Sunday 31 March 2013

Vampifan's Views 36 - Monthly Musings 20

Vampirella displaying her bat wings by John Bolton
This past month my blog celebrated two landmarks. First up, it reached its fourth birthday on March 16th and secondly, I passed the 400 posts mark. The ATZ-FFO batrep that I posted was my 400th post. Yay, me!
March has been another busy month for me. Getting to play ATZ-FFO for the first time this year was an obvious highlight, and how cool it was for Vampifan to recruit Hannah Vaughn and her family.
I have managed to glue all of my model trees to circular MDF bases of varying sizes depending upon the height and diameter of the tree. I am now sourcing my trees from Carl at Grekwood Miniatures (GM). I recently ordered some weeping willow trees and some beech trees. The GM webstore is well worth checking out for trees as Carl offers a wide variety of tree types. My MDF bases came from East Riding Miniatures and were very reasonably priced.
I have almost finished painting my first batch of plastic figures from the Zombicide boardgame. I am busy painting the six survivors and 16 of the zombies (10 Walkers, 4 Runners and 2 Fatties). Next up will be another batch of 16 zombies plus the fearsome zombie abomination. I am painting these so that they will be compatible with my current zombie horde and other contemporary figures. What that means is that they will all have textured bases the same as my other figures. I have seen lots of examples of painted Zombicide figures but I have never seen any that have textured bases. When I get the second batch painted I'll run a review of the figures and a review of the game. I have played a few solo games of it already, with the zombies winning most games. Individually, zombies are easy enough to kill but once they gather in numbers and attack in force they are virtually unstoppable. It's great fun!
Today is the last day of the Zombicide Season 2 Kickstarter pledge and it is an understatement to say that it has been a phenomenal success. As I type this, there are still about 12 hours to go and they are $15,000 short of the $2 million mark. I hope they reach it. Seeing as their original goal was for just $25,000 you can see just how popular this project has been. My final pledge amount was a whopping big $400.00. I have ordered both games (Prison Outbreak and Toxic City Mall), the zombie dogs packs, every survivor they offered, the extra tile sets and some extra tracker tokens. Roll on September when they start shipping.
On the card modelling front I have taken a break from making ground tiles. I have almost completed the Stoelzel's Derelict Building. For most people this would be a very easy model to make, but you ought to know my motto by now - always go the extra mile. What has really slowed me down in making this are the wooden boards over the windows. I am making all of the boards separately to give them a 3D effect and that is very time-consuming. Expect a review some time next month.
Brummie's Burgers - the newest fast food franchise to hit the market.
Carl from Stoelzel's Structures continues to impress me. He recently announced that he was going to design a fast food restaurant and he asked followers of his forum to come up with a name for it. I came up with three options, of which my favourite was "Brummie's Burgers," named in honour of my fellow blogger, Simon aka Brummie. A vote was held to decide which name would be chosen and to my delight, "Brummie's Burgers" came out top. I won a free copy of the model when it was released, but to be honest, having my choice of name chosen was reward enough for me. What is really cool about this model and further proof of just what a hero Carl is, he included a sheet of signs featuring all the names that were suggested in his poll. Thus, everyone who entered was a winner. I thought that was a lovely touch and very generous of Carl. Incidentally, I plan on making this after I finish making the derelict building. What is not shown on the promo photos I've shown above is that the restaurant comes with its own ground tiles that are compatible with those from the Undeveloped Real Estate set. I will be adding them to my restaurant model, although the restaurant will be detachable from the ground tiles to make it easier for storing away.
April is going to be a very exciting month for me. The highlight will be meeting up with fellow blogger Mathyoo who runs his blog here - He's going to spend a week's holiday with me before he heads down to London for the big Salute convention. As well as showing him around the area, I am hoping to get a few games of ATZ-FFO and Zombicide played with him. It'll be quite strange to have someone else to game with having been a solo gamer for far too many years. But I am looking forward to it immensely. I will, of course, keep you informed of what we get up to, as I'm sure Mathyoo will on his blog.
That's all for this month. Have a very happy Easter!

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Studio Minis 18 - Limited Edition Freebies

The three Studio Miniatures 28mm scale zombies that I'm reviewing today were part of the stretch goals offered when they ran their Indiegogo project for their plastic zombie sets. I managed to get two of each, thanks to the generosity of Stuart at SM. I gave away one of my Shaun of the Dead zombies to one of my followers (David aka Darkoath) who asked if anyone had a spare copy to donate. The other freebie zombie in the deal was the George Romero zed, and seeing as I already owned him the two that I received went to deserving homes.
At the far left of the trio is the Shaun of the Dead zombie I mentioned above. First Hasslefree, then Studio Minis and currently, Guillotine Games (for their Zombicide Season 2 project) have made zombified versions of Simon Pegg aka Shaun from Shaun of the Dead, Now anyone who has seen this wonderful film will know that Shaun survived and was never turned into a zombie. This makes me wonder why figure companies make zombified Shauns but no one has made a zombified version of Shaun's best mate, Ed (played by Nick Frost) who was turned into a zombie? Anyhow, that's just me idly speculating. This is a very nicely sculpted figure with a decent resemblance to Shaun, if he was zombified. I have given him a neck wound to add to the red that was on his shirt (movie reference alert!). Although he is carrying his cricket bat I would not class him as an armed zombie. He appears to be nothing more than an ordinary zombie who kept a hold of the bat when he died. He drags it along with him because he lacks the intelligence to let go of it. Zombies are dumb like that!
Next up is the first of my two skeletal zombies. These are so old that their skin is stretched tight over their bones, giving them a look that can best be described as skeletal. Their clothes hang in tatters. The flesh has been stripped from the front of his torso, revealing his rib cage. His intestines are spilling from a massive wound to his stomach.
The zombie at the far right of the photos is a conversion of the previous figure. I simply repositioned his arms and gave him a totally different paint scheme so that the two figures look different. He has a darker skin tone, denoting that he is of African/American origin. I have applied far more gore to him than I normally do. It almost looks like he has been showering in blood. He looks delightfully disgusting!
It is at this point that I'd tell you how much these figures cost but none of them are for sale on the SM webstore. Sadly, they were only made available to those who backed the plastic zombies Indiegogo project. I like these limited edition figures, but then I have always been a huge fan of Studio Miniatures' zombie figures.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Reaper Zombies 02

