Blackman, Z+94: Discretion

Posted: 11 February 2013 in 28 Months Later

“Discretion is the better part of valour.” ― William Shakespeare

“Discretion is the better part of not getting exsanguinated.” ― Jim Butcher


Z+94, 4th April 2013: It’s the start of a new month, so Mike deducts one food unit from his stock (p. 55). Mike is staying in the suburbs for a while, and has decided to clean out a small group of houses as a base of operations. He only needs one to sleep in, but it would be easier if the rest had been cleaned out as well. Thus, I’ll be playing a Take Back scenario (p. 70). I choose the Day Part as Daytime (p. 66), and note that the Encounter Rating (p. 53) is 3. Mike’s Rep can’t get any lower than 2, so there is no point rolling for Lack of Sleep.

As usual, I’ve picked an existing map rather than generate one using the rulebook, and also as usual, it’s The Village from Cry Havoc Fan, set up in Hex Map Pro on the iPad, and counting one inch per hex – a bit small as tables go, but it doesn’t seem to matter much. As per p. 53, there are 1d6+2 vehicles; I roll a 4, so there are 6 vehicles on the table. There’s no particular way of working these out in the rules, but it seems reasonable to me that most of them are sedans or small vans.

There are PEFs in areas 3, 4 and 6, with Reps of 5, 6 and 5 respectively (p. 60). With the player tactical group only having one figure in it (Mike), there are 1d6 zombies on the table at the start; I roll 6 of them, then 1d6 for each to get its clockface direction from Mike as per p. 46, and get 214652. Mike enters from section 9, and moves a full 8" move onto the table before I place the zeds, putting his back to the wall of Building 1 as it may be some time before he activates again, and I don’t want him to be rushed from behind. Thanks to the rule that zeds must be 12" away from Mike to start with, and if that’s not possible, they rotate clockwise until they fit on the board, a small herd of zeds develops in section 7 of the board.

There are no special rules about placing vehicles, so I place them as if they were PEFs, which works as well as anything; that puts them in sections 363622.  Here’s the board at the end of setup, which took just under half an hour because I’m a bit rusty; I’ve marked the board sections for you. The white square at top left is the ER, the red and green squares are activation dice (using Hex map Pro’s built-in dice roller), and the tan octagon is the turn counter.



Activation: Mike 1, zeds and PEFs 5. All PEFs activate, as does Mike, but the zeds are dormant. Since the PEFs have a higher die roll and have activated, they move first.

PEF6 is easy; it must pass 2d6 on the PEF Movement Table (in the Quick Reference Sheets at the back of the book), so moves 12" towards Mike, staying in cover at all times. I decide to let it walk through walls, as until it is resolved, it’s just where Mike thinks something might be; it closes up to the corner of Building 4’s yard, as per my usual house rule that given a choice between getting closer and staying in cover, PEFs stay in cover.

PEF5a rolls 4, 1 vs its Rep (5) and passes 2d6, so it moves into the corner of Building 2. PEF5b does likewise (rolling 3, 3) and winds up next to PEF5a.


Mike ducks into Building 1, and since it has no PEF inside, I check if there are zombies (p. 47, Meeting Zombies in Buildings). this triggers a Defining Moment (p. 64). I roll 6d6, with any scores of 5 or 6 counting as a zombie (because these are the ‘burbs). I roll 553346, so there are three zeds inside. Mike has a shotgun, but with a miserable Rep 2 he needs a 6 to hit anything, and that has to be on the first die, as anything after that counts as "second or higher target" and will miss automatically. So, using it as a club, he lays into the zeds.

We start with a Charge Into Melee test (I’m working from the QRS sheets now). Mike rolls 4d6 vs Rep on the table – 2d6 as normal, +1d6 for Rage, +1d6 for being a Survivor. He rolls 3655 and passes 0d6; zombies always pass 1d6, so they have beaten him and move straight into melee (zombies having no ability to shoot at him, fortunately).

The first zed rolls Rep (3) d6 and gets 625, scoring one success as only one of the dice has scored 1-3. Mike rolls 3d6 (Rep 2, Rage) and scores 625, also one success; but he gets an extra success for being a human fighting a zombie. As Mike scored one more success, the zed is knocked down and Mike rolls 1d6, which on a roll of 1 will kill the zombie. He rolls 5, and it’s still in play, but now prone.

