Thursday, 16 June 2016

Deadzone V2.0 boxed game unboxing and review from Mantic Games

I am really excited to be looking at Mantic games Deadzone V2.0. Yes there was a version before, but I have never played it, so do not have any comparisons, so hence force it shall be just known as Deadzone.  This is more of a miniatures game then a board game, as it will require some assembly, and painting (if you wish) of your models inside.

So what is it? at its basic its a sci-fi skirmish game set in Mantics "warpath" universe.  But it is more than that as well, it can be a campaign game if you want it to be with full campaign system included, or it can be used to play one off battles between your strike team and you opponent. 
The art on the box is excellent front and back, showing you a clear view of what you get in the box and a nice component list.  The age on the back is 14+ but I think that may be more to do with the modelling side then the gaming side.
Mantic continue their method of showing player numbers and play times with the fun little scenes on the side, with one player always having something to do with the game, like the Martian helmet when we looked at Mars Attacks or when we looked at Dreadball Xtreme.

Lets pop the lid open and take a look at what you get inside, and how the game plays...........

 There is a lot of goodies in the box, from bases for your models to tokens and dice and plastic sprues full of goodies, and a full colour hardback rulebook.
The game is played using D8s, unusual perhaps, but it really does allow a higher variation then d6s so is a good thing.  It uses a success system, where the target number for a test is always the same, your shoot value of 4+ for example and a pool of dice.  You always start with 3, and add or subtract dice for problems or a bonus.  So if I am targeting someone in cover (we always assume the opponent is in cover for the 3 basic dice, if they are not you get bonus dice) I roll my 3 dice needing 4s, I get 2 rolls of 4 or more that's 2 successes. 8s explode counting as a success and giving you a chance to roll it again, so there is always a chance of massive damage, or of course being dice fluffing it up completely. If in this example you are shooting, your opponent would roll on his Survive skill, looking for his survive number or more across the basic 3 dice.  These rolls are then compared, defending successes cancelling out attacking successes until the remaining attacking success go through.  They then become potential damage, which goes onto your model, but can then be nullified by armour, or special rules.  It sounds way more complicated then it actually is, and flows very fast and smoothly in action, and is an elegant system.  This basic principle is enacted for tests in the game, a nice simple success or fail on a target number.

The other dice you can see are command dice.   These are rolled at the beginning of the turn. Each of the symbols on each side relate to a bonus such as an extra shoot or fight action, or faction specific bonuses that can vary depending on the type of leader you take to provide you with all sorts of different things.  It also really changes how you play, as some leaders you may overlook at first may have a really good command ability that will help you in your particular mission, so never overlook anyone.
 you get 3 sprues of this scenery set.
 and 3 sprues fo this set, very detailed with some nice work on things like the bars sticking out of the concrete.
 Then finally one spur of this set of scenery, which features things like crates and barrels for scattering around.
then these clever little connectors that mantic have developed and pioneered.  The other parts of scenery as you have seen have little holes in them where these pegs connect.  Then you get to clip and build them together, and take them apart until your hearts content, its like having a construction set as a child again, but this is quality wargames terrain.  It allows so much flexibility.  You can build along and high which is good in a game of Deadzone as it works in 3D, in cube form so you can climb up things.
This just gives you an idea of how the scenery can look when its built.  Its great stuff, and I love it, and can work on your tabletop as all sorts of Sci-Fi terrain when its not being used in Deadzone.
The Enforcers Stirke team consists of, 5 Pathfinders, (who can also be built as Pathfinder Specialists or Pathfinder Sergeants) and 1 D.O.G. drone with a burst laser. These are stealthy scouts work with the Enforcers.  The quality of the sculpting of the models is excellent, and there is plenty of variety here to create your own models armed how you want (there are points costs and rules for all the different weapon options in the main rulebook.  I love the look of the DOG drone, a robotic dog with a dirty great laser gun on his back.... pretty cool.
Then you get 5 Enforcers, (who can also be built as Assault Enforcers, Enforcer Specialists, or Enforcer Sergeants). These two sprues make up your enforcers, again very detailed parts, and multi pose with extra weapon options so you can really get your models looking how you want them to look.
The Forge Fathers Strike Team consists of 10 Steel Warriors, who can also be built as Huscarls or Stormrage Veterans. They can choose from many different weapons, including Forge hammers, Hailstorm Autocannons, Missile Launchers, Flamers or Magma rifles.  There are two sprues, each include a little bag of bits that has the legs, and some extra weapon options on.  Like all the models we have seen so far, the detail is great, and the variety is impressive.

All these lovely models needs somewhere to fight over, and Deadzone provides it in the form of a high quality paper playmat.  Plenty of little detailed touch's, and you can faintly see the squares laid out.  In Deadzone movement is based on cubes, and the mat is a grid of 3”x3” squares and the scenery is built to match these and fit on the board. These square also extend upwards to form cubes.

