The jungle planet of ZX1329 was colonized decades ago by the Imperium, which built there great factories to exploit its plentiful biological and other natural resources, as well as to extract its plentiful reserves of Goatronium. However, something happened: an undiscovered organism perhaps, or industrial pollutants and genetic mutation, or even a dangerous experiment gone wrong. Whatever it was, the flora turned deadly, with the lush vegetation producing a range of pathogens and biotoxins that rendered the planet unsafe for any form of human settlement. ZX1329 was abandoned, and the jungle soon reclaimed the buildings and machinery left behind.
Fungus-based Orkish biology is rather more robust, however. When greenskin scouts stumbled upon ZX1329 and discovered it was ripe for scavenging, word soon got around that there was ordz o’ gubbins ‘and nosh fer da takin’. It wasn’t long before two large scavenging parties descended upon it. One of these belonged to infamous Warboss Krizmurk the Destroyer, the other to the renegade cybernetic leader of the Great Grot Socialist Revolution, Doctor Morork. The two were bitter enemies, and as committed to destroying each other as to looting the abandoned industrial zones of the planet.
Four mysterious objectives are placed in the industrial zone, representing particularly important pieces of scrap and machinery. The identity of these is determined when a unit moves within 3”. Control of each is worth 1 Victory Point at the end of the game.
One relic is placed within the ruins. This is worth 1 Victory Point if controlled at the end of the game, and d3 Victory Points if successful removed from the table.
The crashed Aquila Lander may or may not be an objective, as per the standard rules.
Slay the Warlord, Line Breaker, and First Blood are each worth 1 Victory Point. In addition, the player who has destroyed the most enemy units scores an additional d3 Victory Points at the end of the game.
All woods count as Dense Thickets providing a 4+ cover save.
The revolutionary socialist Grot Army chose to deploy and fire first, hoping to deplete their reactionary opponents with Grotty proletarian firepower before the enemy could close to melee combat—something in which the Orks had a decided advantage.
On the left, the Gorkanaut (with the Cybork Slashas), a unit of Grot Tanks, and some Grots were sent to secure the landing pad, lander, and first industrial zone, 2-3 potential victory points, backed by the Shokk Attack Gun and a smaller detachment of Grots.
In the centre, Doctor Morork decided to be more cautious. The Killa Kans would be sent forward, but they would be backed by considerable firepower: the powerful weapons of his own Morakanaut, both batteries of Big Gunz, and the Mekboy Junka. If necessary, these units could also provide firepower to the left and right flanks too.
In the right, the an effort would be made to secure one or both objectives in the chemical plant. To this end the Megatank, a squadron of Grot Tanks, and a sizeable units of proletarian foot-Grots would be sent forward.
For the Ork Army, it was clear what they needed to do: smash da traitor grots and seize da loot.
The Slugga Boyz and both Dredds were sent to capture the crashed lander, landing pad, and first industrial zone. In the centre, Warboss Krizmurk would personally lead the Meganobz in the Battlewagon, bagged by the Shoota Boyz. The chemical plant would be secured by the Burna Boyz and Tankbustas, led by Warboss Daryll. Finally, a the Warbikers, ‘Arbboyz, and Deffkoptas would be sent in a wide arc to attack the Grots’ right flank.
The Orks tried, and failed, to seize the initiative.
And so it was that battle was joined under the initial cover of darkness.
* * *
The Grots advanced towards the landing pad, with the Gorkanaut and Grot tanks focussing their fire on the Lootas, destroying much of the unit. Their morale held, however. The Lootas returned fire at the Grots, while the Deff Dreads and Slugga Boyz ran forward towards their objectives. The latter, however, came under devastating fire from the Lobbas, which would wreak havoc on Orkish units throughout the battle. The Cyborg Slashas disembarked from the Gokanaut and headed towards industrial zone #1, firing upon the remaining Slugga Boyz as soon as they were in range.
In ruins overlooking the city center, the Shokk Attack Gun fired at the approaching Orks. Whether due to bad aim, a warp in the fabric of space-time, or the distraction of over-excited Grots tugging on his pant leg, the Mek missed and instead obliterated part of a Grot unit below. Moments later he fired again, and BZZZZZTUPPT …vanished in a flash of green light.
