Friday, 31 August 2012

Zombies! Part 2

I played another game of USE ME Zombie Dawn last week with my zombie-loving friend Graham.  This time we swapped roles, I was the zombies and Graham the humans.  The scenario is as follows... the survivors know that the zombies are closing in.  They've decided that it's time to move on, so 2 vehicles have gone into town one last time to stock up while the others wait at the house.  The board (about 2½ x 4 feet) consists of the town to the South, woods in the middle and the house to the North.  Sadly I forgot to take an overview photograph of the board before we started!  Over 70 zombies are lurking in the wings ready to lurch to the attack.  I scattered about 40 across the board with the remainder coming on as reinforcements every turn - a D6 is rolled for the total number of zombies per turn and a further D6 rolled for the location at which each one appears.  Because I haven't got that many painted yet, many are played by GZG unarmed civilians and GZG/QRF aliens instead, but they've all been marked with a red zed to make it clear who they are.  So, without further ado, on to the game...

The gangsters have stocked up with food and fuel.
 The former gangsters Chump, Delilah and Shades have been to the garage to stock up with fuel and all the remaining food they could find.  As they finish loading, they hear the dragging footsteps of zombies approaching...

The hunters have collected the guns and ammo.
Chas, Dave and Derek have collected everything useful from the armoury at the Colonial Security office.

The rest of the survivors are through the woods at the house.
Rick (played here by a stunt double agent because the appropriate colonial security officer was packed up in a box somewhere in my loft), Shane, the 2 kids Lisa and James, Susie the doctor and Ash the chainsaw-wielding lumberjack are at the house.  Seeing zombies shambling through the trees nearby, Rick, Shane and Ash decide to head into town to help the others while Susie holes up in the house with the kids.

The hunters set off, running over a nearby zombie.
The hunters use the weight of their pickup to crush the first zombie they encounter into mush.  Time to head back to the house to rendez-vous with the others.

The gangsters start shooting...
Delilah sprays a burst from her machine pistol into the nearest zombie, killing it immediately.  Shades jumps into the driver's seat and starts the engine.  Chump fails to hit anything with his shooting.

... but sadly only managed a single kill!
With a horde zombies closing in and a complete inability to shoot anything else, they decide that discretion is the better part of valour and beat a hasty retreat.  Shades executes a neat 3-point-turn and they're off!

Running over several zombies they damage the suspension.
Because of their poor shooting, Shades decided to run over one of the zombies.  Not only does he fail to kill it but their vehicle is badly damaged (struck) as they bounce over the writhing corpse.

Rick and Shane to the rescue! (Ash with chainsaw in the background)
With Shane driving and Rick shouting instructions the car rushes to aid the others.  As they swerve around the edge of the woods, Ash leaps from the vehicle, chainsaw whirring to life as he swings it towards the nearest zombie!  Though the zombies are killed, Ash is badly wounded (struck) during the fight.

The hunters blaze away and run over zombies.
The hunters have run into a much larger group of zombies.  Chas and Dave keep up a steady hail of gunfire while Derek rams the closest zombie.  Though one zombie goes down from the shooting.  Although chunks of rotting flesh spray from the bodies of the other undead as the bullets impact, Chas and Dave are horrified to see that the rest of the zombies don't even slow down...

In danger of being overwhelmed...
The hunters reverse to cover the arrival of the gangsters.  A stream of zombies pursues them.  The gangsters Landrover only manages to crawl along at the same speed as the zombies that are pursuing it.  They decide that they'd do better on foot...

Zombies start tearing bits off the hunters' pickup.
As the hunters vehicle sits idling, the zombies start hammering on the bonnet, tearing at the tyres...

Zombies overturn the Landrover (squashing one of them!)
The Landrover succumbs to the tide of zombies, one of whom is inadvertently crushed as the vehicle topples over.

Under covering fire from the hunters, the gangsters run for it.
Delilah and Chump aren't hanging around - they make a dash for safety under heavy covering fire from the hunters and Shades.

Zombies have all but destroyed the hunter's pickup.
As Delilah and Chump vanish into the distance, the hunters' pickup is heavily damaged (struck) by the zombies.  Elsewhere, Ash has been seriously wounded (struck) in his tussle with the zombies and is limping back towards the house.  Susie sees 2 zombies approaching across the lawn in front of the house and knows that Ash is much too far away to help.  She picks off one with an expert head shot as it mounts the steps to the front door.  Her next shots are ineffective so she slams the door and hides with Lisa and James who are whimpering in fear.  Dragging footsteps sound across the porch... then the doorbell rings...

