I’ve shown a few pics of us playtesting DZR recently, and you may have noticed some bespoke D6s we’ve had lying around. So far, nobody guessed quite what they are, though there have been some fun suggestions. Today I thought I’d explain what they really do.
Meet the Command Dice.
These are, (hopefully) obviously, not final production copies. They’re my playtest versions, and incidentally a great illustration of how impermanent “permanent” markers are. Playing with these means smudgy hands.
To Start With, Why Command Dice?
The new dice are a replacement for the old deck of Battle cards. As such, their job is to provide a set of gameplay tweaks as a resource for the players to manage. How you use them is an opportunity for players to demonstrate their skill. It also helps to make every game different and reduces any predictability in what you and your opponent can achieve. With the right combination of Command Dice at the right moment you can do almost anything. If you use them well.
I was originally planning to use bespoke dice with the original version of Deadzone, but for various reasons that didn’t happen. Cards are fun too, and was happy using them. However, this new dice system is faster to play, easier to explain, and still retains the gameplay features I was after. So I think this change is a big win 🙂
What Are Command Dice?
Command Dice are an abstract representation of the training and cohesion of a well-led fighting force. They allow us to include moments of cunning and planning as well as luck without the need for complex rules. It’s easy to imagine what each Command Dice result represents. It might be a carefully lined-up shot, a sneaky ambush, a sucker punch, sly feint, or coordinated attack. Thinking about the results in this way helps make the story of your battle that much more interesting.
At the start of each Round, both players check how many Command Dice they are entitled to, and roll them afresh.
Each Strike Team starts with 3 Command Dice. Some abilities (notably Tactician (x)) alter this number.
As long as the player’s Strike Team has at least half of its models still on the table, they may re-roll as many Command Dice as they choose. If they re-roll any dice then they must keep the second result. All re-rolls must be made at the same time and before the first activation of the Round.
The results of these dice must be used during that Round or they will be lost. Unused Command Dice are discarded at the end of each Round.
How Do You Use Them?
Most results are used to enhance the actions of the active model when it is your Turn. The exceptions are adding dice to a model’s roll when it is attacked in your opponent’s Turn, and some army special effects.
Each Command Dice is discarded as its result is used.
What Do They Do?
I’ve laid out the dice in the picture above to show one of each side: all 6 sides are different. In order, they mean:
|+1||+1 model activation||Normally players take Turns activating a single model. Use this immediately after you have taken a Turn with one model to take a Turn with another. If you have rolled this result several times then you can take Turns with several models in a row.|
|Cube||+1 dice to any normal test||If you have rolled this result several times then you may choose to add more than one dice to a single test.|
|Move||Additional Move action||The Move is restricted to 1 cube only, regardless of the model’s Speed stat.|
|Shoot||Additional Shoot action|
|Fight||Additional Fight action|
|Mantic Splat! without text in||Army special||The effect is different for each army. Army special effects do not count towards any other restriction on number of actions per Turn unless specifically mentioned otherwise.|
Move, Shoot and Fight allow the model to do that action on top of their normal 2 short or 1 long actions. They are very useful as they don’t count towards the normal restriction that you cannot repeat a given action within a Turn.
Special actions are defined at the army level, and every army has a unique effect.
As the dice are rolled at the start of each Round, and then spent during it, you reduce the amount of fiddling about off-table. You either have an option this Round, or you don’t. Changes (other than spending them) are corralled into a single bookkeeping phase at the start of the Round.
Although the dice are the same for everyone, the ability to re-roll the ones you don’t like plus the variable meaning of the special result makes them quite bespoke in practical effect. It also means that I can change what I want from them as the game plays out. So, if I have an assault army I might want to get lots of extra Move actions early on, to close the range, but then want more Fight actions and bonus dice in later Rounds. The Command Dice let you choose each Round what kind of tactics you’re going to use. However, because they’re dice they aren’t guaranteed to play nice with your plan…
Our testers so far have been really pleased with the results on the tabletop, which is gratifying. A couple were a little skeptical at first, though that seems to have quickly evaporated when they’ve tried it out in practice. I hope you find the same.
The beta rules will be out soon (though I can’t tell you when yet as I don’t know), so you might want to make your own set of Command Dice in anticipation. That’s partly why I’m telling you this now. Alternatively, you can always use a normal D6, reading the results in the same order as the table. When I ran my first playtests I had the above table printed out beside each player, and we just put normal D6 on the relevant row as reminders of what we had left.
So, what do you think?