Deadzone: A first playtest report

Deadzone playtest board

Deadzone playtest board

Following the release of the Alpha rules for Deadzone, I thought that I’d have a play with the rules.

As you may have seen in my last post, I’d dug my old Necromunda terrain out from the shed – I’m in the process of constructing some new buildings out of the bulkheads and plasticard, but in the mean time I dug around amongst the cardboard for some suitable pieces of terrain and came up with the following board.

Deadzone playtest board

Deadzone playtest board

The terrain wasn’t ideal, as the raised areas were without cover, but I thought that it would be OK for a play through of the rules…

Next off would be to find some suitable playtest figures. First the Enforcers (Apologies for the photo quality)

"Generic" troopers in heavy armour

“Generic” troopers in heavy armour

So, having sorted proxy figures for the Enforcers, it was only left to find suitable figures for the Plague. Let’s see, creatures that can spread disease through genetic mutation, with various generations of hybrids…

"Generic" Plague proxy figures - couldn't find my old hybrid metal figures...

“Generic” Plague proxy figures – I couldn’t find my old hybrid metal figures…

And so to the game itself.

First blood - 3rd Gen. Plague is killed by an Enforcer head shot

First blood – 3rd Gen. Plague is killed by an Enforcer head shot

I was playing the Plague, and my opponent (Dave) was playing the Enforcers -I deployed on my baseline, as did he. It was pretty obvious that he wasn’t thinking too much about making himself hard to see.

This turned out to be a bad move.

On my first move, I decided to try to seize as much high ground as possible, so I sent most of my 3rd Gen shooters onto the roofs of the neighbouring tall buildings. This left one open to a shot from the Missile Launcher, but thanks to some (very) poor dice rolling from Dave, it survived.

The morale of this photo - do not leave an option for a 'Clear Shot'

The morale of this photo – do not leave an option for a ‘Clear Shot’

This left the Missile Launcher open to a shot from two 3rd Gens…and a dead Missile Launcher Enforcer.

At this point I realised the error of my previous assessment during set-up. Cover in this game is vital, and leaving a clear shot (i.e. the shooter can see the entire target figure) for a shooter in an elevated position is pretty much suicidal.

Snipers are going to have a field day in this game.

I advanced my 2nd Gen Plague up the centre of the board, at which point the lead model was engaged in close combat by the Assault Enforcer

Enforcer charging a 2nd Gen Plague. Is this really a good idea?

Enforcer charging a 2nd Gen Plague. Is this really a good idea?

...obviously not...

…obviously not…

At this point, things went rapidly downhill for the Enforcers, as the two 2nd Gen Plague charged across the board with bullets bouncing off them and killed both of the remaining troops in quick succession.

IMG-20130515-00025IMG-20130515-00026IMG-20130515-00027IMG-20130515-00028

So, what are my thoughts on the game?

Well, first off, the movement and shooting work really well. I love the fact that the game does not need a tape measure (although a laser pointer may be in order) and from that side, things work really quickly. However, I think you have to fight the tendency just to place a model in a  square. Cover is vital in this game, so taking advantage of every bit of cover and ensuring that your opponent does not get a free shot is very important. The loss of the Enforcers Missile Launcher was a case in point – the model was just placed in the square, rather than half-hidden at the corner of a building. As a result, a 3rd Gen Plague on a roof shot and killed him rather easily, primarily due to the +2 ‘Clear Shot’ bonus.

It does also highlight that you need a lot of terrain in this game – open, clear rooftops are a recipe for disaster, so I will have to continue with the modelling to ensure (at the very least) that each building has walled edges for troops to hide behind.

The opposed dice rolling mechanics work really well – not quite so sure about the I-Go-U-Go turn order, but apparently that is being addressed in the 2nd edition Alpha rules, which are being released next week.

My only other concern is the strength of the 2nd Gen Plague. They are almost all-conquering in close combat, and are very difficult to kill, or even suppress, via shooting. Is this a game balance issue, or simply a case of learning the correct way of countering them. Difficult to say after a single game.

Also, how much did the terrain give advantage to one side? The simple solution will be to set up a mirrored table for the next game, and try again. I’ve got a few ideas on what Dave did wrong as Enforcers, so i think I’ll play them next time – I’m also going to look at playing Enforcer vs Enforcer games as a more ‘Hard’ Sci-Fi try out of the rules – I suspect I will be using these rules with my own figures…

Overall, a very positive first experience with this game, and I’m looking forward to playing this a lot more.

4 Comments on Deadzone: A first playtest report

  1. moocifer // May 17, 2013 at 13:25 // Reply

    Did any part of the game stand out though as different and/or exciting ??

    What has led me to drop my backing for Deadzone is that I find it nothing particularly special. It scratches no itch that couldn’t be soothed by any number of other games/systems.

    That being said the KS campaign appears to be great value and the product itself will no doubt be excellent. But why should I want it ?? 😦

    • Well, it got me to play a sci-fi game with my regular opponent, who is somewhat notorious for disliking playing too many rules due to complexity, so that in itself is a bonus.

      So, if anything stands out, it’s the fact that it’s gives a very similar playing experience to games which have, on the surface, a much more complex set of rules.

      But I do know what you mean. I am very tempted – especially having found all the scenery that I have, and knowing what models I have lying around the place – to drop my KS funding to the point where all I am buying is a digital copy of the rules and the rather nice playmats. Still, over 2 weeks left to make that decision.

  2. Have you looked at Infinity? I love the models and the rules seem pretty straight forward. I haven’t tried them yet as I still need to get a few bits but the starter rules are free.

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