Friday, December 21, 2012

Its all in Who You Know?

Happy (Not) End of the World everyone!

...Which is probably for the best anyway as my Zombie Plan is crap. ;) Curiously enough, this is also my dad's birthday so that would have been really rough.

Anyhoo I got to thinking about my upcoming ATZ:BFFOTZ game and the concept of "Loaded" PEFs. For those who don't have Final Fade-Out, its the idea of putting pregenerated gangs or survivor groups on the Potential Enemy Forces (PEFs) table so you might have recurring NPCs in the campaign. Which is a good idea IMO and I'm glad its available...and will be one of the FFO rules I import into my ATZ game.

But it got me to thinking. Since most ATZ games are generally based on the "Star" being the player themselves (even if an idealized player), then perhaps the "Loaded" concept should be taken one step further. That is, having a chance of running into people you know, either friends, foes, or general individuals you know in Real Life(TM).

How would you do this? Give a chance that any NPC you run into is one of these folks, and then have a "Who ya know" table to roll on? Would you maybe use the Zombie rule of by rolling doubles the zombie is someone you know? A third method altogether?

Zombie Chow

PS: One of my followers pointed out today that the URL of this blog could be read as "Those whore main". :P  Thanks Tony! I wonder how many people have come here looking for a porn site?


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Game 5 "In Search of Buzz", part 2

We rejoin the small band of survivors in their semi-epic quest!

Turn 16
Survivors 3 Zombies 2 Kid 1

Everyone else fights zombies! Michael moves to melee while Sebastian keeps firing.

Kaylee fast moves to kid and wins Meet and Greet, with the kid joining the group for the rest of the encounter. Michael melees a zombie and gets an Obviously Dead; leaving 2. The zombie from KFC starts to move toward the group at the intersection.

Turn 17
Survivors: 6 Zombies: 5

Nobody goes

Turn 18
Survivors:4  Zombies: 3

Kaylee with the kid moves to rejoin the group. Lisa and Michael returns to the group in the intersection. The zombie from KFC tromps onward towards the intersection.

Turn 19
Survivors: 3 Zombies: 3

The zombie from the south charges the group. The kid starts to scream, and will continue until rallied (acts as 3 gunshots for zombie generation). Michael rallies the kid.

Sebastian shoots at the charging zombie and misses both shots. Zombie enters melee with Sebastian.

No zombies generated

Turn 20
Survivors: 6 Zombies: 3

No (un)living zombies on board, so nobody moves.

Turn 21
Survivors: 1 Zombies: 6

Still determined to find Buzz, the ggroup moves toward the KFC building. Michael and Kaylee enter the KFC and find a zombie. Michael takes a shot but misses as the zombie is in cover. No zombie is generated from the shot. Kaylee stays by Michael to give melee cover in case of a charge.

Turn 22
Survivors: 2 Zombies: 3

The zombie attacks by charge. Michael gets a fire before melee and misses horribly. Kaylee has 3+1 die for outnumber. Zombie is quickly killed with an Obviously Dead result. Kaylee is quite the zombie smasher with that bat of hers.

No resources are found, and of course no Buzz. Fortunately, no zombies are generated by Michael’s crappy shooting.

Turn 23
Survivors: 4 Zombies: 3

Now the group decides to keep looking, and now decide to check out the apartments. Maybe Lisa’s father took shelter there? As there are no zombies on the board, their turn is skipped.

Turn 24
Survivors: 5 Zombies: 5

The team continues to apartments at section 6. Still no zombies on board.

Turn 25
Survivors: 5 Zombies: 2

The team moves to the front of the apartments, with Michael and Kaylee entering the ground floor. Since its multiple stories (3), I decide each floor will be equal to one area for searching. The ground floor is vacant.

Turn 26
Survivors: 1 Zombies: 1

Random Event! It comes up as the Drive By van as noted in ATZ Haven. Since there are no specific rules in Haven about where the encounter starts, I decide to use the zombie placement table as to where the van enters LOS. It comes up as East, so I have the van enter the board from the east road right next to the apartment parking lot (!) Their movement allows them to come right up to the rest of the group outside the apartments. Ack!

As Lisa is a Star too, her dice are used for Insight. This results in 2 successes for Drive-Byers, with Lisa getting only 1 success. So the gangers fire first. The Ganger in the back opens the side door and fires his shotgun, but gets an out of ammo result. Unfortunately this applies to subsequent rolls so he at least gets the first shot off at Lisa and the kid. Lisa covers the kid and take an Out of the Fight result. Sebastian returns fire but hits nothing. He literally can’t hit the van right in front of him? No wonder he left the police force!

There are 2 zombies generated, 1 North of the shot so I’m saying its coming down from the 2nd story of apartments. The other comes in from the east table edge…maybe following the van?

Turn 27
Survivors: 5 Zombies:  2 Gangers 4

Michael, no doubt hearing the shot and Lisa’s scream,  rushes outside to see what’s happened. Kaylee does as well, and grabs the kid and pulls him back into the building; which I treat as equal to Rescuing Wounded in the ATZ rules. She gets 1 success and so pulls the little scamp to safety.

