Heavy Gear Blitz makes an attempt to include a wide array of units for a combined arms style of wargame. Drones are a natural addition for the setting. Universal Drones are a Standard Upgrade available to any faction. Any army can purchase them for 1 TV and there is no difference in the profiles between factions. It’s important to note for new players that Universal Drones are different from the Utopia N-KIDU drones which act more like normal models on the table. That said, Utopia ALSO has access to the less advanced Universal Drones. Below is a simplification of how Universal Drones work:
- In any combat group 2 models can buy drones. Non-infantry gain a drone bay for free allowing you to deploy it during the game. For simplicity I’ll call a unit with a drone an operator for the rest of this article but this is not a game term.
- Drones activate at the same time as their operator. They can activate first or second.
- Drones have to end their activation within 6” of their operator or they go inert (can take no action or reactions.) Inert ends instantly if the operator returns to within 6”. Basically they should stay in formation.
- Drones have the same advantages as infantry (only take a max of 2 damage from weapons without AI and gain 2+d6 for cover) and take no extra damage from AP. They still are weak (AR:2 H/S: 2/1) but without the right weapon it could take a few shots to remove them.
- Drones are essentially treated as a token rather than a unit. They can’t capture or contest objectives, they don’t provide cover or wrecks, can’t buy equipment, and don’t count towards a CG’s action limit.
- Deploying a drone can be done at any time during the operator’s turn but it costs the drone’s action to deploy (remember it can still move though). If the operator Braced, the drone can deploy for free. See the Transport rulers for more details.
Why Bring a Robot Friend?
Like the rest of the standard equipment, Drones let you plug holes in a list or add a specific advantage to a unit. Some units might be able to get into a key position where a demo drone or a target designator could be useful, but may not have good options in the faction or UA for that. Likewise you might find you really want an AMS or an Anti-Infantry option in a Combat Group but don’t want to spend all the points necessary to bring a full unit for it. Drones also work well if your list is just a point or two short.
Types of Universal Drones:
These drones bring the high movement rate and TD upgrade typical to recon units. At EW5+ they are not the most reliable of forward observers, but can still be useful fire support units, or for a FO that is expendable. Many Recon gears can use ECCM to make this drone a little better at its job.
Hunter Killer Drones:
Remember how I wrote that drones can fill holes in a list? Well this is that. The Hunter Killer brings a Medium Machine Gun with AI and AA. It’s not likely to hurt most VTOLs but works fine against airstrike counters and will do some damage to infantry units. Jump Jets let it move to an unexpected firing position as well! If your list is short a point, the hunter killer is the way to fill it.
The Anti-Missile System, or AMS gives the drone and any models in formation with it a free reroll of their defense dice against any indirect attacks or airstrikes. This drone is great for models using ECM Defense that are already going to try and be near to friendlies. AMS also doesn’t cost any action, so you can use the drone’s action to hunt infantry if you like.
Formerly the self-destruct drone, this model is removed after using it’s attack. The attack though is deadly: Everything (friend or foe) within 3 inches takes a DAM:8 AP:2 attack. It is slower than the other drones and hard to “spring” on an enemy. Then again, this might cause them to stay away, which can sometimes be its own advantage. Infantry Units planning to hold an objective might want to consider this for an additional close range threat, as will SK units that plan to spend time behind enemy lines. Since it has Demo:4 it can also be used to attack enemy fortifications or a pesky building.
A Last Word on Drones
In addition to being a good one point investment, Universal Drones also offer some interesting modeling options, and a great way to add flavor to your force. Try them out and get a feel for what they can add to your army. Who knows, your little buddy might just be the hero of the battle.