Following on from my last post, here are some more Reaper 28mm scale Chronoscope zombies to look at. This time, all of the zombies are armed with melee weapons. They can be found in set 50066 Urban Zombies (3) and set 50091 Chainsaw Zombie. The first three zombies in my photos remind me of Victorian-era zombies, although there is no reason why they can't be used in contemporary times.
The zombie at the far left of the two photos is holding a mask of a handsome male to hide his ugly face. In his other hand, he holds a blood-stained knife. He sports numerous wounds. Starting from the top and working down is a bite wound to his right cheek, a bite to his right shoulder, a gunshot wound between his shoulder blades and a few bite wounds to his legs.
Standing next to him is a zombie armed with a knife and a meat cleaver. There is something deeply disturbing about his most obvious wound to his stomach. At first, I thought he was wearing an unusual belt buckle, which does stick out a fair bit. Closer inspection revealed it to be a rat's head. It is not a belt buckle at all, but a rat that is burrowing through his stomach to emerge from the front. Now that is just sick, but for a gorehound like me, just way too cool!
The third of the urban zombies carries a large two-handed axe. His coat has been holed in many places, but he doesn't have any major wounds visible. What is disturbing about him is that he has a very cute teddy bear stuffed into the left side pocket of his coat. Does he use that to lure child victims? Possibly.
Finally, is the chainsaw wielding zombie. His chainsaw was made by Stihl, a popular manufacturer of chainsaws. Whenever I paint zombie figures, the last thing I paint on them are the gore effects. Painting the gore on this chap was a lot of fun. I took an old paintbrush with stiff bristles and used my finger to splatter the Tamiya Clear Red onto him and the chainsaw. The effect looks like he is drenched in blood.
I really do like these four figures. There is something inherently evil and disturbing about them. Because they are all wielding weapons and appear to know how to use them, I'm classing them as Smart Zombies, as described in the ATZ supplement I, Zombie.
Two things may put some of you off from purchasing them. First is the fact that they are all armed. I don't mind that as Smart Zombies will become a part of my ATZ-FFO campaign. The second point regards their size. These are definitely heroically scaled. Three of them measure 38mm tall and the zombie with the axe is 42mm tall, although bear in mind he is wearing a top hat. These are all even taller than the last lot of Reaper zombies that I reviewed, so be warned.
The set of three Urban Zombies cost £8.60 and the Chainsaw Zombie cost £4.35 when purchased from the Miniature Heroes webstore.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Reaper Zombies 01

It has been well over a month since I last reviewed any figures, so it's about time I looked at some more zombie miniatures, starting with this bunch from the Reaper 28mm scale Chronoscope range. They are sets 50038 Urban Zombies (3), 50222 Charlie the Zombie and 50223 Linus the Zombie.
At the far left is a zombie cop. His injuries don't appear to be too severe. He is dragging his right foot, so he may have twisted his ankle. There are a couple of holes in his uniform, which could be caused by gunshots. He is bleeding from the head and both hands are smeared with blood, which is probably from a victim.
The female zombie was either a streetwalker or a night-clubber prior to becoming one of the undead. She has small bite wounds to her left shoulder and the back of her lower left leg. The blood around her neck could be her own from a bite wound or that of a victim she has been feeding on. I was going to paint her with blonde hair but one day when I was shopping in Newcastle, I saw a young woman with black hair with a blonde streak running down the middle. That was so unusual that it stuck in my mind. I had to replicate it on a miniature and this female zombie was the perfect choice. Art imitates real life!
In the centre of the group is an elderly male who has suffered appalling injuries. His entire stomach and lower back has been thoroughly ravaged. He has intestines hanging out of the front and back. He also has bite wounds to both legs and he has lost his left sock and shoe. Finally, there is a long gash down the right side of his face.
Next up are the two named zombies, Linus and Charlie. It is unusual for zombies to be given names. Linus is the more static of the two. He has wrapped his jumper/coat around his waist. His tongue is prominently sticking out of his mouth. He has a cut to his forehead and a large wound to his neck. His right arm has been savaged. The bone of his elbow is visible.
Charlie is in a more animated pose, shown walking or shambling. There was a hole in the back of his shirt, which I took to be from a bullet wound. His left knee is badly bloodied and he appears to have scraped both elbows. As zombies go, he is quite intact.
These aren't as well sculpted as the Reaper Zombie Strippers that I reviewed last year but I still like them. The old man is my favourite out of the bunch, purely because of his wounds. Yes, I am a gore-hound!
The three urban zombies are close to 35mm in height, whilst Charlie and Linus are slightly smaller at about 32mm. No way can any of these be described as 28mm scale. This does not bother me but it may be a concern for some of you. I always purchase my Reaper figures from Miniature Heroes and they are selling these at £7.60 for the set of three Urban Zombies and £4.35 each for Charlie and Linus.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Black Cat Bases Fly Tipping Pile