Sebastian fires two shots at driver, and hits with 1 shot despite cover. Driver is Obviously Dead!. Michael shoots at passenger and Shotgun dude, and both hit. The passenger guy in front seat is Obviously Dead, while shotgun dude in the back is Knocked Down. Shotgun guy fails his Recover from Knockdown test.

The apartment zombie goes either for Michael (1-3) or Kaylee+kid (4-6). I roll a d6 and he charges Michael. Despite a rear attack, the zombie loses and is Knocked Down.

The Zombie from the East hill moves towards the road and the apartments. Despite all the gunfire, no zombies are generated?

Turn 28
Survivors:6 (1)  Zombies: 6  (2)

Yet another Random Event! This time I get one of my home designs, a News Chopper arrives to take pictures of events. They will stay hovering over the group’s position (and drawing zombies as car engine) for the next 4 activations. Wheee. Right out the gate 4 zombies are generated; two from apartments (North) and 2 from the hill at section 9 (East).

Michael recovers Lisa and Sebastian clears the van of bodies. The van engine cut off, and I was using a d6 after the driver was killed (1-2 engine is cut off, 3-4 engine stays on but van is still in park, 5-6 van rolls forward randomly) and get a 1. Michael shoots zombie coming around from the hill and gets YET ANOTHER Knocked Down result. No zombie from that shot is generated…which is good considering all the ones beginning to close in on the group!

No Z generated



Turn 29
Survivors:3  Zombies: 4

The 2 apartment zombies come outside, the KD zombie stands up, and the 2 on the hill move toward the road and apartments.
The !@#$ van refuses to start! Typical!

Turn 30
Survivors: 4 Zombies: 2

At last, the van starts. As Lisa is OOF, Michael decides that Buzz is on his own and insists they get back to base so Lisa could get medical attention.



Game is Over: as a result of the events, Kaylee is now Rep 4, but is the only one to increase in Rep.


So ends my last pure ATZ: Better Dead Than Zed game. Game 6 is already generated as a attack on the group's base and will see the inclusion of FFO rules.

Zombie Chow

Thursday, November 29, 2012

ATZ Game 5 : In Search of Buzz, Part 1

This game was set up as a “Search” encounter, with the group ostensibly looking for Lisa’s dad “Buzz” who was last in this location before communication was lost. The team will engage in normal searches, but are looking for Buzz. He won’t be found, as he’s already been chomped but the team doesn’t know that!


As usual I used the All Things Zombies: Better Dead Than Zed terrain generation table. This is the last game I’ll be playing using solely ATZ:BDTZ rules, as Game 6 will be at least 30% or so rules from Final Fade-out. More FFO rules will be imported as time goes on until we see if I’m playing BDTZ with FFO imports or FFO with some retro-BDTZ rules instead!

The terrain resulted as follows. I also used my Random building type tables to generate what kind of buildings were there, as noted in the “()” below.

Section Terrain
1          3 buildings (3 store strip mall)
2          Clear
3          2 buildings (Auto-Body shop and Power Transformer)
4          Woods
5          1 building (Grocery)
6          1 building (Apartment Building)
7          2 buildings (Small Shop and storage building)
8          1 building (Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant)
9          Hill

I also used the Random Car table, and  used Dexter’s wrecked cars on a roll of wrecks. Which gave the board 10 cars, of which 4 on the board were wrecked as noted:


As a change from prior games, I decided to play this game without PEFs, and go just with starting zombies and building occupants or noise generated zeds. I don’t think it made a huge difference, especially with Random Events but you be the judge.

The time was noon, and weather resolved as humid and cloudy. Two starting zombies were on the table, with one 12” North of the group’s entry point at section 7  and another 12” to the west, behind the nearer shop. The group was on foot, as I decided that the doctor Buford would remain off board with the SUV for possible pickup. Cars just make too much noise otherwise, as the end of the game details.


Turn 1
Survivors: 1            Zombies: 2

The road zombie is within Line of Sight (LOS) of the group but West zombie is not. Zombie moves south to intercept.

Kaylee attacks the zombie with bat in melee.

Michael & Sebastian draw guns but act as backup

Kaylee wins, but only knocks down the zombie.

Lisa enters melee Lisa kills zombie by Popping the Weasel.

Turn 2
Survivors: (6) 1            Zombies: (6) 2

Doubles=Random Events
A roll on my expanded Random Events table results in a Bobcat exiting the woods and charges group.

Michael shoots the animal and kills it, with no doubt objections from Lisa and Kaylee!

Michael scoots to cover while other 3 head to Ambulance to search. No Buzz found, but 1 Luxury Item is recovered.

No zombie generated by gunfire.

Western zombie follows group now in LOS by following gunshot

Turn 3
Survivors:2            Zombies:5

Michael rejoins the group and they head toward the pileup at the intersection in front of the Grocery store. They find a zombie trapped in one of the cars, but no father. The zombie isn’t a threat so they leave it be, not wanting more gunshots.

Turn 4
Survivors: 3            Zombies: 4

The group moves to the front of  the Grocery Store.

Michael & Kaylee enter store while Sebastian and Lisa stay outside on watch.

