Tuesday, 30 August 2016

First Impressions: Phase 2 The Environmentals

This guy Reeeeeeealy likes the Environmental rules.
Now when I first read the Environmental section I wasn't all that excited, it took a couple of reads before I started linking elements together and start to see the real potential in these rules. Hidden in the mix is a lot of fun to be had I think so I'm gonna break down the sections and evaluate them.

It should be said that being in the middle of Invasion Prep I haven't had a chance to actually try out the rules as yet so I'm only taking them from an on paper look through (although I'm also fairly sure these rules haven't been vigorously play-tested anyway). So basically be forewarned I could be talking drivel here, as per the usual really. But mainly I'm looking at these from a 'What can I do with these' point of view.
So first up:


All the environmental elements happen after the initiation phase which at least means its all out of the way and done for a turn which should aid the smooth running of the game turn. Well as smooth as it can be after the environment has flipped over your tanks in a horrendous earth quake or had your infantry plucked from windows by screaming feral vampires.

World Conditions:

This is the bit that unfortunately I have an issue with. The whole high grav/low grav thing mucking about with movement I think goes too far really. Messing with movement in this way really overly hinders some factions more than others especially the loss of a point of accuracy modifier for skimmers really pounds on the Scourge over-much. Overall I wouldn't actually play with the world conditions as actually they are not something that actually makes the game play any more interesting. Low grav is less horrendous but still overly plays about with the mechanics of the game.
Much like Slough

The atmosphere rule is meh wouldn't bother changing up this area either changes the whole curve across the board for an army which really fluffs about with the game.

So really this section is actually one I would skip over because its too much and effects the game play way over what is actually necessary. Something as globally powerful as these I'm not sure actually make the game more fun because some armies will really struggle. Usually the lighter armoured factions as their natural speed is either nullified or given to the opponent as well.

Where I think the environmental rules are really inspired is in the next section.


In this section there is real gold dust. Mainly because it sets off in my head all kinds of cool ideas for boards that are possible and different ways you can represent scenery. But also the rules are almost in the Goldilocks zone as they don't overly effect the running of the game but add elements that are flavourful without impeding the armies horrendously.

Not the only one who thought of this guy straight away right?
Movement is effected but only in stopping exceptional ground, hard to have exceptional ground when its covered in snow and ice!
The other rules making it more difficult to find objectives and making infantry harder to hurt in cqb nicely balance out and represent a cold environment in a very cool way. Plus imagine tanks rolling across pure white snow, would look awesome cool.
Not too hard to make either really, make some nice bunker like buildings covered in snow and your off really. Very Ice-Station Zebra.

Dense area terrain tree foliage is the order of the day here which could make for some very cool scenery ideas, buildings covered in foliage (Hence the extra vulnerability to flame weapons). The key to this board I feel would be careful usage of the area trees as too much board coverage wouldn't make for a very good game also wouldn't make too much thematic sense, i.e. what would be the point in fighting for an area with nothing useful in it really. So the order of the day is probably Vietnam style army camps surrounded by jungle, or cool quarries. Again very flavourful, and not too game changing.

El-Alamein, Six Day War, the Gulf War, all areas of operation in Desert conditions which would make for some very cool tables, Sand dunes as contours, industrial mines and chemical plants, entrances to large underground caverns all sorts of really very inspiring ideas for boards. Again the rules aren't over the top but serve to reinforce the environment without completely changing the way you have to play your army.

Its an interesting one this one as I find it difficult to work out why you'd fight over terrain like this. Doesn't make it any less cool really but maybe something like the blasted ash wastes of Iceland or a Hawaiian island (with this one you could even mix in a jungle environment if your so inclined). Large glowing red rivers of impassable terrain means heavy reliance on air transports. The rules here are a nice example of using clean rules to create flavour in a game without going over the top.

Subterranean Caverns:
This one is my personal favourite as it sets off all kinds of really cool ideas in my noggin about how to represent a caverns style fight. The rules are quite good fun too, as annoying as it might be for an idiot pilot slam his aircraft into a cave roof or for a building to crush your precious units because the cave roof smushed it under a massive stalactite brought down by a collapsing building. Demo units become almost area effect guns by being able to bring down whole areas of a board by smashing a small building.
Best not fight here, too much sweaty nudity...
Cool ways to represent the caves could be to have lots of smaller buildings on a board and also areas of black cardboard in rough shapes that can represent completely impassable terrain that block line of sight representing cave walls protruding down onto the field. This breaks up the fights into smaller microcosms and really changes the shapes of a combat. Just the idea of this sort of battlefield sold me on Environmental rules when I thought of it.

Overall I think the Ecosytems section is probably the strongest in the whole environmental rules. Its flavourful without being too dictatorial with the way you play your army. The rules sit nicely and don’t punish any one army over another and they use basic mechanics to change the game slightly
without favouring any one faction. The different ways to represent those ecosytems also really set off the dedicated hobbyist on a scenery building frenzy. I'm really looking forward to seeing more games played outside of an urban environment because frankly the city is becoming dull as dishwater really.

Random Events:
'Sir we can't take the focal point...because there's a bit of ship on it'
The random events range from mildly invasive to OH MY GOD MY ARMY IS GONE! With a couple of the events here there's almost too much to keep track of (Tornadoes I'm looking at you here) But again this is a section you can simply breeze past without using as they may be too much for you but can also represent something thats quite good fun in say a campaign day of sorts. Especially cool would be some sort of campaign day linking the DZC and DFC games where if a capital class ship orbital decays into atmo around a cluster then the armies fighting there become subject to the orbital debris random event, or maybe a severe orbital bombardment could be represented in the same fashion.

