Dropzone Houserules

2021-10-06 rules /

Revision 1.1

Core Rules Changes

The original rules were a masterclass in interconnected systems that had depth and thought in every rule. But they weren't perfect; CQB/Search was a mess of state-tracking and resolution timing, volume of fire could outpace specialist weapons at demolition, and there was far too much 'driving on' for a game called 'Drop____'. The Beta suggested good fixes to all of these issues and more, but in true Beta fashion was more about experimentation than refinement. And Battle for Earth / v2.0 was a clusterfuck of bad design, lack of playtesting, ill defined goals, and only slightly more to blame for a multi-year slump than a global pandemic.

But v2 isn't without merit. It's greatly improved with both .1 and .2 revisions to a decent ruleset, albeit not a perfect e one. So in the name of forward progress, these are the minimal changes to the v2.2.0 current ruleset to improve the balance and gameplay, in terms of strategy simulation and fun.

Mandatory Coherency

Page 13 "Moving" - Append the following.

A squad must end its movement in coherency.

If Coherency was disrupted previously (usually due to Units being destroyed), then isolated Units within the Squad must move as far as is necessary to end their move in coherency. If this is not possible within a single round of movement they must move as far as possible towards the Squad. Only separated Units that are in the minority must move (for example, if 2 Units in a Squad of 6 are out of coherency then only they will be forced to move). If exactly half of the Squad is out of coherency with the other, then the player may choose which half must move.

Notes: Allowing units to break coherency purposefully is dumb. It leads to weird abusive gamey plays, confusion, and just generally isn't worth the ink it takes to accommodate. Drop the entire concept.

Mixed Weapon Squads

Page 41 - "Weapon Options" - Remove entirely

Notes: TTC chose to be boring for no benefit. Part and parcel of re-enabling heterogeneous PHR walker squads. Which were only dropped because it was hard to code into the unit builder, not for any gameplay or loreful purpose.

Indirect Fire

Page 47 - 'Indirect' - Replace with the following.

Indirect Fire weapons may target an enemy unit using a friendly units Line of Sight even if the firing unit cannot draw LoS. This attack suffers a +2 Accuracy penalty unless the friendly model is a Scout. Indirect weapons ignore Hull Down.

Notes: Fixing a poorly worded, convoluted, nonsensical mess of a rule. Indirect weapons are inherently not bothered by intervening terrain ala the Hull Down state, and all the rigmarole piled on is unnecessary. Hard revert to the original wording. I have a really hard time believing this was playtested in any way.

Reduced and Small Arms

Page 47 - 'Reduced-x' - Remove third and fourth paragraphs.

Add Special Weapon Rule Small Arms (SA-X)

A Small Arms weapon may replace all of its normal shots with a single AA shot at a range of 6” using the weapon’s normal Ac value, when firing at aircraft only. The Energy value of this shot is equal to the number after the SA entry (e.g. SA-6). This rule has no effect if the infantry base using the weapon is reduced to less than half its original DP.

Notes: Decouple the AA concentrated fire mode from Reduced. There's weapons that should not be able to hit planes, and just better control over weapon profiles this way. 'Streamlined' my ass. Individual unit changes detailed later.

Demolition and Collateral

Page 27-28 & 30 - 'Destructible' & "Collateral Damage" - Replace with the following.

If a weapon scores a Critical on a Destructible scenery piece, it only loses 1 Damage Point and an E5 hit is inflicted on a random Squad inside the scenery. Damage is dealt to the most damaged base in the Squad. Both Dodge and Passive Countermeasure saves may be used.

If the Scenery has 10 or fewer DP (or has been reduced to 10 or less DP) it suffers Critical effects on rolls exceeding its Armour by 1 or more instead of the normal 2.

Notes: tracking and resolution timing of Collateral tokens is a lot of faff for little effect. I'm consistently seeing buildings fall well before the units inside take any meaningful amount of damage. A litmus test should be whehther a squad of Katanas (4 for 140pts for ~7DP/turn) is equivalent or better demolition value than a dedicated demo unit like a group of Enyos (2 for 130pts for ~7DP/turn), and restricting criticals is one aspect of the following interconnected rules that needs adjusted.

Demolition vs Conventional Weapon Damage to Buildings

Page 46 - 'Devastator' - Replace last paragraph with following.

Weapons with Devastator-X(Scenery) inflict 2 DP on critical roles against Scenery instead of 1 DP like normal weapons. Roll for Collateral for each point of critical damage.

Notes: "Demolition" weapons should always be more effective at building damage than conventional weapons. This balances without making demo a rarity as it currently is, combined with a few profile tweaks and correct structure stats (A 11 DP 30 for a normal large building).

Area Weapons

Page 45 - 'Area' - Replace with the following.

This weapon uses the Blast template - a round marker with a diameter of 4”.

Roll to hit with the weapon following normal targeting rules.

If the weapon hits, place the centre of the Blast template over the centre of the body of the target unit. Any unit (friendly or enemy) at least partially touched by the template gets hit automatically. Roll to damage separately for each unit hit, following the normal rules.

