Deadzone! On a budget.. of £0…

Focus? What is this focus of which you speak? Heresy!!

You know that phenomenon where you hear about something – a band, a game, a TV show – and all of a sudden you hear about it everywhere?

What is that called?

Anyway, that’s what’s happened with us – a Luke’s APS video brought it up, and then over the next couple of months we just kept hearing about it, reading about in blogs and forums.. what is it? Deadzone, that’s what!

I’ve long had a weakness for small, quick skirmish games that bridge the gap between wargame and boardgame, and doing a little digging into what Deadzone is.. we liked what we saw.

Particularly when we discovered the rules available for FREE on Mantic’s website. BOOM (as the saying goes).

So, we had the rules downloaded. Next up – miniatures. Well, that was easy. Dice – Deadzone runs on a D8 system with specially labelled D6s for command rolls, but normal D6s will work just as well- you simply assign a number to each command skill. Ebay, £3, 20 D8s show up a week or so later. God bless those hard working Chinese kids.

Finally, terrain – Deadzone box set ships with a 2′ x 2′ mat with printed 3″ squares, and a terrain system based around 3″ cubes. Happily, Dan had a couple of bits of hardboard knocking around his shed, roughly 2′ x 3′ – the excess would be used for dice, counters, roster cards etc.

It begins! Measured out 3″ squares onto the hardboard and scored them into the material with a DIY knife
Stippled on texture paste – a mix of paint, PVA, filler powder and sand. Rubble effects are done by squeezing acrylic caulk onto the board and pressing cat litter into it. Caulk is excellent for gripping the litter and holding onto the board.

Sprayed the whole thing with cheap black spraypaint and then began drybrushing up as per the previous urban board.

Here I’ve added washes to help delineate the squares – thinned down black, smokey ink, and skin washes to colour the greys.

Texture catches the drybrushing nicely

Added mud – burnt umber basecoat, drybrushed with layers of lighter brown
Added flock to the mud to help mark out the squares, simulating weeds growing in the mud

After all this, the board was pretty warped, about a 1cm bulge in the middle. Were all our efforts to be in vain, our attempts at Deadzone gaming to be thwarted by models gradually sliding off theboard?

Happily, no – Wyloch to the rescue – we coated the other side with thinned down PVA and left it for 24 hours. Result? Totally flat board.

Added some scenery built a while back from various bits of food packaging and away we go!

The rules give a sample scenario along with two strike teams – we’ve proxied the Marines as Enforcers and the Gretchin as Forge Fathers, and so far we’re 3-2 to the little stunties.

Deadzone is definitely a fun game, once you get your head round the dice test mechanic, and it’s great for keeping both players involved through alternating activation boosted by command dice providing extra actions throughout the game. It’s definitely a game that lends itself to tactical play – you’re going to get the victory points through taking and holding objectives, as it can be damn difficult actually putting a model down, (particularly as the wimpy laser rifles the Enforcers are equipped with don’t pierce armour too well), but this is no bad thing – in the real world, you wouldn’t just chuck your highly trained strike team into a meat grinder, and as we get the hang of this game it’ll be fun to try and build a narrative campaign.

Time to finish up with some pics, as Grot and Marine get down and dirty in the Deadzone:

Till next time, stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you soon!

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