I had the opportunity to run an All Things Zombie Evolution game at the Lone Star Game Expo on Saturday. Though I’ve run several games at conventions, this was the first Zombie game I’ve ever run. There are a lot of Zombie games out there, but this one by Two Hour Wargames is one of the best in my opinion. What makes it the best is that it isn’t a mindless “let’s kill zombies, the one who kills the most wins” game, but rather ATZ is a game about survival when civilization and social norms are failing.
The Lone Star Game Expo is a fairly new convention in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. I think this is its second year. This year it was at the Grapevine Convention Center, a 45 minute drive from my home. The convention features Board Games, RPGs, and Miniatures games. There were several tournaments in each genre – Settlers of Catan, Pathfinder and Warmachine Hordes to name a few. There were some old games played and some so new the ink was still drying on the pages. The convention organizers and volunteers were all very friendly and helpful. I will definitely be going back to the Lone Star Game Expo next year.ATZ Evolution comes with three versatile settings – urban, suburban and rural. I chose the suburban setting because it best fits a small town. Though I currently live in the Dallas metroplex, I grew up in a small town and lived in small towns most of my life. The suburban setting has fewer PEFs at the start of the game and the buildings are not as dense or tall as what you would find in a more urban setting. The suburban setting is great for residential areas with houses, schools, convenience stores and strip shopping centers. It is also ideal for the downtown area of a small town, which is what I used.
The scenery terrain is paper. I’ve had it on my hard drive for years. I’m not sure if all of it is still available. I purchased it from RPGNow – Twilight Street Heroic Scale from Microtactix. I printed out the street tiles to create an intersection of two streets and glued them to 2′ x 2′ pink insulation boards I purchased at Home Depot. One word about paper terrain, be prepared to spend some money on ink for your printer! The streets and rooftops have a printed grid, so there is no need for tape measures in the game. As a miniature painter, the one thing I’ve always hated is when a gamer pulls out a heavy 100′ metal tape measure and proceeds to mow down terrain and miniatures with it. I’ve always provided small plastic tape measures (the kind you find in fabric stores or craft stores). The Heroic Scale set uses 1.5″ squares, while the regular Twilight Street series uses 1″ squares.
The buildings were not too difficult to construct. At first, I thought the 110 lb. cardstock would be too flimsy and I gave a couple of the buildings a coating of Modge Podge. It turned out that the uncoated buildings held up just fine. The interesting thing about the Modge Podge coated buildings is that the Modge Podge slightly darkened the buildings. To me, the slightly darkened buildings would fit in well. In most small Texas towns, some of the buildings do look a little run down.The vehicles are all die cast vehicles made in China, which I found in the toy aisle of my local Kroger’s grocery store. The dumpster is a Reaper Bones model. For PEF markers, years ago during Halloween, I found a bag of 50 little plastic green frogs. Each player received a Character Journal for each of the pre-generated characters. The game was for up to 6 players, so I generated 12 characters – 6 female and 6 male. This is important and I hope all of you game masters are listening – there is nothing worse for me as a woman to play a modern game, fantasy game or sci-fi game where there are no female characters. I make it a point that I offer the players the option of playing characters of either gender and different races. Rant over.
Returning to topic, I found color coded ruled index cards to use as the character journals. The character journal has all of the character’s stats and space for record keeping during the game. I took a page from the movie Zombieland and named each of the characters after a town or city in Texas – some familiar like Dallas & Houston, some obscure like Wink and Notrees. Each character was a Rep 5 character, but had different stats and weapons.The zombies are plastic Zombiecide miniatures with a few Reaper Bones zombies. Even if you buy the Zombiecide game, the miniatures come out to be just a few cents over a dollar. I bought the game for $80 which included 64 zombie miniatures, 7 survivor miniatures, dice, counters & a few battle boards. The miniatures I used for survivors, gangers and citizens/sheeple were all from different manufacturers, but most of them came from Foundry’s Street Violence range with the rest from Reaper, Hasslefree and Rebel Minis. These, I’ve had for a long time and frequently use them in my Science Fiction games. I replaced all of the bases with clear plastic bases from Litko. One of the gamers liked the Street Violence minis so much that he checked ebay on his phone for some already painted and found them going for about $70 a mini. He decided it would be better to buy them unpainted and them have them painted. Made me think about what kind of crazy prices people ask for on ebay – & who would buy mins at $70 each – & could I sell minis for $70 each?
I chose the Explore encounter for the game with an additional objective. In addition to resolving 3 PEFs, the players also had to find 2 units of food, 1 unit of medical supplies and 1 unit of luxury items. I used a simple D6 roll to determine what type of item they found – (1-2) luxury item, (3-4) food and (5-6) medical supplies. Turns out that food was the hardest thing for them to find. As usual, I was so busy GMing that I got only one photo during actual game play. All of the players were guys, but two chose to play female characters. My hairstylist told me that she once asked her grown son why so many video gamers liked to play female characters and his response was that they like to see them jiggle when they run. One thing that I found amusing was that the players kept abandoning the buildings to run through the horde of zombies to get inside of a vehicle and try to start it. Must be a guy thing.
I guess now that I have the terrain and miniatures, I should start an ATZ Evolution campaign set in Floozyville, Texas. Where else, right?