Wednesday 31 October 2012

Vampifan's Views 30 - Monthly Musings 15

Vampirella in a playful mood by Amanda Connor
Happy Halloween, folks! It's a joyous time of the year when the undead and the creatures of the night can come out to play and not have to worry about the likes of vampire slayers and zombie hunters.
I begin with some good news for Vampifan's World of the Undead. Two days ago it cracked the 250,000 barrier for the number of page visits! Just think - over a quarter of a million hits! I never thought my blog would be so popular when I first started out over three years ago. A huge thank you to you all!
This month I have mainly been getting prepared for my ATZ-FFO campaign. You saw in my last post the work I've done on designing a character record sheet for my cast of heroes, neutrals and villains. I'm still churning out more pre-generated NPCs. I really didn't think that such a project would have attracted the attention it did receive. A big thanks to all who commented and an even bigger thanks to those who requsted blank copies of my CRS.
On the painting and modelling front, I finished painting another 25 Victory Force 28mm scale zombies from their first horde set. just 25 left to paint before I start work on Horde 2. Currently, I am painting 12 Black Cat Bases Hispanic Gangsters (5 males, 5 females and 2 dogs) as well as 3 Reaper children and 3 Reaper prostitutes. I recently bought 8 Acheson Creations 28mm scale zombies and 15 of their Crazies and Cultists. They'll probably jump the queue and get painted next. Iain from Tengu Miniatures sent me a few samples of their new zombie figures (including zombie dogs) and I'm very impressed with them. I'll be ordering the rest of them very soon. My Stoelzel's Structures Warehouse model is nearing completion. I just have the roof to make now, but what was going to be quite a challenge as I wanted it to come off in one piece, won't be quite so difficult. Fortunately, the very helpful Mr. Stoelzel has made life consideribly easier for me by adding a support piece to the model so that the roof can be removed in one piece. This was customer service above and beyond the call of duty! You rock, Carl! Speaking of Stoelzel's Structures, any card modellers out there ought to check out his new Auto Park Playset, which contains three very easy to make buildings - a car wash, a car showroom and a 3-bay garage. But the real beauty of this set, is that it contains 125 pages of vehicles. There are 10 types of vehicles, each with at least 12 different colour schemes. These models are the equal of the card vehicles produced by World Works Games and that is the highest praise I can give them. If you want variety then look no further.
I finished reading two zombie apocalypse novels this month. First up was Meta Horde by Sean T. Page. Keen readers of my blog will know that I am fascinated by the concept of a zombie meta horde. The novel deals with three meta hordes of varying sizes. The smallest, numbering two to three million is stopped outside of York in the UK. The meta horde that receives the most attention is the one in Europe, numbering over ten million. It is about to descend on the walled city of Carcasonne in France. At the end of the novel, the survivors learn of a massive meta horde sweeping through China and destroying everyone in its path. It numbers over one hundred million zombies! Gulp! It's a good novel but not a great novel. Secondly, I read Zone One by Colson Whitehead and this takes place over three days in New York, well after the Outbreak. Humanity has survived and the clear up operation is underway, as a the story focuses on a team of three sweepers, whose job is to eliminate any zombie stragglers missed by the army when they went on the offensive and made New York a relatively safe zone. The novel is rather slow-paced but is worth sticking with as on day three the complacency of the defenders comes crashing down in spectacular fashion. Can you say meta horde? A big thanks to Varangian for recommending both novels to me. I thoroughly enjoyed them both.
I made a couple of forays to the cinema this month and saw two zombie films, which just couldn't be more different. First up was Resident Evil: Retribution, which I was really looking forward to watching. Sadly, I came out of the cinema with a distinct feeling of meh! This was without doubt the weakest film of the franchise. Catch it on DVD if you want but be warned, it's nothing special. Far more entertaining was the animated comedy, ParaNorman. As with a lot of animated cartoons these days, there is as much humour aimed at the parents as there is for the kiddies. For example, Norman, the hero of the film who can talk to the dead, has the theme music to John Carpenter's Halloween film as his mobile phone ring tone. The kids won't get that one but horror fans like me, certainly will. ParaNorman certainly has its scary moments but children nowadays are made of sterner stuff than when I was a wee nipper. I saw the 3D versions of both films.
I was recently contacted by Modiphius to run a review of a Call of the Cthulhu scenario that his firm had just produced. Three Kings was the first in a series of standalone adventure supplements in the globe-spanning Zero Point campaign for Achtung! Cthulhu written by Sarah Newton. In it you can join a band of heroic soldiers, agents, and partisans behind enemy lines on the eve of World War Two, as they discover the unspeakable horrors of Castle Karlstein in occupied Czechoslovakia. The scenario has been written for both Call of the Cthulhu and Savage Worlds. Full details can be found here - Modiphius kindly supplied me a free copy of the scenario and I must admit to being very impressed with it. Production values are very high. I was quite happy to see that zombies feature in the scenario, which is one of the reasons why I was so willing to mention it on my blog. If you are a fan of Call of the Cthulhu and/or Savage Worlds Three Kings is well worth checking out.
Finally, I received another e-mail from one of my newer followers, Cris Shaffer, who sent me some photos of a diorama that he had made and painted. I liked them so much that I promised him that I'd share them on my blog. The zombie bride and groom are converted Citadel 28mm scale plastic zombies. I must admit to not being a fan of this range but full credit to Cris for a doing such a great job on the conversions. Cris has called this diorama "Till Death Us Do Part, My Arse!" That bride is determined to get her man! You wouldn't want to mess with her!

