Welcome to my blog, the story of my continuing journey into the World of Zombie Wargames.

Monday 30 March 2015

Media Round-up

With nothing new on the gaming front, save a few bargain finds, buys and gifts, I thought I'd take the easy route posting this week and give a round-up of some of the zombie media I've encountered recently.
I rarely go to the cinema, so my zombie film viewing is generally from the TV and consequently old. With the quality of the zombie genre in particular it's rarely good viewing. Take "Undead or Alive" (2007), advertised as a "Zombedy", (which imo is never a good sign - along with "zomcom") which, to paraphrase the blurb, features " ... soldier on the run from the Union Army and a cowboy with a broken heart as the central characters.The two misfits rob the corrupt sheriff of an old west town and have no idea that a plague of zombies is sweeping the country, or that Geronimo's sexy niece may be their only hope of survival." It is as bad as it all sounds and I'll never get those 90 minutes back either !
Still, I have a "Horrific hoedown of six-shooting scares" in the 2011 film "Cowboys and Zombies (aka The Dead and the Damned ) to look forward too !
 On the other hand watching "The Dead" was an enjoyable experience and a zombie film that I would highly recommend anyone to watch if they have the chance. The blurb - "An American mercenary, the sole survivor of a plane crash, has to run the gauntlet across Africa, battling with the living dead." doesn't really do much to sell the film, but the setting was excellent as was the story-line.
I'm not much of a critic when it comes to films (or books for that matter) but for general entertainment this is much better zombie fare than normal. The overall feel of the film is "big-budget" though the credits at the end of the film seem to say otherwise.
What did surprise me though is that the IDMB gives fairly comparative scores to both the above film and this one !
On my movie scales "Undead or Alive" scores a big 1/5 - avoid at all costs whilst "The Dead" scores a 4/5 - an excellent watch, try and see it if you can.
  Hospital stays are never much fun and as I knew I has several days of treatment to endure, I needed to arm myself with some books.
The "As the World Dies" series by Rhiannon Frater,  a three volume series that I'd seen recommended, was to be the answer.
These books take a different view of the apocalypse - a much more optimistic one - which made for a nice change of pace.
The two central characters are both women (not unknown in zombie novels, but fairly rare) and both have interesting personalities. The fact that I'd finished the first book (and had to get the second ) before setting foot in the hospital should say volumes about how much I enjoyed the books. I bought these as e-books, so no waiting days for their delivery ! I'd highly recommend these to anyone looking for a good mix of action and story-telling and even with some of the usual tropes one finds in zombie novels, there is still something fresh about the series.
My current reading is another  in the "As the World Dies" series,  - "Untold Tales", which gives some of the back-ground stories of a lot of "bit-part" characters in the main trilogy.  Again it's an interesting take on the story-telling side and whilst it' not one I'm entirely convinced by, I'll be sticking with it and other volumes.
 I score the original trilogy as a 4/5 - get it if you can, whilst the follow on volumes, score 3/5 but then again I haven't actually finished them!
Aerial View of the Monroe Shopping Mall
To round off this post on Media, the latest TV offering "I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse", tucked away on BBC3 late at night is excruciatingly bad, so much so that it makes for compulsive viewing. Set in an actual deserted shopping mall (!), (that archetype of the zombie genre) it plays out like a very bad version of the Big-Brother house, with all the normal interaction you'd expect, but with little of the in-fighting.
If you haven't seen this, please do take a look; see how bad it it and see if you can resist watching more. It is BAD, you have been warned !

I'll be sticking to the fifth series of "The Walking Dead", which comes to its conclusion this week (no spoilers please), no doubt leaving us with another cliff-hanger ending after an action packed episode.

Monday 23 March 2015

The East Side Alamo (Part Two)

Blurry Defence of the North barricade.
The fusillade of shots from the North barricade manged to merely knock another two zombies over, but the zombies just kept on coming,
As the defender made a rough firing line they finally realised what they were up against and were stunned (almost to a man) by what they saw.
[the blue counters shows stun, the yellow is a duck back and the green is out of ammunition]
Realising that Jerome had extra ammunition, one of the defenders took off to get some (Jerome was at the top of a nearby building - this could take some time !)

