Thursday, 9 January 2014

ATZ (B Team-3): Complaining to the Police

Introduction

In Game-2 of my B-team All Things Zombie campaign, 3 friends tried to run a police blockade.  This turned out to be a complete disaster, as Bob was arrested, Sam ended up in hospital and Bert was shot and killed.  That game also puzzled my participating group of young players at the club: they thought that they were playing "zombies" and yet only 1 such creature appeared.

For this game (Game-3), I decided that there wouldn't be any such confusion...

The Scenario


The 4th member of the B-team (Ernie) wasn't involved in the previous debacle as he'd taken the bus home instead of walking.  He's heard about the disaster (maybe Bob used his 1 phone call to tell him about being locked up?) and has decided to walk down to the local police station to try to find out what really happened.  Ernie is accompanied in this by a neighbour, Sid, for moral support.
Ernie and Sid
  • Ernie: REP 3, dumbass, golf club
  • Sid: REP 3, dim, crossing pole

Ernie and Sid aren't the only people in the vicinity, though.  There's also a young woman (Michelle) who is furious at having received a parking ticket in the post.  She intends to storm into the police station and let the desk officer know just what she thinks of this!
Michelle
  •  Michelle: REP 3, slow, high-heeled shoes

Finally, Lucy is a plucky youngster who has heard that nasty things are happening on the streets.  With more boldness than sense, she's filched her daddy's pistol and gone out to try to stop the bad people all on her own.
Lucy
  • Lucy: REP 2, B.A. Pistol .  If Lucy fires her huge pistol without bracing it on a wall or other solid object first, or if she fires whilst moving, then she is automatically stunned.  It's her daddy's gun so she will not give it to anyone else!
So we have several groups of citizens wandering about, each with their own agendas.  What could possibly go wrong?!

Unknown to the players, there are only a few cops in the police station as most officers are out dealing with the current civil emergency.  Bob is indeed locked up in one of the station's cells.

No PEFs (possible enemy forces) are used in this game.  Instead, clusters of zombies will appear at random locations along the edges of the table.  The first group of 3d6 zeds enters 2 activations after the players have all had at least 1 move, with further groups of 2d6 zombies arriving 2 and 4 activations after that.  That's 7d6, which if I remember correctly is the number suggested for a suburban encounter with 7 characters (Ernie, Sid, Michelle, Lucy, 2 cops and Bob).

Finally, the encounter rating is '3', so random events will occur on doubles of '3' or less.  I'm using 2 random event decks: my own and Spendlove's.  If an event occurs then I'll draw a card for the effect rather than rolling on the table in the ATZ rulebook.  Events will be drawn alternately from each deck in turn, just to make things unpredictable.

The Game

The First Wave

The first few turns were quiet, as the players waited for their characters to become active.  When this eventually happened, all the civilians moved towards the police station.  Then, with a loud moaning sound, the first herd of 10 zombies appeared.  With exceptional bad luck, the zeds were placed behind the burger bar, beside the red pick-up truck.  The undead creatures immediately shambled towards the nearest humans.

Lucy and Michelle were both in intense danger now, as each had a pack of zombies within 1 move of them.  Arguably, Michelle had more chance of escaping since she was REP 3, but it didn't look good for Lucy at REP 2.  Everything would hang on the next roll of the activation dice!


The dice were rolled: a low double: a random event!  Amazingly, the end wall of the lock-up garages collapsed outwards.

A wall collapse devastates one zombie pack.  I don't have any model rubble, so we had to improvise with concrete blocks!
The falling masonry crushed one zombie to death, while flying bricks knocked down all the rest of the group.  Looks like little Lucy might have a chance to escape after all!  But Michelle is still in trouble...

Another low double was rolled on the next activation test.

