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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Symbaroum: The Gloaming Roads, part 2

The Adventure Continues in Davokar

More Symbaroum last night as the party made its way deeper into the forest, heading toward a Lone Gate. These ancient structures are portals that lead to the Gloaming Roads; the mystical pathways that allow one to travel swiftly across the trackless leagues of  Deep Davokar.

 

Three incidents worth noting: the first was the appearance of a wizened trapper. Hunched, wrinkled and worn, with intricate blue tattoos in precisely half his body, he was accompanied by a blind and mute boy who carried his bags. While one member pondered attacking the seemingly defenseless duo (bad idea) common sense and common courtesy prevailed. The party left the scene with less gold but a number of useful provisions.

Next was a campsite. The bodies of five novice treasure hunters were discovered, all with terrible wounds and signs of corruption.  Unfortunately, the ogre tripped while searching one of the tents, knocked over a cooking set and smashed one of the camp stools. The racket alerted a blighted toad, demon… thing. Some minor wounds but the ogre redeemed himself and killed the vile creature.

Last was the Gate itself. Barbarian raiders had been tracking the party, having recognized one of the characters as a wanted fugitive. Their ambush wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped, but the ensuing brawl was quite ugly. Here again, Max’s ogre was in fine form, absolutely destroying barbarians with his hammer and sword. (twin attacks, each 1D8, +1D4 damage. It is a beautiful thing when it works.)

The last of the raiders was dispatched just as the sun set and the full moon rose. Ritual performed, the Gate opens and our heroes step onto the Gloaming Roads.  To be continued next week.

 

Game Night: Symbaroum

Apologies for the silence on the hobby front – I have the good problem of an abundance of work and when you’re self-employed, you have to take it when it comes. Our weekly game nights have been consistent despite that, (priorities, right?) but due to the hectic schedule, we’ve been focusing on RPGS. And when there are six regulars, it makes sense space and time wise to dial the scale of battle down so everyone stays engaged.

So with that in mind, John recently ran an excellent DnD one-shot wherein our party investigated an ancient crumbling fortress rumored to be tainted by evil, not to mention the most likely cause of a number of local peasants disappearing. Despite the rescue and subsequent accidental death of one of said aforementioned farmers, (Alas, poor Kevin, I knew him well…) we defeated the ruinous powers lurking beneath the fortress and freed the land from its malignant influence. It was a good time and lots of fun.

Now there are some very nice reinforcements on the painting table for our upcoming ZONA ALFA campaign, modern Russians and Chechens sculpted by Igor Karpov for SASM.  (Igor is the putty genius behind Lead Adventure Miniature’s ‘Last Project’ post-apocalyptic figs.)  That means six full crews should be entering the Zone some time in November.

image1_11a9545f-b4b4-4320-8c67-59c23f821b88

In the meantime, I’ve discovered the dark fantasy RPG ‘Symbaroum’. Created by Jarnringen in Sweden, I was first captivated by the artwork’s brooding menace and melancholy. Now games don’t always live up to the marketing, but I took a chance on a hard copy of the rules. Fortunate for me, this one did. In fact, this game is downright excellent.

I’ll spare you the review – there are plenty of good ones circulating on the inter-webs already – but suffice it to say the mechanics are smooth and solid, and translate easily to the tabletop – which is important for me, a long time war gamer. Having said that though, I want to stress Symbaroum is about story telling, not loot and leveling – which is important to me as a writer.  The back-story and aesthetic of Ambria and Davokar is dark and rich, a gold mine of inspiration. I confess that in 40+ years of hobby gaming, I don’t recall ever being this intrigued by a game setting.

So, while I catch up on glass work and brush my way through the painting queue, I’ll be running a one shot adventure titled ‘The Gloaming Roads’. Basically a treasure hunt, I wrote it up after  reading the rule book and advanced players guide. It’s an introduction to the game and world. To make things easier, the players start out a couple levels up, sort of seasoned adventurers entering the forest of Davokar for the first time.

