Thursday 27 June 2013

Mass Hysteria AAR - The Humans Fight Back

This one will be a little more heavier on the mechanics than the previous two. This was an Attack Mission, the goal was to clear the board of zombies.

The buildings, representing full city blocks, are laid out with the PEF's being the colored markers.  The humans start by entering section 7 and the PEF's are placed randomly  in sections 1, 2 and 6.
The Area Investment Level starts at 3. I decided to use the counters that will be included in the game. The following picture explains how they are read.

Below are the nine human units. 3 Police and 6 military. The support weapon is attached to the center unit on the left hand side allowing the unit in front of it to combine the fire power onto the same target.

The first few turns saw the PEFs move away from the humans based on the PEF Movement Table. I decided to sweep the table to the right with one body being assigned to clear each street, The veteran 2 military units had the right hand street, the supported green units the center and the police the left.

The first PEF was resolved in the center street. Nine units of zombies. Each fresh zombie unit starts with 4 figures. As they take casualties the figures are removed. Counters with 3, 2 and 1 zed are provided so you can make change as the zeds are killed. Here's a picture of the zeds, all at full strength.

Here's the same zombies after the military has opened fire. With a range of 24" and a movement rate of 3" per turn for zombies, its good if you can start shooting at them from far away.

At the start of each turn 2d6 are rolled. Not for activation but to see if a new PEF is generated or a Random Event occurs. Double threes means a new PEF arrives and it is randomly placed behind the zombie horde.
The zeds move down the street towards the military units that are in their sight. The veterans take up positions on a side street. The plan is to get the zeds in a crossfire.

In ATZ FFO when you shoot it attracts zombies. But in a game where we are talking about dozens of humans and hundreds of zombies we need a new mechanic. And here it is. At the start of the zed turn roll 1d6 for every zed unit with 1-3 figures. On a score equal to the Area Investment Level or less they add one figure. Here's an example.

As the horde enters the intersection they come under a cross fire.

On the left side the police resolve two PEFs, and promptly increase the AIL to 5. See the red dice on the roof. Doubles are rolled and another PEF is generated and resolved in section 4 behind the police! Ten zombie units! As they move forward they split, half going towards the rear of the military units!

As the military units fall back away from the advancing zeds the first horde slams into the veteran military units who open fire...

... and fight the zeds in melee. Game wise the humans only count the figures of the units in actual contact with the enemy while the zeds count all the figures of the body in melee, whether the are in contact or not. So in the melee its 6 humans against 18 zeds. Melee is 1d6 per point of Rep and 1d6 for each additional figure over that of the enemy. The military units break and run away.

On the other side of town the zeds crash into the police, routing one unit before contact, forcing another to fall back and killing the third to a man. This means two of the human forces are dispersed or destroyed. I realize the Mission is a failure.

As the hordes of zeds bear down on the last remaining human units morale gives way and they run off or die in their place.

Zombie Campaign Morale goes up to 5, humans back down to 4. The next Mission will be a Convoy to escort unarmed civilians to a safe zone. Things are not going well.
Mass Hysteria is a campaign driven game. It's not if you win all the time but you must survive. An Area Investment Level of 5 is very tough and I have to concentrate my fire power, not try to cover the whole board. Losing human units in a lost battle means less available in the campaign.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

All Things Zombie - Mass Hysteria Part Two

Part One

Later that night a group of four civilian units have decided to defend their homes. The military has bugged out of the area so they will have to go it alone. The overall leader is a guy named Billy Pink, relatively new to the area but one charismatic SOB.
The civilians take up positions across four streets with the park at their center. One civilian unit will be on each flank while Billy and two units are in the center. The plan is to collapse on any zeds that come forward and get them in a crossfire. There's only one problem with the's night time.

Mass Hysteria is a campaign driven game where each side has a Campaign Morale. Both sides start with a CM of 5. Last Mission was a success so the humans had an advantage when testing morale, something you do after each Mission., Except they choked and blew their roll.
The zeds stayed at  5 while the humans dropped down to 4. If the humans hit zero they vacate the area, if the zeds hit zero the area is zombie free.

This would be a defend Mission and it didn't look good for the humans. The Area Investment Level was 4 (they could expect lots of zombies) and there were only civilian units available to fight. Then it got worse, it was night time and the zeds were on the move. This reduced visibility from 24" to 6". With zed movement being 3" (humans are 4") being able to pour fire at them over many turns was the way to succeed. This wasn't going to happen with visibility reduced to 6". Worse still, this meant PEFs would be resolved when they were 6" out, not the full 24" away.


