So the Kickstarter had just gotten underway, so we thought what better way to celebrate than with a game of ZoA? So we set up the terrain and jumped straight into it!
For this game, we decided to go with one of our favorite scenarios, "Highway of the Damned." It takes place in a confined stretch of highway, densely packed with wrecks of vehicles, many of which are loaded with supplies and gear from when people fled the chaos of the crash. The groups are heading into the maze-like highway when they spot each other, realizing they're not going to get away with the loot unchallenged!
Since this was our first battle report, and the Kickstarter felt like such a great beginning, we decided we'd start a new campaign and both draw up beginning groups. James chose survivors, while Bret went with his trusty Tribals!
We both ended up with fairly balanced groups - Bret opted not to go for the unpredictable, but often effective Quislings, while James picked a Caregiver over a Worker, sacrificing some extra know-how between battles for the ability to keep people healthy in the heat of combat.
In this Confrontation type, there are several lootable cars scattered throughout the board. We rolled quite high and ended up with 13, so the table was dense with objectives! Since the goal of the Confrontation is to be the group who loots more vehicles, the first to investigate 7 cars wins.
Sadly, lootable cars weren't the only things on the table: we rolled a 10 on the Virus Density table, resulting in Average density, two Shamblers per human Wild Card. Normally, this wouldn't be much of a problem, but since this particular Confrontation is played on a single 12" highway running across a 4"x4" table rather than the usual full table, things are more close-quarters than usual. On top of that, the cars form a maze of wrecks which can force close encounters around any corner! 16 zombies was enough to make the table look like it was crawling with biters.
The last thing to check before the battle starts is what the Conditions are - we luck out and get the Normal Conditions result, it's a clear day and the sun is shining. The last thing we need right now is a rainstorm or snow!
Groups deploy at either end of the highway, so we roll off - Bret wins, choosing the East side, away from the military barricade, leaving James to deploy behind the tanks and concrete dividers.
Fittingly, the taco truck that Bret just finished painting up is right in the middle of the battlefield, and is also lootable! And thus, the battle of Carnage Asada was born! James and Bret take turns placing zombies, deploying their groups, and the game begins!
First, the Warchief Nick Midnight runs forward and spends his action searching an SUV, hoping to find some food, gear maybe... but as he opened the door, a snarling shambler lunged out at him, spawning a zombie in base contact which got a free attack! The Shambler hit him, but wasn't able to do any damage to the hardy Warchief.
At the other end of the highway, James' survivor Veteran, Jonner, jogs forward, peering into a nearby objective car to survey it for usefulness. Upon inspection, he found that it was actually a Sports Car that could be repaired to function! All it needed was some work on the engine and chassis! Well, a lot of work. Project car, indeed. It wouldn't be easy to get running.
Bret's two Headhunters, Goggles and Naci, both decide to bide their time and hold their actions, waiting for the opportune moment to act.
Sylvie charged at a nearby Shambler, deciding to preemptively remove the threat, performing a Wild Attack with her knife, hitting the creature and Shaking it, knocking it reeling. Showing great teamwork and seeing the opportunity, Syren ran over and easily dispatched the zombie with her knife while it was knocked down - Shaken zeds are relatively easy to put down, after all.
Now it's the Shambler turn - it moves quickly, several zombies are in line of sight to either group, their soulless eyes lighting up as they spot prey, lumbering forward - luckily Rivet is short and behind a car, narrowly escaping detection. The rest of the zeds amble about, strangely enough all moving toward the center of the table - congregating around the taco truck!
Naci and Goggles decide to take their actions, firing their bow and crossbow at the Shamblers now that they've ambled closer. Naci's crossbow drops one zed, but Goggles was too flustered and her shot went wide.
The last zombie to act closes in and lunges at Sylvie, missing. At the end of the turn, each group has searched one vehicle.
Initiative cards are dealt, and Jonner got a Joker! He gets to go first, adding +2 to all of his rolls and rolling on the Fortune & Calamity table, garnering him an extra Benny! Bennies are always in high demand in Zed or Alive, as groups start with fewer than in the standard Showdown! rules. (Bennies are tokens which allow players to re-roll certain attempts or try to avoid wounds sustained.) He leads off the turn by wading into the melee, stabbing a shambler with his knife, Shaking it.