The building is resolved as 3 humans, two guys and an old lady. They are Chilling Residents with 4, 3 and 2 Reps. They are armed with a bolt-action rifle, pistol and knife respectively

Michael rolls Meet and Greet, humans are hostile!

Leader gets 2 successes over Michael’s 0. This would normally lead to Kaylee leaving Michael’s group, but as that does’t fit with the narrative I’ll say the hostile humans demand to “keep” the blonde and Michael can leave. Naturally, Michael walks the walk instead.

Michael wins, and gets off 2 shots and fires first. He kills the Rep 4 leader, but misses pistol guy who ducks back.

Kaylee charges old lady in melee and gets Obviously Dead result on her. The pistol guy takes leader lost test, and only gets 1 success. I decide that he will have partial cover by running through the store towards the back.

Turn 5
Survivors:5 (3)             Zombies:3             NPCs:5 (6)
Doubles again! Random Event resolves as large dog. Which is probably the pet of the two guys as he’s within the Grocery store. Michael kills as dog charges…this gives pistol guy the chance to run into the back storeroom.

Meanwhile, the following zombie outside moves toward the pileup at the intersection with LOS to the Grocery.

No zombies generated by this shot, nor the two prior ones…which I forgot to roll for earlier.

Turn 6
Survivors: 3            Zombies: 5       NPCs: 6

After hearing Michael’s gunshots, Sebastian and Lisa move into the Grocery store.


Moving into the back storeroom, Michael sees pistol guy preparing to ambush, shoots and gets a Knocked Down result. This time, the gunfire generates 3 zombies placed out in the back of the Grocery. Lucky the loading door is closed!

Turn 7
Survivors:6             Zombies:4        NPCs: 5

Only the zombies move, with 3 outside loading door attacking door with no result. The zombie on the street moves up to Grocery store parking lot.

Turn 8
Survivors:4             Zombies:1             NPCs:5

Michael shoots prone pistol guy, with 1 miss and 1 hit; with another Knocked Down result. As he was already KD, this shifts to obviously Dead.

Zombies continue to attack loading bay door. It holds. Pity we cann’t take that door to our base. ;)

Again, no zombies generated. This luck can’t last!

Turn 9
Survivors:2             Zombies:5

Sebastian, Lisa, and Kaylee search the front of the store (1 area) while Michael searches storeroom (1 area). Michael gets a roll on the Rare Loot table! Alas, it turns out to be nothing.

Turn 10
Survivors: 6 (6)             Zombies: 6 (5)
Yet ANOTHER Random Event, which turns out as nothing.

Nobody moves!

Turn 11
Survivors:3             Zombies:2

Sebastian (only one) finds 5 units of food. Neither Lisa nor Kaylee find anything.

Turn 12
Survivors:5 (3)             Zombies: 5 (6)
Random Event= nothing
Michael takes handgun and 3 units of ammo from the pistol guy. The rest of the group gathers to leave.

Turn 13
Survivors:2             Zombies: 5

The team moves out of the grocery store and back towards the pileup at intersection. They confront that diligent street zombie from the opening of the game. Michael shoots it and gets Knocked Down result.

Turn 14
Survivors: 6 (2)             Zombies: 6 (1)
Random Event is lost child, coming out of the woods at section 4.

Kaylee pops the weasel on K.D. zombie. The zombies at the loading door are drawn by the gunfire and move around store into LOS.

One new zombie is generated, becomes part of the group of 3 from behind the store.


Turn 15
Survivors:5             Zombies: 3
Both Sebastian and Michael fire, while Lisa charges/melees the group of zombies.  except Kaylee who’s over by the wreck killing the car zombie. Michael shoots at zombies 1-2 and Sebastian at zombies 3-4. Michael misses, Sebastian KDs one.

Lisa melees and uses last spare die*. She has 4 successes to 2, then 1 to none.
Also +1 die for impact.

Four Gunshots generate 1 Zombie at KFC


-End Part 1 of the Game 5 post. Part 2 soon!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

All Things Zombie: Better Final Fade-out than Zed?

Well, after some consideration I've decided to simply add some of the rules of FFO to my ATZ:BDTZ game instead of importing over wholesale. There's just too many new things I'm unsure about. Oh I like the explanation mode of FFO (as I noted in my review) but most of that I've finally figured out from the THW yahoo group and the Board of the Living Lead.

So, I'm importing the FFO campaign rules, Star Power*, Zombie rules, and firearms systems. I'm also going to use the increased attributes and talents. I might add more as play progresses but most everything else in FFO either seems too clunky or apples to oranges; a different way of doing XYZ but not IMO better. At least, it doesn't seem better from a read-thru. I might feel differently in play.

Oh, and Game 5 (last full ATZ:BDTZ) game will be up in about a week with pics and such. No, really! ;)

Zombie Chow

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gravel & Gems: In the Dead by Jesse Petersen

Title: “In the Dead” by Jesse Petersen
Zombie Type: Romero-Style for the most part. Though very infectious with “Black Sludge” coming from them to infect others; they are dead and not just infected a la 28 days later.

Time of Setting: Varies with each short story, though most are at the outbreak.
Main Characters: Main characters vary with each story.

