What is Deadzone? It's a new skirmish kickstarter by Mantic; the same people who did Dreadball and Kings of War and Warpath. Like Dreadball, this is set in the Warpath universe but is more of a boardgame than full-on tabletop wargame.
First things first. Here is the link to the alpha rules for those who missed it and want to know what I'll be talking about. Now I admit I'm fairly interested in DZ because I liked Dreadball and this is pretty much the same team. Plus I like the enforcer sculpts.
So DZ is played on a 2' by 2' mat with 3" square grids marked out on it. For the purpose of the alpha test I made something similar to the picture shown above, down to the layout of the terrain and whatnot. I figure if it's good enough for the designer, it's good enough for me.
These are the miniatures I'll be using for the Enforcers. As you can see, they are ACTUAL Enforcer miniatures that I haven't finished painting yet...Anyway, there are 2 tactical Enforcers, 1 assault and 1 missile launcher. Their stats on paper are all fairly decent with most of them excelling at surviving combat and shooting. Except for the assault model, which specialises in fighting.
These are the miniatures I'll be using for the Plague. There are 2 large bases to represent the two Stage2 Plague and four Stage1s. The Stage2s can't shoot but are basically insta-gibbers in close combat. The Stage1s can't shoot as well as the Enforcers but make up for it in sheer volume of fire.
Now the alpha rules are obviously that, alpha. And they could really use a bit more clarification as well as leaving certain things out like what each model can do for Overwatch. Hint, not everybody has the same overwatch action.
General overview of a turn is this, every model activates during the players turn. Models get either 1 long action or 2 short actions; which is reminiscent of D&D. Most actions are 3 d8 tests, much like how Dreadball is mostly 3d6 tests. There things that can add or subtract to the number of dice. During your turn, you can also play cards on models. These cards have special effects and one model can only have one card played on it per turn.
Each model only has 2 hp, which sounds like very little but in reality, they're insanely hard to kill, not like Dreadball. The difference is this. On most shooting tests, you're only rolling 3 dice to hit most of the time. The defender then rolls 3 dice to defend, sometimes 4 depending. The difference in successes is how much damage the attacked deals to the defender. However, each unit has an armor value. This means that that damage has to subtract the armor value before becoming actual damage. When most units have an armor value of 1...Well, let's just say, shooting becomes a crapsack thing most of the time. When you roll 3dice at 4+, you're likely to 1.88 successes while the guy rolls 3 dice at 5+, he has 1.125 successes. Which means with armor value 1, he nagetes your damn successes most of the time. Plus, due to the sheer amount of terrain on the table, it becomes hard to draw LOS sometimes.
So I played 2 games with me playing the Enforcers both times. The first game, the Enforcers lost simply because they couldn't do enough damage most of the time, thanks to the armor protecting everyone. Even the little cannon fodder guys. Then the Stage2s closed in with the Enforcers and one-shotted everyone. The 2nd game the Enforcers won thanks to some really hot dice rolls. 1 booby-trapped item basically ended up wounding nearly the entire team of Plague stage1s who ended up standing too close together and then my 2 enforcers on overwatch had really hot dice rolls and ended up retaining their overwatch tokens and then killing the Stage1s who happened to wander out in the open. I killed 2 stage1s that way with overwatch. Plague conceded when one of his Stage2s was killed off by a lucky grenade roll and he rolled 1,1,3,2 on his survival dice. But in reality, that's not going to happen very often.
As it is right now, Plague seems to be somewhat imbalanced thanks to the fact that they have a HUGE number of movement cards that give them a free movement. Enforcers have 2, they have 6. Their armor makes them hard to kill and their efficiency in combat is insanely brutal. I would actually say it's too brutal. They can roll up to 6 dice in combat and at 4+ to hit, let's just say most of my Enforcers were instagibbed by them in 1 shot.
Overwatch is nice; somewhat like the Infinity system, but unlike Infinity, it requires a long action to set up. So if you overwatch, you won't be doing anything else. Also, it CAN go away. First, you make an overwatch check on 3d8 and you need a 6+ to have 1 success. You need THREE successes on 3d8s to retain the overwatch counter.
Enforcer Jetpacks seem kind of useless at the moment. It really depends on how they define the action of climbing in the next set of rules. Because if you can climb up corners instead of having to be in a tile actually parallel to a wall, you can climb up most buildings without any issue.
So how can the game be improved? It really seems like either Plague needs less movement shenanigans, their armor value reduced by 1 in general or missile launchers; pretty much the only effective way to deal with Stage2s, need to be a short action to use instead of a long action. Either way, I'm still looking forward to the game.