Wednesday, 2 June 2010

My ATZ Campaign - Introduction

I have just spent four days playing All Things Zombie and oh boy, what fun I have had! It has been way too long since I have done any gaming. Indeed these were the first games that I managed to play this year. Problems with my dad, who is now sadly confined to a wheelchair, have prevented me from actively pursuing my gaming hobby these past few months. But that all changed last Friday and I was able to start my ATZ campaign. Up till now all of the battle reports I have done for my blog have been stand alone games, although the last two, featuring a small unit of National Guard soldiers were connected. So, let me introduce you to the main hero of my campaign - Vampifan. That's him on the left - a Copplestone 28mm scale Dark Future Militia soldier converted to look like me. I added the glasses and extended his beer gut. Yes, he's my alter ego and I hope he'll survive the zombie apocalypse.
My campaign will be set in the fictional hellhole known as Mayhem City. Fans of World Works Games card models will be very familiar with this name. Most of the scenery, buildings and vehicles that I'll be using will come from WWG's Mayhem City range.
In the All Things Zombie: Better Dead Than Zed (ATZ:BDTZ) rulebook by Two Hour Wargames there is a section at the back marked Day One, Top Secret. This section takes you through Day One of the zombie outbreak and helps define who your character is. So let's go through it and see just who Vampifan is. Be advised, the answers I give for Vampifan do not reflect my real life status. He's just a fictional charcter who shares some of my traits and beliefs.
Vampifan is 24 years old. He is single, has no children or a significant other. He shares his home with a room mate called Neil (aka Big Sil).
Vampifan is a graphic designer working for a board game company. (That was my first job after I left college.) It is a sedentary job and Vampifan is in poor physical condition. This means that he'll start the campaign as a Rep:3 Civilian.
Vampifan has had no military or law enforcement experience. However, he has fired a gun before and is a fully paid up member of the National Rifle Association. He graduated from the University of Mayhem with an honours degree in graphic design.
Vampifan shares an apartment in Mayhem City Centre, an urban area. This is the worst place to be when the outbreak begins but such is life.
Vampifan and Big Sil are both big eaters, so their home is always well stocked with food and drink. They keep canned goods and perishables in roughly equal measures. They have the equipment and materials to barricade their home if needed. They do not own a generator in case the power goes out. They have enough food for themselves and two guests so are classed as having 4 food units.
Vampifan owns a Big Ass Pistol and a combat knife. Big Sil owns a Machine Pistol and a combat knife. Both keep their weapons at home. This means that Vampifan will start off unarmed. Big Sil owns plenty of hand tools that could be used as improvised weapons if need be.
Vampifan owns a black pick-up truck. It is fully fueled but parked at a city centre car park when the outbreak begins. This means that Vampifan will initially be on foot. A fully fueled pick-up truck counts as having 5 fuel units.
Apart from cash, Vampifan begins with no luxury items. At home he has some booze.

From the ten options listed on p.64, this is Vampifan's itinerary for the day -
First go to an ATM machine to get more cash for some luxury items.
Second, retrieve his pick-up truck from the car park.
Third, visit the local gunstore to stock up on ammo.
Fourth, return home.
My games all took place on a 4' by 2' board because that was more convenient than the 3' by 3' board that the rulebook suggests you use. Note that my  battle reports will be very heavy on the rules details. This is a deliberate decision on my part as I want those who have never played ATZ before to get a good understanding of how the rules work. As the campaign progresses, the need to explain the rules should diminish and the batreps ought to be more narrative in flavour.

For the most part, I am happy to use ATZ as presented by Ed Teixeira. However, there is one house rule I have adopted and that regards the placement of zombies. Instead of rolling 1d6 and consulting the chart for direction (basically, north, south, east or west) I use a Games Workshop scatter die. This has arrows on each face and thus allows me to place zombies anywhere in a 360 degree radius. I feel this is more realistic and gives a greater degree of diversity.