Synopsis: Jesse Petersen is known for the Living With The Dead series of Zombie Novels, which play on various popular books with titles like “Married with Zombies”, “Flip This Zombie”, and “Eat, Slay, Love”. Despite the titles they deal with a single set of characters, a couple who are in marriage counseling when the Zombie Apocalypse hit; thus the title of the first book. The others are their continuing adventures in the western USA after civilization has fallen. I’ll do more comprehensive reviews of them at another time.
     In this anthology-style book the author gives several short stories set in the LWTD universe but with new characters. Each short story deals with two people (usually a couple) dealing with the Zombie Apocalypse in one way or the other. Though many of the stories are at the beginning of the outbreak, a couple is set well afterwards.

     This book, while overall a good read, is not for people who get attached to characters or don’t like short stories. If you haven’t read Petersen’s other books you might feel a bit lost. Still, if you’re a fan of (mostly) outbreak stories and people whom are not Commandos dealing with zombies, this is a good book to look at. It’s listed as volume I, so I assume more will be in the offing. I believe its e-copy only at this time, but if any of my readers know if its available as hardcopy please let me know.
Rating: Four Head Shots out of five

Zombie Chow

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Survival, Horror, and Happy Endings?

     I've finished my first game of Two Hour Wargames' Colonial Adventures 19th century miniature rules, with a superior force of Zulus being badly handled by British Colonial Infantry with a field gun. Now its over and my game board is cleared, I'm going to try a game of ATZ using the Final Fade-Out rules. Or, at least the ones I like. ;)
     As I've done more reading, it occurs to me that in the Zombie novel genre there are many takes on "Survival Horror". Namely, some emphasize the survival aspect and others the Horror aspect. "Happy Endings", while rare, usually happen in the survivals and almost never in the horror books.
     So, I ask my blog readers the following. To you (be it book or game), which is more inportant in your Zombie Survival Horror and why? Are Happy Endings impossible in a "proper" ZSH?

Zombie Chow

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gravel and Gems: Rise Again by Ben Tripp


Rise Again by Ben Tripp
* Romero-style Shamblers, at least at first
* The story begins just prior to the outbreak, where we are introduced to the main character and a few supporting characters: * Main character is Danny Adelman, a small town sheriff in Southern California who is an Iraq veteran suffering from PTSD and alcoholism. Supporting characters are Patrick Michaels, a gay interior decorator with his own TV show; Wolf, the local bum who turns out to be a Vietnam vet (also suffering from PTSD);  Amy Cutter, the local veterinarian; others introduced as the book progresses.
* The story begins with Danielle “Danny”  Adelman’s teenage sister Kelley writing a note that implies suicide but is really a runaway note. She can’t stand how her sister’s PTSD is making home life impossible, and so she takes off with her sister’s classic mustang. Sheriff Danny Can’t pursue immediately as she’s covering the July 4th events in her hometown as sheriff. A lot of tourists are in town as well, so we meet Patrick and his boyfriend Weaver in their huge RV. While events proceed with the festivities, the outbreak begins!
         The book covers between 6 months to a year of the outbreak, and has some political undertones…as usual in many zombie novels. The main non-zombie antagonists are a private security firm called Hawkstone (re: Blackwater) that is used initially by the government to try to combat the outbreak because most of the US’s military is overseas. The villains are pretty stereotypical of bad military-types, but Tripp’s writing style makes up for this. Tripp’s also not afraid to kill off a few liekable characters along with lots of redshirts.
            WARNING! There is a major cliffhanger at the very end that is supposed to continue in the second book. This book isn’t out yet, but according to Ben Tripp’s blog he turned in the manuscript in July of this year so hopefully it’ll be out by the beginning of next year. If you hate cliffhangers, you might wait to read this until the second book is out.
            I really liked the book because as I noted in my original discussion of “Gravel & Gems” I don’t like superhero style main characters in zombie novels. Danny Is competent, and has a lot of good points, but in the end she is “damaged goods” and has her share of faults and mistakes. The other characters are interesting as well, especially Patrick the interior decorator. How many zombie novels do you read about such a guy trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse? Not many I’ll warrant!

            I give Ben Tripp’s Rise Again five head shots out of five! Ok, I know I said I'd give 1-10 grades, but since I started listening to Mail Order Zombies again I'm going to steal their "Head Shots" grade of 1-5. ;)
Zombie Chow

Monday, October 15, 2012

All Things Zombie: Final Fade-out Quick Review

      I finished a full read of the All Things Zombie: Final Fade-out rules and overall I must say I like them. There are some things I liked, some I didn’t, and others I’m “Meh” about.

      One thing that is readily apparent is that the explanations are much clearer, a multitude of examples are given, and there are almost too many page number references provided. At the end of major rules explanation a “Stop!” sign is placed along with suggested quick-games to try out that particular rule directly so you get the hang of it before reading onward. There’s also a quick review-style list that reprints an outline of the major points covered in the prior text. This alone is IMO worth the price of the new book!

      As a quick list I provide the following:


What I Like:

* The idea of “Star Power”, where a star character can roll dice to reduce damage or negative effects.

* Now the Reputation score is used for most successes instead of 1-3

* Firearms seem to be easier to use in killing zombies.

