Blackman, Z+14: Some Days You Get The Bear…

"The avalanche has already begun. It is too late for the pebbles to vote." – Babylon 5

Mike has left Jenny and James at home and is out picking up some shopping – it’s daytime on January 4th, Z+14. His objectives are to cross the board from section 9 to section 1, and pick up at least one Food Unit or Item on the way. He has his trusty crowbar with him. Clearly, I have been playing too much Half-Life.

SETUP

I roll for PEFs, and get a Rep 4 (PEF4a) in section 5, and a Rep 5 (PEF5) and a Rep 4 (PEF4b) in section 6. No initial zeds at this stage; they start appearing next week.

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TURN 1

Activation: Mike 5, PEFs 1. All the PEFs pass 1d6 and move 12" away through cover, or in this case, without entering Mike’s line of sight. Mike doesn’t activate.

TURN 2

Activation: Mike 3, PEFs 2. Mike enters the building in section 9 and rolls for a Defining Moment – this is just like resolving a PEF. He rolls 2d6 vs area Encounter Rating (5): 2, 3 = pass 2d6, so he has contact with something. I’m now on the Contact Table for Days 11-20, and roll 1d6, -1 for it being daytime. The 4 thus becomes a 3, which is National Guard (or, on this side of the Pond, the Territorial Army); there isn’t an entry for these guys on the How Many Table, instead it says to roll twice on the Citizen column. I roll 4, 3, adding +1 to both rolls as I am in an urban area, and get 5, 4 – that gives me a total of 3+2=5 squaddies, and rolling 2d6 for each on the National Guard table I see they are numbers 7, 8, 8, 11 and 4. These are all Rep 4, nice and simple; four troopers with assault rifles and one with a SAW. Time to Meet & Greet… I guess the Free Spirit is in charge because he will have the best Pep score.

Each leader now rolls Rep d6; the NG team leader has Rep 4 so rolls 4d6 and gets 2, 1, 1, 5, which gives him 3 successes. Mike rolls 2d6 – 3d6 for his Rep, less 1d6 because he is outnumbered 2:1 or more. He rolls 6, 2 and gets one success. Mike scores fewer successes, so the troops search him for weapons – I decide the crowbar doesn’t count, so they let him keep it. They tell him he can’t pass them, and send him on his way – if they see him again they will treat him as an Enemy – since this means they will open fire on him, Mike decides to keep a low profile. But, he still has to get home.

I decide to interpret "pass the National Guard" as "move any further up the map towards sections 1-3", and use a die to face them randomly in various directions so they have lines of sight for me to check.

Meanwhile, the PEFs again all pass 1d6 and move away through cover. At least they’re consistent. However, as they have been resolved, the troops roll on the NPC Movement table; they get 1, 3 vs Rep 4, and pass 2d6. As they have already interacted with Mike, this is dropped to pass 1d6, and as they are neutral they will stay inside the building. As they will always either get this result or simply not move, I won’t bother about them in future turns, but I leave them on the board in case anything else tries to mix it up with them.

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TURNS 3-14

Turn 3 Activation: Double 3 – random event, a 5. I see from the description that this can’t happen, so roll again – 9. That also can’t happen; nor can 8; 11 can though, and Mike twists his ankle on the building’s doorstep, meaning his move is reduced 2" and he can’t pass more than 1d6 for fast moving.

Turn 4 Activation: Mike 5, PEFs 1. See, this is why you don’t want to be Rep 3. PEF5 passes 0d6 and stays where it is, PEF4a and PEF4b both pass 2d6 and moves 12" closer to Mike through cover.

Turn 5 Activation: Mike 3, PEFs 2. Mike leaves the building. All the PEFs pass 2d6 and move up 12" out of his line of sight.

Turn 6 Activation: Mike 1, PEFs 4. The PEFs go first. PEF5 sneaks closer, PEF4a and PEF4b both move off again. As I’ve said before, they do this a lot, and it made no sense to me until I realised that before it is resolved, a PEF represents where the Star thinks there might be trouble, and so it moving backwards and forwards is really Mike thinking to himself "It could be there… or maybe over there…" Anyway, Mike moves to cross the road, at his reduced move of 6", and unable to fast move without the police being called to arrest him, which is bad news actually, as zeds move 6". This brings him to the corner of the building and he can now see PEF5, so I roll to resolve it and discover it is more National Guard; another six of the blighters, in fact, specifically numbers 10, 7, 5, 7, 7, 7. Good grief, four Greedy troopers with SAWs? Let’s be nice, shall we? Another Meet & Greet, with Mike rolling 2 successes and the TA leader also rolling 2. We exchange pleasantries, and the troops suggest that Mike goes home and stays indoors. "My very plan," agrees Mike. Again I randomise which way they are looking.

Turn 7 Activation: Mike 2, PEF/NG 5. This is why I was keen to resolve PEF5; it increases the chances that Mike is the only one to activate. He continues to hobble across the road.

