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So why did Dropfleet Commander and Dropzone Commander just disappear……

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This topic contains 42 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  limburger 3 days, 10 hours ago.

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  • #1876345

    phaidknott
    7014xp
    Cult of Games Member

    ….from the news feeds?

     

    This isn’t particularly a dig at BoW, it’s more ALL the gaming websites on the internets.

     

    So back in 2018, Hawk Wargames made the big splash at Salute with their GINORMOUS Space Ship with little Dropzone minis added to announce the release of the game. And everywhere was talking about the game, the minis, and all things Hawk Wargames. Hawk Wargames had already been “in action” selling their 2012 game of Dropzone Commander for a number of years prior. Then TT Combat bought both games in 2019 and then things went quiet (at least on the Gaming News Sites).

     

    Yet TT Combat continues to release new models for the game, but we never hear about them. What was it about TT Combat ownership of these two games that caused them to fall off the radar for most gamers?

     

    The rules were written by Andy Chambers (of Battlefleet Gothic fame) along with three co-authors. The Starter sets are inexpensive (£40 for Dropzone and £60 for Dropfleet), compared to similar games released these days. Yet we never hear about these games. I was recently doing some online shopping and saw the game in the webstore, “I remember that” I thought, and was rather taken back at how much has been added in the last five years in miniatures for both games. But has the game been relegated to the storage box under the gaming table for most owners of the game (was it replaced with something better)?

     

    I never bought the games when they originally came out (as they were released in the heyday of the gaming Kickstarters, when we had BIG releases seemingly coming out every month), but I now look at it and am thinking of picking it up (as it’s pretty cheap compared to the alternatives (for example GW’s new iteration of “Space Marine” in 8mm). But I’m a bit wary of “why” these games just seem to disappear (despite the continued support from TT Combat). Did you own the game, do you still play it (and have you bought any of the new minis that have been released, they are still mastered by Dave Lewis from what was Hawk Wargames), and if not….what caused you to stop (was it a lack of players interested)?

    #1876360

    danlee
    22396xp
    Cult of Games Member

    I backed the Dropfleet kickstarter. I’d been a big fan of Battlefleet Gothic and was hoping for a similar game that my friends could get into. It never quite gelled for me.

     

    I found that even the biggest ships seemed to lack endurance – as soon as the enemy got within range and chose to shoot at you in earnest the ship just was out of the fight. I think I heard Andy Chambers say in an interview they’d deliberately tried to do that to make the game go faster. But for me it just made the ships feel less impressive.

     

    The idea of using little pegs on the flight stands (something Warren claimed credit for at one point) was a bad one too. It was far too fiddly and you’d end up moving your ship in a game where position and facing is critical. We quickly abandoned it and just used dice.

     

    The background never appealed to me either.

     

    As for why it doesn’t get much attention now that it’s owned by TT Combat, I couldn’t say.

    #1876436

    limburger
    21554xp
    Cult of Games Member

    TT Combat recently highlighted the Dropfleet and Dropzone starter sets in their latest newsletter.

    They also have been teasing us with 28-ish mm figures for Dropzone …

    Maybe they’re simply waiting for the right time to give this series a boost ?

    The games suffered because Hawk wargames kind of collapsed under the weight of the dropfleet commander kickstarter. It was a bit too successful. And as a result dropzone also got a hit.

    At least the games have been preserved by TT Combat and they are available. And both have had their rules updated so it’s not like nothing has been done since the license and related assets were transferred.

    #1876443

    jamescutts
    6846xp
    Cult of Games Member

    Got to admit I do find the lack of coverage for them a little disappointing, both have had pretty recent new releases around the time of salute as well as brand new plastic sprues teased for DFC, I cant recall seeing any news articles covering them at all, even on BoW, though there might have been in the Salute live coverage? In fact I cant remember coverage of the refreshed DFC starter set, though i think we did see some news of the new DZC stuff here and there, and John did a few great painting tutorials.

    The demise of Hawk and the takeover by TT combat will obviously have something to do with the slowdown, TT combat are pretty happy letting its relatively dedicated fanbase just keeping things going and being flashy doesn’t tend to be their style either.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by  jamescutts.
    #1876485

    sundancer
    42627xp
    Cult of Games Member

    I’m not sure how TT Combat is handling distribution of news but I feel that’s a potential point of failure.

    Currently I’m subscribed to 45+ newsletters of various companies and only a handful do regular news updates. The sheer amount of stuff that is getting pushed out makes it nearly impossible to scour the internet for all news. Especially if you want it on a news outlet that reports on stuff before the public get’s to know about it. There is no value in covering news that already got out by the manufacturer.

    #1876594

    limburger
    21554xp
    Cult of Games Member

    TT Combat do have a newsletter … which is why I know they mentioned the new starter sets (including Carnevale and Rumbleslam).

    I think we’ve been over this issue before.
    GW’s frequency of ‘news’ for its systems is insane and by releasing new versions they keep that cycle going.

    Other companies don’t abuse rules updates like that, which creates the illusion of a stand still.