A few months ago my friend Roger, who runs the Rogzombie blog-site, posted a review of the Black Cat Bases 28mm scale Fly Tipping Pile. You can read it here - 
It impressed me so much that I knew I had to get one for my ATZ-FFO campaign. And so here is mine, admittedly heavily influenced by Roger's excellent colour scheme. Notice how well it blends in with my new Stoelzel's urban ground tiles. It's a very good colour match.
This piece of resin scenery measures 5.5" across (14cm) by 3" wide (7.5cm). At the front are a toppled over wheelie bin, spilling its contents out, and two tied up black bin liners, both full of rubbish.
Behind them are three dirty matresses, three more bin liners, all full, a battered sofa and a rusty old fridge. As resin scenery pieces go, this is very detailed and was a lot of fun to paint. It will fit in well in Mayhem City during the zombie apocalypse and for me, symbolises the decay that has suddenly blighted the city. Or am I reading too much into it?  :)
This piece costs £3.50 from the Black Cat Bases website, which I considered to be quite a bargain.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

My FFO Campaign - Week 1 - First Foray

And so I finally get to play my first proper game of Final Fade Out. The Day One scenario used a lot of rules that weren't in the rulebook, so that wasn't classed as a "proper" game. This Encounter will use the rules from the FFO rulebook and my House Rules As before, this batrep will be rules heavy for the benefit of new players. All notes relating to the rules will be written in blue text to differentiate them from the rest of the batrep. All page numbers will refer to the ATZ-FFO rulebook.
Encounter = Search
Location = Springvale, a Suburb of Mayhem City, USA
Time = Daytime during Day 7 of Week 1
Initial Encounter Rating = 3
Scotty "Vampifan" Bryant. Rep:5 Star Survivor with Born Leader and Slow Attributes.
  Skills = Drive:4, Melee:3, Shoot:4, Fitness:2, People:4, Savvy:3.
  Weapons = BA Pistol  and Katana (1HW or 2HW).
Angelina "Angie" Johannson. Rep:4 Co-Star Citizen with Free Spirit Attribute.
   Skills = Drive:4, Melee:2, Shoot:4, Fitness:4, People:3, Savvy:3.
   Weapons = Knife (1HW).
Niall "Big Sil" Sillito. Rep:4 Co-Star Citizen with Rage Attribute.
   Skills = Drive:4, Melee:4, Shoot:3, Fitness:2, People:4, Savvy:3.
   Weapons = Machete (1HW)
Robert "Gap" Thirlby. Rep:3 Co-Star Citizen with Runt Attribute.
   Skills = Drive:1, Melee:2, Shoot:3, Fitness:3, People:2, Savvy:3.
   Weapons = Baseball Bat (2HW).
None of the cast suffered from Lack of Sleep for this Encounter (see p.58).
The encounter took place on a 45" by 30" game board made up of six of my 15" by 15" Stoelzel's Structures urban game boards that I'd made from Carl's Undeveloped Real Estate set. This was the first time that the game boards were being used in my campaign.
The top of the board in this photo indicates North. The board is divided into 9 sectors measuring 10" by 15" and going from left to right then top to bottom. Sector 1 is in the top left of this photo and Sector 9 is in the bottom right.
Another view of the game board. I'd have liked to have added some trees to the two parks at the right of this photo but I am in the process of basing my collection of miniature trees, so please excuse the lack of foliage.
 Team Vampifan entered the board in Sector 8 and made a normal 8" move towards the 7-Eleven store.
Next, I rolled for the placement and Rep scores of the three PEFs (Possible Enemy Forces) (see p.60). Rep is determined by rolling 2d6 and using the lowest number for the Rep. Either number can be used if both numbers are the same. Roll 1d6 to determine which Sector the PEF is placed in. If there is a building in that sector, place the PEF inside. If there is cover that blocks Line of Sight to the player group, place the PEF so it can't be seen. Otherwise, place the PEF in the centre of the Sector.
PEF:1 was Rep:2 and was placed in Sector 1 in the centre of the Sector and in the open.
PEF:2 was Rep:3 and was also placed in Sector 1 in the centre of the Sector and in the open.
PEF:3 was Rep:4 and was placed in Sector 6. There was a building there, so I placed it inside the book store.
The final task to do before the game could begin was to roll to see how many zombies were placed on the board (see p.45 under the heading When The Game Starts). As this Encounter was taking place in an Suburban Area, each human would generate 1d6 zombies. Because there were four members of Team Vampifan, I rolled 4d6 and got a result of 12. The zombies were placed in accordance to the result of a 1d12 roll and consulting the clock face on p.46 of the rulebook. Remember, my House Rule concerning the d12. One zombie was placed at 9 o'clock. Five zombies were placed at 8 o'clock.
One zombie was placed at 2 o'clock (top of this photo), whilst two more were placed at 3 o'clock and another one at 4 o'clock.
Finally, two zombies were placed at 11 o'clock. All twelve zombies were in place so now the game could begin.

