Deadzone: Defender Shields

Enforcer-with-ShieldEven though you guys haven’t got the models yet, there are obviously people who want to proxy some Enforcers with defender shields. Alternatively, you might be playing in a campaign and have acquired them there. Either way, here are not only the rules for defender shields (which you’ve seen before if you visit often), but an explanation of why they work as they do.


Real Shields

There is more than one type of shield, and each type is designed and used differently. I have a habit of starting with reality and extrapolating from there. So, defender shields are based on how modern security forces use them. How is that? Well, modern militaries tend not to use shields at all unless they’re acting as police, so the nearest analogue we have are the police themselves. Riot squads and SWAT team equivalents across the world use 2 main types of shield: riot shields and ballistic shields.



The first type of shield comes in two broad shapes: round or rectangular. They are generally see-through plastic shields and are used mainly by riot police.

Riot shieldsThe most common type is the large rectangular variety, with or without rounded corners and in various dimensions. These are mainly designed to be used in walls to contain the disorder, blocking off some areas and advancing in formation to shove the protestors where the police want them to go. They are also good protection against thrown stones, molotovs and the like. They are not bullet proof. In may ways they are like the Roman legionary’s scutum, being are designed to work en masse and in formation.

London_Met_Police_riot_gearThe small round shields are lighter and more easily portable. They are designed for a number of peripheral uses, sometimes being given to leaders and those not intended to be part of the main “battle line”. They are also sometimes issued to snatch squads and similar groups who deploy on more fluid missions, needing to move quicker and not in formation. They often hide behind the main shield wall until needed. In terms of construction these round shields are the same as the rectangular ones.



“Dynamic entry” is one phrase I’ve come across to describe the situations in which more than the typical riot shield is needed. If the bad guys are holed up somewhere defensible, and they are well-armed, you may need to go in very forcefully to overwhelm them. In these situations you’re likely to take fire, so you need more protection than a riot shield is going to offer you. This is what ballistic shields are for.

800px-Special_Reaction_Team_prepares_to_charge_into_a_room_to_rescue_simulated_hostages_taken_by_simulated_perpetrators_during_a_Force_Protection_Exercise,_2004These are very heavily built and can withstand direct weapons fire. They are generally used by already armoured troopers, and are an additional, mobile piece of armour to hide behind rather than something to parry melee attacks. The one shown above is a relatively light one. The really serious ones are wheeled. Of course, if you’re wearing a full suit of futuristic armour then you’re likely to be able to carry the serious ones without help.



The defender shield is a ballistic shield, not a riot shield. The rules are the same they’ve been for a while:

When a model with a defender shield is moved to a new position, always align the shield with one of the four sides of the cube on the level you are on (ie, not the top or the bottom). Any attacks that trace a LOS across that side of the cube count the model holding the shield as having +1 Armour.

This reflects the sort of static protective benefit that ballistic shields offer and allows models that are so equipped to withstand a lot more punishment. This is what they need when they’re on point, which is what it’s designed for.


All pictures except the top one from Wikimedia Commons. 
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11 Responses to Deadzone: Defender Shields

  1. Very interesting read. I had very little knowledge about the modern use of shields, but that changed now.

  2. Pingback: DZ FAQ Update As Promised |

  3. Jack Trowell says:

    I just realized : what happen to the defender shield bonus when the model is pinned or suppressed ?By RAW it would seem that the model lose the bonus (as the model is prone, it is no longer facing any side), but this semm counter-intuitive with the concept of the shield, I would expect a model with one that is going to even more cover to still use the shield in addition to the cover for even greater protection.

    • MrPyro says:

      Was just coming in to ask the same question. I suppose you can lay the model prone but with the shield still facing a cube edge.

  4. Neil googe says:

    Unless I am missing something I’m quite disappointed by how weak the shield rules are and how unfitting with the rest of the rules they are.

    Surely better rules would have been that any cube containing the model is considered to have cover and that the model is always considered to be partially obscured and so never has the full view bonus applied to it. Especially as any other model behind it would be considered to be obscured. Rather than the relatively weak notion of +1 armour… only when facing a particular way. How is it a model is considered to have 360 degree vision… A cube considered to have cover, even if it’s a single barrel that your model isn’t behind, yet this model gets a measly +1 armour only if it’s facing the right way?

    A better version of the existing rule surely would be the figure gains +1 armour if the attacking enemy drawing line of site can see the front of the shield at all, rather than the front of if cube.

    With its rather weak weapon combined with an almost pointless shield… the current rules for this very cool looking model makes it a pointless figure to field in favour of almost any other model. It really feels like the rules just haven’t been thought out for it.


    Still… Love the game 😉

    • Quirkworthy says:

      How is +1 Armour “weak” or “almost pointless”? Try playing a game with -1 armour on all of your models and see if it feels like a pointless benefit. I bet it won’t.