Zombie #2 rolls 314 and gets two successes; Mike gets 411, counting as three successes as he’s fighting a zed, and again knocks it down – he rolls a 3, so doesn’t kill it.

Zombie #3 rolls 255, one success, and Mike gets 526, so knocks the third one prone also, but on a roll of 6 fails to kill it.


Activation: Mike 1, Zeds 5. Hmm, same as last time. PEF5a and 5b both pass 2d6, and would close in, but like PEF6 they can’t get any closer. The zeds fail to activate, so that leaves Mike smacking the ones inside Building 1.

You’ve seen how that works; however, because the zeds are prone, Mike is now rolling an extra 2d6, so he manages to kill one, and knock two down as they stagger to their feet.


Activation: Mike 2, Zeds 3. All PEFs activate and pass 2d6, but they can get no closer. The zeds activate and go before Mike; let’s look at the melee first, where we find Mike clubbing both zeds back to the floor as they try to rise. Even Rep 2 Survivors have a chance in melee, it seems.

The other zeds have nothing to home in on, so move forward in the direction they were facing, turning left or right at random when they bump into things. The one in Building 3’s yard amuses me briefly by rattling around inside the yard, before straightening up and heading for the open gate. Which reminds me, I forgot to roll for the door Mike entered building 1 through; never mind, that’s a house rule anyway.



Activation: Mike 4, zeds 1. PEFs and zeds continue to move as before, but the zeds climb to their feet unopposed and claw at Mike, who knocks one down but is evenly matched against the second.



Activation: Mike 1, Zeds/PEFs 4. This time, both PEF5s pass 1d6, so they move away from Mike. The zeds bumble around as usual, and there are the first signs of the traditional conga line starting to form up along the edges of the board.

Meanwhile, Mike is still locked in melee with two zombies, both of whom he knocks down. I should get him a sword or something.


Activation: Mike 5, zeds 2. All the PEFs pass 2d6 and move back where they came from. Zeds shamble around aimlessly outside, while inside Building 1, the melee continues… and Mike clubs both zombies back down again as they try to stand up. How long can this go on, we ask? The problem is that while Mike’s Rage and Survivor status are giving him enough successes to beat the zeds, they aren’t giving him enough successes to actually kill them.



Activation: Mike 6, zeds 5. Nobody moves, the PEFs because they can’t get any closer without breaking cover, and the rest because they don’t activate.


Activation: Mike 4, zeds 2. Much the same as the last few turns, except that Mike finally gets enough successes, and rolls low enough for damage, that he kills both zeds. Phew!


Activation: Mike 2, zeds 1. Mike uses his activation to loot the building; he rolls 2d6 vs the area’s Encounter Rating (3), scores 6, 5, and finds nothing. Oh well.

Meanwhile, outside, the zeds are in a full-blown anticlockwise conga line, except for one maverick who is going clockwise.


Activation: Double 1 – random event. I really must print that page out separately, it’s the only one I use now apart from the QRS. Naturally, it’s an 11, and Mike twists his ankle again. Note to self: Pick up some grunts, then there is a chance that one of them might twist and ankle instead.


Activation: Double 4 – random event. This time, a 10; Mike has the wrong reloads, and once his shotgun runs out of ammo, it stays that way for the rest of the game.


Activation: Mike 4, zeds 2. One of the PEFs passes 0d6 so stays put – usual outcome, different reason. The zeds conga around the board edges.


Activation: Mike 6, zeds 2. Stuck inside a building with no line of sight to or from zeds is as good a way to fail to activate as any, I guess. However, next time the zeds activate, one of the zombies will shamble past the open door, and then it will be able to see him.


Activation: Mike 2, zeds 1. Since this is a Take Back encounter, Mike has to kill all the zeds to win. Looking at the board, I can see that if he attacks the closest one in melee, none of the others will be able to see; so Mike hobbles out of Building 1 and lays into it with his crowbar, while the rest shuffle around the board edge. Mike rolls 2d6 vs Rep for Charge Into Melee, and gets no successes (rolled 3, 5). Although zeds have no guns, it’s still worth rolling for this, as if Mike manages to beat the zed, it counts as unarmed on the first turn of melee, and thus rolls one die less.

