View RSS Feed


The Mysterious KO Zone

Rate this Entry

Our dice masters play mats are pretty distinctly organized. That's a good thing, because there are a lot of places for our dice to go.

We have our prep area, the reserve pool, the field zone, the attack zone, the used pile... even the dice bag is technically part of the play mat.

But there's another, oft-ignored section of the mat where dice go to die. Ok, they don't die, but this is (allegedly) where they go when they've been knocked out.

I say allegedly because no one seems to play that way, and the rule book doesn't tell us. KO'd die? Move it to prep. Immediately. Do not pass go.

But is this the intent? What's the deal with our ill-defined KO zone?

The big problem with this KO zone is that while it's on every single play mat there is and is clearly intended to be used, it is not really ever mentioned in the rules. At all.

What we know is that the die goes there when it's knocked out before it goes to the prep area. The problem is that we only know that because of the play mats that WizKids has put together and included on their website and in their rule book.

But we don't know anything else because once more - it's not anywhere in the rule book!

<h3>Why Does This Matter?</h3>
There's a distinction between a character getting knocked out and going directly to prep versus having to pass through this distinctly marked area. If WizKids would codify this area, it would certainly prevent future rules disputes.

It may have even prevented some other earlier issues that were later covered by the FAQ, such as the Iron Man/KO question that came up.

<h3>How Should It Be Done?</h3>
Here's what I think. The KO should be considered an extension of the field, just as the attack zone is. Characters who are knocked out go there and at the end of the turn, during cleanup, they proceed to the prep area.

This makes the purpose of it clear and also prevents any questions from arising where folks want to claim that a KO'd character can't trigger something, although the rules say that they can, or from folks who claim that knockout is completely distinct area as happened recently in debates about Invulnerability and "when fielded" effects. Surely we'll see a true "resurrection" card somewhere down the line and this may be a necessary distinction.

This still maintains other rules, such as the FAQ example with Black Widow, where the ruling was not about her status on the board but rather about whether or not she was engaged.
Tags: None Add / Edit Tags


  1. Jadato imported's Avatar
    Great article Dave.

    I definitely agree that &quot;KO Area&quot; vs &quot;Prep Area&quot; needs to be more defined. Because even as I play with friends/family we just lump all of our KO'd characters in the Prep Area. Makes me wonder if in future sets that will have Characters/Actions etc. that deal with dice in the KO section, much like we have quite a few cards/dice that deal with the prep area now.

    I do have to make one correction though. Sorry, not trying to be a correction Nazi or anything, this is actually something I just noticed myself. Not all play mats have a defined &quot;KO Area&quot; on them. And I am not just talking about third-party mats. At my LGS the official Wizkids Mats that are being sold look like this:

    That is the exact mat both my cousin and I use. Doesn't have the arrows with the rules (which slightly upsets me) nor does it have the defined &quot;KO Area&quot; you see on most other mats.

    This almost makes me wonder if they intended on doing something with the &quot;KO Area&quot; and then disregarded it. Not entirely sure, but I guess we will find out!

    Looking forward to this weeks Podcast!
  2. Tom Landy imported's Avatar
    I don't know, I think this is just another case of people reading too much into things. In that Play Mat image, the KO is part of the Prep Area. I could see arguments if it was completely separated like the other areas, but it's not. It's a box within the prep area box.
  3. Dave imported's Avatar
    That's totally fair - but there's a separate arrow leading out of it and into prep. Same with the one in the rulebook and others that WK put up that have the &quot;rules&quot; on the arrows.
  4. Tom Landy imported's Avatar
    Actually if one goes through the rulebook, it's quite clear that the KO area is just an extension of the Prep Area:

    Page 8: &quot;When a character is knocked out, move it to the player's PREP AREA.&quot;

    Page 10: &quot;Since each sidekick took one damage and has a defense of one, they are all knocked out and go to their owner's PREP AREAS.&quot;

    Page 18: &quot;Captain America, Beast, and Spider-Man have each taken damage that equals or exceeds their defense. They are each knocked out and go to their respective PREP AREAS.&quot;

    The only reason why there is a KO Zone on the play mat is to help new players know what happens when, where, etc.
  5. Tom Landy imported's Avatar
    See below. There is no such thing as a KO Zone. Knocked out characters go to the Prep Area. The only reason why there is a KO area on the mats is to be a learning tool. That's it.
  6. Tom Landy imported's Avatar
    Also it's important to keep in mind that the mats aren't even required to play the game. The rules tell you where to place the dice when things happen (i.e. to the prep area). Since there is no mention of a KO Zone at all in the rules, then it doesn't exist.
  7. Dave imported's Avatar
    Of course! I'm saying that if it WERE codified it could prevent some rules questions (and would already have solved others). The fact is that it doesn't just appear on the &quot;learning&quot; play mats with the directions in the arrows like the ones picture, it appears on many other official ones as well. I was pretty clear above that the rule book did NOT codify it in any way and ignores it completely.