In the centre, the Battlewagon and Killa Kanz moved towards each other. The Shoota Boyz occupied industrial zone #2. There their numbers would be slowly whittled down by fire from the Big Gunz.
At the chemical plant, the Megatank “Grotempkin” trundled forward, immobilizing and then destroying a Trukk and forcing the Burna Boyz to dismount. The foot-Grots ran forward , while the Grot tanks rolled forward a little too.
The Tankbustas moved up, dismounting from their Trukk. They opened fire with rokkits, severely damaging the Megatank. Rather than retreat, the Grotempkin continued forward with revolutionary élan, firing upon the Tankbustas and destroying their Trukk too. A few more rokkits and a Bomb Squig or two would, however, eventually sink the valiant Grot land-vessel.
While this action was underway, a large Ork force consisting of the Warbikers, Deffkoptas, and ‘Ard Byz,set off at high speed to hit the Grots in their right flank. Seeing the threat, the Grot Tanks changed direction to meet them.
The Grot tanks fired a salvo from their Grotzookas. When the smoke cleared all the Warbikers were dead, as was one of the Deffkoptas. The Grot tankers celebrated by chortling various unprintable revolutionary limericks.
The Orks kept coming, however—eventually joined by their Dakkajet, which strafed the little midget armoured vehicles. Eventually the Grot tank force was destroyed, but not before sit had effectively stalled the greenskin flank attack.
Meanwhile back in the central industrial district, Krizmurk the Destroyer disembarked from the Battlewagon with the Meganobz. Two of these were killed by fire from the Morkanaut, and the survivors were then charged by the Killa Kanz. After a lengthy melee the Grot walkers emerged victorious, killing the Ork warlord and his retinue.
Meanwhile at the chemical factory, Warboss Daryl assembled the surviving Tankbustas and Burna Boyz and moved towards the Grots. The Grot fire was devastating, wounding the big Ork and killing the Tankbustas. Not one to be deterred, Warboss Daryll charged—losing most of the rest of his force to overwatch fire. His last words as he was mobbed by enthusiastic squeaking gretchin were said to be “pleese don’t tell my boyz ’bout dis…”
Back at the landing pad, the Deff Dredds trundled through the wrecked lander, discovering an unstable fuel core but emerging unscathed from the ensuing explosion. They then assaulted the Grot force on the objective, forcing them to flee. Their victory was short-lived, however, as they were soon countercharged by the mighty Gorkanaut.
Although the huge yellow Grot walker was seriously damaged, it did manage to pull apart both Dredds. It then clambered atop the landing pad and began a thunderous dance of joy. The Grots—long the exploited underlings of the Orks—had struck another blow for freedom. With a final score of 7 to 2, victory was theirs!
This past long weekend was the CanGames 2016 gaming convention in Ottawa. I was able to participate on Saturday and Sunday, both as a GM and player.
The Cruel Winter: Operation Veritable (1945)
I started Saturday morning by participating in a 20mm WWII skirmish game set in the context of Operation Veritable, pitting elements of the Canadian 1st Division against the defending Germans. The Germans had flooded much of the area, which made it difficult going. We Canadians also faced an array of enemy fortifications, obstacles, and minefields. Fortunately we had a number of engineering “funnies” from the 79th Armoured Division attached to our force: a Sherman Crab (flail), an AVRE SBG bridge-layer, and a Churchill Crocodile flamethrower.
Our objectives were three-fold: to secure a farm located on a rise of ground on our left flank (“the island”); to rescue two trapped Canadian officers; and the secure the crossroads in the centre of the village. If possible we also hoped to destroy a bunker complex on our right.
I was placed in charge of the far left flank. My LVT-equipped infantry were ordered to assault the island and seize it. Facing me were a similar number of (well-equipped and highly motivated) German Fallschirmjäger (paratroops). The main force would proceed along two parallel roads towards the village.
Despite stiff resistance, I gradually got the upper hand. It was an intense confrontation, much of it fought with grenade and bayonet.
Elsewhere our forces cleared a minefield, breached an anti-tank ditch, rescued one Canadian officer and contested the crossroads. However our infantry were engaged and pinned down by MG42 fire short of the village, and were unable to fully secure our final objective.