Sunday 28 October 2012

ATZ-FFO Character Record Sheets

I will soon be starting my ATZ-FFO campaign (next month, hopefully) but I have quite a bit of prep work to do beforehand. One of the things that I wanted to add to this campaign was character record sheets (CRS) for my Stars and Grunts. The main reason for this is that I want to add a greater degree of complexity in my game with regards to skills. My friend Joe/Zabadak began a discussion on the Board of the Living Lead forum about how unrealistic it was that Rep is used to cover so many skills - shooting, melee, driving, initiative, leadership, etc. I totally agreed with him and that got me thinking. I realise that the reason for the all-inclusive Rep stat is to keep the game's mechanics simple and speed up play. I was happy to go along with that in my ATZ-BDTZ campaign, but now that I am making a fresh start with FFO I want more complexity in my game. I'm aiming for somewhere in between the simplicity of BDTZ and the complexity of GURPS.
So to that end I am giving my characters six skills that are separate from their Rep. They are Driving, Melee, Shooting, Fitness, People and Savvy. Rep will be used for Initiative and any tests not covered by the other six skills. In After The Horsemen, Fitness, People and Savvy were separate skills from Rep but in FFO, Fitness has been incorporated into Rep and is used for Physical Challenges. In my game they are all separate skills.
The stat scores for the six skills are worked out as follows - three skills are chosen at the same level as the character's Rep, two are chosen at Rep minus one and one is chosen at Rep minus two. To show this in action, I present to you my CRS for Vampifan as he will appear on Day One of my new FFO campaign.
The CRS that I designed measures 5" by 3" and is printed out on 190gm printer paper, which is quite thick. I have a small box designed to hold 5" by 3" index cards in that I use to store my CRSs. Most of the info on the CRS is relevant to gameplay. Extra info like Items owned, Resources stashed away at home and perhaps a brief biography or a list of encounters that the character has taken part in could be recorded on the back of the CRS. I'll probably list these separately on my computer. The star symbol * that appears after Vampifan's name is just a quick reminder to show that he is a Star (thanks for that tip, Joe).
Vampifan is my alter ego in FFO. He is like me in some respects but he is much more an idealised version of how I'd like to appear in a zombie apocalypse. Plus, by setting my campaign in Mayhem City, USA, certain changes were necessitated. In real life I don't drive, fight or shoot. In FFO, Vampifan drives to work most days, he practices kendo once per week and he is a keen member of his local gun club. He still likes to eat too much junk food and spends too much time working on his computer, hence his pitifully low Fitness score. His People skills are high, due to his many meetings with clients and staff members, whilst his Savvy skills are about average. I kept his Slow Attribute as before but I gave him the Born Leader attribute to boost his chances of keeping Team Vampifan together at the end of each month. With regards to Attributes, I prefer to choose the Attribute that I think best represents that particular character, rather than dicing for it and getting something inappropriate. Is that cheating? No, it is not. It is creating the characters that I want to best tell my story. For the most part, I stick with the Attributes listed in FFO, but for a few characters I have chosen ones that appear in ATH.
When it comes to increasing a character's Rep or Skill, I shall stick with the rules as they are in FFO, with one slight change. Normally a person can roll to increase their Rep or a skill. Because I have greatly increased the number of skills I will allow a character to increase their Rep or two separate skills, provided that both skills were used successfully in the encounter. The exception to this rule that a zero-level skill can be increased in place of a successfully used skill. As per the rules in FFO, no skill can be higher than the character's Rep score. Grunts are limited to having no skill or Rep higher than six. For Stars, there is no limit. Due to the number of skills I'll be using in my campaign, character  advancement will be slower than in a normal game of FFO but I don't mind that. Sometimes advancing too quickly can derail a game.
I am a fan of the rule in FFO for "loading up" your own PEFs with pre-generated characters. As a consequence, I have been spending a lot of time these past few weeks designing my own Grunts to use in my campaign and I now have a nice selection of Survivors, Gangers, Civilians, Police and Military folk to choose from. Each of them has their own CRS.
Here are the CRSs for Big Sil, Angie and Gap as they will appear on Day One of the new campaign. Note that all of Team Vampifan are now presented with their full names as well as their nicknames, something I never did in my BDTZ campaign. Big Sil and Angie are Rep:4 because they have had a tough upbringing and have had numerous scrapes with other gangs and with the police. Gap is just a typical civilian office worker and so is just Rep:3.
I realise that this post will be of little practical use to most (all?) of you, but it was important to inform you of the house rules and changes I will be making to my own ATZ-FFO campaign. The beauty of the THW games is that they are yours to do with as you wish. 

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Foundry Detectives

Just for a change of pace, I thought I'd review some more of my Foundry Street Violence 28mm scale figures, and here we have set SV057 the Lovemore Detective Agency. Don't be put off by the title, these guys (and gal) could work with any police department and even as civilians.
At the far left of my two photos is "Fast Eddie" Deals wearing a beige-coloured trench coat. He appears to be unarmed, so you could easily use him as a civilian. More than likely he'll be carrying a concealed pistol. He has a moustache and goatee beard and I have painted him with ginger hair.
Next to him is my favourite figure out of this group, David Austin. I really like how he has been sculpted. The fact that he is carrying his jacket instead of wearing it is a nice touch. It would appear that Detective Austin is overly fond of the doughnuts, as he has quite a gut on him.
In the centre of the group is Detective Penny Lovemore, the person for whom this set is named after. She is the only figure in this group to be openly carrying a weapon, in this case, a pistol. Penny is of mixed race parentage and has coffee-coloured skin.
Fourth in line is Raymond James Carlisle, another figure wearing a trench coat. He is carrying his trilby hat in his left hand. Again, because he appears to be unarmed, he could well double as a civilian. He is the oldest member of this group.
Finally, is Detective Ben Roberts. This is my second favourite figure out of the group. He is holding his notebook in his right hand and he appears to have a kind face. If any of the others play "bad cop" then Roberts has to be the "good cop." Actually, he'd make for a good reporter if you didn't want to use him as a detective.
These are roughly 30mm tall, so are slightly overscale, but certainly not enough to bother me. The male detectives in the trench coats have a chunky feel to them, but that is merely an observation on my part and certainly not a criticism. If you wanted to use them in a zombie apocalypse campaign, they would work just as well as armed and unarmed civilians.
This set of five figures retails for £10.00 from Foundry's webstore.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Studio Miniatures' Survivors 04 and Zombies 17

