Wednesday 29 January 2014

TRWNN: The Magnificent Five. No, Six. Ah, Seven!


Time for another game of The Rules with No Name at my local club, this week.  Once again I was struggling to think of a decent scenario (Tuesday evenings come round frighteningly fast!), at least until my older son mentioned something.  I can't even remember what he said now, but it led down the classic Western route of a small band of heroes against huge numbers of bad guys.  So, how shall we do this?

The Scenario

The small settlement of Los Lobos has been overrun by banditos.  However, all is not lost: a small band of mercenary Americanos have been engaged to take on the bandits.  It's a matter of honour to them not to accept defeat, so they must succeed in destroying all the bad guys and freeing the town!

In this game, each player would take one of the Americanos.  As umpire, I controlled all the banditos.


 The Americanos have a small number of elite gunslingers.  For my game of TRWNN, they were all Shootist or Legend class and had a variety of skills and weapons.  Since we had 5 players, there were initially 5 models, though we had another 2 figures in reserve (in case of early casualties, so that none of the players would be reduced to spectators for most of the evening if their model was shot).

Because they're attacking the town, the Americanos may deploy on any edge of the board.  They must cover all sides of the settlement (i.e. they're not allowed to just walk down main street in one large mob!).  I told the players that the banditos would win instantly if even a single bandito managed to run off any edge of the table and escape.  This wasn't actually their victory condition, but it did encourage the players to spread their forces about.

The banditos were all Gunman or Citizen class.  I was planning to have their Legend leader arrive late, but we ran out of time before this happened.  Oh, well.

Initially there would be 4 banditos on the board.  Each time the Bystander card was drawn from the Fate deck, another bandito would arrive as a reinforcement.  Since there were 6 buildings on the table (excluding small sheds, privies, tents and the like), a dice would be rolled and the bandito would emerge from that building.  If an Americano had "searched" the indicated building by spending an action to look through the door then the dice would be re-rolled.  Dead banditos would be recycled as reinforcements when necessary, thus providing a potentially endless supply of bad guys; this would only be limited by the available playing time!

Because of the "all or nothing" nature of the game and the potentially large number of figures, we wouldn't use Nerve tests.  The Americanos are simply reckoned to pass, always.  Bandito Citizens will faint or run away after a single wound (assuming it doesn't kill them anyway!), whereas Bandito Gunmen will automatically be out of action if they take any 2 wounds (or a single Dead, of course).

Victory Conditions

For the banditos, this was simple: kill all of the Americanos!

I didn't really think too clearly about the victory conditions for the attackers.  Obviously I couldn't make it "Survive until the game ends", as this would have led to all the heroes just hiding!  Possibly it could be "kill at least 10/20/30 banditos"?  Or maybe it should have been "Search every building" (thus preventing any more enemy reinforcements)?  On the evening, none of the players actually asked what they needed to do in order to win, so I guess it doesn't really matter.

One thing that is important: they all win or lose together.  Even players whose characters are dead can still claim a win if the group is successful!

Our Game

As might be expected, there was no coherent flow to this game.  Rather, it developed from very early on into a series of small encounters and vignettes.  Here are some of the more memorable moments:

First blood went to Deputy Rex.  A hapless bandito stumbled out of the nearest house, fell over his own feet, stood up again and was then shot by the waiting Americano.

Retaliation was swift, though.  2-gun Rafael dodged through the tent city and blazed away at Preacher Adams, before the preacher even had a turn.  Only 1 of Rafael's many bullets actually hit the Americano, but it was enough to kill him.  Adams was replaced by Jesse as the 6th Americano.

Blondie ran up to shelter behind the horses that were tied up outside the saloon.  He hadn't realised that a bandito had just come out of the building, but when he heard a noise he spun round like lightning and shot the ambusher dead.  I think the horse he was hiding behind was taken by surprise too!

2-gun Rafael continued to make the running for the banditos.  He peppered the newly-arrived Jesse, wounding him multiple times but failing to knock the Americano out of action.  [That player still hadn't had a turn; all he could do was sit and take it (and look glum)!].

Sheriff Roberts and a bandito almost bumped into each other at the corner of one building.  All would depend on who got the first action card (and was able to make effective use of it, since the bandito's rifle wasn't a good weapon to have at this range).  The sheriff was the lucky one; he scored massive overkill with his shotgun!

