Friday, September 16, 2011

All Things Zombie: A trip to the supermarket

I finally had my first playtest of All Things Zombie. It's not the start of a campaign, just a simple encounter run on a small table to get the hang of things. I used the same simple buildings and scenario from my Zombie Apocalypse test so if you're turned off by simple white boxes as terrain, you may consider stopping right now.

Anyway, here's my party of three civilians. James in the middle is a star (reputation 5) bringing with him a shotgun. He's agile and stone cold and has been surviving thanks to that. Matt (rep 3), on the left, is getting to grips with reality. Luckily for him, he used to practice martial arts a lot; his brawler skills have saved him more than once since the zombies started appearing. He carries a submachine gun and a machete. Tagging along is Tricia (rep 2,) who every day wakes up wishing it's just a nightmare. If she weren't James' cousin, it is unlikely that they would bring her along. Like most peaceful civilians, she's a wuss when it comes to fights, let alone facing an approaching zombie. However, James has been trying to teach her how to use a pistol.

This "Discover" scenario is set in the suburbs in the evening. The goal of the survivors is to reach the supermarket (large building on the left ) and search it for supplies. The small boxes er, buildings cannot be explored but the medium ones may, if they so wish. They enter from and must leave through the right board edge. At the start of the game the civilians were lucky, generating only eight zombies. Here's the distribution of them on the board.

The civilians lost initiative but the zombies couldn't activate anyone in the first turn. James wanted them to run to the supermarket but Tricia was scared so they approached it at a slower pace. On the second turn the zombies got another six, so none of them moved.

The civilians entered the supermarket and found three soldiers who didn't react very well to the sight of armed civilians. As the military team leader started shouting "stand down" and pointing to them, James fired his shotgun at him, blowing his head off and all hell broke loose. Matt opened fire with his submachine gun but didn't hit anyone and Tricia didn't fare any better. One of the soldiers shouted some orders to the other and they scrambled to other positions in the room. Next turn the survivors rolled a six, standing there unable to react while the trained soldiers employed their tactics. They fired their assault rifles at the civilians but missed them and exposed themselves to fire in the process. On the third turn the civilians won the initiative. James' shot stunned one of the soldiers and Matt stunned the other. On the following turn they managed to tie up the two soldiers. "We can't just let them here," Tricia screamed. "You know what will happen!" Matt glanced at James, who didn't say anything. Instead, he just grabbed a handful of canned food and the assault rifle from the dead soldier, saying, "he won't need this anymore. Let's go, those guys will be waking up soon and if they're any good, these knots won't hold them down."

At this point I noticed two things:
1. I forgot to move the wandering zombies on the three turns of the firefight and...
2. I forgot to generate more zombies due to the gunfire. However, I generated them afterwards and found out that I would need to add another eleven zombies to the board.

Fixing this up afterwards would be complicated as at least some of the zombies would have been able to enter the supermarket. In fact, most of them would be surrounding the supermarket. In order to get some closure for the game, I decided to have each character roll a difficult challenge to be able to move to the supermarket's roof, jump across to the small building nearby and make a run from there. Failure means they are defeated (although the star may use the "cheating death" rule.) All three characters failed meaning only James escaped, with a reduced Rep. At least he didn't get infected.

A note on the mechanics of the firefight: Instead of moving to another map of the supermarket's interior, I simply considered that everybody had line of sight to each other but also had available cover. Also, given the cluttered environment everyone's a little spread apart so it's not possible to attack more than one target at once. A group may try a challenge test to position themselves better. Success removes the opponent's cover until they activate again; failure exposes the figures taking the challenge instead.

Despite my intense fudging of the rules, this playtest battle was really fun (note that the rules do not require fudging but they did allow me to do so and save my solo game, which was cool.) After so much bloodshed, I'd say that James is right on the path to becoming a raider/ganger...

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