It's time for a look at some more astounding figures from Studio Miniatures as I review their latest batch of 28mm scale survivors and zombies. I'll start with looking at the survivors, Michelle, Mel and Dixon.
At the far left of this group is Michelle, aka Michonne from The Walking Dead comics and TV series. As an avid reader of the graphic novels I have to say that Michonne is my favourite character from the series. Before the Outbreak she was an attorney and one of her hobbies was kendo, which stood her in good stead when all hell broke loose. She is a natural fighter with her katana. Studio's sculptor has depicted her as she first appears in both the comics and the TV series, dressed in a hooded poncho with a pair of armless and jawless zombies in tow. Read on to see her two zombie followers.
In the centre of this group is Mel, who is unmistakably "Mad Max" Rockatansky as he appeared in the film Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. A number of figure companies have made their own versions of this iconic, post apocalyptic survivor but none have captured his likeness as well as Studio Minis have! This really is a superb figure. He is armed with his double-barrelled sawn-off shotgun. Note the spanner and binoculars hanging from his jacket. The leg brace on his left leg has been accurately sculpted. I have done far more dry-brushing on his leather clothing than I'd normally do, but it has certainly paid off. He just is Mad Max!
At the far left of this trio is Dixon aka Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead TV series. Daryl is a new character created for the TV series. He does not appear in any of the comics. I have become a big fan of Daryl due to his no-nonsense attitude. He is an outdoors man with excellent survival skills. His favoured weapon of choice is a crossbow, which is perfect for killing zombies from a distance because it is silent. For close in kills, he uses a knife (you can see it on his right hip). There is a dead animal, which I have painted as a grey squirrel hanging from his belt on his left hip. Note that his spare quivers for his crossbow are held in place underneath the front of the weapon. That has to make it easier to reload.
Moving on, here are Studio's latest zombie figures. The two at the left of my photos are from a set called Fat Man and Little Boy. I can't argue with the description of the Fat Man but Little Boy? He's not that little. You can usually rely on Studio to make perfectly scaled 28mm scale figures but for some unknown reason, they have made Fat Man huge. He stands 40mm tall from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Is he based on a computer game character? I wouldn't know because my knowledge of computer games is very basic. He is, as you can see, totally nude, although I'm not sure what has happened to his genitalia. Are they hidden under his enormous belly or have they been bitten off? I've hedged my bets by painting gore on his inner thighs. He is grossly obese with numerous wounds covering his body and limbs. I painted him differently to most of my normal zombies. I gave his flesh a mixture of grey and cadaverous green and added subtle patches of green, purple and yellow. I'm very pleased with how he has turned out.
Little Boy appears to be a teenager, not a boy. He wears his hoodie with the hood pulled up and his shirt or T-shirt hangs over the top of his trousers. There are a few holes in his clothing but most prominent is the large hole in the centre of his back, probably an exit wound from a gunshot to his chest. I have smeared his hands with blood.
The two zombies at the far right can be found in the same pack as Michelle from above. They each have a collar around their necks. From these collars, Michonne attached a chain to drag them along behind her, just as a dog owner would use a chain and leash on his dog. To prevent them from attacking her, Michonne hacked off their arms and jaws. As a point of trivia, one of these zombies was Michonne's former boyfriend before he became infected. One of them has punk-style vivid green hair and a gaping wound in his belly, from which his intestines are spilling out. The other one has the beginning of a beer belly and is slightly overweight. Both have cuts to the legs. These have to be the most harmless pair of zombies in existence. With no arms or jaws what can they do to harm you? Perhaps bleed on you? Michonne kept them close to her to mask her smell from other zombies. She was certainly not sentimental about them as the first thing she did when she met Rick Grimes and his group of survivors was to decapitate them with her katana.
Once again, Studio Miniatures have pulled out all the stops to produce another bunch of incredibly well sculpted figures. Fat Man and Little Boy retail at £8.99 for the pair. Michelle and her two zombie followers retails at £7.99, whilst Dixon and Mel cost £3.99 each. Don't baulk at the prices. What you are paying for is quality of the highest standard.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Grekwood Miniatures' Zombies 02

Carl from Grekwood Miniatures (GM) recently redesigned the four nurses with the bandaged heads after numerous demands for nurses with ordinary unbandaged heads. The bandaged head nurses can now be found in the demons section of the GM webstore. and these four new figures are now part of the official Hospital Zombies set.
Carl has made a couple of other changes to the figures. First of all, they have all lost whatever weapons they were carrying, and secondly, the length of their uniforms have increased to knee-length. They now look like proper nurses.The first decision I had to make was what colour do I paint their uniforms? White was an obvious choice but I'd already painted the bandage-headed nurses in white uniforms and I wanted a complete change for these ladies. Having visited my local hospital many times last year when my father was ill, I decided to go with the colour schemes used by nurses in the NHS nowadays, i.e. blue and mauve. Yes, I know that my ATZ campaign is set in America and that American nurses may wear different coloured uniforms but I'm not that bothered. They look good to me and that's the most important criteria.
The nurse at the far left wears the mauve-coloured uniform (Foundry Deep Mauve 58). She has a small cut on her face and a bite wound on her right leg.
The blue that I used on the other three nurses was Foundry Deep Blue 20. The zombie nurse second from the left has a small cut to her left arm and a bite woumd to her right leg.
The blonde-haired nurse has had a a bite taken out of the right side of her face and a second bite on her upper left arm.
The zombie nurse at the far right of the group has sustained a couple of bite wounds to her legs. I smeared her hands and lower arms in blood, which most probably has come from a victim she has attacked.
These are a nicely sculpted set of figures and I am sure that they will appeal to zombie fans far more than the bandage-headed demons, whom they have replaced.
The four Zombie Nurses in Uniform retail for £9.50. If you haven't bought them and the other three Hospital Zombie sets, you can buy all four sets for the reduced price of £34.00, saving you £4.00.
Incidentally, I'd like to point out that Carl has made a model of a hospital, which can be downloaded as a PDF file for you to construct yourself. You will need foamboard to build it. It currently consists of a couple of wards and a connecting corridor with entrance. Whilst this does sound rather basic, further expansions are planned, including the option to "zombify" the interior with lots of blood splatters and gore aplenty. Guess which version I want to make? The PDF costs just £4.00 and can be found on the GM webstore. It's worth buying just for the best set of building instructions I've ever seen on any card model!

