Sunday, 31 October 2010

Studio Miniatures Survivors 02

These three 28mm scale survivor figures were recently released by Studio Miniatures. From left to right they are Memphis, Ohio and Hawk. These are the names chosen by the Studio team, presumably to get round copyright problems. However, I believe in calling a spade a spade so I'll say what we all know to be the truth - they are from left to right, Tallahassee and Columbus from Zombieland and Snake Plisken from Escape to New York.
Anyone looking for a well armed survivor for their zombie apocalypse game would be well advised to check out the Memphis/Tallahassee figure, so memorably played by Woody Harrelson in what in my opinion is his best movie role to date. This figure is armed to the teeth with a pair of Mini-Uzi machine pistols in his hands, two pump-action shotguns strapped to his back and a pair of holstered pistols. With that amount of weaponry, he doesn't need to worry about running out of ammo. If he does, he can just draw a new firearm. He is very well sculpted and the sculptor has achieved a good likeness of Woody, thankfully without making his head too big, which was a failing with the cast of Scrubs in the boxed set of Studio's zombie medical staff.
Much as I love the sculpt of Memphis/Tallahassee, I think the figure of Ohio/Columbus is even better. That is because the sculptor has perfectly captured Jesse Eisenberg's look, from his face to his scrawny teenage body. Even if you don't use him as Columbus, this figure will still make a great sidekick. He is armed with a double-barelled shotgun, which looks to be as long as he is tall. These two figures are sold together, which I think is only fair.
Next up, is the Hawk/Snake Plisken figure. He is armed with an Ingram MAC 10 machine pistol fitted with silencer and scopesight. A nice combo! He has a pair of pearl-handled pistols strapped to his hips for back-up.Again, the sculptor was captured the iconic look of Kurt Russell very well, although the head is just a tad too large. I suppose there will be those comparing this figure with Hasslefree's Cobra (their version of Snake) from their adventurers range. To be honest, I think the Hasslefree version is better than the Studio version. It is certainly more animated. But I'm not knocking the Studio version for being a poor figure. Far from it. What may be a deciding factor for those of you on a limited budget is the fact that the white metal Studio version of Snake is 51 pence cheaper than the Hasslefree version, which retails at £4.50.
Moving on, these five figures come from a boxed set called Dorothy and the Gang. It is clear where the inspiration for these survivors came from - The Wizard of Oz. At the far left of my two photos above is Toto the dog. On the Studio website, this has been painted as an Alsatian. I already heve a few other figures of Alsatians, so I wanted to paint mine as a different breed. What I don't have in my dog collection are any Border Collies, a breed I particularly like, even though I'm more of a cat person than a dog person. So I Googled pictures of Border Collies and painted the figure you see above. I'm especially happy with how he came out. Prior to the release of I, Zombie, the only dogs in ATZ were the ones found in random encounters being chased by 1d6 zombies. Now, however, you can include dogs as part of your group.
Standing next to Toto is Dorothy, who looks like she knows how to handle herself in a fight. She is armed with a pair of pistols, and is aiming with one, whilst keeping the other by her side. She is quite small in comparison to the male characters from this set. If you wanted a pair of teenage siblings for your party team up Dorothy here with the Ohio/Columbus figure shown earlier. Looking at them side by side they really do complement each other very well.
In the centre of this group is the scarecrow character. I suspect he is just a tramp who has teamed up with Dorothy. He wields a pitchfork in his hands, which going by its condition, looks to have seen better days. I added a lot of muddy affects to him by drybrushing Citadel Tausept Ochre and Citadel Graveyard Earth after I'd finished painting his clothes. You want him to look scruffy.
Next in line, is the tinman, who has come up with some imaginative ideas for his armour. The most obvious one is the dust bin, with holes cut out for his head and arms. I added a rusty girder to his base just to emphasise his metallic nature. He wields a large two-handed axe.
Finally, we come to what has to be the most striking figure out of the bunch - the cowardly lion. The sculptor has used great imagination to transform the lion into a mascot for a football team or some other sports team. It is a concept that works amazingly well. He is very tall - from the soles of his feet to the top of his head he is 47mm tall. I suspect that he sees out of the lion's mouth as there is no way he could see out of the lion head's eyes. Like his two male companions, he is armed with a two-handed melee weapon, in this case, a hockey stick. I'm sure that's classed as an improvised weapon in ATZ.
This is a very unusual theme to adopt for a group of survivors and is not a one that I would have thought of. However, the concept works and I salute Studio for coming up with something so far from outside the box. Their originality is to be applauded.
As for the first three survivors that I reviewed here, all I want to say is, can we have figures of Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) from Zombieland? I appreciate Studio making Memphis/Tallahassee and Ohio/Columbus but they're only half of the team. So, pretty please, can we have the female half of the team?
Okay, let's look at prices. The white metal versions of Memphis and Ohio cost £7.99, whilst the resin versions cost £9.99. The white metal version of Hawk costs £3.99, whilst the resin version costs £4.99. Finally, the boxed set of Dorothy and the Gang costs £15.99 for the white metal version and £24.99 for the resin version. If anyone has bought the resin version of any of the Studio Miniatures range, please let me know.
Finally, if anyone hasn't seen the Hasslefree version of Snake Plisken and they can't be arsed to check out their website, don't worry. I plan on doing a review of him, and a few other Hasslefree adventurers, soon. That way you'll be able to compare the two.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Studio Miniatures Zombies 08 - Tiny Terrors

It has been quite a while since I ran a review of any Studio Miniatures 28mm scale zombies but that all changes with the recent release of this fantastic set, called Tiny Terrors. A lot of figure companies shy away from making zombie children, which is a shame. However, here we have a boxed set containing nothing but zombie children. Top marks to Studio Miniatures for releasing these beautifully sculpted figures.
