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.