Deciding to take a chance and make a break for it, Nick Midnight passes his Strength check to break away from the Shambler's grasp, luckily being missed with an attack of opportunity as he ducks away, just barely making it to the next vehicle, a large red truck! Looking over his shoulder to make sure the shambler isn't too close behind, he frantically pulls the back doors open, only to have another Shambler almost fall right onto him! Luckily, he has good reflexes and was able to dodge the zed's clumsy attack.
Bret's Shaman, La Loca, takes advantage of her spear's reach , skewering a nearby zombie without having to expose herself to counterattack, Shaking it. Meanwhile on the other end of the highway, Syren once again sees an opportunity to finish off the zombie that Jonner knocked down, quickly stabbing it in the head.
Rivet moves up to help out Sylvie, who is still struggling with a Shambler of her own. Now recieving a Ganging Up bonus, Rivet dispatches the zombie quickly with a knife to the back of the head! Back with the Tribals, Goggles uses some teamwork of her own, running over to the zed that La Loca pinned with her spear, smashing its head with her metal club.
Naci slips past the Shamblers in all of the confusion, taking the time to examine a nearby objective vehicle. She's no mechanic, but she thinks this thing could run again. It's a fullsize van, but badly damaged - it needs repairs to everything: chassis, engine, and controls are all shot.
During the zombie turn, one zed manages to recover from being Shaken but is unable to act. All others are in combat or meander through the maze, looking for prey.
At the end of the turn, James has one objective car searched, while Bret has three.
Rivet goes first, moving to a nearby overturned SUV, climbing up the underside and going prone, peering downrange with her .308 Hunting Rifle. Meanwhile, Goggles bolts past a Shambler to another objective vehicle, searching it. After a moment, she emerged with a week's worth of canned food, not bad for one turn's work! Nick Midnight turned his attention to the zombie next to him, Acing his roll and utterly smashing it with his massive two-handed wrench. That finished, he runs off to a nearby objective car.
Syren makes her way toward a wrecked motorcycle, checking the saddlebags and finding a working Double-Barrel Shotgun! Jonner sticks close by, checking a nearby wreck and positioning himself between an approaching Shambler and Syren. Checking the car as the zed approaches, he finds a Pump Shotgun in the back seat! The survivors are having a nice stroke of luck!
La Loca tries to attack a nearby Shambler with her spear, missing and taking the opportunity to get the hell away from it!
Naci expertly stabs one of the nearby Shamblers, hitting with a raise and doing extra damage! On the other end of the freeway, Sylvie searches a junked police car, hoping to find a weapon or maybe some ammo. No sooner has she opened the door than a zombie leaps onto her, knocking her to the ground and gnawing at her arm savagely, causing one wound. She manages to keep her composure, making sure not to cry out in pain and draw more zeds to her.
In the zombie turn, the zed that Nick Midnight smashed lets out a low moan, clawing its way back to its feet. In ZoA, unless you go out of your way to take a headshot or finish off a zed after killing it, there's a chance you didn't get the job done!
The zeds shamble about, one catches sight of Rivet up on the SUV, letting out a raspy growl and stumbling toward her. A zombie attempts to chomp Bret's Warchief but misses. Goggles isn't so lucky - the zed that attacks her hits, doing three wounds. Bret uses a Benny to make a Soak roll to try and avoid some of the damage, succeeding in reducing the damage to 2 wounds. Unable to contain herself, she screams out in pain, causing a loud noise and riling up nearby zombies - they're now more alert and can detect survivors from farther away! One last zed attacks Goggles but misses.
Sylvie is still pinned underneath the grabber zombie from the cop car, which manages to hit her but doesn't do enough damage to wound her. The zombie approaching Jonner reaches him, lunging but missing.
At this point, both groups have searched four objective vehicles each.
Syren draws a Joker, rolling on the Fortune & Calamity table and receiving a free Benny just like Jonner had previously. She runs over to an overturned truck, and her luck takes a turn for the worse, a zombie that was tangled up in the undercarriage grabs out at her, attacking but missing.
Jonner goes next, performing a Wild Attack on the Shambler next to him, sacrificing defense for a better chance to hit. He manages to Shake the zombie, knocking it off balance before jogging after Syren to help her out.