Sunday 14 October 2012

ATZ Final Fade Out Rulebook

The book that all ATZ fans have been waiting for is now available as either a PDF file or in book format. Let me state from the outset that this is not a supplement for ATZ - it is a brand new rulebook that replaces the old Better Dead Than Zed (BDTZ) rulebook. I should also add that this will be a very biased review, as I was one of the playtesters of these new rules. Even so, I'll still give you my honest opinion about the rules.
So, why bring out a new rulebook, given that ATZ-BDTZ was so popular? Put simply, BDTZ was lagging behind other new games and supplements that Two Hour Wargames (THW) were bringing out. THW's core rules, Chain Reaction, had been updated to version 3.0 and so to make THW's most popular rules systems compatible, a change was needed. In the case of BDTZ, this was a good thing. It certainly had its critics as some folk thought it was too complex and badly laid out. At the core of all THW games is the reaction system. If you are used to the old style IGO-UGO gaming system this can be a difficult complex to grasp, but once you get your head around it, you'll surely agree it is a much more logical way of playing a game.
There were a lot of changes made to FFO and I'll comment on some of the more noteworthy ones. Stars now get the Star Power advantage, which allows them to reduce damage they take. If they roll well enough they can reduce it enough to ignore altogether. Just remember that a Star's advantages have no affect against zombies. Star power can be given to certain Grunts and I am going to give it to Big Sil, Angie and Gap and possibly newcomers to Team Vampifan to help improve their survivability. Stars and Grunts now gain three skills - Physical, People and Savvy. I welcome this addition, as it brings an element of role-playing to the game. Attributes are now determined by rolling 3d6 and adding the scores together for a result of between 3 and 18. Stars must roll for one attribute but may freely choose the other one. Grunts only get one attribute and must roll for it.
The Reaction Tests have been reduced in number, which should make the game run a lot faster. In Sight Tests have changed the most and will probably be the most common Reaction Test taken during the game. They can be taken multiple times during a turn, depending upon circumstances. They are now taken by everyone in sight of one another. Previously you rolled for each team and applied the result to all involved. Note that zombies do not trigger In Sight Tests.
The Ranged Combat rules have hardly changed at all. Those wishing to use archaic weapons like bows should check out After The Horsemen for weapon stats. Flash Bang Grenades have been dropped, which is a shame in my opinion. I'll still use them but refer to BDTZ for their rules. Note that the Weapons Table on p.23 differs to the one in the QRS pages. Use the one on p.23.
Melee Combat has undergone the most radical of changes. Characters no longer split their Rep when fighting multiple opponents but count full Rep instead. This is a double-edged sword for humans because zombies also fight at full Rep. As always, Melee Combat should be a last resort. Shooting zombies is always preferable to fighting them.
The rules for Vehicles have changed, and sadly, not always for the best. Some vehicles are slower than in BDTZ. Speeds are now 12", 16" or 24". The best new rule that has been introduced is that vehicles that are not stationary will move every turn, even if the driver fails to activate. This makes a whole lot of sense and is much welcomed. Vehicles are limited to a maximum 45 degree turn per action, as opposed to a 90 degree turn in BDTZ. The Ramming Vehicles and Bashing rules are now much simpler. I actually prefer the more complex rules from BDTZ.
Zombies are now Rep:3 although if they are in Line of Sight of a human they become Rep:4 for activation purposes only. I can see the sense in this. Most zombies just stagger around aimlessly. But once they spot a human they become much more animated. As mentioned before, zombies will now use 3d6 in melee instead of 1d6 - a big difference! The rule change that I am most proud of is that I convinced Ed that the Easy To Hit Rule should be renamed the Easy To Kill rule. This very useful rule never did make zombies easier to hit but it certainly made them a lot easier to kill. I helped make quite a few changes to the rules but this is the one that made me most happy! In melee combat, a maximum of four zombies may attack a human. I prefered the old rule of six zombies being able to attack at once. The "Harry, Are You Okay?" rule has now been expanded so that you now know how long it will take an infected person to turn into a zombie... and it's pretty quick!
Possible Enemy Forces (PEFs) were an optional rule introduced in the I, Zombie supplement. Now they are an official part of the rules but they do work slightly differently to the rules in IZ. I was a big fan of PEFs and I'm pleased to see their inclusion in FFO. They add an element of uncertainty to a game and that is definitely a good thing.
The number of basic Encounters have increased from three to nine, with five of them being voluntary encounters and four being involuntary encounters. This is another welcome change. Three special encounters that can be played in weeks 1, 2 and 3 of the Outbreak have been included to add even more variety. Plus, you can download the special Day One Encounter for free if you want to start your campaign right at the very beginning.
A list of many pre-generated NPCs are included at the back of the book. I doubt if I'll use these lists much, if at all, as I like to design my own Grunts. But the option is there for those of you pushed for time, so I'm not knocking their inclusion.
The biggest change between FFO and BDTZ is that FFO is much more streamlined and easier to play. The way it has been laid out has been well thought out. Most, but not all, of the changes are changes for the better. I was immensely proud to be asked by Ed to be a play-tester of this rulebook. It was an absolute labour of love. I have looked at other zombie skirmish games but I truly believe that ATZ-FFO is the best zombie skirmish game on the market. You may say that I would say that, being so closely involved in the development of this game, but I'd still have said the same even if I wasn't a play-tester. BDTZ improved a lot upon the ATZ first edition rules. FFO improves a lot upon BDTZ and is light years ahead of the first edition rules. I am immensely looking forward to starting my FFO campaign, which, of course, will be fully chronicled in my blog. A brand new Team Vampifan will ride again!
A hard copy book format edition of FFO costs $25.00, whilst a PDF format edition costs $20.00 from the THW webstore. I highly recommend this product to anyone interested in zombie gaming and I award this book a 9 out of 10 rating.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Victory Force Armed Office Workers

