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.


  1. Another great story!
    I feel the same about the Phobias and Quirks rules + Fame and Fortune Points beeing too muchbookkeeping. The rest of IZ is really nice and I think I will use most of it for my 5150 games.

  2. To be perfectly honest, the only reason for using the Fame and Fortune points is if you want your characters to increase their Reps quicker than normal. I'm happy with using the old rules as written. From past experience I've seen what happens when characters advance too quickly. I'm sure Min/Max gamers will love the new F&F rules but I'm steering clear of them.

  3. Vampifan has been transformed from some guy trying to survive into a killing machine! Everybody best watch their step!

    I never can get over how cool your terrain is no matter how many times I look at it.

  4. Thanks, Willy. In less than two weeks Vampifan has changed from a fine, law-abiding citizen who wouldn't hurt a fly into a hardened killer. We both know, that it's all about survival of the fittest and Vampifan is just doing what has to be done. I'm sure the LTL family would approve!

    I appreciate your comments about my scenery. Your own isn't too shabby either! I loved the set-up in your latest batrep. You'll be pleased to know that I played a follow up scenario to this one, using exactly the same board. Team Vampifan returned the following day to see if their luck would hold out. You'll get to see a lot more of my ruined buildings in the next one. I'll be posting it next Sunday, all being well.

  5. Bryan- You need to hurry along and get to Day 22 so you can introduce the Ragers, with the way Vampi has been going he might need the challenge, especially since a Rager counts as a fast moving target when you are firing on one.

    When you do get to introducing Ragers, what minis are you thinking of using? I, myself, an thinking of using the Mantic Ghouls as Ragers, painted up the two sample Ghouls that I got back months ago and they look good in my opinion. I see the Ragers a lot like the Reavers in Firefly/Serenity, they are insane and don't care about pain, and self mutilate due to the Lazarus Virus mutation.

    Keep up the good work, I just wish I had your board to play on, have had a bunch of Mayhem stuff printed out for a while, sitting waiting for me to put it together, just don't have the space right now, to store everything, hmmm sounds like a good excuse to get the Mayhem TLX stuff and a Craft Robo cutter, LOL.


  6. I do intend to introduce Ragers and Smarties to my campaign. I dunno when. They could pop up anytime after Day 21. The dice will probably determine when they appear.

    For my Ragers, I'll be using the West Wind Road Kill zombies that I reviewed recently, along with zombies by Eureka Miniatures, Heresy and Spinespur. I don't have the Mantic zombies or ghouls yet but I agree that they would make for great Ragers. I totally get the Reavers reference from Firefly and I certainly agree with you.

    Storage space, or rather lack of it, must be the bane of all gamers. The TLX buildings are a great way to save space. I'd say, go for it, Doug! It's great that so many people praise me for my scenery but what I'd really like is more gamers to share it with. I enjoy solo play and am glad that ATZ allows for it but it is not the same as gaming with a bunch of mates. Sigh!

  7. Amazing luck from Vampifan, 4 assault rifles and 1 SAW ! Seems to me a little weird that military walk amongst zombies during first turn or new zombie-camo pattern successful test. You made me buying Likto markers... then Risks and Reawards + IZ ? Bah.... you're a SMARTIE !

  8. I was thinking the same thing myself, Ulu. PEFs can freely intermingle but until the PCs spot them you can end up with some weird combos. Personally, I just put it down to the fog of war. That covers a multitude of sins!

    Hey, if I'm so good at getting folk to buy more ATZ products maybe I should ask Ed for a commission, LOL! Seriously though, I'm sure you won't be disappointed with your purchases.

  9. Bryan, you know after I typed the part about the Reavers from Firefly/Serenity I had to go and watch Serenity again just for the part with the Reavers to further inspiration of future Rager Minis that I might paint up. Though most people will probably see the Ragers more akin to the 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later Ragers, which I can also see, though I wanted mine to have a little more character hence the modeling them after the Reavers from Firefly/Serenity, though whose knows maybe some of the 28 Days/Weeks Later Ragers also self mutilate like the Firefly/Serenity Reavers.