Feeling elated, Sheriff Roberts strode out into the main street, only to be gunned down by Santiago.  He was replaced by Emmett, the 7th Americano.

The badly injured, but still terrifying, Black Bart came face to face with a poor bandito Citizen.  The two of them wrestled, trading ineffectual punches for much of the game.

Deputy Rex was taken by surprise when a rifleman appeared out of a house behind him.  Although the Americano turned to face the bandito, the bad guy still had enough time to take an aimed shot, which severely injured poor Rex and knocked him out.

As the rifleman ran up to finish Rex off, Blondie came running down the street (he gets everywhere, doesn't he?!) and shot the bandito.

The injured Jesse staggered towards the saloon and was hiding behind the horse that Blondie had used for cover before.  In a very unlucky sequence of Bystander cards, 3 banditos came out of the doors, one after another, before he could react.

However, it wasn't Jesse who was unlucky.  In the very last turn of the game (we'd run out of time), the drunken bandito Rico sobered up and fired at Blondie.  Despite the moderately long range for a pistol, he dropped the Americano, dead!


The final casualty list was as follows:
  • Sheriff Roberts: DEAD
  • Preacher Adams: DEAD
  • Blondie: DEAD
  • Black Bart: a single, serious head wound
  • Deputy Rex: badly wounded and unconscious
  • Jesse (replacement): 4 (!) flesh wounds, but still going
  • Emmett (replacement): uninjured
Against this, somewhere around 10-15 banditos had been taken out of action, either dead or severely injured.

I think if I was running this again, there would have to be some changes.  In essence, the heroes' moves were too unpredictable.  This was especially a problem for 2 players (Black Bart and Preacher Adams/Jesse), who didn't get to do very much as their character cards just weren't drawn.  I think that either a player should have more than 1 model to control (thus multiplying their chances of having something to do), or extra activation cards need to be added to the deck for the Americanos.  If the former route is chosen then it restricts the number of players on the "good" side to 3 or maybe 4.  On the other hand, I've always been wary of altering the balance too heavily in favour of already-powerful characters by allowing them more chances to take actions.  Perhaps this could be justified on the grounds that the banditos are taken by surprise and are therefore confused, unprepared and slow to react?

So, did the seven win?  I don't know - you'll have to decide for yourself!

Sunday 26 January 2014

More finished 28mm survivors and zombies

Today's post will be another short one.  It's grey and raining (again!), I have a headache and I'm just not feeling up to much.  So, while I try to regain some energy, here are some more recently-finished figures for ATZ or similar games...

Josephine and Laura
First, here are a couple of variants of the "fat woman" body from Wargames Factory's female apocalypse survivors.  Josephine (left) is made up out-of-the-box, whereas Laura (right) has been converted by using different arms from another kit.  Laura's head is taken from the same sprue as the body, but it isn't one of the "official" head options for the fat body.  Still, it works well enough for me.

Ricky and Kimberly
Next up we have a couple of sporting types.  Ricky is wielding a cricket bat, apparently with a lot of passion.  On the other hand, Kimberly is completely emotionless as she crouches, poised and ready with a tennis racquet.  Both are Wargames Factory figures.

Tiana and Jimmy
An unlikely pair make up my last couple of survivors.  Tiana has been shopping and doesn't seem aware of any kind of danger, whereas Jimmy has found a sub-machine gun from somewhere.  I'm not sure he really knows how to use it, though.  Again, both of these figures are from Wargames Factory, though Tiana's shopping bags come from the female zombie kit rather than the female survivor set.

On to the zombies.  I decided that I wanted to have a few zombies with weapons to keep my players on their toes, so this pair are armed.  She is from Wargames Factory, whereas he is a Studio Miniatures model.  Both have weapon arms taken from one of the Survivors kits.

Finally, here's another Studio Miniatures model, though the bottle is from Black Cat Bases.  Is he a zombie?  Or is he just really hung over?  Would you shoot first or wait and see?
I'm not really happy with this guy's pose: the way the bottle is held looks odd to me.  However I have decided that I couldn't do much to fix it on this model.  Maybe some time I'll try the same concept again with a fresh figure and do it better.

That's all for now, folks!

