How to Move in Deadzone Third Edition

How to Move in Deadzone Third Edition

19th October 2021 in Tactics by Elliott Barratt

Deadzone, contrary to most wargames and skirmish table top games, uses a cube based system to move models around the battlefield. This alternate method of movement frees up players from having to measure, gauge distances, or generally spend time worrying about the physical distance rather than tactical positioning and individual model activations.

This article will attempt to explain and explore cube based movement in Deadzone, and how to interact with specific terrain and scenery.

Yes, Cubes sir. 

The basic unit of measurement in Deadzone is the Cube (or vertically referred to as a Stack). The unit profile for a given model lists its speed stat as two numbers, one for an Advance action and one for a Sprint action - both of which we'll refer to as simply "movement" as the rules for each are identical when it comes to navigation of cubes. For example, a Speed stat of 1/2 means that model can Advance 1 cube, or Sprint 2 cubes. 

An important concept to keep in mind when first playing Deadzone, is to think of movement CUBE BY CUBE and not as an aggregate action. Treat each single cube's worth of movement separately, and evaluate movement options with progress into each cube. Deadzone movement is just as vertical as it is horizontal.

In the image below, we can see that a movement to a single adjacent cube can result in a new position in one of 26 surrounding cubes - 9 above, 8 at the same level and 9 below. Now, obviously terrain has to actually be there, and the move must be valid to get there but try to think of the current cube the model is in as the centre of a cube of cubes. Moving from the current cube to any of the 26 adjacent cubes counts as a movement of 1 cube.

Cube Bounds

Let's define each possible move using Flat (F), Up (U) and Down (D), and the normal compass N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW directions. So moving downwards from the current cube to the south-westerly cube would be denoted D/SW. 

The 6 faces of any given cube can either be open, blocked, or one of three levels of gap allowing varying sized creatures the ability to pass through. Obviously, ground is blocked, as well as walls or anything that takes up 80-100% of that face. To work out whether a model can pass through a given non-open face on a cube, simply compare that models Size stat with the defined gap size for that face, as defined in the Deadzone rulebook. Simples.

Diagonal Movement

When first playing Deadzone, it can be difficult to understand diagonal movement, so let's explore a little further. As stated above, moving NE, SE, SW or NW from a given cube is permitted and counts as 1 cube of movement. Now, here's where some get a little stuck. Even though that movement counts as one cube as far as working out the final cube position for a given model, the movement must actually trace an orthogonal route (along N, E, S, W, Up and Down only). This is important to understand, as the proposed route's cube's faces must all allow that movement to occur with the moving models size. 

Here's some basic movement examples:

Movement to any of these adjacent cubes (Up, Down or Flat) counts as one cubes-worth of movement. Here we're looking directly down at the battlefield for the simple examples.

Take the example above, where the intention is to move the model to the NE cube (assume Flat for now). To do this, even though moving to this cube counts as 1 cubes worth of movement, it must do so via tracing the shortest orthogonal route. This means the model will have to navigate first through the E cube, then progress to the NE cube (likewise the model could have gone N -> NE).

To do this, the E cube's west and north faces must allow this movement, not being blocked, or having gaps large enough to allow this model size through. 

Note here, the "shortest orthogonal route" is in reference to the absolute position of the destination cube to the original cube, not the shortest route the model could take. You cannot move outside the 26 surrounding cubes for a 1-cube movement - doing so would require more than 1 cubes worth of movement. For a Flat diagonal move this means the shortest orthogonal route always and only include a single extra cube. For an upward or downward diagonal move, that move will always and only include 2 further cubes. 

Shortest Orthogonal Routes

Here's a good way to visualise the possible shortest orthogonal movement routes from a given cube. Face your model in any one of the four horizontal directions (forwards, backwards, left or right). From this point on, the way that model faces we'll call North. 

Now only consider movement to one of 6 potential destination cubes:

  • F/N (Flat North)
  • F/NE (Flat North East)
  • U/N (Up North)
  • U/NE (Up Northeast)
  • D/N (Down North)
  • D/NE (Down Northeast

For each of these six destination cubes, there are a number of shortest orthogonal routes, as shown on the table below:

Destination Cube Number of orthogonal routes List of orthogonal routes
F/N 1 North
F/NE 2 North > East
East > North
U/N 2 North > Up
Up > North
N/NE 6 North > East > Up
East > North > Up
North > Up > East
East > Up > North
Up > North > East
Up > East > North
D/N 2 North > Down
Down > North
D/NE 6 North > East > Down
East > North > Down
North > Down> East
East > Down> North
Down> North > East
Down> East > North

Obviously, moving directly forwards, up or down, there is only ever one route and one face to think about.

Where one axis of diagonal movement is required to get to that adjacent cube, we can see there will always and only be 1 inter-cube along the orthogonal-only path. And where the movement is diagonal on both axis, there is always and only 2 inter-cubes along the route.

So what about the other 3 directions? Well, simply face your model to one of those 3 directions and treat that as the new north, and refer to the table above once more.

3D Movement

Let's explore an example given from the rulebook and expand on how the movement works for it:

All facing / directions in this example are from the model's perspective, i.e. the Veer-Myn is facing "North". First, let's describe the situation:

  • The model is starting in a cube with the north and west faces blocked by walls.
  • The intended move is to get the model to the UNW (Upper North West) cube, one of the 26 valid destination cubes for a 1 cubesworth move.
  • The destination cube has a blocked southern face and floor, and open E, N, W, and U faces.
  • Out of 6 shortest orthogonal routes (ignoring terrain), only one orthogonal route does not encounter a blocked cube face.

Now, here's where some confusion might arise. If you think about the movement steps, it actually occurs as follows:

  • From the starting cube, the model goes straight upward one cube - this represents the climb of the northern wall in the starting cube.
  • From there the model traverses north through the Upper North cube.
  • From the Upper North cube, the model traverses west to the destination cube.

This means the model *technically* passes through two inter-cubes before reaching the destination cube, though it still only counts as one cubesworth of movement, as the destination cube is still part of the 26 adjacent cubes.

However, let's examine the cube directly above the starting cube. Each of the 6 faces of the cube directly above the models starting position is open - no walls, no floor to rise through, no ceiling. Cubes with 6 open faces can be entirely ignored in terms of plotting the shortest orthogonal route for a given 1 cubesworth move. There is no way for a model to exist in such a cube (even flying units must end their movement on a floor of some kind).

Note: the gap in the Upper North cube's floor is smaller than a cubes width, therefor is fine to jump across. 

Now consider the example above. The siuation is the same, except the cube directly above the starting cube now has a floor, with a hatch - and the starting cube has an appropriate ladder to get through it.

Interestingly though, movement to the destination cube is still allowed, and only counted as one cubesworth of movement. No rules have been violated - there is still a valid path along a shortest orthogonal route.

Triggering an Assault

A recent discussion about the movement rules has lead to some confusion as to when the Assault event is triggered.

One might assume this can trigger in any of the orthogonal cubes when moving to a new diagonal cube, however this was clarified by the rules designer:

Assault events only occur in the destination cube - that is to say, if a model wants to move U/NE - ignore the 2 extra orthogonal cubes as far as the "Moving into Enemies" rule is concerned. An Assault event will only occur if there is an enemy in the destination cube. The Orthogonal cubes are just checked for valid route tracing, not for cube entry events.