 Lastly you get the rulebook.  Its not often you find a hardback rulebook in a starter set, and this one I a treat! its high quality and contains......
Force Lists for all seven factions in Deadzone: Enforcers, Forge Fathers, Plague, Marauders, Asterians, Rebs and Veer-myn
All the background information on the world.
Core rules
Special Rules
A full campaign system for running linked games.

 The book is easy to follow, full of lovely artwork and pictures of fully painted models, with plenty of diagrams to help you learn the game.
The rules though full of tactical nuance are not complicated to learn or follow, so you can be up and playing in fairly short order (apart from assembling your models and terrain that is) making it an easy game to teach.

You select a mission from the book from a choice of several that can be selected or rolled. it also has secret objectives rolled for each player in that mission to add some more variety.  The winner is either the first player to accumulate the required VPs (victory Points) or wipe out the opposing team. You then build "Strike Teams" from the provided lists in the book.  This covers all the races currently available for Deadzone in one place, giving you plenty of options for each race, and a list of mercenaries should you wish to increase the options again.

The campaign mode has some great options for upgrading your characters as they gain experience, and looking for all sort of equipment post battle, creating your own stories as you go along.  The quality of the rulebook puts it well up there with books that cost as much as this whole set, so it certainly will not feel out of place on your shelf.

The activation system of models in the game keeps play nice and fast so you are not sat around waiting for ages in-between doing anything, and keeping you right in the game all the time.  It is a model by model activation system, so I would activate one model, perform all my actions, my opponent may need to roll dice to survive some shooting or fighting in a close combat, then my opponent activates a model, and so on back and forth.  This really reduces downtime in playing, which is good to keep the interest of players, and means games can get done in no time, you can easily get 2 or more games in a campaign done in an evening.

For actions you have short actions, like move, or shoot, or some special actions, or long actions like sprint.  You can do one long action and two short actions, but not two of the same each turn.  close combat is initiated when you move into a square with an enemy in, so you don't need to worry about a separate fight action, but if you begin your turn in a square with an enemy in you must use your fight action to engage them, or try and break away using a move action and a test.

The game plays fast, and with its true line of sight model, as in if you can see any part of a model including base you can shoot it makes thing much more simple with less arguments.  The way cover is always presumed unless you can see 100% of the model and based unblocked is also nice and easy.  After years of other miniatures game that claim to have a true line of sight system that is actually abstract this is a nice refreshing system to induce fast play and cut down on arguments.

Though the main rules are smooth and simple, there are plenty of advanced rules for things like weapons, grenades, and even vehicles, and these are all easy to find to keep play time at max and rule lookup at minimum it does not top it being a deep and tactical experience, as you decide what actions your models will take.  Will I run into cover and work my way around? or stay more in the open and blaze away but risk retaliation fire?  The choices are yours!!

So in brief.... I love it, I love the fast play, the simple but deep rules, well thought out campaign system that DOES take into account underdogs, the amount of choice, the true 3d fighting, which is rare in a lot of tabletop miniature games, the clean line of sight system, and the awesome looking multi purpose terrain and cool looking models.  The fact you can quite happily play with just what's in the box, or upgrade by adding more models, different factions, more scenery options, a lovely looking mouse mat material styled playmat to enhance your game if you choose are bonuses that are more than welcome.

Another thing I have to commend mantic for is including female heads and torsos, OK you may think, that's not that uncommon now, but it is when these aren't silly out of proportion women in scanty armour.... its good that Olivia gets to use real looking women in her game.

A couple of things could have made this perfect.... assembly instructions for the models would be very useful, certainly for newer gamers, and a list of what the weapons are on the sprues would really help, as though I have built models before, I have no idea what the different weapons are.  I have heard that Mantic are going to be releasing some build instructions online, so its well worth heading over to their website to keep an eye out for them.  Having been spoilt in Dreadball Xtreme with one of the mouse mat styled mats, I was really hoping for one in this set, yes the paper mat is nice, but the rubber backed mat is just beautiful, so a little saddened by that, though I am sure it would have increased the price, so can see why it may not have been included.

Olivia's thoughts......

I like the pathfinders as there are girls in it, and they look cool, im going to have a sniper girl, I like her cape its like when I wear my blanket.  It plays like Mars attacks, so its nice and easy for me to learn. im going to make up names for all my girl soldiers... Hurry up and build them dad so we can play! (runs off to get her blanket and wear it as a cape)

With an RRP of £49.99 it will provide you with a huge amount of content to get on with playing games and building models,  without taking into account the campaign games, so head over here and find your local store and grab a copy.

You can also head over to Mantic Games to download a FREE copy of the rules to take a look at and try for yourself.

Keep an eye out for some more Deadzone articles coming soon, with list building, painting and modelling articles, plus of course going through some battle reports with Olivia and Myself.

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