Shane and Rick have taken out a couple more zombies but their car too is badly damaged (struck).  Although they are in a fairly zombie-free area, they can see the shambling horde closing in on the hunters...

Sadly we ran out of time and the game ended here!  I think things could have gone either way if we'd continued.  The humans could have outrun the zombies on foot but with 2 vehicles reduced to half speed and one destroyed, their mobility was badly affected.  Whether Susie could have protected the children until Ash arrived... who knows?

We realised that we'd been running close combat incorrectly for the whole game; we'd been making a single opposed roll to see who was a casualty rather than the correct method of making one roll for the attack and then another for the retaliation.  This explains how a zombie was killed whilst attacking the empty Landrover!  The end result of the game probably wouldn't have been much different if we'd done it correctly.

I also realised that any vehicles with a "struck" result should have had the same penalty applied to the occupants, so most of the humans should have been reduced to "struck" status by the end of the game, but never mind!

I think that about 60 of my zombies made it onto the table but many spent the entire game wandering around empty parts of the board with no humans in sight.  If they had all started on the table, things might have turned out differently but such is life (or death).  I must paint more of my actual zombie figures!

Next time we might try "All Things Zombie" from Two Hour Wargames.  Graham has the boardgame but we can probably use it with little modification for a tabletop version.

A final note on the figures: Our heroes are mostly GZG armed colonists and young colonists.  Rick's stand-in is an agent from The Scene, Susie and Ash are from the The Scene's zombie hunters range.  The 3 gangsters are from Rebel Minis.  Zombies are from Rebel Minis, though you hardly see any in the photographs!  Zombie stand-ins are GZG unarmed colonists, GZG Xenomorphs and QRF small aliens.  Buildings are a mixture of home-made foamcore constructions and Plasticville 1/72 scale stuff.  The big rocks are large car washing sponges torn up and soaked in black/brown/grey/green acrylic paint, they make good basalt-like rocky scenery that is light-weight and squashable so very easy to pack away.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Cyclops - Heavy Weapons

 My next Cyclops fighting suits, this time the heavy weapon units from GZG pack V15-79B.

I used this as an anti-tank laser in my first game but on closer examination I've decided that it looks more like a missile launcher.

A compact, magazine-fed missile launcher gives a strong anti-tank punch against armoured vehicles, though this can be susceptible to active countermeasures such as detonation fields employed by more advanced opponents.  An important secondary use of this weapon system is creating fighting suit-sized points of entry into buildings and destroying enemy strongpoints.

ATGM detail.
Tomorrow's War stats will be the same as the standard Cyclops apart from the weapon:

Weapons: ATGM launcher
TL 3 Heavy AP:4 / AT:4 (H)
Negates ERA, deck attack, -1 to Active Point Defence (TW rules are unclear here, is that -1 to die type or -1 to die roll?  I'm assuming it's probably the latter.)

This is my second support unit, sporting a rather nice flamethrower.

A flame projector has proved a particularly effective weapon for use against infantry and in tunnel fighting (where the flames consume much of the oxygen, severely degrading the performance of enemy troops without breathing apparatus).  It can also prove effective against softskin vehicles.

Weapons: Flame thrower
 TL2  AP:6 / AT:3 (M)
8" range
Intimidating weapon (unit that is fired upon must make morale check to avoid being suppressed, regardless of whether attack is successful).

Note: info in both the TW & FoF rule books is a bit contradictory on this.  I've gone for this being an infantry-sized weapon rather than the vehicle mounted one, mainly because of the small fuel canisters.  Ranges of the vehicle weapon are different in the main text (12") and ranges in the box-out (16"), but the example M2FT "Pyro" armoured fighting suit at the end of the book feature flamethrower with a range of 10"!  I've just used the stats for that weapon but with range set at 8".

Flamethrower detail.

My first use of the fighting suits didn't go particularly well because I forgot about the "stealth" ability I'd given them!  You can read about it here.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to try them again soon.  In the meantime, here are a couple of comparison pictures showing a Cyclops with some of the forces alongside which they'll be fighting.

Cyclops and Marine technician for size comparison

  Another comparison shot...

L-R: GZG Gurkha, GZG NAC Marine, The Scene Battle Robot , GZG NAC power armour (old style & new style), GZG Cyclops

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Cyclops (part 2)

 More pictures of my Cyclops armoured fighting suits plus the background fluff for them in my games...

I'm wondering whether to paint some of those oblongs on the chest as lights.