The zed rolls Rep (3) d6, scoring 315 for two successes; Mike rolls Rep (2) d6, plus 1d6 for Rage, and gets 315 – two successes, bumped up to three because his target is a zed. Mike rolls 1d6 vs the number of extra successes he gained (one), and on a 5 has just knocked the zed down. It’s a start.


Activation: Mike 3, zeds 5, and only the PEFs activate; PEF6 notices that it can now get closer without being seen, and joins the other PEFs in Building 2.



Activation: Mike 5, zeds 3. Mike has two zombie activations to finish this melee and bug out, or the others will heave into view and notice it. As they shuffle forwards, the life-or-death struggle goes on; the zed fights for its not-quite-life and rolls 312 for three successes, then Mike rolls 33241 and gets five successes; he rolls a 1 on 1d6 for the melee result, and kills it outright. However, as he has not activated, he can’t move, and stands in plain sight, panting heavily, slimy crowbar in one hand.


Activation: Mike 1, zeds 3 – everyone activates and the sequence is PEFs, zeds, then Mike. PEF5a is bored and wanders off, having passed only 1d6; since it moves 12" directly away from him, it’s now outside Building 5. The zeds conga as usual. Mike hobbles back to Building 1 and hides in the corner, minimising the chance of anyone seeing him.



Activation: Mike 1, zeds 2. PEFs 6 and 5b hold in position; PEF5a flees again, hits the board edge, and joins the zed conga line.

Mike needs to resolve all PEFs to win, so he now switches to the shotgun, fast-moves up to Building 2 and barges in (I roll 1d6, using a house rule, and get a 3; the door is closed, but not locked). He rolls 2, 4 vs Rep for the fast move and passes 1d6, boosting his move to 10"; he only needs 7" to get into the building, but any hostile shooters are more likely to miss if you’re fast moving, however far you go.

I now roll 2d6 vs local ER for each PEF; PEF6 gets 3, 2 and passes 2d6 so is an actual contact – I roll 1d6 on the Contact Days 30+ table and get a 1, Gangers; I roll again on the How Many table, adding +1 as directed by the previous answer, and get a 5. +1 = 6; Player Group + 2, or three Gangers. PEF5b gets 2, 3 and is also a contact – a 4 on the Contact Days 0+ table tells me this is zombies, and a 3 on the How Many table tells me there are 1 + 1/2 d6 zeds; I roll a 4, so that’s three zeds.

We now go to a Meet and Greet situation (p. 62), which happens before anyone else gets to do anything. First, I need to load up the PEFs; the zombies are easy, but I need to roll for the gangers on pp. 74-75. Rolling 1d6 for the table to use for each, then 2d6 for each ganger on the relevant table (this is why it’s better to do it ahead of time), I see Mike has met gangers 6 and 8 from table 1-3, and ganger 7 from table 4-6. The stats I need for the moment are:

  • Kev (6 on 1-3 table): Rep 3, Shotgun, Rage.
  • Fred (8 on 1-3 table): Rep 4, Machine Pistol, Runt.
  • Jeni (7 on 4-6 table): Rep 3, Machine Pistol, Hard As Nails.

Fred has the highest Rep, so he’s in charge. Fred and Mike now each roll Rep d6, looking for successes; Mike gets 6, 3 = one success, while Fred gets 2331 = 4 successes. Consulting the Ganger Meet & Greet table, I see that when players score less than Gangers, Gangers Walk the Walk – i.e., start fighting. We go directly to the In Sight check (p. 17) , where each figure rolls Rep d6 to determine the sequence of events. Mike rolls one less die than usual because he is the active figure.

(Note that although the Gangers are all Grunts, and thus must follow the Grunt Actions for in-sight resolution, it’s obvious in this case that they will all fire.)

Mike gets no successes (rolling 4); Kev, 1 (rolling 345); Jeni, 0 (rolling 644); and Fred, 3 (rolling 1341). Fred goes first, and fires three shots at Mike (his weapon has 3 targets). He rolls 1d6 for each shot (scoring 445) and adds his Rep (4) to each one, giving him scores of 8, 8, and 9. The first 8 misses Mike because he is fast moving (told you that was worth it), the second 8 misses because this is the second shot, and the 9 misses because it is the third shot. I roll 3d6 to see how many zeds this attracts; 443, so no new zombies.