Small zombie mob at the South barricade
Elsewhere the situation wasn't so bad, but it was getting steadily worse.
Sonny who was defending the South barricade by himself now was the best shot amongst the defenders and with his shotgun he could hold this position easily, even though the numbers of zombies were steadily increasing.
Elsewhere, the East barricade's sole remaining defender killed off another zombie, whilst the West barricade had nothing going on.

North barricade's blurry defence

With so little action from the defenders the zombies continued their path to the promised lunch they could see ahead of them, all they had to do was push the barricades away !
The defenders at the North barricade came to their senses as Michaela from the South barricade arrived with her SMG as a reinforcement. The single defender that could fire, did so, this time killing one zombie.
West barricade and East barricade in background

The west
barricade was beginning to see some action as another four zombies drifted towards it, drawn no doubt by all the ineffective gunfire.
At the East and South barricade another couple of zombies were dropped .

Growing numbers of zombies  at the West Barricade

Desultory gunfire form the North barricade dropped a few more zombies but drew even  greater numbers, all headed towards the West barricade, even the zombies it seemed weren't going go to be drawn into a solely frontal assault. At the East and South barricade another couple of zombies were dropped .
Sonny, at the South Barricade continued to hold his own, but Hendricks abandoned the East barricade as he ran out of ammunition once more killing another zombie with his last shot.
The civilian that couldn't
The north barricade being pushed back.
stand the sight of the zombies and had ducked back into cover decided that he's had enough and headed for the safety of the Jerome's building.
At this point, the defenders all decided to take stock of their situation, as the zombies were slowly winning their battle against the North barricade and they slowed their fire down,

Sonny, at the South barricade.
 Sonny at the South barricade was still holding his own but the numbers against him were slowly building.
The West barricade

The west barricade was also  coming under steady pressure as the defenders had concentrated on their North barricade, but for the moment was still holding.

The North barricade gives way.

 It was inevitable though that the North barricade would eventually be pushed back, the resultant gap being sufficient to allow a zombie through.


An Event !
(Sorry but it's another long aar - you have been warned.
The north Barricade (Counters indicate noise)

  The true intentions of Hendricks were now revealed with an event; he never did want to be a gangsta and decided he'd rather be some sort of adventurer (a survivor), but he'd string along with the gang for the moment (he was out of ammo anyway and not much of a fighter either).
Drawing his knife he dropped behind the improvised defensive firing line as the others brought down as much fire as they cold on the zombies - Michaela managed to drop three by herself.
The trade off of course was that the added noise could bring more than they kill (which it did)
The west barricade


The west barricade was also coming under real pressure now, the build up of zombies was beginning to look less like a trickle, but Sonny on the South barricade was still confident he could hold his bit of the perimeter.

Sonny at the South barricade

Jerome meantime was dishing out ammo atop the roof of the building he was on (actually helping the situation by not shooting !).

The North wall sally
Another event seemed to spark the defenders into positive action with Michaela and another sallying out beyond the failing North barricade.

It was never going to end well, despite a few zombies being dropped. The zombies retaliated swiftly and attacked the two companions outside the barricades, buoyed on no doubt by their reinforcements - an effect of the gunfire ! (there were 10 zombies generated by noise from about thirteen shots, each needing a 1,2 or a 3 !)
 Both Michaela and the chap in the flat cap that went with  her were swiftly overcome by zombies neither one of them getting a shot in !

...and the aftermath

South barricade still being defended by Sonny

 Things hadn't changed much at the South barricade, except Sonny seemed not to be able to stem the zombie reinforcements.

Another event, though probably not  one the defenders could have done with, resulted in Hendricks realising he'd missed breakfast.

Breakthrough !

And while Hendricks was still wondering about his breakfast, the zombies fell upon their own breakfast.
The gangers too the opportunity to take a break and let all that had happened sink in (they didn't roll their initiative) and they hardly noticed that the west barricade had finally been pushed aside too. The defenders would have been fairly safe had this not occurred,  as the zombies to their north  wold be occupied for at least one turn feasting, but the dice gods had other ideas.

