Don't mince words, Bones. What do you really think?

Not quite the right franchise, but good enough.  The new Deadzone is coming - people are getting their kickstarter shipments, the rulebook was available in limited quantities at Adepticon, the PDF has gone out to backers a few weeks ago.  I'm in the process of getting some of the new terrain and models painted up to do more planned demos (as opposed to the "want to try the new Deadzone?  I have it in my car" ones I've been doing so far).

So I thought I'd try to write up some of my thoughts on it.

promotional picture of game and components
  • Hardback Rulebook
  • Paper Battlefield Mat
  • Game token sheet
  • 8 8-sided Dice
  • 6 Command Dice
  • Battlezones Scenery Accessories & Connectors
    • 1 connector sprue
    • (2 ? ) Ruins Sprue A
    • (3 ? ) Ruins Sprue B
    • (1 ? ) Urban Sprue A
    • Sci-Fi Urban Accessories Sprue
  • 5 Enforcers (2 sprues)
  • 5 Pathfinders + D.O.G. Drone (1 sprue)
  • 10 Forge Father Steel Warriors (2 sprues)
The web site doesn't say exactly which terrain sprues you will get, so this is my best guess based on what it takes to make the terrain on the picture above.  One thing to note is the tokens shown are from first edition - they are not the ones you get in the 2nd edition.    For pictures of the token sheet, the new command dice, or the models that come in the set check out my previous post Infestation Imminent: Commencing Containment Protocol.

The first edition of Deadzone was a smash hit for Mantic, with it's kickstarter topping the $1.2 million mark.   However our gaming group didn't end up being fond of it - between the complexity of the rules (doubling here, tripling there, overwatching when? etc) and the campaign rules that just felt overly deadly (it looked like if you had two bad games you could be almost crippled) it just did not take off.

I did back the infestation kickstarter, and as a backer (and again as a Pathfinder) I received a PDF of the rules.  Time to give 2nd edition a try. I sat down with my kindle to start going through them.  And suddenly I was done.  I was taken aback for a second - was that all?  Ok, there are some additional rules, but these are only a few more pages.

I immediately noticed several other items (aside from them being so quick to go over).  No more cards.  No more doubling / tripling.  No more free actions.  No more having an entire side all being activate before our opponent.  The list of modifiers seemed to drop tremendously.  Winning the game was now more standardized - achieve your victory points or eliminate the enemy.  There was no more time limit (which had been based on the cards).  Damage was simpler - and armor was reduced (as was AP).
Starter set comes with 10 Forge Father steel warriors (2 sprues of 5)
So my son Jon and I sat down to try out the base game using the pre-generated strike teams for enforcers and forge fathers.  The game went very fast, and with the quick reference sheet from the book we had very little references to the book, and even the sheets quickly weren't needed.  Models (ok, mostly enforcers) died quickly.  I really liked how the tiny force of Forge Fathers played (and not just because I won).

A few days later I ran Kara and Amy through it - and this time the enforcers kicked squat butt!  They also enjoyed it much more than the first edition, though the still are on the bubble.

Forge Fathers against rebs - was actually an extremely close game.  Jon teleported his teraton into combat, but was then left out in the open in a 'kill box' - I had three elevated FF all with clear shots at him.  The game came down to a final shot - if I killed his rebel trooper I won, if I didn't he would score the objective he was standing on and he would win.  I won.
Start set comes with a sprue (5) of enforcers and a sprue (5 + a D.O.G. Drone) of pathfinders

In fact so far I've played five games of 2nd edition, and keep winning.  Marauders beat rebs, and Asterians beat Veer-myn, and Forge Fathers beat Plague.

The second edition is faster and smoother.  The command dice add a very tactical feel to it - when do you use them, which ones do you reroll?  Stay out of the open at all costs, and elevation is very important.  Remember the mission - objective counters can be VERY important - and a couple of turns sitting on them can completely turn a game around.

Marauders on patrol

The book isn't perfect.  The victory point table on page 42 is missing - the Mantic forum FAQ thread has the correct version

Strike Team Points
VPs required to win
200, 250, 300

Players and the Deadzone rules committee are already collecting the FAQ on the Mantic Forums, which shows that they are as involved as the Kings of War RC, and want to grow this community in much the same manner.

We have had some scale questions - for example if you wanted to take a zombie horde for plague at 150 points (a 3A general and 22 zombies) - there are several scenarios - if you rolled the basic "Patrol" scenario you would not be able to deploy all your force (as you only have room for 16 models, but you have 23) (you don't have room in "Scour" either (as that only has room for 20 models).

Having the force lists in the book instead of separate cards is nice, as it allows you to know what each faction has to offer.  Previously you had to have access to the faction cards to see this.  

The book has a strike team roster sheet that you can photocopy (or print from the pdf) - however the columns for Shoot and Fight are reversed from all the model stats (roster has Fight/Shoot/Survive, all the stat lines are Shoot/Fight/Survive).  I've seen it mentioned they would also have this downloadable from their web site - if they were to do a PDF that you could fill in and not just hand write then it would be useful - otherwise I'll do an excel spreadsheet until some type of builder comes along (easyarmy did a great job at Kings of War - maybe

Pathfinders facing Veer-myn in an industrial area
The campaign rules look to be much better as well.  Models that were 'killed' in the game now only have a 1 in 8 chance of actually being dead, and only a 2-8 chance of actually suffering any real injury - the most common result is that they simply cannot participate in the next battle.  One of the big drawbacks to 1st edition was that campaigns were so deadly - a couple of bad games and it felt like you had no chance anymore.  Now it seems more balanced, and I look forward to giving it a try.

Overall, I'm having much more fun with this edition than the first edition.  I'm bringing it to our weekly game night to demo for people, and really enjoy playing it.  Dave even hoped to get a chance to redeem his plague after there nasty defeat!  I think I'm convincing some people to bring their models up out of the basement, dust them off (and maybe even get them painted).

If you had issues with the first edition, I urge you to give the new version a try.  Have your friendly local pathfinder run you through a game -  you will see how quick and simple the game play is - leaving you to worry about your tactics not the rules.  If you haven't tried it before, then now is an excellent time to jump on board, pick up the new boxed starter set and get yourself into the Deadzone.

Because it is all fun and games . . .