ZONA ALFA: The Factory at Dobryanka

ZONA ALFA Test Game Jan. 19, 2019

Four members of the Cape Cod Wargame Commission spent Saturday afternoon playing Zona Alfa. We decided on a Factory Raid in a Threat Level Two area – four Hot Spots plus the Mission Objective.

A 2 v 2 game, Other Pat and I faced off against Matt and John. Each player was allowed 12K to form their crews. In typical authoritarian fashion, Matt’s Evil Landlord and a Property Manager Henchman rousted the Serfs, kitted them with AKs and E-Juice (Amphetamines and Vodka) gave them a rousing speech and sent them into battle. The rest of us opted for more balanced forces with a mix of Veterans and Hardened Zone dogs.

The Mission Objective was a cache of supplies in the old factory. There was a Six Turn Limit and no Visible Hostiles in sight.

Turns One and Two saw both sides jockeying for position trading shots on either side of the factory. Matt advanced to the car wrecks adn the Army truck. Eager for Salvage, John triggered the Hot Spot to his front by the barracks and spawned three Zombies. Fortunately for him, they popped up out of LOS of his squad and began shuffling toward the nearest visible target, in this case, a gaggle of Matt’s Green Recruits.

Part of my squad angled toward the factory while the Sniper and RPK looked for good angles near the fuel tanks. Other Pat’s Veterans leap-frogged between the Conex containers and the Office.

There were some casualties, two Serfs who got caught in the open by my sniper. Evil Landlord Matt was unfazed. “Plenty more where they came from.”

Turn Three and Four saw both sides scrupulously avoiding any more secondary Hot Spots, moving wide around them to avoid the triggering radius, and trading fire, trying to Kill or at least Pin their opponents. The race to the Factory was on.


A nasty little firefight erupted around the old brick building; people chucking grenades through windows, spraying full auto through doors, firing down onto the factory floor. Then to add to the chaos, someone – can’t recall who – triggered the Zone Hostiles lurking around the cache. More Zombies.

Despite all the flying lead and shambling undead, lucky dice rolls by Other Pat and me carried the day. Our opponents were beaten back and conceded the game.

My man Ivan, providing covering fire from the gantry like a hearty comrade

Our Take Aways:

  1. This was a one shot game. We all agreed we would be much more cautious with our crew if we were in a campaign.
  2. Big areas need more cover. AKs have decent range and even though support weapons like the RPK and the Sniper rifle slow a STALKER down, they can definitely reach out and touch someone. My Sniper suffered some bad luck but even then, his position on those Fuel Tanks dominated that section of the table. (Matt also could have used Smoke Grenades, had he thought to bring them.)
  3. Might be good to introduce a Chess Clock or sand timer to ratchet up the tension, force decisions, and speed up the game.

That’s all for now. Settling down for a holiday tomorrow and going to watch “Counterpart” on Amazon.

Thanks and have an excellent day.

Hardwired: Asset Retrieval

Cyberpunk Covert Ops

Work obligations caused the Cape Cod Wargame Commission to set our current SYMBAROUM campaign aside for the time being. Unfortunate, but bills gotta be paid, deadlines met, contracts honored, and all that other adult stuff.

That meant we broke out our Cooperative Cyberpunk Rules, HARDWIRED, for Tuesday night’s game session. With the Modular Interior Boards set up, a VIP Asset in the facility, everyone picked an Agent and kitted up for the run.

This was a straightforward mission: assist the new employee with his sudden transition to a new position in your corporation. Helpful, like a moving company. But for people, not furniture. Oh and you might wish to neutralize his bodyguards and disable the tracking nano-tech in his blood before you hustle him out the back door.

Turn One goes as expected with the team spread out as they advanced. Bodyguards call for backup and the first wave of H-SEC responds.

Matt’s cyber ninja Razor quickly dispatched the guards. Max’s Splicer moves into deal with the bio-tech. The rest of the Agents moved up and prepared to deal with the reinforcements.

Tracking Nanites disabled, Turns Two and Three saw nasty firefights breakout as new waves of Hostile Security spawned. Max and Derek escorted Mr Van Dorn down the hall toward the Exfil.

H-SEC moved behind cover, trying to block the Exit as new, more dangerous reinforcements arrived on the flank.

