Monday 31 July 2023

Last Days Seasons campaign: July

Another month, another venture into the city for our band of intrepid survivors. Another custom mission around a new piece of terrain - in this case an mdf oil well that I built without any of the oil well bits so that it can stand in for all sorts of things, in this case a radio tower that the survivors want to get to the top of to get a better signal and make contact with other survivors!

If you look closely, you’ll also spot the comic book shop (that I forget when I made, but it’s older than this blog so over a decade ago) getting its first turn on the gaming table, as well as a couple of vignettes that I’d originally built as spawn points when I was working on my own rules, but are just thematic terrain here, like this fun detail in the graveyard:

Or this potential cause of the entire zombie outbreak out by the bins behind the comic book shop:

And also my post-apocalyptic campsite, that was originally made for fallout gaming but I love so much it gets pulled out at every opportunity:

As ever, the group split up (divide and conquer!) - Devon and Cece heading off to the right, planning to scale the radio tower and potentially use a garage to get a better vantage point respectively; Kev, Jess and Dionne headed off to the left, to try and claim some unsupervised supplies whilst generally being rowdy enough to try and draw some heat away from the other group.

Devon and Cece cautiously advance, hoping to quickly and quietly take down the first zombie in their path:

In the other group, Kev dashes forward to try and brain a zombie with his cricket bat, but immediately contracts another level of sickness and so will be bedridden after the game. Jess and Dionne step out around a ruined building planning to spray the oncoming zombies with assault weapon fire. At which point I remembered that I’d swapped Dionne’s assault rifle for a hunting crossbow, a silent but deadly weapon, so her being part of team ‘really loud noises’ rather than team ‘sneaky stealth’ didn’t really make sense…

Jess pumps a couple of shots into the zombie immediately in front of her, but does little more than make a lot of noise (so, exactly according to plan I guess?). Dionne, however, powers a crossbow bolt straight into the zombie’s eye socket - first blood!

Devon snaps off two shots at the zombie on his side of the board, but both miss. He however takes advantage of his new ‘fire and maneuver’ skill to scoot around the corner of a parked truck and move a little closer to the radio tower. Cece, on the other hand, casually lines up the shot and takes the zombie out. She shrugs, and gestures Devon towards the radio tower with a shooing motion.

Kev, meanwhile, easily takes down his zombie with a swing of his cricket bat. Which is doubly impressive, considering the zombie was wearing a protective hard hat…

At the end of the turn, I rolled the event ‘changing weather’ - which made me realise that I’d forgotten to roll for a weather condition at the start of the game! I rolled Summer Storm, which reduced all Survivor’s maximum Line of Sight to 18”. Not the worst result, as the zombies tend to be fairly close to me by the time I start shooting at them…

Operation ‘loud noises’ proved to be a double edged sword, because as well as distracting the zombies on the board away from the other team, a zombie shambles into the area just behind Jess - here’s to hoping that Dionne is quick enough to take it out before it gets it’s teeth into Jess (and thank heavens for Dionne being Locked and Loaded for just this sort of situation). At this point, I realised that a hunting crossbow needs reloading after every shot, so Dionne going Locked and Loaded was a waste of AP and she wouldn’t be heroically intervening…

Jess span round and sprayed bullets at the advancing zombie, but despite landing a hit it wasn’t enough to keep it from lurching into grabbing distance. 

While all this was going on, over in the centre Devon dashes to the foot of the tower:

While Cece moves to sneak around to the rightmost supply token, reloading her rifle as she does so.

Kev sprints forward to engage the zombie emerging from a gap in the fence next to the comic book shop, trusting that Dionne will be able to take down the zombie in a chicken suit bearing down on him (and presumably not realising that his target has got a few friends lowing along behind him, out of sight behind the fence). It’s a pretty safe bet though, as with her hunting crossbow and selection of skills, if she hits she can take out a zombie on a 2+, which she can then re-roll if she gets a 1…

Devon again shoots twice and misses twice, which is probably for the best as I think I’d forgotten that he had run so shouldn’t have been able to shoot at all! That and he’s still getting used to being blind in one eye (it’s going to take a little while for him to figure out depth perception again…)

Cece also narrowly missed her target, her bullet pinging of of the dumpster between her and the zombie:

Dropping her assault rifle to hang by it’s sling, Jess crashed her fire axe into the zombie that had sneaked up on her’s skull. ‘Huh, that was easier than shooting them…’ she quietly exclaimed to herself…

Kev manages to narrowly beat the zombie that he’s grappling with, but can’t seem to land a telling enough blow to take it out, but at least manages to prevent the zombie from doing any damage in return.

