Deadzone Designer’s Notes: Shooting And Cover

Like the talking head says, there are two kinds of gunfire in Deadzone: Shooting and Blazing Away.

Shooting is what you always see in games: an effort to kill the enemy.

Blazing Away is not about killing – it’s about suppressing the enemy and making them stay put while your team mates do something naughty.

This is a distinction made by all modern military doctrines and has been so for the last century at the very least. There is no expectation of this changing any time soon, and so it seemed fitting to include it in Deadzone.

The choice of which to use is based on the player’s assessment of the tactical situation on the board at the time. Does he need to kill or would pinning be better? It’s usually easier to pin than kill, but sometimes slowing them down is not good enough. Also, sometimes an opportunity is too good to ignore.

The effects are very different. Shooting will ping off their armour or it will wound or kill the target. Blazing Away, on the other hand, cannot damage a target at all. It will only ever pin them down.


Interacting With Cover

Which brings me to one of the more unusual features of Deadzone: realistic modifiers from cover.

In most games, cover does one thing to combat: it reduces the chances of shooting doing harm to the target. However, in most games they do not have any form of suppression as a tactical choice for the combatants and cover works differently with suppression.

If I am trying to shoot you in the head with a carefully aimed shot, then having something  sturdy to hide behind will reduce my chances of hurting you. Absolutely. That’s what happens in every game and is not in dispute. Happens in DZ too.

However, cover does something else when you’re trying to suppress the target with a Blaze Away action: it makes it easier.

Wait a second. Did Jake just say that being in cover makes it easier to pin me down? Yes he did, and that’s exactly what real combatants have found to be the case since at least the American Civil War. A problem faced by commanders in that conflict and much discussed at the time was how to get men moving again once they had taken cover and started to fire back, ie once they were in cover they were more easily kept suppressed. It was one of the root causes of the slaughter in WWI when commanders forbade the use of cover as they feared that this would guarantee the stalling of an attack: once suppressed and in cover they would not be able to get them out again. It is well documented in every conflict since and it makes perfect sense when you think about it.

People don’t much like being shot at. If the object of Blazing Away is to reduce someones Aggression and cause them to hug the ground and stay in place (which it is), then it’s much easier to persuade the person who is already in a good bit of cover to remain where he is than the unlucky chap standing in the open. If I fire at two people, one in the open and one in cover, the guy in the open is likely to move (to get better cover) whilst the one already in cover is likely to stay where he is.

This means that cover is always a modifier to the target’s roll. Against shooting it makes it easier to resist the attack, but against suppressive fire (Blaze Away) it makes it more likely he will fail and be pinned down.

This is one of those rules that makes perfect sense when it’s been explained, but when you first see it can appear a little odd. Works really nicely though.

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17 Responses to Deadzone Designer’s Notes: Shooting And Cover

  1. moocifer says:

    So if I blaze away at someone safely behind solid cover (in DZ) they will continue to cower (and do nothing ??) instead of ignoring meaningless gunfire and use the opportunity to launch a counter offensive (of some sorts) ??

    Or are there options available to pinned/suppressed models apart from “stay hidden” or “retreat” ??

    • Quirkworthy says:

      If you Blaze Away at someone behind cover the effect will be determined by an opposed roll as other BA are. The only difference is that their chances of avoiding being pinned are lower because they have a safe place to hide.

      If a model starts their turn pinned then they can remove that effect as one of their short actions (a model can make two short actions in a turn).

  2. varagon says:

    It’s nice to see things explained. So iften we don’t get an opportunity to read or know why things are in a game. I hope that pattern will change over the next few years.



    • Quirkworthy says:

      Well I’m always happy to discuss the whys and wherefores of rules, so if you like that sort of thing you should subscribe to Quirkworthy 🙂

      Plenty of that kind of nonsense round here.

  3. Rolex says:

    As a concept it is awesome. Easy, tactically interesting and very realistic.
    I would very much like if blazing away had a small chance of hurting the target (you are shooting them after all and the odd lucky bullet that finds a gape or ricochets may appen) but it may complicate things.

    • ph3brickid says:

      Yeah perhaps if you (the shooter) beat you opponent by a large margin you could get the chance to harm them too. Until I see the alphas I don’t know how exactly to make that work but its a thought.


  4. tornquistd says:

    I am really liking this. Clear and easy game play with realistic tactical depth. Very nice.

  5. I feel that the ‘Blazing Away mechanic represents the ever present need in combat to keep the enemy’s head & motivation down. It’s very dificult to plan anything when your chewing durt behind cover with hail of high velocity lead round your ears!..
    This rule also makes even more sense when you take into acount the agression rules and also what constitutes as ‘Cover’ in Dead Zone.

  6. checkmarkgames says:

    Alright! Now you got me. We gots a real interesting wargame here now. Just a matter now of figuring out which pledge level to go in at.

    One question however, typically suppression is used to pin the enemy to allow another fireteam to flank the enemy and get a shot on them without cover in the way. I do not see how this would work with the use of Area Cover. Is there a way to manuever into a position to negate someone’s cover, setup a crossfire even? Or is that handled in the assault/HTH rules, granting perhaps an advantage against a suppressed enemy?

    If the campaign rules resemble those from Necromunda (building up both territory/resources and the capabilities of your squad) this game could become my new favorite.

    I trust additional Factions besides the currently revealed 4 are in the works as well for the future?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      If you are shooting at a model rather than blazing away then you can get a bonus for a clear shot (when you can see the entire model). if the model is in cover then they get a benefit. Both can apply simultaneously.

      Pinned models suffer a penalty in melee (for the first attack, then they stand up).

      FF and Asterians will be factions 5 and 6 if we raise enough on the Kickstarter 🙂

  7. recrispi says:

    I like how this shooting rules are linking together with the cover rules… it has a lot of sense!
    A question: A clear shot is when you see the entire model. Does this includes its base?
    Thank you!

  8. Andrew says:

    What’s the thinking about windows in walls? By the rules it would seem they don’t provide cover (apart from blocking full LOS) but it could reasonably be assumed that a figure could seek cover below a window. Should we think of it as not providing cover for suppression purposes because the figure could be attacked from another direction?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      You know when you do something and the second it’s beyond recovery, dropped in the post box, clicked the send button – at that moment you realise the bit you missed? This is that bit.

      Blaze Away needs to be allowed if you have either a point LOS to a model OR an Area LOS to the square. That allows you to suppress a model in this situation.

      The reason it hasn’t come up except as a thought experiment in my fevered imagination is due to the terrain mockups we’ve been using. We’ve had all sorts of issues getting the terrain mock-ups made and after repeated delays I made my own in card. But these don’t have windows…

      Another one for the FAQ and Alpha 2 😉
      Thanks Andrew!

      • Andrew says:

        “You know when you do something and the second it’s beyond recovery, dropped in the post box, clicked the send button – at that moment you realise the bit you missed? This is that bit.”

        I know that feeling well. The best/worst was when I posted two orders in the post box across the road only to suddenly wonder if i had put the stamps on the correct parcel; the one to the Australia got delivered with a UK large letter stamp and the one to the UK got delivered with (somehow) no stamp at all. Amazingly both orders arrived in the respective countries, the only problem being they were for the wrong customers! Replacements sent once I found out I had done what I thought I’d done. Just shows everything works out in the end…

        Really like the rules so far btw.

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