Bullets, Boots, and Vodka

Breaking out the 4 x 6 mat

Uvyadshaya Slava – “Faded Glory”

Three members of the CCWC got together last Tuesday eve for a quick game of ZONA ALFA. They wanted to get in a solid Zone run before we all begin another excursion to Davokar. As much as I enjoy straight tabletop wargames, RPGs are much easier with a large group and as we settle into new routines for Autumn, balancing life, work , and ongoing Covid-awareness, a lengthy, ongoing narrative puts less stress on everyone. And provides a nice vacation from the omnipresent Real Life Weirdness.

So, six stalwart comrades decided to pay a visit to the old, Uvyadshaya Slava military base in the south-west sector of the Zone, a moderately dangerous TL2 area. Opting for a cooperative game (prep for that good ol’ RPG camaraderie) we broke out the Point of Interest Cards, picked two miniatures each – 1 Vet and 1 Hardened – and set off to scrounge up two supply caches within 9 turns.

*Note about the POI Cards: I picked 12 locations, evenly distributed through the mission area, then picked twelve cards, one for each spot. In this game deck were the supply caches plus good and bad events, such as Booby Trap, Vermin Nest, Chernobyl Babushka, Bandit Ambush…. Locations marked by a small scatter scenic and a dummy 7.62 round. When a location is triggered either by proximity or Bolt Toss, players turn over the top card to see what the spot reveals. Game on.

The brave comrades entered dispersed from one short side of the table. The first thing they noticed were Snorks milling in front of the Admin building. A ways off but still gotta keep an eye on ’em.

Our Stalkers entered the base and immediately started throwing bolts. Matt’s guys triggered an Alpha Mutant. Other Pat disturbed a Nest/Den of feral dogs. I lucked out and ran into a kindly babushka who gave me the low down on the next two closest locations.

The chatter of full-auto fire erupts across the abandoned base as Matt’s RPK Unloads on the Alpha Mutant. 7 Hits. The creature is cut in half. Across from them, Other Pat’s Vet tosses a grenade. Boom! Dog bits. Meanwhile, I’m chatting with grandma, trading three tins of Tourist’s Breakfast and a 1/2 liter of WÓDKA for some information on the neighborhood.

Turns out there’s an Injured Stalker by the gas tanks and an Anomaly in front of the garage. Nice. I radio my comrades to let them know.

Threats dispatched, the other two teams move up. The Snorks are hard of hearing and drift toward the helipad, away from us. My pair waves good bye to the babushka and saunters up to see what all the noise is about.

Matt searches the Location near the radio tower and scores decent salvage plus a Detector. Sweet. He promptly equips it, marches straight into the Anomaly and gets slammed hard, despite the bonus. Ouch.

“Bro… you gotta turn it on.”

Matt’s Hardened trooper must not have been listening though. He charges in and gets zapped too. Instant MedKit usage. 1 wounded Stalker, another injured/pinned. The Anomaly crackles malevolently.

Other Pat gives up a MedKit to help the injured stalker, who joins his crew in gratitude. (He’s a total noob named Big Head Rooster. He realized his chances of surviving the Zone would rise dramatically if he joined a crew)

My Medic moves to assist Matt’s men but they finally figure out how to use the Detector and snag a very cool Artifact. (5K value +1″ Move) They patch themselves up.

It’s still early in the game but the base is large and we need to find those Caches – which are now obviously near/past those Snorks. Time to knuckle down and get to it. The crew advances through the wide open center of the base, weapons ready.

My Leader moves to cover the center and left with Other Pat’s guys. The Snorks have spotted us and are coming out way. We start picking them off. Meanwhile, my Medic goes right and tosses a bolt toward the entrance of the Admin Building: Supply Cache 1.

Another round of gunfire and there are a few less hostiles in the Zone to worry about. This whole ‘work together and be methodical’ thing is handy. So far, only the Anomaly has inflicted any serious damage.

1 Cache located as we approach the back half of the base with helipad, the gas tanks, and the swamp. Turns are counting down. Troopers either toss bolts or go on Alert. We’ve been fortunate so far, but danger is never far in the Zone.


Other Pat’s shotgun makes short work of the vermin. He gets support from Matt’s troopers. Threat eliminated.

Another bolt tossed toward the swamp yields the second Supply Cache. We’re golden. There are more spots to investigate but coming down to the wire on the turn limit, we stuff our backpacks with supplies and beat feet before the next Emission. No sense pushing it. Mission Success.


Any mission you can walk away from is a good one but we all had to admit the Zone was gentle with us – this time.

Good rolls, fortunate draws on the POI Deck, open lanes of fire and good tactics made it so we all got out relatively unscathed with the loot. Nice to have a game go your way, isn’t it? Next time, we might not be so lucky.

The Symbaroum sessions are slated to start next week, so you’ll be seeing a lot of trees for a while. (and Blight Beasts.) There will be some cyberpunk action too; the plan for the foreseeable future is to break up the RPG campaign into three-act chunks and run Hardwired: Hostile Takeover play test games in between. We’ll see if that plan survives contact with the holidays.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe. Stay well. Good Hunting.

Until next time.

patrick t.

10 responses to “Bullets, Boots, and Vodka”

  1. Whoa, you guys are playing Mörk Borg?!

    1. Eh? We’re playing Symbaroum.

      1. Ah, my mistake. I saw Fria Lagen as the publisher and thought you were playing Mörk Borg.

      2. np. Symbaroum is cool setting/system that translates easily to the tabletop. (altho I did have to buy more trees)

        hope you’re well.

  2. That looks a blast. I must try the co-op game when I’m out of local lockdown.



    1. Thanks Pete. We had it easy. Really.
      If you run it solo, I’d recommend a smaller board with plenty of terrain and event locations. More of a challenge – particularly if the cards and dice don’t fall your way.

  3. Patrick,
    Do you think a similar game could be run with six people, each with two stalkers, or do you think it would be too much?

    1. Hi Luke. Six people at one table… You know the logistics of your circumstances better than me, but on a 4 x 4 with limited time, I’d run a Zona Alfa Kontraband game and give each player one Veteran to control. Four Stalkers and Two Scientists – one of which would be a Field Agent. I’d also pre-deploy a mass of Ghouls or Zombies in the center of the mission area.
      The Mission objective would be to recover two artifacts and investigate 50% of the POI. Sort of a ‘Sweep and Clear’ job. Make sure they bring grenades.
      This way, the players have to cooperate to achieve very defined objectives against obvious and visible threats. Streamline any rules in favor of the players.
      IMO, it’s better to keep it simple. Manageable, with minimum interruptions. Give them a taste of the game, a fast pace and a good shot at winning.
      My .02
      Good luck. Let me know how it works out.

      1. Thanks, Patrick. That is great advice.
        I may be the 6th person, so I was thinking of GMing it and controlling the hostiles. Would you run it as a Threat Level 3, then or lower?

  4. Oops, never mind about the Threat Level. I forgot that Kontraband is all in the Deep Zone! I’ll let you know how it works out. PAX

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