A few weeks ago a MT (a long time gaming buddy) and I decided to try out frequent LAF contributor AKULAs zombie apocalypse rules, AR:SE (available for free HERE).
The rules are simple and provide for automated movement for the zombies, like computer game “bots”. This appealed to the two of us because it meant that we could play semi-co-operatively if we wanted, which sums up the whole zombie apocalypse genre really.
We decided that we would place as much non-ruined urban terrain as we could muster on a 6’ x 4’ table. We then added 80 or so zombies (ten of which were based in two “hordes”), which covered the table sufficiently to give us a run for our money. The amount of zombies placed was guesswork, as although we had previously read the rules (satisfyingly short at 2 xA4 pages), we didn’t really have a feel for how effective our heroes would be. I would rather play a game of a heroic defeat than an easy victory so we erred on the side of more zombies rather than less.
To this we added two Witches and a possibility of spawned zombies spawning as Tanks. The likely hood of Tanks showing up increased as the game went on. Although I have a number of zombie “characters” available, we didn’t want to bog down our first game with too many specials, so we left it at Witches and Tanks.
We also specified that Spawned zombies emerged from the zombie horde closest to any survivors (I have dedicated zombie spawn point markers in the pipeline, but they were not available for this game).
A couple of quick notes about the terrain: my modern stuff is pretty crude but functional. It was originally made under time constraints for use in Heroclix games, which is why the roofs are marked out with a grid. That’s what the ugly looking white tile spacers are (I really should get around to painting them black). Eventually I will get around to making some “proper” modern terrain, but as is often the way with these things, the stuff that I have is functional and so “proper” modern terrain never tends to get to the top of the to-do list. Still, although lacking aesthetically, they buildings are durable and functional, so I wont make any more excuses for them.
Deployment and Table Set-Up
We set up our forces on the South East corner of the table and placed the car park, replete with potential getaway vehicles at the North West corner. The Survivors were tasked with getting to a specific crashed vehicle in the middle of the battlefield to pick up the vital briefcase of scientists notes. From there they have to get to the car park where they can hotwire some of the functional vehicles there to make their escape.
MT chose to chart the exploits of some Yakuza survivors. L to R “Silent” Yoshi, Botan and Suzi.
In an unlikely alliance that could only brought on by impending, walking corpse filled Armageddon I chose to ally the Yakuza with the forces of the Racoon City Special Tactics and Rescue Service (STARS). L to R: Chris Redfield, Leon S Kennedy and industrial espionage agent Ada Wong.
A shot of the battlefield from the South. Note the car park in the top left. That’s where our heroes are headed for.
A shot of the battlefield from the North. Note the zombie horde in the centre, just below the overturned yellow car. Those guys occasionally move around and are lethal if they come into contact with survivors. Primarily in our game, they were a mobile spawn point.
If you squint, you might be able to see one of the Witches. It’s the figure with the square base at 9 o’clock to the overturned yellow car. Witches react to disturbances nearby by shrieking. This in turn causes shamblers within range of the sound to head toward the Witch. This is a bad thing.
Another shot from the North, this time showing a little of the car park objective.
An aerial shot, taken by the ZTV news chopper.
The Survivors start by heading north via the Eastern table edge. The theory was that they should avoid the large concentration of slackjaws in the middle for as long as possible. The more noise that the Survivors make, the more active the living dead become.
Leon brings up the rear while Botan beheads a walking corpse with his katana. Chris gives covering fire as they head to the junction where they will proceed West towards the car which contains the briefcase. So far so good. “This is a snap for a international woman of mystery such as myself” thinks Ada as the survivors make short work of any zombies in their path.
As she rounds the corner Ada is attacked by a corpse that has been drawn by the gunfire. In a surprising display of incompetence, Ada is caught flat footed, while the zed seems to be at the top of its game. Ada has her throat ripped out in a gurgling spray of blood. “NOOOO!” cries Leon. “I never expected our flirtatious will-they, wont-they relationship from opposite sides of the track to end like this!”.