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Full Thrust: The raid on Tessarae Major


Tessarae Major.  The ground base is just visible as a blue atmospheric shield on the far side of the planet
Always secretive, the Romulans have established a large military research base on the K-class planet of Tessarae Major.  This is a backwater world well within their own territory, but remote from all significant trade routes.  The station would have remained secret, too - if it wasn't for an independent trader stopping in the system to flush his holds of illegal contaminants.  As soon as he realised what he had seen, the unlucky merchantman fled without being detected by the Romulans.  He was unlucky because he talked to the wrong person (a Klingon agent) at his next stop...

The Scenario

Victory Conditions

It's very simple: if the Klingons capture the base (and can therefore retrieve vital military data) then they win.  If the base is destroyed by either side then it's a draw.  Otherwise, if the defenders retain control of the base, then the Romulans win.

Klingon Forces

The Klingon raiding force consists of 1 battleship, 1 battlecruiser and 2 heavy cruisers.  Should be more than enough to deal with the base, right?  2 frigates are also available as reserves, in case any of the three players lost their entire command.  The attacking fleet enters from the far end of the board, with an initial speed of 8.

Note that in order to capture the base the Klingons must land marines by transporter or shuttle.  Either way, the standard, abstract "boarding" rules require the ship to be within 6" of the base and travelling at a speed of 1 or less!

Romulan Forces

The scientists at the base have been experimenting with a very unusual defence: the reflex field.  This is properly described in the standard Full Thrust rulebook, but roughly speaking it can "reflect" damage from beam weapons back onto the firer.  Whilst the field is switched on, the base cannot fire its own phasers, so the decision to enable it or not must be made at the start of every turn by the base commander.  Note that the reflex field isn't of any use against disruptors and doesn't always work as intended against standard beam weapons!

As well as the research base (which is approximately the strength of a battlecruiser), the Romulans have 2 heavy cruisers and 2 destroyers.  The Klingons don't know about these ships, either their numbers or classes!  The defending vessels are deployed, cloaked, as follows:
  • There are 10 numbered "blip" counters scattered around the board.
  • Each Romulan ship writes down the number of the blip from which it will begin.  Also, as per the rules for cloaking devices in Full Thrust, it must decide how many turns it will remain hidden and write its movement orders in advance for those turns.
  • When a Romulan ship uncloaks for the first time, it will be placed initially on the chosen blip and then its pre-plotted movement will be executed; this gives it the final location for the uncloaked model.
Note that even though the Klingons are unaware of the defending squadron, they still have quite an advantage in tonnage over the defenders.

Our Game

As the game started, the Klingons played a Moral High Ground card.  Now the Romulans would only draw the game if they committed an atrocity, even if they held their base!

For 2 turns, the Klingon fleet came barrelling in, ignoring the occasional ripple in sub-space.  Perhaps they put these down to harmless local gravitational phenomena, or a lingering effect of the enemy's previous weapons tests?  Or maybe their sensor technicians were too junior to make their concerns heard?  Whatever the reason, the Klingons were completely convinced that they had taken the Romulans by surprise.  Victory was theirs for the taking!

The plan was that the 2 cruisers would race ahead, using their superior manoeuvrability to stop near the base and send in assault teams while the 2 capital ships provided fire support.  Some long-range fire was attempted on the Romulan hemisphere, but a freak accident sent energy back along the ionised trail of the phaser shot and inflicted minor damaged to the Admiral Kang.

On turn 3, everything changed.  The Romulan ships had been creeping in from the edges slowly under cloak.  Now they decloaked: the 2 destroyers and the cruiser Firebird were right behind the Klingon fleet, while the other Romulan cruiser, Dragon was in front of them, near the planet.

The Klingon ships hastily plotted evasive manoeuvres, but a couple of plasma torpedoes from the Romulan cruisers still landed right in the middle of their formation.  Taken by surprise, the Klingon point-defence systems failed to degrade either of the approaching warheads [they had a total of 10 dice, but didn't roll even a single '6'].  The torpedoes exploded with devastating effect [i.e. much higher than average rolls for damage!], crippling the cruiser Valhalla with a bridge hit, severely damaging the other cruiser (Asgard) and reducing  the battleship's engines to half power.

Since the Valhalla was out of control and heading towards the planet at high speed, the Romulans didn't waste time firing on her.  A few escape pods ejected from the crippled vessel before the Klingon cruiser smacked into the planet's surface and was completely destroyed.  She narrowly missed hitting the research base (by 50 miles or so), but the shock waves were felt across the entire hemisphere!

