A Drop[fleet/zone] Commander Project Log
Hey folks, Faultie here! Today I’d like to show off the concept behind a new project log focused on Hawk Wargames models. Over the next few articles, I’m going to work through my (embarrassingly-long) collection of models for both Dropzone Commander and the new Dropfleet Commander. I hope you’ll bare with me.
As a note, just about every Hawk Wargames model I’ve ever dealt with has been marvelous (except you, original-production-run Bear APC split down the middle!), and clean-up and assembly has been generally painless. I’ve worked with their resins a good deal, both in their initial DZC starter boxes and most of the Resistance forces I’ve collected, but their injection-molded plastic is also fantastic and their metals are quite good. All that having been said, I’m a hobbyist at heart, and just can’t leave well enough alone. In that vein, I’ve decided to attempt a very specific scheme, and even more ambitiously, to tie that scheme together across two games systems at two very different scales with two different armies. I hope it’ll make sense once I explain. If not, feel free to be inflammatory in the comment section.
Although I had been watching Dropzone Commander since I met Dave and Simon at TempleCon back in [insert date b/c memory is fuzzy], the first model that I really fell in love with was the AT-77 Lifthawk, a glorious blend of scifi dropship and WWII bomber. I went all-in on the Resistance when the starter box dropped, and when Dropfleet Commander’s Kickstarter launched, I really took to the Post-Human Republic ships.
Sadly, there are no Resistance ships for Dropfleet Commander. Although this mostly makes sense from a story perspective, I admit to being a bit sad by the state of affairs. However, lack of a preexisting theme has never stopped me in the past, and I set to work combing the fiction for a way to tie my two tabletop forces together.
DOSSIER 1964-67 – SEC.LEV. 6+
REPORT – ONI RECON OPERATION “AXIOM”
What follows are the details of a fateful trip, begun at a port on Earth, and the ship known as the Astro Queen.
Originally commanded by Captain Li Shang, a renowned skipper from the old Earth Navy, veteran of multiple battles with the Shaltari, the Astro Queen set sail with over 5,000 passengers for what was intended as a three week tour of the Outer Cradle.
When the Scourge invaded the Cradle Worlds, chaos broke out on the ship, and only by the steady command of the Captain and crew was it not lost in the tumult of the initial invasion.
Garrigan – Helmsman
Jonas Li – Lord Captain*
Thurston Backus IX – Paymaster**
Ginger Summers – [role unknown]
Elroy Hinkle – PHR Technical Liaison
M.A. Grant – [role unknown]
*”Lord Captain” appears to be a now-hereditary title passed down through the lineage of Capt. Li Shang. Equal parts warlord, diplomat, and judge, the Lord Captain’s command is absolute while aboard the Crimson Queen.
**”Paymaster” is a somewhat nebulous role, but predominantly appears to be a social liaison to outside groups, including the PHR and Resistance groups. The Backus family were well-known industrialists before the Scourge invasion, with ties to defense contractors, shipbuilders, commodities production, and financial markets.
As the operation name states, the idea behind my project is a Dropnoun Commander version of the ship in WALL-E, left to drift in the void for decades before making contact with the PHR, with a hint of Battlestar Galactica thrown in. After a military refit, it now operates as a privateer for the PHR, and occasionally as a support cruiser in a fleet, based out of its hidden base far in the Kuiper region of the system. They even manufacture a small number of pre-invasion armored and airborne units for use on orbitals, stations, and planets. A society of wealthy sovereign citizen types with access to advanced technology? When has that ever gone poorly?
Between the two games, I have 3 design elements that I need to deal with. The first the Mad Max “feral” side of DZC Resistance armies, comprised of ramshackle vehicles, technicals, and patchwork warmachines that comprise much of their forces.
Secondly, you have the actual vehicles from the pre-invasion armed forces. These are somewhat run-down and patched together by the “current” time in the setting, but they are obviously military in design. The more professional looking forces comprise the heavy armor, transports, and aerial units of the Resistance.
And lastly, we have the actual Post Human Republic ships in Dropfleet Commander. These ships are sleek, high-tech, predatory, and almost shark-like in appearance. They have smooth lines covering massive broadsides of cannons, mixing sleek design with loads of gribbly space.
Marrying these three designs together is where I stumbled on the idea of the Astro Queen. There’s another ship that they produced for Dropfleet Commander, and it isn’t part of any of the four main fleets. This ship is sleek and elegant, but also has a slightly lower-tech feel to its engines and other technical areas, as well as a decidedly different overall look to it. The Princess Liner is that ship.
This ship would be what I use to tie the two armies together. I’ll skip all the steps where I just stared at the model and put it back in the box, started snipping pieces and then abandoned that idea, and where I had a poorly-inspired idea to magnetize a bunch of pieces and then got frustrated and started gluing them on instead. What I finally settled on was to convert the Princess liner into a cruiser for my fleet. Looking through the different weapons loadouts, the most generic seemed to be the Perseus class, armed with a broadside of light cannons, an array of heavy cannons, and a forward-mounted turret. The smooth lines of the Princess lent themselves well to adding in PHR ship parts, and after some fidgeting around I arrived at this:
I decided early on that I wanted the ship to use all of the weapons that are actually present on the vessel it will count as. Since many ships in Dropfleet Commander, especially for the PHR, are the same hull with just a slight tweak on weapons, I felt it was important to get that element correct. I split the small cannon broadsides in half and mounted them aft near the engines. The fore-mounted turret I also mounted where it would normally be on the ship. At this phase I was still deciding which class of ship I would make, and real estate for weapon mountings was running thin. Once I decided on Perseus, the heavy cannons just sort of fell into place.
So, I suppose this was a very long post with very little pay-off in terms of completed models. Just one dinky cruiser?! Apologies for that. Hair-brained schemes sometimes require an unreasonable amount of backstory. Nevertheless I have a roadmap moving forward and I’ll give a bit of it here.
As noted, the ground forces for this army are disparate, and won’t entirely mesh with the fleet. As such, I’ve decided to steer away from the ramshackle wagons and trucks as much as possible, and focus instead on the regular army style vehicles. To further push the idea that these forces have been sitting idle and hidden for a century and a half, or are being newly manufactured, I’m going to de-junk them, carefully slicing away the bolted-on plates, rivets, and other signs that they have been kept going for 160 years. Any ramshackle vehicles in the army will be recently-allied ferals that the Astro Queen and PHR have inducted into their fight. And lastly, of course, I’m going to magnetize the jeebus out of them, because Hawk designs their models so that if a dropship’s rules say it can carry ‘x’ units, those ‘x’ models can physically fit on the dropship. I’ve probably mentioned before that I really like magnets.
Aside from the Astro Queen, the fleet will be pretty standard PHR. Visually, I’d like to tie together the two forces with paint schemes, and will be getting some help in this department from Plarzoid as I flesh out how exactly I want them to look. I also have a second Princess Liner, and am considering modifying it too as a different corsair or even a converted dropship. That’s up in the air (well, in space). To help tie it all together, I’m also planning to use the Dropfleet space station kit to actually create their hidden asteroid base, which will make a great display board as well as scenario piece.