Once again, Matt’s CyberNinja slinks into action while Other Pat and I cut down the Response Team on the left before moving up to trade shots with the blocking squad.

This allows Derek and Max to get Mr. Van Dorn out the door to the waiting stealth VTOL.

#PackageRetrieved

A couple Agents took some hits but everyone got out. A long corridor and some convenient spawning rolls (for the Agents) made this a pretty easy mission. No complaints there; it’s Winter – cold, dark, busy, No real effort or concentration necessary – just move miniatures, roll dice, have a good time.

Four of us are playing a large ZONA ALFA game this Saturday, but work and writing obligations will be commanding most of my attention for a while, so it looks like John and Other Pat will be GMing some DnD 5e and Savage Worlds Shadowrun until further notice. Which is nice, as it means I can kick back and play.

Have an excellent day. I’ll leave you with two of my all-time favorite Sci-Fi figs.


Dungeon Party and New Characters

party-pic

DUNGEON PARTY

I have this hobby tic, this obsession with skirmish squads, adventuring parties, salvage crews, cyberpunk gangs, shadow-ops teams… I get a kick out of hunting down miniatures, matching aesthetics, regardless of manufacturer, to come up with a cool troop for whatever scenario had fired my imagination.

Few months ago – around the time I made my modular dungeon – I decided to create a generic Dungeon Crawl Party: Wizard, Knight, Rogue, Cleric, Ranger, Barbarian… you know the ones. My starting point would be Hasslefree Miniatures. Now the lion’s share of my fantasy figs are from Reaper and they’re outstanding. But this time I wanted a different look, as well as the opportunity to work on my painting skills.

To be honest, I chose HF because I’ve always found Kev White’s figs, along with Corvus Belli’s Infinity range, pretty intimidating. What with the incredible detail, dynamic, and character, not to mention the ridiculously superb examples floating around various sites and forums, I simply wasn’t confident I’d do them justice.

But the inspiration kept gnawing at me, so I made up my mind to try. Not to compete but work on technique. I stuck with a limited palette, but I made a conscious effort to paint each figure separately, as an individual character. I slowed down my ‘table top standard, assembly line’ approach and spent more time trying to pick out extra details, dry brush, maybe highlight. I spent a little more time on the bases. We’re not talking Golden Demon here, just a notch or two above my usual.

The results are below

dscf3481
Half-Ogre Fighter

dscf3482
Celtos Elf Character. (Still Kev White tho)

dscf3485
Barbarian and his Rogue Babe

dscf3491
A Cleric and a Dwarf walk into a bar…

Here’s an Alternate Rogue

dscf3497
One of Tre Manor’s Barbarians, I believe.

 

There’s a vague ‘Northman/Barbarian’ look to them (must be all those fur pelts) and they’re certainly not Competition standard, but I’m pleased with the results.

Now you may have noticed there’s no Wizard. I tried several, really, but none of them ticked all my boxes for this bunch. But I think I’ve finally found one: Meksant Farseer from Lucid Eye’s Red Book of the Elf King range. (and I want all of those miniatures now, thank you.)  He’s in the mail. I’ll post photos and a group shot when he’s done.

SYMBAROUM CHARACTERS

So there are seven of us who meet weekly to game now. I consider myself exceptionally fortunate to be able to game with so many great guys. Even more remarkable, word of Game Night has spread and there might be a new player coming next week.

At this point, an RPG is the only way to keep everyone involved and I have to say SYMBAROUM does a fine job; easy system, darkly beautiful setting, evocative artwork, loads of GM material… really can’t say enough about how robust and deep the game is. You should get it. Seriously.

On that point, I got some color on three new figs: Sister Althea, representative of the controversial priest Father Sarvola; an alternate fig for Tom’s character, Tior Huldrasson; and an ‘as-yet-unnamed’ Rogue for our potential new adventurer.

 

Enough for now. Have an excellent weekend. More to come, including a major ZONA ALFA Bat Rep.

Thanks.

Symbaroum: Halls of Power

Quick post and pictures from last week’s Symbaroum session. (Hectic Holidays, sorry)

Our heroes were escorting a NPC accused of heresy from Thistlehold to the capital when they were ambushed by a contingent of zealous Black Cloaks who charged them with consorting with apostates and spreading arcane corruption. (They happened to be transporting two powerful artifacts as well, ancient weapons recovered during their passage on the Gloaming Roads.)