Seven days had passed since the impossible had happened. The dead were returning to life and attacking the living. Those bitten or infected soon died and returned as an undead monster - a flesh eating zombie! In just one week the world was consumed by chaos. The authorities had failed to get a proper grip on the situation. Panic ensued, resulting in anarchy and lawlessness in many places.
Vampifan and his two close friends and next door neighbours, Big Sil and Angie had not suffered as badly as many others. However, their friend, Gap, had to flee his apartment when it was overrun by marauding zombies. He was now staying with Vampifan. The four friends had agreed to stick together for the duration of this crisis. None of them were sure of how long it would last, but Vampifan was not optimistic of a satisfactory outcome.
After a week had passed they ventured out as a group for the first time since the Outbreak had begun. They had plenty of provisions at home but they agreed it would be a good idea to stockpile more. So, they took a short stroll to the shopping centre of Springvale, hoping that they could find supplies at their local 7-Eleven store.
As Team Vampifan had Line of Sight to PEF:1 and PEF:2, they had to be resolved first.
I rolled for PEF:2 first because it had a higher Rep than PEF:1. I rolled 2d6 against the Initial Encounter Rating of the area (a 3) and passed 1d6 (see p. 60 and p.61). This gave a result of "Something's out there" and increased the Encounter Rating by one from 3 to 4. Rolling for PEF:1, I also passed 1d6, and so the Encounter Rating was raised by one from 4 to 5.
TURN 1.   Activation - Vampifan = 5, Zombies = 6, PEFs = 3
Vampifan led his three friends inside the 7-Eleven store. They pulled up short as they were confronted by two zombies, one male and one female.
When you enter a building for the first time during an Encounter you must determine if there are zombies inside or not (see p.47). First, move the human party up to 2" inside the building from the entry point. Next, roll 6d6 to generate zombies as per the firing a weapon rule, i.e. a zombie will be generated on the roll of 5 or 6 because this is a Suburban Area. I scored two successes and I matched the zombies up against Vampifan and Big Sil because they were ahead of Angie and Gap and thus the closest targets.
As this was the first time that Big Sil, Angie and Gap had seen a zombie close up they had to take the Zed Or No Zed Test (see p.49). Angie passed 2d6, whilst Big Sil and Gap passed 1d6. They all were able to identify the attackers as zombies. Having successfully passed the test they would never have to take it again.
All four members of Team Vampifan were holding melee weapons. Vampifan held his katana in a two-handed grip. Big Sil hefted his machete in his right hand.
"Go for the head!" Vampifan advised as he swung his deadly katana at the female zombie's neck. It sliced through skin, bone and sinew almost effortlessly and the zombie crumpled to the floor as her head flew away behind and bounced to a halt by the serving counter.
Big Sil heeded Vampifan's advice and swung his machete down on top of the male zombie's skull, bisecting the skull straight down the middle for an instant kill.
After matching the zombies and humans up, I had to roll for Zombie Surprise (se p.47). For the zombies I rolled 1d6 and added the result to the number of zombies attacking the humans. I rolled a 4 and added this to 2 for a result of 6. Vampifan and Big Sil had to beat this by rolling 1d6 each and adding their Rep scores to the number rolled. Vampifan rolled a 3 and added 5 for a result of 8. He had beaten the zombies' score. He opted to fight the zombie in Melee Combat as he had his katana readied and his pistol was holstered. However, Big Sil only rolled a 2, which when added to his Rep of 4 gave a total of 6. This did not beat the zombies' score, it merely equalled it. He would have to engage in Melee Combat.
Vampifan attacked first, rolling 5d6 (3 for his Melee Skill and +2 for using a two-handed weapon). The zombie rolled 3d6 and both sides counted their successes (any rolls of 1, 2 or 3). Vampifan scored 3 successes but got a bonus success for fighting a zombie. His opponent only scored one success, so Vampifan won by 4:1. He rolled 1d6 on the Melee Results Table and scored a 2. This was classed as an Out Of the Fight result, which against zombies is the same as an Obviously Dead result (see p.31 for the Melee Combat rules).
Because Big Sil was being charged by a zombie, I had to take the Citizens Brown Pants Test (see p.30) for him. I rolled 1d6 against his Rep and passed with a roll of 2. He could fight as normal. He rolled 6d6 against the zombie's 3d6. Big Sil had a Melee Skill of 4. To this he added +1 for having the Rage Attribute and another +1 for using a one-handed weapon. He won with a 4:2 result. He rolled a 1 on the Melee Results Table, scoring an Obviously Dead result.
Finally, I rolled to see if PEF:3 would move. I rolled 2d6 against its Rep of 4, which was reduced to 3 because it was inside a building (see p.60). I rolled a 6 and a 4, so it passed 0d6. meaning it would not move this turn.
TURN 2.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 3, PEF = 6
The twelve zombies outside of the 7-Eleven moved closer to the store's entrance.
Team Vampifan took time out to search the now deserted ground floor of the 7-Eleven store for supplies. Whilst the shelves had been cleared of a lot of goods they were not totally empty and all four members of Team Vampifan found something of value.
This gave me the first chance to use my Random Loot Table that I had designed for my House Rules. I rolled for Vampifan first on the Loot Table (see p.56). he had to roll 2d6 against the current Encounter Rating of the Area, which was now up to 5. He only passed 1d6 and so found one Food unit. In year One this is an automatic success. The other three all passed 2d6 and so were able to roll on my Random Loot Table. Big Sil rolled an 8, indicating Food. This gave him an initial score of 2. To this he added +1 for being in a Suburban Area and a +3 for being in a Supermarket. This gave him a total of 6, which meant an automatic success for him. Next, Angie scored an 11 for Medical Supplies. This gave her a base score of 0. To this she added +1 for being in a Suburban Area and a +1 for being in a Supermarket, giving her a total of 2. Luckily, she rolled a 2 and found one unit of Medical Supplies. Very handy!. Gap rolled a 7, giving him a Food item, which as we saw with Big Sil, he'd find automatically.
Their final tally consisted of three units of Food and one unit of Medical Supplies. They piled them into a shopping trolley, which Angie suggested they take, although she did insist on her husband pushing it.
TURN 3.   Activation - Vampifan = 6, Zombies = 4, PEF = 1
Only the PEF could Activate this turn. This time I rolled a 3 and a 2 against its modified Rep of 3, so it passed 2d6 on the PEF Movement Table. This meant that it could move 12" towards the  nearest player characters, moving through cover at all times. This placed it inside the 7-Eleven store, so I rolled 2d6 on the PEF Resolution Table (see p.61) to see what it was. I passed 2d6 against the Encounter Rating of the area for a result of "Contact!" Now I had to roll 1d6 on the Contact Days 1-10 table to see whether it was citizens or zombies. I rolled a 1, which gave me a result of Citizens with a +1 modifier on the How Many Table. So I rolled 1d6 and scored a 4, which was increased to 5 because of my +1 modifier. Consulting the Citizens column on the How Many Table (see p. 62) that gave me a result of 3 Citizens. This was lucky for me, as I knew exactly which three Citizens I wanted to use.
Team Vampifan were momentarily taken by surprise as the back door burst open and three people hurried inside. Two children, a boy and a girl, stuck close to their mother, who led the way. She was slim and athletic-looking with her long dark brown hair tied back in a ponytail. The most striking thing that Vampifan noticed about her was the .44 Magnum revolver she held in a steady grip in her left hand, pointed at his face.
"Whoa, lady!" he said, hoping to defuse the situation. "We're not your enemies. Let's just chill out and talk first. There's no need for violence. Plus, if you fire that cannon in here, you'll attract a horde of zombies that are just gathering outside."
She lowered her gun and asked, "who are you?"
It was time to roll on the Meet and Greet Table. The leaders of both sides rolled against their People Skill, looking for successes (any roll of 1, 2 or 3). This House Rule of mine replaces Rep with People Skill. Both Vampifan and the woman had a People Skill of 4. It would be a close contest. I rolled 5, 3. 3 and a 1 for Vampifan, giving him 3 successes. For the lady I rolled 6, 6, 3 and 2 for 2 successes. This was exactly the result I wanted as it meant that the citizens would ask to join Vampifan's group.
Introductions were made and the newcomers identified themselves as Hannah Vaughn, her daughter, Jamie and her son, Billy. They were looking for food and shelter. Vampifan recognised a kindred spirit in Hannah and offered to help them out. They shook hands on the deal and Team Vaughn joined forces with Team Vampifan.
TURN 4.   Activation = Vampifan = 5, Zombies = 1
"Shall we search upstairs?" Gap asked.
"No, let's not push our luck," Vampifan replied. "We've done well so far. Let's duck out the back and head for home."
The seven members of Team Vampifan trooped out of the 7-Eleven store via the back door, with Vampifan taking point at the head of the group.
Meanwhile, the twelve zombies congregated around the front entrance of the store, but they had lost sight of the humans and were just milling about aimlessly.
TURN 5.   Activation - Vampifan = 3, Zombies = 4
Team Vampifan exited the board. Mission accomplished.