CanGames: The Apocalypse
On Saturday afternoon, Chloe and I ran a session of the Ivory Goat Gaming Group’s (in)famous zombie apocalypse survival game:
While the gamers were gaming, a horrifying zombie apocalypse has befallen the city. Can you make it home from CanGames without being eaten.. or worse?
The eleven players represented a diverse group of survivors. Each had slightly different secret objectives: to escape the city via a particular exit; to find food or other supplies; to observe zombies so as to improve their miniature zombie painting skills; to kill zombies; or even to get other survivors “accidentally” killed:
In the end, Dirk, Uncle Wilf, and the chain gang all died, while everyone else managed to escape. The King was declared the winner, in part because of his good fortune in finding several boxes of stale Timbits along the road.
The game seemed to go over very well, and I hope to run it again next year.
Thanks to Michael Copage for help with set-up and several of the pictures above.
Siege of Fort Beauséjour (1755)
On Saturday evening I assumed the role of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Monckton as I and a fellow British commander sought to capture the French fort of Beauséjour. The game was run by Ed Burley, and as with his Louisbourg game last year the scenery and figures were beautiful.
An immediate assault was out of the question. Instead, we slowly dug forward saps from which we could launch our final attack, while bombarding the fortress with artillery. The French guns gave as good as they got, however. Several times the main French powder store caught alight, but each time the fire was extinguished before it could detonate the stores within.
Fortunately for us, the French suffered a number of defections, both of Indian allies and local Acadians. Unfortunately for us, however, many disgruntled irregulars from the New England colonies also got fed up and went home.
Finally our trenches approached the edge of the fort. We were almost ready–we just had to prepare ladders and fascines, and soften up the defenders one more time with cannon and siege mortars. However, just then news arrived of French reinforcements en route from Louisbourg. We needed to attack in the morning, or all would be lost!
The British regulars were shattered by heavy fire from the defenders. However, our Rangers noticed that one section of parapet was only lightly-held, and scrambled up the poorly-maintained glacis. As the defenders rushed to reinforce the breach in their defences, they abandoned other positions, and Boston colonials clambered up there too. There was fierce hand-to-hand fighting on the ramparts.
Ultimately the defenders were overwhelmed, and were forced to surrender.
British casualties, however, were very heavy. Given this—and the soon-to-arrive French force from Louisbourg—the fortress could not be held, and the game was a narrow French victory.
Battle of Jutland (1916)
I assumed the role of Rear Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, commander of the 5th Battle Squadron. This consisted of four fast Queen Elizabeth-class battleships, attached to the larger Battle Cruiser fleet of Vice Admiral Sir David Richard Beatty. Our task was to scout ahead of the main force, find the Germans, and try to lure them towards the Grand Fleet proceeding from Scapa Flow under Admiral Sir John Rushworth Jellicoe.
All went according to plan. We sighted the lead elements of the German fleet, opened fire, and then turned slightly to bring them towards our main force. We took something of a pounding, but lost no ships. The Grand Fleet arrived just in time. Showing excellent seamanship it deployed smoothly into an extended battleline, bringing broadsides to bear on the enemy. The German dispositions were less effective, and rarely were they able to bring the full weight of their fires upon us.
Ultimately the German fleet turned to the east and fled into the cover of the rapidly-approaching nightfall. The Royal Navy had been victorious!
AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game
Finally, on Sunday afternoon, I ran a session of AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game. Sadly I didn’t remember to take any pictures. The players did very well indeed, showing excellent cooperation and securing a very substantial “victory.”
All-in-all it was another excellent convention again this year. I’m looking forward to CanGames 2017!
Ayrnham, Alabama’s very first megagame, organized by Mooseketeers of America Herd #791, had been a resounding success. Little did the players know, however, that while they had been playing the city had been overrun in a zombie apocalypse.
Could everyone escape to safety?
The characters (played for the most part by members of the Control Team of the recent NWO 2035 megagame at McGill University) were as follows:
All characters except Dick Danger started at the town hall, where the game had been conducted. Dick Danger started at the northern edge of the city, on foot. After all, “Danger” is his middle—and last—name.