This time the event benefited Michelle.  The angry woman walked slowly through the car park, thinking of the best phrases with which to harangue the police.  She was awakened rudely from her reveries by a moaning pack of foul-smelling zombies as they shuffled past her.  Perhaps Michelle's cheap perfume had confused their dulled senses?  Or maybe they'd mistaken her momentarily for another mumbling, lurching undead?  Either way, she was now very aware of her peril!

Official Reaction

Sid and Ernie were arguing with 2 officers who were in the foyer of the police station.  "We've come about my friend, Bob" Sid said.  "You need to let him out; he should never have been arrested.  He's innocent!"
This was met with a stony look from both policemen [Sid took a People challenge against the cops and failed miserably].  Realising that things weren't going his way, Sid changed tack.  "At least, could you tell us whether he's being held here?  Please."

A series of screams were heard from close by the front door.  Both policemen immediately became more alert.

One of the officers ran out of the station doors, just in time to see a young woman racing towards him as fast as her high heels would let her.  She was pursued by a lurching mob of zombies, so the cop didn't hesitate for a moment.  He drew his handgun and started shooting at the group.

Hearing gunfire, his fellow policeman also ran out of the building.  Whilst the first cop attempted to keep the nearest zombies at bay, the second officer spied Lucy toddling round the corner of the garage.  She was pursued by the zombies that had survived the collapsed wall; by now they had picked themselves up and were hunting again.

The officer sprinted over to the terrified little girl.  "Run!" he said.  "Go to the police station; you'll be safe there.  I'll be right behind you".

Lucy ran, passing the first cop as she went through the front doors.  The first cop was barely holding his own against the nearest zombies and there were more on the way...

The Second Wave

Another herd of zombies appeared, though as many again had now been attracted by the gunfire from the policemen.  Although these hadn't got into the action yet, bad things were happening to the humans anyway.

The cop who had assisted Lucy managed to shoot down 3 of the zombies who were following her.  The 4th zombie attacked him on the blind side whilst he concentrated on the penultimate one.  Predictably, this last enemy grappled with the officer and tore his torso open, killing him instantly.

The other policeman was also in real trouble.  He was surrounded by zombies and had been bitten and knocked to the ground.

Even as the last uniformed cop struggled to regain his feet, another officer appeared out of the door.  This was detective Lestrade, who had been asleep in his office upstairs until now [in other words, he was a replacement character for the player who had just lost the other policeman].  The detective had grabbed a shotgun and rushed downstairs; he now aimed at the writing mass of bodies and pulled the trigger.

At close range, the shotgun blast did destroy one of the zombies.  Sadly, most of the force was taken by the uniformed cop as he stood up, cutting him to ribbons.  The zombies started to scrabble around for all the meaty chunks [the only good news about this sorry incident was that the feast would keep the zeds occupied for 6 turns].

Meanwhile, inside the police station everything was confusion.  Initially, the guys were reluctant to leave the lobby in case they were arrested.  However, Ernie soon decided to go looking for the cell block.  Sid was not so sure.  "You can't go through there, Ernie", he said.  "It's restricted."  He didn't like being left behind though, so he trailed behind.

As Sid passed the back door, he heard scrabbling sounds coming from the other side.  "Ernie, wait for me!" he called.  "There's something bad out there, I'm sure I can hear it".  He was right: a few zombies were trying to break in.  These were all individuals who had been attracted by gunfire, including one that was wearing body armour [courtesy of another event card].

Michelle tried to use the phones on the front desk to call for help, but all the lines seemed to be dead.

Lucy toddled along as fast as she could, just trying to put distance between her and the front door.

In the cell block, Ernie discovered 2 prisoners.  Nicky was a small-time crook [replacement for the second player to lose a cop], who immediately called out for rescue.  Bob, Ernie's friend, was in the second cell.

Outside, the weather was turning bad.  The empty store across the road was struck by lightning, though no-one was close enough to suffer any ill effects from this.

More and more zombies gathered outside the station's front doors.  There seemed to be plenty to interest them in the body of the slain cop, so for now all they did was gather together.  Detective Lestrade waited just inside the building, petrified with indecision.

