Friday, January 3, 2014

Beware the Angry (and exploding) Dog

Today I had the pleasure of trying out Deadzone, the nearly published kickstarter project by Mantic Games. A friend had taken part in it and had everything needed to play.

We played a 70 point Marauders vs Rebs game. I played Rebs.

The game uses a hidden mission system, where you and your opponent probably have entirely different missions, and you can only guess what your opponent is trying to achieve. That is a lovely touch to almost any game, I think.

Anyway, my mission was Break Through, which now, looking back, was a bad mission for my team. Objectives are to pass through enemy deployment zone and kill as many enemy models as possible. Marauders are quite tough, and the deployment zones happened to be corners, so it'd be difficult to rush through the space orcs.

Of course it didn't really help that I sacrificed my medic rather stupidly. I could have probably placed it a lot better to gain some cover from incoming fire, but no, I placed the medic almost dancing macarena right in almost open.

I guess it's a bit difficult to wrap your head around in a boardgame/miniature game hybrid that uses squares (or cubes) and not a ruler for movement, but the actual position and placement of your model within the cube is pretty important. But maybe next time I remember such things, because that slight mistake made the medic suffer rather a miserable last fifteen minutes of its life. First medic suffered horrible injuries from some kind of machine gun, after which a flame thrower set the Judwan on fire and it was pinned down, and next turn an enraged orc charged the burning pacifist who was lying on the ground and ended the medic's sorry life. I guess it matters a lot when and where you dance macarena. If you choose your place badly, you might get shot at, burned and stabbed. Well, anyone who does dance macarena probably deserves all that, so in the end justice was served.

Another rather brutal thing was the Mawbeast Bomber. Oh gods, that was horrible. The little doggy ran to a building, where two (2) of my rebel yndij troopers attempted to shoot it down with the help from battle tactic cards. The Mawbeast isn't very well protected, so shooting the dog should've been rather easy especially when both yndijs managed to get a clear shot against it. Only thing they ever did, however, was to just get one wound to it.

Next turn the dog engaged the yndijs in melee and killed them both, and due to some shenanigans it entered the same floor with my rebel sorak (a crowd control model).

Sorak attempts to break off from the beast with help from a tactic card again, but fails to do so and Mawbeast bites off sorak's head just as it jumps down the building.

I really, really wanted to get rid of that nasty lil' doggie now, and used Head Shot card with a human rebel to shoot the puppy. That card was a bit wasted since I wasn't aware that the dog had no armor, but anyway the end result was that it finally died.

The chances that the explosion would do much to neighboring squares was quite low, but still it pinned down my leader and KILLED the trooper that shot it. That 7 point model managed to kill four of my models and pin one of them down. Casualties in points were 22, almost one thirds of point allowance.

Game was over already on round 2. Rebels had scored a whooping 2 points, where one point came from the dog that exploded and one was the stranded mercenary who started the game in a square right next to my heavy firepower. None managed to infiltrate.

Well, it was a first game of something of an entirely different rule set than I've used to. The rules are more complex than in most boardgames, but even from my newbieish point of view they seemed quite solid when you finally have learned how the game "plays". I'm definitely giving Deadzone a few extra tries. Biggest disappointing things were the game universe and the lack of interesting factions (to my subjective opinion, of course)

Now this thing seems to be going into a review of sorts, so maybe I'll put down the pros and cons of Deadzone, but again I want to underline that they are based on one gameplay and strong, personal preferences in games.

- Possibility of interactive campaign play. How I miss Mordheim for this...
- Despite being a board game at its core, still play field is three dimensional. So game area isn't 8x8 squares, it's actually 8x8x8, though I'm not sure if there is actually a limit to the height.
- Use of d8's instead of d6's. Well, not much else here except that it makes the game feel a bit different. Actual use of dice was pretty straightforward, roll above this or that number and it's a success.
- Different goals for players during play.
- Very manageable sized playing board. Heck, this one takes a lot less space than some actual board games. If I compare to my own collection, even unexpanded Talisman takes a lot more space and unexpanded Touch of Evil takes about the same, though during play Touch of Evil probably needs more space thanks to tons of different discard piles.
- There aren't very long waiting times in between the turns built-in to the system. When all players know the rules quite well I believe the waiting times between getting to play are even less. And unless there is a mechanic I'm unaware of, this doesn't even change with game size, since you're activating only a few models in one go.

- Good enough rules overall, but they did (at least for just one game) seem to lack "oh wow I wanna play more!" effect. On the other hand, they didn't tick any nerves bad way either so that the rule set would be a deciding matter if I want to start the game or not.

- Game universe isn't very original. But that's just a design choice, so this opinion is probably most subjective of all thing listed here.
- Conjoined with the above: first four factions didn't sport much interest in me, and two that come next (space elves and dwarves) aren't that awesome either. Starting to play would be a matter of "what I think I can play" rather than "what I want to play".
- Wow... I can't think of anything else?


Now when I write those things down in a list like that it seems that the only reasons that keep me away from starting Deadzone are purely aesthetic. That's probably a good thing, right?


  1. Delved into the Soraks blaze away + blast rule and it was somewhat explained in the comments section of the designers living FAQ blog post (so a darn hard thing to find). Basically it should have been autohit and blast those orx in number of different directions. Sorry for that :/

    Happy to hear that my demoing didn't turn you off from the game though :D


  2. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that I'm actually trying to do an X-COM mod for Deadzone (still a long way to go of course). But that could maybe be one solution to aestethical problem.


  3. You know, the darndest thing already happened. Last night I did a warmachine order from firestorm games, and somehow it became a warmachine/deadzone order... :/

  4. Give the little finger to the devil, they say :D