There are six figures in the set, comprising three boys and three girls. Moving from left to right, I'll start with the boys. First in line, is a kid in T-shirt, short trousers and trainers. He has been shot or stabbed in the stomach.
For the most part, I've just copied the colour schemes as used by Studio, simply because it saves me from thinking up a colour scheme. However, in the case of the boy with the green hoodie, I decided to paint him as an African-American rather than another Caucasian kid. This gives a bit of ethnic diversity to the group. He has been bitten in the right thigh and has a large belly wound.
The third boy zombie of the group is posed very statically. A chunk of his left arm has been bitten and he has been shot in the back. I have smeared blood over his mouth and chin to show that he has been feeding recently.
Now we move onto the girls and first up is the wee lass in a pretty pink dress. A bullet has entered her chest and exited out of her back, no doubt killing her instantly... only for her to rise again as one of the undead.
The girl in the brown jacket and pale blue dress has also been shot in the chest, with an exit wound in her back, although this time by a lower calibre bullet as the bullet holes are a lot smaller than those on the first girl.
Finally, we come to girl in a long pale dress, carrying her rather battered looking dolly. She has suffered the most severe wound of the six. The right side of her torso has been eaten away. I have smeared her mouth and chin with blood in a similar manner to the boy in the grey shirt.
I would think by now you ought to guess that my reaction to this set is highly favourable. It most certainly is! Zombie children are always welcome by me. Not for any sick or perverted pleasure, mind you. It's simply a matter of statistics. Children make up a sizable proportion of the human population. Because they are so much weaker than adults it is inevitable that they will suffer great casualties when the zombie apocalypse kicks off. As a consequence I would expect to see far more zombie children than are available at present.
If you buy the boxed set of Tiny Terrors made out of metal it will cost you £11.99. If you decide that resin cast figures are more your thing, they'll cost you £16.99.
In my next post I'll be reviewing the Studio Miniatures survivors that have been released this year. Better late than never, huh? Oh, and those of you clamouring for size camparison photos, fear not. I haven't forgotten you. Hopefully, I'll get some pics up for you next month.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Angie and Big Sil the Bikers

Anyone following the exploits of Team Vampifan will be aware that Big Sil and Angie are bikers. Until now, I've never shown any pics of them on bikes. The reason for that was simple - I didn't have any figures of them on motorbikes. A few weeks ago Whiteface/Oliver mentioned that he'd bought some figures from Mirliton. This prompted me to check out their webstore. In addition to checking out their horror range, most of which are old Grenadier figures that I already had, I also checked out their Dark Future range. Most of this range is available from EM4, with whom I do a lot of business. However, there were a couple of biker figures I'd never seen before, one of which is shown at the far left of the two photos above.
He is CW1539 Future Savage on Chopper Motorcycle and is priced at 4.83 Euros. In case you don't know, Mirliton are an Italian based company. What drew me to this figure was the fact that the driver was clearly based on the EM4 figure that I used for Big Sil. I had to have him! I've placed my foot figure of Big Sil alongside the bike so that you can see the similarity between them. There are a few minor changes between them - one, the mounted version has a shoulder pad on his left shoulder and two, his laptop computer has been omitted. I liked the way my Black Scorpion biker with babe had turned out when I painted the bike metallic purple, so for Big Sil's bike I painted it metallic blue. Again, it works well.
So, I had a bike mounted version of Big Sil, now I wanted a mounted version of Angie. I ordered a second version of Angie from the EM4 webstore to convert to go on a bike. I ordered a chopper bike with a pair of female legs sculpted in place from Ramshackle Games to use for Angie's bike. However, I was hugely disappointed when I received it. It was huge! it measured 80mm in length and about 40mm in height. There was no way the legs could have reached the ground as they were so high up. I couldn't use it. I've never been so disappointed with purchasing something from the Internet as I was with this bike. What to do? I could have ordered a bike from EM4, which I know would have worked with Angie, but instead I raided my pile of very old unpainted figures and found a nifty little Ral Partha Shadowrun bike, which I assume is now out of production. I repositioned the left arm and both legs of my spare Angie figure and stuck her in place. I filled the gaps with Green Stuff modelling putty and the final result can be seen in the photos above. Again, I have placed the foot figure of Angie alongside the mounted version. I painted Angie's bike blue and yellow, the colours of the Swedish flag, because Angie hails from Sweden. I coated the blue and yellow parts of the bike with gloss varnish to give it that newly polished look.
I am extremely happy with these two mounted versions of Big Sil and Angie. Finding Big Sil on a chopper bike was a piece of good luck and so was finding a spare bike for Angie amongst my own figures. It pays not to throw anything away! I need to think of an ATZ scenario that will allow me to use Big Sil and Angie on their bikes. Perhaps a road trip, with them riding scout for Vampifan in his pick-up truck. No doubt, some of you will be wondering, will I be making a bike-mounted version of Vampifan? I have no plans for it. Vampifan prefers four wheels to two. As for Gap, don't be silly! He wouldn't be seen dead on a bike!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Black Scorpion and Black Orc Games Bikers

I posted a bunch of reviews of West Wind bikers just prior to my last two ATZ batreps, so I thought I'd stick with the theme. This time, I'm going to look at some human Gangers on motorbikes. At the left of the two photos above is one of my favourite biker models. It is the Black Scorpion 30mm scale Biker with Babe from their Desolation Row range of figures. This is a multi-part kit and it is not recommended for beginners. Instructions on how to put it together are not provided but if you refer to the photo on their website you'll get a good idea of where all the parts should go. Just a word of warning, I recommend painting the two riders and the bike separately, before glueing them together. The driver and his very attractive passenger are both armed with machine pistols, which closely resemble the Mini-Uzi. It is handy (no pun intended)  that the girl is left-handed, so that they can cover both sides. Note that the male has a Big Ass Pistol holstered at his right hip. The two figures and the bike are exquisitely sculpted. I decided to paint the bike and the driver's helmet metallic purple - a colour I very rarely use.
