'fluff' perspective, as I don't play often or anywhere near well enough to be able to comment much on game balance.

    Broadsword: no comment. I'm not a massive fan of the model. I think I'd like to see more UCM tanks being fielded, and if that was to happen, then having one of these for some added variety might be good, but I'm more sad about the lack of UCM tank armies than I am oppinionated on this new one.

    Falcon B: this is the only change that really niggles. Most units in the game it seems have zero AA. Even flying units tend to have little or no AA. When the UCM have Archangel interceptors, why do Falcon Bs exist? Or alternatively, why, if the UCM can mount AA weapons on an existing airframe, don't all the other factions have a lot more air-mounted AA? To me the Falcon doesn't seem sufficiently fast or specialised enough to warrant being given the AA rule given its rarity. So although I love the model, I wish it was another ground attack unit.

    Hazard Suits: I've only played against them once, and got a bit duffed up by them, but as I was being destroyed in all sorts of more painful ways (like having my Destroyer-carrying Intruders shot out of the sky by Archangels - thanks Dan) I don't have particularly strong memories of them. I suppose in general I'm against infantry units having very powerful weaponry because that's what tanks are for. Why would you build a tank if you could give a cannon to an infantryman? So instinctivly I'm pleased they've decreased in strenght. I've no comment on the price increase.

    Flak teams: I never saw them used, but if these buffs make them more attractive I'm very pleased. I'm happy to see anything that makes regular infantry appear on the battlefield more. Plus they look really cool.

    Although I haven't played a game with UCM yet (besides my first ever demo game with the starter set), they are the army I intend to play when I want change from my Scourge. So overall I think I'm pleased by what I see here.

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  7. I've been thinking about the Broadsword and the best way to use it. I think the price is both a blessing and a curse.

    First the blessings:

    1)At 1-3 squad size, it's actually the cheapest way for UCM to open a Support slot in the Heavy battle group.

    2)It's the cheapest way for UCM to put 4 A10 damage points on a focal point.

    The curse?

    1)It's not very efficient at killing anything at its price point.

    IMO, I'm considering a list that runs two to open up two support slots to stick Ferrums in, and use the Ferrums to clear landing zones so the Broadswords can hold a quarter/focal point/whatever. Any shooting they do is just going to be the cherry on top.

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  8. One thing I noticed in the writeup was that the Crossbow wasn't mentioned at all. Does no one have anything to say about the cheapest laser platform in Dropzone?

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    1. Flash Crossbow review: Cheap, potentially dangerous, neutered by LoS blocking terrain (i.e. every building), easy to kill, unlikely to contribute to focal points, there are better choices for your points (like the Long Bow)

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    2. Damn it guys!

      Flash Mortar Review: Useful but circumstantial, good at AI, good for back board objs and FP, good to be FAO, suspect to being shot back on windows, cheap with a single bear, unlocks a BG cheaply, worth including 1 unit in a list.

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    3. already did a Crossbow and mortar write up, we have only covered actual new units and changes in Phase 2

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  9. Very informative thanks.
    Would it be an option to give the massive gun of the Broadsword a "no passive saves allowed rule"? It's a nice image a of Shaltari shields failing and the massive PHR armor crumbling under the impact of a giant shell.

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