This past weekend was spent—as Victoria Day weekends usually are—at the annual CanGames gaming convention in Ottawa. As is also the usual pattern, I had a terrific time.
Friday afternoon was spent elsewhere in the capital with fellow gamers Tom Fisher and Brian Train, discussing serious policy game design (something we do more and more of these days). On Friday evening, however, attention turned to the hobby side as Brian showed off a few turns of his forthcoming game Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62. This will be published soon part of GMT’s very successful COIN series. Unlike others in the series, however, Colonial Twilight is for two, rather than four, players. The modified two-player card draw system seemed to work very well indeed.
Together with Kevin Crichlow (Algonquin College) we also discussed integrating games in the classroom, and Tom and I showed off how to set up and play AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game.
On Saturday morning Tom and I ran the first of what would be two sessions of Flight from the Apocalypse, a zombie skirmish/survival game using our own rules.
The City, with the Walmart Secure Research Facility (and helipad) located in the centre of town.
The scenario was as follows:
One Helicopter. Eight Survivors. Four seats…
It has been two months since The City was overrun by murderous hordes of undead abominations. During that time, your small group has managed to survive—but only just. The zombies grow in number every day. Supplies are running low.
You recently spotted a helicopter landing at the nearby Walmart Secure Research Facility. Perhaps it can take you to safety?
You don’t really know how to fly, of course—but anything has got to be better than here. Perhaps there’s a pilot somewhere?
You had better hurry. The helicopter doesn’t look that big. You need to get there before anyone else does…
Each team had, as its primary objective, escaping the city by helicopter. As a secondary objective they could also exist the City by the opposite table edge, either on foot or in a vehicle. All teams also had tertiary objectives, described below.
The first game involved the following teams:
- THE SCIENTISTS. Professors Horatio Theorem and Earnest Paradigm, together renowned feminist anthropologist Dr. Ginger Barton. Tertiary objective: study various types of zombie.
- THE ENTERTAINERS. Elvis impersonator “The King,” together with Francesco Galán and Alex “El Cid” Jones of the famed mariachi band Los Desperados. Tertiary objectives: find munchies, ride around in a cool car.
- THE HUNTING PARTY. Lady Penelope, her prized horse, and her faithful Scottish gamekeeper Jock. Tertiary objective: shoot various types of zombie.
- DICK DANGER. Former host of the popular television reality show “Survivor: Apocalypse.” Danger is his middle—and last—name. Tertiary objective: hand out autographs, get adoring fans to thank him.
Lady Penelope and Jock encounter a zombie boss and his horde.
The Entertainers are about to run into a runner..
Dick Danger spied a group of zombies, and decided to show off his machete skills. However, he soon grew frustrated and pulled out his cellphone to call his (long-dead) agent to complain. He was devoured trying to get a signal.
Lady Penelope and Jock bagged a few zombie specimens, but the noise soon attracted a fearsome zombie boss and its horde. Lady Penelope was pulled from her horse and was eaten soon afterwards. Jock escaped, and managed to find both the drunken pilot of the helicopter and a copy of Helicopters for Dummies.
They both made a dash for the helipad, but Jock didn’t make it…
Jock fights a zombie cheerleader as feral dogs sniff around the back door.
Francesco found a rifle, but wouldn’t give his now-spare shotgun to junior band-mate El Cid. Minutes later they ran into a group of undead. The King was killed. Francesco tried to escape into a nearby post office, but was hunted down. El Cid ran off, figuring that without a firearm there was no point sticking around. He would later run to the helicopter, arriving just in time. Together with the pilot they took off..
Only to see the (poorly-armed but remarkably all still alive) scientists below, waving frantically for help. They ignored them and flew away. El Cid was declared the winner!
Saturday afternoon was spent refighting the Siege of Fort William Henry (1757), which pitted Louis-Joseph de Montcalm against British commander George Monro. I was part of the French side, assuming the role of First Nations allies. As usual, Ed Burley brought terrific figures and beautiful terrain to the battlefield.