* The Challenges description is clearer and more detailed.

* Vehicles now move even when driver is not active.

* There are now more starting zombies on the board

* I also like how zombies now are rep 3 except when in LOS of a human; and then they are Rep 4 for Activation only.

* I do like the rule that zombies can shrug off Impact 1 damage, more cinematic.

* There are now actual rules now for an infected figure becoming a zombie during game play instead of after an encounter.

* Good rules are given for gas siphoning/Fuel resource gain.

* There are more campaign-style rules, and more tables for events and encounters. I especially like the inclusion of attacks on a group’s safe houses and vehicles.

* There are new random events, some are reprinted but others new such as figure twists ankle, grunt wanders off, etc.

* Generating building contents is a lot more streamlined and understandable.


What I Don’t Like:

* Insight checks are now by figure instead of by group.

* You cannot play a Police/Military class anymore, only Citizen to either Ganger or Survivor.

* Some attributes like “wuss” left out.

* Grenades no longer included.

* The sentence “Here’s how we do it.” is repeated constantly…. while I can see the necessity at times it gets old when reading.

* Zombie surprise system seems clunky, and I’m not sure adds much to the game.

* The “Cheating Death” rule should require a loss of items for the star figure.

* The Adrenaline rules I don’t like as they are portrayed as an advantage. Excessive Adrenaline can be as much of a bane as a boon, penalizing aim, attention, and the inevitable crash afterward.

* Some of the random events like Lost Children, etc. are missing but they are in ATZ Haven so I guess it’s not a big deal.


What I’m Unsure About:

* Melee might not work as well as the BDTZ version.

* Leaving table edge not automatic

* The new method of generating zombie locations (using a clock face) seems better but I’m not sure it’ll make much difference.

* The “Items” system seems an expansion of the IZ barter system. It seems simple enough, but we’ll have to see how it plays.


      The only other points I’ll mention in detail are the PEFs system and the Meet & Greet. PEFs are resolved slightly differently, but not so different that I think it’ll throw off people. Generating them is easier though, and it gives the option to “Load” your PEFs with groups at need. I have an idea that the Loading system might be a donation of Vampifan’s; and IMO it’s very nice! Keeps a cinematic/literary feel to the game with recurring villains. Like the PEFs, the Meet & Greet system is a little different too but again not sure its different enough to impact play much.

      I do miss the inclusion of the earlier scenarios such as the ATM trip and the kids’ chase. There is a free pdf Day 1 download but I wish these had been retained in FFO.

      The Quick Reference charts seem to vary a bit from the descriptions in the text, so you have a choice of which to use I guess. I don’t know if the pre-generated characters will be useful or not, but I applaud the inclusion of them. Better to have and not need, etc.; though if the BDTZ scenarios were removed to make room for them I think they weren’t a good trade.



All in All, I give All Things Zombie: Final Fade-Out 4 Head Shots out of 5, as the Mail Order Zombie Podcast grades things!


Zombie Chow

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oh yeah, almost forgot

ATZ: Final Fade-Out is now for sale, and while the hardcopy isn't here yet I've got the pdf and am about 1/4 into it. Many changes I like, especially ranged combat which makes it better to shoot zombies instead of meleeing them. Other changes I don't like such as Insight now for each figure instead of groups...but so far I'm happy with the product. I'll talk more about it when I'm finished with the book.
Oh yeah, and a short-story is now available on Those Who Remain Journal...a flashback interlude to the morning of day 2. Its at:

Zombie Chow

Monday, October 8, 2012

Book Reviews: My viewpoint

To give people an idea of where I'm coming from in my preferred choice of novels I give the following brief breakdown:
1. I like books that start either at the beginning of the outbreak, or shortly before. I'm not a big fan of starting after everything's collapsed, unless there are a lot of flashbacks to the beginning of the event.
2. I like George Romero style zombies. Not a big rager fan, nor of "infection"-style Zombie Apocalypses. It has to be REALLY good for me to like a book in spite of this.
3. I hate the main character(s) being ex SEALs, Green Berets, or from Special Zombie Squad X. I prefer reading about average people put into sudden crisis with the end of the world. Police and/or National Guard aren't necessarily in the first category; it all depends on their portrayal.
4. I do not like a Zombie Rise where nobody seems to know what a zombie is. In our culture, it's silly. It's like doing a vampire or werewolf in a modern setting but nobody has a clue about garlic, wooden stakes, crosses, Wolvesbane, or silver bullets. Now, they may not work as claimed, but the general knowledge should be there! Such will damage my suspension of disbelief in the story.
* * *
Ok, now that's over I'll list my planned categories for synopses. There WILL occasionally be spoilers, but if there is I will try and mark them ahead of time so the reader is forewarned.
1. The name and Author of the book
2. The type of Zombies
3. The time period of the Zombie Apocalypse
4. A list of the main character(s) and a few words about jobs and personality.
5. A brief synopses of the story, with an effort to avoid spoilers if possible. If not, it'll be tagged ahead of time.
6. My grade of the book, with the understanding of my own personal prejudices as noted above. Grade will be 1-10 with 10 being a Must Read and 1 being an "avoid at all cost!"