In my July 2012 Monthly Musings I told you about a parcel of goodies that I received from Ernie Huff in America. Amongst the stuff he sent me were five Victory Force 28mm scale Armed Office Workers with Gear from their SuburbaKnights range. He also sent me a Wizkids 28mm scale figure of Glimmer from The Hunger Games. I recently finished painting them and so, here they are.
At the far left of my photos is the leader of this group of office worker survivors. He is fat, balding and has rosy cheeks and to me, is an obvious managerial type. All five figures are armed with the 5.56mm M16 Assault Rifle, meaning they are well equipped to take on the zombie scourge. He is also armed with a knife or bayonet in a scabard. Wrapped around the back strap of his shoulder bag is a piece of cloth that could be almost anything - a small tent, a raincoat, a towel or something else entirely.
Next up is the sole female of the group and she is depicted firing her Assault Rifle from the hip. She has a knife tucked into her right boot. Around her waist on a khaki belt are a few pouches and a water bottle. Her handbag is slung over her left shoulder.
One of the things that I love about this set is the fact that the figures are all different heights, as you would expect to find in real life. The female is obviously the smallest (28mm tall) and this guy is the tallest (35mm tall). I painted him as a dark African/American. He is carrying a fair bit of gear - two shoulder bags, a sleeping bag and a knife.
The blond guy has ditched his jacket. It must be a warm day as he is also wearing sunglasses. He is the best armed out of the group, as he also carries a pistol and a machete. He is equipped with a knapsack, a shoulder bag and a torch, which is clipped onto his shoulder bag.
The second African/American in the group is not as dark-skinned as his colleague. He is more coffee-coloured. (I love my Foundry flesh paints!) He carries a large shoulder bag, upon which is attached a water bottle and a small spade.
At the far right of my two photos is Glimmer, one of the contestants from The Hunger Games, but also a very useful survivor. She was a pre-painted collectible figure but I have repainted her with a much more detailed paint scheme, although I have stuck to the original colours for the most part. You don't see many survivor types armed with bow and arrows, so I was very happy to receive her. Silent weapons like her Short Bow are perfect zombie killers. I have included her in this review, simply because she was part of the parcel that Ernie sent me and it made sense to group them all together.
If Ernie hadn't sent me the armed office workers I would have bought them anyway. I think they are a terrific group of survivors to use in a zombie apocalypse game. Team Vampifan would welcome them with open arms. This set of five figures costs $17.95 from the Victory Force webstore. You can buy each figure individually at a cost of $4.00 per figure. Also, do note that these figures are available without the gear on and just carrying the firearms, both as a set and as individuals. I actually prefer them with the gear on. I have no idea of the price or availability of the Glimmer figure. I have seen her advertised on eBay for about $10.00.

Sunday 7 October 2012

The Ballad of Team Vampifan

I had today's post all planned out when right out of the blue I received an e-mail from Bob/Irqan, who clearly has far too much time on his hands, as he sent me this wonderful piece of poetry/song writing. As soon as I read it I knew that this had to be shared with a wider audience. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you -

The Ballad of Team Vampifan 

(To the tune of: ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’)

Oh, Vampifan's a fighter, he carries a great big gun.
With Big Sil, Gap and Cat, killing zeds is fun.
He fights his way through Mayhem and saving all he finds.
Slaughtering zeds and gangers no matter what the kind.

They burst their way from Mayhem in his trusty truck,
By passing all the soldiers they didn’t give a fuh (hoot).
Dodging guns and riots it was all the rage,
If he had a shotgun it’d have to be 12 gauge.


Her hair was red and shiny, she was quite a catch.
For fighting Sil and Angie, it was quite a match,
But fate had cast his dice rolls, and oh dear me, oh my,
Whilst skirmishing clowns and zombies poor Angie had to die.


Big Sil he took to drinking until he got a buzz,
But later on that evening he was picked up by the fuzz.
Now Vampi took to saving him and it was quiet a blast,
For at the coppers station he nailed his colours to the mast.


Now Vampi fought right bravely to lead them all away,
His rifle, guns and pistols kept the zeds at bay.
Although they were in danger as Killer Clowns gave chase,
Vampi and his valiant gang brought them home to base.


It was in the early morning that sounded a death knell,
Because the place that was their base was about to turn to hell.
Vampi and his brave, stout gang, they had swallowed their last breath,
When Sunny and his Killer Klowns saw them to their death.


Now you may ask of whom I am to sing you of this man,
For I am a survivor with Vampi I have ran.
I thank the stars each evening and on the strike of dawn,
‘Cause me and my companions, we are the family Vaughn.


