Getting Started with Dropfleet Commander
We have two shopping lists, depending on how you’re getting into the game. If you are the first one in the area buying into Dropfleet, and as such will have to be the one demonstrating the game to others, we recommend grabbing a starter set and a starter fleet of either UCM or Scourge, whichever appeals most to you. This will give you a very respectable fleet of your own, plus a nice sized fleet for whomever you want to demonstrate the game. You also get all the tokens you need to play without finding and printing anything from the website, plus the awesome Battle for Earth book. Alternatively, if there are two of you buying into the game together, just grab two starter sets and split the contents in half. You’ll need to find some command card decks later on, but you can either grab those from Kick Ass Mail Order or some other stateside retailer once you have the rules more firmly under your belt.
Look at all those ships. It's glorious.
Shaltari are freaking weird. To be honest, if you’re just starting out, we probably wouldn’t recommend this fleet. It has a lot of extra rules that are not particularly newbie friendly. That said, the models are awesome, so don’t let the learning curve intimidate you if you love the look. Just like everyone else, Shaltari need drop assets. They do in a very different way, though. When it comes to assembly, all you really need to know is you probably need at least two Emerald Motherships. These, combined with the six voidgates in the box (these have no assembly options, so we won’t discuss them further), are your drop assets. After that, we would recommend two Basalts. Shaltari have some solid launch capabilities, so having a pair of carriers is a solid plan. Finally, for your last two cruisers, we recommend a pair of Ambers. These are amongst the most user friendly Shaltari ships because of their wider arc for their primary weapons. The ability to both broadside and frontal attack is also nice. For frigates, you don’t need to worry about dropships, leaving you more free to build combat ships than other factions. We recommend three Jades, three Amethysts, and two Opals. Jades give you access to a nasty weapon: the particle cannon. This bad boy ignores all saves, so point the Jades at the thing you really want to die and go weapons free. Amethysts are your close range (for Shaltari) knife fighters. They pack a lot of pain into their close action beam weapons. Finally, Opals are your very annoying shield boosters, which can make your ships aggravatingly hard to kill. Trust us, you’ll want them. Once again, the Glass corvettes have no customization options. Just put them on their stands and they’re ready to go. Finally, you could probably go either way with the battlecruiser. The Ruby has a ton of firepower on weapons free, but we’re going to go the more controversial route and recommend the Sapphire. We really like the flexibility of being able to use it as either a close action beam weapon or dangerous bombardment weapon.
For PHR, we have a long list of ships we like. First up is the Orpheus. Shmitty has called this “the best ship in the game,” which is hard to argue. Orpheus cruisers bring your much needed bulk landers. Unlike other factions’ troopships, however, the Orpheus has all the weapons you normally get out of normal cruisers. Its main weapons are nasty light calibre broadsides, which tend to shred the lighter ships looking to score any early kill against a troopship. It also has a small burnthrough laser on the front. While it might not be a lot of damage, you can use the flash rule to add spikes to things you hit, making it easier for your other ships to engage that same target. Next up is the Ganymede, another Troopship. Like the Orpheus, it brings some solid weapons to the fight in addition to bulk landers. It has medium calibre broadsides as well as a solid bombardment weapon. UCM players probably look at the Ganymede with a little jealousy, as it’s the marriage of a Madrid and a San Francisco all in one very durable package. For your third cruiser, we recommend the Bellerophon heavy cruiser. It has a solid burnthrough laser, but you’re mainly bringing it for its fighters and bombers. PHR have top tier fighters, and the absolute best bombers. You’ll want some. The next cruiser we recommend is the Perseus. Heavy calibre batteries are extremely lethal, especially against enemy flagships. The Perseus should give you a taste of that type of weapon. Finally, for your last two cruisers, we recommend a pair of Theseus light cruisers. They bring a lot of firepower in a smaller package. Unlike other light cruisers, they do not have to be taken in pairs, but they're cheap enough that we recommend having the option. Moving on to frigates, we once again recommend starting with dropships. We’re going to recommend slightly less than usual since we recommended two troopships for the cruisers. Starting out, three Medeas should serve you well. They come with a small bombardment cannon as well, since PHR doesn’t skimp on the guns. Three Pandoras are also a solid choice. Their small burnthrough lasers are perfect for spotting, adding spikes to enemy ships. Rounding out your frigates should be two Calypsos. These are defensive ships that increase the lock values of enemy ships, reducing incoming damage. They are very VERY annoying. You’ll like them. As usual, the Echo Corvettes that come in the battlefleet just need to be put on flight stands. For you battlecruiser, we recommend the Priam. It has strong light calibre broadsides as well as fighters and bombers, giving you solid overall launch capability combined with the Bellerophon.
When in doubt, you can always magnetize
That’s all for our basic purchase list and assembly advice. If you want to dive in a little harder with your initial buy in, there are some other things that are nice to have. For just about every faction, the Destroyer packs are a nice buy. UCM has three fantastic options for their destroyers in the Kiev, the Havana, and the Vancouver. Scourge Succubi are dangerous atmospheric hunters. Though all the PHR options are solid, the Jasons really stand out as mean gunships. Resistance gets the most efficient bulk landers in the game in Aldrins. Shaltari destroyers are a bit lackluster, so consider their monitors instead. The Selenium Heavy Gates are really great pieces of utility for Shaltari fleets. Resistance might also want to consider some Monitors so they can get some Galileos. Their scan ability and the telescope greatly improve Resistance firepower. The Battle for Earth book is also a great buy if for no other reason than the background lore. It provides a great look at every faction in the game. It also has some scenarios, which are the lifeblood of Dropfleet. You can never have enough scenarios. You might also want some stuff from third party vendors. The starter sets comes with a basic modular playmat, but you might want something a little better. In addition to TTCombat's own game mats, Deepcut Studios and Mats by Mars make some great mats with mousepad material in the standard 4x4 Dropfleet size. Mats by Mars is stateside for cheaper shipping, but Deepcut Studio's prices are lower enough that the prices are roughly comparable after shipping costs. You really can’t go wrong with either vendor. We’ve used both at different times and loved what we’re gotten both times. Finally, a lot of folks don’t particularly like the standard Dropfleet bases, so Blotz (I know, this website looks a bit sketchy, but I've ordered from them no problem) and Laserforge Miniatures make alternatives. Laserforge makes a simpler all-acrylic solution that is a little pricier. Blotz makes an MDF and acrylic system that is a little bulkier, but also a little cheaper. Both require significantly large orders to get free stateside shipping, so plan accordingly.