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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Deadzone at Tabletop Day

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

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Teraton plus backup prepares to sour someones day...
A few of us who pledged on the Deadzone kickstarter decided that enough was enough and set a deadline for playing and a punishment for those who didn't bring painted minis. It was going to be me, Anders, Claes and Kosta and the idea was that we would be able to run two games simultaneously. I was going to use Enforcers, but changed my mind to Rebs, Anders had his Plague painted and Claes had his Marauders. Kosta is still waiting for his Asterians that will come in the second shipment so I would lend him my Enforcers.

Unfortunately the plan didn't quite work out as we had hoped as Kosta couldn't make it until later in the afternoon while Claes had to leave early and Anders had comitments during the day, which meant that he only saw the start and end of the day. So yeah... not entirely successful. We need to reschedule and make sure we really have an entire day to play. Still, here's a quick rundown of events.

First turn of the first game. Plague have moved and now Marauders are activating.
I did manage to play (almost) two complete games and start a third. Anders had to leave the first turn into his game against Claes so I took over as Plague and did my best to keep the Marauders at bay. Or rather, they tried to keep the Plague at bay. This is harde than you think though, and once I managed to get a Generation 2 monster into close combat it was pretty much all over for the orx. Claes was a bit disheartened by this as he only managed to take out a single dog in return, but I think it all comes down to us not being used to the system and the play format.

Second turn of the game. As you can see in upper right, a Gen 2 has rampaged through the Marauder lines
killing a Mawbeast and a Commando and is making a beeline for the Commander.
After that me and Claes started a second game with me using my Rebs against his Marauders but we only made it a couple of turns before he had to leave. It consisted mostly of me bombarding his troops with a bunch of Blast weapoins, throwing them around and pinning them but not doing much damage. Except for my Reb Leader who sniped the Rainmaker Ripper Suit from the other end of the board which was kind of cool. Then again, it didn't help Claes feeling of defeat. 

With two Marauder Commandos barreling down on her, the Rebs leader kept her calm and sniped the Ripper Suit right between the eyes! Then the Sorak fired his blast weapon on the two Commandos, scattering them.
Then there was a bit of a break as I was left to my own devices in the apartment. I did find both my Infinity rulebook and the Lightning Strike rulebook that I had lent to Anders ages ago. And I spent some time cleaning up Anders computer that was riddled with bloat and malware. So silver lining and all that. Hehe! 

When Anders got back we played another game with him commanding the Plague and me the Rebs. This was really the only proper game played during the day and it also ended in a crushing victory for the Plague. We both had (secret) missions where we needed to kill the opponents models. Anders needed to kill expensive models and specisalists/leaders while I needed to survive and simply kill as many enemies as possible. 

Unfortunately it seems like I didn't learn anything from playing with the plague in the game earlier during the game so for some unexplicable reason I advanced a couple of spaces with a few of my troops which ended in disaster. Anders managed to use a combination of Battle Cards and the Command special order to move his Generation 1 super monster (who is normally very slow!) into combat with one of my Kraaw and the turn after the same combination plus the Winged mutation allowed his Generation 2 monster to move four spaces and into combat with a human.

It started well enough, with the Kraaw blasting some pesky plague Hounds. If only I'd stayed back and fired away.
Although my Kraaw did survive one turn the game was basically over for me at this point as I didn't have much that could actually kill these things in my arsenal. My plan was to rely on suppression fire to keep them at bay, but when they're among your troops in turn two it's not much you can do. My second Kraaw did make a valiant attack on the Gen 2 and wounded it which allowed my sniper leader to dispatch it, but she was then eaten by a mutant hound in return, leaving only a Kraaw and a Survey Drone alive on my side of the table as the game ended. He killed eight of mine while I killed two of his ending the game 14-4 to the Plague. 

Although we did make a couple of rules mistakes, like forgetting that Ammo gives you two extra dice instead of one, and granting infinite free actions (meaning the Gen1/2 could simply keep going into the next enemy and fight again if he won his combat) my fate was sealed as soon as one of the big beasties managed to get to one of my troops. The game area is very tight indeed, so the urge to move forward, which is usually what you do in other miniature games, is something you need to unlearn when playing Deadzone. Or when playing against the Plague anyway. 

You can see a couple of my mistakes here. One was to deploy a lot of my troops behind solid cover, meaning they'd have to fire to move. And one (more serious one) being the Kraaw in upper left who advanced WAY too long.
My mission was to survive as long as possible (one point at the end of every turn I had 50%+ left of my force) and then simply kill enemies (1 point for everey model killed, regardless of cost). What I should have done was probably bunch my guys up one one flank where I had the best view and then used Blaze Aways (DZ speak for suppression fire) and Blast attacks to keep the Gen 1/2s pinned while my leader and humans tried to kill the squishier Generation 3s. That could actually have worked. Moving forward, not so much. So, some good lessons there.

The Plague big man! I'm not really sure he's worth the investment to have in your force,
but he sure makes for an impressive sight!
We also tried to play this as a small campaign, with maybe three battles each and then call it quits. However, since I first read the campaign rules for Deadzone I've been a little sceptical of the whole idea. Jake Thornton decided to go down the route of quick played and "balanced" which I can respect, but it does make for a much less... colourful campaign than Necromunda. Or those are my first impressions anyway. Basically you buy a "stable" of troops for 140 points, and when you go to battle you bring 70 points from this stable with you. 

You might wonder why you need the stable to begin with and the answer is two-fold: first you need it because all battles are at 70 points and because of this always "balanced", so you need to have subsitutes for when your guys get killed. Which brings me to the second part of the answer, Deadzone is very lethal - if a model gets taken out during a game it's automatically dead unless you spend three Reputation Points to keep it alive, and even then there's a large chance it'll get a stat decrease and it will miss the next game unless you pay another point of Rep. And Rep=Victory Points that you earn during games. The most you can possibly achieve during a game is 14, so four points is a lot. Especially since you need to replace all the casualties that will keep mounting up (not to mention you might want to buy some new troop types that you unlock as you play!).

