The “dead activation”

Earlier I posted about the “Killiest battlegroup” and I thought to bring up another post that is the opposite: The dead activation. This is the activation that you activate to draw out activations from the opponent. You activate something that is not vital or does not affect anything important. The purpose is to let the opponent commit to a certain tactic. For instance in a small game of Targets of Opportunities with three objectives along the centerline you can use a dead activation in the hopes to better see the opponent’s target building. Knowing which building the opponent will enter will give you a great tactical advantage.


Different degrees

One of the main things is that there are different types of Dead activation. A Killy battlegroup can be a Dead activation in some cases – they are many times slow and so the opponent knows exactly where it is is going anyway so you can then move it first and thus does not have to commit your infantry to specific places yet.

There is also situations where you can place models “in between” and thus not actually committing but instead keeping both options open. The purpose with a Dead activation is very often to see how the opponent will handle objectives or focal points. Very often this comes handy in the first turns or the last ones. In the first turn it is good to have dead activations to see where the opponent insert their infantry or AA. The last turns…not so much point of having a specific Dead activation. Actually you tend to have Dead activations anyway because of casualties so they tend to come natural in the end turns with a single dropship in a battlegroup (not uncommon in DZC) that will not add anyway to the final turn.

I would put your activations into three categories;

  1. Killy – this is for activating to attack enemy units. The purpose with this activation is to destroy and support the army.
  2. Dead activation – this is for luring the opponent to show their hand. This is the way of thinking about the command cards; you might want to use a slightly less powerful card to see if the enemy have any espionage cards.
  3. Objective activation – here your idea is to find objectives like being first into a building, searching a building, taking a focal point or just disrupt the opponent’s chances for securing objectives.

Also note you do not have to have your BG on the table. It can activate “off table” as long as it is not in reserve.

Hawk! Change that rule! Of course only BG with units starting or ending it’s turn on the table should be activated!

Also, I assume everybody knows maximizing your battlegroups is always superior in DZC?

Suggestions on Dead activations

As always I’m just going to write basic stuff everybody knows. It is a good way to know how I’m thinking which means you will most likely have no use of it what so ever as I suck at this. But the Internet need more DZC tactical so here it is.


  • Three Katanas. A small but effective battlegroup that can be used as a Dead activation. It has the downside of wanting to shoot at buildings with enemy infantry inside so in many missions it will be a Killy battlegroup but as it stands back and because many missions have armored buildings or walk on is otherwise useless they can be used as Dead activations as well. Since they walk on they will most likely survive a bit longer.
  • Legionnaires in a Raven. For 80 points this is the best option for the UCM. With the cheapest infantry in light dropships available they will rock for this mission. But they are infantry so they are preferred to activate a bit later in mission where infantry need to enter buildings.
  • Archangel. For 67 the basic Archangel is a really nice dead activation. Problem being it starting in reserve and the other problem is that it dies if you sneeze in it’s direction. But it is healthy scary for the opponent to always have a fast mover in reserve you can call upon.
  • Lone Kodiak. This can work. Put your commander alone in a battlegroup. Everybody knows it wants to shoot so let it. Just keep taking that condor as well. Since a Kodiak’s action never surprise anyone you can just as well use it as a dead activation.
  • I have also fought against a mortar squad in a Bear. That goes very slowly and works perfect as a Dead activation if you’d like.

Overall UCM are still a “combined force” army. Single battlegroups will not win you the game.


  • Single commander in a battlegroup. This happens a lot with a Desolator. Since it takes a few turns to reach to vital points of the table the Desolator is good to activate first the first few turns. Just make sure you have other scouts else the opponent knows where your sphere of influence will be.
  • While UCM infantry is at 80 points the Scourge warriors lies at 94pts but are still a good healthy way of extending your activations. In some tournaments I have actually used Old ones when I was a few points over the limit and thus changed one squad Destroyers into old ones to get that extra battlegroup.
  • Minders or Monitors. A very cheap scout activation. I always recommend a transport – else it will be utterly useless but yeah, you could walk them on for 32 points…


  • Single Phobo. This is a good one. PHR are the only one with a small single unit as Standard. it also gives a good first turn coverage of AA as well as a 24″ range means it will most likely come into play sometime. You could take a Menchit just to get down to 37 points for this battlegroup but then it will be really unusable.
  • Immortals in a transport. Problem being the cost of over 100. I would then perhaps take snipers instead. They can attack and if they die you still have the transport as a dead activation.
  • Single Hyperion. Same idea as the Phobo but it can shoot very far on the first turn and can actually surprise some players.
  • Hades. This is one of those units that many walk on. Once on the table it surprises no one so can many times activate first just for the hell of it.
  • Janus in transport or Mercury drones. Same idea for both. Cheap activations that extend your Command range. Good for starting activation.


  • Infantry that has already found objectives. Since Shaltari is the most flexible army the infantry that has already found an objective and gotten out can be a dead activation as they do not even have to be on the table to activate. 2 Braves is only 70 points. There is a problem as you will have a hard time committing the infantry if you use them as a Dead activation and many times Shaltari need all their infantry more than other armies.
  • 2 Tarantula. A classic strategy is to put these on the table late. That means that until you do you can use them as a dead activation.
  • Jaguar. A single Jaguar can be a real pain. It can shoot AT and give AA cover. For small dropships it can be a real issue. Activate first for better AA cover.
  • Shaltari can also have the 2 unarmed Yaris as well. Not bad at all as a Dead activation. Cheapest yet.


  • A squad of Freeriders will many times survive a lot and works fine as a Dead activation. Basically they will most likely survive all through the game.

Other than this I would say Resistance have a problem here. They need to have a bit more in their battlegroups to work. The Commanders do not want to activate first as a dead activation, only as a killy activation. The standard is always the Gun wagons and you want targets for them. Infantry tend to need 3 squads and the Heavy is always rather point heavy.


Ending thoughts

So a Dead activation is a vital tactic that usually gives you an edge. All factions can do this but in some cases you might be expected to commit the battlegroup as well and then they becomes an easy target for the opponent to kill to decrease you activations instead. They need to survive.

What is your favorite Dead activation?

Comments are closed.