The Walking Dead; Highway Getaway

For the weekly game at the local miniatures club we got around to playing a Walking Dead scenario which was a tad more complex than our usual TWD games.

The idea had been floating about for a few weeks. The central terrain piece being a highway piled full of abandoned cars which clearly a zombie herd had been through at some point. This would be an excuse to finally get around to painting up TT Combat’s “dead” zombies, and have them scattered about the wreckage.

The conceit for the game was that groups of survivors stumble into the area through the forests either side of the board, slowly being followed by a herd of zombies. Unarmed, they have to loot the abandoned vehicles and the surrounding buildings for equipment to fend off the herd (and each other) before escaping off the board. As they do this setting off car alarms would be a constant threat which could attract the oncoming herd and the possibly not quite so dead remains littering the roadway.

The Layout

Using a mix of miniatures mostly from my Post-Apocalyptic and Modern European collections, along with every civilian vehicle I could get my hands on, I put together a board.

A four lane highway dominated the board, littered with abandoned vehicles which had been gridlocked before the zombie herd arrived to chow on the drivers. Either side of the highway a smattering of rural buildings contained some higher tier loot for the survivors to go after.

The players and zombies would enter from each of the long table edges facing the highway. Each vehicle contained a single loot counter which would contribute to the player’s overall score, and provide one random loot card to arm the survivors. The building’s had two counters, and the trio of military trucks in the centre of the table were worth three.

The aim would be for the players to quickly find some sort of weapon to arm their survivors, before making off with as much loot as possible before the bulk of the zombie herd arrived. Though as we’d find out the survivors had more to fear from their living counterparts than the zombies…

The Game

Each player started with two unarmed survivors, each with their own unique stat line, somewhere along the board edges. In TWD one player starts with the initiative and then acts with a single model, before the next player then activates one of their models, and so on. These actions usually cover one movement action, followed by things like looting an object, passing an object to companions, shooting, making noise, or trying to calm down the situation.

Once players have performed their actions then its time for the zombies. A large element of this game is the concept of threat levels. The higher the threat level the more dangerous things become, and characters are liable to start doing things out of the player’s control. Zombies react to player actions like making noise, so after the player’s have gone they tend to shamble towards the survivors and give them a bit of a nibble.

Opening Turns

Initially the focus was on arming the survivors. Without any weaponry they were ill equipped to face off with zombies, with every fight potentially risking infection due to the limited number of dice being rolled.

Each of the survivor groups bee lined towards the nearest loot stash.

In my own case I was controlling The Governor and a survivor named Sandra. The Governor seemed to have a beefier profile so I elected to try something risky and run him into a nearby shed where a zombie was guarding a 2 point loot token.  After a bit of a tussle he knocked the zombie over and made off with the loot, though unfortunately all he found was some bandages and an old set of Football Armour.

Meanwhile Sandra, being a bit nippier in her stat line, ran towards the highway and immediately started rifling through the cars located there.

In the first she found a similar set of Football Armour as The Governor had and slipped that own, but no weapons. Running further down the road she came across and old Ambulance and found herself a mighty weapon! …A Fire Extinguisher. Ah, which in this system can only be used to put out fires. Yay.

Leaving the zombie on its back in the shed, The Governor followed up on Sandra and began clearing out the zombies which Sandra had stirred whilst haphazardly searching through the cars. Luckily these went down without too much issue in his ill equipped state, though he was only knock them down temporarily, and there was a chance they could rise again if the Survivors lingered for too long.

On the opposite side of the table Morgan and Redgie began to make their way through a transient group of shacks to find something useful. The area seemed thankfully sparse of zombies, so they took a similar tactic to the Governor’s group and decided to try their luck looting the nearest garage.

As Morgan entered the garage’s doorway the zombie inside stirred. Unlike The Governor’s group, the two survivors combined their strength to put down the zombie, and were able to knock it over and eventually kill it. Behind the zombie stood a fairly hefty looking safe which Morgan was able to lever open where he found himself an old Revolver and a Box of Ammo.

With these Morgan’s group established themselves as the first to find a weapon, though in TWD firearms are more a weapon of last resort; as whilst you may kill your first target, the dozen zombies attracted by the shot may not go down so easily. Of course, if you happen to fire a shot amidst enemy survivors then run away…

The Third group was made up of Dale and Amy (a coincidental paring, made even stranger by the eventual appearance of Andrea later in the game through a random loot card!). In this group’s case they approached the Highway a bit more cautiously than The Governor’s group, only managing to loot one or two cars before being stuck into combat with the zombies.

