As is the tradition, I spent this past weekend at the annual CanGames gaming convention in Ottawa. As usual, I had a terrific time.
Once again, I ran two zombie apocalypse games. Escape from the Apocalypse II: Return to Trump Tower was a sequel to last year’s game, which had seen President Donald Trump bitten by the infected and become a zombie lord. Each game this year featured four competing teams, each of two players. Each team had different objectives, while The Donald himself was generally controlled by a random card draw.
In the first game, Team Clinton consisted of katana-wielding Hillary Clinton, backed up by former Democratic National Committee chairs Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile. Their primary objective was confront Donald Trump about the 2016 election, while their secondary objective was to destroy a laptop containing incriminating Benghazi-Uranium One emails in a nearby computer repair store. Hillary had a few special cards her team could play—including Democratic Party “Superdelegates” to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ efforts, or mobilizing John Podesta’s “Pizzeria Cultists” to aid their campaign
Infuriated by President Trump’s continued attacks against her, angry at the role that Russia played in the 2016 election, and opposed to Donald Trump’s role in the ongoing zombie apocalypse, Hillary Clinton has decided to take matters into her own hand and confront the President/real-estate tycoon/reality television star/zombie lord one last time.
In this she is backed by two stalwarts of the Democratic establishment: former chairpersons of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile.
Watch out for the FBI—after all, they sabotaged your election chances in 2016. Be very careful of Bernie Sanders, too. He appears to be out campaigning already for the 2020 election—amongst the undead….
Team Bernie, of course, was led by Bernie Sanders—kitted out with a flamethrower. He had the assistance of “Bernie Bros” Hugh Hipster and anti-globalization protester Billy Punk. With an eye to Bernie’s 2020 presidential campaign, they had to deliver campaign speeches at various points around the zombie-infested city. Various one-time action cards allowed them to use “Grassroots Activism” to move the less-than-living, or “Fight the Establishment” to slow Team Clinton.
The country needs a new direction, one that puts working men, and women, the middle class, youth, minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, healthcare, education, and the environment first! Under President Trump, the corporate profits have come at the expense of ordinary people, while the less-than-living have been marginalized.
Beware of Hillary Clinton—she, and the Democratic Party establishment, remain bitter opponents of progressive activism.
Team Mueller was led by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, and also included former FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Their task was to subpoena the President himself—and, if possible, Kellyanne Conway too. They could use their “Wiretap” card to view another team’s objectives, among other special actions.
The Special Counsel investigation has continued, despite the apocalypse. Now Robert Mueller is ready for the final step: to present a subpoena to President Trump to testify before a Grand Jury on charges of colluding with Russia.
The final team in the first game was Team Trump, consisting of trusted advisor Kellyanne Conway and loyal press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. They needed to remove the President’s cellphone before he could tweet anything incriminating. They also gained points if Hillary, Bernie, and Mueller were eaten by the undead. they were well-equipped with “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts” card that allowed them to cancel random events or reroll dice.
The President must be protected! There was no collusion! You must foil the ongoing witch-hunt by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. You must also defend the President against attacks from his Democratic rivals. Make the Apocalypse Great Again! #MAGA
During the first game, Team Mueller found themselves in trouble early, when a pack of fast runner zombies sprinted after the unarmed Rod Rosenstein and bit him. Mueller and Comey then engaged in a running gun battle with an ever-growing horde of undead (including a newly zombified Deputy Attorney General). However, not even the brief intervention of a FBI SWAT team could save them, and they were eventually overrun.
Team Trump established an early lead, collecting the President’s cellphone and then barricading themselves in a liquor store, from where they planned to stay safe and snipe at their opponents. Unfortunately, shortly before he died Mueller played a “Plea Bargain” card which forced Sarah Huckabee Sanders to exit the building, whereupon she was quickly devoured by zombies.
Team Clinton was almost overrun by undead abominations too, but Donna Brazile sacrificed herself to allow Clinton to escape. Later, Kellyanne Conway tried to shoot the former presidential candidate, but a nearby former secret service zombie tackled Clinton to save her. Moments later, the same zombie tried to eat Hillary, only to be decapitated by Wasserman Schultz.
Finally, Team Bernie had the clever idea to hot-wire an ambulance, then use its PA system to amplify Bernie’s campaign speeches. Needless to say, this attracted a horde of undead, which the senator from Vermont was forced to incinerate. They all then scrambled from the vehicle, with Billy and Bernie escaping the city. Hugh was less fortunate, running out of ammunition just as several zombies caught up with him.
At the end of almost four hours of play, Team Bernie had secured victory:
- Team Clinton: 17 points
- Team Bernie: 23 points
- Team Mueller: 10 points
- Team Trump: 11 points
In the second game, the teams were different.
Team Russia consisted of Vladimir Putin and his bear, Nikolai Berdyaev.
Zombie President Trump has eaten the US air force officer who carries the “football”—the launch codes for the American nuclear arsenal. If these can be recovered from Trump Tower, Russia will be able to achieve global domination.
Also, watch out for Kim Jong-un. He’s up to no good…
The Russians also gained points by entering one of the several restaurants in the city, then complaining thereafter about American food and constantly extolling the superiority of Russian cuisine. Among other cards, Putin could use the infamous Moscow hotel “Tape” to control President Trump for a turn.
Team DPRK had burrowed their way to the United States from North Korea. It was led by Great Leader Kim Jong-un, together with two tunnelers from the Korean People’s Army. The team gained die roll bonuses if they could convince bystanders to engage in rhythmic clapping.