  10. My own view of Ragers is that they are not zombies in the style of Romero's mass of shambling undead, which most people now associate with. Yes, for me, Ragers are more akin to those found in the "28 Days/Weeks Later" films. These have been mutated by science gone catastrophically wrong. I'm going to stick with that concept for my Ragers but your take of making them akin to the Reavers from Firefly/Serenity has a lot of merit and it's great to see someone coming up with something slightly out of the box.

    I'm currently painting set 7 of Blue Moon's "Things That Go Bump In The Night" range, which contains 20 zombies, half of which are armed with an assortment of melee weapons. I wasn't too keen on the armed zombies when I first bought these a couple of months ago but now I realise that they'll make perfect Smart zombies. Result!

  11. An absolutely stunning looking game ! I'm not familiar with the rules you guys use, but it was an interesting report to read.

    The scenery used is indeed of high quality !

  12. Thanks, Andy. You can check out the ATZ rules here
    at the Two Hours Wargames site. ATZ is one of their more popular products.

  13. @Captain Richard. Thanks. Scenery building is quite a passion of mine.

    @Andy. You're welcome.

  14. Wow, just wow! I just came back from my short holiday to notice this wonderful batrep. Using dice as PEFs is a good idea. I should have thought of this.
    I don't see multiple PEFs as real persons/zombies occupying the same space. As long as they are not resolved they are not there. Two PEFs at the same spot make me expect something at that location (maybe loud noise from that direction), but I don't analyze PEF movement. It's real when it's real.

    Your batrep is very entertaining & instructive. I am a bit surprised that you survived the encounter with the national guard without problems. Lucky indeed.

    Whiteface / Oliver

  15. Welcome back, Oliver. I hope you enjoyed your holiday.

    You make a good point about PEFs - they don't exist until they've been revealed... and even then they might just be a false alarm, as was the case with PEF:3.

    The key to Team Vampifan surviving the encounter with the National Guard was they were inactive when the PEF was revealed. The Encounter Awareness Test table is slightly biased towards the inactive side. Also, it should be noted that Vampifan and Angie rolled very well to hit. Being Rep:5 improves your chances of survival immensely!

  16. Hey Vampi
    Wow great report as always, love the detail and referencing, really helps us newcomers get a feel for the rules as well as the "game".
    Cant wait to get mine up and running. Received my first Plasticville buildings today so officially started now.
    So PEFs are like schrodinger's cat then :)

  17. QUOTE: "So PEFs are like schrodinger's cat then :)"

    Wonderful, this really made me smile :o)

  18. Tecian wins the prize for the best description of a PEF. It made me smile as well!

    The whole idea or referencing the rules is to make it easier for newcomers to play the game, so I'm especially heartened to receive a comment like yours, Tecian. I hope you enjoy playing ATZ as much as I do. Plasticville make a great range of buildings and if I wasn't such a WWG fanatic I'd be using a lot of their stuff myself.

  19. Receiving the first load of Plasticville buildings is an important step. Well, for me it was. I've ordered my second batch of buildings (this time mainly Lionelville) just yesterday. Will have to wait about three weeks before I get them.

  20. Great report and some awesome loot for the team! Definitely time to read through IZ!


  21. @Oliver. I've been looking at the Plasticville buildings recently and I'm very tempted to buy some myself. I've never heard of Lionelville. I feel a Google search is on the cards.

    @Brendan. Thanks for your comment. I suspect that if Team Vampifan had searched all four floors of the office block plus all the other buildings on the board they still wouldn't have done as well as they did in looting the National Guardsmen!

  22. I don't know if Lionelville is an official name. My internet modelstrain store uses this name. It's K-Line by Lionel.
    Willy has a lot of them in his latest batrep.

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  24. Just had a first look at your BATREP's and I love your Dead and out of the fight symbols. Were did you get them?