“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” – Bo Derek
Today I’m playing through the first encounter from ATZ, which is a training mission and essentially familiarises you with movement and Possible Enemy Forces; more complex rules appear in later scenarios. I’m not starting with the free web supplement of the Day One encounter, because I can’t really do that one without spoilers. (Also, I’ve played it several times now and want to move on.)
Here’s a map I knocked up quickly in Hexographer, to play the game in Hex Map Pro on iPad. The grey area with buildings is the “board”, and the yellowish bit off to one side is where I park tokens between games. The scale is one inch to the hex, which makes the board a bit small at roughly 33″ x 24″, but it’s really hard to break the rules, and a slightly small playing area definitely won’t do it. If anything, it speeds the game up.
It’s a daytime encounter during days 1-10 of the outbreak; specifically Z+7, 28th December. I’m not tracking resources for the initial urban area, because I plan to leave before they become a constraint. Since the encounter is in a city, the Encounter Rating begins at 5. The Lack of Sleep rule is always in force, so Mike rolls 2d6 and adds the scores to see how many hours’ sleep he got last night; the total is a 9, and since this is 8 or more he has no penalties to his Rep.
Mike is alone for this initial encounter, and I start by moving him 8″ (a full normal move) onto the board, entering along the roadside in section 8. I decide that he is carrying his backpack and a crowbar – things aren’t so obviously bad yet that carrying the shotgun seems appropriate.
As usual, I generate three PEFs, rolling 1d6 for the location of each and 2d6 for its Rep, taking the higher of the two dice. This gives me a Rep 4 PEF in section 3 of the board, a Rep 3 one in section 5, and a Rep 5 one in section 6. I place them as per the rules, those in sections 4 and 6 inside buildings, and the one in section 5 in the middle of the road.
That means Mike can see it, so I resolve that PEF right away; I roll 2d6 vs ER (5) and get 4, 1; a real contact, so I now roll 1d6 on the contact table for days 1-10, and get a 6. I deduct 1 for it being daytime, and read off the result for 5 – zombies, roll on the How Many table at -1. Another d6 is a 1, less 1 is 0 – it’s a lone zed, now 7″ away from Mike – too far to trigger the Zed Or No Zed test.
Activation: Mike 5, Opposing Forces 3. Mike fails to activate this turn, as his roll of 5 is higher than his Rep of 3, but everything else moves. (Plus the zed counts as Rep 4 for activation because it can see him.)
The Rep 5 PEF goes first, because it has the highest Rep of those who passed their activation. I roll 2d6 vs Rep (5) on the PEF movement table; 1, 3 is pass 2d6 so it moves 12″ towards Mike through cover.
One of my house rules is that given a choice between moving closer and breaking cover, a PEF will always choose to stay in cover. So PEF5 gets as close as it can without coming into plain sight.
The Rep 4 PEF goes next, and using the same rules, it tries to close in 12″ on Mike as well.
Finally for this turn, the zed moves. I turn to page 48 in ATZ: FFO and see that it will move 6″ directly towards Mike – zombies ignore PEFs. That puts it not quite close enough to attack in melee, but unless Mike goes first next turn, it will swipe at him.
This is the first time Mike has been within 6″ of a zombie, so he now rolls the Zed Or No Zed test – 2d6 vs Rep (3). He rolls 44, passes 0d6, and doesn’t recognise his attacker as a zombie until it is too late. The zed has used its movement without quite getting into melee range, though.
Activation: Mike 5, OpFor 3. Again!
PEF5 rolls 16 vs Rep 5, passes 1d6 and so moves 12″ away through cover. I interpret this to mean that it can leave its building so long as Mike can’t see it, so it does. (Notice the little arrows on the tokens, by the way; they show which way it’s facing, which is important in ATZ.) I imagine it fleeing the violence across the street.
PEF4 again passes 2d6 but can’t get any closer without being seen. I imagine it peering through the shop window at the fight outside.