      The value of the +1 armour is even more when you’re adding the bonus to models that already have a good armour stat. Armour values are increasingly valuable as they go higher and the number of enemy weapons that can easily penetrate them drops. So, 2-3 is better than 0-1.

      Using the cube side to define the bonus allows both players to see the effect very clearly and quickly (and without argument). I considered having the shield give cover, then rejected it as this does not model the shield’s function. That is to provide extra protection for the bearer to allow him to close. If it made the cube cover, and it already was a cover cube, then the shield would do nothing, which is wrong. Also, by making it protection from a single direction, you offer an interesting tactical option for the opponent to try and flank them.

      The model, as a whole, has a very situational set of equipment in game as well as in the background.

      Of course, having said all this, when the rules are updated this may work slightly differently…

      • Neil Googe says:


        Ok, prepare for a little waffle 😉

        I agree shields are situational equipment, and, +1 armour on a model with no armour is not weak, I also agree that reducing all models armour by 1 would also be damaging to the enforcers. So yes, 2-3 is better than 0-1 but thats not whats being discussed. Its what it gives to this particular models and a team with this model in it compared to other model choices, especially at a slightly increased point cost, thats what I feel makes them almost pointless.. As it doesn’t do anything to really increase the tactical options for a team in game in ways that shields do in real life. So the equipment stops being situational as its benefits are so low to the team, and realistically, even to the model.

        The current mechanics do not represent a shields main battlefield use at all, especially not in a modern setting. One of the main uses of a shield, especially in modern day situations, isn’t solely for the purpose of the person carrying it, in fact it is usually used to benefit the mass of troops behind, as is shown in your photo. Riot shields and ballistic shields form a front line for those behind it, all of them, not just the person carrying it. Currently this model doesn’t give any tactical team benefits passed a normal model. Yes, it can obscure when well placed, but so can any model, it does have its +1 (though only if facing) for a little extra soak, but other than that… Having shields supply cover to a square gives moveable cover to all team members, much like a real shield, this is a sizeable increase in tactical options for the team. Where as really, a +1 armour only when facing isn’t a great increase in tactical options to the person playing the model, it really just increases the options for the opponent facing the model… and the player has to pay an increased point cost for this model. Hence why I say it seems almost pointless to field.

        Yes, having a shield in a square with cover would give no game benefit, but then the shield gives no benefits on three sides of any square at present. Its the same benefits as having a shield while in cover gives in real life… you use the cover of the car, then use the shield to cover open ground while you and your team mates get to the door. So at that point its not wrong, placing your shield guy in a square that already has cover is a bad tactical move, just like placing your sniper with no lines of fire, thats a player issue. Placing your shield in a square with no cover meaning your other models can come in and use this cover… while that figure is always considered obscured and covered… thats very different.

        I don’t think it any of this would seem so bad were the point cost the same as a regular enforcer, reduce the quality of the weapon in favour of a little extra armour, although at either cost, as they’re carrying shotguns, I would also have considered slightly adjusted rules for those. Maybe a stat change, hit on 3+ given that the point of a shot gun is a close range almost impossible to miss. But to pay 2 points extra for +1 armour only if you’re facing properly… that just feels steep compared to the other troopers. Paying +2 for +1 armour any facing, especially as it has reduced firepower, would seem a little steep compared to the other troopers.

        A trooper in heavier armour (+1 any facing) with a shotgun (reduced range, increased chance to hit, knockback) I would say is worth the increased point cost.

        Finally (honest), the problem with +1 armour is that it guarantees to deflect damage in that direction, this is also not how a shield works in real life. Shields increase the chance you wont get hit, not guarantee to deflect damage. I think the rule it self says it all, at present it is giving armour, not shielding your team… So it feels more like a trooper with flawed heavier armour, than it does a trooper carrying a shield.

        Anyway, as i say, I do love the game, this is certainly not a comment on the game as a whole… at all, its amazing… is just my thoughts on this models rule… 🙂

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I agree that this model needs work. Personally I would never have included it in the game.

          The real problem here is that the model appears to be equipped to do something that isn’t really within the scope of DZ. Stacking a group of troops outside a building and then breaching would make an interesting game, but that isn’t what happens in DZ. It wasn’t part of the brief and I would have designed a game that centred on that process very differently. So you’re right that it’s not modelling the detail of his kit as well as it could: he gets abstracted because he’s peripheral.

          Are his points costs wrong? Possibly. The cost is mainly a reflection of the armour, which is costed at an increased rate depending on your final effective value (as mentioned before, a +1 is worth more to some than others). I think overall that he is one of the hardest models to use to his optimal effectiveness, and the times when he can do so are so few, that he’s not worth as much as he might be in theory. As ever, points are a tricky subject and there is no definitively correct answer.