LOCATION 1 - The ATM Machine
The initial number of civilians on the board was 2d6. I rolled 5 and 2 to give me 7. This is not actually in the rulebook but I wanted some folk around otherwise it would look like Vampifan was walking around a ghost town. Mayhem City is supposed to be a big, bustling city so I randomly populated it prior to the scenario's onset. All civilians are Rep:3 and are unarmed. The photo below shows the initial set up and Vampifan can be seen at the bottom of the photo. The ATM machine is situated to the right of the 7-Eleven shop window.
TURN 1.    ACTIVATION - Vampifan=5, Zombies=4
Vampifan advances 8" up the street. Normally, if you roll higher than your Rep score you can't activate that turn but this is not a combat situation (yet!) so I deemed it meaningless. So why bother rolling for activation, you ask? Simple. There is a possibility of a random encounter if a result of 7, 11 or doubles are rolled (see p.65).
TURN 2.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan=2, Zombies=5
Aha! A roll of 7 indicated the possibility of a zombie appearance. In an urban area, zombies are normally generated on the d6 roll of 4, 5 or 6 (see p.29 & p.30) but because this is early in the outbreak, urban areas count as suburban and both suburban and rural areas count as rural (see p.65). This meant if I rolled a 5 or a 6, a zombie would be generated. I rolled a 6. He would appear 12" away from Vampifan. My scatter die placed him just inside the 7-Eleven store. Vampifan moved further up the street. The zombie remained hidden for the moment as it could not activate this turn.
TURN 3.   Activation - Vampifan=1, Zombies=3
The zombie stepped out of the shop and had a choice of three victims to attack - the old couple or the young boy. All were within equal distance of him. All three had to take the Zed Or No Zed test (see p.33). Vampifan was too far away to have to take it, i.e. he was more than 3" away from the zombie. The two old folk passed 1d6 each, but the kid passed 0d6. The zombie would charge him and could add 2d6 to its melee dice. The kid took the Being Charged test and passed 1d6. He could fight back but would suffer a -2d6 penalty for being attacked in the rear. The zombie rolled 3d6 and the kid just 1d6. The zombie scored 2 successes, the kid scored one. That meant that the kid was Out of the Fight and he fell to the ground unconscious. Next turn, the zombie would start feasting on him. Vampifan moved onto the road crossing. (You can see the end of my tape measure in the photo above, just next to Vampifan's base. D'oh! Who forgot to move it when he took the photo?)
TURN 4.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan=2, Zombies=4
As the zombie began feeding on the young boy, I rolled 1d6 to determine how long the feast would last (see p.31). I rolled a 3. This meant that those closest to the zombie had to take a See The Feast test (see p.33). I rolled for Vampifan first, scoring a 3 and a 2. He had passed 2d6 and thankfully, would never have to take the test again. Watching so many horror films had stood him in good stead! Next, I rolled for the old age pensioners. They passed 1d6 each and Ducked Back into the store, where they had to take a Sanity test (see p.33). The old man passed 1d6 and Hunkered Down. Alas, the old lady passed 0d6 and became catatonic. She would never, ever Rally again. A young woman close to the ATM machine was the last to take the See The Feast test. She passed 1d6 and Ducked Back into the book store. She passed 1d6 on her Sanity test and Hunkered Down behind cover.
It was Vampifan's turn to activate. He wanted to attack the zombie, so first he had to take a Wanting to Charge test. Being a Star, he was able to choose how many dice he passed (see p.5). Naturally, he chose to pass 2d6 and so melee commenced. He got to roll 3d6 for his Rep (see p.21). The zombie only rolled 1d6 (see p.35). Vampifan scored one more success than the zombie, giving an Out of the Fight result. However, all Out of the Fight results are classed as Obviously Dead on zombies (see p.35). So, Vampifan stuck the boot in and crushed the zombie's skull. Result! Vampifan's first zombie kill!
TURN 5.   ACTIVATION. Vampifan=3, Zombies=6.
Vampifan moved to the ATM machine and inserted his credit card. No new encounters occured so this was the end of this event. Because he came here first, Vampifan was able to withdraw enough cash to purchase three luxury items, which he bought at the 7-Eleven store. He chose a six-pack of canned beer, a large pack of toilet paper and a box of antiseptic detergent for washing his hands (useful for cleaning blood stains!).
Next time I'll tell you what else happens to Vampifan on Day One. Be sure to drop in!


  1. Awesome batrep and awesome paint jobs!

    I'll throw out there that I've always seen the failed activation rolls as various cliche movie moments. Someone tripping and falling, stopping to look at the camera and make a joke, or otherwise being distracted.

    The missed activations make a huge difference between a Rep3 and Rep5 character. Taking that penalty away certainly makes it easier!

    But I'm sure Ed would say to change the rules in whatever way is most fun for you.

  2. Thank you for the kind words, Pudson. Regarding the missed activation rolls, I would not advocate doing it once there is a combat situation in hand. Once the enemy show up then the activation rolls become very important and a major part of the game. But on turn one of my batrep when there was no chance of any combat did it matter if Vampifan failed to move that turn? Nope, I say. it would have just slowed the game down needlessly. Once the zombie turned up then it was different matter. Maybe I should I include that in my house rules so that everyone is clear about it. The problem with only having a Rep:3 hero is that in theory he'll be inactive for half the game. I was fortunate in that Vampifan had some low dice rolls for activating once the zombie arrived. Still, I'm sure you're right that Ed would say to change the rules in whatever way is most fun. My whole philosophy to gaming is having fun is the number one priority.

  3. Hoooray! I've been waiting for this for a long time now. What a beautiful table and figs. So you need to finish all the day 1 itinerary before the mission is over, correct? This first mission is so critical as you need to finish without any major hiccups. Then you have a fairly good chance of a rep raise. I can't wait to see what happens next!

  4. Hey Bryan, I didn't see a post on the THW site so I took the liberty of pimping this Rep for you. All those aspiring Zed Masters really need to see this.