I can post specifics if there is interest but for now, here are some pictures of our first session and the player characters.

You can click on the images for larger versions, but basically you can see a town near the forest, a Barbarian Mystic, a Changeling Hunter, a Cleric of Prios, an Ogre Fighter, an Ordo Magica wizard, and an Ambrian Man-at-Arms.

The next episode of The Gloaming Roads is slated for Tuesday evening. More on that as it develops.  For now, I’ll leave you with this:

When the Moon’s Womb is ripe, the Lone Gates open

By Blood and Root, the Learned may stride the Gloaming Roads

That span the breadth of sacred Symbaroum.

 

 

Have a good weekend.

ZONA ALFA: Bunker Raid

DSCF3303

Very quick game last Tuesday night as two small teams raided an old military bunker, each hoping to secure either the main objective, (a damaged heavy armor exo-suit) or a small cache of supplies.

Played in a three by four mission area, Bandits were already present at the site and waiting on their own technician to recover the suit. In game terms, this simply means the Hot Spots were considered already triggered and the Hostiles were visible.

John and Matt’s men took on Derek and Max’s. It was a short, sharp fight, with UBGL on Matt/John’s crew Boss’ AK74 proving itself very effective. Good dice rolls allowed them to steamroll over the battlefield, so straightforward as to be undramatic. They not only cleared the Bandits in no time flat but put a hurting on Derek/Max’s lads too. Both objectives, gear and salvage, easy win for them.

 

The guys will be making permanent crews soon and I have reinforcements inbound in the shape of  some Special Artizan Service Miniature figs. Until then we’ll DnD our way through the next couple weeks. Our 4th level party currently consists of a Tiefling Sorcerer, a Human Rogue, a Dual-Wield Fighter, and a Dragonborn Paladin. Other Pat is keeping us in the dark about his character. Pictures as it all happens.

Oh and courtesy of the nice folks at DP9, the Cape Cod Wargame Commission has some Heavy Gear Blitz in its future.

DSCF3315

 

ZONA ALFA: Refinery 13

DSCF3264

Last night saw the Cape Cod Wargame Commission play testing the ZONA ALFA rules. Two crews battled to control the remaining fuel in Refinery 13 in the south-west quadrant of the Exclusion Zone. A Threat Level 1 Area, or Blue area, there were two Hot Spots plus the Mission Objective. (markers are 7.62 x 39mm dummy rounds)

 

Ivan’s Bunch and Pavel’s Crew were kitted out similarly, each with one Leader, a shotgun-wielding Close Combat specialist, a Medic, and comrades with SMGs and AK-74. The Leaders armed up different: one with an AK74 with an under-barrel grenade launcher, the other opting for a scoped AK-15 Battle Rifle.

The crews filled their Equipment Slots differently too: Pavel’s lads went with pretty standard load-out, med-kits and such. Ivan’s Bunch went heavy on grenades and E-Juice. (amphetamine and vodka with a twist of lime) Seven Turn Limit, deployment in the back 6″ of their respective table edges, and the fight is on.

DSCF3270DSCF3276

First Turn saw crews slinking along buildings toward the secondary Hot Spots and jockeying for better angles and lanes of fire.

Turn 2 someone on Ivan’s team had the bright idea to Bolt Toss the Main Objective and trigger the Zone Hostile – a mutant.

Meanwhile one of Pavel’s men does the same to the Hot Spot with the dead Stalker. Two zombies spawned nearby out of the nearby garage and charged him.

“A little help, comrades!”

 

On the far side of the table, Ivan’s shotgunner faces down the Mutant! (they may not have range, but up close they’ll drop just about anything)

DSCF3293

Pavel dropped one of Ivan’s men who was on the office balcony and Ivan sees a chance to bloop a grenade on three of Pavel’s men who, after taking down the zombies, stood around it the open congratulating themselves.

DSCF3297

Mutant down in the center, a couple of Ivan’s boys trigger the nearby secondary Hot Spot. Feral dogs rush out of the shadows of the complex but good rolls from the SMG turn them into puppy chow.