Zombie Chow

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mary Sue Zombie Novels

As noted in my prior post, I'm reading a lot of zombie novels right now. Partly as escapism from my "mandatory" (ie research) reading and partly to keep my interest in playing ATZ. Final Fade-Out should be coming out in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to trying some of the new rules out.


There is a recurring type of Zombie novel that tasks me. A lot. Its what I'll call the "Mary Sue" Zombie novel. For those of you who don't know, "Mary Sue" is a fan-fiction term that refers to a story where the author has introduced a character that is obviously meant to be the alter ego of the author. Now, this in itself isn't a bad thing....and certain people can point with justification that my "Those Who Remain Journal" fictions fall under this category. Quite true.

The type of MS story I hate though is when the character in question is an ex-SEAL who always KNEW this would happen and so just happens to have access to 3 M16A3s, 2 SIG-SAURs and a SAW in his closet. Oh, Night-Vision equipment too. The moment the dead hit the wall, they're out blowing away legions of the undead with glee and generally having a great time. If they have a wife or girlfriend, they are quickly killed by the dead and though the hero (always a "he") feels bad for a bit, this naturally leaves them single for the occasional hottie he manages to save during the course of the novel(s).


The above might make for good video games, and even a fun one-shot scenario for All Things Zombie....but pretty dull in a novel. I just wish these books had a warning label or something so I could avoid them. If others like such, that's cool....but I hate 'em!

Zombie Chow...and not a Superr-hero!

Friday, August 31, 2012

I'm a Sucker

     After much consideration and initial comments about the playtest version of All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out, I've decided I will take the plunge and buy it when its available in the next month or so. What sold me finally on it was the repeated comments about streamlining and fewer reaction tests. I don't mind the RTs so much, except that they are chart-heavy and have no consistent formula. Hopefully FFO will fix this. Not to mention I'm a sucker for lighter rules in most games. ;)
     I will post Game 5 (Searching for more resources) when I finish it, but after its done I will hold off until FFO comes out and continue from there. Unlike many of my fellow bloggers, I'm going to pick up the campaign where I left off from BDTZ instead of starting afresh. That's mostly because I write concurrent fiction after each event and I don't want all that writing to go to waste. ;)
     Until then, I'm going to try posting more often. I've recently gotten a huge pile of zombie novels and will start posting about them. Not a full review, but a general synopsis, what kind of zombies are in it, and my general feelings about the novel. I do this because it seems that there are tons of books out there that I can't find any synopses for and I have to start reading them to find out if they are any good or not. So, to save others from this fate I will start posting. ;) I haven't decided yet, but I think I will title such posts "Gravel & Gems" for labeling purposes.

Zombie Chow

Friday, August 24, 2012

The 20 Questions

Being the sucker I am, I’ve decided to pitch into the current concept going around the Zombie Blogs and give my answers to the 20 q’s below. My thanks to Vampifan and the Angry Lurker for putting me onto these.

1.       Favorite Wargaming period and why?

I’d normally put All Things Zombie here, but part of why I like it is for the RPG Light focus so I’m not sure it applies. Barring that, I’d say World War I and late Colonials are my preferred time periods. 1/72 scale of course!

2.       Next period, money no object?

Probably a tie between American Civil War and Napoleonics, with the latter having a slight edge. Problem is you need hundreds of figs to do it “right” and if I didn’t have the suitable number of painted figs (and a large enough table) I just couldn’t do such justice.

3.       Favorite 5 films?

Listed in no particular order…

  1. Avengers
  2. Night of the Living Dead (1990)
  3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
  4. D. Galaxy Quest
  5. Final Countdown

4.       Favorite 5 TV series?

Again, in no particular order

  1. The Walking Dead
  2. Big Bang Theory
  3. Doctor Who
  4. Community
  5. Thundarr the Barbarian <G>

5.       Favorite book and author?

Ack, just one? I’ll have to say Rise Again by Ben Tripp. Easily the best zombie novel I’ve read. Also kind of hate it because BT is taking too damn long for the sequel!

6.       Greatest General? Can’t count you!!

Robert E. Lee. Regardless of how you feel about the “country” he fought for, few generals in history were able to do as much as he did with so little to work with.

7.      Favorite Wargames rules?

I repeat what Vampifan said: “All Things Zombie by Two Hour Wargames. Their decision to cater for the solo gamer has been a life saver for me.”

8.      Favorite sport and team?

Anyone who’s playing the Dallas Cowboys at any given time. I hate the massive fanboy base of that team!

9.      If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?

Despite the temptation, I wouldn’t go and kill Hitler. Despite its horror w, WWII did actually bring some good with it, notably in race relations and the invalidation of the idea of Eugenics. Hmmm. Probably go back to 1880 or so and get filthy rich on patents. <G>

10.   Last meal on Death Row?

Scottish Eggs, prepared by my wife. Sure it’s a coronary waiting to happen, but I’m on Death Row so who cares?

11.   Fantasy relationship and why?

I’d like to have known Kaiser Wilhelm II (as a friend) and get directly from him the answers to several historical questions that bug me. If we’re talking women, I’m fortunate to have married the first woman I ever truly fell in love with so that’s covered. And I’m NOT just saying that because she reads my blog!

