Ahhhh, the heady aroma of mercilessly butchering 80’s rock ballads! I originally started a draft blog post regarding Deadzone at the start of December when a rather large box arrived on my doorstep, but, as I was feeling like a puppy kicked off the side of a mountain, I never got around to finishing it. It seems a little silly, after all this time, to go back and try to pick up the threads I’d started there, so I figured I’d just start up a new post. Especially since I’ve actually been able to play the game since then!
We might even get to play another game, although, I imagine that Gribblin wants to flop his wad of Nids on the table first.
Deadzone was the first kickstarter that I really threw down some serious cash on. I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor with one of the Early Bird Strike Team pledges and after seeing how much stuff was crammed into Dreadball I thought this seemed a wise decision as Kickstarter would let me back out later on if I needed to. I’m very glad that I didn’t. My $141 got me 5 faction starters, twice the amount of terrain normally included, some extra dice, an extra playmat (so we can actually have two games going at the same time) and all the Mercenaries available at release. I bolted on a few extras, like a printed version of the campaign book, the acrylic tokens and a Rebs faction booster. There really was a lot of stuff in the box when I unwrapped it all. You can see it all in the picture I posted when it turned up.
So, the real important things are what you’re waiting for, how are the minis and what is the game like?
Let’s start with the miniatures.
This is the first time I’ve had my hands on Mantic’s stuff. I remember when they first started I saw their Elf line and thought it was terrible. I still think their Elves are terrible, but the stuff I saw on the Kickstarter was obviously enough to get me excited. As someone who is more used to the universal posable nature of GW kits the Mantic stuff does leave a little something to be desired. The sculpts are good and they do go together very easily, some don’t even need glue with the way the tabs fit together, but you’re not going to be getting away with the kind of poses you can do for GW, but then, this is a smaller game where you’re not going to be repeating the “same” models over and over gain. Also, Mantic have some issues with how they split their molds, often with mold lines going through major areas of detail, like the middle of a face. As the plastic that I am used to is GW’s obviously I’ve gotten used to what is, without doubt, the best in the business, therefore the Mantic stuff feels much harder to work with and tougher to clean up. That being said it’s not that hard of a process really but as it’s not what I am used to I thought I’d make mention of it.
Overall though I’m impressed. The models are crisp and well detailed, any bends you find (the material is softer than GW plastic) can be fixed with the traditional hot/cold bath method. There are some fiddly pieces (I’m looking at you Zee and Goblin heads), one of which I thought I’d lost until I found it lodged in the lining of my slippers, but no worse than you’d see anywhere else. As these models are much cheaper than what you pay for from GW I can forgive the (small) shortcomings I’ve come across, also, GW themselves seem to be moving towards mono-pose models. I know from the new Dark Elf stuff I have they are all labelled with numbered parts that cannot be mixed and matched as in days of yore.
Considering the success of Kickstarter we got a whole bunch of extra basic figures too. I’ll be getting the 5th faction (Asterians) sometime this year but in the meantime I’ve got my Rebs, Marauders and Plague to sort (I gave the Enforcers to a friend that fancied them and he bought a few add-ons himself). Most things are now built with a few Plague and some Marauders being left over.
What I would recommend is investing in some card protectors for the vast array of cards that the game uses. I did and put them into a snazzy deck box to keep them all safe. Even though I’ve done that there still isn’t enough room in it for all the cards you get in the box. I’ll have to get another one for the Asterians and I’d given a whole faction away so you can see you really do end up with a huge amount of stuff. The acrylic tokens are also a take it or leave it option. I find them quite nice but the card tokens are more than adequate for use in the game and you’ll be using quite a few to represent various things.
Overall I’d be giving the models a rating of 7/10. Good, not outstanding, but certainly fit for purpose, even if they do take a bit of getting used to after a lifetime of GW plastic.
You really cannot comment on the models without also factoring in the terrain. The terrain is a really large part of this game, so first off the bad. You don’t get enough connectors. Seriously, with the amount of terrain you get in the box a single connector sprue is about half of what you realistically need if you want to open up the full range of options that should be on offer. Luckily you can now buy single sprues for £2.50 a go which I think is more than fair value. I got 2 connector sprues to go with then 20 or so other terrain sprues. Also, don’t count on reconfiguring your terrain every game using the tiles and connectors to push together something new. The fit is very snug and popping them in and out is going to lead to some damage. I’ve already got a few snapped pins that I am going to superglue into place. I’ve got enough terrain to provide two full tables so I’ll have the option for what to use on each one that I’m not too fussed about the immutability of what I have.
The tiles are nicely detailed and also have in-game effects. It is possible to create some really nice multi-tiered pieces but you’re going to have to be either very frugal with those connecting pieces or grab some extra ones to make sure that your creations can come to life.
There are some really nice pictures on the Mantic forums of what folks have come up with and I’m really tempted to grab some more terrain when the second kickstarter survey drops at the end of the month. Overall I’d say it’s worth an 8/10.
That just leaves us to talk about how the game plays. Which I’ll deal with in a separate post.