The next bike model features another Black Scorpion bike but the biker and his babe are by Black Orc Games. They are sculpted by Mario Zecca and I bought them when I ordered a load of zombies from their website. Seeing as the Black Scorpion bike comes with a rider and passenger, it seemed like an obvious choice to mount these two figures on this model. If you want to follow my lead, let me give you a word of warning. The male biker was a lousy fit for the bike. I had to cut his hands and feet off and remodel them in order to get him to fit perfectly. The joins on his hands were covered up with a leather bracelet and a chunky wristwatch. However, the female biker fit like a charm. Again, I painted both figures and the bike before I glued them in place. It has to be said that the sculpting of these two bikers is a lot cruder than that of the Black Scorpion pair but once they were painted I didn't think that they looked too bad. Also, neither of them are armed, but I didn't mind that. I normally base my bike models on the 25mm by 50mm rectangular plastic slottabases but these bikes are so long they wouldn't fit. So I've used a couple of the Games Workshop long biker bases which measure 25mm by 75mm. They fit perfectly on them.
The Black Scorpion Biker with Babe costs £10.00 from their website. The Black Orc Games Male Biker costs $1.30, whilst the Female Biker is cheaper at $1.05. The Black Scorpion biker with babe would be a worthy addition to any human biker gang. The Black Orc Games pair, less so. It all depends how much work you want to bestow upon them, because if you do buy them, you're going to have to find a bike to put them on. That may put a lot of people off buying them.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

My ATZ Campaign - Day 14 - Soap and Petrol

Following on from their great success last time, Vampifan decided to lead his team back to the same part of Mayhem City that they visited on the previous day. It seemed to be an area of rich pickings, so Vampifan was hoping that lightning would strike twice in the same place and that he'd be equally lucky today. Ah, but this is ATZ, and just when you think all is going well, fate comes along to bite you on the bum!
Here's the game board set up exactly as in the last scenario, although this time, Team Vampifan are entering in the south-western corner or section 7. Just to remind you, the board is divided up into 9 equally sized sections, with sections 1, 2 and 3 at the top of the photo, 4, 5 and 6 in the middle and 7, 8 and 9 running along the bottom of the photo. The ruined buildings that feature so prominently in this scenario are from Games Workshop's range of Warhammer 40,000 buildings.
Before I could begin the scenario I had to roll 1d6 for the placement of three PEFs and determine their Reps.
PEF:1 was Rep:4 and appeared in section 4 amongst the ruins of a small beige coloured building, hidden from view. As before, I'm using red dice to represent the PEFs, with their relevant number on the top.
PEF:2 was Rep:3 and I placed it in cover behind a parked car in section 2.
PEF:3 was also Rep:3 and was placed behind a burned out car in section 6.

I rolled for Lack of Sleep for each member of Team Vampifan. Vampifan scored a 6 on 2d6, Big Sil scored a 9, Angie also scored a 6 and Gap scored an 8. This meant Vampifan and Angie had to take the test. Both passed 2d6 and so were okay.
The team were now armed differently to what their figures were, following their good fortune last time. Vampifan was armed with an Assault Rifle, a Combat Knife, Flash Bang Grenades and wore Body Armour, Big Sil was armed with an Assault Rifle, a Combat Knife and wore Body Armour. Angie and Gap carried an Assault Rifle each and both wore Body Armour. They all wore their Body Armour (Flak Jackets) under their normal clothing. I'm debating whether or not to convert the figures so that they are carrying the correct weaponry, although for Vampifan no conversion is necessary. No way am I adding proper flak jackets to the figures. It would be a sacrilege to hide Vampifan's magnificent T-shirt under a drab flak jacket!
TURN 1.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 1, PEFs = 5
Vampifan led his team into the ruins of the light grey coloured building in the south-west corner of the board. I turned over the top card of my Risks and Rewards deck. It showed that there were no humans or zombies inside but there was a Luxury Item to be found. I rolled on the Luxury Items chart that I've devised and it turned out to be a pack of four bars of soap. I rolled to see who found it and it was Angie, lucky lass!
The PEFs failed to activate so stayed put.
TURN 2.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 6, PEFs = 3
Whilst Team Vampifan made jokes about soap, I rolled on the PEF Movement Table for PEF:1 and passed 2d6. This placed the PEF in section 9, in sight of Team Vampifan and behind cover if possible. Rolling a 1 on the PEF Resolution Table determined this was an Involuntary Encounter. I decided to make it a Random Road Encounter, but rather than use those in I, Zombie (hereafter to be abbreviated IZ) I used the identically named table found on page 56 of the Better Dead Than Zed (hereafter to be abbreviated BDTZ) rulebook. I rolled 2d6 and scored a 7, indicating Gangers. I rolled to see how many of them there were on the How Many NPCs Table (see p.59 of IZ) and scored an 8, meaning one more than Team Vampifan. Seeing as they outnumbered Team Vampifan, they would be hostile.
Next, I rolled for their Reps and weaponry using the Ganger's List on page 9 of BDTZ. They were led by a Rep:5 Hard Case armed with a double-barrelled shotgun. His followers were a Rep:4 female Banger armed with an SMG, two Rep:4 Bangers armed with BA Pistols and a Rep:2 Wannabe armed with a Pistol. Incidentally, for those wanting to know what figures I used, going from bottom to top in the above photo, the first three are EM4 Thugz, the next one up is a Hasslefree adventurer and the female is from the Foundry Street Violence range.
