Deadzone: First impressions (again)


(C) Mantic. Apologies for the stock shot, I haven’t painted any of my models yet!

I was first introduced to Mantic’s skirmish game Deadzone over a year ago when it first came out, and have recently had a go at playing it again.

The game plays a bit like a mix of Necromunda, Malifaux and a board game, with an odd mix of moving your models in squares marked on the board yet still using ‘true line of sight’ for determining who can see who. Combat is played out by eight-sided dice, with a rather nice mechanic where – rather than the attacker rolling to hit, and then the defender rolling to try and save themselves – each player rolls a certain number of dice and compares the relevant stat. I haven’t seen much of the background and world itself yet, but the snippets I’ve read in the rulebook give a good idea of this futuristic setting and it seems quite interesting.

Two of the main draws for me personally are the Mission Cards and Battle Cards. Mission Cards are drawn before the game, and give your strike team its objective for this game. This can range from a straightforward ‘kill all enemy forces in this area’ to having to hold or recon certain objectives (which, rather nicely, are labelled X – Z and placed face-down so, until you get there, you don’t know if you’re converging on the right objective or not). Both players draw separately from their deck, and the different factions each have unique Mission Card decks. You won’t reveal your mission until you’ve completed it either, which leads to a nice game of guessing what your opponent is up to!

Battle Cards are used during the course of the game, and are primarily a way to buff your own units and occasionally debuff the enemy. You draw a random deck of 20 (so you don’t know what’s in the deck), and can play these during your turn or your opponent’s depending on the card. These range from adding dice to an action – thereby increasing your chance of succeeding – to adding additional armour penetration to an attack or even distracting an enemy model so it counts as having already activated(!). I really like this, since it adds another dimension to the game and allows for some control over the more random nature of the dice.

It’s a fun game, though I must admit I have a couple of minor points from the first two plays (and let’s be fair, two plays is hardly enough to accurately judge a game! This is only my first impressions :) ). First off is the ‘true line of sight’ – perhaps I just play Malifaux too much, but it seems very clunky and, disappointingly, encourages people to model their figures to make the most of this. Perhaps I’m just spoilt by Malifaux’s method of determining line of sight, but I’d take that any day over true line of sight.

Secondly, at least in the two games we played (both Enforcers versus Forge Fathers), it seemed like attacks either did nothing at all, or completely obliterated the target. In the first game my Enforcer sniper seemed like he was guaranteed to kill whatever he aimed at, while my Defenders – while great at tanking damage – rarely penetrated the Forge Father’s armour. Finally, and I hope any Deadzone players reading this can correct me, but I can’t see any reason for taking a numerous force? It just seems to be better in pretty much every way to run three or four elite models.

Deadzone is incredibly cheap, as far as games go – you can get a faction box for about £10, which includes all the models you’ll need for a crew, complete with stat cards, a Mission Card deck and a Battle Card deck. I’ve just backed the Infestation kickstarter, and will put up pictures here as and when I get round to painting my Enforcers. There are a lot of Arcanists waiting to be painted first, though…

Take care,



2 thoughts on “Deadzone: First impressions (again)

  1. Yeah, in the way the dice mechanics work you are more likely to either do nothing or completely destroy the target since wounding is single point on what could be a six (or more) scale of successes. At the same time, I have wounded and had unit wounded quite a bit too. However, most of my games are Enforcers vs. Plague which is probably the most balanced. Enforcers vs. Forge Fathers is likely to skew further down the whiff or red mist results.

    As for number of units I find 5 to 7 being a much better number for a strike team. In the case of the Enforcers and the Forge Fathers, a number of their mission involve capturing/controlling objectives, sometimes all of them. It is not hard to get at least one kill even of an elite unit and suppressing another one to uselessness making it near impossible to have enough troops to accomplish the mission. Remember, when Blazing Away in a unit in cover that takes a die from the model trying to Survive which means the attacker has 3 dice to your 2. They keep at it long enough and/or have dedicated suppression units (i.e. Burst Laser) or enough numbers to support they will eventually force that unit to keep their head down. Even if that doesn’t work, they can use Frag weapons which don’t even allow Steadfast Battle Cards to prevent the pinning effect.
    And then there is the ganging up in a Fight. If a Plague player gets four 3pt plague dogs into the same cube as your Huscarl in Forge Guard Armor that’s 7 dice from each of them. Unless you get Knockback or killing them working for you, that 27pt unit is going to be brought down by 12 points.

    Anyways, good review. I agree with you that the game has a lot of quirks and flaws that I would have preferred to have been worked out before release, but I do find the game fun anyways.

  2. Pingback: Catching up | forgotmytea

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