Let's go over a few of the mechanics that are different than ATZ-FFO. First off, MH is a unit based game. Ideally figures will be based 3 to a stand for humans and 4 to a stand for zeds. You can add more but it doesn't enhance the game. The humans stay together as a unit (taking hits that are marked on the stand)  while the zombies lose figures. 

Zombies are regenerated each turn. Any zed unit with less than 4 figures rolls 1d6 against the Area Investment Level at the start of their turn. Pass 1d6 and add a figure to the unit. Pass 0d6 and you don't. Full units of 4 don't regenerate.

PEFs have their own activation phase and when resolved are replaced with zeds. No action is taken by these zeds until its zombie activation. Different than other THW rules.

Reaction Tests have been blended into a Crisis Test. Humans will take it when one of three things happen.
Being charged by zeds.
If in melee.
If you see another human unit Fall Back or Run Away.

There are three unit types, Civilians, Police and Military, and they behave differently from each other.

Anyway, this Mission was  a failure and the zeds gained the CM roll advantage. Except they flubbed it this time and the Zed morale dropped to 4 while the humans rose to 5. Maybe the news of civilians fighting to save their homes inspired the humans.

Look for Part Three later this week.

Monday 24 June 2013

Not just another ATZ game...Mass Hysteria - This Time It's War!

"Do you understand Sergeant? " asked the Lieutenant.
"Yes sir," he replied."Permission to ask a question, sir!"
"What is it?"
"Isn't this mission hard enough without having to babysit those civilians over there," Sgt. Conroy asked, nodding to the mixed group of civilians talking and smoking.
"They don't need babysitting Sergeant." the Lieutenant said. "Besides, they're fighting for their homes, just be glad they stayed. Now tend to the mission Sergeant!"
"Yes sir!"

Sgt. Conroy left the tent and walked over to where the civilians were gathering. Geez, what a motley crew, he thought. Gangers, Soccer Moms, even some over anxious Old Timers. As he surveyed the group the police unit rolled up.
This is going to be one hell of a party, Conway muttered.
"All right everybody, listen up!"

All Things Zombie - Mass Hysteria

Everyone's heard of All Things Zombie but have you heard about All Things Zombie -Mass Hysteria? Probably not, just like the reason behind the Zombie Apocalypse, it's a  Top Secret. But like any secret, there's always leaks. This After Action Report is just that, a leak.
But one leak can lead to more so watch for AARs in the near future.

The Mission

 Patrol the area and see what the zeds are up to. You have three units, one each of military, police and civilians. The game starts with three PEFs on the table and the three human units spread out to cover as much ground as possible. It's a low Area Investment Level (1) so not much in the way of zeds is expected.
But that can change fast.
Note. Mass Hysteria shares some game mechanics with ATZ but as the scale is larger where players run multiple units there are lots of new ones. This is a multi-figure unit based game with players easily running 10 to 20 units each. The three biggest changes to reflect this being a unit based game are shooting, melee, and most importantly the Crisis Test. There's also a pretty cool and simple way to generate zombies but we'll go into more detail in future reports, this one is to get a feel for the rules.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Points for 5150 - Fighter Command Now Available

You asked for them and we listened.  Here's a PDF with Point Values for building your own ships in 5150 - Fighter Command. Enjoy!

5150 Fighter Command Points

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Tuesday 11 June 2013

ATZ - High Rise to Hell Indiegogo Project Final Count Down - 3 Days and Counting!

FYI - We're down to the last 3 days of the ATZ Indiegogo Campaign and close to the $6,000 Thank You Perk that includes the following -

1 Smart Zombie with shotgun

2 Vampires ( 1 male and 1 female)

2 Casters (1 male and 1 female)

1 Werewolf

How do get it? Pledge $50 or more and you qualify for them IF we hit $6,000. We're less than $300 away.

If you're interested check it out and to all those that already got involved, thanks!

April 1600 - Step by Step Part 6 - And a Bottle of Rum!

We last left Captain Pink  having  captured a French 2nd Rate Merchant and a local Government Official, now held for ransom.  Part 5 To collect the ransom of 6,000 Gold Pieces, Captain Pink would have to go to the nearest French Settlement with the highest Settlement Rating. But Billy has other ideas...
The newly christened Billy's Revenge, with the old ship, now renamed the Eagle, slowly slid southeast. Few of the crew realized that Billy wasn't heading directly to the French Settlement to claim the ransom for the French official but O'Hara, the Pilot knew. O'Hara knew and chose to keep quiet. He knew they were heading towards Spanish waters but wasn't sure what Billy had in mind.
"And a Bottle of Rum" covers four levels of combat. So far I've covered three of them and now it's time for the fourth. Here's the AARs.