With that sorted out, I had to roll for both leaders on the Encounter Awareness Test table (see p.115 of IZ). Vampifan rolled 5d6 for his Rep and scored a stunning four successes. The Gangsta leader rolled 4d6, having lost a dice for being active and only scored two successes. By winning by two successes, and being inactive, Team Vampifan could roll on the In Sight test with 3d6 instead of 2d6. Cool! All four heroes passed 2d6 and were allowed to fire as normal. Vampifan experienced a brief moment of deja vu as he recalled yesterday's encounter with the National Guard. This looked to be heading in the same direction.
Vampifan fired first. He fired once at the Gangsta leader and twice at a Gangsta with a BA Pistol, hitting them both once. His third shot was a complete miss. He badly wounded them both, putting them Out Of the Fight.
Big Sil fired a three round burst at the female with the SMG and missed with every shot.
Angie showed him how it should be done. Not only did she hit the female with her first shot, but her second hit the other Gangsta armed with a BA Pistol. Like Vampifan, her third shot was way off the mark. The female was placed Out Of the Fight but the male was just Knocked Down. However, he only passed 1d6 on the Recover From Knock Down test and so, he too, was Out Of the Fight.
Gap's three round burst targetting the Rep:2 Wannabe was just as ineffectual as Big Sil's. He missed with every shot. This forced the wannabe to take the Received Fire test. He passed 1d6 and because he was in cover, he could snap fire back. He chose to shoot at Vampifan, correctly identifying him as the greatest threat. However, he had no chance of hitting him. The best he could score would be an 8 and he needed a 10 to hit. Still, he didn't know that, so he gamely fired twice and caused Vampifan to take the Received Fire test. Being a Star, Vampifan chose to pass 2d6 and fired a three round burst back at him. One shot hit him and knocked the teenager down. Alas, when the wannabe rolled on the Recover From Knock Down test, he passed 0d6 and was Obviously Dead.
It was indeed deja vu again. The gunfight resulted in 17 shots being fired.
Now I had to roll for PEF:2 and it passed 1d6 on the PEF Movement table. It moved one section diagonally forward to arrive in section 4 and ended up where PEF:1 had started out. PEF:3 passed 0d6 and remained in section 6.
Vampifan's group could not activate this turn but that didn't matter as things had gone mighty well for them.
All that was left to do was to dice for zombie reinforcements. I rolled 17d6 and scored 10 successes! Bear in mind this scenario took place in a suburban area where zombies only appear if you roll a 5 or a 6 on 1d6. This was an incredible result! You can see eight out of the ten in the photo above on the main road.
The other two appeared at the far side of the large black and silver building. Just out of interest, all zombie reinforcements are from Fortress Figures' range of 35mm scale zombies, which I don't feature very often.
TURN:3.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 3, PEFs = 3, Zombies = 2
I did not reroll for activation between Vampifan and the PEFs because who goes first is determined by Rep and Vampifan's was much higher than the two remaining PEFs, so he went first this turn. Team Vampifan moved from one set of ruins to another - the large black and silver building. I turned over the next card in my Risks and Rewards deck and revealed three zombies guarding a unit of Fuel.
First thing to do was to roll on the Meeting Zombies table (see p.44 of BDTZ). Bad news for Vampifan - he only scored a 6, whilst the zombies scored a 7. The zombies would charge straight into melee, giving Team Vampifan no time to fire first. From the way the figures were lined up it was obvious who would be fighting who. Big Sil, Vampifan and Angie were the targets, whislt Gap lagged behind.
Moving from left to right, I began with Big Sil. He rolled 6d6 (5 for his Rep and +1 for having a higher impact weapon). He only scored 2 successes but his opponent scored none. Scratch one zombie!
Vampifan also rolled 6d6 (for the same reasons as Big Sil). He scored 3 successes, whilst his opponent scored none. Scratch two zombies!
Angie rolled 5d6 (5 for her Rep, +1 for having a higher impact weapon but -1 for having the Runt Attribute). She scored 4 successes but this time, the zombie scored a success. They carried on and Angie scored 2 successes and the zombie scored a success again. Tough little zombie! Finally, Angie scored 0 successes and the zombie scored his third success in a row - victory to the zombie! Angie was knocked Out Of the Fight!
Gap spotted a zombie trying to climb over a window ledge at the far side of the building. He fired three times at the zed, hit him once and killed him. I rolled to see who found the can of petrol and it was Gap who was successful.
Now it was time to roll for the two PEFs. Both passed 1d6 on the PEF Movement Table and had to move one section towards the nearest remaining PEF, placing them slap in the middle of section 5, the only section on the board without any cover.
The zombies on the main road moved towards the entrance to the black and silver building, attracted by the sound of gunfire from within.
The female doctor zombie moved into the ruined building to charge Big Sil. However, he passed 2d6 on the Being Charged table and with just a single shot, he killed her before she could reach him. Vampifan clubbed to death the zombie who had beaten Angie.
I rolled 4d6 for zombie reinforcements and scored one success. Rather worryingly, he appeared right in the south-west corner in the same place as Team Vampifan had arrived at the start of the scenario.
TURN 4.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 2, PEFs = 3, Zombies = 6
Look closely through the window to the left of the silver doors and you can see a zombie standing up who should be lying on the ground dead. I don't know how this happened. Maybe I just forget to knock him over when Vampifan beat him to death. Anyway, just ignore him. Be honest, would you have noticed him if I hadn't pointed him out?
Rolling for PEF:2 first, it passed 1d6 on the PEF Movement Table and moved one section to the closest group of players, in sight and in cover if available. So, I placed it by the wall that Team Vampifan had used to enter the ruined building. I rolled a 2 on the PEF Resolution Table to give me an NPC Interaction result. I rolled 1d6 to see if they were human (1-3) or zombies (4-6). I rolled a 5, so more zombies turned up
to harrass our heroes.