Nick Midnight uses his action to search the vehicle he's next to, accidentally managing to trigger the car alarm - somehow this car's battery has maintained a charge for all this time! The noise instantly starts agitating the zombies in the area, sending them looking further for prey! Lacking the mechanical skill to shut it off, Nick runs past a zombie who misses its attack of opportunity, barely making it to the taco truck.
Sylvie manages to un-Shake, getting back to her feet, but doing so consumes her action for the turn. La Loca Wild Attacks a nearby Shambler, Acing her roll and absolutely impaling it. Rivet decides that the approaching Shambler is getting too close, taking aim and letting loose with her Hunting Rifle - she rolled poorly, so James decided to use a Benny, re-rolling and hitting this time, taking it out with a well-placed shot.
Naci attacks a Shambler, hitting but just causing superficial damage. Goggles uses her action to un-Shake, failing - Bret uses a Benny, re-rolling and Acing the roll so well that not only is she un-Shaken, but she can take a full turn! She moves over to a downed Shambler, finishing it off with her metal pipe club.
In the zombie turn, they can now detect survivors up to 10" away due to all of the sound and commotion, and some new zeds spot Goggles, heading her way. The Shaken zombie near Syren and Jonner fails to get up, whilst the two attacking Goggles and Naci continue to attack them, missing and failing to do any damage. The zombie from the cop car attacks Sylvie, missing, but the one attacking Syren hits, Shaking her.
Bret's group has pulled into the lead with five vehicles searched to James' four!
Bret's luck in initiative finally changes when he draws a Joker for Nick Midnight, but James also draws one for Rivet! Rivet goes on hold while Nick decides to search the Taco Truck, once again rolling horribly and managing to find the only Taco Truck to ever have a car alarm, setting it off, lending another deafening noise to the battle! Startled and not wanting to stick around for the zeds that are sure to follow, he makes a break for a nearby taxi, jumping over the trunk to go prone on the other side. Rivet takes the chance to interrupt his move, rolling an opposed Agility check against him. They both roll 5, resulting in a tie! Since the actions occurred at the same time, and Rivet's shot missed due to the cover provided by the car.
Sylvie is finally able to fight back against the grabber from the cop car, failing to hit, but after spending a Benny, manages to hit and take it out with her knife. Jonner stabs the zombie that's attacking Syren, shaking it. Syren subsequently manages to un-Shake and can even act this turn, using her knife to finish off the zed - her third coup de grace this battle!
Naci turns around and stabs wildly at a zed, hitting it but not managing to do any substantial damage. Goggles swings her metal pipe at a shambler and misses, but the two of them are serving their purpose well - tying up the bulk of the Shamblers so that Nick can attempt to achieve the objectives. A shrewd strategy employed by the Tribals!
La Loca teams up with Goggles, stabbing the same zombie she attacked, pinning it to the ground with her spear before taking off after Nick Midnight, making it to the taxi - and their potential seventh objective car!
In the zombie turn, two more shamblers crowd around Naci and Goggles, attacking but not hitting this time. The car alarms keep blaring, pinning the Decibel Meter at 10"!
Things are getting tense! Bret's Warchief is about to search the final objective vehicle, so James is forced to take desperate measures and hope that they pay off!
Syren goes first, and in a last-ditch effort to stop Nick Midnight from getting the loot, clambers up on top of a truck, pulling the pin on an M67 Frag Grenade, heaving it at the taxi! Failing her first to-hit roll, she uses a Benny, re-rolling and hitting bang on target! Stuck next to a grenade about to go off, Nick takes the desperate move of trying to throw it back! Amazingly making his Agility check at -4, he throws it back, missing at first but using a Benny, hitting Syren with the grenade she threw at him! She takes two wounds from the blast, fails her Agility check and is sent tumbling from the truck to the ground.
Rivet takes a shot at La Loca since Nick is prone and out of sight, hitting the Tribal Shaman and Shaking her. Sylvie hops over the hood of the cop car, getting as close as possible before lighting and tossing a molotov cocktail at the taxi, hoping to catch Nick and La Loca in the burst! Her aim is off, however, and the blast goes wide.
With that, Nick is free to search the vehicle, which turns up empty, but secures him the victory in what ended up as a close skirmish!