Basic Card Play In Mars Attacks

In each Turn of Mars Attacks you are given a choice of options (see page 6). The vast majority of the time you will be doing one of the first two, so we’ll focus on those for now. These choices are:

  1. Activate up to two different models.
  2. Activate one model and play a card from your hand. 

Put simply, do you choose quantity or quality? 

You can activate two models (quantity), or a single model and enhance its actions (or your overall position) by playing a card (quality).

Some people seem to be a bit confused by “play a card from your hand”. This means exactly what it says, and it refers to any card you play, not just Support cards. A couple of examples should make this clearer.

  • If I SHOOT with a model and play a card to give him a bonus to that attack, then I have activated a model and played a card from my hand. There is nothing more I can do in this Turn.
  • If I play a Support card and then activate a model, I cannot then play a second card from my hand to boost his action.

When it says (page 12) that “You may only play one card to modify each test and you do not have to play any” it is not changing the above rule. It is simply stating that there is a 1 card limit per test and this is optional. You must still obey the basic limitations explained above, and so if you have activated two models this Turn you have already chosen to deny yourself the option of using a card. Both rules are correct and both apply.

What’s important here is that this rule also applies the same limit to the player who is not taking a Turn. His response is also limited to a single card per test. This is important as the cards with the Skull icon that you play in your opponent’s Turn are not limited otherwise.

Posted in FAQ, Mars Attacks! | 4 Comments

Did You Miss This?

I’m a bit surprised by the sparsity of comments on my post about design theory. Did it get lost in the shuffle? There have been some great suggestions so far, I just thought there might be a few more enquiring minds out there.

Still taking suggestions :)

Posted in Game Design Theory | 4 Comments

Fastest Kickstarter In The West

neptunI often hear people bemoaning the lateness of this or that Kickstarter project. Some are over a year behind schedule, and so it’s hardly surprising folk get peeved.

In contrast to this trend, I recently got a boxed game called Neptun from Queen Games. This campaign finished on the 1st of September 2014, and had an estimated delivery date of December 2014.

It actually arrived before the end of September!

Naturally, even this speed comes in for a bit of flak. The criticism I’ve read is that Queen are just using this as a pre-order system. Indeed, depending on where it was printed, it may even have been on a ship by the end of the KS. Even if it was printed locally they must have been pretty well advanced with the whole thing. That’s true.

Is this a bad thing?

Personally I don’t mind. When I look at a KS I read the delivery date like I check the rest of the page, but it doesn’t make a difference to buying in or not – it’s more of a hint towards how realistic and experienced the creator is. Whether I actually pledge or not depends partly on a more general assessment of the people supplying it, though it’s mainly the project itself (and shipping/tax costs). Regardless of what the nominal use of Kickstarter is, I am perfectly happy with people using it as a pre-order system. It may allow me to see a product I hadn’t been aware of, and it probably allows the company to promote its wares more broadly than traditional methods. In either case, I don’t see how I am suffering.

One argument I’ve heard against this sort of thing is that it drowns out the genuine and deserving people who are really just starting something up. I disagree, certainly as far as I am concerned. On the occasions I look at Kickstarter with a view to spending some money, I trawl through all of the currently active gaming projects. If I expect them to deliver a project I want then I consider pledging. If not then I don’t. To be honest, the delivery date is of little interest in itself. I’ve already got plenty of toys to be going on with, so I can wait :)

I suppose that people who only look at the summaries of KS on news sites, or only buy things they think are heavily discounted may have a different view. Personally I think that whatever Kickstarter was ostensibly set up to do (and I’m not convinced what they say in public and think in private necessarily match) it has evolved since it entered the real world and continues to do so. In our supposedly free market it will reach the level the buying public deserve. No sense complaining about some theoretical ideal which never really existed anyway.

But that’s just me. What do you think?

Posted in Kickstarter, Random Thoughts | 12 Comments

Weird Stats

Not game stats, but website stats. This morning I looked at the stats for this site to see how many page views there had been. At that point there had been 270. The strange thing was that there had, apparently, only been 1 visitor…

Checking back later, there is still supposedly only 1 visitor today, but they’ve now looked at some 340-odd pages.

The page views sounds about right. The number of visitors is clearly wrong because more than one different person has posted a comment today.

Does anyone else have a site they could check to see if it’s a WordPress issue or something odd with this site specifically?


Posted in Random Thoughts | 8 Comments

DZ FAQ Updated

It’s here.