    I'm saying that it would help (and absolutely would not hurt) if they did provide some definition. It would also open the game up to some different mechanisms down the road.
  8. Tom Landy imported's Avatar
    But why? There is no KO Zone. There is a prep area, but no KO Zone. All that KO on the mat is for is to serve as an indicator to tell (new) players that knocked out characters go into the prep area. The box is it even the same color as the prep area, just a different shade. I just don't see how there is any confusion about this.
  9. Dave imported's Avatar
    I'm not saying that there's a problem.

    I see codifying it as a safeguard against future potential disputes (if it operated as I suggest, the argument over the KO'd Iron Man would never have needed the FAQ to put it to rest) AND an opportunity for future mechanisms to interact with it in interesting ways.
  10. Tom Landy imported's Avatar
    Are you referring to the Iron Man entry in the FAQ? If so, that's not a good example because it even states that there was an error In the rulebook and goes on to explain. Personally, this didn't really need clarification, but I can see why some people needed it crystal clear.

    However, what you are proposing is the creation of a brand-new area -- The KO Area -- of an offshoot of the Field. The problem with this is that characters would not immediately go to the Prep Area anymore when KO'd. They would go to the KO Area first. While this might not appear to negatively impact the game now, it could especially since we haven't seen the bulk of Uncanny. What if there is an ability that lets you take a die from your prep area and roll it? A card like that would lose a lot of its usefulness if things got held up in the KO Area first.

    I just fear that adding new zones would just complicate matters further, rather than simplify them. New players have enough to wrap their head around with Used, Prep, Reserve, Field, and Attack Zones.
  11. Trevor Roberts imported's Avatar
    Just as a general comment. Basing arguments around the unknown or future releases (uncanny/D&D is not really valid. The game will change with new releases as new mechanics are introduced and if there was a problem with how things were done the rules would be amended.

    The issue being discussed here is simply trying to clean up the foundation of the game to prevent exploitation of undefined mechanics both now and in the future.
  12. Tom Landy imported's Avatar
    Of course it's valid. Those sets (at least Uncanny) are already designed. And the foundation is already clean, too -- knocked out characters go to the prep area, period. Creating some sort of KO purgatory just complicates things more.
  13. Horatio imported's Avatar
    If anything it's just another example of sloppy work from WizKids. For a while I thought there was something to the concept of the KO zone as well, although I figured it was just a learning tool. Iconography in games needs to be clean and essential. If not necessary for game or learning reasons, it should be removed - there's already an arrow saying &quot;knocked out&quot; pointing to the prep area, so the KO zone as shown is entirely superfluous - once again, shoddy graphic design from our buds at WK (the same company that brings you cereal box quality Star Trek ships). In terms of the KO zone not being in the rulebook, that is incorrect as the playmat which contains the KO zone can be the rule book.
  14. Trevor Roberts imported's Avatar
    I think Dave clearly said what he would like to see. He even stated the areas which are/could be areas of contention between players and how setting it up in this way removes much of the gray area. Any time things are clearly defined line this its an improvement.

    Designed or not general public doesnt have any indepth knowllege of uncanny (myself included) so throwing random what ifs about why this is a bad idea seems very unproductive. If anything as Dave said it would open up more areas for the game to explore in the future instead of close them.
    Sure one or two cards could be impacted but overall the game would be improved.
  15. Tom Landy imported's Avatar
    Horatio: The KO Zone is not mentioned anywhere in the rulebook. The only place where it is seen is on the mat design, which is to help new players understand that when a character is knocked out, it is placed in the prep area. If anything, this zone should be a part of the prep area and not the field.

    Trevor: How is it that my comments about future elements are big &quot;what ifs&quot; and &quot;unproductive&quot;, yet this exploration for the future by developing new zones and whatnot isn't? I just find it odd that my comments are being singled out when the original post is doing the exact same thing.
  16. Trevor Roberts imported's Avatar
    The way I read the original post as a way to clear up mechanics and define gray areas. The idea of fielding effects triggered by Invulnerability is a great example of an interpretation/ loop hole that needs to be closed.
    I view this less as expanding a game element and more of defining the mechanics if the base game.
  17. Tom Landy imported's Avatar
    I fully support the idea of clearing up certain mechanics and defining gray areas. But making a new zone -- the KO Zone as part of the Field -- doesn't really do this. Instead of clarifying, it's actually changing the functionality of the mechanics because knocked out characters would no longer be immediately placed in prep.
  18. Mathew Tucker imported's Avatar
    I agree with Trevor. Look at the clarification over the years with magic. Older cards read so differently than newer cards after clarifications in places like the &quot;battlefield.&quot; I think just having all areas completely clarified will eliminate future issues.
  19. Mathew Tucker imported's Avatar
    Complicates only because it isn't clarified, wait for them to release some mechanic that happens when they get KO'd. Or a mechanic that allows you to roll a die from the prep area but what if it's the person who gets KO'd that triggers that, do you just get to Reroll that one? Yes, ALL speculation, but that's the fun of it all.
  20. Mathew Tucker imported's Avatar
    Which proves Horatio's point. WizKids doesn't stick to a clear path.
  21. Mathew Tucker imported's Avatar
    Did you notice they included it in the uncanny playmat?