Mantic: Deadzone Rules Review

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Hi everyone, Kraggi here from the Varcan Cluster. Time to let you know about the latest thing to come out of Mantic Games, and this one is pretty damn impressive!

More after the jump!

::Updated after an error in understanding made it into the Review (22nd Jan 2014)


Measurement
Well the first place is probably the  measurements used in the game.
So first thing you need to know about Deadzone is that it uses 3” Cubes for all measurements, no need of a ruler, no arguing that millimetre one way or another.
You are in one or another Cube you cannot be in two of them. Each Cube can contain upto 4 models, and each model has an assigned size.
These vary from Normal (1 Space) all the way up to Huge (4 Spaces).
Terrain

The Terrain, the terrain buildings are all built around the same 3” cubes, you go from solid walls that nothing can pass through to windows & doors that have size restrictions (1-4).

A Cube with terrain in it counts as cover… regardless of the models positioning.

Line of Sight

So line of sight is again a key feature of Deadzone, can you see the model or not. There is also a simple rule. Can you see the entire model? If not then it isn’t a clear shot. If you can see every part of the model then you get a bonus when shooting.
The Faction Decks

Each faction has its own deck of cards. These cards come in three categories.
1.        The Mission Cards
a.   You use the mission cards by drawing one randomly at the beginning of the game to pick yourself a mission. You do this after choosing your strikeforce, and after seeing your opponents strikeforce. You mission is secret and only you know it, but you can mulligan to swap it if the mission is one you do not think you can complete
b.   The mission cards also determine the deployment type, and deployment types tell you where to put the objective markers (X,Y &Z), these are shuffled and placed blind, so you don’t know which one is which until one of your models moves into a cube with it, then you check it, but don’t tell your opponent.
c.  The mission cards are turned over at the end of the game to tot up how many VP’s you got and whether you succeeded in the mission or not.
d. The Rulebook gives you a nifty way to track your Victory points in the game that will keep your opponent guessing right up until the end.

2.       The Strikeforce Cards
a.       All the vital statistics (including points) for your strike force
b.       They list the details of the Weapons they carry
c.       The Special Rules they benefit from

3.       The Battle Cards
a.       Used in the game to buff your strike team. Also used as a game timer, you get 20 in total, once you run out (or your opponent) the game ends. You discard one a turn so the maximum time the game lasts is 20 player turns. 
The Strikeforce
So now you need to pick your strike force, the team that’s going into the Deadzone for you. Strikeforces are built to a set points limits of 70, and the starting box gives you around 100+ points worth of models, giving you the chance to vary your gaming experience massively.
You need to pick a Leader, and then you get to pick troopers, & specialists. Each trooper unlocks a Specialist for you to take.

The models in the starter set are displayed on the left, given the varying points values of these models you actually get a fair amount of choice as to how much / what combo you want to field.

You may also decide to purchase additional Battlecards for your deck, giving you more time before you timeout.

You can also purchase items for a model to carry… this might be ammo for a better shooting, or a medpack, or even a grenade! They cost points too, and some of them are one use only! Most models can carry one item, some can carry three and others can’t carry any.

These things can also be found on the table top, at the beginning of the game you and your opponent place 8 crate tokens on the table top. When a model moves into a squad with one you get to pick up the item if you have space.
You have 70 points so pick your force!

The Turns

:: UPDATED 22nd January ::

So I got it wrong… in my rush to read and play the rules I misunderstood one section of the rules, all around the activations. So here I am going to correct this review to reflect this.

The game plays in rounds.

A Round will consist of multiple Player turns.

In Each Player turn they may activate their commanders command total in models (this varies from 2-6 models).

If at any point in your turn, you have less models left to activate than your opponent you may end your turn to force your Opponent to activate their models. 

At this point, your Opponent will need to activate a minimum of two of their models (or have run out of models to activate), which then means they have less models to activate than you and can therefore pass off their activation to you.

Larger strike teams can always struggle to finish the round first (a players round is finished when all their models have been activated). Because they will generally have less models to activate, but once they have activated their maximum for their turn, their opponent can activate all of theirs in one turn, thus ending their round. 

Deadzone uses an alternating model activation sequence. Your commander’s level determines how many models you can activate per turn. So if I activate my Enforcer Sniper, then my Opponent gets to active his Marauder Commando, and then I get to activate another model and so on.

You don’t get to activate your entire force (unless its very small) each turn. So you need to choose which models to activate, and to react to what your enemy does.
Each model gets either two Short Actions or one Long Action in their turn. They can also have one Battlecard played on them, which can grant bonuses to survival checks, or an extra action.
Players alternate models until one player has activated all of theirs, and then the other player gets to activate their models one after another until they run out of models they can activate.

A game ends in one of three circumstances:

  1. One player achieves 10 Victory Points
  2. Either player runs out of Battlecards in their deck
  3. A player is wiped out / has no models left on the battlefield

The Dice Tests



Deadzone uses D8’s when you are required to complete a test for an action.
The score you need is either part of the test, or the stat you are testing against. Rolling the number or above equals a success. An 8 counts as a success and allows you another D8 roll (and continues until you have rolled no 8’s.
You then compare your number of successes to the test criteria, or to the number of successes your opponent rolled.
More successes is a means you complete the action, doubling the number required in a skill test, or doubling the number your opponent got in an opposes test means you get an additional benefit, and in some circumstances, tripling also provides an even better benefit.

The Counters

The Counters are decent quality and you get plenty of them. From the mutation counters (in purple) for the plague, to the Objective counters in the top left. 

You can get acrylic ones and while I might get some myself (being a bit of a fanboy), you are able to play the game from the off with these.






Additional Information

The game designer (Jake Thornton) also has his own blog where he posts insights of games he designs & plays. Asks for feedback from players, and where he manages a Living FAQ for Deadzone. You can post questions you have about the game here and will get advice from others, but it also means that the question will be included in an FAQ that helps all players! 

There are rules for campaign play and building your own strike forces, for models levelling up and gaining new skills or dying due to their injuries.
The other nifty part of the campaign is that as a model levels up its points cost increases, so you are able to take less models in your 70 points, meaning people joining the campaign aren’t at a massive disadvantage, as they are always facing a 70 point strike force. 

The people in the campaign longer will have more powerful models, but will have less of them.

As with all things in a campaign the organiser can elect to increase the strikeforce sizes for the game to give you more models.
In the future there are two more factions coming out (Asterians & Forgefathers) , a tonne of expansion models for the current factions, and a set of cards to allow for solo play against Zombies (in essence plague victims that are too dumb for the plague to want to use). Rules for 3+ players, Multi mat games and a lot more.

I for one look forward to seeing how this goes, and I was happy not to be disappointed by the contents of my kickstarter!

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