Now I rolled for character advancement. Vampifan wanted to increase his People Skill from 4 to 5. He had successfully used it during the Encounter and he met all of the other criteria for a Skill increase (see p.72). I rolled 1d6 and scored a 5, just what he needed to succeed.
Big Sil wanted to increase his Rep from 4 to 5 but he rolled a 3 and so it remained at 4.
Angie and Gap were not eligible for a Rep increase or a Skill increase. On the plus side, because they had had a successful encounter, they weren't eligible for a Rep or Skill decrease.
The final task was to roll on the Keeping It Together Table (see p.72) to see if the Team stayed together.
To do this, Vampifan rolled 1d6 per point of his People Skill, adding +1d6 for having the Born Leader Attribute. This gave him 6d6 and he was looking for successes (any roll of 1,2, or 3). I rolled 6,4,3,2,1,1 for him giving him four successes. This result was applied against each member of the group. Big Sil had a People Skill of 4. He rolled 2 successes. Angie had a People Skill of 3 but added +1d6 for having the Free Spirit Attribute. She scored 1 success. Gap had a People  Skill of 2 and he also scored 1 success. I did not roll for any of Team Vaughn because they had not been with Team Vampifan long enough to form an opinion on Vampifan's leadership. Consulting the Keeping It Together Table (see p.73) Vampifan had scored twice as many or more successes than his team mates, so they would stay with Vampifan and would not take this test after the next Encounter.
I apologise for the lack of action in this batrep. Only two zombie deaths is hardly much to write home about. However, in this case, the result was far more important than the performance. The goals of a Search mission are to find Resources and/or new recruits. Team Vampifan succeeded admirably on both counts. Followers of my blog will know all about Hannah, Jamie and Billy. Indeed Hannah and Jamie were the only two survivors of my ill-fated BDTZ campaign. The Meet and Greet Challenge between Vampifan and Hannah could have gone very differently but the dice gods were kind to me on this occasion. I was delighted to be able to recruit Team Vaughn so soon in my campaign. I just know what an asset they will be to Team Vampifan.
For those of you who are interested (Doug, I'm thinking of you!) here are the stats for Team Vaughn.
Hannah Vaughn. Rep:4 Co-Star Citizen with Medic Level 1 Attribute.
   Skills = Drive:3, Melee:2, Shoot:4, Fitness:4, People:4, Savvy:3.
   Weapons = .44 Magnum Big Ass Pistol and Knife (1HW).
Jamie Vaughn. Rep:3 Co-Star Citizen with Martial Artist Attribute.
   Skills = Drive:1, Melee:3, Shoot:2, Fitness:3, People:3, Savvy:2.
   Weapons = None.
Billy Vaughn. Rep:3 Co-Star Citizen with Runt Attribute.
   Skills = Drive:1, Melee:3, Shoot:3, Fitness:3, People:2, Savvy:2.
   Weapons = Catapult (Range = 12", Targets = 1, Impact = 1. Silent).
Note that Martial Artist is a new Attribute. It grants a +1d6 bonus when in melee and all unarmed attacks are classed as using an Improvised Weapon, thus negating the -1d6 modifier for being unarmed.