DSCF3464DSCF3465DSCF3466

Once again, Max’s Ogre fighter was worth his weight in gold thaler. He’s not much for Sneaking or Social situations but he’s an absolute beast in combat. The combat ended with three dead templars and two prisoners.

We have a couple weeks off but there’s more coming as the intrepid adventurers find themselves drawn into a web of deceit, intrigue, and royal ambition.

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year. All the best to you.

ZONA ALFA: Test game

DSCF3423

Short two regulars last night, we ran a quick ZONA ALFA test game with three crews vying to claim the data recorder from a downed surveillance drone. Each of the three Crew Bosses had nine K to spend when forming their squad and each intentionally selected different quality troops. In ZA, there are Green, Hardened, and Veteran levels, with 1, 2, and 3 actions per activation respectively. So Matt went with the Zergling Rush strategy of nine Greens, Derek chose the middle of the road with four Hardened troops and a Green tag-along, and Max tried out an all elite force of three Veterans. We set aside any additional Hot Spots and Zone Hostiles in order to concentrate on squad composition.

DSCF3426

It was a straightforward battle with Max and Derek more concerned about Matt’s superior numbers than each other. Multiple firefights broke out across the base. Initially, Matt’s numbers were telling, but once he’d taken a few casualties, the limitation of one action/turn began to show.

On the other hand, Max used his multiple action troops to advance and retrieve the objective quickly, but once the shooting started, he lacked the numbers to follow through. His squad was wiped out before he could get the black box all the way back to his deployment zone.

 

Derek played the long game, leapfrogging forward cover to cover, trading shots with Matt (mostly) and picking off or pinning enemies when he could. His five-man crew ended up being a good balance between quantity and quality; his men could accomplish things when activated and he could afford to take hits as he advanced and engaged Matt’s swarm o’ Greenies. It was a close contest but Derek won in the end.

 

Now it was only one game and we intentionally focused on the squad composition extremes to see if a Swarm or  Spec-Ops type force would have inherent advantages. They didn’t seem too. The weaknesses were apparent right away: Max’s three elites were first to the objective but first to die. Matt’s guys, although there were a lot of them and out-activated the other two forces each turn, were extremely limited. Even allowing for fickle dice, the game confirmed my suspicion that the best strategy is to mix and match different quality troops. Your Zone Crew needs bodies to soak damage AND you have to have at least a couple troopers who can get stuff done when it’s their turn. Introduce Turn Limits and that need becomes even more apparent.

That’s it for this Zone Report. More soon. Have an excellent day.

 

Symbaroum: The Gloaming Roads

Led by their Barbarian guide Tior Huldrasson, the party walked the Gloaming Roads and found themselves at the crumbling ruins of an ancient fortress deep in Dark Davokar. Tior called it ‘the bastion of Kal’Nohr’ and claimed it was here that the party would find the artifacts they were searching for.

The group advanced cautiously down the stone stairs and walked the path between the collapsed buildings. Dark as it was, one of their number noticed a pattern of strange, intricate symbols drawn in the dirt off to one side. A careful check revealed these drawings were made with black salt and they surrounded each of the buildings. The symbols seemed to change through the course of the pattern; arcane glyphs twisted into letters that morphed into numbers that formed beasts and astrological signs. It was difficult to determine where one ended and the other began.

It was Tior who finally gleaned some meaning from them. “They’re warding symbols. The oldest, most powerful kind. What I can’t tell is if they’re meant to keep something in, or something out. ”

“We didn’t come all they way here to sight see,” the Cleric of Prios said. “We need to search these buildings.”

DSCF3397

Which was true, but the question was how to get past the wards without disturbing them?

One idea then and another was batted back and forth, finally the Ogre decided he would get a running start and jump over the salt barrier. He would check out the nearest building, a small one, and report back.

A Quickness test. At +1 no less. (He’s a big guy. Not like the warding pattern is tall or anything. And it’s maybe three feet wide.)

Critical Failure.

The Ogre backs up, jogs toward the ruins and just as he’s about to leap, catches his boot on a root and tumbles face first onto the ground, flailing and sliding through the dirt smearing a wide, messy path through the carefully laid, complex drawings.

The Ogre gets to his feet sheepishly, brushes dirt, salt, moss and twigs from his jerkin.”Sorry.”