DSCF3295

An Emission imminent, the game ended with Pavel ordering three of his men to fall back while he chased Ivan into the first floor of the office.

DSCF3299

Final Tally: One crew member down on each side. Ivan’s crew gets Advances and Salvage from the Mission Objective and one Secondary Hot Spot. Pavel’s boys manage to take the Salvage and a pair of Binoculars from the dead Stalker Hot Spot. Not great, not bad: another hard day’s work in the Exclusion Zone.

***

Lessons learned:

ZONA ALFA is deadly, no doubt about it. Med-kits and Medics help, but cover is your friend. Smoke grenades come in handy too.In a regular campaign, expendable items like grenades and med kits would need to be re-stocked between games, AND casualties would need to be replaced by new recruits.

Movement, combat, morale checks all that went smoothly.  To speed up the pace with two commanders per team, each side could activate up to two models per Activation.  Altho we’re asking for donations to buy a Chess clock for certain commanders who strategize too much between turns. *cough, cough* Matt. *cough*

All in all, the Zone smiled on our efforts. More next week.

Thanks.

 

ps – minor mods to make reinforcements. Crooked Dice soldiers with Pig Iron heads.

DSCF3302

Shameless Plug: If any company wants to see their 28mm Russian figs in action, we’d be happy to take some, color ’em up, and use them in the Zone. Contact me here and we’ll feature them in a post and Bat Rep.

Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

Tharnulf’s Crypt – Part 2

“Where have you been?” the Paladin snapped. “Spiders, roaches, ogres, all manner of creepy crawlies coming out of the stonework, and you’re upstairs looting bodies.”

“Scared of bugs, are you?” the Dark Elf corsair smiled thinly. “Don’t tell me I have to hold your hand.”

***

The party was joined by a Dark Elf Corsair, (Max) who probably was looting bodies. He arrived just as his woodland cousin the Druid handed the keystone to the Orc mercenary who unlocked the pillars blocking the way into the rest of the crypt. Together, the five of them advanced down the corridor to the library.

DSCF3229

Advancing cautiously, the group entered the library, weapons ready. When nothing dropped down out of the ceiling or sprang from the shadows, the proceeded to search the bookshelves in the far wall and the pile of debris on their right. The only unusual thing about the room was the loose flagstones under their boots – as if the library’s floor was poorly set on sand – and a strong odor of freshly turned dirt.

“That’s human masonry for you,” the Dwarf muttered. “Shoddy work. Doesn’t even last two centuries.”

A search revealed several items including a tome of engraved copper plates, half a dozen strange gold coins, several jars of mystery ointments, and a thin, silver letter opener.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” the Ork asked. “Help a werewolf open his mail?”

Before the Paladin could come up with a snarky reply, the floor erupted in a shower of dirt and rocks…. a carrion worm!

DSCF3231

The ensuing battle lasted a number of rounds, with the worm retreating back into its hole only to reappear somewhere else. Consequently, the fighting moved from the library to the next corridor to the large pillared room outside Tharnulf’s Chamber.

As the larger half of the party moved down the passage in pursuit of the worm, they triggered the next wave of hostiles: a mob of goblin scuttlers, backed by a gibbering shaman and a drooling brute.

DSCF3236

“Never split the party”  is time-worn, proven advice. But they did and it almost cost the adventurers the game. Fortunately, some good rolling and a Gruesome Kill helped our heroes fight off the attack.

DSCF3233DSCF3235

When the last surviving scuttler had fled wailing down the dark passages, the bloodied, exhausted party found themselves outside Thernulf’s Chamber. The passage however, was blocked by a mysterious well. An eerie glow emanated from its depths and the head of an ancient goddess was carved on the standing slab behind it. From one angle, it appeared the goddess was smiling at the viewer – from another, she snarled.

“Wait a minute…” said the Dwarf. “That looks like the face that’s stamped on those weird coins I found in the library.”

Yes. It is.

DSCF3239