Sunday 10 March 2013

ATZ-FFO House Rules

ATZ-FFO is far and away my favourite zombie skirmish game. I like the rules a lot but there are a few things that I want to do differently. So, I have come up with these House Rules, which will remain in place throughout my campaign.

CO-STARS. FFO uses two types of character - Stars and Grunts. I'm introducing a third type - Co-Stars. A Co-Star is simply a Grunt with the Star Power Advantage. This is actually allowed in the rulebook, but to differentiate Grunts with this Advantage from those who don't have it, I decided to call them Co-Stars. This will include anyone recruited by Vampifan. So from the outset, Big Sil, Angie and Gap will be Co-Stars. Just remember that Star Power can not be used against zombies. Also, note that Star Power is the only Advantage that a Grunt is allowed.

SKILLS. In my campaign Rep is no longer the all-encompassing power that it usually is. Now, Driving, Melee and Shooting are separate skills. To these I have added People and Savvy (as per the FFO rules) and Fitness, which is used for any Physical Challenge. A character begins with three skills of his choice at a level equal to his Rep, two skills at a level equal to Rep -1 and one skill at Rep -2. Rep is still used for Initiative and anything not covered by the listed skills. This is one of the biggest changes I have made to the rules, so it is important to bear it in mind when reading my batreps.

ATTRIBUTES. A Star can still have two Attributes and a Co-Star or Grunt can have one Attribute but instead of dicing for the Attribute I choose the Attribute that I think best reflects the character. In addition, I do not limit myself to the choices given in the FFO rulebook. After The Horsemen (ATH) is a great source for extra Attributes.

RANGED COMBAT WEAPONS. In addition to the weapons listed in the FFO rulebook I am adding the non-firearm weapons from ATH to my campaign. Bows and Crossbows are ideal for killing zombies and best of all, they are silent.

TIGHT AMMO. Weapons with a Target Rating of 1 appear to be immune to this rule since they can't roll double ones because they only roll 1d6 to hit. I advocate that they roll a second different coloured die for Tight Ammo purposes. This means that Bows, Crossbows and Bolt Action Rifles can run out of ammo if both dice score a result of double one..

STOCKPILING AMMO. I now have Ammo listed as a separate item that can be found so there is no need to burn a Resource or Item at the start of an Encounter to acquire spare ammo.

MULTI-FIGURE MELEE. I am raising the limit of how many figures can melee a single opponent from four to six. That is two to the front, two to the back and one on either side.

VEHICLES - DRIVING. The Driving Skill replaces all references to a Physical Challenge in the rulebook.

VEHICLES - TURNING. Vehicles with a Turn Rating of A can make a 45 degree turn at any time during their movement. Vehicles with a Turn Rating of B can make two 45 degree turns at any time during their movement. Vehicles with a Turn Rating of C can make three 45 degree turns at any time during their movement. I don't see why vehicles could only turn at specific moments during their movement.

PLACING ZOMBIES. Using the clock face on p.46 of the rulebook, I roll 1d12 to determine the direction a zombie will appear. I allocate one side of the game board as North and 12 o'clock on the clock face is always North.

RESOURCES - AMMO. Ammo is now classed a separate Resource. Just like Food, Ammo is a generic term and can be any type or calibre of Ammo. This is purely to keep bookkeeping simple.

FINDING RESOURCES.  I replaced the results on the Loot table with these.
Pass 0d6 = You have found nothing.
Pass 1d6 = If in Year One you have found one Food unit. If in Year Two roll 1d6 and on a result of 1-4 you have found one Food unit. If in Year Three or higher roll 1d6 and on a result of 1-2 you have found one Food unit. If the 1d6 roll is a failure you have found nothing.
Pass 2d6 = If you passed with a result of double one you have found one Item/Resource of your choice. Otherwise, roll on the Tables below.