Turn 8 Activation: Mike 4, PEF/NG 2. Mike pauses, let’s assume waiting for a gap in the traffic, while all the PEFs and troops activate. The new troops pass 2d6, which is reduced to 1d6 as they have already interacted, and since there is a building nearby, they all go inside – no doubt their mates have a brew going. PEF4a continues to flee and ducks into the building in section 1; PEF4b rolls better and closes up. This actually makes it harder for it to get Mike, as it is now in the corner of a building in section 6.

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Turns 9, 10 Activation: Nobody activates. Imagine tumbleweeds blowing past. Turns like this aren’t wasted in ATZ, as police can get closer, zeds can continue feasting, and so on – the world keeps turning, and timers for other actions keep counting down.

Turn 11 Activation: Double 2 – random event. 10 can’t happen, but 12 can; it’s the ATZ dog, which I have decided to name “Fenton”. It shows up 12" away, starting at Mike’s 2 o’clock and rotating clockwise until it can fit on the board. To my dismay I see there are 6 zombies following, 12" behind it.

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Turn 12 Activation: Mike 5, Opposing Forces 4. Zeds are normally Rep 3, but if they can see a person, they activate as if Rep 4. I decide Fenton the dog can activate as well and move as if he were an NPC; he passes 1d6 and sensibly heads for the nearest building – but is stymied by the doorknob, and stands outside scratching at it. PEF4a and the zeds close on Mike as fast as they can, while PEF4b moves as far away as it can.

Turn 13 Activation: Mike 3, OpFor 5 – thank goodness for that. Mike needs to break line of sight with the zeds, but without drawing attention of those troops who will see him as an Enemy, so moves back towards the building in section 9, intending to circle around it and throw them off.

Turn 14 Activation: Mike 3, OpFor 4. The zeds shamble closer, Fenton gives up on the door and moves farther away, and the emboldened PEFs move in. Meanwhile, the TA are hunkered down in their building, ignoring it all. Mike limps further around the building.

TURN 15

Activation: Mike 3, OpFor 2. Mike goes first and heads around the corner. I decide relying on random facing is too much like hard work and declare a Challenge for Mike: Sneaking past the guards. I decide that passing 2d6 means he passes them unseen, passing 1d6 means they see someone dart past the door but don’t know who it is, and passing 0d6 means the see him, recognise him from their previous interaction, and since he is an Enemy go to In Sight and open up. Mike rolls 5, 5 and passes 0d6 – oh dear. However, as per p. 17, Mike may move an additional 2", and only then does anyone who can still see him get to roll In Sight. Assuming they all turn to face Mike, nobody can still seem him through the door, and there are no windows on that wall (this is why you need them marked), so nobody moves – yet.

Now the other side moves. The zeds beetle off towards where they saw Mike last (the corner of the building). Fenton and the PEFs all move away 12" through cover. Then, the fun part; all the soldiery. The first group (NG1-5) rolls 2d6 vs leader’s Rep (4); they get 5, 5 = pass 0d6 and even though their Enemy is outside, they do not move. The second group is still Neutral, strictly speaking, so can only stay in the building whatever they roll. And there was me, expecting a firefight.

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TURN 16

Activation: Mike 2, OpFor 1. Mike’s on a roll now, you should pardon the pun. He ducks around the corner and moves off cautiously down the alleyway.

NG1-5 pass 2d6 this time, and split up; NG1-3 move to the window attempting to gain cover on Mike’s flank and shoot at him; previously I’ve allowed tokens to count "out of sight" as "in cover", but as those guys reach the doors and windows they can see the zeds, so it seems reasonable that they stay indoors. This means they can’t see Mike. NG4-5 should "seek cover and shoot", so by the same argument they move up to the building corner – NG has line of sight and considers Mike an Enemy, so we now go to In Sight. Mike rolls Rep d6 and gets 1, 1, 2 = 3 successes; he is subject to the Citizen Brown Pants rule and rolls 1d6 vs Rep – he gets another 1, so can act when it’s his turn. NG4 rolls 3d6 (Rep 4, -1d6 for being the active figure at this point) and gets 1, 2, 4 = 2 successes. NG5 doesn’t have line of sight yet, so doesn’t roll.

Given that NG4 has an assault rifle and Mike has a crowbar, Mike uses his Star ability of choosing what to do to Charge into Melee. He and NG4 now both roll 2d6 vs Rep; Mike’s +1d6 for Rage cancels out his -1d6 for being a Citizen. Mike rolls 4, 5 and passes 0d6, while his opponent rolls 3, 1 and passes 2d6; since the bloke with the gun got more successes, he fires shots up to the target rate of the weapon (3), then Mike charges home. Rolls of 2, 6, 4 turn into results of 6, 10, 8 – the 6 misses (7 or less always does), the 10 hits, and the 8 misses because Mike is charging.