The zed now declares a charge into melee with Mike. To do this, we take the Charge Into Melee test (pp. 29-30). Zombies always pass 1d6 on this test, so there is no need to roll for the zed. Mike rolls 2d6 vs Rep (3), scores 2, 6 and so passes 1d6. (Mike’s modifiers of -1d6 for being a Citizen and +1d6 for Rage cancel out.) As both sides passed 1d6, the target (Mike) is allowed to fire one shot – but he has no gun, so we’ll ignore that. Then, the charger moves into melee without any further reaction tests. Mike is also subject to the Citizens Brown Pants Rule Part 2 (p. 30) and must roll 1d6 vs Rep to defend himself; fortunately he rolls a 3 and is able to act.
The zed is now in melee with Mike. Each now rolls Rep d6, looking for successes, i.e. rolls of 1-3. Mike rolls 4d6; 3 for his Rep, an extra one because he has Rage (this is why I chose it, as well as it helping counteract the problems from the Poser attribute assigned to him by the dice during character creation), and neither gains nor loses dice for his weapon. He rolls 5366 and gets one success, but this is increased to two successes because he is fighting a zombie.
Meanwhile, the zombie rolls 3d6 and scores 214; also two successes. They are evenly matched.
Turn 3 Activation: Mike 4, OpFor 6. Nobody moves.
Turn 4 Activation: Mike 6, OpFor 2. Frustrating. PEF5 turns around and comes back (they do that a lot, but remember that while it’s still a PEF, it’s your Star thinking about where something might be, rather than where something actually is). PEF4 runs off into the shrubbery behind its building.
Mike and the zed are still bashing away at each other, and because they both previously scored an Evenly Matched result and are still in melee, they each roll one extra die. Mike rolls 5d6, 52431 = 3 successes, plus one for fighting a zed is 4 successes. The zed rolls 4222 = 3 successes. Since Mike scored more successes, the zed is Knocked Down and Mike rolls 1d6 vs the number of successes more than the enemy (1); he rolls a 5, so the zed is neither Obviously Dead nor Out Of the Fight, but must roll on a Recover From Knocked Down test. As per p. 49, this means it spends its entire next activation getting up.
Update: Ed Teixeira, the author, points out I did this wrong – the extra die for being Evenly Matched applies to a third party attacking one of the two evenly matched guys, not those guys themselves. Thanks Ed! As usual, I shall let it stand for this session and do things right next time. Unless I forget…
Notice that Hex Map Pro tokens can be flipped over to show another side. In this case I have turned the zombie grey and marked it “KD” to show its status.
Activation: Mike 1, OpFor 5. This time only Mike and PEF5 move.
Since PEF5 had the highest score which is its Rep or less, it goes first. It would like to get closer, but it can’t without breaking cover, so it stays put.
Checking the rules, since no guns have been fired, the police are not summoned. Clearly, nobody was watching who wants to get involved. And Mike has the Rage attribute, so from a role-playing perspective he should finish the zombie off.
Stunned figures can’t do anything, the zed is prone until it next activates, and Mike gets an extra 2d6 because his opponent is prone. I decide the extra d6 for having been evenly matched before shouldn’t apply, although I could argue that either way, and roll 6d6 – three for Rep, one for Rage, two for a prone target. 412542 gives Mike three successes, plus one for the zed being a zed is five. He rolls 1d6 vs number of successes more than his opponent and gets a 5; pass 1d6 but not a natural 1, so his opponent is Out Of the Fight. As per p. 49, against a zombie this escalates to Obviously Dead, so I remove the token from play and note that Mike has killed a zombie.
Activation: Mike 2, PEFs 5.
PEF5 tries to close up but is already as close as it can get. I decide to force the issue and roll to fast move across the street towards it; Mike rolls 2d6 vs Rep (3), gets 32 and passes 2d6, so moves 16″ (base 8″, +50% per die passed).
That takes him across the street, into the building, and around behind the PEF, which I now resolve. It’s another zombie, so since Mike is already in the mood for some clobberin’, he declares a charge as soon as he can see it. First, he must again pass 1d6 vs Rep as per the Citizens Brown Pants rule (it sucks being a Citizen in this game); again luck is with him, he rolls a 2, and is able to proceed to the Charge Into Melee test. As before, the zed passes 1d6. Mike’s score of 21 = pass 2d6, more than the zed, so he moves into melee with no reaction tests taken on either side, and the zed counts as unarmed in the first turn of melee, which means it rolls 1d6 less than normal.