At the end of the turn, the weather changes again - the storm dissipates, leaving a relatively pleasant afternoon (if you ignore the life-or-death struggle against the living dead, that is).

With a new turn comes yet another new zombie sneaking up on Jess - when will that girl ever catch a break? Kev is also unlucky enough that his brief run to engage a zombie was seemingly loud enough to also draw the attention of another zombie in the area.

Devon at this point finds himself out of ammo and surrounded:

Although I’m glad I re-read the rules on how zombies move which states that if a zombie can’t get into contact because it’s way is blocked by other zombies engaging it’s target and it doesn’t have another viable target to move towards they stand in place rather than bundling up to form a horde - I wonder how some of the previous month’s games would have gone if I’d remembered that?

Jess span around again and blasted the new zombie with her Surplus Assault Rifle, the second shot taking it through the roof of the mouth and blowing the top of its head clean off. Safe for now (or at least until next turn when she’s inevitably ambushed by yet another wandering zombie) she reloaded her SAR and cautiously advanced forward after Dionne.

Kev manages to break away from the pair of zombies trying to drag him down, and shifts sideways to face one of them one-on-one, leaving Dionne a clear shot on the other - which she makes, obviously, because she’s awesome. Although that sort of hubris is the sort of thing I was saying about Umlaut not long before his untimely demise, so I probably shouldn’t tempt fate…

In the centre, Devon also pulled the same trick, spinning round to try and take out a cop zombie before the pair of them he was originally entangled with could gang up on him. 

Cece, Kev and Devon all manage to take out their zombies in hand to hand combat - if this was a movie, there would have been a beautiful moment of split screen carnage showing their simultaneous killing blows as the music swells, one can only assume.

Unfortunately for Devon though, at this moment of triumph four zombies then emerged from the block of garages just behind him…

Cece, deciding at this point that discretion is the better part of valour, without even having time to reload her rifle slipped around the corner of the garages and out of sight of the zombies pursuing her… only to find herself in plain sight of another zombie behind the garages!

Dionne calmly slotted another bolt into her crossbow and moved to give Kev some backup, while Jess also moved forwards to try and give the increasingly outnumbered Devon a hand:

Devon again managed to slip out of a position where he was outnumbered to focus on one opponent, and despite hugely beating her he was unable to turn his success into a kill. Kev, on the other hand, continued to prove that long term injuries don’t stop you from being an absolute zombie killing machine, taking out his third zombie of the game - although he hadn’t quite caught up to Dionne, who had earlier taken out her fourth! Between them, they’d now opened up a clear path to one of the supply tokens!

Obviously, my usual luck being what it is I then rolled the end of turn event where a random unclaimed supply token has a zombie stand up and start carrying it about, and can you guess which one I rolled?

Heading into turn 5 I have no noise tokens at all to resolve - can we keep going quietly quietly and stop any more zombies descending on us?

Cece tried to break away from the zombie that had grabbed her so that she could make a dash for the supply token to her right, but was unable to break free. Even worse, Devon was also unable to break free of the 3 zombies surrounding him…

Seeing this, Jess vaults a barricade and leaps to his aid, with Kevin also sneaking up hoping to join the pair of them, leaving Dionne behind to deal with the supply token carrying zombie. Which she does, of course.

Cece tries to put down the zombie grabbing her if she can’t escape, but despite landing some good blows can’t seem to finish it off.

Back in the centre in the scrum forming at the foot of the radio tower, Jess tries to chop down one of the zombies surrounding Devon, but her fire axe seemingly isn’t sharp enough to cut through the zombie’s hoodie. Devon simultaneously fares little better (in game terms, they both rolled a 1 when rolling to see if they’d brained their opponent), but luckily for the survivors the zombies have similar luck with dice rolls and so our heroes live to fight another day!

At this point the weather changes again, as the storm returns to limit how far the survivors can see - again, not much of an issue really, as at this point most of the survivors are fighting hand to hand!

