Review – Deadzone version 2

Do you like Necromunda, if so I’m sure Mantic Games would never try to exploit the facts it’s out of production with a similar style game for you to buy instead. Actually that’s a poor opening statement, the only real similarity between the games are the skirmish setting and the plastic scenery in the box. Now it looks like I’ve written click bait in order to distract your gaze from the latest multi part Space Marine or Warjack kit out this month in a desperate attempt to further increase viewers to my blog, well it worked and now you can either stay here and read my thoughts on it after playing some games or close the browser is disgust. It’s your choice but as the WordPress dashboard doesn’t record how long a click-through lasts I’ve already won.
We used the deluxe gaming mat and fully painted scenery with two fully painted forces courtesy of my mate Simon “Morat” Brown. Simon airbrushed his scenery to achieve a oily used look where as I hit mine with a couple of different colours via spraycan before giving it a white spray coat and using ripped foam to stipple dark brown weathering all over it. I think I will use some Flory Washes to darken it down in the next step, but they served their purpose for now. The game seems to come with 75% of the scenery required so I would say those ruin sprues with the expansion are mandatory for someone wanting to buy into this.
The rules were easy to pick up: roll the command dice, move squares and when necessary roll tests to shoot or fight against your opponent, the process of learning them and playing a first 100 point game took slightly over an hour and left me quite happy, I screwed up, was punished for screwing up and could see what happened and why so I could alter my mistakes in the next game. The key rule here is that you roll a number of command dice at the start of a turn which give you extra shoot actions, extra combat actions, extra movement or can be used to individually add extra dice to a test, you can then re roll any number of them if over half of your force is still alive. You then have to pick when to use them all during your turn. The real zinger is that one dice result is a Special Order which can be used by whichever leader you picked to produce a special effect. Enforcer Sergeants can order their squad members to make an extra free move, while Plague stage 1A‘s can mutate a friendly model for a random effect.
I found that playing as Enforcers and moving into the centre and shooting didn’t work as trying to bring down large creatures in cover with laser rifles was completely ineffective, I discovered standing on scenery and shooting down was much better too late as after early luck a stage 2 got in amongst my forces and tore them to pieces.
We swapped sides and discovered that when used correctly Enforcers can manoeuvre quickly into great firing position and rain down pain, in fact I managed to lose a stage 2 in my deployment zone on the first turn before even activating it after Simon used a combination of special dice and his leaders ability to sprint a Enforcer over to the top of a building to shoot into my deployment zone. The game was saved by the monstrous stage 1A mutating itself to give itself the ability Agile via a special order and extra movement order then leaping over a nearby building and ambushing and killing a Enforcer who got too close while trying to capture a 2 vp objective. The following turn he managed to shrug off the effects of the remaining Enforcers fire before once again using a move order to pounce on the Enforcer Sergeant who was nearby giving me another 3 vp.
This prompted a discussion on how exactly to kill giant creatures like this, we thought that every force needs to have access to some ranged weapons with an AP value or ensure that they keep further than two squares away from it at all times while they capture other objectives, however in a following game we found that rolling the command dice until you get the extra dice result and then waiting until you can get a clear shot on it ensures that you can get a couple of wounds in.
Regardless, the rules are quick simple and engaging, the combat mechanic is one of the fastest ones I have seen in any skirmish miniatures game and lends itself to making tactical decisions based on model positioning rather than giving someone the best skills and weapons and watching them clean house. Squeezing models into the squares could be tricky as although Mantic has made the bases for the models very small sometimes they have to rest ontop of gantries or barrels to fit in the squares.
As I was writing up this report Jake Thornton published an FAQ for the rulebook which clears up some areas of confusion and fixes overpowered units making the game even better, sadly some of the errors were in the editing and they could have saved themselves some embarrassment by more in depth reading, however that being said with loads of leaders, troops, specialist and vehicles to test some balance issues are going to creep through.
Another thing I liked is that for 100 points you have a huge variety of things you can use and you really only scrape the surface of force design, we only used between 5-7 models each so it’s ideal for painters who work slowly as they can slowly build up their forces over time. The models are a mixed bag, the Orc equivalents and some of the weird aliens in the Rebs faction are embarrassing ( but appear to have been removed from sale) while the larger stage 1A Plague leaders and Enforcer Peacekeepers are quite nice, the tiny bases size for the infantry are the only problem because you can’t easily use alternate miniatures like the new 32mm based Space Marines and expect them to fit into the squares.
On the whole this is an ideal entry level miniature skirmish game to show to people who are put off by measuring distances or painting huge amounts of miniatures why miniature games are fun. Once Mantic start producing nice miniatures as standard as they are starting to do with Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf King’s Quest or The Walking Dead hopefully they will revist the models and I will be able to recommend this as one of the best miniature games around.
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