I just came back from playing Dropzone Commander. It was a demo game of sorts, though no-one had extensive experience about the game.
We played with the two player box starter armies, Scourge vs UCM. I was playing Scourge.
Game beginning brought me horrid flashbacks about shooting with lascannon in games of Warhammer 40k. I was rolling dice so terribly that at one point it became hilarious. I didn't roll even a single 3+ until second round!
Second round wasn't all that much better. UCM had already found an objective from the building in the middle and had embarked back to APC. What does it take to kill one APC? Well, something more than three anti-tank skimmers, three dropships and two anti-aircraft skimmers. Exactly one (1) damage point was caused to the APC, and to really rub it in, that damage point had been caused by anti-aircraft vehicle!
This was amazing, as Scourge starter set looked like it was designed on having high speed, low range, decent skill and heavy damage. And now all of my combat units were clumped there in the middle.
UCM tanks shot my anti-tank skimmers, only one remained. Enemy anti-aircraft weaponry disembarked that turn, which gave me a little bit more survivability.
One of my infantry squads entered the building on left and started searching for the objective.
Turn three I was surprised how slow the enemy APC was after all. I did score the last damage point in, and the whole thing exploded along with the middle objective. UCM was closing in on the right side objective building, but was probably a little afraid by my anti-aircraft power.
It wasn't for long until all of my dropships had been shot down. Nonetheless, there was some kind of a turning point in the game now. Skimmer bonuses against shooting attacks caused enemy to miss a lot of attacks, and though their last infantry had entered objective building on right, they had not found it yet. My second infantry unit were speeding to the building on right. They needed to survive three enemy tanks, though.
Squad on the left found objective and started hauling it to my table edge. The other transport disembarked my second squad (though now when I think of it, I think I moved 6" and disembarked instead of the half move) which entered building on right. UCM decided to leave the building before close combat ensued. My troops found the objective and disembarked to my transport.
Late in the game I had two anti-aircrafts still moving about, and both infantry units and their transports. I had managed to shoot down one dropship, one APC with squad inside and one enemy tank. For comparison, I had lost three dropships, three anti-tank skimmers and one anti-aircraft skimmer.
Both of my transports with a squad inside with an objective managed to escape the board, and the other transport had even suffered a damage point. We probably played around eight or nine rounds, though, as nobody remembered the turn limit.
Anyway. It was a victory, but a pyrrhic one at best. I hope Scourge officers higher up in the hierarchy won't punish underlings, that manage to lose three dropships, too harshly. Probably they do, as their aesthetics give a bad guy impression.
So. What to say about the game itself? Well, I went in completely unprepared and still managed to grasp the rules well enough that we actually got to play a game. I'm not sure how long the game would have taken if we hadn't got a third player checking for rules. Anyway, I'm sure the system itself is simplified enough that games play relatively quick once both players know what they're doing.
In a way the rules felt familiar with 40k background. Attack rolls are made with a d6, and you got accuracy value that you have to beat, pretty much exactly like Ballistic Skill without any unnecessary extra tables. Ability to damage things was done by comparing weapon strength against target armour value and finding out the required score from a table.
Activations, on the other hand, played entirely different. You have battlegroups of multiple models that activate in I-go-you-go fashion. Starting player is determined each round by rolling initiative, like in Battletech. This created interesting "I have to win initiative now or all is lost" situations, though I think I won, like, two initiatives during whole game.
My verdict is that the rules didn't feel bad, and there's probably extra depth hidden in command card mechanics that weren't used in this demo game. Gameplay didn't spark a "wow I must get play more" reaction, but it's difficult to judge if that was because of the rules, or was it just because I'm not a big fan of small scale games, nor science fiction games.