Finally, Lestrade realised that he didn't have any reloads for his gun.  In the heat of the moment, his spare box of ammunition had slipped from his pocket, probably outside near the zombies.  Once he'd fired the shells from the shotgun's magazine then that was it.

All Hell Breaks Loose?

The sky darkened; it was obvious that heavy rain was imminent.

Ernie had already released Nicky from his cell.  The little man didn't show any gratitude at all, but instead started to run for the side exit.  Although the latch on the door gave him some trouble, Ernie finally managed to open Bob's cell as well.

While the B-team were engaged in mutual congratulations, Lucy wandered round the changing room, looking into all the lockers.  She was delighted to find a teddy bear in one of them and hugged the toy close to her chest.  Perhaps it had been a mascot, or a present intended for some policeman's child at the end of his shift?  Either way, it was hers now.

Michelle was the only one in the room who seemed concerned by the threat of zombies.  She started to drag loose items into a barricade behind the door to the lobby.  Unknown to her, Lestrade was on the other side and attempting to enter; he grunted in surprise when the door wouldn't budge.  Michelle screamed out "They're trying to get through the door!  A little help here, please!"  She applied all her strength to the barricade [rolled 3 successes out of 3 in a REP test, while Lestrade failed 4 out of 4] and the door held firmly shut.

Nicky had noticed the side door that led out of the locker room.  He opened it, observed that there were no enemies nearby and fled on his own.  Michelle followed a bit more cautiously.  She waited for Lucy, having noticed that the little girl appeared to be lost.  "Where are your parents, dear?" she asked.  Lucy looked troubled, so Michelle continued "OK, come with me.  We'll find somewhere safe together, won't we?".  The two of them left as fast as they could go.

After them, Ernie, Bob and Sid came out of the police station, just as zombies broke in through the back door and the mob at the front door finished their feast.  The 3 friends also ran into a side street, away from the almost-abandoned building.

Last Man Standing?

What of Lestrade?  After failing to open the door to the changing room, he retreated up the stairs and stood quietly.  He'd hoped to avoid notice, but the zombie mob found him anyway.

Seeing no possibility of defeating the herd, Lestrade backed away up the stairs to the rooftop heliport.  But there was no helicopter coming to rescue him today.

In desperation, he jumped down onto the roof of the office below.  His landing wasn't good and it knocked the wind out of him.  Zombies poured over the edge like an unliving waterfall.  One of them broke its neck as it fell, but others fared much better.

The detective was incredibly lucky to win 2 unanswered activations in a row.  He regained his feet and then jumped towards the ground.  This time his fall was partly broken by a nearby tree and he managed to stay upright.  Several zombies were still close behind him, though...

In an ironic distraction, one of the dead policemen's walkie talkies now crackled into life.  Lestrade couldn't afford the time to find and answer it, though - he was fighting for his life!

Again, Lestrade got a lucky break.  He recovered from the fall before the 3 nearest zombies, levelled his shotgun and fired.  One creature was blown apart at such close range, whilst the other 2 were bowled over.  The man immediately turned and ran as fast as he could, vanishing into the darkness before any more enemies could catch up with him.

Conclusion

Incredibly, the B-team (and indeed the other civilians) accomplished their main mission: survival.  Bob was freed from jail, though I imagine the authorities now have more urgent things to do than look for him.  Lestrade is shaping up to be the hero that he turned out to be later on in my other ATZ campaign [see Quarantine!].  Indeed, the only humans to fail miserably were the 2 uniformed officers.

The players lobbied hard for REP advancement rolls after this game had finished.  While I haven't decided for sure, I'm inclined to deny this.  None of them killed any zombies as required by the rule book.  I don't want to make it too easy for them, after all!