How cool is that? When Bob commented on my "Sunny's Revenge" batrep, he did say, "I'm sure Jamie has a musical bent and will write the 'Ballad of Team Vampifan' that they'll sing in their new base when the wine and beer flows freely again!" To my complete and utter surprise "Jamie" did just that. I have never had a poem written for me before and I was so thrilled by Bob's effort here. It just made my day. Many, many thanks, Bob!

Wednesday 3 October 2012

My ATZ Campaign - Day 66 - Sunny's Revenge

It had taken weeks of searching but finally, Sunny, the leader of the Killer Klowns gang, had located where Team Vampifan were holed up. They were hiding in an industrial estate in the suburbs of Mayhem City. Tonight, Sunny thought, Team Vampifan would pay for slaughtering so many of his followers and Big Sil in particular, would pay for the beating he had given to Sunny. It was time for revenge.

CAST LIST - Team Vampifan
Vampifan - Rep:6 Star with Nerves of Steel and Slow attributes. Armed with Assault Rifle.
Ulysses Catweazle - Rep:5 Star with Brawler and Nerves of Steel attributes. Armed with Assault Rifle.
Wayne Connors - Rep:5 Grunt with Stone Cold attribute. Armed with Assault Rifle, BA Pistol and Body Armour.
Big Sil - Rep:5 Grunt with Knife Fighter attribute. Armed with Assault Rifle and Knife.
Gap - Rep:4 Grunt with Fear of Clowns Phobia. Armed with Assault Rifle.
Hannah Vaughn - Rep:5 Grunt with Stone Cold attribute. Armed with BA Pistol.
Jamie Vaughn - Rep:4 Grunt with Brawler attribute. Armed with BA Pistol.
Billy Vaughn - Rep:3 Grunt with Wuss attribute. Armed with Catapult.
Note that Team Vampifan are usually much better armed and equipped than listed above. However, six of them were asleep at the start of the encounter (Connors and Big Sil being the exceptions), so when the action started they could only grab one weapon - those listed above.
CAST LIST - Killer Klowns
Sunny - Rep 6 Star with Hellspawn* and Knife Fighter attributes. Armed with Knife.
Barney, Bubo, Clucky, Fred, Grosso, Yama, Zlinky and Zopov - Rep:4 Smart Zombies. Bubo was armed with a Shotgun. Yama and Zopov were armed with Impact 1 Improvised Weapons. The rest were unarmed.
*Hellspawn attribute denotes that Sunny is not human. He is a demon and as such he will not be attacked by zombies. Note that his Rep has increased since his first encounter with Team Vampifan. He has grown more powerful! I deliberately wanted him to be on a par with Vampifan.
The game was played on a 3' by 3' board, with north to the left of this photo. Note the absence of corpses on the streets. Team Vampifan had cleared them all away and burnt them.
The board was divided into nine sectors, each 1' square. Sector 1 was in the NE corner, where the three cars were parked next to the wood.
Sector 9 was in the SW corner where the hedge and grassland is situated. This encounter took place shortly after midnight on the morning of Day 66 in the suburbs of Mayhem City.
 SWAT Sergeant Wayne Connors was on guard duty at the start of this encounter and he took up position on the roof of the XLFSU (Extra Large Folding Structure Unit).
Inside the XLFSU, most of Team Vampifan slept. Big Sil was awake and sitting at the dining table, drinking a cup of coffee. He would replace Wayne Connors once he had finished his stint on guard duty.
I placed the three starting PEFs on the board and diced for their Reps. PEF:1 was Rep:4 and was placed in Sector 5 at the NW corner of the warehouse, just out of sight of Connors. PEF:2 was also Rep:4 and was placed in sector 2 behind the crimson car. Again, it was out of sight of Connors.
PEF:3 was only Rep:2 and was placed in sector 3 behind Vampifan's pick-up truck. It was also hidden from view of Connors.
I rolled for Lack of Sleep for Team Vampifan but no one was badly affected.

