The game is played on a 2’x2’ board and the figures used are 1/72 or 20mm, it would also be fine to use 15mm figures. If using 25mm figures or higher I recommend you use a 4’x4’ board and double all movement distances and weapon ranges. The board should be fairly dense with terrain, with a mix of soft and hard cover. Soft cover is defined as something that a bullet is pretty likely to pass through but that does provide more protection that just being in the open. Hard cover is something that stops bullets.


Players roll off and the higher roller decides which board edge is their ‘Home’ edge, and the opposing player takes the opposite edge. No figures begin the game on the board.


The game uses a standard deck of playing cards (see ‘playing the game’ below) to determine the order in which units activate. Before the game separate the black and red cards from each other and decide which player will be the red and which will be the black. The players will then draw a number of cards each randomly in their assigned colour. The number of cards a player draws is equal to their chosen force’s Command Rating. Then shuffle all the remaining black and red cards together including jokers.

The cards each player has drawn should be kept secret from their opponent. This is their Command Hand.


At the start of the game decide which player is the red player and which player is the black player. Then shuffle a deck of standard playing cards including the jokers and place it face down. Then flip the top card. If it is a number card the corresponding player (red or black) can activate a unit. If it is a face card the corresponding player can activate 2 units, if it is an ace the corresponding player can activate 3 units. If the joker is drawn all units have their activation tokens removed (see ‘finishing activations’).

Players can use cards from their Command Hand to interrupt a card that is drawn, to successfully interrupt the card must be of an equal or lower value (aces always count as high) than the card drawn in which case it is used for activations first and then the card drawn is used. Otherwise the card drawn is played first and then the interrupting card afterwards. You cannot interrupt your own colour cards with cards from your command hand and command hand cards cannot be interrupted.


When a unit activates it can do one of the following:

  1. Move up to the unit’s run movement distance in inches.
  2. Move up to their run distance into base to base contact with an enemy unit and make melee attacks against them. Only a single figure needs to make it into base to base contact for the entire unit to count.
  3. Make melee attacks against an enemy unit already in base to base contact.
  4. Move up to the units walk movement distance and Shoot.
  5. Make aimed shots.
  6. Disengage from melee contact.
  7. Recharge Shields.


When a unit activates for the first time it comes on from its controlling player’s home board edge. You can attempt to have the unit come on from a side of the board as if it were performing a flanking manoeuvre. In this case roll a die, on a 4+ it comes in from the side edge of your choice. If you roll a 1-3 however the unit does not come on and your activation is spent. You cannot bring a unit on from your opponent’s home edge.


When a unit makes a move it must move around objects that it wouldn’t naturally be able to move through (people don’t walk through walls). Obstacles at lower than head height (the head height of the unit) can be climbed over at the cost of 1” of movement. A unit can sacrifice its entire run move to climb a high obstacle or building. Intervening enemy figures must be moved around but friendly figures which can be moved through.

The rule of thumb for movement is use common sense, and feel free to discuss odd pieces of terrain and their possible movement penalties (or bonuses?) with your opponent before play begins.

If a unit uses its move to disengage from melee combat that unit cannot move into contact with any enemy figures or shoot.


When a unit shoots first check the range and line of sight, and then check the shooting table for the number of shots each weapon has at the relevant range and gather your dice. Then roll a die for each shot to see if you damage the target depending upon their cover, whether they are in the open, in soft cover or in hard cover. If a unit is split between two types of cover use the majority cover type. If the target unit is split evenly between two types of cover use the worst form of cover the target unit has.

If you are making an aimed shot you can re-roll 1s to damage. A die can only ever be re-rolled once.

Here is an example weapons table so you get the idea, a force’s specific weapons table may vary:

Shooter1212+OpenSoft CoverHard CovRULES
Small Arms114+5+6+ 

The first column (12) is the number of shots from 0-12” a figure armed with that weapon gets, the second column (12+) is the number of shots at a range greater than 12”.

First a unit takes damage to its shields – each unit begins the game with a number of shields according to their shield stat (this is per unit not per figure). Each point of damage removes 1 shield and when shields are reduced to 0, each point of damage kills a figure.

The explosive rule means that for each hit the target takes D6 points of damage.

If it makes a difference as to what order figures within a unit fire their weapons then you can roll for any figures separately in whichever order you chose applying their hits and the effects of their weapons before moving on to other figures in the unit.


When a unit makes a melee attack against another they must be in base to base contact. Roll a number of dice per figure in the attacking unit according to that unit’s melee attacks stat. A hit on the enemy unit is achieved according to the unit’s melee damage stat. Damage is dealt as it is with shooting.


When a unit recharges its shields the unit regains a number shields equal to its recharge stat (this is per unit not per figure), a unit can never have more than its starting number of shields.


Place a counter next to the unit to show it has activated, the unit cannot activate again until its activation counter is removed. Once all units in play on one side have activation tokens all activation tokens on all units on both sides are removed. All tokens on both sides are also removed if a joker is drawn from the deck.


All the stats and rules regarding how forces in Deathzap are organised are on this page:

Both this page and that page are considered ‘living’ rules and may be altered at anytime based on playtesting and feedback.