Here's a few examples of how to use the Random Loot Tables.
Vampifan is searching a House in a Rural Area during Year One. He rolls 2d6 and gets a 5 and a 2, which when added together gives a result of 7, denoting Food. Consulting the Loot Table we see this gives him a score of 2. Now we check for modifiers under the column marked Food.. For being in a Rural Area there is a +0 modifier, and for searching a House there is a +2 modifier. Adding them all together gives a result of 4 (2+0+2=4). He rolls 1d6 and scores a 3. He has found one unit of Food.
Next year, Vampifan investigates a Pub (classed as a Bar) in the Suburbs of Mayhem City. Rolling 2d6 on the Loot Table he rolls a 5 and a 4, for a score of 9. This means he is looking for Gas and his initial score is a -1. Not a good start. His modifiers are +1 for being in a Suburban Area and +0 for being in a Bar. When added together we get a score of 0 (-1+1+0=0). Oh dear! Vampifan has zero chance of finding any Gas here so he leaves empty handed.
In Year Three, Vampifan is searching a Warehouse in an Urban Area. He rolls 2d6 and scores a 2 and a 1 for a result of 3. This indicates he is looking for a Rare type of Firearm and his initial score is 0. His modifiers, which we find under the F(Rare) column, are +2 for being in an Urban Area and +0 for searching a Warehouse. Added together, we get a result of 2 (0+2+0=2). He rolls 1d6 and gets lucky with a roll of 1. Now he rolls 1d6 on the Firearms (Rare) table and scores a 4. He has found a Semi-Automatic Rifle.
A building can be searched only once. No coming back and trying later on if unsuccessful the first time. In addition, up to six people may search a building if they are grouped together. If a party contains more than six people you'll have to nominate which six are searching. 
If you want an Excel copy of this table, just drop me an e-mail request at and I'll send you a copy. I've printed mine out onto an A4 sized sheet of thin card to keep as a handy reference.

MEET AND GREET. This test uses the People Skill and not Rep.

KEEPING IT TOGETHER. This test uses the People Skill and not Rep.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Stoelzel's Urban Tiles (Clean)

Last time I showed you the car park tiles from the Stoelzel's Undeveloped Real Estate (URE) set. This time, I want to show you the urban tiles I have made. Quite a few of the tiles come in two versions - clean and dirty. Most of the urban tiles I have made are of the clean variety. As my ATZ-FFO campaign progresses, I'll introduce more and more dirty tiles.
I have decided that my standard game board size is going to be 15" by 15" thus allowing me to fit four ground tiles per board. All of the boards shown in this review are this size. Putting six of these boards together gives me a gaming board measuring 45" by 30", which is a nice size for most games I'll play. Plus, it fits nicely on my dining room table. I should mention that the six boards in each set-up are not attached in any way. They are simply laid flat on my tabletop.
My first set up utilises three straight double road boards, a double road curve, a blank courtyard and a park. By gluing the standard two-lane tiles side by side you can create a dual-carriage way. I particularly like the way that Carl has designed the 90-degree curve section. My one gripe about this four-tiled curve section is that making the pavements for it (especially that large curved pavement) was a pain in the backside! The "one way" signs on the roads leading to and from the curve were a very helpful addition. The tiles that make up my courtyard gaming board proved to be very popular when I was making these gaming boards. These are the tiles that will be covered up by my buildings, so consequently, I'll need a lot of them. The four tile park was something I thought I needed for Mayhem City. After all, patches of greenland are important to cities. Once I get my collection of trees based I'll add some of them to my park tiles.
My second set-up has a much more urban feel to it. My first thought when I saw the URE tiles was that they were a lot darker than my WWG tiles. I pondered whether this was a good thing or not. Eventually, I decided it was a good thing. Mayhem City is not a nice place to live in with its very high crime rate and places of lawlessness. Throw in a zombie apocalypse and I realised it should look dark. Mind you, when I printed out my first road tile, it was very dark indeed. I played about with the settings on my printer and by increasing the brightness I produced the tiles you see in these photos. The colours on them are much more acceptable to me. One unexpected bonus of Carl's darker tones is that the bases of my figures blend in well with the colours. That's what you call serendipity!
This set-up comprises two straight road sections, two T-junctions and two courtyards. One of the straight road sections is made up of two road tiles with broken double-yellow lines running down the middle and drains along the sides of the roads. The other straight road section has broken white lines down the middle and no drains. You can often choose whether to have drains or not. If you do want them and they aren't marked on the tile, Carl has handily provided a sheet of drains for you to add to any road tile. One of the T-junctions (shown in the upper centre of the photo above) is a standard T-junction with three pedestrian crossings. The other T-junction (shown at the top right corner of the photo above) has a road leading to a dead end. This is most likely a loading bay for a store. One of the courtyards is clean and is identical to the one shown in the first set-up. The second one is made up of four tiles, each with four drains on them and a few pieces of litter. To break up the uniformity of the tiles I have added a few extra sheets of newspaper. The courtyard tiles to the right of the photo above do like dirty and littered but are nowhere near as bad as the proper dirty tiles. They are covered with litter!
One of the two courtyard tiles that I added to the white-lined road section was another crime scene tile. Remember that I showed you one in the small car park I reviewed last time. This particular crime scene is far more gruesome. There three chalk outlines showing where the victims were murdered. Vampifan looks on bemusedly. Personally, I think the crime scene tiles are far too cool to ignore.
There is a bit of duplication in my third set-up, with three of the boards having appeared in previous set-ups. They are the the straight road section with the drains to the side of the road, the courtyard board and the four-tile park board. The other three boards with the roads on them are all new, however, and this was a good way to show them off. The straight road section in the bottom left of the photo is similar to the road section directly above it but it is missing the drains down the sides of the roads.
The road board at the bottom right of the photo above has had a small two-tile park added to it. Once again, this adds a bit of greenery to my board, whilst still keeping the urban vibe. What I love about the park tiles is that there is litter dotted around the four sides of them. I find that very realistic but also a sad fact of life.
The reason that I have highlighted this curved road tile is because it is a conversion. I have replaced the grass section that appeared in the top right corner of the tile with part of a standard courtyard tile. This makes the tile look like it is part of an urban environment. The rural equivalent of this tile comes without the pavement sections and has grass on either side of the road. For me, the official urban tile still looked like it was part of the rural set. This was a very simple conversion and you can tell immediately that this is an urban tile. I would also consider doing this conversion on the four-tile large single road curve and large double road curve. Carl, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on adding these conversions to the URE set?
Finally, I'll leave you with a few useful tips. By far and away the best method to glue the tiles to the foamboard is to use aerosol adhesive. I use 3M Spray Mount. I draw a grid on the foamboard (usually just two lines for these boards) to show where the tiles should go. Yes, I know - one in each corner! But the grid gives you something to line up to when fixing the tile. Secondly, always edge the tiles before gluing them in place. A black marker pen is ideal for this. Thirdly, when it comes to edging the foamboard I use acrylic paints and I match the paint to the colours of the tiles. I use white foamboard for my gaming boards so they certainly do need edging just to finish them off. You could get away with not edging if you use black foamboard, but personally, I wouldn't recommend it.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Stoelzel's Car Parks