Apparently Sonny at the south barricade also joined in the apathy, probably wondering why all the firing had ceased up at the North barricade.
More feasting !
The dice gods were in a very mischievous mood though and rather than give the defenders a chance to flee, decided they should hang around for another turn contemplating life the universe and everything. The zombies though had different ideas !
Sonny, legging it
One civilian decided to duck back into the house, but Hendricks the runt (his ability), still thinking about his stomach fell under the claws and teeth of the mini-horde very quickly. The woman with child, now used to zombies, knew the routine well and she too took to the hill rather than also die very quickly.
The last civilian standing didn't do so for very long and he too went down, out of the fight. The feast on the North side of the now useless barricade was declared a success by the zombies and they moved to join in the new feasts !
Sonny had seen enough and decided to leg it for the safety of the yards whilst Jerome did like wise, having crossed roofs and gone down inside the adjacent building.
They were all now heading for the "safe house" (see last week's blog)

Sonny trying at the fence as the zombies break through

Sonny tried the gate to the yard - locked,  of course just as the zombies behind him broke through the south barricade. Needing to pass 2d6, of course he managed to pass only one, (with an equivalent rep of 5) such was the way the dice were going.  He would however have another chance, if he'd had failed completely he would probably end up as zombie fodder.
 The dice would decide  !

The dice gods had obviously not entirely finished torturing the gang and another event just served to extract the urine even further, with three zombies masquerading as a single zombie, though luckily they were in amongst all the feasters (still ongoing). 

 The subsequent initiative rolls were even, heightening the tension, but on a re-roll the gangers managed to move first and Sonny gleefully hopped over the fence with the zombies in hot pursuit.

Sonny heading for the next fence
The horde pursuing Sonny

By the time Sonny arrived at the far end of the yard and the zombies had made a half-hearted attempt to break through the  gate and fence at the other, Jerome emerged from the house next door and into the adjacent yard.
The apparently never-ending feast.
Sonny quickly hopped the fence to join Jerome and their way was clear to the "safe house", proving they didn't attract any zombie interest by making a noise or moving trying to move fast.
 And that's where we called it, out of the 11 gangers and civilians Jerome and Sonny were on their way to the "safe house" whilst three others  were holed up in the house in the centre of the barricades., the remainder were  zombie hors d'oeuvres.

Another marathon session of about three hours, but still left open-ended with too many questions still to be answered, so my table has been re-jigged for the next episode. It'll be the next scenario I play, when I get the chance.

Monday 16 March 2015

The East Side Alamo (Part One)

This scenario once more follows Jerome and his gang in the East Side of Perdition. It takes place
sometime around between the second and third week of the apocalypse.
Jerome has already recruited (and lost) some of his homies; he's searched a lot of the immediate area to press-gang civilians into joining him and to find weapons and supplies.
To secure the area he's had his gang throw together some barricades to keep the growing zombie menace at bay.
The above photograph map shows the main features of the table. The numbered red circles are zombie spawn points, any zombies generated by the game will spawn from these points, (the left-most two foot of the table wasn't used for this game and is purely cosmetic, hence the position of   it). The Yellow N,S,E,W letters are for referencing the four main barricades, whilst the smaller yellow circles are the approximate starting positions of the defenders. At least two defenders  had to start by each of the four main barricades, the gang leader Jerome (shown  by the letter 'R' (?)) placed himself on top of the central building.
Southern edge showing three PEFS (the black counters)
There were a total of ten defenders, consisting of seven civilians, each with a handgun and melee weapon. In addition to the handguns, Jerome had a single shot Rifle, there was a shotgun and sub-machine gun with the defenders of the southern barricade and  a machine pistol on the eastern barricade.
There were one or two defenders that had above average melee and shooting skills, but most were not.
The east barricade (machine pistol)
The encounter rating was set at 4, for the Urban environment.
The southern barricade (Jerome on the roof)

The gang leader, Jerome also carried two ammunition reloads with him, but it would be a long hike to get to him on the roof-tops.

The building Jerome was on would also be where anyone fleeing within the barricade, would head for.
The north and west barricades.

View from the west barricade.

At game start there were less than a dozen zombies on the the table.
The zombies, for the next few turns would follow the same pattern of shuffling forwards to attack the vehicles and barricades that barred their way to lunch, whilst the defenders picked them off slowly.
East side barricade - setting the scene for the action here.

The east barricade, 1 zombie knocked down, 1 dead, but notice the number of shots fired (machine pistol), represented by the white counters. Each shot had a 50% chance of spawning another zombie, but slightly less chance of killing one - not a good trade off.

The west barricade defenders, taking care of business.
Notice that the defenders are well back from the barricades, so that even if the zombies get to the barricades they wouldn't be able to attack the defenders directly.