Day 66 - Sunny's Revenge
This was a Defend: Raid scenario, details of which can be found in the After The Horsemen or Final Fade Out books. It takes place at Night, so all visibility is limited to 12". Note that any references to the Better Dead Than Zed rulebook will use the abbreviation BDTZ and any references to the I, Zombie supplement will use the abbreviation IZ.
TURN 1   Activation - Vampifan = 3, PEFs = 4
PEF:1 passed 2d6 on the PEF Movement Table and moved into sector 8 at the NW corner of the XLFSU. PEF:2 passed 1d6 on the PEF Movement Table and moved towards the closest PEF, which was PEF:1. It ended up at the NE corner of the XLFSU. Both PEFs were now in sight of Wayne Connors and so, had to be revealed.The first two PEFs to be revealed were predetermined by me, meaning I didn't have to roll to see what they were. PEF:3 would be determined normally.
PEF:1 was Hostile NPCs - Sunny and a group of Smart Zombie Killer Klowns. There were nine Killer Klowns in total (see Cast List above for details). They disembarked from their van. Sunny deliberately left the engine running in order to attract more zombies. It was a tactic that had worked well at the Precinct 13 Police Station.
Two of the Klowns, Fred and Yama, emerged from a hatch in the van roof and charged at the SWAT Sergeant. Wayne took the Being Charged Test and passed 2d6. He fired his Assault Rifle at the Klowns. He hit Yama and knocked him down, but he missed Fred.
Smart Zombies use 2d6 in melee combat instead of the 1d6 used by normal zombies. However, Wayne rolled 5d6 (for his Rep)  and should have easily defeated Fred. He didn't. Fred beat him 1-0 after three rounds of combat. Wayne Connors keeled over with a bite wound and was Out Of the Fight. First blood to the Killer Klowns. Was this an omen of things to come?
Zombies do not cause an unrevealed PEF to show what it is, but Sunny wasn't a zombie and he was in sight of PEF:2, so I had to reveal what it was. It was more Hostile NPCs, only this time it was 12 zombies.
Big Sil shouted for everyone to wake up, but most of the team had heard the gunfire from above them and were already awake. Each member of the team grabbed one weapon (see cast List above for what they chose) and they stood ready to repel any intruders. The front and back doors of the building were closed but unlocked.
I rolled 9d6 for zombie reinforcements (6d6 for the van's engine running and 3d6 for Wayne's gunfire). Just three zombies arrived on the board. They appeared by the large rock in the woods across the street from the XLFSU.
TURN 2.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Klowns = 3, Zombies = 4, PEF = 6.
Eight of the horde of twelve zombies entered the XLFSU but none of them were able to make contact with any of the members of Team Vampifan. This triggered In Sight Tests for the seven defenders. Vampifan, Catweazle and Billy passed 2d6 and could fire normally. Big Sil and Jamie passed 1d6 and were allowed to Snapfire. Hannah and Gap passed 0d6 and couldn't fire at all.
Team Vampifan's shooting was appalingly bad! Vampifan and Catweazle hit and killed one zombie apiece. Everyone else missed. I guess they weren't fully awake yet.
Sunny led Zlinko, Grosso, Bubo, Zopov and Clucky from the Killer Klown zombies inside and he immediately set eyes on Big Sil. (Remember that Smart Zombies can move further than normal zombies indoors, so they were able to leapfrog ahead of the zombies already inside.)
"Sillito, you're going to die, you fucker!" Sunny screamed as he charged at the hairy biker.
"I don't think so, asshole!" Big Sil retorted. He passed the Being Charged Test with 2d6 and fired three shots at Sunny. He hit once but could only score a Knock Down result. Sunny passed 2d6 on the Recover From Knock Down Test and was just momentarily stunned.
Even though he was OOF, Wayne Connors may have survived this encounter but his fate was sealed when Fred kicked him off the roof. The fall caused a second OOF result, but they don't stack. He lay on the pavement just a few yards away from two groups of ravenous zombies. Yama stood back up and he and Fred jumped back onto the roof of their van. Smart Zombies are allowed to move 3" after they stand up from being Knocked Down (see p.41 of IZ).
The sight of so many clowns entering the XLFSU caused Gap to have a panic attack due to his phobia. Fortunately, he passed 2d6 on the Panic Attack Test (see p.14 of IZ) and he was able to carry on as normal.
"Billy, Jamie, get over here behind me!" Hannah shouted in alarm. She wanted to shield her children from the horde of invaders. Both children complied immediately and took up position at the back door behind her.
Catweazle and Gap took a few steps forward to close in on Vampifan and Big Sil.
"Let 'em have it!" Vampifan ordered as he fired a burst from his G3 Assault Rifle. He hit twice and killed Clucky the Killer Klown and a normal zombie.
Catweazle shot and killed two normal zombies.
Big Sil killed a normal zombie. He also hit Zopov the Killer Klown but only knocked him down.
Gap killed just one normal zombie.
Hannah killed Grosso the Killer Klown and a normal zombie.
They had done fairly well with their shooting but they hadn't cleared the room and there were still a lot more zombies outside.
I rolled a total of 34d6 for zombie reinforcements. Nasty! I expected 11 to arrive and that's exactly what happened. Six emerged from the darkness at the NE corner of the XLFSU.
Another five emerged at the SE corner of the XLFSU at the junction to the warehouse loading bays.
TURN 3.   Activation - Vampifan = (5) 2, Klowns = (5) 6, Zombies = 4, PEF = 3
Team Vampifan and the Killer Klowns tied for Activation and had to reroll. Unfortunately, the Klowns won the roll off and went first. Sunny and Zopov stood back up. What happened next was probably the turning point of the game. Vampifan thought that Bubo the Klown was holding a trumpet. He was wrong. It was actually a disguised Shotgun! Bubo pointed it at Vampifan and fired. Normally, it is very difficult for a Smart Zombie to hit a target with a firearm. They need to roll a 6 on 1d6 followed by a second roll scoring 1-3. I felt confident that Vampifan would survive this attack, even though Bubo had 6d6 to roll to hit. Not only was I wrong, but Bubo made matters infinitely worse by scoring an Obviously Dead result on the Damage Table! Fortunately, because Vampifan was a Star, he could use the Larger Than Life advantage, which meant that any OD result by anyone with a lower Rep than the Star was converted to an OOF result. It also stated that this result did not apply if killed by a zombie. I may be wrong, but my view is this only applies when bitten by a zombie. Being shot by a Smart Zombie seemed wrong to the spirit of the game, so I decided that Vampifan was merely OOF. Even so, it was a major blow to Team Vampifan. The other members of the team took the Leader Lost Test and passed 2d6, meaning that Lieutenant Ulysses Catweazle was automatically nominated as new team leader.
Outside, Fred and Yama dropped down to the ground from atop their van. Back inside, Barney entered the room to stand alongside Sunny, whilst Bubo, Zlinky and Zopov charged Big Sil. He passed 2d6 on the Being Charged Test and fired his Assault Rifle at the trio. He only scored one hit on Zlinky but it was a fatal hit. By the way, I forgot to place a bullet marker next to Big Sil, but I did remember to count his shots when totting up the shots fired at the end of this turn, so no harm done.
Two to one odds were better than three to one odds in melee combat but Big Sill still had to split his 5d6 attack dice. He had not drawn his knife so he couldn't use his Knife Fighter attribute. He split his attack to 3d6 against Zopov and 2d6 against Bubo. He won 2-0 against Zopov and smashed the Killer Klown's brains in. Alas, against Bubo he lost 1-0 and the hairy biker fell to the floor OOF.
Now it was the zombies' turn to move. The five zeds at the SE corner of the XLFSU moved to the back door of the building.
The two groups of zombies crossing the main road moved closer to the front of the XLFSU. The four zombies standing at the front door suddenly surrounded the unconscious Wayne Connors and began to feast upon his warm flesh. Their feasting would last for four turns, as denoted by the red die in the photo above.
Catweazle fired three times at Bubo. he hit once but only scored a Knock Down. Bubo was living a charmed life! Then Catweazle's Assault Rifle went CLICK! CLICK! He was out of ammo.
"Oh, bugger!" he cursed.
Hannah fired twice at Sunny but missed with both shots.
Gap fired three times at the two zombies closing in on Vampifan. He and killed the leading one but missed the second one.
However, Jamie dealt with the second zombie as one of her two shots hit the zed in the side of the head.
Young Billy fired his catapult at Sunny but he also missed the Killer Klown leader.
I rolled 25d6 for zombie reinforcements and ten appeared in two groups of five. The first five appeared at the SW corner of the XLFSU by the stack of container units.
The second group of five appeared at the NE corner of the XLFSU in exactly the same place as the five zombies who were now at the back door.
TURN 4.   Activation = Vampifan = 1, Klowns = 3, Zombies = 4, Pef = 2.
The zombies at the back door opened it and charged Billy and Jamie in the rear. The kids each passed 1d6 on the Being Charged Test. They could not fire but they could fight, albeit with a -2d6 penalty each. One zombie attacked Billy, whilst two attacked Jamie. Billy only had one attack die, the same as his zombie attacker. The way things were going for Team Vampifan it was almost inevitable that he lost his combat. He fell down OOF. Jamie split her 3d6 into a 2/1 combo. She easily killed the first zombie attacker, winning 2-0 but she tied with the second one. I was very grateful she didn't lose!
Three zombies by the front door moved inside the XLFSU. The other zombies at the front of the building joined in on the feasting of Wayne Connors.
The two groups of five zombies at the rear of the building joined forces with the four at the back door to form a horde of 14 zombies.
The Killer Klowns moved next with Sunny charging Gap and Barney and Bubo charging Catweazle. Gap passed 1d6 on the Being Charged Test . He could melee normally but he could not fire beforehand. Catweazle passed 2d6 on the same Test and he too, was able to melee normally. If he hadn't have run out of ammo he could have fired at the two Klowns before they reached him. Sunny rolled 7d6 against Gap's 4d6 and he slaughtered him, winning 3-0. One sweep of Sunny's large knife decapitated Gap. Catweazle dropped his Assault Rifle and sensibly decided to take on the two Killer Klowns bare-handed. He naturally split his 6d6 into two 3d6 attacks, giving him a 1d6 advantage over both opponents. However, he rolled incredibly badly and both Klowns beat him 1-0. He fell Out Of the Fight, bleeding from two bite wounds. Hannah and Jamie passed 2d6 on the Leader Lost Test and now Hannah became team leader.
PEF:3 passed 1d6 on the PEF Movement Table and moved into sector 6 at the side of Hannah's parked white car. It was in sight and in cover of Jamie. I rolled on the PEF Resolution Table to see what it was and scored a False Alarm result.
Hannah made the only wise decision left to her. She grabbed hold of Billy and lifted him in her arms. She fired at the two zombies standing at the back door, blocking her way. Her aim was true and she hit and killed both of them with accurate head shots.
"Come on, Jamie!" she cried, fighting back tears that were ready to spring forth. "We have to get out of here. Run, dear, run!"
Because she was holding Billy, I reduced the distance that Hannah could run making a Fast Move by 1d6, but she was still able to exit the board. Jamie broke off her combat with the zombie and sprinted after her mother with a Fast Move of her own.
It was all over. Team Vampifan had lost and were no more. There was no point in rolling for zombie reinforcements as the game was well and truly over at this point.