The 2 decks of event cards certainly added a lot of character to the game.  There were times when we were just stunned at the outrageous fortune of some of the players, as unusual things conspired to aid them.  There were one or two "not relevant" events during the game and I haven't bothered to document all of these, but no really bad things occurred.  It could so easily have gone the other way!

[Update => forward to Game-4]

25 comments:

  1. Cool game! Were Michelle and Lucy run by players, or NPCs to give them trouble? ;)

    ZC

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    1. Thanks. We had 6 players, so all the characters in this game were run by someone. Bob and Ernie were controlled by the same player, since Bob was in a cell for much of the game and didn't have much to do. Lestrade and Nicky were replacements for players who lost their 1st characters.

      Michelle and Lucy were played by the 2 oldest, most mature members of the group :-) .

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  2. Very exciting, thank you. I'm getting hooked on these characters.

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    1. Well, I wouldn't get too hooked on them if I were you :-( . Although I have no plans to put them in unsurvivable situations, it's only dumb luck that has kept so many alive for so long!

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  3. A fantastic AAR. I have been out of zombie games for a while and this is just the thing to get me back into it. I loved it all, the cards, the characters and terrain and the overall feel of it.

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    1. Thanks, Clint. This game was a real blast; it reminds me that I need to play more ATZ as well!

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  4. Good report. I like how ATZ creates a natural story line as the game is played. The event cards help this and were used well. Thanks for sharing some inspiration!

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    1. Glad you liked it. Yes, ATZ really does tell the story all on its own - it's quite magical how this can happen.

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    1. He did do well, didn't he? More by accident than design - and it helps to have outrageous luck on your side!

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  6. That was a lot of fun to read and I bet it was a lot of fun to play. I think you made the right decision to not allow the players the opportunity of Rep increases. As you rightly said, they didn't kill anyone. Hero of the day had to be Lestrade. I never thought he would escape with so many zombies after him.

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    1. Thanks, Vampifan. Yes, this was one of the most fun games I've had in a while.

      Thinking about it, Lestrade did kill some zombies by shooting as well as "luring" several more to their deaths. *He* should be eligible for REP increase, at least.

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  7. Fantastic read! This makes the desire to do zombie gaming burn all the more. I think I'll be breaking out Zombicide tonight for a quick fix!

    Question: Are your terrain tiles WorldWorks? Do you just lay them out and not bother with the links?

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    1. I've now got the itch to do more zombie gaming too :-) .

      Yes, the tiles are WorldWorks. They're all from the older sets, before TerrainLinx or any of the other mechanisms that they've tried. The newer "linking" mechanisms seem like an awful amount of work to me...

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    2. I've made some terrainlinx tiles and they are very time consuming. I'm thinking about just forgoing it and just laying them out and being careful. I take it you have no issues with the tiles not being connected?

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    3. I lay down some gripper mat (i.e. rubbery sheet) first and then place the tiles on top of that. This combination works fairly well, except that at the club we typically play on 2 tables that have been pushed together. There's usually an issue with a table being shoved accidentally and a "fault line" developing in the middle of the battlefield!

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  8. Great report. I love the random events they are just like those that happen in the movies!

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    1. Thanks, Simon. Most (if not all) of the random events in both decks draw their inspiration from TV shows or movies, so it's not surprising if they're somewhat familiar :-) .

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    1. Thanks, Dave. It was a fun game; I'm pleased if that came across in the write-up.

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  10. What a great read. It must have been a very exciting game for the players, seemingly continually under threat with only the vagaries of the dice to aid them in life-threatening situations.
    No doubt we'll meet he survivors in future scenario(s) ?

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    1. It was indeed an exciting game, I think. As to the survivors, some of the players made a specific point of asking whether they could continue with the same character in the next game (whenever that occurs).

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  11. Good game report. Where did you get the police station?

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  12. Good game report. Where did you get the police station?

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    1. Jason, the police station is a paper kit from WorldWorks games: http://www.worldworksgames.com/store/index.php?view=product&product=73 .

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