Cece successfully manages to break free of the zombie grabbing her and moves to attack the zombie closest to the supply token, figuring that if she can take down all 3 she’ll be free to grab the loot and escape at her leisure. Tricky, but doable with a bit of luck…

On the other side of the table, Dionne coolly reloads, steps forward and picks up the dropped supplies, before aiming her crossbow at the one remaining zombie behind the comic book shop, taking it down easily. 

Dodging a wheelie bin, Kev skirts forwards to engage the zombie grabbing at Devon from behind, figuring that once he takes them out he Devon and Jess will be able to make short work of the remaining zombies, and one of them can then climb the tower to try and make radio contact with other survivors.

Cece’s plan to single handedly take out 3 zombies one after the other hits a slight snag when she fails to take out the first one, while in the centre Jess takes out her opponent (while Kev fails to do the same to his), leaving Devon slightly less surrounded, which emboldens him enough that he then takes out another zombie himself with his knife. 

Adding further complication to Cece’s plan, another zombie stands up holding the supply token that she was angling to make off with. Right, one girl with a shiv against four zombies - let’s see just how far a can-do attitude can take us!

With some careful maneuvering, what had been a swirling melee in the centre (with Devon looking like he’d drown in the centre of the whirlpool) becomes a carefully considered set of pairings with Dionne picking off any stragglers at range with precision crossbow shots.

Over on her own, Cece fails once again to take out her chosen target. Maybe once Dionne has murdered everything else on the board she can move on to rescuing Cece?

Kev again fails to take out the zombie grabbing at Devon’s back, but Jess manages to chop down another zombie that was moving to surround them. If she can keep this up we might even make it up the radio tower at this rate! 

Obviosuly, as soon as I wrote that in my notes the next event I rolled was obviously a body standing up holding the last supply token, the one at the top of the tower…

(And there was really only one zombie mini I could choose for that)

Dionne immediately snipes Spider-zombie off of the top of the tower - all we need to do now is clear enough zombies out of the way for someone to climb up and claim it!

While Kev fails to take out the zombie in front of him for the third turn in a row, Jess takes out her fifth zombie of the game - looks like a few people might be levelling up this month! Devon chops a down another zombie, and the ladder is now clear ahead of him - or at least it would be if Kev would hurry up and pull that zombie off of his back!

As they’ve now been at this for a while and it looks like it might be starting to get dark soon, Cece unfortunately loses her nerve and makes a run for the edge of the board, still pursued by four zombies.

Encumbered as she is with her ace and assault rifle, but being the only one near enough not currently grappled by any zombies, Jess begins climbing the tower (presumably having grabbed the radio from Devon. I didn’t really work out the exact mechanics of how completing the objective would work before I started playing - I figured a survivor making an ‘Interact’ action at the top of the tower would do).

Pursued to the edge of the board, Cece is finally able to take down one of the zombies. One down, three to go…

As is traditional by this point, Kev fails to take out the same zombie that he’d been struggling with for several turns, at which point Devon stabs it through the eye over his shoulder.

Cece turns tail and flees off of the board, while the remaining zombies mostly mill around, unable to see or hear any survivors. 

Jess continues her climb up the ladder - as the slowest of the group, she’s the worst candidate for this task, but needs must! 

While Devon and Kev head off to try to capture the third supply token (which Cece had been attempting to rescue), Dionne finally misses a shot with her crossbow, to everyone’s surprise and dismay.

Being as we’re approaching the end of the game, from this point on every turn a survivor will lose their nerve and make a run towards the table edge. Which works in my favour this turn, as Devon sprints blindly into the pack of zombies that had previously pursued Cece off of the board that he was hunting down…

The zombie that Dionne previously missed with her crossbow lurches forwards to try and eat her brains, but is swiftly despatched with a swing of her samurai sword. 

Despite his heroic charge, Devon fails to take down any enemies and then flees off of the board, while Jess finally reaches the top of the tower and manages to use the radio to complete the mission objective.

As Kev heads towards the zombie with the supplies (that now both Cece and Devon had failed to take out, Dionne misses again with her crossbow. Is she actually out of bolts and trying to use pointy sticks she found on the ground at this point?

Jess grabs the supplies from the top of the tower and begins the arduous task of climbing back down the ladder, as both Kev and Dionne find themselves within grasping range of zombies.