I immediately roll for new zeds, 1d6 per shot – 6, 1, 6. Each roll of 4+ is a new zombie, and they appear at the firer’s 2 o’clock and 12 o’clock, 12" away. Mike’s foe now rolls 1d6 vs weapon impact (3) for the shot that hit; he gets a 4, and since this is higher than the impact rating, Mike is Knocked Down and immediately takes the Recover From Knock Down test – 2d6 vs Rep. 3, 1 = pass 2d6, so Mike is stunned ("miss a full turn"). However, Mike has Star Power! As per p. 5, he rolls 3d6, looking for successes – 1, 4, 3 is 2 successes, each of which reduces his wound level – so he Carries On, and clobbers the trooper with his crowbar.

Mike rolls 4d6 – Rep 3, +1d6 for Rage. 5, 1, 6, 3 = 2 successes. His enemy rolls 4d6 (Rep 4) and gets 4, 1, 3, 5 = 2 successes; evenly matched. Both of them lose 1d6 from their totals for the next turn.

The existing zeds shake out into a conga line along the building, and the first two see NG5 as they pass the corner, turning to face him. Since zeds don’t trigger In Sight tests, NG5 does nothing. PEF4a moves farther away, PEF4b stays put, and Fenton turns around and comes back towards the shooting.

Shots have been fired, so the police will be called and arrive in 1d3+1d6 (2+2 = 4) turns, on turn 21.

TURNS 17-20

Turn 17 Activation: Double 5 – random event 11; twist an ankle. Oh come on! BOTH ankles? Oh well. Mike’s movement is now 4" and he can’t do better than pass 1d6 when fast moving.

Turn 18 Activation: Mike 6, OpFor 5 – nobody moves, but the police get one turn closer.

Turn 19 Activation: Mike 6, OpFor 5 – same again.

Turn 20 Activation: Mike 4, OpFor 1. The police arrive; two of them in a cruiser, wearing body armour, with BA Pistols and Shotguns. Mike decides to go quietly, considering that the alternative is running away very slowly, and being shot by multiple hostiles, then being eaten by zombies. Plus, I’m out of time for this game and need to go do something else. It doesn’t matter who he surrenders to; the National Guard turn you over to the police at this stage of the outbreak.

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AFTERMATH

I have to say, a classic zombie movie outcome; zeds everywhere, and the survivors fighting among themselves for no good reason. Mike failed this encounter, so gets no rolls for advancement; however, as per p. 72, he rolls 1d6 to see if his Rep decreases – he rolls a 2, and since he only loses Rep on a 1, all is well.

The police put Mike in jail for a week, and ask him to pay 1d3 (2) items or resources to get out. I’ll dock Mike one food unit and his luxury item for that. He misses up to Z+21, January 11th, when he is given back his crowbar and backpack, released, and told to go and sin no more.

Mike smiles all the same. It’s Z+21 now, and he is a Survivor – Stars automatically upgrade to that during week 3. His next encounter will be on Z+28, January 18th.

REFLECTIONS

You know, it’s surprisingly liberating not to have to haul out the figures, battlemats, etc. whenever I want a quick game. Unless I get a gaming room and can leave things permanently set up (unlikely, as my wife has other plans for the spare room), Hex Map Pro is likely to replace my tabletop for solo games. It may also mean I don’t need any more figures – no, surely not, let’s not be silly…

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6 thoughts on “Blackman, Z+14: Some Days You Get The Bear…

  1. Enjoy your descriptions of encounters. Have invested in Hex Map Pro and was wondering about a good source of battlemaps. The Hexographer program you mention appears, from reading about it on its web site, aimed at creating maps of countries/continents rather than modern streets as above. Does the battlemap you created above use the standard “out of the box” Hexographer program or are there additions needed for small scale encounter maps?
    Best
    David (Manchester UK)

    • Thanks David, glad you like ‘em.

      I plan to put up a page of recommendations and resources soon, but meanwhile I’d suggest looking at board game maps – Board Game Geek photos, Vassal mods and the Cry Havoc Fan website are all good sources of maps.

      Hexographer is very flexible, and everything you see me do with it is available in the basic, free programme. This urban site I’m using is a flat grey background, with the hex grid suppressed because I couldn’t match it up properly with the grid overlays in Hex Map Pro. Then I added some buildings from the village section, scaled up to about 850%, and finally put on the road and pavements with simple filled-in polygons. This was exported from Hexographer as a PNG file, trimmed and converted to JPEG in MS Paint, and transferred to the iPad camera roll, from where I imported it into Hex Map Pro. It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty straightforward actually.

  2. I imagine that rather than twisting both ankles, Mike instead discovered that his original injury was worse than he first thought. Perhaps the tussle with the soldier had exacerbated the problem?

    • Yes, that does make more sense, doesn’t it? I just looked at the random event table and thought, “Can this happen? Well, Mike has another ankle left, so I guess it can…”

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