Next, I had to roll to see how many appeared and got a result of the same amount as the players. I pondered awhile to see if this meant current numbers (as Angie was still OOF) or total numbers. It's a grey area but in the end I opted for four, the same as ALL of the PCs, regardless of their status.
Then I rolled on the Encounter Awareness Table with Vampifan getting a +1d6 bonus to his Rep for having already run into hostile NPCs. He passed 3d6 out of 6. The zombies only rolled 2d6, suffering a -2d6 penalty for being active (-1d6) and being zombies (-1d6). They passed 0d6, which allowed Team Vampifan to once again take the In Sight test with 3d6 instead of 2d6.. Not surprising, they all passed 2d6 and were able to fire at the zombies as normal.
Vampifan fired a three round burst at two zombies. He hit and killed one but missed with his second and third shots.
Big Sil had better luck. Two of his three shots hit and two more zombies keeled over, Obviously Dead.
Gap missed with every one of his three shots.
I rolled to see who the last of the four zombies would charge. Once more, it was Big Sil.
The bearded bruiser had no trouble in defeating the zombie and he clubbed it to death.
I rolled to see if PEF:3 would move but it passed 0d6 and so remained where it was.
Now it was Team Vampifan's turn to move. Big Sil moved adjacent to Angie to see if he could revive her. He would have to wait one full turn before rolling to see if he was successful.
Gap moved to the corner of the buildingto get a better shot at the firefighter zombie. One shot was all he needed to kill the zed.
Vampifan fired three rounds through the open front doors at the two zombies closing in. With rolls of 6, 6 and 1 he easily hit them but when it came to damage he was only able to kill one of them. The policeman zombie was merely knocked down.
I rolled 13d6 for zombie reinforcements and scored five successes. Three appeared at the front of the light grey coloured ruined building...
...whilst two more appeared at either side of the grey coloured ruined building, situated at the far side of the black and silver building.
TURN 5.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan =4, PEFs = 2, Zombies = 3
I had to check who had to take the Recovery test - the victim or the person caring for the victim. It was the victim, although to be honest, it wouldn't have made much difference as both were Rep:5. Angie passed 2d6 and made a full recovery, returning to consciousness and at her normal Rep.
Vampifan moved to the front of the building to finish off the knocked down policeman zombie. In doing so, he saw PEF:3 and I immediately rolled 1d6 to see what it was. It turned out to be another Hostile NPC Encounter. The die determined that it was more zombies. How many more? Twice as many as Team Vampifan! With another 8 zombies now on the board, this was fast turning into Zombie Central! Vampifan easily won the Encounter Awareness test but the following In Sight test proved to be far from helpful as he was not allowed to shoot at any zombies if they were more than 6" away, which they were. Bummer! He used the rest of his movement to turn round and head back inside. He didn't even shoot the knocked down zombie, figuring that flight was better than fight.
At this point there were 20 active zombies on the board. The knocked down policeman zombie spent the turn standing back up. The three new zombies who had appeared in front of the light grey ruined building last turn descended on the OOF Gangers and began to feast upon them. Their feeding would last for four turns. The rest of the zombies moved a lot closer to the ruined black and silver building, some of them almost within touching distance of it.
PEF:3 had already been revealed so that ended this turn. With no shots being fired, there were no zombie reinforcements to roll for.
TURN 6.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 6, Zombies = 6
Neither side could activate but double 6 meant rolling on the Random Occurence Table (see p.32 of BDTZ). I rolled a 7 for a result of Fire. The lawyers' offices across the road had suddenly caught fire and attracted the attention of 2d6 zombies. I rolled a 7 to see how many would appear. There's never a dull moment in this game, is there? I LOVE IT! By the way, the flames come from the WWG Bits of Mayhem set.
TURN 7.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 4, Zombies = 3
"As the good shepherd once said," Vampifan yelled, "let's get the flock out of here!"
Big Sil, Angie and Gap were able to exit the board with just a normal move. For Vampifan to escape he had to make a Fast Move. He'd be fine as long as he rolled 3 or higher on the 1d6. I was using the new Fast Move rules from IZ for the first time (see p.2 of IZ). Now the character makes his normal move then rolls 2d6 to see how much further he can go, up to a limit of twice his Rep. However, Vampifan has the Slow Attribute, so he only rolled 1d6. He rolled a 4 and was able to catch up with his colleagues.
Just out of interest, if the zombies had won the activation roll this turn, none of them were close enough to reach anyone from Team Vampifan, so our heroes would still have escaped. With 27 zombies left on the board, Vampifan's decision to flee was undoubtedly the sensible option. Whilst this foray had not been as successful as yesterday's, they did not leave empty handed. Angie had found a luxury item and Gap had found some fuel.
As Angie had received an OOF result against a zombie, she had to take the "Harry, Are You Okay?" test (see p.35 of BDTZ). This involves rolling 1d6 and adding the person's Rep to the score. If the result is 8 or less then the person has become infected. If, however, the result is 9 or higher, the person is okay. I rolled a 4 for Angie, which added to her Rep of 5 gave a total of 9. She was safe! Phew!
Finally, I rolled for Rep increases. Only Gap was eligible for a roll. Vampifan and Big Sil were ruled out for not finding any resources, and Angie was ineligible for becoming OOF. Unfortunately, I rolled a 2 for Gap and so he remained Rep:4.