Now is the time to strike! With the American public consumed (quite literally) by the zombie apocalypse, and their dotard President little more than a shambling flesh-eating imperialist abomination, the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea has a historic opportunity to tear down the rotting edifice of twilight capitalism and build a bright new future for scientific socialism under the leadership of the Korean Workers’ Party.
Led by heroic leader Kim Jong-un, a team of elite commandos will tunnel into the area of Trump Tower, and plant a nuclear weapon there (before leaving very quickly).
Beware of the false friendship of the Russian bear, however—for they would foil the historic march of the people’s revolutionary vanguard.
They too gained additional points by finding an American restaurant and thereafter praising the superiority of Korean food.
Team Mexico was led by former Mexican President Vicente Fox, supported by two of his countrymen.
Even as a zombie, President Trump continues to insult the noble people of Mexico in undead tweets and hostile groans.
The honour of the Republic requires that he be confronted , and told NO, Mexico WILL NOT pay for The Wall.
Once again, additional points could be collected through rhetorical culinary warfare. The “NAFTA” card found them additional items upon a successful search, while “Chain Migration” led to temporary help from a shotgun-wielding relative.
Finally, The Travel-Banned were just trying to get across the zombie-infested United States to Toronto.
You didn’t even plan to be here—you were all on a flight from the Middle East to Toronto for an academic conference, when your plane made an emergency landing in Cincinnati due to a problem with the pilot (eating the co-pilot and cabin crew).
Make your way across the city towards Canada.
Also, no one wears a fez in the Middle East any more. You bought these ones at an airport gift shop as gifts for Canadian friends before leaving.
They also collected points by posing for selfies with world leaders, and studying zombies from afar. They had only one gun between them, but all the skills of scholars and scientists, and a large supply of “Inshallah” cards that allowed them to reroll dice.
Team Russia powered through the ravaged city, smashing zombies down left and right with club and claws. Ultimately they were successful in finding the nuclear launch codes.
Team DPRK did well too. They planted their nuclear weapon at Trump Tower, then stole a great-looking convertible. Kim Jong-un was driven to safety, while one tunneler was left behind to cause mayhem.
Team Mexico found themselves beset by zombies, and as they gunned some down, more shambled in their direction, attracted by the noise of the gunfire. While they successfully confronted Donald Trump over The Wall, Vicente Fox and a second team member were killed soon thereafter. The surviving member of the group was last seen holding off hordes of undead—while failing to notice the North Korean nuke only a few feet way in the rubble…
Finally, The Travel-Banned were almost devoured early in the game, but saved by President Putin and the brief appearance of Russian team of “little green men” (Spetsnaz special forces). They then followed the Russians around for a while, before spotting a Mini Cooper in a parking lot. This they managed to start, made an almost impossible Italian-Job-type escape down a narrow alley pursued by the walking dead, and made it safely to Canada (despite North Korean sniper fire).
When the points were totalled up, the Travel-Banned emerged as the surprise winners:
- Team Russia: 23 points
- Team DPRK: 22 points
- Team Mexico: 17 points
- The Travel-Banned: 31 points
On Saturday afternoon and Sunday I also joined two games as a player.
The first was Poland’s Deluge – Moscow Drives West, very ably put on by Tod Creasy of the Ottawa Miniature Gamers. Set during the Russo-Polish War of 1654-1667, the scenario saw the Russian side trying to protect a supply column from a powerful Polish force during operations in Lithuania.
On the Russian side, our strategy was to aggressively challenge the Poles on our right flank (despite the rather low quality of our cavalry), pushing them back from the road used by our wagons, while denying our left flank, and using our low quality Cossacks to lure the Polish winged hussars out of position. It all worked out rather well—it was one of those games where the outcome of the battle had been determined by the interaction of tactical choices by the two sides. In particular, I felt the Poles should have more quickly challenged our right flank, since delays on their part allowed us to fight well clear of the wagons for most of the battle.
The second game was part of the Battle of Megiddo in September 1918, pitting British and Imperial forces against the Ottoman Turks in Palestine. More specifically, it recreated the successful capture of the bridge across the Jordan River at Jisr al-Damieh on 22 September by “Chaytor’s Force” of Australian and New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, the 1st and 2nd (Australian) Light Horse, as well as the 20th Indian Brigade (including the Jewish Legion and troops from the West Indies). Nicholas Swales of the Ottawa Miniature Gamers organized this.
On the British side, we held the crossings at el-Ghoraniyeh and Makt Hijla with four battalions of Imperial infantry, while keeping the rest of the Indian Brigade in reserve on the west side of the Jordan River. The New Zealand Mounted Rifles and 1st Light Horse were ordered to make a sweeping cavalry attack on Jisr al-Damieh so as to secure it before Turkish reinforcements, retreating from earlier battles to the west near Nablus, could reinforce. The 2nd Light Horse were ordered to cross the river at el-Ghoraniyeh and then attack the bridge from the east.
The cavalry charge went off as planned, flanking the Ottoman defences and falling upon the defenders and cutting them down. The reinforcements were also attacked and driven off. Across the river, however, the Turks (with some German support) advanced on our West Indies troops. The 2nd Light Horse were reassigned to attack the advancing Turks, and succeeded in driving off several Ottoman battalions, albeit at heavy cost. When our troops holding Makt Hijla took very heavy casualties and began to falter the reserve Indian brigade was sent across the river to stabilize the position. The result was an Imperial victory.
It was a terrific weekend of gaming, and I’ll hope to be at CanGames again in May 2019—possibly running a sequel-to-the-sequel zombies game.