I’ve played Dead of Winter a couple of times before, and was a bit underwhelmed. That, however, was with only two players, and hence no secret objectives Today’s game with four (Tom, Daryl, Aaron and myself) was very much better.
Our main objective (“We Need More Samples”) was to kill nine zombies. My own secret objective was to retain two medical supplies (“Hypochondriac”). Later on a crossroads card introduced a new challenge: to keep the police station, hospital, and gas station zombie-free.
I started with fireman Gabriel Diaz and pilot Sophie Robinson. Sophie died early on, but Gabriel soon recruited nurse Janet Taylor. Janet’s expert searching at the hospital helped to resolve two of the crises faced by the colony, and also found the extra medical supplies I needed. Later psychiatrist James Meyers joined my group too, but he did little but encourage everyone from the sidelines.
Gabriel managed to find a tactical rifle at the police station, and between that and another rifle held by Tom it looked as if we were well on our way to success, despite low morale caused by a few survivor deaths. Indeed, we only needed to clear one more walker to win—except, that is, Tom, who suggested he needed to keep search to find fuel (as his secret objective). Rather than take the victory, we agreed to play the last turn. Tom found his fuel. All that was needed was for Aaron to finish off the one zombie at the gas station, then return to the colony.
He killed the undead abomination easily. On the way back, however, he was bitten—and infected the rest of us. As survivors died our morale plummeted… and we lost the game.
This week, faculty and graduate students at McGill University’s Interuniversity Consortium for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies sat down to hone their all-important zombie survival skills. Unlike past years, this time the scenario was not set on the McGill campus but rather in the terror-inspiring town of Thesisville.
The nine players each were assigned individual and/or collective goals.
Lady Penelope, English aristocrat and big-game hunter, had decided that the areas west of town had become too dangerous, and that they should instead try to find a safer refuge to the east. With her was her loyal gamekeeper (and, so it was rumoured, secret lover) Jock McHaggis, as well as her prize-winning horse Archibald.
Claire--head prefect at Miss Congleton’s School for Girl—was heading in to town with junior students Polly, Lucy, and Samiha. Back at the school one of their fellow pupils had become deathly ill, and it was essential that they find a first aid kit, medicines, or a doctor as soon as possible.
Private Eye Dick Bogart had seen it all before: dames, undead, a world that had lost its mind. He was heading into town with one thought on his mind: to kill zombies. Accompanying him was The King, an itinerant Elvis impersonator in search of food and an audience that didn’t want to eat his brains.
Food was also uppermost on the mind of Laurie Kraft, the hypoglycemic former Olympian. A skilled markswoman and all-around athlete, her abilities tended to fade when her blood-sugar went low.
Finally, two members of the faculty of Thesisville University approached from the west. Dr. Nina Putin—engineer, physicist, and experimental geneticist—was anxious to cross town and move west, although she would not explain why. Dr. Putin claimed to be close to finding a cure to the Zed-virus, but her abrasive personality and maniacal mad-scientist laugh led many to conclude she was more likely to have been the cause of the epidemic rather than anyone’s future saviour. With her was Prof. Ginger Barton, the noted feminist anthropologist. Her objective was simply to survive—and, if possible, expose the roots of global patriarchy.
* * *
Dirk and The King started by approaching the back door of a once heavily-fortified post office, now largely in ruins. As they did so, however, the King spotted movement to one side. “Zombies, thank you very much.” he warned, “They’ll be trying to step on our blue suede shoes.” Dirk nodded “The other way isn’t much better.. there’s something approaching fast.” It was a fearsome runner zombie!
They decided to head in that direction nonetheless. Dirk gunned the runner down with a burst from his Tommy gun, but not before it had lightly wounded The King.
“Oh, now don’t be cruel,” muttered The King, as another group of zombies shuffled out of a nearby strip mall and started to shamble towards him. He shot one down with his pistol, but the others soon tore him apart. Dirk looked grimly at the bloody sight, before mowing down the hungry undead with a burst of automatic weapons fire. “Elvis has left the building….”
* * *
Dr. Putin and Prof. Barton did little but argue as they approached the city. Faculty meetings had always been like this, and the apocalypse had done little to smooth the tensions. Finally they agree to part ways—Putin headed a little to the south, while Barton passed through a small gas station before heading down the main road into town.