    Carnevale and Rumbleslam are ‘open’ enough that new crews and units aren’t going to unbalance the roster of their respective games, so they got something that can act as a ‘still alive’ signal.

    Dropfleet and Dropzone aren’t systems that need a ton of new content, so they kind of suffer from not having to report anything worthwhile unless there is a tournament or something similar. You kind of see the same problem with Bolt Action and Flames of War. They got more than enough units and every theater of operation has been covered already. It might be why we’re getting Clash of Steel and Achtung Panzer! …

    It’s the endlessly repeating question : how do you let players know the system is still alive without going the GW route ?

    #1876804

    onlyonepinman
    18057xp
    Cult of Games Member

    I see loads of TT Combat News on Facebook, including Dropzone and Dropfleet Commander.  Until now I hadn’t really thought about whether I see it on OnTableTop or not and I think you are right, it does seem to have fallen off the grid a bit in a way that Carnivale has not – still see plenty about Carnevale on here.  i wouldn’t want to speculate about why this might be the case

    #1876950

    angelicdespot
    4687xp
    Cult of Games Member

    I’m still collecting, although haven’t played a game in years now. Being very busy and not having a Dropzone Commander group or community where I live, I only used to get games by going to tournaments. When Hawk collapsed, so, it seemed, did tournament provision. Although Covid probably didn’t help. TTCombat have released a lot of new minis, but don’t seem to be doing anything I can see to support tournament play, and that was – it seems to me – one of the main drivers of the growth of the game previously.

    I think Hawk’s collapse also left a bit of a bad taste in many people’s mouths. A lot of staff were let go, for example.

    Changes to the rules may also be a factor… First Edition was good, with a few annoying flaws. Hawk’s unreleased Second Edition sounded like a large change than was wanted, going beyond just attempting to tidy things up. TTCombat’s Second Edition was different again, I think. And while having digital rules is a good thing, I think the lack of a printed rulebook probably hurt the game too. It just makes it feel less stable and is a barrier to some people.

    I really hope someone starts organising some tournaments / campaign events as I’d love a reason to learn the new rules and play again. And would love to see some more coverage on this site.

    #1877091

    captainventanus
    Participant
    4776xp

    I wouldn’t say that the Dropzone Universe disappeared from news feeds. Even before the news post the other day there was a regular, if limited stream, of releases being posted here and on other sites that I read regularly. Sure in the last few months there was a bit less, but the skirmish game and DZC had models teased.

    Why did Dropzone decline? Without knowing the internals we can’t be absolutely sure, there are many factors. Fulfilling the overly successful DFC kickstarter did exhaust Hawk and lead to the takeover by TTCombat. Then there were production issues which lead to a few years of product drying up. Also 8th ed 40k probably drawback players who had jumped ship because of the earlier state of 6 & 7th Eds. Titanicus came onto the market to catering to those who wanted small scale wargaming. Etc.

    I enjoyed both games, played DFC more, but this has declined over years to virtually nothing now though every year I’m nearly drawn back in. The games are good and the starters are really good value, some of the best alongside maybe Flames of War. So why did I stop.

    While the games are good I never liked the core missions and objective setup. For DZC the majority were go in pick up intel and get out. That just got boring after a while and adding in all the extra units didn’t change that.

    For DFC the strength and weakness of the game was the 3d battle space, the layers and the landing of forces. That really was unique, interesting, but also because of that focus made this less of a space combat game and it quickly degenerates in an efficiency battle for dropping off tokens which then battle it out in a very basic dynamic. There were a couple of missions that did not involve this, but I didn’t want to have to fight it out over ground objectives anymore. Because so much of the core rules and ship stats revolves around the layers, it could not be easily changed, but then the designers have never tried to expand in the new rules. As DFC shares so much of its DNA with BFG I tinkered around using some of those missions which added dynamics but it became hard work to make the game work for me when really this was something the designers needed to do.

    The layer battle needed the very fiddly stands. I never used the supplied ones. First we used dice, then a third party solution and not I have started to think about a design for a 3d printed stand solution that makes it clearer. Did the same for Aeronautica Imperialis which has simpler info on the stands, but still is tedious to use.

    While the starters are very reasonable and I had a huge lot of ships from the Kickstarter I found the recent releases to be expensive. Sure you don’t need many, but it adds up. AND there were quality issues – the resin was brittle, great details, but horrendous mould lines, gates in the most visible places. What was passible in 2018 is less of a proposition in 2024 when you compare TTCombat’s offerings with 3d printed ones. That’s an issue.

    While the ships for DFC look great the scale was off from the outset. Too much is going on on the table, even with moderate sized fleets the objective play draws everything together quickly and combined with tokens it is a cluttered mess a lot of the time. Half the size ships would make DFC as it is right now play better. Having played around with half-sized Gothic ships this is the one element I personally would like the change the most – that’s never going to happen though because it would require a complete redo of the production infrastructure and TTCombat would never go over to releasing the game as a 3d print one with STLs to purchase.

