Sunday, 28 June 2009

ATZ: Haven

The first supplement for Two Hour Wargames' All Things Zombie game is now available to buy as either a booklet or a PDF file. When I reviewed the core rulebook - ATZ:Better Dead Than Zed I did not realise at the time that it was the first part of a trilogy. Had I known that, I would not have criticised THW for their lack of scenarios in the book. It is now apparent that to get the most out of this game you need all three books and they need to be read through and more importantly, played through in sequence.
This is essentially a book of scenarios, 15 in total. You don't have to play them all and if you are running a campaign either solo or with a single group of players it is unlikely you'll need to play all 15. You see, what scenarios you play depends greatly upon who your group of survivors are.
ATZ:Better Dead Than Zed essentially covered what happened on days one to three of the zombie apocalypse. ATZ:Haven covers the events from days four to twenty-one.
There is a small section that comes under the heading "The Choice" that is fundamentally important to the running of the game. No matter what class of character you start play as, (Civilian, Ganger, Military, National Guard, Police or Survivor) after three weeks are up you must make the choice as to what he or she will become. And your choices are limited to three - Military, Ganger or Survivor. Even the Military types can turn rogue and end up as a Ganger or a Survivor. In truth, there is little difference between being a Ganger or a Survivor other than moral attitude. Both are out for themselves. Gangers prefer the cities, Survivors prefer the countryside but this is not universal. The rules state "Gangers are those Civilians, Police, Guardsmen and Military characters that have crossed the line and care only for their own gain." Whereas a Survivor "accepts the world as it is. If the world is going to be saved, that's all well and good, except it's not their job. Until then they'll look out for their own." Of course, there is nothing stopping you from playing a Ganger, Military or Survivor from the start. You can play these scenarios first, before making your choice but at some point during days 1 to 21 of the zombie apocalypse you will have to make "The Choice."
The scenarios are listed and should be played in the following order. In brackets after each scenario is the class that the scenario is written for. DAYS 1-5 Domestic Disturbance (Police), DAYS 6-9 Quarantine (Police), Exodus (Survivors), Riot (Police), DAYS 10-14 Gang (Gangers), Protection (National Guard), Riot (National Guard), Territory (Gangers), Law and Order (Military), Evacuation (Military), DAYS 15-21 Supply Convoy (Military), Ambush (Gangers), Safe Zone (Military), Breakdown (Military) and Nowhere, Nevada (Survivors). The scenarios are written for starting characters, which is wholly appropriate. They do get progressively tougher and due to the random encounters and events of each scenario allow for repeat playability if you so desire. Ed Texeira writes in his designer notes, "Haven is an intense book. You will soon come to realise that there will be times when you cannot win. Let me repeat that, there will be times when you cannot win. That's how it should be because IMHO when the outbreak comes everyone loses. But how bad you lose is up to you. Maybe the best way to look at it is playing Haven is good practice for the real game... an ATZ campaign."
This is an excellent supplement and an essential purchase if you already own ATZ:Better Dead Than Zed. Not only do you get 15 well written scenarios but for Survivor players there is a fully detailed base camp - Nowhere, Nevada. This comes with named NPCs, with full stats and equipment, saving a harrassed GM a lot of work. You don't have to use the base as your HQ and obviously, it doesn't have to be in Nevada, but if you want it, it's there to use. My only criticism, and it is a minor one, is that some of the photos are not as clear as they should be. I think that is down to the fact that 15mm figures are used throughout the book, all by Rebel Minis. In book form, ATZ:Haven costs $20, whilst the PDF file costs $17.

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