RPGish Encounter with small number of figures Part Two

Big Sea Battles with 3 or more ships per side Big Sea Battle

Ship to ship but didn't get a chance to do a boarding action so look for one soon. 

And now Big Land Battles.
I decided to try a Raid on a Settlement. Billy chose a Spanish SAL 2 which would have a Militia but no garrison of real soldiers. I set up terrain as a beach leading to a small village and town.
I divided the crew into 3 units of 8, a Rep 5 with Billy, and two Rep 4s.
After the terrain was set up and the Pirates made their first move onto the table PEFs were generated. I placed them in sections 1, 5, and 6. 
I then rolled for the size of the Militia and came up with 20 figures. I chose two units of 10 figures each, one was randomly generated as Rep 4 the other as Rep 3.
The Pirates activated first, here's a picture of what it looked like.

The pirates resolve two PEFs, both Militia units. As this is the full Militia the third PEF is automatically nothing.

The Militia retire after inflicting heavy casualties and receiving light ones.

 Billy orders a charge and fast moves towards the enemy. Captain Jones' men aren't so fast to follow.

The Militia flee and become captives.

 On the other side the 2nd Militia unit fires and retires.

The outnumbered Pirates charge home and melee ensues.

The Militia have had enough and melt away from the fight.

Six of the Pirates suffered wounds but recovered. 8 Townsfolk (Militia) were captured. 

Now it's time to sack the settlement and see what we can get. Sacking settlements can be pretty good with any luck and the higher the SAL the more Gold Pieces. But also  more defenders. Anytime you try and attack a settlement it gets risky as you don't know the number of defenders until you've entered the table and made a move. Billy was lucky, only 20 defenders. Militias use the Townsfolk QRS so don't like to fight in Big Battles, which is the only way to sack the settlement.

Anyway, rolling for the loot came up with 11,000 Gold Pieces! For ease of play when sacking settlements you just get Gold Pieces. Too much bookkeeping required for tons of cargo, etc.

As the Pirate fleet sails away it's time to check Fame. This rises to 9 but drops by 4 for not turning the prisoner in for ransom. So Fame is now 5. But the raid was successful! Yes, but it put the crew at risk whereas gaining a ransom poses no danger!

Loyalty starts as 5. Up 1 for the raid, down 1 for not ransoming off the prisoner.

The Personal Loyalty and Captain's Loyalty tests resulted in morale being very high.

But Billy learned a good lesson, ransom off your prisoners as soon as you can!

Now that Captain Pink had plunder the crew will be counting the days before they get paid. If they reach July and the plunder hasn't been divided their loyalty will go down.

Watch for May 1600 - Part 7. 

Monday 10 June 2013

Muskets & Shakos: Scouting in Spain, 1810 The Action

Last time we looked at setting up a Scout encounter in Muskets & Shakos. To recap in this scenario the player(s) is presented with a table full of terrain but with no enemy forces deployed on it.

The objective is to get one of your officers to a point where they can view the center of each of the nine 1 foot by 1 foot squares that make up the battlefield. Those officers must then make it back to your start line to make their reports.

While no enemy is present on the table there are three Possible Enemy Forces or PEF's deployed at start. These PEF's can be moved by the game system and once you get a line of sight to them will either turn out to be enemy troops or nothing at all but a case of the jitters on your part.

For this encounter you start with only one brigade of your troops, in this case three infantry battalions. The rest of your division might arrive during the course of the game or might not according to the whim of fate.

As a reminder this game was limited to a 3x3 foot area delineated by the 2x4's and the yard stick. You may safely disregard anything outside of the those bounds.

Turn One
The first turn started with my moving all three battalions onto the table.  Each battalion put out a skirmish screen of three figures and followed in column. Two battalions went to the right of the hill in the center of my deployment zone. The other one went to the left.

The skirmishers soon confirmed that a battalion of British infantry, the 62nd, was occupying the old growth woods atop the ridge distant center in the above photo. As these were old growth woods, the battalion was in line but in disorder due to the rugged nature of the terrain.

Naturally a firefight soon developed between my skirmishers and the battalion.

During the British turn one of the two PEF's behind the far ridge, split into two. Now there were still three Possible Enemy Forces in addition to the 62nd foot.

Turn Two

With the 62nd occupying the hill to my right front, I decided to form my right most battalion into line, while sending my second battalion to take the hill from the flank.

My third battalion continued to advance to the left of the center hill.

During the British turn, one of the remaining PEF's moved from behind the ridge, and came into sight. It turned out to be a section of guns behind works, supported by the 21st foot. The 21st had thrown out a strong screen of six skirmishing figures.