The view from the fort.
Outnumbering the defenders and having brought a large artillery contingent, we expected it to be only a matter of time before we battered the British into submission. Some of my First Nations troops sniped at the defenders as our artillery pounded the defenders and our sappers extended our siege-lines.
First Nations fighters near the fort.
Unfortunately a British messenger escaped the fort and my native patrols.
The view from the French siege lines.
A short while thereafter my scouts reported that British reinforcements were being sent from Albany. The assault would have to be moved up—before all of the defending artillery had been destroyed.
To make things worse, no sooner had we moved our siege mortars into position than they were destroyed by the enemy’s cannons. Zut alors!
However, we did succeed in breaching the walls. We were ready to attack! And not a moment too soon, for British reinforcement were arriving and streaming into the fort.
French regulars and Troupes de la marine prepare to attack.
The French assault went in—but took heavy casualties.
My own warbands scaled the walls from time to time to harass the enemy, but could not gain a foothold. In any case much of this was a distraction while one group of natives tried to hack their way in the rear gate.
Trying to force the gate.
The French are thrown back. The siege is over!
However, it was too late. The main French assault was thrown back with heavy casualties, and the attack was called off. Unlike the real Fort William Henry, this one had withstood Montcalm’s best efforts.
Saturday night was spent refighting WWI—and, more specifically, the May 1917 attack of the Eastern Ontario Battalion against German positions in the Fresnoy Wood north of Vimy. David Redpath organized the game, which was fought using 10mm figures and a variant of his “Up Front” rules.
Our artillery barrage shifts to the forward German trenches as Canadian troops advance through the remnants of the wire.
Our assault started off well enough, with our artillery cutting much of the defender’s barbed wire then hammering his forward trenches. Unfortunately we faltered in the final stages (largely having the wrong cards at the wrong times), and were devastated by German defensive artillery fire.
Sunday morning was another game of Flight from the Apocalypse. Tom and I were aided in running things by my daughter, Chloe.
This time the teams involved this time around were:
- THE POLITICOS. Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Hillary Clinton. Vladimir scored tertiary points if Hillary died, Hillary scored tertiary points if Vladimir died, and Donald scored tertiary points for pausing to—you guessed it—tweet.
- THE ARCHAEOLOGISTS. Tired of the trope of Western archaeologists travelling to Egypt to defeat some evil plague of mummies, this time Egyptians came to the North America to investigate the scourge of the living dead. Professor Abdullah Hamid and foreman Mahmud Ansari led diggers Daud Abu Majrafa and Ali al-Mi’awl. Tertiary objective: digging a large hole in a significant historical or cultural location.
- SUBURBAN MOM. Single mom, yoga enthusiast, and military operations research analyst Suzy Suburban, together with her (well-armed) son Michael and her even younger (but ninja-trained) daughter Annie. Tertiary objectives: food supplies.
- LAURIE KRAFT. Ambidextrous hypoglycemic zombie-hunter. Tertiary objective: sugary snacks.
Laurie got herself into serious trouble early on, but eventually managed to shoot her way through a pack of zombies and limp to safety.
Vladimir Putin narrowly escaped when zombies noticed him trying to start a front-end loader. However, Donald Trump colluded to provide some covering fire, helping him to escape. The President also started tweeting early…
Actual game tweets.
Donald Trump is beset by hungry undead children
…but The Donald failed to notice the two small zombie children approaching. They took him down. He would arise a short while later as a zombie boss, bent on revenge (and still more tweets).
Meanwhile, Putin spent much of the rest of his time cautiously moving across the city. On the way he encountered the Egyptian archaeologists exploring Tim Hortons.
Vladimir encounters the Egyptians at Tim Hortons.
Earlier the archaeological team had discovered that great cultural icon Andy’s Gun Works, and had excavated there for bonus points.
Ali and Daud fight a mangled zombie in Andy’s Gun Works.
