Of all the games I’ve worked on, Deadzone is probably the most awkward to balance in terms of points. There are all the usual reasons for points systems not working, though in the case of DZ it’s more than that. Terrain plays an unusually large role in the game, and for this reason the exact set up can make a huge difference to the relative values of individual models and, indeed, whole strike teams. The type of set up that you normally play on may make one side or another globally better (or worse) or it may favour a particular troop type.
When you have a game with a fixed terrain (as with most board games), then this whole aspect disappears. Even when compared to most tabletop games the scenery in Deadzone is unusually important. This issue is, therefore, more problematical here than elsewhere.
I could have been far more prescriptive when I was writing the game, defining exactly what went where. However, this was against one of the major themes of Deadzone, which is that you have a set of terrain you can assemble as you choose (and re-assemble, and so on), and build up into whatever you think looks cool. So I opted for suggestions and guidelines instead, to allow you to keep the freedom.
DZ is still a very new game, and so people are still familiarising themselves with all the ins and outs of the tactics and forces available. It’ll take a while for things to settle down. This is normal.
For the moment, I’m hearing a number of comments about points. “This model is too expensive”, “that faction are all too cheap”, and so on. However, these comments don’t yet show a pattern when compared across gaming groups. In fact, they are frequently completely contradictory. While I was at Salute I was told that the same faction was both entirely unstoppable and that it couldn’t win because it was horribly overpriced. In an abstract sense (which is the only way you can practically point something) this cannot be true. However, when taken with the many permutations of missions, player skill, and terrain (yes, back to that) it can.
On the little evidence I have, one thing that seems to be influencing things is the style among individual groups. By “style” I mean what the group collectively accepts as a reasonable way to set up the game; what “looks right” and so on. It’s not really right or wrong, but as I mentioned above, even 10 or 20% more or less scenery can make a huge difference in apparent values of models. If this sense of what looks right differs between groups then they may well have different experiences of how one faction fares compared to another. Anyway, it’s a theory.
So does anything need to be done? Personally, I’d say it was far too early for any rash changes. What we need to see is the results of hundreds or thousands of games, and we don’t have that information yet. For every person who’s saying that x or y is wrongly pointed, another tells me that they’re fine. If I did change the points values then the ones who think they’re right now would complain when I did so. Can’t win 😉
If you’re interested in exploring your own perceptions a little, try playing a DZ game and then refighting it (same strike teams and missions) but with half the scenery. Then a third time with double the original amount. Then ask yourself: did the value of each model stay the same or change between battles? Even more awkwardly, did the amount by which they changed stay the same or vary?
Aren’t points systems fun?