The Cyclops Armoured Fighting Suit is actually something of a misnomer.  It is not an actual "suit" that is worn in the same way that a set of power armour might be, but neither is it a true vehicle to be piloted by a pilot sitting in a cockpit as much larger walkers might be.  A Cyclops operator sits on a saddle-like seat in the mid-torso of the fighting suit, arms and legs fitting into a control harness.  These harnesses incorporate a movement amplification system that allows the fighting suit to walk, run and use its arms with minimum input from the operator.  The operator can vary the responsiveness of the suit to allow them to bend a girder or carefully pick up an injured child, a resistance feedback system giving a tactile response that aids in delicate work.

 The Cyclops features a number of cutting edge technologies including a stealth system with adaptive camouflage, advanced sensors and an ECM pod to jam command-detonated mines and explosives and cause premature detonation of ATGW warheads.

Rear view showing backpack detail.
 The designers of the Cyclops made a conscious decision to make the weapons systems modular hand-held units as opposed to built-in armaments.  This approach significantly increases the flexibility of the Cyclops suit.  Weapon load-out can be precisely tailored to the mission with a minimum of time and no requirement for specialist installation training.  Storage and transport of the Cyclops is simplified without built-in weapons taking up additional space.  Left- or right-handed operators can use the same suit with minimal alterations, they simply change hands when picking up their weapon.  Though left or right handedness is not usually considered to be of particular importance in the layout of vehicle controls, the control method employed in the Cyclops makes this a more important factor.

An additional benefit of the Cyclops modular weapon design is the ability to do without weapons completely, leaving the suit with 2 manipulative hands, useful in non-combat situations.  The Cyclops can serve as a load-mover, enabling rapid loading or unloading of supplies and equipment without the need to get a civilian forklift onto the battlefield.  It can also aid in civil emergencies such as earthquakes or fires and explosions, moving rubble with surprising delicacy but able to withstand heat or sudden building collapses.

Are those smoke launchers under the arms?  I've decided not - too much risk of damaging your own arms!

The usual armament of the Cyclops is a heavy autorifle.  This advanced conventional weapon can fire a range of different munition but is generally pre-loaded with armour piercing rounds for use against vehicles and microflechette rounds for use against infantry and other "soft" targets.

My Tomorrow's War stats:

Name:  Cyclops Armoured Fighting Suit
Tech Level: 2
Class: Light
Type: Walker
Weapon: Heavy Autorifle TL3 Hvy support advanced ballistic weapon AP:5/AT:2 (M)
(+1 to die roll on vehicle damage, other bonuses already included above)
Close-up detail of heavy autorifle.

Front 3D8
Side 3D8
Rear 3D8
Deck 2D6

TL2 armour
TL3 advanced sensors (+1D die shift to spot hidden enemy, double optimum range, night vision)
Lifesaver (+1D die shift for crew survival roll)
TL3 Detonation Field (-3D from ATGW firepower)
Stealth (cannot be fired upon until spotted)

Tomorrow... heavy weapon Cyclops!

Thursday, 16 August 2012


 I thought about it for a while before buying some of these Cyclops Heavy Battlesuits (V15-79A) but when they arrived I was so impressed that I had to order another 3 sets!

This is the standard model, armed with a light autocannon.

I've used my standard brown base with grey and green blotched camouflage.

More photographs of the other versions to follow over the next few days!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Hammer's Slammers

I've been a fan of David Drake's "Hammer's Slammers" books since I first managed to find a copy of the original 1979 short story collection in my local second hand bookshop.  I was inspired to read it by the notes in the back of Ground Zero Games' 1st edition Dirtside for 6mm warfare.  It therefore seems appropriate that I now post a few pictures of my GZG Slammers figures (click for larger images).

SH15-HS1 contains 8 slammers in 6 poses, helmet visors up.

All are wearing brown fatigues with clamshell armour over the top.  Most have 2cm powerguns apart from the squad leader who has a pistol, and the kneeling trooper with a buzzbomb launcher.

Brown fatigues are Vallejo Beastly brown, armour/helmets are Humbrol 86 olive drab and they've received a wash of Vallejo sepia ink for shading.  I wasn't sure what colour to paint the armour, I couldn't find any reference to colour of anything except the fatigues in the books.  I went with the green to provide a bit of contrast, something useful at this sort of scale.

The shoulder badges are the Slammers' emblem, a yellow shield with a rampant lion in red.  These were a bit fiddly to paint!  To fully appreciate them you'll need to click on the image to see the large version...

I've tried to mix in some different skin colours, using combinations of Vallejo Charred brown, Vallejo Beastly brown and Vallejo sepia or black washes.  I'm quite pleased how they've come out.

Friday, 3 August 2012

The Long Earth

Well, I've just finished reading The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter and what an excellent read it was!