Sticking together might have been a better idea. Not long thereafter, Prof. Barton found herself pursued by a small pack of shufflers. They caught up with her, and killed her. She would later rise from the dead as one of them.
* * *
Meanwhile, Claire and the girls approached some commercial buildings, intending to search them for medical supplies. One building was intact, and yielded up some food supplies. The other was barricaded. After considerable time and effort Claire finally managed to pry the door open, only to find a single well-armed female cultist inside. Using her leadership skills, the head girl soon convinced the mysterious hooded figure to join their group.
As she did so, they could all hear shots in the distance, and the howling of a pack of feral dogs.
* * *
Lady Penelope and Jock arrived at a small farm. As her Ladyship looked on impatiently, Jock forced open the barricaded door of the farmhouse. “Ye rest in haur a minute, m’lady. Ah hink i’ll gang check it ‘at barn.” he said in his thick Highland brogue. “Very well,” replied Lady Penelope.
She searched for a few moments, but soon gave up. She had people to search for her, after all–it was not really appropriate for a woman of good breeding to be opening cupboards and poking about in dusty possessions. Instead she peered out the window, and took occasional shots at a pack of hungry-looking dogs in the distance. It was hardly stalking wildebeast on the Serengeti, but it would have to do.
Jock wandered over to the barn and opened its big doors. Like every barn ever in the history of zombie apocalypses, it was full of zombies. He shouted out for help, but was soon brought down by the hungry pack.
Lady Penelope went outside to see what the noise was. Jock had been bitten! And good help was so hard to find! She mounted Archibald and rode off.
Moments later, Jock rose from the dead. With vague memories of her ladyship still animating his undead actions, he and the group shambled off in pursuit of the now-distant rider.
* * *
Laurie Kraft was hungry. VERY hungry. And if she didn’t find some food soon, things were going to get worse.
Moving cautiously through the city, she surveyed the buildings. Most were clearly ransacked, several in ruins. She did, however, spot an ice cream van. The ice cream would have long since melted and spoiled, but she might find cones or snacks still inside.
But no. The van was empty. And the gnawing inside Laurie’s stomach was only growing worse.
“RATATATATAT! Bang! Bang! RATATATAT!” she heard shooting in the distance. It seemed to be attracting every zombie for miles around too. She was about to head off when a blonde woman with a haughty expression, machine-pistol and sword approached her. “I am Dr. Nina Putin.” she said. “Would you like to serv.. would you like to join with me?” Laurie shook her head. She liked to do things alone.
* * *
Dr. Putin gave the woman an dismissive wave, and continued down the road. Moments later she felt her footing give way as an improperly-closed manhole cover shifted beneath her. While she did not plunge into the dark sewer below, her ankle was now twisted. “Damn…” She continued to hobble toward westwards.
* * *
As Laurie had correctly surmised, Dirk‘s habit of shooting at everything that groaned—while leaving an ever-growing mound of zombie corpses—was also attracting even more attention from the undead. He headed towards a shopping mall, zombies in pursuit—only to see another large pack headed towards him. Uh oh.
In the nick of time he broke into a Tim Hortons, and barricaded the door behind him. He was safe–for now!
* * *
Continuing on her way—despite the limp—Dr. Putin headed down a small alley between two large buildings. Suddenly a small child with sunken, hollow eyes and bloodied teeth leapt at her. She hated children, too!
* * *
“Look, there’s a helicopter on the roof of that building,” said Polly to her friend Samiha, as they explored a large apartment building. “I bet you can’t hit it!”
Samiha carried an M-72 light anti-tank rocket, one that the girls had brought from their school’s remarkably large arsenal of small arms and light weapons. “Bet I can!” replied Samiha, never one to back down from a challenge. If head girl Claire was here she would probably say something about staying quiet and being responsible and not wasting valuable ammunition—but she and Lucy were off talking to the cultist a few buildings to the west. Samiha pulled the weapon open, and took aim at the target…
* * *
“Shoo!” Dr. Putin screeched at the undead waif as she sought to chop the zombie’s youngster’s head off. “Get away!” The creature was remarkably lithe and cunning however, and none of her sword blows would land clean. Things were starting to look a bit grim….
