21 September 2014

Deadzone-First Game Impressions

Comrade James Reporting: After a quick first spray paint of the terrain using the techniques from the excellent Esoteric Order of Gamers series of videos ,http://www.orderofgamers.com/preparing-deadzone-part-1/, I thought I should actually get a game in to try it all out.

For my first game I picked the Enforcers to play against an AI controlled Plague...I had to develop a simple AI system (one player rules are apparently coming in a new supplement soon) to control the Plague. In Deadzone, each player draws a mission card which they normally keep secret throughout the game until they accomplish their mission. Of course, I knew what mine was, but I decided to not reveal the Plague mission until there were 10 cards left to draw in their card deck. Each side starts with 20 cards, 4 forming their starting hand and more drawn throughout each round. Once one side has used up all their cards, the game ends. It forms a useful turn counter for the game, and therefore I could keep track of the half way point.

The earlier rounds, showing items scattered around the battlefield, an Objective,and a mutation on the Plague Sergeant hiding in the building...
Until the mission was revealed however, I had to establish a set of rules to control each of the Plague units actions. Essentially there are two main types of plague units, the shooters and the hand-to-hand types. For the shooters, I made them move towards the nearest objective or item counter, whilst taking pot shots at the closest target. The HMG shooter I set up high and used him to suppress Enforcer heavy weapon teams. The HTH Plague I made run at the nearest Enforcer and engage in close combat (Fighting) as soon as possible. At all times the HTH and moving shooters had to keep closing the enemy side of the board.

A Plague Stage 2A charges at the Enforcer Missile and Heavy Laser teams....

What this meant was that regardless of what type of mission I had drawn for the Plague, there were at least some units trying to achieve one of them or more. There are 4 basic types of Missions, being Kill the enemy, Survive, capture objectives, and escape off the opposite table edge. By the time the 10th card was drawn, I would have some units near the edge of the table (i thought), have one or two near objectives, and I would have killed a few Enforcers along the way.

The Enforcer Sergeant hides around the corner, ready to engage the Stage 2 about to close...

With this all setup, I checked my Enforcer mission which was to Control all three objectives...probably the hardest mission out there!

I didn't take enough pics for a turn by turn description, but the highlights included an Enforcer triggering a Booby Trap (thanks to a Plague card played as the Enforcer turned over an Item counter) which then blew him off the roof and into the middle of 2 Plague troopers, who engaged him in Hand to hand, which he survived, only to be torn apart by the Stage 2A monster in the centre....
The Enforcers had some success killing the other Stage 2A, a Hellhound and the leader of the Plague troops, but at the half way mark the Plague mission was revealed to be 'Survive', which meant they had already scored 6 of the required 10 points to win, and in the remaining two rounds needed for victory were able to keep more than half of their original 10 troops alive....

The situation at game end, with the Plague lurking behind buildings to survive till the end...

It's worth mentioning how victory points are determined at this point. Throughout the game players keep track of whether they are earning points or not, as this is dynamic and will change with the change of control of objectives, valuable items being dropped, etc. The key is to get to 10 VP before your opponent. So in my game, I scored 4 pts for every Objective (there are always 3) that I controlled outright, with no enemy within 1 'cube'. Of course, the instant an enemy entered that 1 cube radius, I no longer counted as having those 4 victory points. To win, I had to have undisputed control of at least 2 of the three objectives and pick up some 'intel' items which are worth 1 pt each as long as they are carried by your player.

For the Plague's 'Survive' mission, they secretly scored 2 pts for every round they had more than half their starting force alive. By the end of Round 5 therefore, they were able to claim victory, with 6 troops still alive.

So my impressions are this game has a lot of hidden depth to it, starting with random deployment zones, Objective placement and random scattering of usable items. Combined with randomly selected secret missions, the combinations of different games even with identical forces and terrain set up are innumerable. I love the hidden mission concept, as it opens up all sorts of faints and counter-feints, and counter-counter-feints , throughout the game.
The small play area (2 feet by 2 feet, or 8 3" squares per side) is actually a great size for this level of battle, and feels a lot bigger once inside the game...given that models only move up to 2, possibly 3 squares each round means it takes a few rounds to cross the battlefield, and even though the average force is 6-10 models strong, it still seems there are sufficient enemy to keep your head down...

My next game will be with my newly assembled and undercoated Marauders, which are Mantics version of Space Orcs...VERY much looking forward to that!!


  1. Interesting way to go about getting a game in! I've been itching to play more myself but keep hoping I will find someone around here interested in giving it a go

  2. WoW - clearly there is a lot more to this game than I had envisaged.
    Maybe one that Connor and Reilly would enjoy? Perhaps I should look out for a set then

    Your terrain looks awesome - I think the addition of AT-43 stuff with the same soapy treatment would blend in very nicely!

  3. Thanks gents, yes a surprising level of tactical depth, and the campaign system adds another whole element.

  4. Sounds good, James - I've been interested in this one since its inception; looking forward to some more AARs - nice one.