It had a similar style to Peter F Hamilton's books I thought, though set in a very near future rather than the far future and with the usual Pratchett humour running throughout.  I must try and read some more of Mr Baxter's books - I really enjoyed his alternative history novel Voyage but that's the only one of his I've come across.  I've read virtually all Pratchett's.

A brief synopsis for those who haven't read it (but no major spoilers!): an anonymous posting on the internet provides instructions on how to built a "stepper" that enables the operator to travel (or "step") sideways to parallel Earths.  This provides all manner of opportunities for colonisation of new worlds but without the need for space travel.  The only problem is that you can only take what you can carry and for some reason no iron or steel can transfer with you (other metals can be transferred with no problem).  The first few Earths you come to seem fairly similar to home (Datum Earth) but as you step farther away you discover more unusual worlds.

You could have a fun game with this idea.  Set up 3 game boards (or even 5 if you can manage it) with identical underlying base terrain (ie. hills, rivers).  All boards MUST be the same size.  The centre board will be the home board with the objective for the battle, be this a certain individual who must be captured, a certain item to be seized etc.  The board(s) either side will be a step or two away.  The home board will have scatter terrain set up to include buildings, roads and other technological gubbins.  The parallel boards can have completely different scatter terrain - perhaps one will be almost entirely wooded while another could be agricultural or maybe a rocky desert.  Defenders on the home board will have access to vehicles and more powerful weapons (including steel parts).  Attackers will be restricted to lighter weapons using ceramic or plastic parts that can be transported between worlds when they step.

Special stepping rule - rather than a normal move, a figure can make a "step" move to transfer to a parallel earth.  This takes up the entire turn during which they can perform no other action (it takes full concentration to activate the stepper and to recover from the "step sickness" when you arrive).  The procedure when stepping is as follows:
1) Player 1 declares that they are stepping and which direction this will be (parallel game boards are East or West of the home board, these directions should be identified clearly before the game starts!).  They are not allowed to measure to see where they will appear on the target board - they just have to hope that they have estimated correctly!
2) Player 2 (or umpire if you have one) measures the exact position of the figure (use XY co-ordinates in centimetres, inches or whatever) and plots this point on the destination board.
3) If the space is empty of fixed objects (trees, walls, immobile vehicles etc.), Player 1's figure can be placed here.  Allow a little flexibility, say 1 - 2 centimetres to allow for the stepper to shuffle around a couple of paces to find a clear space.  Note that they can step into buildings as long as the floor level is equal or below their current ground level.  If (even after the 1-2cm shuffle) the space is occupied by something, Player 1 cannot step but can still carry out some actions on their curent game board.  They may continue with half their normal amount of actions, eg. do a half move/fire half the usual number of times/either move or fire but not both - exactly what is possible will depend upon what rules set you are using but make sure that all players understand this before the game starts!
4) If the player has succesfully stepped, they can do nothing for the remainder of the turn exept crouch down and throw up due to step sickness.  Note that this may put them into cover depending upon the surrounding scenery.  Nearby enemy troops who have not yet acted this turn will need to make an initiative or quality test of some sort to see if they can react to this sudden appearance.  Plus or minus modifiers may be apropriate depending upon whether they facing towards or away from the stepper.  Again, make sure you have agreed these before the game starts!
5) If a stepper has emerged above ground level, determine whether falling damage is required - or perhaps they've fallen from a bridge into a river?  You can have all sorts of fun here...

The real challenge will be in the tactics to use bearing in mind that a stepper can simply swap worlds to get through building walls or past defensive lines.  Defences might have to be built multi-storey or underground so that anyone stepping still has to fight their way up or down to each their target.

A few extra things that could add more fun:
Does either side include a natural stepper who does not get step sickness - additional points cost but they get a half-action when they emerge (the same as someone who fails a step).
Perhaps each player gets a chance to change a single piece of the underlying ground terrain - the river curves left here, not right, or there is an extra hill.
Does one of the parallel worlds have dangerous features such as dinosaurs or a toxic environment?
What happens when your unit ends up out of coherency because some of them are on another world!

It would be a pretty big game to run (and possibly very confusing) but would provide some unique challenges!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Time to start posting again!

Well, it's been ages since I've managed to post anything, mainly due to running a Scout Troop!  We've been off camping, running around the woods and all sorts of other things to take advantage of the light evenings and the good weather (well maybe that last bit wasn't quite true...).

All this has left me with virtually no time for gaming (haven't been to the local club since March I think?) or painting but now that the summer holidays are here I have a chance to catch up!

In the meantime, a few pictures of what I've been up to...
Camping in Thetford forest

Hiking across North Norfolk (my group on the right at the bottom of the cliff!)

Abseiling down Roughton Mill (1st Rural Scouts HQ)