There are many ways these could be incorporated into games but I think they work better in campaign play rather than one off pick up games.

The fauna represented here are something I find quite intriguing, they are almost like adding in a NPC element into the game that have the potential to really screw up your day. I think it would be quite hilarious to use these rules for a couple of one off scenarios but work better again in campaign play. Luckily because the fauna activate at the beginning of the turn before any squads activate there is less to think about as they do their thing then leave you to do the rest of your turn (with the exception of the Daggers). Although I would highly recommend getting rid of Maulers early if you can as they are devastating!

Overall fauna work better in extended campaign play really, and would make some interesting moments say in a jungle or cavern as getting rid of them could prove challenging really.

Just before deployment to Persephone.
The environmental rules section is finished off with selection of scenarios created with environmental rules. Mainly ranging from bug hunts of fauna to some orbital platform fights. Lots of flavour here more in line with the scenarios of attacker/defender rather than the tournament ready scenarios of balanced play.

There's a lot to be said for this section of the book, mainly because it takes DZC out of the Urban combat zone its been stuck in since the beginning. For which I say 'hear hear!' Personally I'm looking forward to trying out some of my ideas for different scenery boards and maybe writing up a campaign/tournament day using the environmental rules. I did have an idea for a day of games with different tables in different 'zones' with specific ecosytems represented, caverns in one area jungles in another and linking the games somehow. But Campaign days are difficult to get going especially as the current meta of the game doesn't really support that kind of day. But I think this section gives a really nice bunch of ideas to use for different games rather than the 'default' urban. 

Anyway have fun with these peeps, I know I will once invasion is out of the way!


  1. A great review here. I very nearly walked away from DZC but stuck with it cos of the minis. I was constantly questioning why we had to play in cities when there are so many juicy environments to choose from.

    For me, these rules are all mana from heaven and provide SOOOO much more depth and breadth to this game, I can't wait to try it all out

  2. Did you really say 'breeze past the tornadoes?' Next time check your draft for puns!

  3. Here in the Bay Area we've done a tournament (or two?) with one mission using rural terrain and there will be another in Sep. It really changes the army comp as armor and AT become more important than demo and infantry. Rural really lends itself to FP (CL, now too) missions. Rural is great fun!

  4. I'm planning on making a ruined Las Vegas board being taken over by the desert,so the desert rules are quiet cool.

    Atmosphere stuff is naff though.

    I do feel like it's wasted space in the book and could have been filled with better stuff

  5. "Campaign days are difficult to get going especially as the current meta of the game doesn't really support that kind of day."

    Isn't this a kind of chicken and egg scenario?

    If you held a tournament and made clear ahead of time that it wouldn't be the city, people might not pick very effective armies, but they'd have a blast.

    Who knows, perhaps the community could develop an alternative meta? Variety is the spice of life, after all, and I'd love to see more games take place outside of cities.

    1. Exactly! Just do it. It changes the game so much to get out of the city. It's a blast!

  6. I did not get much game against a true opponent (mostly demoying to other at the club). So I don't have much experience. But I would really like to try the game in another setting than the city.
    However I don't how to set the terrain for such a game, and which mission to select. Probably not an objective search scenario.

    If you could come with an article on that subject that would be awesome!

  7. That's a good question actually. The game scenarios do assume you're playing in a city even though they say that you can set games anywhere.

    Some guidance on how to run games outside of the city (quite besides special environmental rules) would be really helpful. It's the sort of thing that could be developed by the community, but would also benefit with some support from Hawk.

    1. The main thing is, there are no rules for CQB in the open so it's all shooting between Infantry. This really changes what units are better than others. A Medusa still wrecks face where Sirens need to fire first (where they also wreck face) or they just curl up and die due to that A1. Everything else is (mostly) already in the books.

    2. I'm not so much thinking new rules necessarily - although perhaps CQB in dense terrain might be worth looking at?

      I'm thinking more along the lines of advice on how to design scenarios, advice on how different terrain setups will affect the balance of the game, advice on how to pick armies, etc.

      If, for example, long range units are much better in open terrain games than short-ranged ones, then it would be helpful to have some advice saying 'either discuss with your opponent before hand and make sure you both have the opportunity to pick lots of long range units' or 'to make the game fair, make sure you use X amount of terrain and place it in the middle of the table'.

      The goal wouldn't be to make the games play like city games but with a different 'skin', counting forests as buildings, etc. Otherwise, what would be the point? I'm okay with games having a different feel, and a different balance.

      But I think people are so used to playing in cities, that they could do with some hints on how to ensure games outside cities are fun.

    3. Yeah, at LVO someone asked Simon how he would do it and he thought the best way would be to just have forests that acted like buildings. Instead of Falling Masonry it would be "Falling Timber" or Treeburst, I guess. Based on the reaction this wasn't the answer the asker was looking for, I think.

      This is my take on what Chris Loomis started here with rural tournaments and missions. The layout of the missions is meant to be taken as literally as possible, BTW. The table should look like it does on the sheet.

      I'm linking the entire tournament page because there is stuff in the pack, namely the terrain rules (with minor tweaks), that are also necessary. Chris did a great job in pioneering this for us. It adds so much to the game.


    4. Thanks - that looks really interesting.

      And yeah, I've nothing against using similar or the same rules mechanics for forests as buildings, if they make sense, but I'd hope for something a bit more inspired. I would like rural games to have a different feel as well as a different look.