Amy managed to quickly find herself a piece of Two By Four in the back of a Land Rover, and Dale was a bit luckier with his looting, pulling a pistol out from a plastic bag in the trunk of a pickup. After a tustle with a few zombies, being able to at best knock them over in their poorly armed state, they headed further down the Highway to find some better weapons.

For one particular turn I had the Initiative, which meant I was the one to pick the randomly generated Event for the turn, and choose its target where possible. The card for that turn was “Fire!” (appropriate I suppose as I was the one with the mighty Fire Extinguisher), which meant a single flammable terrain piece would catch fire. Naturally the target I picked wasn’t the garage Morgan was looting at the time. Oh no. In the middle of the board sat the three military trucks, laden with loot. Well I suppose someone wasn’t too careful with their safety procedures with the whole Zombie apocalypse thing going on, and the nearest truck to Dale’s group began to smoulder…

Amy seeing this ran past the rising zombies and leapt into the back of the truck. …Not noticing the zombie soldier hidden in the back, which knocked her right back out. She managed to right herself as the zombie carelessly fell out the tailgate, and she dove into the burning rear of the vehicle.

Before the precious loot was burnt to a crisp Amy managed to retrieve a stack of ammo and bandages, along with a better weapon, before making her way back to Dale. …Doing her best to weave through a group of zombies which she could have sworn hadn’t been there before she entered that smoking truck bed.

Mid Game

Something was becoming apparent on the Southern end of the table. Through the groans of the slowly rising zombies which the survivors were encountering with increasing frequency a sound could be heard. Something shrill and kind of annoying.

The Governor’s group had been hastily rummaging through every vehicle in sight, desperately trying to find weapons in vein. They best they managed was an old Pipe and a Plank of Wood. Meanwhile Morgan’s group looted another gun and ammo from the army trucks.

In their desperation they hadn’t been paying attention to just how much noise they’d been making, and manged to set off the alarms of nearly every vehicle which they’d looted.

And out of the woods came a groaning…

Unaware of the shambling figures coming out of the forest, the Survivors continued to make their way through the wreckage.

Sandra from the Governor’s group found a little girl, Sophia, hiding in the back of one car. Ah, whom she promised to take extra special care of like the nice lady she is…

(Sophia was then immediately sent to go and kick a nearby downed zombie to death. …Till I took a look at her stat card and found out she had a zero in her melee skill, so she quickly ran off away from the mean dead people)

To the North Dale’s group were having a time fending off all the walkers which had been drawn in by the burning truck. Despite the threat, Dale moved to search a burned out car for a melee weapon (not wanting to draw in more zombies by firing his pistol). Instead of finding a sword (or more likely another Two by Four) he came upon Amy’s sister Andrea. And after a touching moment (not shared by any of the other players), had her go off and kick a zombie’s head in.

Redgie meanwhile set out towards the middle of the three Army Trucks, leaving Morgan to make the trek towards the remaining shack at the edge of the board. Alone, and a bit under armed, he stopped to search a tiny one seater car for some extra gear to help him fend off the zombified soldiers guarding the vehicle.

Well Redgie’s eyesight must not have been too great in his old age. As soon as he opened the car’s door a zombie stumbled out and planted its teeth on his neck, tearing out a chunk.

Beating the dead man back, and thinking nothing of the bite, he carried about his business looting the remaining vehicles, as blood slowly trickled out of the open wound.

Late Game

The Governor’s trio had stripped all the abandoned cars in the Southern portion of the highway bare at this point, and not come away much richer. Only armed with a smattering of melee weapons, and pursued by an ever increasing number of the dead, they were aiming to get away from all the hubbub.

More zombies poured onto the board. By this point the Threat level was peaking, so most of the Events were now producing fairly dangerous outcomes for the survivors. After pulling one particular event card, not only did the overall Threat level rise, but two further events were to be played immediately. Predictably these caused more zombies to appear at the board’s edges, and importantly allowed players to move every zombie on the board one move of their choosing; which quickly had the zombies closing in fast on the Survivors.

Fighting through the pain, Redgie put down the zombie which had emerged from the one seater car. Without noticing though, a second and then a third approached him which he (somehow) was able to fight back by slamming the butt of his pistol into them; knocking them over, but not taking them out of the game.

Morgan meanwhile had been cautiously moving towards the large shack. This had paid off so far, having not attracted any of the dead’s attention; till the herd had stirred with that series of event cards. From behind a shipping container a zombie ambushed him (…very cunning those zombies), which he wrestled onto the ground; now going into a straight run towards the loot as zombies trailed behind him.