“At least she is properly dead. She isn’t coming back from that”. Chris advises Leon using stilted, computer game-y dialogue. Chris then riddles the offending zed with lead.
Botan is “in the zone” at this stage and advises a stealthy approach as he has heard the crying of a Witch up ahead. “What are supposed to use now? Harsh language?” says Leon in a predictably action movie quote style as he holsters his pistol. Silent Yoshi does not speak.
Botan ignores them both and chops up two more undead with ninja like stealth before he pins a crawler to the ground as he retrieves the crucial briefcase from the crashed car.
At this point viewers at home were treated to some expert commentary about the situation from back at the ZTV station, complete with a play analysis. The circled vehicle is where the briefcase has been retrieved from and the green path is the direction that the survivors have chosen to take to get to the car park and getaway vehicle.
Chris runs forward and clinically dispatches the Witch in their path before it can react. He then provides cover as the remaining survivors head past the limo and towards the cinema.
A large zombie mob starts to stumble toward our heroes, forcing them to hurry away from it, perhaps a little rashly…
Despite gunning down a number of zeds as they closed, Suzi and Yoshi are forced into hand to hand. Leon and Chris are unable to help as they keep the other closing ghouls at bay.
Botan bites off more than he can chew. While he makes good account of himself in terms of eviscerated corpses, he is eventually dragged down to his doom…
With a series of bloody, squelchy sounds the thing that was Botan convulses. With a roar, all of its hair falls out and tentacles sprout from its rapidly growing body. Witness the birth of a Tank.
(In game terms we had been using the AR:SE rules to determine if downed heroes would come back as zombies. Ada hadn’t but Botan had. We had also been incorporating a simple incrementing roll to determine when the next zombie to spawn would be a Tank. As luck would have it, this happened when Botan shuffled off, so he was the one that came back as a Tank. And all in front of a poster of the Governator. “I’ll be back” indeed. Hooray for narrative!”)
The Survivors have a small chance to re-kill the Botan Tank if they can get to it while it is transforming. With that in mind the four remaining survivors attempt to circle the Tank and neutralise with extreme prejudice. Suzi has to riskily dodge away from her close combat aggressors to help out with the tank, but a well timed cartwheel reminiscent of Xiaoyu in Tekken 3 gets her where she is needed most.
Our heroes repeatedly plug the Tank and barely manage to re-dead it before it gets a chance to get up. “If its dead, we can kill it!” cheers Chris, confusingly.
Almost as if our heroes have overcome the main aggressor in the third act, the sun breaks through the clouds (or the camera flash was too close) giving the survivors the strength to run around the side of the cinema toward the car park and salvation. Chris cheerfully riddles a few zeds that get too close en route.
The survivors jump over the car park wall and line up beside a bus. Suzi, familiar with hotwiring her own school bus during the many Battle Royale school trips that she has been on suggests that she get the bus up and running. Leon whimpers self pityingly about Ada. Yoshi remains quiet. “Holy $h1t! Its Michael Jackson!” says Chris and heads for the roof of the bus.
“THAT’S for “Earth Song!” hollers Chris as he empties a clip into the former Prince of Pop turned cannibalistic reanimated corpse.
“Its too late to look at he man in the mirror now sucker!” says Chris in a failed attempt to deliver a pithy closing one liner. Zombie MJ’s head explodes in a shower of gore.
The bus shudders to life and Suzi floors the pedal, heading straight through the gates with a clang.
Suzi expertly guides the bus over four zombies as the survivors drive off into to sunset. Billie Jean plays to fade.
We had good fun with the scenario and rules. We had a couple of minor rules decisions to make a call on during the game, but as we are both grown ups with a lot of hours gaming time clocked over the years, they were decided upon quickly.
I plan to make cards for each of the survivor miniatures that I use as quick reference for the weapons and abilities that they have. Having played the game, I have more of a handle on how it works now and I will base the stats accordingly. I plan to bring a very, very simple points system (as in each character is rated as 1, 2, 3, 4) so that James Bond type characters are distinguishable from some survivor with a two by four.
Next time I will incorporate some Hunters and Jockeys into the mix, along with a different scenario.