Before running these last two scenarios, I hadn't a clue what to do for a story. I knew that I wanted to use some of the new rules from I, Zombie. Even then, I wasn't too sure which ones to use and which ones to keep for later. Without any doubt, the best decision I made was to introduce PEFs. They made these two scenarios come alive in a way that playing an ordinary Discover scenario from BDTZ could never have achieved. The National Guard encounter last time and the Gangers encounter this time added so much to both scenarios. Also, the way that zombies kept appearing in this game from PEF results, zombie reinforcement rolls and a Random Occurence event, certainly kept Team Vampifan on their toes. There was no way that they could have fought them all. I thoroughly enjoyed playing both games and they are testimony to just how great ATZ has become. Thanks for reading. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

My ATZ Campaign - Day 13 - Lucky Thirteen

Having just bought the new ATZ supplement "I, Zombie" (hereafter to be abbreviated to IZ) I was keen to try out some of the new rules. Originally, I was only going to use some of the new stuff from the Rules Changes and New Rules sections and slowly add more and more stuff as I became more familiar with IZ. That idea got ditched as soon as I set up the game board! A simple Discover scenario from the Better Dead Than Zed (hereafter abbreviated to BDTZ) rulebook seemed like the best bet for trying out new stuff. So I set up a suburban area of Mayhem City on a 4' by 3' board.
As per the rules in IZ on p.54, I divided the board into 9 equal parts, each measuring 12" by 16", with the upper left hand section being section 1 and the lower right hand section being section 9. Section 5, which was slap in the middle of the board was the only section with no cover in it. Just in case you're wondering about sections 2 and 8, which are mostly road, section 2 has five cars to hide behind and section 8 has an overturned pick-up truck that could be used as cover.
I really wanted to see how PEFs (Possible Enemy Forces) worked in the game, so I first rolled 3d6 to see which sections they would appear in. I rolled 5, 1 and 1. Next I rolled 2d6 for the Rep of each PEF, using the lowest number rolled (see p.56 of IZ).
PEF:1 was Rep:3 and was placed in section 5 in the middle of the road out in the open.
PEF:2 was Rep:3 as well and was placed amongst the trees of section 1.
PEF:3 was Rep:2 and was also placed amongst the trees of section 1.
The PEFs were represented by red dice with their relevant number facing up.
Team Vampifan appeared on the board in section 9 on foot and close to the back door of the lawyers' offices. Having appeared in my past three scenarios and never been explored, I was determined that Team Vampifan was going to make this building their first port of call this time round.
Because PEF:1 was in sight in the middle of the road I had to roll to see what it was before I could begin the game proper. Rolling 1d6 on the PEF Resolution Table (see p.58 of IZ) I scored a 3, which gave a result of B when reading along the first row for 0 PEFs Previously Encountered. B meant an NPC Interaction result. I used a modified version of the NPC Type Table on p.59 of IZ to determine who the NPCs were. As this encounter took place in a suburban town, I used the second row of the table and I altered it so that a result of 1-3 would mean humans and a result of 4-6 would mean zombies. The options of Gangers or Survivors were too restrictive and the inclusion of Ragers as an option was out of the question for me as they shouldn't appear until Day 22 at the earliest. If I did roll for humans I would make a second roll on the Discover: Who They Are table found on p.41 of BDTZ. As it was, I rolled a 5, which meant zombies.
An encounter with zombies is always classed as a Hostile NPCs encounter. I rolled 2d6 on the How Many NPCs table (see p.59 of IZ) and rolled a 9. This meant that there would be half as many more zombies than my heroes, or in other words, six of them. I had the leaders of both groups (a random zombie for their group as they are all the same Rep) roll on the Encounter Awareness table (see p.115 of IZ). Vampifan rolled 5d6 for his Rep but the zombie only rolled 3d6. It lost 1d6 for being a zombie. Vampifan scored 3 successes and the zombie scored 1. As Vampifan was inactive this gave him the Ambush! result, which allowed him to roll 3d6 on the In Sight test. All four heroes passed 2d6 but because their targets were zombies more than 6" away, they held their fire. All of which was a huge anticlimax!
One of the new rules that I particularly like is the Lack of Sleep test (see p.35 of IZ). Rolling 2d6 for each hero, Vampifan scored a 9, Big Sil scored an 8, Angie scored a 6 and Gap scored a 6. So Angie and Gap had to take the test. Angie passed 2d6, whilst Gap passed 1d6. Fortunately for them, neither were affected by their lack of sleep. It was time to roll for activation.
Note that I did not place any zombies on the board as I would have done for a Discover scenario prior to the release of IZ. With four humans on the board in a suburban area I would have normally rolled 4d6 to see how many zombies to place on the board, 12" away from the heroes. I admit I was in two minds about whether they should appear but after reading Ed's example of how a Discover encounter in IZ works (see pages 105 to 109 of IZ) I noticed he didn't include them. I believe this is because the PEFs replace them. Upon reflection, I think this is fair. Use one or the other but not both.
TURN 1.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 4, Zombies = 6, PEFs = 1
Team Vampifan used the back door of the lawyers' offices to gain entry to the building and moved along the corridor with their weapons at the ready. That meant Vampifan with his semi-automatic rifle, Big Sil with his Machine Pistol and Combat Knife, Angie with her pump-action Shotgun and Gap with his Big Ass Pistol. I decided that there would only be one encounter to resolve per floor of the building, using the Risks and Rewards deck of cards, and that it would take place in the largest room of that floor. On the ground floor, that meant the reception hall, which they hadn't reached yet. So I did not draw a card this turn.
I rolled on the PEF Movement table (see p.57 of IZ) to see if and where the two remaining PEFs would move. Both passed 1d6 and moved into section 5, the same area as the zombies. Although they were in the open, there was no way that anyone from Team Vampifan could see them so I didn't roll to see what they were.
The zombies did not move this turn and there were no reinforcements to roll for.
TURN 2.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 1, Zombies = 4, PEFs = 2
The zombies advanced down the street towards the point where they last saw humans, even though there was no one in sight.
Both PEFs passed 0d6 on the PEF Movement table and so remained where they were.