12.   If your life were a movie, who would play you?

Nathan Fillion

13.   Favorite Comic Superhero?

Nightcrawler, from the X-Men. At least the Chris Claremont version.

14.   Favorite Military quote?

“I’ve been accused of not respecting the time-honored traditions of the Royal Navy. What are these? Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash?”-Winston Churchill

15.   Historical destination to visit?

Potsdam in Germany

16.   Biggest Wargaming regret?

Not having kept my collection of Wargamers Digest from my earlier years.

17.   Favorite Fantasy job?

Benevolent Overlord LOL!

18.   Favorite Song Top 5?

  1. Killing the Dragon by Dio
  2. Behold the Machine by Vernian Process
  3. Last Man Standing by Hammerfall
  4. Don’t Tread on Me by Metallica
  5. Empire by Queensryche

19.   Favorite Wargaming Moment?

Winning the 1989 Battletech Tournament with my pal and getting those trophies; one o which is on my wall right now.

20.   The miserable Git question, what upsets you?

OMG….this could take a while.

A. Academic dishonesty, especially by my students.

B. Cell phones; hate ‘em all. If I want to talk to someone I’ll be near a phone. If I don’t I don’t want the phone to “follow” me.

C. Spam; especially Hot Teen Sluts who want to give me Free Long Distance while helping me Improve my Golf Score at my Free Bermuda Vacation provided with the money that a Nigerian Prince gave me because I’m reportedly trustworthy.

D. People who think the physically disabled must by definition be mentally disabled as well. I’m blind, not an idiot.

E. Windows Vista. Need I say more?

F. Getting stuck on a book with a cliffhanger ending that the author takes his sweet time about writing the sequel. See #5 above.

G. 24-hour News Channels that give you 30 second sound bites even though they have 24 hours to fill!

Ok, I’ll stop now. Honest!


Zombie Chow

Monday, August 20, 2012

More about Final Fade-Out

Ed over at Two Hour Wargames has revealed more about the new All Things Zombie book at:

Its sounding a bit better as I hear more about it. From the details, it appears that its going to move ATZ more toward a RPG system and away from a strictly (or mostly) miniature wargame. I'll keep people posted, though most of you probably knew about this before I did. ;)

Zombie Chow

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Relaunch of All Things Zombie?

Ed over at Two Hour Wargames has announced that the All Things Zombie line will be getting a new book; ATZ:Final Fade-out.

This apparently will replace All Things Zombie: Better Dead Than Zed, which is the core rulebook of the system.
I don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand, something a bit easier to understand would be great. Some of the layout of ATZ:BDTZ could stand reorganization! But there have been comments about increased complexity....which I don't like. I'm a simple rules sort of guy, which is why I'm a host on the Classic D&D podcast "Save or Die!" ( I like basic rules and options, like in the third book of the trilogy I, Zombie. But new rules? More complex rules? I dunno...
Vampifan (see my blog list for his blog) is one of the playtesters and I've got a lot of respect for him so I'll give it a chance when the book comes out. Still, I just got my 3 books (BDTZ, Haven, IZ) combined into one big book! <grump>

Zombie Chow

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wrecked Cars!

As promised, here are the photos of the wrecked cars sent by Dexter of the UK a few weeks ago. Pretty neat IMO, especially the ambulance and the zombie in the car window.

Enjoy!  And thanks to my lovely wife Lisa for taking the pictures...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Ok, despite broken promises we finally got the camera tripod so my wife at last agreed to take the pictures of the figs Dexter (from Board of the Living Lead; a forum that if you aren't on you should be!) painted for me... Next will be some wrecked cars he was nice enough to send along as a birthday gift. Which BTW the zombie pile below was part of as well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Survivors return....

Hey all,

My survivor figs (along with a few police and soldiers) arrived painted from Dexter in the UK...they look great! I'll get the lovely wife to take some pics to show off the figs in a couple of days. I'm especially impressed by the work he did on the Red Box plastic police and gangsters...RB is notorious for flash and chunky molds; but they're the only place to find 1/72 police, civillians, etc. He went above and beyond the call in fixing these guys up. ;)

Even though the blog has languished, I've been reading (ok listening to audio) some zombie books from Audible. Quite a pile actually, and of the group I've got to reccomendJonothan Maberry's Dead of Night and the Zombies of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor. Alison Hewitt is Trapped (book done in the form of an updated blog) is also pretty ok, but has a couple of continuity SNAFUs that bug me a bit. Still each is a good listen if you have the time and inclination....thogh as you can imagine the Zombies of Lake Woebegotten is a Zomody; taking the idea of having a zombie apocalypse in the iconic Minnesota town of Lake Woebegone (see Prarie home Companion on NPR for more). Of course they couldn't CALL it Woebegone, so we get Woebegotten. Still funny, and yet just as plausible zombie story too.