Both Vladimir and the Egyptians felt there were far too many abominations swarming around the helipad to make that a viable option for escape. Hillary Clinton, however, had other ideas.
First, the former First Lady commandeered a snowplow—much to Donald’s evident undead displeasure.
She then began running over the shambling undead as if they were so many Bernie bros. At one point, when driving past the pizzeria, Clinton rolled a random encounter with other humans. Given the context, this could be none other than HRC’s satanic pizzeria cult. Cloaked in socialist red and Benghazi black, they joined their leader.
Pizzaria cultists join the fray: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (left, with submachinegun), John Podesta (centre, with sword), and Donna Brazile (right, with shotgun).
By this time, Suzy Suburban and her kids had made their way to the centre of town, with young 6-year-old Annie’s ninja parkour skills proving particularly useful. They had also encountered the drunken helicopter pilot. However, could they make it to the helicopter? To make matters worse zombie Donald was slowly approaching, calling upon his voters to feast on the brains of the living.
Fearing no man, dead or otherwise, Hillary took the snowplow and picked up her suburban demographic and her kids. Next, they crashed through the perimeter fence, crushing zombies. As the cultists fought off the approaching hordes (only to succumb in the end), they dashed to the helicopters.
Hillary (driving) rescues Suzy, the kids, and the pilot as the pizzaria cultists provide covering fire from the back of the truck.
As Clinton, the pilot, and the Suburbans clambered in, an undead Walmart executive stirred in the rear seat of the copter. HRC promptly decapitated him with a single blow of her katana.
The helicopter blades began to spin up. Seeing a last chance to escape, Laurie Kraft ran forward and leapt intro the air, grabbing on to the rear stabilizer. She didn’t want to be left behind!
Moments later she sheepishly realized that it hadn’t taken off yet and she still had time to get inside the helicopter. She did so and it took off, leaving an angry and undead Donald Trump behind muttering about the media and the FBI.
Although Laurie and Hillary had both been bitten, neither was infected. Sally Suburban—whose kids had found several boxes of Timbits in the streets—was declared the winner.
My final game on Sunday afternoon was The Docking of theGhost Ship Grozny a 15mm Force on Force scenario by Duncan Allen. The MV Grozny had arrived at Mombasa carrying a load of weapons, mysterious chemicals, and… zombies. Kenyan paramilitary police (me) had called upon US special forces for assistance, while Somali insurgents massed to seize the dangerous cargo.
The shoreline, port, and MV Grozny. Lifeboats and containers have washed ashore, but where are the crew?
My police quickly boarded the ship, partly to check out the cargo but also to get some cover from the growing number of the insurgents in town. The US dispatched a fireteam and two sniper teams to rescue some scientists and set up overwatch in the tallest building in the area. Two other fireteams hastened along the seawall towards the MV Grozny.
Kenyan police cautious approach.
US troops prepare to enter the building.
Other American special forces personnel advance carefully behind the seawall.
My police discovered several valuable clues, and gunned down a pack of zombie dogs, before being overrun by more undead. Another US sniper team arrived as reinforcements, but was pinned down and badly wounded by insurgent fire.
More and more zombies appeared, and their strength kept increasing. The ship became too dangerous for anyone to board.
Having seized the high ground, US troops begin to methodically take down the insurgent fighters.
US troops start to secure key buildings.
More reinforcements arrived—an insurgent “technical” with a recoilless rifle, and a US Assault Amphibious Vehicle. The technical was shot up by overwatch teams as soon as it tried to enter the area, and the crew was killed. The AAV, meanwhile, provided US forces with near-zombieproof transportation. Although a half-dozen brave Kenyan police and one US special operator had made the ultimate sacrifice, we had prevailed.
As can be seen from the summary above, I had a great time. We hope to be back in 2018 with another zombie scenario—this time with Clinton, Putin, and the others leading elite strike teams against the underground lair of zombie President Trump and his undead minions.