Kev goes next, and fires his shotgun at Mike. As it’s a shotgun, although the target rating is only 3, he rolls 6d6 for hits, counting the best three for attacks but all of them for tight ammo; he rolls 445445. No ones there, so he hasn’t run out of shells; he counts 545 as hits, but rolls 6d6 for fresh zombies, getting 525521 for three new zeds. He adds his Rep (3) to the three best dice rolls and scores 8, 7, 8; all of those miss – again, Mike is saved by fast moving. The new zeds turn up at Kev’s 6, 4, and 8 o’clock (in each case, twice the score of 1d6).

Jeni and Mike go simultaneously. I roll for Jeni first, and she gets 553, which gives her scores of 8, 8, and 6; all misses thanks to the fast move, and she scores 425 for zombies, getting a new one at her 10 o’clock. Mike fires his shotgun and gets 356554, counting 565 for hits, no ones so tight ammo doesn’t apply, and 151631 for zombies, generating two new ones at his 2 and 6 o’clock.


I now face a quandary. As I understand the rules, there is no rule saying he can’t use up his remaining movement to break contact; but that will leave him in view of half a dozen zeds and three hostile gangers, and unlikely to activate. So, I invoke the Leaving the Table rule on p. 33; all humans roll 1d6 + Rep, and any who score higher than Mike can shoot at him as he runs off, although he counts as fast moving – that sounds like a better bet.

Mike rolls a 6 and adds Rep 2 for a total of 8; go Mike! Fred rolls a 3, adds Rep 4 and gets a 7 – too slow, Fred. Kev rolls 1, and let’s just draw a veil over that, shall we? Jeni rolls a 3, adds Rep 3, and also fails to beat Mike’s score. Mike is removed from the table.


Mike failed this encounter, since he did not clear the board of the opposition. He can’t roll to improve his Rep, and there is no point rolling to see if he lost any Rep, because it can’t go any lower. Well, that was a bust, but ATZ encounters are like aeroplane landings – if you can walk away, it was good enough.


Mike Blackman:* Rep 2 MM Survivor, Pep 2, Sav 1, Poser, Rage. Shotgun, crowbar, knife, backpack. Food 1.

Suburban Area: Body Armour 9, Food 29, Fuel 14, Luxuries 28, Medical 7, Weapons 25.


This encounter used 18 zombies and four humans, and took about three hours to play and write up – it’s hard to apportion time between those, as I write things up as I go. Mike’s appalling Rep is also boosting the encounter time, as he often fails to activate.

  1. Steve Boulter says:

    Excellent – made me laugh! Mike’s escapades are comical! He shouldn’t survive, he has a low Rep, is more effective at using a shotgun as a club rather than shooting it! Has terminally weak ankles and yet survives by hobbling as fast as he can! What a hoot!

    You have to get Mike some buddies Andy (though with his Rep and swollen ankles he’s hardly an attractive leader-figure), or at least someone who can shoot something and hit what they are aiming at!

    Keep ’em coming.

    • andyslack says:

      I think it’s good training, actually – it focuses my attention on ending every move so that missing several activations in a row will have minimal impact, because that’s what usually happens.

      Low Rep Stars seem to be much more playable than I expected, admittedly in a Keystone Cops sort of way…

  2. wargamingresources says:

    Thanks Andy – another great write up – I was definitely on the edge of my seat to see if Mike managed to survive this one – especially when the Gangers turned up!

    Cheers, Iain

  3. Hugh Duggan says:

    Definitely one of the most tragicomic zombie campaigns I’ve ever seen! Just a point, though: when shooting any gun, don’t the best dice get counted first (i.e. *not* in the order in which they are rolled)? Did I misunderstand how you are resolving this?

    • andyslack says:

      You know what, you’re right – says so right there on page 26. Man, I’ve been doing that wrong for about five years – thanks for pointing it out!

  4. Mitchell F. says:

    Ha! I can’t believe he twisted his ankle again. That is so amazing. At least he walked away with his life. My favorite picture is the last one, a room full of gangers and a ton of zombies on the way. I think you made the right decision…

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