Of course, if you read this blog I don't need to remind you that AMC's The Walking Dead has had its finale and we've got the crew back on the road once again. I look forward to Season 3, though it'll take until Oct for us to see it. :P 


I'm glad they finally whacked Shane, but even though they did it differently from the comic I still thought it was well done. Especially how they sorta paid homage to the comic by having Carl sorta-shoot Shane after all. ;)  I frankly expected a higher body count from the farm, but its probably best since I liked all the characters that survived. Well, except Dale but they did his death well so I won't complain (much). I just wish they'd work with T-Dog to build his character like they did with Daryl this season. He's had maby 6 lines all season? I'm afraid if they don't do something soon, it'll mean he's going to be red-shirted this Fall. <sigh>

More soon, and I'm going to work on doing a better job of posting from now on. Honest!

Zombie Chow

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Still alive....No, really!

Hey all,

Gaming has been on hiatus because I'm getting (most of) my survivors and police/soldiers painted. Once they return via the post I'll start up again. Until then, here's a few questions for one and all.

1. What do you use for dead zombies? That is, head shot but still lying around?

2. What about wrecked cars? Do you just break some models or something else?


3. Do you think having some paper models of buildings set alongside full models messes up the ambiance? As my photos show, I've got several pre-painted buildings but there are some I just can't get either pre-constructed or they don't make in HO scale. So, I'm considering filling those gaps with paper models on cardboard, but am concerned it'll look weird.

All opinions appreciated!

Zombie Chow

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Zombies and Apologies

Hello all,

My apologies for taking a month to update this blog... A combination of factors kept me from blogging, though I did finally refight that Quarantine scenario (BatRep & Pics coming soon).

To tide folks over, below are the pics of my new to-scale zombies from the Zombie Survival boardgame from Twilight Creations. As I've mentioned before, unlike the other boardgames from TC these figs are truly 1/72 so will be replacing my earlier boardgame figs. They're also in 4 poses, 2 male and 2 female.

These are painted by Dexter of Board of the Living Lead, and I think he did a great job!

Zombie Chow

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Hate Quarantines!

I tried today to play the Quarantine scenario from the All Things Zombie: Haven scenario book. Basically, its cops trying to hold the line on the board against zombies, infected humans, and all sorts just trying to break quarantine. As such, the board doesn't start with either zombies or PEFs at the beginning. You only have events when you have encounters. The scenario ends when 16 activation turns go by, when the scenario assumes your relief arrives for the next watch shift.

Seems simple right? Well, it is. TOO simple. Encounters only occur when you roll doubles on the activation dice. This happened exactly TWICE during the game. Turn 1, when the streetlights went out (this is a night shift) and on Activation 14, when a sniper took a shot at one of the cops and missed.

That was it. The entire game. In four sentences. :P
I think its taking me longer to write this !@#$ post than the 'game' took.

So, I'm going to replay it tomorrow, but with the rule that encounters happen on either a 7 or doubles. Just to have some action going on! Otherwise, I spent a lot of time setting up my terrain and minis for (almost) nothing.

Have any of my readers played the Quarantine scenario? What was your experience with the scenario as written? Other than Vampifan that is. HIS BatRep had a lot of action! Wonder if its my dice....

Zombie Chow

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pardon my Geeking out, but...

I got an article of mine published in the UK wargames magazine Battlegames!

Its in issue 27, and is called "Wargaming Blind" and obviously covers how I play miniatures wargames. I also give Two Hour Wargames a shout out, especially All Things Zombie.

Details for issue 27 can be read at:

In other news, I'm currently setting up the police scenario _Quarantine_ from the ATZ: Haven book. This will be a flashback to day 6 when Sebastian (the policeman mentioned in Game 4: Dining Out) first runs into zombies. Depending on how it goes, it might also explain why he ended up as only a Rep 3 figure!

More later...

Zombie Chow

Friday, January 6, 2012

At last, fiction started on 'Those Who Remain Journal'

Hello all,

Apologies for the delay in starting to get fiction over to the TWR Journal site. I wanted to keep the fiction chronological so that left me actually having to write up the Day 1 scenario as fiction before posting other (already written) stuff.

The short story for Graveyard Shift: Day 1 is now up at:


Zombie Chow

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Post of the Year! The Smith Letter

Hello all,

As anyone who's read this blog can attest, I like All Things Zombie mostly for its solo campaign element. I play solo wargames in a variety of eras, and I read the Lone Warrior blog for the Solo Wargames Association at the link below.

In their August 2011 section, Chris Hahn discusses a letter he read in the March 2011 Miniatures Wargaming magazine that discussed the overemphasis (in Mr. Smith's opinion) on detailed painting of figures and exquisite terrain over the basic idea of wargaming; that is getting together and playing games. He further considers that it promotes a brand of financial and painting skilled "elite" that intimidates and deters many people from entering the hobby.
 I'm still chewing on it, but I think he may have a point. Not that I think those who paint all their figs or create detailed terrain are elitists, they are simply exhibiting their love of the hobby and its modeling-painting aspect. Does this keep people from the hobby? I've been at conventions where I've overheard miniature wargamers sneering at a person's bad paint jobs on their figures, or turning their noses up at paper terrain. But is this just the normal level of appreciating greater effort? Or a sign of something worse, as Mr. Smith seems to imply?

Read the Lone Warrior article and please give me your opinions:

Still chewing on it,

Zombie Chow