Escape from New Chicago: All Things Zombie report
This week's game night was our much anticipated post-Halloween zombie game. We'd been talking as a club for a while about trying out a zombie apocalypse game, and this scenario hit all the high points: survivors, random encounters, loot, cars and of course zombies. Tim decided to run the game using All Things Zombie from Two Hour Wargames, which proved to be an excellent decision.
In preparation for the game, we assembled a huge pile of modern-looking zombies from our respective collections. Tim prepared extensive notes on the scenario and served as the gamemaster for the zombies. The other 5 players ran one survivor each, though we allowed players to quickly re-join the game if their survivor was killed. There was very little downtime, as we were all keeping a close watch on the undead horde that was slowly building on the tabletop.
In All Things Zombie, you have only marginal control over your character. You can send him running around the table, but he will react to everything he sees (mainly zombies in this case) and sometimes those reactions won't be exactly what you had in mind. As part of the game, zombies were drawn to noise: gunshots, car engines starting, doors slamming, etc. As the survivors bumbled around the map, looting cars and searching buildings, a steady stream of undead started appearing in the bleak urban cityscape. Our attempts to greet them with firepower only resulted in more zombies!
Virtually everything you can see on the tabletop had a random zombie/loot table associated with it. Players could send their survivors into the individual floors of the two largest buildings to search for supplies, though we learned the hard way that large buildings are full of proportionately large numbers of zombies.
Indeed, zombies were appearing faster than we could slay them. At one point, Jon's overwhelmed survivor character rolled a grenade into a mob of approaching zombies, but he misjudged the blast radius and was incinerated — along with 2 other survivors and a half-dozen zombies. Only Burt the shotgun-wielding biker survived, owing to his "Tough as Nails" trait which allowed him to shrug off his first "killed" result. Here's a picture of him standing tall amid the smoking carnage of the grenade blast.
Tim played the zombies and had great fun with them. When survivors died, the zombies would pause and feast on the fallen heroes. The zeds weren't particularly smart, and in several cases they bunched up on the wrong side of a chainlink fence, attracted to the sound of our gunfire but unable to climb the fence.
Our game lasted for about 3 hours. We could have played longer, but the game shop was closing up. On the fly, we invented a nice, logical endgame for the scenario: Our SWAT-lookin' cop survivor found a set of keys for a nearby police truck. It had room for 12 passengers, so our game quickly turned into "scoop everyone up and get the hell out of here."
This bright idea couldn't have come at a better time. The zombies were swarming through the street at this point, and the survivors were scattered all over the map. Brian's trio of survivors (he started with one guy and found 2 more allies in a nearby building) provided cover fire while the rest of the stragglers clambered aboard the police truck.
The SWAT truck zoomed off the board and we called the game. Then, of course, we put everyone's zombies on the table and staged with glorious parting photo: the SWAT truck, with Burt perched on the roof, escaping to safety while the zombie horde advances inexorably. Good game!