ZONA ALFA: Test game

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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.

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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)

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The Town of Lyetsk
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Other Pat’s Crew: Veteran Crew Boss, Hardened Second in Command, and 2 Green newcomers
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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.

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Lead Adventure figs
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SASM 1
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SASM 2
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L->R: Lead Adventure, SASM, Pig Iron
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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.

 

 

 

ZONA ALFA: Refinery 13

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

ZONA ALFA Crew

Other Pat is currently running a one-of DnD dungeon crawl for our weekly game night, so the next couple weeks won’t feature many table top photo ops. In the meantime, I managed to get some color on the first of the ZONA ALFA demo figs.

A Military crew with a Guide, a Medic, and a Technician, this is a solid, general purpose team. Lead Adventure figs on 32mm mdf bases.

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Some individual pictures.

 

Settling into the new game room but the LED lighting and the small basement windows make it difficult to get decent photos. Anyone have small, portable lighting ideas?

Have an excellent day.

Za Zdaróvye, STALKER!

ZONA: The Chistoysk run.

Playing ZONA last night, our STALKER-flavored skirmish rules. Four STALKERs visited the town of Chistoysk near the Black Woods. The Fat Man wanted a cell tower in town repaired and was offering a wad of rubles to get it done.

“Plus,” he said. “I hear one of the RMUs stashed a bit of gear in the area. It goes missing, who’s to say how that happened, eh?”

The team agreed it was worth their time and took the job.

“One last thing,” the Fat Man added as they headed toward the door. “You might want to keep an eye out for Rotters. The fast kind, not shufflers. Zoombies,” he cackled.

Derek spit on the pavement. “Derr`mo. I thought this sounded too easy.”

“If it was easy,” John said. “Anyone could do it.”

Pat cracked his shotgun open and loaded two shells. “Off we go, then.”

***

The game began with four players entering from the south edge. Chistoysk is considered a Threat Level Two zone and has three Hot Spots in addition to the mission objective. Three groups of hostiles are present at the start go the game: two small packs of Ragers and one Rager brute.

 

The first couple turns saw the players advancing. Pat and Matt entered the nearest building. John pressed through to the Hot Spot on their left, while Derek went on an end run, angling through the ruins for the Hot Spot on the right.

 

Matt climbed to the top floor and immediately began shooting zombies. He dropped one straightway, which might not have been the wisest move. He may have thinned the herd but he also got their attention. Following the simple AI rules, the hostiles all began to converge on the sound.

 

This left Pat downstairs fending off a mob of rabid undead. After fumbling his (only) Molotov cocktail and scorching the building’s already devastated exterior, he spent a number of activations frantically blasting away with his double barrel shotgun (great in CQB but needs reloading every two shots) or hacking away with his machete.

Meanwhile John headed toward the Hot Spot on the second floor of the nearby building.

“Oh quit whining. You’ll be fine,” he yelled to Pat. “There’s only 8 of them.”

John triggered the Hot Spot, spawning feral dogs, who immediately clambered up to attack him. Derek suffered an empathy spasm and turned aside to help Pat by picking off  Zekes from a distance with his AK74.

 

After a lot of blood, bullets, swearing, and a near-death experience, all the Zekes and Dogs were down. John not only salvaged a Med-Kit from the cache, but found an Anomaly containing an Artifact. (Granted +1″ to his Movement)

Pat staggered to his feet, blinked at the freshly re-killed undead piled around him, and went down the road after John, who was heading toward the Cell Tower. Derek followed at a distance, picking a path through the debris on the first floor of the central apartment building. Oddly, Matt remained in his third-floor perch.

“I gotta bad feeling,” Derek muttered.

As John and Pat approached the cell tower, Matt’s homicidal tendencies surfaced. “If I can’t have the mission objective,” he thought in profanity-laced Russian. “No one can.” And with that, he began shooting.

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Treachery: the wounds of a friend. John and Pat are shot in the back. No objective for them.

Derek quickly scrambled to cover. Peering out a broken window, he stared at the building at the southern edge of town.

“How am I gonna kill this guy?” he thought.

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***

We called it after that perfidious display of mercenary ambition and callousness.

It was a good game. Tense as the Zekes and Dogs piled on. The other two Hot Spots went un-searched, and of course no one got the Mission Objective. I’m going to tweak the On-Table Hostiles and maybe add spawning points in order to pressure players into cooperating more than killing one another. Not that you can’t do it. The Zone is a dangerous place.  I just want that to be a difficult, momentous decision.

Thanks as always to the members of the Cape Cod Wargame Commission.

Have a great day.

 

Oh and if you’re in a STALKER state of mind, A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available at Amazon. Thanks.

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New Terrain and ZP pictures

Coming off the holiday break, last night’s game session was more shooting the breeze than miniature foes. Everyone was more intent on hanging out and chatting than getting serious about a game. That said we did a quick brawl that let me put two new terrain pieces on the table: a ruined apartment building and a swamp. The building is an MDF kit, the swamp pieces scratch- built with wood bases, foam core, water effects, flock and Woodland Scenics tall grass.

We used Zona Perestrelki – our STALKER-flavored skirmish rules – for quick combat.

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The battle ground: a refueling station eleven kilometers inside the north perimeter of the Zone.
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The swamp
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“Look behind you!”
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Stalkers and scientist make it to the fence.
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ZERTs (Zone Enforcement and Recovery Team) facing down a pack of feral dogs.
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Bandits scrounging for petrol
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ZERTs at an old supply truck. Something valuable inside, perhaps?

There’s more ZP in the pipeline, but for the foreseeable future, we’ll be doing old-school RPGs (both Interface Zero Cyberpunk and straight up DnD) and a short ASOBH campaign, “The Treasure of Sagra-Bayar.” I’m finishing the brushwork on the character figs this week and will post photos later.

In the meantime, corny as it sounds, I was struck by a deep sense of gratitude when the guys walked in last night; it’s a great hobby with great people and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Have a good day.

And if you’re in a STALKER mood, A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available for your reading pleasure. Spasibo!

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