I’ve managed to deal with 130-something comments plus half a dozen pages worth of other notes. Not as much as I’d hoped to get done, though it’s progress. The Overwatch article I posted earlier will hopefully clear most of that up too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my brain is fried so I’m going to stare blankly into space for a bit.

Posted in Deadzone, FAQ | Leave a comment

Overwatch In DZ

First principles: if all else is equal, simple is better.

The discussion around Overwatch has been both interesting and frustrating to watch at the same time. After reading many comments I ended up more confused than when I’d started, and so I decided to take a step back and return to first principles. It felt like we were getting into ever murkier waters, with all sorts of convoluted situations and logical loops.

Don’t get me wrong: this is my fault. You guys are just trying to understand it, and it’s not clear enough. So, how to make it clearer?

Well, I always start with what’s printed. Once a game is live then what is written and current should be changed as little as possible. That’s my view. It’s fine to clarify what’s not clear, or correct typos and whatnot if they can’t be resolved without change. However, in this case there is a perfectly reasonable way to play Overwatch from what is written in the rules. All you have to do is ignore a confusing comment I wrote in the FAQ. That’s fine. When I post the new FAQ it will be gone.

So, to go back to the rules as they stand in the book, do we need to make any changes? At the moment, I think I need to add a note that you cannot have more than one Overwatch counter on a model at once. This question comes up with the Sentry ability. There is also one phrase that needs to be explained a bit, or perhaps rephrased (see below).

With that in mind, using just what’s written in the rules, how does Overwatch work?

Let’s say I have a model called Bob in my Strike Team. When it comes to my Turn I could activate Bob to Move, Shoot, and so on as normal. Instead, I decide to put him on Overwatch. The Overwatch rules (p31) say I place an Overwatch counter by the model as a reminder. The Turn sequence (p21) also states that I mark him with an activated marker as he has chosen an action (nothing in the rules says I should treat him differently from other models in this regard). The activated marker means that he cannot have another action allocated to him, while the Overwatch counter means that resolving this chosen action has been deferred. So far, so good.

If Bob uses his Overwatch to react to an enemy action then resolve it as per the normal rules. People seem to be pretty clear on how this works. I’ll deal with the odd wrinkle (mostly sentry guns and Indirect fire) in the FAQ proper.

If Bob gets to the end of the Round without using his Overwatch then this counter will remain in place. However, like all other activated counters, Bob’s will be removed at the end of the Round. Again, this is what is written in the rulebook as it stands.

So, Bob could potentially start a new Round with an Overwatch counter already beside him. (This is the situation a model with Sentry starts every Round in.) What does that mean? It means that Bob is still on Overwatch and can react to enemy actions as described in those rules. However, he has not got an activated counter and so he could be given a different action in any of my subsequent Turns¹. Following on from this, if he does react and loses his Overwatch counter then he will still not have been activated this Round. His Overwatch was last Round’s action deferred. So he can be given a new action, which could be Overwatch again.

I think this is both clear and resolves most of the questions posed. Apologies for the confusion.




1: This is the meaning of the phrase at the bottom of the left hand column on page 31. This new action is likely to be in a subsequent Round, but need not be. It must, however, always be in a subsequent Turn. This means that there is always a least a small gap in the Overwatch coverage of a single model for an opponent to exploit.

Posted in Deadzone, FAQ, Game Design Theory | 37 Comments

Thank You For Your Patience

But I’m going to impose a little longer.

I’ve dealt with a bunch of the DZ FAQ, though there is still more to go through. I was hoping to get all of it done (bar the answers that need time-consuming diagrams or videos). However, it’s all taking much longer than I’d like. As I said before, I don’t really want to put out a new FAQ now and then another in a couple of days as that’ll only confuse people. I do want it finished though.

To give you an idea of the task, I’ve got four different Word docs full of comments, questions and emails collected and sent to me from different sources, much of which is duplicates. There were also 520 comments left on the DZ FAQ thread here. Now many of them have either been answered already or are discussions around a topic, so there aren’t anything like that number of actual questions. Even so, with this amount of info to cross-check (never mind the several rulebooks, card decks, etc) you can see why it takes a while to get through.

To give you something interesting and DZ to read while I’m trawling through a little more of this, I’ll write up a core piece of the overwatch discussion for my next post. I’ll continue with the FAQ for the rest of today and post wherever I’ve got to when I stop this evening. This will give you a wodge of new things to read in time for any weekend games you may have planned :)

Apologies for the delay.

Posted in Deadzone, FAQ | 4 Comments