|A vicious game of Deadzone is about to commence.
I think the element of the game that sticks out most in my mind, one that continually comes up during games, is how straightforward and simple it is to learn and play. By using a grid system, the game completely eschews the complication of measuring movement, ranges, charge distances, etc. Instead, everything is defined by cubes, making it very visual and easy to assess the tactical situations. Although the game mat is a bit smaller than what other games use (Malifaux uses a slightly larger 3’x3’ space, for example), I have found it really fun to use for games of both Malifaux and Kill Teams (40k). Since both allow measuring at any time, the 3" grid just serves as a helpful reminder of distances, minimizing the need to be constantly measuring to assess targets. I suppose it could be argued that experienced players can do this without it being stenciled on the board, but I still found it surprisingly refreshing.
|The grid stenciled mat makes moving and determining ranges extremely easy.
Continuing with the theme of making the game easy to play and set up, the game uses cards to help with bookkeeping and to minimize opening the rulebook. Each unit has its own card that details all of its important information from combat stats, to wargear, weapons, abilities, and points cost. This makes building lists simple; all you need to do is pull out the factions cards and add the respective points together. You then have those cards to reference throughout the game for their stats (admittedly, the only place you can find these details are on the cards, as they are not printed in the rulebook itself; something I think was an oversight on Mantic’s part).
When speaking of helpful cards in Deadzone, perhaps my favorite element of the game are the Mission Cards. The game has a varied array of missions you can be assigned at the beginning of the game, including simple assassinations, capturing important objectives, sneaking off the board past your enemy, and even smuggling equipment and items off the battlefield. This great variety coupled with not knowing what mission you will actually flip encourages you to craft balanced and well rounded lists, and forces you to change your playstyle and adapt to the situation at hand. This complexity is made easily manageable because all the pertinent mission information is printed directly on the card, and is simple to check throughout the game if needed. Malifaux would benefit from having cards similar to those seen in Deadzone, particularly ones detailing the vast array of Schemes and Strategies that each game is played over. The variety and dynamic scope of them makes each game of Malifaux unique and incredibly narrative, but also very difficult to keep track of for beginning players. Deadzone strikes a fine balance here by adding complexity to the mission structure (albeit much less than Malifaux), while not interrupting the game’s fast pace. If that were not good enough, the mission cards also assist in setting up each game, by determining the deployment zone structure and who takes the first turn. After selecting your Mission card, one player reveals a second unused Mission card and uses it to determine what type of deployment zones the game will use and who gets which (they are printed on the lower corner of the card). After this, the other player reveals an unused Mission card to determine who deploys first (If Friend is printed they take the first turn, if Foe is printed the opponent goes first). This double duty that the Mission cards play is efficient and make setting up a game quick and painless (no constant rulebook reference to know what you roll for first, and what tables you have to reference, only to be forgotten before your next game… 40k…).
|In addition to stating your victory conditions, the Mission cards also help determine your deployment zone type and who deploys and goes first (bottom right corner).
|A hapless witchling stalker gets lured into pouncing range by one of Seamus' undead prostitutes in a game of Maifaux on the Deadzone mat.
|I moved my Enforcers (...Space Marines...) into good firing positions, even getting a rocket launcher (...lascannon..) to higher ground.
|There may have been some shouting involved...