          Not sure about your comment on the shield. +1 armour reduces the chance that the enforcer will be injured from one arc. You seem to be getting hung up on the mechanical details of how it does this, which I think are less important than the overall effect. If you shoot him from the front, his shield will protect him somewhat. If you shoot him from behind then it won’t.

          There are several other ways I could have treated the shield, cover being one. As I said earlier, when I come to looking at the updated rules I will be recalculating all the points costs and looking at models (such as this one) who don’t work as well as they might. So, he’s likely to get updated 🙂

        • Neil Googe says:

          So slight delay in reply because I thought rather than come back and whinge at you like a little girl because one of my favourite models doesn’t work the way I wanted it too… which is kind of what I did before… sorry about that… I thought I’d actually test a few different options 😉

          Having read what you said, I agree, the things I was suggesting kind of made the game about something it wasn’t really meant to be. But as its actually my favourite enforcer model, while he is a little awkward I thought there must be a more fitting functional approach (yes yes, stubborn… yes yes love that model 😉 )

          So, I did try out a few options to see what I could come up with. This is what I found.

          One small adjustment that worked really well was rather than giving any friendly model in the same cube cover, was to give any friendly model in the same cube the +1 armour if it applied to him. This allowed for similar tactical options as the idea he was moveable cover, in fact, it was far more preferable to cover as it removed the increased pinning worry of cover, made the facing of the model even more important tactically, and kept the same tactical options for the opponent.

          Using this rule I went with if you had two shields in one cube, they had to face different edges to gain the bonus, they didn’t stack by both facing the same edge.

          I also said the model gained +1 armour automatically while in hand to hand combat

          Finally I still went with the idea the model was always obscured if you could see the front of his shield at all, much like if another model was sat behind him.

          Plus went with the rule model did not gain the +1 armour against blast weapons like grenades as the grenade would be thrown in to the cube, not at the shield obviously.

          These small adjustment really did seem to work out well. It kept the flavour of the game, gave a huge amount of additional options as well making the additional cost of the model worth while even with the decreased effectiveness of his main weapon. They became great to team up with the captain in small point games. It also didn’t seem to over power the model too much, even when giving +1 armour to others, as you still had to take in to account the facing of the model as well as leaving you with the dilemma of stacking figures in cubes for that benefit, as it left you wide open to blast weapon attacks. This actually increased the tactical options for opposing players with blast if they knew you had shields on board.

          Anyway, will stop harassing you about the shield now… Just thought I’d post my findings while doing a few little tests… As i say, I do love the game… and it is my favourite model… hence my persistence 😉

        • Torkel says:

          Yea I was about to say, having the shield give cover to a cube wouldn’t be particularly helpful, to be honest. Grouping up several models in a cover cube is just asking to get Pinned/Suppressed. I like that the Defender is able to “cover up” outside of cover, so that the model can keep mobile.

          My biggest issue with the Defender is that his shield is quite ineffective at the range the Defender wants to be at. From far away, the shield has a good arc, giving him bonus armor from a lot of shooting. But when he gets within his shotgun range, the 45-degree arc seems quite easy to outflank by hopping one square over, not to mention just charging into melee with him. I still haven’t figured out how to use him effectively. =/ Reducing Aggression levels with the Shotgun is quite handy, though.

          I guess we should help out with brainstorming some ideas for DZ 2.0. I’m sure it’s possible to make him a fitting and valuable member 🙂

        • Neil Googe says:

          Its true, the firing arc does get easier for attackers at closer range especially with a quick sidestep and cube overlapping… But, if the shield is adjusted to supply +1 armour to the defender at all times in hand to hand, that does counter the charge nicely. Technically speaking, if shooting at a target with a ballistic shield, the closer you are, the easier it would be too hit an exposed part or penetrate the shield.

          Though, another small adjustment I will play test tomorrow is having the +1 armour from any forward facing arc, rather than line of sight through the cube edge.

          So basically a cone shape out from the facing cube edge. So the 3 cubes in front, the 5 in front of that etc. still not allowing two shields to stack on over lap. I think this might maintain the effectiveness of the shield, especially if the figure were to supply the +1 to all friendly models in the cube so long as the defender has the bonus, making placement and calculation a little easier keeping the game faster.

          I have already found drawing line of site through the cube edge, especially through shallow angles and when a model can overlap two cubes, can bring about judgement disputes and very cheesy work arounds. Just giving an edge arc, I think, will make it far easier to play. It will also bring back the effectiveness for the defender at those shorter ranges with his shotgun.

          Obviously the trick is to give the defender some effectiveness for his point cost while not making him over powered for that cost.

          Will give it a test tomorrow and report back again 🙂

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