The southern barricade, where a shotgun  and sub-machine gun were stationed, (the former wielded by a civilian with a shooting ability of '5' and the latter by gang member Michaela - shooting '4').

One of Jerome's victims
The gangers mostly stayed put, defending their own sector. Jerome on his lofty perch manged to snipe away successfully at several zombies.

The first two PEFs to be revealed turned out to be nothing, but it did manage to increase the ER of the scenario to '5' - very deadly.

All becoming a bit routine at the Southern Barricade

With turn four we had the first spawn point depletion - spawn point 3 !
It wouldn't generate further zombies on a turn-by-turn basis, but would still act as a source for zombies generated by sound !.
No worried on the Northern front too

And all quiet on the western front
Zombie casualties slowing mounted as can be seen by the growing number of casualty counters being used, The zombies, being the very sporting chaps that they were, decided to stay put for a couple of turns allowing the defenders to down a few more of their number.
 The few zombie spawning at this point in the game were quite a distance from the action.
"We're quite a distance from the action"
"They're quite a distance from the action"

The before shot
and the after shots, shot
By turn nine a routine of a few zombies appear, the defenders shoot a few, a few more appear because of the noise, but two things happened.

The gang obviously knew of a safe house, however as all the buildings within the perimeter had already been searched, it was determined that it was the building nearest spawn point 3, though knowing this was going to have little immediate effect on the game.

The second thing that happened was that Jerome missed ! Since turn one, Jerome had shot and hit a zombie, not necessarily killing it, but at least hitting it, not bad for someone that had only a 50% chance of hitting.

"Nothing changed here"
 Getting back into routine, turn 11 saw spawn point 6 depleted.
"All good here"

"Get back here miss "

At the southern barricade two zombies did manage to get to the barricades, causing one of the civilians defenders to duck for cover.

This was an interesting development when it was realised that none of the civilians had encountered zombies and would need to take their zed or no zed test when the time came.
two zombies had also ensconced themselves behind a vehicle, inadvertently giving themselves a bit of cover.

"Altogether - PUSH!"
For the barricade, each 1" of barricade gave 2 dice for defence. So, for example a 3 " model car would have 6 dice. Each zombie would have  a single die but up to 6 zombies (stacked two deep) could atttack the car - a pushing contest really.
A die coming up 1,2, or 3 counted as a success most successes wins.
Should the zombies win then the barricade is moved 1" on one of its "corners".

Turn 15 had another event occur (I don't link events to the ER of the scenario), but it wasn't anything that was truly game-changing, somewhere along the line the defenders would get a bonus  !

Even whilst spawn point 4 closed, noise from gunfire produced another.

Even so, those at the barricades were still dropping or killing zombies at a  fairly steady (if slow) rate.

A few more zombies at the North barricade
and another at the relatively quiet west barricade
Zombie approaching the southern barricade
Southern barricade clear
With turn four we had the first spawn point depletion - spawn point 3 !
It wouldn't generate further zombies on a turn-by-turn basis, but would still act as a source for zombies generated by sound !.
Eastern barricade, still shooting, but in no danger.

Whilst everything seemed pretty well contained and under control turn 18, changed the game quite dramatically.
Rather than the normal trickle of zombies spawning , this turn produced five, all of whom spawned from the spawn point near the north barricade. (it also had the effect of depleting spawn point 2, near the east barricade)._

Reinforcements had to be rushed from both the southern , eastern and west barricades to help the defenders of the Northern barricade.

Reinforcements arrive - let the turkey shoot begin !
Erm, we seem to be missing a lot.
Over the next two turn, poor shooting by the defenders, despite the volume of fire they poured into the slowly advancing horde only managed to kill a single zombie, but did attract another seven zombies with the noise.

More reinforcements

"No sweating this one"
 The Northern barricade was to become the foal point of the fight as defenders wee rushed to stem the tide, zombies were reaching the barricades, making it even more difficult to hit them; Jerome had crossed across his roof top to give a little additional support.
Elsewhere, the usual exchange of fire seemed to be having little effect, but there was yet another group of five zombies heading for the southern barricade, but hey were still some way off, so much so that ganger Micheala with her SMG was ordered to the Northern barricade, whilst the civilian was left on his lonesome.
"I'll handle this lot"

 We had been playing for about two hours by this point and realised that there was still a lot more play in the game and similarly I'll make the break here., with part two coming next week.
It's taken longer to write up the gamne than it did to play it  !