* * *
BLAM! The M-72 fired. The rocket flew true, and impacted the helicopter in a spectacular explosion. Everywhere zombies and survivors turned to look…
* * *
Dr. Putin was cornered, her back against the wall. As a loud explosion detonated on the roof of the building behind her, the zombie-child moved in for the kill—only to be suddenly impaled by a fragment of rotor blade falling from above.
The scientist smiled. She could continue now with her work, and prepare for the final experiment..
…until, that is, two tons of flaming helicopter wreckage tumbled on top of her. All went dark.
* * *
The nearby sound of a helicopter exploding soon attracted growing hordes of undead to the centre of town. As Laurie Kraft turned a corner she encountered two of them, then another. She gunned down one, kneecapped another, and then slipped away—but not without being lightly injured. No problem—how bad could a small bite be anyway?
* * *
As Samiha slipped out the back of the apartment, Polly went out the front, headed deeper into town. Perhaps she could find some medical supplies in that ambulance down the street?
As she had been taught she waited patiently at the crosswalk for the light to go green before traversing the seemingly-deserted streets of post-apocalyptic Thesisville…
…but perhaps she should have looked both ways before crossing, and over her shoulder too. Had she done so the young schoolgirl might have seen the large pack of zombies shambling down the street behind her…
…moments later, she was beset by the pack and brought down. She too would eventually rise from the dead to join the ever-growing host of undead abominations that infested the city.
* * *
In the distance, Dirk Bogart heard the BLAM of a rocket hitting its target, the CRASH of an exploding helicopter plunging to the ground. This distracted the zombies long enough for him to slip out the back of Tim Hortons and into the heavily barricaded fortress that was Stinky’s Pizza. Stinky was still inside, too–dangling from a rope. “I know how you feel, chum,” Dirk muttered as he cut down the very dead corpse and coiled up the rope for future use. “I have those days too.”
Just then he heard another noise: the distinctive wail of a schoolgirl’s dying moments. It was just too much. “Damnit, if I only had a grenade…” he said to himself as he peered out a window into the streets beyond.
Wait, what was that? By god, it was a grenade! Dirk was having one of those one-in-1,296-chance days.
* * *
Lady Penelope stopped her horse, and looked back. It was Jock—now a zombie, but ever faithful, scrambling with a pack of undead across the stream to be with her. “Oh Jock…” she sighed.
However, it would have never worked. Her family would have never agreed. And he did rather smell of whisky and haggis. Resolved to continue, she urged Archibald onward and cantered down the street.
* * *
Dr. Putin stirred. She was still alive! Her vision was fuzzy though, and her right arm dragged at a grotesque angle. Moreover, a group of undead had begun to gather around her, looking at her in reverence.
Suddenly she realized what had happened—she had come back as one of them, but with her consciousness intact! The experiment had worked! She was no longer the merely mortal Nine Putin. She was… the Zombie Goddess!
She started to shamble in the direction from which the rocket had come, revenge on her mind. She groaned as she did so, attracting an ever larger pack of walking dead around her with every murderous step. “Come, my children, come.. this world shall be ours!”
* * *
Dirk Bogart could see the zombie packs growing ever larger. “Come here you bastards,” he shouted, letting loose a burst from his Tommy gun. If he was gunna die, he was gunna die hard.
Sure enough they approached. He pulled the pin, and held the grenade with one hand while firing his weapon with the other. RARATATAT…. BOOM! As the zombies finally felled him, the grenade slipped from his dying hand and exploded, ripping apart a half-dozen or so and wounding many others.
* * *
Claire and Lucy pressed forward, their newfound cultist ally scouting ahead. They heard shouting, and a burst of fire. Moments later the cultist emerged from a nearby building, having gunned down three of the foul abominations. “I didn’t think I would survive that,” she said with relief. “Oh, you’ll die soon enough,” responded Lucy matter-of-factly. She was, after all, psychic.
They could see someone moving in the distance. A fellow survivor!
* * *
Laurie ducked into a store, and tried to bandage her wounds. Then she saw some movement outside. A woman riding past on a horse! A few moments later she saw more movement. This time it was two school girls—one very young, the other in her late teens, together with a strange woman in black and red robes. She stepped out to speak with them.