The rest of the group stares, mouths gaping. Silence reigns for the space of maybe ten heat beats. And then a loud groan erupts from the forest around them.

There’s a rustle in the dense undergrowth and six, massive, Blighted dryads emerge. They are the guardians of Kal’Nohr’s Bastion.

DSCF3399DSCF3405

A vulgar brawl ensued. Several party members were hit hard and came close to death.  But the Ogre redeemed himself and took down a number of the Dryads on his own and got an assist on one more. The rest of the party accounted for the others, the Wizard’s ‘Brimstone Cascade’ spell coming in very handy here. Finally, the last of the creatures was felled.

At last, the party limped into the largest building at the end of the path and started searching.

***

Symbaroum is a great game; rich lore, evocative art, a dark and dangerous setting. Focused on storytelling, the combat scenes are easily shifted to the table top. It’s simple to pick up, deep enough to make mastery worthwhile and satisfying, and loaded with potential. If you play RPGs, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Large ZONA ALFA mission next week. Have a great weekend. (Get some painting done, will ya?)

ZONA ALFA: KHRABROST’

They say you can’t measure an intangible like courage, only see it in action. Well Khrabrost’ (translated from Russian as ‘mettle or ‘courage’) is how ZONA ALFA measures a Zone Crew’s potential effectiveness in battle. A Zone Crew’s khrabrost’ is linked to the total available Actions among its members. It’s the main value used to build a squad.

There are three types potential crew members in ZONA ALFA, experience levels if you will: Green, Hardened, and Veteran. When activated, each can perform a certain number of Actions according to their level: 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

That in mind, Other Pat and I ran a quick game Sat. afternoon. Two crews in a Threat Level 1 Area. (2 Hot Spots) We each built a squad of 7 K. (Seven Actions/Activation between all squad members)

DSCF3362
The Town of Lyetsk

DSCF3363
Other Pat’s Crew: Veteran Crew Boss, Hardened Second in Command, and 2 Green newcomers

DSCF3365
My Crew: Veteran Commander accompanied by 2 Hardened comrades

The larger 6 x 4 mission area allowed us to start some distance from each other and focus on the particular Hot Spot nearest to our deployment. With a 6 turn limit, we each pretty much decided to live and let live, and go for the salvage. Although we traded shots near the end, (a mistake which cost Other Pat one of his new recruits) both of us cleared out the Zone Hostiles and snagged some loot before it was time to evacuate the area. Other Pat got a good roll on the Salvage Table, finding not only valuable stuff but an Anomaly –  which yielded an Artifact worth a considerable amount of Zone Script. (It’s a shame he’s going to have to spend a chunk of it to fill the newly vacant spot on his crew roster)

 

Very straightforward game with plenty of room to avoid your opponent and maneuver behind cover – which we did. Both of us used Bolt Toss to trigger the Hot Spot and spawn the Zone Hostiles. (Dogs at the first, Zombies at the second) The tone of the game would have been much different in a smaller area, say 4′ x 4′ or even 3′ x 3′, far more aggressive and dangerous. (I think a 4′ x 3′ is optimal; 48″ is wide enough to vary deployment spots and allow for flanking, and 36″ is not so deep as you need to use the first turn just getting stuck in.) All in all, it was a good game and there being only two of us, we could stop and discuss options/finer points without worrying about dragging things out for the others.

One we finish up our current Symbaroum adventure, we’ll all be making Zone Crews for a lengthy session of ZONA ALFA play tests. I’m very curious to see how a mini-campaign plays with six players. We’ll probably split into two teams of 3 each, with one fig from each of the team’s squads able to activate each turn. You’ll find out with us how well that works.

Speaking of reinforcements tho… Here’s some new Lead Adventure and SASM figs. I’m a fan of Igor Karpov’s sculpting and wanted to keep the same aesthetic. Below are some pictures. As you can see, the SASM miniatures have the same look but are not as chunky as the original Lead Adventure Last Project line. Still, I think they serve the purpose quite well.

DSCF3367
Lead Adventure figs

DSCF3377
SASM 1

DSCF3379
SASM 2

DSCF3382
L->R: Lead Adventure, SASM, Pig Iron

DSCF3388
L->R: Lead Adventure, SASM, Crooked Dice with Pig Iron Head Swap

And just because I had the camera…

 

That’s it for now. Thanks and have an excellent weekend.