Sunday, July 17, 2016

Escape from the Big City

We had a game of All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out last Friday. Players were my wife, my middle son, my good friend, and myself. We each had a Rep 4 Star with the weapons on the mini and 2 attributes. We selected attributes from a list I found some time ago of all the various attributes from the Two Hour Wargames library. It made for some good characterization.

I set up an urban board and we selected the scenario "Escape!" from the ATZ rulebook (pg. 68). Since I was playing with a group, I didn't capture a turn by turn, but here are some highlights...

Board from the 'East' edge.
Players must enter from lower left and exit at upper right for the first half of the scenario.
Players move onto the board and hunker behind a car in the parking lot.
Starting form the lower left and going clockwise - Zeke, Ed, Rob, and Monique.
There were 24 starting zombies generated! We decided to set them up differently from the stated rules. We rolled for each board sector (1-6) to see how many zeds were in that sector. Sectors 7-9 would be zed free at the start. This gave a nice scattering of zeds all across the board instead of a ring of death encircling the party 12 inches away.

View from the 'north-east' corner, behind the gas station.
Monique and Rob rushed forward and quickly killed a few zeds.
As the game progressed, the zeds closed on us quickly. We opted to rush along the east board edge to the gas station. Our plan was to run behind the gas station and around the brown building, evading and confusing the zombies. Then we would rush to the other corner to escape. Essentially we were going to make a big left hook, hoping to avoid the bulk of the zeds.

As we crossed the street into the gas station, lightning struck the brown building in front of us, blinding us all! We were in melee, with a crowd closing from our left. Stunned, unable to move or fight for a turn, things were suddenly looking very grim.

What you can't see in this photo is the crowd of zeds closing in.
Fortunately, we had knocked down the zeds we were in melee with before the lightning struck.
It seemed pretty certain we were doomed. But then, in true ATZ style, something unexpected happened. Deus ex Machina!

A PEF that had been hovering behind the HMMV at the intersection strolled into view and resolved as 3 survivors. After a "Talk the Talk" test we "exchanged pleasantries", much to our relief. Had we gone to a "Walk the Walk", they would have destroyed us, since we were only citizens. Lucky for us, they came up behind the zeds that were closing on us. After a round of "popping the weasel" and a bit of melee, they cleared the way.

With a friendly wave, we dashed through the gas station, leaving them to carry on down the street.
The above is the aftermath as the survivors moved on down the street.
I got so excited I forgot to take any pics during the action.
After a series of "Fast Moves" the group exited the upper right corner without incident. We had survived the first half of the scenario! We would have likely lost some of us, or maybe the entire group, had not those survivors showed up just when they did.

For the second half, the board remained set up essentially the same as before. Now the object was to enter from the upper left corner and exit from the lower right in the picture below. We generated starting zombies (22 if I recall) and again placed them in board sectors 1-6 by random die roll.
Set up for the second half.
The red circles are PEFs.
Our group started in the corner behind the large gray building. We decided on the same tactic - run along the southern edge (left hand in above pic), and then hook left to exit from the northeast (lower right) corner. As we ran behind the building, the zombies all moved towards the center of the board. We missed a couple activations and a PEF resolved as more zombies so by the time we cleared the building there was quite a mob waiting in the street for us.

Zombies shambling out of the fuel storage area.
Walkers (and PEF) in the street.
Unfortunately, I didn't take many pics of the second half. But once we broke into the street, our plan was in shambles. It was going to be a fight to the death to get through the crowd of zeds. After a loooonnnng melee battle, we broke free and ran across the intersection towards the gas station. Ed, our melee master, led the way, beheading zeds left and right with his katana. By shear dumb luck none of us was overwhelmed in the melee and we slowly, but steadily, ground them down.

Approaching the gas station. Almost home free!
Near the yellow cab you can see the aftermath of the massive zed melee.
In the end we all survived! It might have been a first for one of our ATZ games. It was surprising, since I threw Ed (my character) into the crowd of zeds, expecting him to sacrifice himself for the sake of the party. But then he lived! Go figure...

Fortunately, we never met any hostiles other than zeds. It could have gone very differently otherwise. MVP could possibly go to Ed for fool-hardiness and dumb luck, but the real saviors in the game were those 3 strangers who emerged at just the right moment and then faded away, all ATZ-style.

A good time was had by all. I'm sure we will be playing again soon.

Until next time, carry on!

Monday, July 4, 2016

D&D On the Deck

Back in 2014 I started an "Old Guys D&D" group in celebration of the 40th anniversary of D&D. I called upon some of my friends from high school who used to play D&D. It started as a lark - an excuse to get together for a weekend and re-live the glory days. We enjoyed the game so much - and loved the 5th Edition rules so well - that we decided to start a campaign.  On our second outing, one of my friends brought his high school aged daughter along. She had never played, but enjoyed the game even though she was playing with a bunch of "old guys". After that we decided to include all of our daughters and call it "Dads and Daughters D&D", or "D&DD&D". It has been a tremendous way to introduce new players to the game, spend time with good friends, and enjoy our families.

We've only been playing every few months since we live a few hours away from one another. I've been DMing us through The Hoard of the Dragon Queen and it has been pure delight. This past weekend my friend who lives in the Hocking Hills area of southern Ohio hosted us. We had beautiful weather, a beautiful setting and an entire Saturday...
Desk space set for a day of gaming.
The tents in the background were accommodation for a couple of us heartier types.
View from the DM's chair.
You'll notice dragon mugs among the "old guys".
I bought them as gifts for our first game.
Good thing too, since our host is a master brewer!
The Dwarvenforge Caverns tiles were a big hit.
For a group so large, it was good to have something people could play with while waiting for their turn.
You can also see how well the clear acrylic bases look on the character models.
Mid-afternoon. The sun is taking a toll on the players, but they soldier on.
The party has been trying to get a long rest but keeps getting interrupted. 
Deep in the cave complex a Roper attacks!
The kids were having fun with the pipe cleaners.
The white area is 15 feet below the cavern shelf to the left.
The paladin is dragged into the pit!
Our host's daughter brought her boyfriend along and he joined the party as a paladin.
I can assure you her father had nothing to do with his character being nearly killed.
Smiling players and a pensive DM.
A good time was had by all.
As you can see, the party is huge! 9 characters for this game, 8 players on the day. My daughter was not able to be there this time, but we kept in touch with her via text throughout the day and kept her character in the game.

It can be a challenge running a game this large, but we all get along very well and cooperation makes it fun. Also, one of my friends has created an awesome spreadsheet that tracks everyone's abilities. He is sitting to my right in the above photo and acts as secretary throughout the game. It works very well and frees me to focus on the story telling.

The moral of the story here is:  Get out and play! If you're thinking you'd like to get a game going, ask! People may be more interested than you think. Keep it light and fun and about spending time with people you love and you can't go wrong.

Until next time, carry on!