“Do you have any food?” she asked. Her blood sugar had begun to dip dangerously low, and she was starting to feel a bit woozy.
“We do,” replied the teen. “Do you have any medical supplies?”
“Yes,” said Laurie, “a first aid kit. Shall we trade?”
As they bartered, the cultist opened up the door of a nearby big yellow taxi to check what might be inside. Waaaa arghhh! It contained an reanimated baby, which had clawed its way free from its baby seat. It was about to attack when Laurie—still in the midst of the barter—cooly drew her pistol and shot it in the head.
“Thank you. I was sure i would die that time!” said the cultist.
“Not yet,” commented Lucy, “not yet—but soon.”
* * *
Laurie took a few bites of the stale foodstuffs, boosting her blood sugar. She then headed back the way she had come, using the buildings to hide her movement from the murderous creatures that roamed the streets.
* * *
The other girls headed back in the direction they had come too. By this time, however, the Zombie Goddess was on the prowl, calling an ever-exapnding horde of her “children” to join her. The mob found Samiha cowering behind a building, and attacked.
Others converged on Claire, Lucy, and the cultist. “Run, Lucy, run–get these back to the school,” urged Claire as she gave the young girl the medical supplies.
“I’ll lead them away!” shouted the cultist. “I’m dead anyway!” Bravely she headed towards the farm, distracting some of the undead. Claire tried to start the taxi, then a dump truck, then another car—all to no avail, for none seemed to have the holy automotive trinity of keys, fuel, and a working battery. As the undead grew closer she drew her shotgun, gunning two down.
Lucy—running as fast as her little legs would take her—managed to leave the area shortly before the mob arrived.
A few minutes later, the cultist rejoined Claire. The two sheltered behind the wall of a store.
“Perhaps we’re finally safe?” wondered the cultist. “Not so much,” sighed Claire as a huge mob of undead came around the corner at them. GRRRR ARGHHH BRAINZZZZ!!!
Distracted by the feast of human flesh, the zombies fail to notice that Samiha was not quite dead. Wounded but alive, she crawled away.
* * *
Lady Penelope continued her ride through the city. Groups of zombies were beginning to converge on her position. Would she make it, or would she and her horse be torn to pieces?
Unlike Jock, Archibald did not let her down. The horse galloped past the undead, and despite wounds safely carried her ladyship to safety beyond the city limits.
* * *
Laurie Kraft woke up the next morning with a strange fever. That small bite she had received the day before looked red and infected.
And thus it was that Thesisville would claim its final victim…
Over the weekend I attended the annual CanGames gaming convention in Ottawa–and very good it was too. There were many miniature, boardgames, and RPGs to choose from, with two dozen or more games underway at any one time—plus vendor booths and a few workshops and other activities.
My own gaming schedule looked like this:
* * *
Friday night – Dogfight Over the Death Star (X-Wing, Garth Elliot GM).
Two X-Wings and a Y-Wing (and later, a third X-Wing piloted by Luke Skywalker himself) tried their luck against two pairs of TIE Fighters and a TIE Interceptor. I’m pleased to report that the Empire triumphed, with my own pair of fighters destroying the Y-Wing and an X-Wing while receiving only minor damage.
* * *
Saturday morning – The Battle of Quatre Bras (15 mm Napoleonics/Lasalle, Duncan Martelock GM).
I commanded the Dutch, composed of the 2nd Netherlands Division and 3rd Light Brigade. The bulk of my forces deployed to the east of the village itself, while my teammate’s Brunswickers deployed to a low hill in the centre and the cavalry to the right. British reinforcement were en route—could we hold out against the French until they arrived?
Apparently not. With the exception of a brave artillery battery that inflicted heavy casualties before retiring in good order, the Dutch line folded the moment the French columns slammed into it. British reinforcements hastily took up position in the village, as my light cavalry redeployed to strengthen the stricken allied right flank.
Shortly thereafter, however, French infantry and cavalry assaulted the central hill, routing the Brunswick forces there.
With this the game was ended as a decisive French victory.
* * *
Saturday afternoon – The Siege of Louisbourg (25mm Muskets & Tomahawks, Ed Burley GM).
On 26 July 1758, after almost two months of siege, the French fortress at Louisbourg surrendered. This game explored an alternative history, one wherein the Governor had not surrendered and the British had been forced to assault the fortress.