While it may seem strange that a moving PEF turned out to be an emplaced gun, keep in mind that Possible Enemy Forces are just that, "possible". They give only an impression of where you think the enemy might be. Only when revealed by your having sighted then can you tell what if anything they represent.

Apparently my skirmishers did not spot the emplacement immediately, only noticing it sometime after my turn had been completed.

Meanwhile the fighting around the 62nd intensified.

I had thought my left battalion safely behind the cover of the center hill, only to find that the British gunners could see them when a ball tore through the column.

Turn Three

It was at this point that I developed a cunning plan. While my first two battalions kept the 62nd busy. my third battalion would race across the open ground to the far ridge. Once there the ridge itself would shield them from the guns on my right.

This battalion would then see off the skirmishers from the 21st, and occupy the new growth woods atop the ridge. Being new growth the battalion would have to break down entirely into loose order, but I hoped that the officer would at least be able to complete the recce of the three ridge sections and then make a dash back to my start line.

The fighting for the middle ridge carried on and if you look closely at the photos you will see the first sign of men breaking from the ranks to make themselves scarce.

For game purposes these figures might as well just be removed from the table, and indeed there is no need for infantry casualty figure either. I just keep them on the table for the look of the thing.

My traffic management skills were found wanting, and my center and right battalions bunched. This both decreased the effectiveness of their fire, and left them vulnerable to counter attack although fortunately this latter did not materialize.

Turn Four

All was going according to plan. Well mostly. I decided to separate the center and right battalion to restore order so this delayed the center battalions push on the 62nd's flank.

On the plus side the left battalion had advanced through shot and shell (really) and made it to the dead ground by the far ridge.

Both sides skirmishers were plunking away at one another and as a result both screens thinned.

I avoded the temptaion to reinforce my skirmish line as that would have left me with fewer troops for the real fighting to follow.

Turn Five

Victory in sight!

The combined weight of my skirmish line and the left column, now turned to face along the ridge, saw off the last of the 21st's skirmishers. The center battalion was clear of the right battalions and all the pieces were falling into place.


...the treeline on the far ridge erupted into a cloud of smoke as a detachment of the 95th Rifles fired point blank into the flank of my left battalion column!

The carnage was terrible yet somehow the troops kept their order.

Turn Six

All hope of victory has been dashed. It was now clear that even if the left battalion could fight off the 95th, it would be spent and unable to complete its mission. I decided to call it a day and conserve my forces for the inevitable British assault that would now follow as the next encounter.

Yet this was more easily said than done. The left battalion was essentially stranded under the guns of the enemy. I could face them away and march at best speed hoping that the following rifle and cannon shots would not destroy what remained. Or I could retire facing the enemy. This would be a very slow process and would subject them to even more rifle and cannon fire.

In the end I decided to face the Rifles and shoot it out. If the Rifles could be seen off then I would only have to worry about the guns during my retreat.

As it happened the very next volley of the Rifles killed the Colonel and brought the battalion down to five figures rendering it hors de combat. The remainder fled making best speed for the safety of our lines.

The other two battalions were able to retire unmolested. 

It was with some irony that I noted that with center battalion, the 55th, I had done an admirable impression of the Noble Duke of York, having "marched them up to the top of a hill and marched them down again". 

What price valor?

My loses were as follows:

2nd : 6 of 20
55th: 2 of 20
23rd: 20 of 20

The majority of these losses were of course stragglers rather than actual casualties.

I didn't count enemy losses but they were rather less than mine.

Where did I go wrong?

Well I lay no claim to tactical brilliance. Indeed it may be said that I went at them "in the same old way". Still I avoided the pitfall of charging troops that had not been weakened by fire, and if the dice had been kind and if the 95th had not appeared where and when it had...

"What if" is always the province of the defeated wargamer.

I probably should  have attached a battery to my brigade. Can't remember why I hadn't.  Probably was just in such a hurry to get on with it I simply forgot.

How as the game?

If I do say so myself it was a cracking game. As I wrote in the Set Up post this situation seemed all too familiar and indeed that was how it played itself out.

I take considerable satisfaction in that aspect of the thing. The dice really were unkind when it came to British forces and movements. I was unfortunate in that such strong British forces were generated and the chances of the them appearing where they could do the most damage was entirely down to luck.

Figures and terrain

As usual the figures are from Alternative Armies and were painted by their talented staff painters. 
The table top was made of Old Glory Terrain System tiles while the hills and most of the trees came from The Terrain Guy. The remainder of the trees are from Lemax, Warzone GTS, and model railroad trees of uncertain vintage.

Hope you enjoyed reading about the game as much as I enjoyed playing it!