As soon as Team Vampifan moved into the reception hall I turned over the top card of my Risks and Rewards deck. It indicated one zombie but no resources. I rolled for surprise and Vampifan easily won.
He fired once before the zombie could charge him and killed her with a shot to the head. I rolled 1d6 for zombie reinforcements but none turned up.
TURN 3.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 1, PEFs = 2
Despite rolling doubles for activation, no special event was generated - that would only happen if I rolled double 1 or double 6. Team Vampifan activated before the PEFs because they had a much higher Rep. They spent the turn searching the office and finding nothing of value. Noting movement outside, they all faced the front door, ready for trouble.
I rolled on the PEF Movement table again and both PEFs passed 1d6, meaning that they would move into section 9, where Team Vampifan was. I placed them by the front door of the office block. PEF:2 had a higher Rep than PEF:3 and so had to be resolved first. This time I read the result of my 1d6 roll on the second row of the PEF Resolution table and got a result of C - Hostile NPCs. I rolled another d6 to see if they were humans (1-3) or zombies (4-6) and this time they turned out to be humans. Next, I rolled on the Discover: Who They Are table (see p.41 of BDTZ) and rolled a 3, meaning they were Military. I had to roll 2d6 to see how many they were and scored a 7 on the table, giving me a result of one more than you, or five soldiers in total. Rolling on the Military List (see p.8 of BDTZ) I first rolled to see if they were National Guard (1-5) or US Army (6). They were National Guard, which meant adding +2 to the dice rolls for determining their Reps. This would mean they'd be of lower quality than a similar US Army squad. Two were Rep:4 soldiers, one of whom I designated as a Sergeant, the other three were Rep:3 recruits. All were armed with Assault Rifles and Flash Bang Grenades, except for the Sergeant, who had replaced his rifle with a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). All five wore body armour (flak vests), so they were tough opposition.
I placed them just inside the reception hall and although it looks like no one is in cover, everyone was classed as being concealed. This is because combatants who are indoors are always classed as being concealed. I had to roll on the Encounter Awareness Test table (see p.115 of IZ) rolling against each leader's Rep. The Sergeant suffered a -1 penalty to his Rep for being active. Both sides passed 2d6 - a draw. This was good news for Vampifan as it allowed the inactive side to take an In Sight test with 2d6. Vampifan and Angie passed 2d6 and could open fire as normal. Big Sil and Gap only passed 1d6, so if they fired it would count as a snap fire.
Vampifan fired twice at the Rep:4 soldiers and hit them both. He shot the sergeant in the face and killed him instantly. However, the other soldier was only knocked down. He took the Recover From Knock Down test and passed 2d6, meaning he was only Stunned.
When Angie fired her Shotgun, it was the first time I'd used a Shotgun in my campaign. They work differently to other firearms. When firing a Shotgun, the shooter rolls 6d6 and keeps the best three results to hit. With rolls of 6, 5, 5, 3, 2 and 1, this gave Angie an impressive 11, 10 and 10 to hit. Three hits out of three, which caught all three rookies in the blast. However, all 6d6 count towards tight ammo and attracting zombie reinforcements. I rolled for damage and two of the rookies were badly wounded and thus Out Of the Fight. The third was only knocked down but he passed 0d6 on the Recover From Knock Down test and became Obviously Dead.
Gap fired twice at the stunned soldier. He hit once but missed with his second shot. Rolling a 2 for damage he put the unlucky soldier Out Of the Fight.
Big Sil held his fire. It was all over in a second (game time, not real time!) and Team Vampifan had given the rogue National Guardsmen a devastating lesson in marksmanship!
Rolling to see what PEF:3 was, I was relieved to discover it was only a false alarm and so was removed from the board. The six zombies in the middle of the road could not have failed to hear so much gunfire and so moved towards the office entrance at the front of the building.
For zombie reinforcements, I rolled 10d6 and scored 3 successes - not a bad result! You can see where they arrived in the photo above.
TURN 4.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 5, Zombies =3
The unmistakable sound of moaning alerted Vampifan to the zombie menace outside. He slung his Semi-Automatic Rifle over his shoulder and snatched an Assault Rifle from one of the National Guardsmen.  He ordered his colleagues to do likewise. Angie grabbed the SAW, whilst Big Sil and Gap acquired an Assault Rifle each. They all moved to the windows and/or the front door to get a better view of what lurked outside.
Firing from the doorway, Vampifan hit and killed two zombies with his three-round burst.
Angie tried to take out the other four zombies in the group of six but she was obviously unused to the recoil of the SAW and only hit one zombie. Still, it was a good hit, as she blew his head off.
Big Sil emulated Vampifan's firing, hitting and killing two more zombies with a three-round burst.
Gap, sensibly selected single fire, and shot the last of the six zombies in the group, killing him instantly.
The other three zombies moved closer to the front of the lawyers' offices. I rolled 11d6 for zombie reinforcements and this time four appeared - three across the road emerging from either side of the big black and silver ruined building...
...whilst the fourth appeared at the back of the lawyers' offices in the south-east corner of the board.
TURN 5.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 4, Zombies = 1
"Single shots only!" Vampifan ordered. "Angie, start looting the bodies. I don't want you firing unless I tell you to."
He was concerned that Angie would attract too many zombies if she fired the SAW again. Unlike the Assault Rifles, it did not have the option for selective fire. It was full automatic or nothing. Plus, he had doubts about her ability to handle the SAW properly. He took aim at a zombie dressed like a 1980's style punk and put a 5.56mm bullet between the zombie's eyes.
Gap targetted the zombie in the white T-shirt. His shooting was just as accurate as Vampifan's and the zombie dropped to the ground, permanently dead.
Big Sil, however, missed his shot against a little girl zombie dressed in a pink dress.
Angie stripped one of the recruits of his body armour.