Dale had been mostly sitting out the fighting, surveying the area and only getting involved when things were set to go his way. As Amy and Andrea searched what few cars were left on their end of the highway, he was eyeing up a cache amidst a pileup at the side of the road. As he did this though, a zombie approached (another of those which had been Shinobi in a past life). And with that Dale followed his Comic Book counterpart and found himself with a lovely bite on his leg…

Amy, and Andrea, now trying to fight their way to Dale made a critical error. They fired a gun for the first time in the game. Unfortunately missing the zombie in front of them at point blank range (and immediately jamming the gun), they resorted to fighting with their makeshift melee weapons as they attempted to break out and reach their enigmatic, fisherman looking, leader.

And all the while the zombies trudged on. By this point the ones which had approached from the forest were reaching the highway and cutting off escape through its Southern route. Luckily, most of the Survivors were heading North (but making enough noise to draw the zombies in regardless).

Last Turns

Things weren’t going well for the Survivors. With the Threat level so high many had a chance of breaking under the pressure, and as the game progressed, the dial was becoming increasingly closer to the bug out point (when the full herd was due to arrive).

Dale’s group had managed to add on another member to their party called Alan. Alan was that type of git that nobody likes. Taking aim, he immediately tried to shoot poor Sophia, though thankfully he wasn’t able to go through with it. Instead he ran in and tried to beat The Governor to death instead. Seeing that The Governor was a more tenacious man however, he thought he’d first make some noise though. The zombies hearing this, moved towards him, but found The Governor a more easily accessible morsel.

(Because Alan is a git. …Yes, I was the player controlling the Governor)

Morgan and Redgie had picked clean what loot remained surrounding the highway, but were yet to reach the shack at the other end of the table which promised more loot. Instead, with things being heated, they began heading towards the nearest exit. As they did so a group of zombies emerged from behind the shack, which strengthened their conviction that they’d made the right choice to scarper…

Amy and Andrea had gotten themselves into a real mess. Panicking, Andrea was put into a berserk fury which immediately caused her to empty the remaining bullets in her gun into the nearest zombie. Missing all of them. With more zombies approaching, things looked grim for the pair, and Amy abandoned her sister to the Herd.

Sophia and Sandra has meanwhile managed to narrowly escape through the encircling zombies and make away with some valuables (though both were headed in completely opposite directions). As The Governor made to follow Sophia, Alan continued to chase him …seemingly against his own self interests.

With the Herd closing in, Alan made one last chance to take down the Governor. As he raised his gun however, fear got the better of him and he fired it wildly into the nearest zombie. Failing to do any damage it though, it closed in …and well, that was that. The Governor meanwhile broke out of a zombie’s clutched, and made it off the board with all haste.

And with that, all the remaining survivors on the Highway heard a moaning sound fast approaching in the distance. Andrea, unable to break free from the stack of zombies which were surrounding her was left to be consumed by the Herd. Redgie managed to shamble off the board, despite his wounds, though Morgan fell just short as the Herd entered the area, and wasn’t seen again (not that Redgie was able to tell any stories for much long after the encounter anyway).

Closing

In the end all the incessant car alarms and gunfire had made things untenable for the survivors and the Herd arrived on the board. Not every game ends this way, but in larger games like this it tends to happen with all the players frantically trying to find as much loot as possible.

Startlingly not many characters had been killed outright. We had a few bites, but most of the characters were in a decent condition (before the ones who couldn’t run fast enough were you know, eaten) and managed to make their escape off of the table.

Of the players Dale’s group had managed to collect the most loot and found a few extra survivors. …Though had managed to lose a few as well. The final scores, without counting deaths was:

14 points to Dale’s group

13 points to The Governor’s group

4 points to Morgan’s group

Morgan’s group had some bad luck with the loot counters, not finding any survivors (worth 3 points each) and having a few loot tokens give less points as they were zombies in disguise. Ah, and we don’t talk about Redgie also being bitten.

Personally, the Zombies can claim the moral victory in this because that git Alan got eaten.

Anyhow, that’s a run down of our short (hah!) game tonight. It was played over a larger board than normal and used some home brew mechanics regarding car alarms which were very much a work in progress, so took us around 3 hours to run through. It was certainly a thematic experience with how the scenario played out, and well, the Tv Series at least just loves setting scenes on Highways, so it fit well enough into the material. 🙂

 

If you want to see more of the terrain used in this game; most of it comes from my Fallout miniatures project, with a few bits from my Modern collection. Links to those threads can be found in the Forum Links section of this site.

We play The Walking Dead fairly regularly here (taking over from a modified 7TV system I’d been using years ago), so expect to see more of these reports here eventually. That is if you guys enjoyed reading this. Any commentary on what could be improved is appreciated. Till next time!

 

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