If the roll to hit is a 1, the weapon misses. If the roll to hit misses on any other number, the weapon is only partially effective; reduce the energy of the attack by 1 for each point it missed its attack roll by. For example, a roll of 3 for a 5+ attack at Energy 8 would resolve at Energy 6.

Infantry units hit by an Area weapon suffer D6 hits. Destructible scenery pieces suffer D3 hits. Infantry at the edge of a Garrison cannot be targeted by Area attacks. Infantry at the edge of a Garrison and Scenery are hit by templates as normal.

Area weapons with multiple Shots or squads with multiple area weapons place all of the blast markers at the same time, although you can place them on different units in the same squad.

Notes: I do actually prefer the no-scattering of current Area rules, but it needs the Energy penalty to balance, especially with only a Large template. Rather than a boring static -2, you get more interesting dynamics with this method. But the really important part is re-enabling building damage from templates. It allows units like the Remote Bomb Bus to actually attack buildings, and for the 3rd (4th?) time, it pushes the game back from feeling like a board game to a wargame.

Fire & Flame

Page 28 & 46 - 'Flammable' & 'Flame'

Delete the 'Flammable' entry entirely.

Delete the last paragraph of the 'Flame' special rule entry.

Notes: Given the time period a game represents, tracking burning effects adds nothing to the game. Save it for special scenario effects.

Defenders Block Garrison Entry

Page 28 - 'Entering & Exiting' Garrison - Insert after the first paragraph.

Garrisons can’t be entered from an entrance on a wall from which an enemy unit has been allocated to fire from. Scenery without discrete edges can’t be entered from any point within 3” of a point enemy unit has been allocated to fire from.

Notes: There's too little benefit for 'going to the wall' at present, an incentive also gives the secondary anti-infantry weapons more of a role.

Simultaneous CQB and Lethality

Page 29 - 'Shooting in a Garrison' - Insert after the second paragraph.

If an enemy squad performs a CQ Shooting action and the targeted unit has not fired a CQ weapon this turn, the targeted unit may make a CQ Shooting action in reaction. The target must be the attacking enemy squad. Resolve the attacks simultaneously.

Notes: CQB is currently a mess. Casualties need to be high on both sides of the fight, with an edge to the occupier. I can cite a literal list of sources on peer-on-peer city fighting by modern regular infantry to back it up as well. The current Alpha-strike gameplay of berserkers and other elite infantry just isn't particularly fun. It encourages dog piling by both sides and hesitation over action, as 'second man in wins', which is objectively (fuckin' fight me, come on) stupid.

Search Rolls and Objective Passing

Page 35 - 'Hidden Objectives' & 'Mobile Objectives' - Replace with the following.

Hidden Objectives Unless otherwise noted, all Objectives in Garrisons are Hidden Objectives.

A friendly Infantry squad in coherency with at least 1 unit in the same Garrison as a Hidden Objective may make a special search action, counting as both of their actions for the round.

When searching, roll 1 die for the squad searching. If the result is 6 or more for a Large building or 5 or more for all other size of building, the Objective permanently becomes an Open Objective and the unit claims it.

If there are enemy units within the same Garrison, the die roll is modified by -1.

If the squad has 3 or more units, the die roll is modified by +1.

If the squad fails to find the Objective, place a Searched token on the Garrison. Each friendly Searched token modifies future Search rolls by +1.

Page 35 - 'Mobile Objectives' - Replace all instances of "Infantry or Vehicle unit" with only "Infantry unit"

Notes: Increasing the Search roll each round is some gamey bullshit. You can get the same effect from in-game actions without the arbitraryness of it. Bigger buildings should be harder to search (might still make Small buildings a roll of 4 actually), and the longer you search something and the more people searching something, the more likely it should be found. Also, the idea that APCs but not light troopships have comms gear for 'scanning' was some nonsense. Tying search rolls to unit size mostly fixes, though requires tweaks to unit rules for both the PHR and Shaltari to keep it feeling fair.

Airstrikes and Interceptors

Page 43 - 'Fast' - Append the following.

Fast aircraft may enter the board from any edge.

Notes: 'Fast' aircraft don't feel fast and reactive if they have to sit around for a whole turn on the board and always enter from friendly edges; plus you get some really weird edge cases for targeting with corner deployment. A simple fix. Though they still operate like a gunship with no breaks more than a wholly different class of aircraft.

Alternative and Better Solution: Use the Beta's Airstrike rules.

Unit Changes



I've come to dislike the increased use of Focus. It's more dice and more steps for something already modeled in the game. Whether you want to combine fire is a decision you make before you roll the dice. Many of the units have had their number of weapon profiles reduced as if this helps in any way with gameplay. It abjectly does not. The unit cards were not meaningfully simplified, the focus rule has more corner cases than does Focus, and it's just not enhancing the game. It's not that an egregious problem, but still, the game was every so slightly more actually 'streamlined' when Scourge Plasma Hoses had Focused and Wide patterns.