    List building is an issue for new players. It’s not difficult, but with so many permutations and combinations it’s overwhelming very quickly. What brings “depth” for tournament players is a nightmare for new and casual ones. That made it really difficult to teach players or just play casually. Yes the list builder helps a lot, but can’t justify spending tinkering around for hours – even though I get it other’s might really be attracted to that.

    I still do like the game, even the universe in principal, but the issues around the edges combine to limit my enthusiasm to get it out again. I don’t think that many of the little rules issues and missions are impossible to solve but right now the lack of a determined effort by TTCombat beyond just adding in more units doesn’t help.

    #1877145

    limburger
    21554xp
    Cult of Games Member

    @onlyonepinman Carnevale has completely new units / characters …
    Dropfleet/Dropzone add yet another ship/tank which isn’t as distinct and news worthy.

    #1877192

    onlyonepinman
    18057xp
    Cult of Games Member

    It’s newsworthy to people who play it…

    #1877478

    limburger
    21554xp
    Cult of Games Member

    true … but when there is soo much news every day things like this tend to drown.

    Never mind the relentless pace of GW ‘news’.

    Of course it helps if the community itself raises awareness of the games too.
    What’s the point in complaining about lack of news when one has got the info and isn’t helping spread the word ?

    We’ve got a project system, discord and forum here that could be used for such things, but it does require folk to actually use it.

    Keep in mind that sites like OTT kind of rely on traffic to function. For them it is easier to spread news for games that have active users vs games with little to no apparent interest from within its own community.

    It does become its own self fulfilling prophecy, because a lower news frequency results in reduced interest.

    Carnevale updates do get posted on OTT. Dropfleet has been mentioned, but at the same time there hasn’t been a new ship/release in a while either. Can’t post news if there isn’t any to report, can we ? That’s where the fans have to feed the machine.

    #1877901

    onlyonepinman
    18057xp
    Cult of Games Member

    But that’s just it, there HAVE been new releases for dropzone commander that simply weren’t picked up here.  I know this because I follow them on Facebook.  To give you some idea, this article appeared here on OTT around a month and a half after it appeared on the DZC Facebook page and 3 days after this thread was started

    Snap Up Recent Dropzone Commander Dropships & Buggies

    #1877903

    limburger
    21554xp
    Cult of Games Member

    So if you knew … did you send a link to the OTT team or post about it on the forums / discord ?
    (Not accusing you of anything, just curious).

    I’m pretty sure a lot of other games face similar issues in getting to the top of the pile in a flood of news. (and then there’s the kickstarters which suffer even more if they don’t get a big enough momentum …)

    My only source for Dropfleet/Dropzone games are the newsletter, other hobbyists and of course OTT news feed.

    (and there’s a dozen other games I’m following so news isn’t always “new” by the time I get it … but I don’t mind unless there is a FOMO inducing timelimit)

    Is it bad that it took 3 months before OTT posted it ?
    Was there anything the fans and company could have done to get it posted faster ?
    Did it happen to coincide with other big events or releases from other (bigger?) companies ?

    That’s why we need both fans as well as the company producing the games to post stuff in public locations.

    I’ve got my own Dropfleet in storage and it definitely is a game I’d want to see hit the spot lights a bit more often.
    But then … same for Carnevale, once I get my hobby space set up and find a pattern to give them all some time to shine.

    #1877904

    phaidknott
    7014xp
    Cult of Games Member

    When I started the thread I stated that it wasn’t a dig at BoW and their coverage, it’s more how (and why) the games just seemed to disappear from ALL the gaming news sites after TT Combat purchased the two game systems (especially compared to their more high profile we saw when the games were still ownership of Hawk Wargames).

     

    We DO often see coverage of Carnevale and even Rumbleslam across various news sites, but Dropzone and Dropfleet just seemed to disappear (and I was wondering why this was). I wasn’t sure if the games just fell out of favour, or if newer game systems occupying similar genres had effectively “replaced” them in gaming circles.

     

    But I wasn’t trying to infer that BoW were being lacking in their news coverage (and as other have pointed out GW news items do seem to swamp out all other coverage, but then we don’t see how many “clicks” (and revenue) certain companies news articles trigger (and at the end of the day BoW needs to keep paying the wages and keeping all the servers up and running)).

     

    So I was more wondering about how and why both Dropfleet and Dropzone just seemed to disappear, why the hype and enthusiasm faded when the games weren’t “dead” and TT Combat continued to support the game with new minis etc. As I was considering buying into the games I was worried if I was getting into a game where no-one played it anymore (or if the lack of news coverage just gave that impression). From the posts here it seems for the most part the games in gamers collections have for now perhaps been consigned to storage boxes under the games tables and even though many seemed to enjoy the games for the most part it seems that the playerbase has perhaps moved on (and perhaps this might be due to the perception that the games were “dead” and most casual players weren’t aware new releases continued to be made (which might have triggered more interest).

     

    Still it might be interesting to see if anyone here might dig out the games from storage, blow of the dust and get a game in to see how it’s aged over the years and if that old enthusiasm for the games might come to the fore again

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