Phaser fire from the base destroyed the heavily-damaged Asgard quite easily.  Fortunately for the Romulans (bearing in mind the Klingons' Moral High Ground), the ship was only just out of action and at least some of the crew would have survived in sealed compartments within the wreckage.

To add insult to injury, the base's heavy phasers then fired on the retreating battleship Admiral Kang.  The base tried to play a "Match their shield harmonics!" to make the salvo even more deadly, but Klingon shield technicians were easily up to the challenge and stabilised their defences [i.e. they played a "That's not fair!" card of their own].  As it happened, the Romulans didn't need the extra boost; their weapons blew chunks out of the battleship's engines and rendered them completely inoperable.


We did play on for a bit after this, to fill the time.  However, the game was effectively over at this point; it was obvious that the arrival of 2 Klingon frigates wouldn't make any difference whatsoever to the outcome.  Instead of a slow, blow-by-blow account of that action, here's the final summary:


  • Admiral Kang (BB): drifted away from the fight with no engine power and few functioning weapons.  Warp drive still operational, so she can probably make it back to Klingon space.
  • Relentless (BC): Unable to make a high-speed turn, so flew off the table.  Allowed to come back a few turns later only to be crippled by both Romulan cruisers.
  • Valhalla (CA): made a big, smoking hole in Tessarae Major.
  • Asgard (CA): destroyed by phaser fire from Hawk base.
  • Warrior (FG, reinforcement): destroyed.
  • Conquest (FG, reinforcement): undamaged, though next on the target list for the entire Romulan force.


  • Firebird (CA): Slightly damaged when exchanging phaser fire with Relentless.
  • Dragon (CA): Barely scratched.
  • Lorica (DD): Armour damage only.
  • Pilum (DD): Heavily damaged by the Admiral Kang, but saved when a "Makeshift Repairs" card sacrificed the warp drive to restore control to the bridge, just in time to navigate around the planet and avoid hitting it! 
Last word: I don't think I've ever seen a game before where a single turn's shooting so completely changed the situation.  The 2 plasma torpedoes from the outclassed Romulan ships devastated the surprised Klingon fleet; not even a single defending ship was lost!

Sunday 19 January 2014

Army Showcase: Viridians (part 3)

Part 3: Heavy Infantry

Following the previous articles on Mounted Troops and Light infantry, it's time to document the 3rd part of my Viridian force: the Heavy Infantry!

The Viridians were one of the original 4 human forces for the VOID game from the long-defunct Scottish company i-Kore.  My figures all date from this era (i.e. VOID 1.1) and the range is still available from Scotia Grendel.  They should not be confused with the faction of the same name from Urban Mammoth, who were a successor company to i-Kore and created new models and some new factions for the same fictional universe.  The Urban Mammoth models are very nice, but they're not really the same style as the older Viridians.

Metal Figures

Firstly, here are some regular armoured infantry.  There are 2 squads in the background and a hero in front.  These are some of my first batch to be painted; they have very distinctive tan knee and shoulder pads and very little weathering.

Actually, i-Kore produced a bewildering variety of armoured Viridians (including, from memory, "Assault marines", "Shock marines", "Interdict marines", "Fenrir's marines"...).  However, as with the light infantry, I just mix them together in whatever way seems best to me at the time.

I also have a much smaller squad that was painted more recently.  They're the same metal models, but the armour is green all over and I've attempted to depict some wear and tear on it.  Possibly I've overdone the bare metal?

More "classic" metal models, though this time they're close-combat specialists.  As well as their "vibro-blades", they have shields made of advanced materials.  Possibly with minor force-field technologies built in to them as well?

The wolf-head designs on the shields are decals of my own making.  The ink on the paper ran a bit and so the designs are somewhat blurred.  Not something I'm really happy about, but I can't do anything about it now.

So far, I've only made up 1 heavy weapon for the armoured infantry - a twin gauss cannon.  Like many of my older models, I've based the crew figures separately from the weapon.  If/when I build more of these (from my lead pile), I'll probably put the whole lot on a single, larger base.

Plastic Figures

Just before the company failed, i-Kore released some plastic Viridians (and Junkers too, but that's another story).  These look a bit different from the metal figures, especially the heads and weapons.  I think I prefer the helmets; they look big enough to fit a human head inside (the metal ones are less plausible).  However the guns are overly bulky and can only be fixed easily to 1 hand.  The plastic shoulder pads are a nightmare and needed much trimming to make them fit.