I mentioned in my last Monthly Musings post that I have been making a lot of ground tiles from Carl Stoelzel's Undeveloped Real Estate (URE) set. These are going to replace my WWG ground tiles for my ATZ-FFO campaign. Mayhem City is about to get a lot darker and grittier. When I first downloaded the URE set and saw what it included, I was delighted to see that Carl had added a large car park. Actually, he went one better as he added a parking strip as well. So the first URE ground tiles that I made were the car park and the parking strip. Here they are.
What I have done with the parking strips is to glue two strips back to back to form a small car park. I have added two urban road tiles at the right side of the car park. Logically, there should be more road tiles at the left side, (this is a drive-thru car park, as opposed to an enclosed car park) but I have omitted them due to the size restrictions of my foamboard. I should point out that all eight tiles that make up this car park are glued to a single piece of foamboard measuring 30" by 15". With the two centre tiles (top and bottom) you can extend the parking strip to make it as long as you want. The parking strip comes with two optional tiles and I have included both of them. First up is the tile with the two disabled parking bays, easily identified by the wheelchair symbols and the extra access space for the passengers.
The second optional tile is the crime scene tile, which I simply had to include. After all, Mayhem City is a notoriously violent place, even before it was hit by the zombie apocalypse. This is just one of a few crime scene tiles that Carl has added to the URE set. I think it is great and it made me smile as soon as I saw it. This crime scene tile has just one chalk outline on it where the victim was killed. Others have more victims identified by the chalk outlines.
I need to mention how I make my pavements. You can leave them flat, which is far and away the easiest option. You also have the choice for adding separate pavement pieces to foamboard. In my opinion, I thought that this raised the pavement too far off the ground so I came up with a compromise solution. I have glued my pavements to two strips of mounting card glued back to back. The double height mounting card raises the pavement about 3mm off the ground, as opposed to 5mm with foamboard. Typically, my solution involves the most work as I have to cut out two pieces of mounting card for each pavement section. It is very time consuming but on the plus side, I do like the end result.
One of the best pages of props that Carl has supplied with this set is a page of newspaper covers. I have added a couple of newspapers to the "island" that Vampifan is standing on. These cover two that Carl had added but by raising the pavement I lost a part of them on the side of the pavement. Adding a couple of the spare newspapers neatly solved that little problem.
This is the proper car park, which consists of 9 tiles. I have added the three urban road tiles to the right and the board measures 30" by 22.5". I use A1 sized foamboard and this is the biggest ground tile I can make out of a single sheet. Found in the Props section of the URE set are a car park ticket machine and a car park automated barrier. I printed out two of each and placed them on my small car park above and on this large car park. Note that they are not glued in place. I also pondered the idea of making the barrier rise and fall but in the end decided it wasn't worth the effort as for most of the time the barriers will be in the down position. Both props are reinforced with mounting card for extra strength and robustness, which should explain why the yellow and black barrier looks so thick. As with the parking strip, you can make the car park much bigger by adding more of the three central tiles.
I thought you'd like to see what the car park looks like when it is full of vehicles. Here is a collection of my card vehicles, mainly from WWG but also including Fat Dragon Games (you can now see how much bigger their sedan cars are compared to those from WWG) and a grey SUV from Mel Ebbles (now Genet Models). Unforgivably, there are no Stoelzel's vehicles in sight and that is because I haven't made any yet. Sorry, Carl! Even so, you have to admit that it does look impressive.
So, what's my verdict on on these ground tiles? Ever since WWG released their TLX Streets of Legend set, I have wanted a car park for Mayhem City. That was three years ago and since then nothing has happened despite numerous requests from me and others. When Carl announced that he was going to produce his own range of ground tiles a few months ago I asked him to include a car park in the set. He listened and he created the car park and the parking strip, both of which are excellent and which more than fulfil my needs. I thank you, Carl. I noticed that both Colin and Shintokamikaze mentioned that the car park was the first thing that they made from the URE set. I wasn't surprised. Any town or city needs car parks. If you want a car park for your campaign I urge you to look no further.
Also, bear in mind that the car park and the parking strip are just a very small part of the URE set. Next time I'll be reviewing some of the urban tiles from the set. I'll see you then.