Sunny beheaded Vampifan and Catweazle to add to his collection of severed heads. The zombies literally tore apart the bodies of Vampifan, Gap, Catweazle and Connors. Sunny took Big Sil and his surviving Smart Zombies, Barney, Bubo, Fred and Yama back to his Circus Big Top HQ. Big Sil died a most excruciatingly painful and prolonged death as Sunny tortured him repeatedly for days and days. Sunny's revenge was complete!
Billy recovered from his wound but it was short lived. He succumbed to the zombie virus and died. Hannah shot him in the head just as he transformed. Even though she knew it was the right thing to do, it broke her heart. Despite losing this encounter, neither Hannah nor Jamie lost a Rep point for their failure.
Before I began this encounter, my friend Joe/Zabadak asked me if this was going to end up like the Alamo or Rorke's Drift? Both are excellent historical analogies. I had no idea how it would end due to the vagaries of dice rolling. One thing I did know was that there would be no quarter asked by either side. This was all out war and there could only be one winner. Well, the dice gods decided it was going to be Sunny and the Killer Klowns. Team Vampifan had some appallingly bad luck with the dice. Note that they never once won Activation. I'm not blaming that wholly for their defeat but it was certainly a factor. Looking back on it with the advantage of hindsight, I should have employed different tactics by Team Vampifan. Instead of staying inside they should have left by the back door, split up and employed hit and run tactics against the enemy. Special mention must go the Bubo the Smart Zombie, who put Vampifan, Big Sil and Catweazle Out Of the Fight. And he survived a few hits as well. Truly, he was the "Man of the Match!"
Despite the result not being what I wanted at least I can say that my ATZ-BDTZ campaign came to a natural conclusion. I have learnt a lot from this campaign, which will stand me in good stead when I start my ATZ-FFO campaign. But most of all, this campaign has been a hell of a lot of fun. I've thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope you have too. Thanks to you all for your enthusiastic support and comments. I'm sorry it didn't have a happy ending but sometimes shit happens!