  5. Very nice! Lovely scenery and minis.
    Isn't REP 3 a bit too low for a star?

  6. @Willy. If you've been waiting a long time for this to kick off imagine how I felt! Yes, Vampifan has to finish his itinerary for Day One to complete the scenario. That means going to three more locations - the car park, the gun store and home. I'll post the next installment on Sunday so you won't have too long to wait.
    Thanks ever so much for pimping this on the THW site. I had planned to do it today, but you beat me to it.

    @Brutpaul. First of all, many thanks for becoming my latest follower. I agree that Rep:3 is way too low for a Star but because of the choices I made regarding Vampifan's background that is what he ended up as. If he'd been in the military or the police he'd have been Rep:4 and if he'd been a SWAT trooper, Rep:5. It makes life tough at the start, but it is easier to get a Rep increase if he survives Day One.

  7. A lot of the fun is watching your players grow up. We start most of our characters at Rep 3 and no weapons unless someone comes into an existing campaign where everyone is already higher rep. Those first couple of Rep gains are really satisfying; if you manage to survive!

  8. Finally another Batrep on your blog! Congratulations on your first Zed-kill.

    Your Vampifan-Miniature is great, just great! How else can someone immerse onself in the game better than this?

    I have been wondering for some time now if the whole Day One is one single mission or if every location is a separate mission. LTL Dad, I see you're doing it the hard way.

    Whiteface / Oliver

  9. Hi, Whiteface. I'm hoping Vampifan's first zombie kill is the first of many! LTL Dad and I share the belief that a lot more fun is to be had from ATZ if you use a figure to represent yourself.

    Regarding your thoughts on whether Day One is one big scenario or numerous small ones, the rulebook is rather vague on it. I'm of the opinion that because everything happens in just a single day it should count as one scenario. As Pudson said in the first comment, just go with whatever's the most fun for you.

    Once again, I have to agree with Willy (LTL Dad) that starting out at Rep:3 is the best way. Yes, it undoubtedly is the hard way, but the satisfaction you get when you raise your Rep is that much greater.

  10. My figure of choice is a "Falling Down"-Style (The Michael Douglas movie) from RAFM. It's close enough although I don't wear glasses.
    When I started as a Rep 3 some time ago I forgot that I played a Star with Star Power. Never had a chance against all those terrified civilians.

    Last year when I was drifting aimlessly between some THW-Games and other tabletop games I stumbled upon your national guard batreps. These got me interested in ATZ again and I remembered that someone (Willy) posted a link to more batreps in the yahoo group. Both of you did a great job of renewing and keeping my interest in zombie gaming...and spending most of my available money on ATZ-related stuff and not on ancients, ww2, ww1, pirates, sci-fi and games-workshop.

    Whiteface / Oliver

  11. Oliver, I know the figure you're talking about from RAFM as I have him in my own collection. The beauty of that figure is he can have just about anything you want in his big flight bag. (Insert evil laugh here!)Perhaps you could just paint his glasses as sunglasses if it's too difficult to remove them.

    Ah, terrified civilians - I know all about them. Vampifan has an encounter with them at one of his next three locations. Nuff said.

    It looks like Willy and I ought to be earning commission from THW for all the people who've decided to pick up ATZ based on our batreps. We are both confirmed THW fanatics and like Willy, I'm looking to them for all of my gaming needs. I have seen the light and have turned my back on the evil empire whose initials are GW. Thanks for sharing, Oliver. It's always nice to know how you got involved in ATZ and even nicer to know that I'm partially responsible.

  12. Well, I had the ATZ and ATZ:BDTZ rules and some Zeds's just that I have everything else too and ATZ was just one of many, many projects. Now ATZ is my main project. I still get easily distracted, but it's easier to re-focus and happily buy something for ATZ instead.

    For my Star miniature I was indeed going for sunglasses and yes, I've chosen him because of his large bag. :o) On a side note: I had the Vampifan miniature in my collection for some time, but I just prepared and glued him on a base last weekend.

    Whiteface / Oliver

  13. Really nice job, Bryan. First of all your top rate minis and scenery really add to the enjoyment.

    Secondly your thorough description of the game play is really great for us beginners. Its very easy to understand without being too long winded.
    Great job!

    I cant wait til the next one.

  14. @Oliver. The Vampifan figure is a doddle to convert if you want a Vampifan in your games. Nice to hear that you're going to give him a lick of paint. May I wish you the best of luck in your ATZ gaming. Believe me, luck does play a big part!

    @Roger. As I mentioned in a separate e-mail to you Vampifan's first zombie kill was against Rogzombie, the Black Orc figure that you use for your avatar. I'm glad you approved. Also, I'm glad you found the game play easy to follow. You are just the sort of person I was aiming to reach. I'll post part two of this batrep on Sunday so you won't have to wait too long.

  15. Excellent work Vampifan. I really enjoyed reading your report and look forward to the next installment. The T Shirt on your miniature is outstanding as is all the figures and scenery, all the hard work is paying off.

  16. nice,i have started to read all your batrep from the start. gread idea on the scatter dice