Mike rolls to brain the zed with his crowbar. Mike rolls 4d6 and gets 3434, which given the zed-bashing bonus gives him 3 successes. The zed rolls 31 and gets 2 successes; Mike rolls 1d6 vs his margin of success and gets a 2, knocking it down.
This seems as good a moment as any to roll for the Defining Moment; essentially, whenever you enter a building, you roll to resolve an extra PEF. I roll 3, 6 vs ER (5) and pass 1d6; this increases the ER by 1, which is a double-edged sword; it means I will always find someone inside a building, but also means I will always get the best loot possible.
Turn 7 Activation: Mike 1, OpFor 6. Only Mike can do anything this turn, so he opts for beating the zed to a pulp. He rolls 6d6 in melee, scores 3 successes, and knocks it down again.
Turn 8 Activation: Mike 3, OpFor 5. Again Mike is the only one to activate, and he uses this and his crowbar to set the zed’s status to Obviously Dead.
Turn 9 Activation: Mike 2, OpFor 1. Mike loots the building – errm, sorry, buys some supplies. Normally he would roll 2d6 vs ER (now 6) to see what he finds, but as he will now always pass 2d6, he automatically gets one Item. More on Items later. Meanwhile, PEF4 moves up to the door of the building opposite.
Turn 10 Activation: Mike 6, OpFor 2. Mike can’t move, and the only thing left on the board is PEF4, which passes 1d6 and moves away.
Turn 11 Activation: Mike 1, OpFor 5. Mike has now fulfilled the victory conditions for the scenario, and I don’t feel like mixing it up with whatever PEF4 is or whatever else is in the shops, not as a Rep 3 Citizen. So, Mike rolls to fast move off the board; scores of 46 vs Rep 3 mean he passes 0d6 so only moves his normal 8″, although he counts as fast moving if shot at. Deducting 2″ for going through a door, he makes it back to the pavement.
Turn 12 Activation: Mike 5, OpFor 6.
Turn 13 Activation: Mike 3, OpFor 3 – doubles, so neither side moves, and the double is less than or equal to the original ER, so I roll 3d6 for a random event; 13, cell phone ringing 1d6″ from a random character – and only Mike is available, so it must be him. I roll 1d6 for distance (5″) and 1d6 for direction (4) as if placing a zed, so I double the number and count it as a clockface direction – Mike’s 8 o’clock. I now roll 3d6 to generate more zeds; as it’s an urban area, each die coming up 4-6 creates a zed. I roll 413 and get one new zed, which is always 12″ from the cellphone in a direction chosen the same way as before – I roll 6, so it is at the phone’s 12 o’clock, and decide the phone is “facing” Mike for this purpose, putting the zed 7″ from him.
Turn 14 Activation: Mike 2, OpFor 5. Mike’s chance to escape; he rolls 2d6 vs Rep to fast move, and again passes 0d6, which takes him right to the edge of the board.
Turn 15 Activation: Mike 3, OpFor 1. Mike goes first and steps off the board, ending the game.
Mike killed at least one zombie, achieved his objective (pick up at least one Item), and did not score a Runaway or Out Of the Fight result; he has passed all four criteria for a potential Rep increase, so rolls 1d6. He gets a 3, but since this is not more than his current Rep, it doesn’t go up.
I decide the Item is a unit of luxury goods. Mike definitely needs a drink.
- Mike Blackman*: Rep 3 MM Citizen, Pep 2, Sav 1, Poser, Rage. Shotgun, crowbar, knife, sedan, backpack, 2 food, 1 luxury.
- Jenny Blackman (C11B): Rep 3 FM Citizen, Pep 1, Sav 2, Initiative. Pistol, 1 food.
- James Blackman (C12A): Rep 3 MY Citizen, Pep 1, Sav 2, Agile. Shotgun, 1 food.
Note that the Zed Or No Zed test is only taken once in a character’s career, the first time it sees a zed within 6″.
Notice also that since zeds always pass 1d6 on the Charge Into Melee table, it does you no good to melee them from behind.