Compare this to Necromunda where a models usually just went 'down' rather than were taken out of the game altogether, and even then you alway rolled a die for it to see if it survived (chance was one in three I seem to recall). Basically, a model actually dying was somewhat rare. What this means is that Deadzone feels much less like Necromunda and more like... a small 40k campaign with resource management. Or something. Which is, after all, more adherant to the setting as these combatants aren't gangs but military forces on a mission. Still, this makes the campaign loose quite a bit of the charm that you found in a Necromunda campaign. I think this can be fun as well, but in a completely different way. I think it comes down to this: your team of models probably won't become a team of personalities, because in the end they're simply cannon fodder.

Plague advancing. I checked my BGG play logs and it turns out that the Plague is yet undefeated around these parts, regadless of who plays with or against them. We need to re-think our tactics!
Now bear in mind that these are simply my first impressions and we still haven't actually played through a proper campaign. And I want to stress that I don't think the campaign mode is bad, it's just different from what I had hoped for; that being something that could pick up where Necromunda left off.

I've talked a lot about the campaign but what about the rules system itself? I need to play a lot more, but I think there's a solid core that has some quirks and a few grey areas that need sorting out. The dice pool mechanic still feels rather unfamiliar to me and I find it hard to gauge my chances. Initially I thought it would be fast playing, but there are some areas that are very detailed which, while fun, makes it take longer than expected. For example, if I fire a Blast weapon at an area with three models it will take a minimum of five rolls to resolve it and as many as nine rolls if all of them are thrown out of the area (high probability) or even 11 rolls if they get thrown off a ledge or into a wall. And each of these rolls, except for scatter, is made with ~2-5 D8s. This kind of detail is pretty cool, but when you have a force with three or four blast weapons you'll spend a lot of time doing this and only this.

Still, at this point I quite like the system as it's tactical and rewards smart play. Tactically it kind of reminds me of Infinity as a single mistake will often see you loose the game. Punishing in other words, but interesting. I'll try and get another game or two in during the week so I can try out the Enforcers as well.

Oh, and I managed to paint a bunch of Rebs! They're not done, but decent enough to play with. They'll get a separate post later on.

6 kommentarer :

  1. always good to see another new group testing out the rules.. I agree wholeheartedly that it seems like it should play faster.. part of that is getting used to the rules and each force, and part of it is just learning not to put 3 models in one cube where a blast might go off =p... I haven't played campaign style yet, and only played vs Marauders once (but they had the same problem where one stage 2 with Agile upgrade got into melee and it was over)... I do wonder about more non-plague vs non-plague games as it seems the plague are very one-dimensional but very good at that dimension!!! also, looking at your board, I think the amount and type of terrain makes a big difference... blocking LOS is key, but also allows the plague to get close too easily... multiple levels add a big dimension to the game (no pun intended) as they are both great defensive points and also tactically challenging... so I think it will be interesting to see what amount of terrain people end up using to keep games fun, competitive, but also visually 'cool'!!!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the article! :)

      The Plague are certainly very good at what they do, and I think they'll be even scarier when my friend gets the booster pack in wave 2 - I hear the Swarms are really tough to deal with. Oh... I made a pun. I'm looking forward to more non-plague matchups as well, both with my Rebs and my Enforcers.

      The game will get quicker to play, as all games does, with experience. But still, some of the detail I think will prevent it from being as fast as I had envisioned it. As for the blast effect, you don't even have to be in the same cube just within the nine cube area of effect.

      The terrain we've used so far is my friends table and he hasn't built everything he got yet. I haven't actually started on my own stuff yet either, but I'm definitely going to try and get some good height into the game! Main idea being to build a few house like structures and maybe the landing pad, and then fill out the rest of the battlefield with smaller, more rickety creations and towers. Should be fun!

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  2. Good read, managed to get myself a few games in now of Deadzone, and the rules do get easier, and the game faster as you figure out how best to play it.

    Not had too many blast weapons to deal with, but I can imagine that if your strike team (or opponents) is heavy with them it will make things interesting.

    I find the campaign system, doesnt make you name your troops until they are worth naming. So Trooper A-D might not do anything, may not even get to level 2 or higher, but Trooper E has been amazing in his opening game, and made a real impression, thats when I am starting to name them.

    The Necromunda rules were awesome, and I don't think it would take too much to adapt them to a Deadzone campaign.

    I look forward to your future deadzone posts :-)

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    1. Thanks Kraggi! I think the biggest mistake by Mantic was to not include some kind of reference sheet with the core game. The rules are straightforward enough, but until you memorize the different modifiers, double-triple results and special abilities it takes quite a bit of flipping back and forth in the book. As for blasts, I'm inclined to forgive Jake for that as the detailed effects are cool... but it does add up when you have a Sorak and two Kraaw in your line up. :)

      The actual gameplay rules of Necromunda I've always found fairly mediocre/bog-standard, but the campaign system, while modest, was what encoureged you to really play it out in a semi-rpg fashion and with the rich background it was easy to just run with it! I think Deadzone with its more military-centric setting won't easily allow for this kind of variety, but as you say, it would be easy to adapt the Deadzone gameplay rules to the Necromunda campaign rules. Might have to give that a go further on...

      I think I came across something you wrote about Deadzone the other day. On Bols, was it? Seemed like a good intro for new players. Good stuff. :)

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  3. I enjoy reading your report on game great stuff

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    1. Glad to hear you like it, mr Barret. There will be more Deadzone in the future.

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