For comparison, I also have a single squad of Games Workshop's Space Marines.  These have been painted in the same uniform as the i-Kore Viridians, so in theory I could use them in the same game.

Finally, here's a side-by-side shot of an i-Kore Viridian marine (left) and a Games Workshop Space Marine (right).  Make of this what you will...

Wednesday 15 January 2014

FUBAR: The Rumble in the Jungle


I've mentioned FUBAR before (here); it's a 1-page, fast-play set of rules for squad-level Science Fiction combat games.  Since I was at a bit of a loss when deciding what to bring to the games club this week, I thought I'd give it another outing.  It's been a while since I last played these rules.

FUBAR is adaptable to a wide variety of settings.  For example, it's sometimes used as a free alternative to Warhammer 40K or for games with Star Wars clix figures.  However I though that I would bring out some of my old VOID miniatures instead (note that these are still available from Scotia Grendel).  In this game, the Viridians (fervent ecologists) would attack a Syntha (cold cyborgs) outpost.

I think I may be getting something of a reputation at the club.  When one of the regular players saw the setup for this game, he asked nervously "Does this involve bugs?"  Of course, my answer was "Why?  Would that worry you?" (mua-ha-ha!).  It's true that I have used my Viridians in "bug hunt" games before, but there wouldn't be any hordes of monsters on this occasion!

The Scenario

This would be a very simple game: the Syntha have set up a base in the centre of the jungle and the Viridians don't like the mess they're making.  The attackers must wipe out the base, whilst the defenders must hold on!

The Syntha's southern defences.  2 squads (one of robots, one of humans) man the sandbag wall while "Hades-40" stands ready in the background

Syntha troops are all deployed on the table from the start.  They have:
  • 2 tanks (one is much better camouflaged than the other and may be quite hard to spot in the picture above).  Very powerful.
  • A troop of grav-bikes.  Fast and heavily armed, but unarmoured.
  • Several squads of robots, big and small - a mixture of androsynths and teratosynths, if you're interested.  Well armed, somewhat armoured, but not very bright.
  • 2 squads of (slightly) modified human marines.
  • ...and finally, a pair of biomechs - mechanically-enhanced cyborg super-soldiers.
The Viridian force would be split into 2 parts; each would enter from a different end of the table.  Total force is as follows:
  • 2 behemoths (dinosaur-like "tanks")
  • Several squads of power-armoured troopers.
  • Several squads of regular infantry.
  • 1 scout squad, mounted on fast, bipedal lizards.
Since the Syntha had 2 commanders and the Viridians had 4, I expected the attackers to have a significant command and control advantage.  In FUBAR, when a player fails an activation roll for one of his units then his turn is over.  On average, the Viridians should have been able to activate about twice as many units as the Syntha for each round.  I hoped that this would compensate the attackers for the defenders' semi-prepared positions.

The Game

Oh, there's the second Syntha tank: "Nemesis-41"

The crashing of something large through trees was the first the Syntha knew of the attack on their base.  A Viridian assault behemoth broke through the foliage and its gauss cannons all opened fire on the nearest defending tank, wrecking its grav-drive.  Powered infantry could be seen close behind the monster.

Quickly recovering from their surprise, the defenders returned fire.  The tank fired its star-cannon at the behemoth and stunned it with a near miss, while the marines blazed away on some hapless Viridian troopers who were in the open.  These were quickly suppressed and suffered casualties; they remained pinned in this position for a number of turns until the Syntha eventually found a higher priority target.

The disoriented behemoth failed to activate, as did all of the Viridian southern command.  Figuring that they were only being attacked from 1 direction after all, the Syntha moved some of their large robots into a position where they could see the creature.  A superb shot from the 'bots managed to break one of the behemoth's legs and destroy the nearer gauss cannon.  From now on the Viridian creature couldn't move and had only half its original fire-power.  I would have said that it was a sitting duck - except that it doesn't look anything like a duck!

Finally, the other part of the Viridian attack arrived, from the south.  The Syntha pretty much ignored them, because (a) the attackers were still a fair way off and (b) they didn't seem to know what to do with themselves.