Holding onto the ladder with one hand, Jess unslings her Surplus Assault Rifle and takes a pot shot at a zombie below her, scoring a head shot! 

Kev manages to take out the zombie holding the supplies, hoping that one of his comrades will be able to dash in and retrieve them. Presumably Dionne, who just took out yet another zombie with her katana. Kev flees the board, leaving just Jess and Dionne.

At this point there’s little chance of either of them being able to get to the supply token before losing their nerve and fleeing past it, but I decide to play out the remaining turns to see if they can grab any more zombie kills (and the accompanying XP). Each turn goes very similarly - Dionne flees towards the edge of the board while Jess advances behind her, kills a zombie, rinse and repeat…

until she eventually runs over the supply token and off the board. 

Jess then spends several turns getting grabbed by a zombie, failing to kill it, then breaking away and fleeing 2” towards the edge of the board, then getting grabbed again. Each turn she moves slowly closer and closer to the supplies, until she finally manages to kill the zombie, grab the supplies, and high tail it off of the board!

Post game:

(The morning after, as I didn’t finish playing until 2 in the morning)

Having missed a few months then having the world’s most productive mission, Jess gains enough experience to level up twice - for her first, she learns First Aid Training, so between her and Lynn the group should be pretty resistant to any long term injuries). With her second level, now that she has 3 Academic skills she’s able to make a roll on the master skill table, and gets Naturopath, the skill that will let her harvest medicine from the garden rather than food if she chooses - which will hopefully help stop my survivors getting so sick as to be bedridden with alarming regularity!

Dionne spends a bunch of experience to turn her level up skill into Quick Load, as now she has a hunting crossbow she’s spending an awful lot of time reloading and it’s slowing her down! That’s her third shooting skill, so she can potentially take a master skill next time she levels up if she wants to, although only one of them would really benefit her, so it could be a bit of a gamble.

Kev learns the Free Runner skill, which feels a little weird given his arm injury. But I’ll take what I can get, and this should make it even easier for him to get up close and personal with any opponents.

For Cece, technically she can’t take shooting skills, but given that she’s spent so much time in previous months practicing shooting I hand waved it and house ruled her being able to spend an additional 3XP to roll on a skill table outside of her usual ones, and she was able to pick up the Sniper skill, which should make her a little more effective at range!

Rolling for the contents of the scavenged supplies, I find 1 preserved meal, 16 scavenge points, a Military Sniper Rifle (that no one can use at present, as no one has the Gunsmith skill) and a knife, which I give to Kev to make him even more efficient at taking out zombies up close.

As the only person previously not showing any symptoms of sickness, Cece obviously rolls a 1 and starts feeling sick too. We need to get Jess into the garden to start harvesting some medicine!

Assigning jobs to everyone, Devon goes to recruit a new member of the group (I figure this is who the group made contact with on the radio); bedridden Lynn rests and starts feeling a bit better (which is handy, as she’s my post-game specialist, and she can’t heal anyone or build anything if she’s laid up in bed); Jess harvests medicine in the garden (but only managed to find enough for one dose); Dione goes out hunting for food; Kev gathers fuel (although I remember later that he was actually supposed to be bedridden, and so amend his job to rest, and he thankfully starts feeling better); Cece works the water collectors and then purifies what she has collected. Dipping slightly into the group’s supplies, there is enough for everyone to have enough to eat and drink again Thais month.

Now, for the exciting bit - the new recruit! I used the Chaos Theory supplement to randomly determine who was on the other end of the radio - my daughter rolled for me, and came up with a Firefighter armed with a revolver, who we hire! We already have a spare fire ace in the group’s stash, so with that he’s good to go. I’m torn currently - do I get a new miniature, and if I do will I be able to paint it in time for next month’s game (factoring in that I’m going to be in Ohio for a fortnight for my brother-in-law’s wedding)? Or do I go with this guy that I already have painted:

We’ll see… it’s him or the guy in his pants and a fire helmet from Hasslefree!

So, with a new friend, the group makes their plans for the future. It would be good to dig in some additional gardens on the farm so that more people can help to harvest food each month, but let’s not forget that winter is coming, so it might be a good idea to build some sort of stove that could be used to heat the farm…

And from a gaming point of view, I should probably play some more of the scenarios from the books, as I’ve been playing a lot of custom scenarios…