The figures and scenery were superb.
I assumed the role of one of the three British commanders. My objective was the heavily-guarded King’s Bastion on the right of the table.
I started my assault, as did the British commanders in the centre and on the left….
However, I was driven back, as were our forces on the centre. Only on the left did the Scottish regiments appear to be making some headway.
I regrouped, and tried again.
Once more, I was unsuccessful. Our forces in the centre fared even worse, caught in the crossfire from the two main bastions. This proved to be something of a blessing in disguise for me, since two battered battalions from that force were redeployed as reinforcements to support my efforts. On the left flank some Scots made it onto the walls but were making little headway, and at heavy cost too.
My third and final assault went forward. By this time the Marines on the wall were severely understrength, supplemented by only a few lightly-armed French civilians.
Success! As more and more British troops entered the bastion the Governor surrendered and the fortress was taken.
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Saturday night – East Wind Rain 2018 (Bandits 2, David Redpath).
Tensions between the US and China have escalated to military conflict, and the US Navy has dispatched a strike force of F-35s to bomb a Chinese island airbase in the South China Sea—defended by J20 fighters. Since both sides had stealthy aircraft, it was a real challenge to know when to use active radar, or otherwise depend on passive, IR, and visual search.
As the American side, our plan called for four F-35s with an air-to-air loadout to secure an approach to the island, clearing the way for a follow-on strike package. The limited internal carrying capacity of the F35 would prove to be a major constraint, with the first wave limited to four AAM (2x AIM9X, 2x AIM-120), and the second wave flying with non-stealthy external stores so that they could carry a reasonable load of JDAMs and some AAMs for self-defence.
Initially our plan worked well. Two J20s on combat air patrol failed to noticed us, and both were bounced and downed by my fellow American player. I, however, managed to miss with every missile I fired—a streak that would continue through the game.
Now alert to our presence, more J20s closed in on our location and spotted us. Four F-35s were downed, while only one Chinese plane was damaged (and landed safely on the island). SAMs located on the island also fired on us if we strayed too close.
At this point, our strike package began its run, with two more F-35s in escort. They managed to penetrate the Chinese fighters screen and drop the JDAMS. These, however, had little effect, whether due to poor targeting, GPS jamming, hardened targets, or plain bad luck. My own bad luck also continued, with all 14 missile shots now all misses.
Finally, one of my pilots hit something. Hooray!
The Chinese were deemed to be the winners, but I was awarded a special trophy for truly abysmal dice-rolling.
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Sunday morning – Samurai Battles: Mikatagahara (Pike and Shotte, Mike Abbott).
Under the leadership of daiymo Takeda Shingen, we sought to sweep the Mikata Plain clear of Tokugawa troops. I took the left flank of our army, with a mixed force of foot and mounted samurai.
Our plan called for our right flank—almost entirely composed of cavalry—to seize the road, swing left across the bridge, and attack the enemy’s centre in conjunction with our own centre force. As they did so I would seize the hill overlooking the crossroads. Each of the commanders was given secret individual objectives, raising the possibility of treachery. Mine was to move troops to the enemy baseline, preferable where the road exited the board.
My cavalry were magnificent, routing enemy units atop the hill in repeated charges. Meanwhile, our right hook worked well too, with the enemy’s centre pummelled by a massive assault of foot and horse. It soon collapsed.
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Sunday afternoon – Aftershock.
I also ran one game at CanGames this year, namely AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game. Five players joined. Unfortunately I was too busy facilitating to remember to take any pictures.
The initial card draws were fairly lucky, reducing initial casualties from the earthquake which struck Carana. The government players made good use of their ability to distribute supplies through volunteer groups and repurposed public employees, and also responded promptly to reports of social unrest. The foreign Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Task Force (HADR-TF) focused much of its efforts on repairing first the airport and then the sea port. The NGOs suffered some supply bottlenecks early in the game, but these were soon eliminated by HADR-TF repairs. The United Nations seemed anxious to generate the maximum possible publicity for its efforts, and some friction developed between it and the government of Carana over this. In the end, however, the players’ joint score was positive and each individual score team was positive too, resulting in an overall victory for everyone.