This allowed the little girl to almost reach the front door of the office block. She was now only 1" away from Vampifan! The other four zombies moved closer to the front entrance as well, but weren't such a threat yet.
This time I rolled 3d6 for zombie reinforcements. Only one appeared and he arrived at the back of the offices.
TURN 6.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 5
With the zombies being inactive this turn it was a stroke of luck for Team Vampifan. Vampifan charged at the little girl zombie and clubbed her to death. Even though she was such a young girl this was no time for sentimentality. It was kill or be killed and survival of the fittest. He used the rest of his movement to step back indoors.
Big Sil fired once at the zombie footballer and this time he hit and killed his target.
Gap shot and killed the male teenage zombie in the blue shirt with a single shot.
Angie added an Assault Rifle to her haul.
Rolling 2d6 for zombie reinforcements, I was relieved to see none appear this turn.
TURN 7.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 1, Zombies = 4
There were now just three zombies left on the board. They continued their inexorable advance towards the front entrance of the lawyers' offices.
Vampifan fired once at the zombie cheerleader, hitting her in the mouth and blowing the back of her head off.
Gap was most surprised to see a zombie walk past the window next to where he was standing. He totally fluffed his shot at the zombie and fired well wide of the target.
Again, I rolled 2d6 for zombie reinforcements. I rolled double 4 and was glad this encounter was in a suburban part of Mayhem City and not an urban zone, otherwise it would have meant two new zombies appearing. As it was, none turned up.
TURN 8.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 6, Zombies = 3
The zombie at the corner of the offices that Gap failed to hit last turn charged at Vampifan. He had to stop 4" away, whilst Vampifan took the Being Charged test. Being a Star he chose to pass 2d6 and he fired his Assault Rifle at the zombie. Unfortunately he rolled a 1 and totally missed. It was melee time! Vampifan passed 3d6 out of 6, whilst the zombie passed 1d6 out of 1. They carried on rolling. This time Vampifan passed 2d6 and the zombie passed 0d6. The butt of Vampifan's Assault Rifle stove in the skull of the zombie, killing him instantly.
The last remaining zombie on the board moved to the front corner of the offices. I rolled id6 for zombie reinforcements and for the third turn in a row, failed to score any successes.
TURN 9.   ACTIVATION - Vampifan = 4, Zombies = 3
"Strip those bodies of anything worthwhile," Vampifan commanded as he rushed outside. "I'll deal with this bag of pus!" Because he was a Star he was able to pass 2d6 on the Wanting to Charge test without rolling any dice. The combat was short and brutal. Vampifan scored four successes, whilst the zombie scored none. It was a good, silent kill and more importantly, meant that I couldn't roll for zombie reinforcements.

At this point it was game over. Team Vampifan could have explored the upper floors of the office block but there was little point. With the loot they got from the National Guardsmen, they were almost at the limit of what they could carry. Using the new Encumbrance rules found on page 6 of IZ, Vampifan and Angie had an EV (Encumbrance Value) of 10 each, whilst Big Sil and Gap had an EV of 8 each. A person's EV is twice his or her Rep score. This gave them a total EV of 36. With the weapons they started with added to the SAW, 4 Assault Rifles, 5 sets of Flash Bang Grenades and 5 suits of Body Armour, this gave a total of 28 EV. Sure, they could have been greedy and looked for more but I felt it was too great a risk. They had done fantastically well out of this encounter. Day 13 of the outbreak had brought them nothing but good luck. Before leaving, they killed the three OOF soldiers. Vampifan wanted no witnesses to what they had done and with the Military making more and more of a presence on the streets he did not want to jeopardise a possible future encounter.
There was just one thing left to do and that was to roll for Rep increases. Everyone was eligible this time. Sadly, Vampifan, Angie and Gap failed to make it but Big Sil scored well and went from being Rep:4 to Rep:5. Team Vampifan was becoming a force to be reckoned with!

Before I leave, let me share my thoughts on the new stuff from IZ. I love PEFs and how they work. They add a whole new dimension to the game. That new dimension is an air of uncertainty. You never know if a PEF is going to be friendly, hostile or a false alarm. Also, because of the random nature of the PEFs, you could in theory complete a scenario without ever revealing what they are. If, for example,  you rolled three 1s for their Rep, they could all fail to move, whilst you explored the lower part of the table and made a clean getaway. On the other hand, they could overwhelm you on Turn 1. It certainly makes ATZ a more suspenseful game.
However, unless you are playing your games at the same time period and/or location as described in IZ, I would recommend altering the tables to see just who is encountered. The Random Road encounters in BDTZ (see p.56) work far better than the Random Road encounters found in IZ for me. That's because my campaign is set so early in the outbreak. Also, the three Who They Are tables used for the Discover, Raid and Take Back scenarios found in BDTZ are better choices than the NPC Type table on page 59 of IZ. Alternatively, you could easily design your own encounter tables to better reflect your own needs for what you're using in your campaign.
I used the Lack of Sleep rules for the first time as I think they are too important to ignore. I also used the new Encumbrance rules and they are a lot easier to manage than the old Cargo Value rules. There is a lot to take in when you read IZ for the first time. I recommend you do what I did and select the rules you want to use and ignore the rest. You certainly don't HAVE to use everything in the book. I steered clear of the Phobias and Quirks rules because the numbers on the table need revising and I've decided I can live without them. Fame and Fortune Points is another new rule that I ignored simply because it adds an extra level of bookkeeping that I couldn't be bothered with.
On the whole, I like what IZ has to offer. I'm a big fan of the new PEF rules, although I'm uncertain about using the optional PEF generation rule if doubles are rolled for activation. At the moment I'm not using that rule but I may change my mind in the future. What it all boils down to, is that you can use what you want and it won't harm the game. We all have different requirements for what we want to use in ATZ and IZ simply offers us more choice.