In another part of the northern assault, a Viridian squad had crossed the river.  They hoped that this movement hadn't been seen, but the 2 biomechs were waiting for them.  The armoured infantry turned out to be no match for the super-soldiers and hit the dirt to avoid casualties.

When the Syntha grav-bikes joined in, the attackers started to take losses, despite their armour.  Eventually this infantry squad was wiped out.

Nemesis-41 was busy receiving a software update [i.e. the tank failed its activation roll for several turns in a row], so a Viridian assault squad seized the opportunity to race across the bridge and assault the nearby infantry.  Despite being outclassed, the Syntha troopers defended heroically; both sides were still locked in melee by the end of the game.

At the southern end of the table, the other Viridian behemoth and supporting infantry began edging past the Syntha positions.

For a moment, this looked like a dangerous move.  However, a very lucky missile from the emplaced Syntha infantry detonated the ammunition in the behemoth's howdah, killing the creature and all crew.  The 2 defending biomechs also raced towards the scene, making the nearby Viridian troopers very uneasy.

The worried troopers quickly found that they couldn't draw a bead on the fast-moving biomechs; most shots were dodged and the few which seemed to strike home had no effect.  In return, the cyborgs made mincemeat of the humans, killing one outright and sending others sprawling for cover in the dirt.


By the end of the game (when time was up!), the Viridian attack seemed to have stalled.  Various units were exchanging fire with their Syntha counterparts, but this was fairly desultory.  The one possible success could have been the Viridian assault troopers attack in the north, but a counter-attack from assault robots was expected imminently.  Finally, the defenders still had quite a lot of their forces available as a mobile reserve - Hades-40, the 3 grav-bikes and the 2 biomechs - whereas the Viridian scouts were the only unit the attackers hadn't committed.  I'd say that the Syntha have managed to hold their position very effectively!

So, how did FUBAR work out?  It's certainly quick to play and the unit activation rules force the players to concentrate on what really matters at the time.  Overall I think it's a very useful set of rules, though a lot depends on the attributes you create for your models.

Being caught in the open is bad news, especially for unarmoured infantry.  Not many models died, at least in part because my squads were small and therefore had limited fire-power, but the suppression certainly limited what units could do.

I'm not really a fan of "partial" damage for tanks or other vehicles (e.g. loss of a weapon, mobility or other attributes).  Because of this rule, most of the "vehicles" in the north survived the entire game, albeit with various bits shot off.  Only the luckiest hit would truly destroy such a model!

Unit of the match: the 2 Syntha biomechs, without a doubt.  They were fast, elusive and hard-hitting.  Their elite rating meant that they would activate on a 2+; this made them extremely active.  Indeed, with the exception of the one dead behemoth and its crew, they caused almost all the fatalities in the entire game.

Most useless: I think I'd have to go for the Viridian scouts.  For a long time they refused to come on to the table.  When they finally arrived, they skulked about in the woods and hid so well that they don't even appear in any of the photographs.  At least all of the other units on both sides used their weapons, even if they didn't all hit anything.  Apart from the assault synths, that is - but they were an obvious reserve in case the perimeter was breached!

Sunday 12 January 2014

A few Character Cards for ATZ

We've been out today at the cinema, seeing The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.  Since the film is quite long and travelling to even our nearest cinema takes a while, I haven't much time for today's post.

I thought it would be nice to remind people about one of my earliest blog posts: ATZ Character Cards.  This was a surprisingly popular article (well, it surprised me) and that early success helped a lot in making me decide to continue blogging.

Anyway, there has to be something new in this post, else you'll all get bored and go away.  I've designed a fair number of new characters for All Things Zombie since the initial publication.  My oldest son has also prepared some cards for his own miniatures.  Here are some of them; see what you think...

Doctor Pertwee is an eccentric old academic, but very much a man of action rather than an ivory tower dreamer.  He has an extraordinary ability with machinery, though his strongly-held principles won't allow him to attack anything.  His female companion is fond of adventure, but tends to lose her head when danger looms.

"And they called it puppy love..."  These 2 teenagers are besotted with each other; if anything happened to one of them then the other would surely die!

There's a very strong trope (I can't think of the name) that has most of the soldiers in a unit, players in a team or buddies in a group as fairly useless.  It's up to the square-jawed leader to save the day.  So it is with these guys too...

That's all for now, folks!  Until next time, goodbye...

Thursday 9 January 2014

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


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: 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: 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.


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]