Thursday, September 1, 2011

Zombies and Implants

Cyber Zone and Zombie Apocalypse are the two expansions to the New World Disorder skirmish game. The first introduces implants and other enhancements, and the other, well... zombies. In an interesting twist, implants in Cyber Zone are not only the domain of tricked-out soldiers of fortune. In a future of advanced medical procedures, a low-grade robotic replacement may be the cheap alternative for the less fortunate.

I decided to combine both supplements in a single scenario, influenced by the ones provided in the expansions. Here, a gang of cybernetically enhanced humans must enter an area infested with zombies to retrieve credit chips stored in old terminals. They can sell the credit chips to a fence who provides them to people looking for untraceable money. To retrieve the chips, a character must stand next to a terminal and perform a |brains 4| test. On a failure, there's a 50% chance that the terminal will self destruct its circuits. If it doesn't, the character may try again with another action.

Here is my crew of three scavengers including Thumbs (top dog) on the left and two punks, along with some zombie models and the markers for unseen zombie groups and for the mission objectives, both of which I had previously made.
Thumbs (Boss): Brawn 2 / Brains 2 / Guts 2
Gimmick: Fool
Doublechip implant (certified), Light assault rifle, Light body armor

Red (Punk): Brawn 1 / Brains 1 / Guts 1
Cyborg-eyes with optics enhancers, Light assault rifle

Martina (Punk): Brawn 1 / Brains 1 / Guts 1
Cyber-ear, Light assault rifle, Light body armor

For this game I built a bunch of boxes marked with windows and doors to serve as buildings. To win the scenario, the humans must retrieve chips from three terminals spread on the scenario (or get the terminals destroyed while trying.) Then they must exit through the same board edge they entered from. The terminals must be placed near a building or obstacle, on the half of the table away from the edge where the humans start, and at least 8 inches away from each other. Zombie markers are generated using the game's rules and placed in order to create ambushes and interesting situations. Below is the table setup, with 6 zombie markers rolled.
One important point: since I was using a small table, I decided to use D3 instead of D6 to determine the number of zombies that replace a zombie marker. That was after rolling 12 zombies in the first marker on my first playtest.

On my second attempt, I didn't fare much better. Right on the first turn, a zombie marker turned into six zombies very close to Thumbs, the boss. On following turns he barely managed to escape their attacks, only to be charged again, until finally deciding to leave the board. The two punks didn't have much better luck and by the fifth turn one was defeated and the other escaping the board.

On the third and last attempt, I managed to reach the second terminal but by then my boss was wounded, one punk had already been lost and there were zombies all around. It didn't take much more than a failed activation to lose the other punk and after that, the best I could do was to flee with the remaining character.

When playing zombies in New World Disorder, be prepared with lots of zombie miniatures. Each zombie marker can turn into up to 12 zombies depending on the distance to a human miniature and the roll of dice, and new zombie markers may be added to the game on failed human activations. Zombies are also hard to kill so after a few turns you may find the table covered with them. The scary thing is that zombies don't have to roll for activation, move in groups and have the same speed as punks. So if you don't plan your moves carefully, you will be surrounded and charged en masse by the undead. It is important to note that the rule for zombie mobs keeps the game moving fast.

Automatic weapons are a must in this context. The ability to roll lots of hits at once and spread them on a zombie mob means that even if you don't manage to kill them, you can "knock them out" for some time. I like to think that the hail of bullets makes them fall to the ground, apparently defeated, only to rise again moments later.

In the end, the combination of a small board and several zombie markers made this scenario too hard. Adding more punks to the crew of human scavengers wouldn't help much as the markers scale up with them. Given that it isn't hard to spawn new zombie markers, I should have started with only 3-4 of them on the board. In any case, it was an interesting experiment.

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