Saturday, 12 July 2014

Safe House 2014 Act 4 AAR (Game 10)

Act 4 - Evac

Game 10

We couldn't believe it. Some of us were finally getting out of here. Everyone had earned a place on that chopper. It made us sick to have to choose. In the end we drew straws and we were all settled about the outcome. Like I said, we had all earned a seat and if we could help A.J., Jim and Sunny get to that chopper then we would. 
We took the Humvees and made our way back to Bloom. We got on the radio and explained the situation to the cops. But they had their own situation to deal with. The horde had gathered in strength and their hunger had finally led them to the precinct. We caught some static then the radio went silent.
Our friends were in trouble...or worse.

We have arrived at the conclusion of Safe House 2014. The sun was up so we were all feeling significantly better at this stage and we were ready to baste this turkey.

As you may have already gathered from the above, it was A.J., Jim and Sunny who would be getting that one way trip to the Halifax safe zone. Our survivors et al would have to fight there way through the horde, through the safe house and pop smoke on the roof to signal Whiskey One Niner for evac. However, this being the final game and deserving of a little tension, we would only have 12 turns of activation (double the highest Rep in the group) to do it, lest we miss our ride.

But all was not lost. All of our survivors would be helping Zulu, P-Sec and the lucky three...

We were back in the safe house area for this game and our objective was simple: get ZuluP-Sec and our survivors to the safe house roof. But there was a problem. The entire area had been overrun by zeds so there was no telling what we'd meet when we got inside the building.

It wasn't going to be easy...

We come full circle to the Bloom safe house

Our group enter the area on foot...

...and spread out to cover the road...

...against the approaching horde.

And there were a LOT of zeds on the road...

...and even more around the corner!

Because of the amount of player characters on the board we were up against virtually every zed we had models for (I even had to break out Zombicide for spares) and it was bound to get worse.

We decided to avoid the alley - a wise move considering the two gigantic groups of zeds about to walk down it - and risk cutting through the nightclub. Once inside the club, the plan was to lower someone to the ground with the ladder using Sunny's rope - he'd actually been carrying rope since Game 1 - and have them enter the safe house on the first floor. Once the room was cleared the rope would be secured, thus allowing the rest of the group to zip-line across one by one.

Here is our theme music for the grand finale...time to lock and load:

HANK formed P-Sec and Zulu squad into a gun line across the road, ready to stem the tide of zeds advancing towards them, and the survivors moved to the nightclub entrance.

The next several turns of activation saw Eddie, HANKP-Sec and Zulu fire indiscriminately into the approaching zeds, dropping their front line and keeping them out of charging range. But for every zed put down, another would spring up to take its place at the back of the horde.

Here they come!


The zed advance is pushed back

Jim used the ladder to get a better firing position on top of the nightclub's adjoining garage. His plan was to distract the hordes in the alley, thinning out their numbers then getting to the nightclub roof from there.

Jim has a plan. He always has a plan.

At street level, Jake popped the lock on the nightclub's shutter and was jumped by four zeds from inside. The hunter wasn't one to be caught off guard and he knocked two zeds down, burying his knife in the skull of another.

A.J. charged in to help his friend with the final zed but was pulled to the ground and momentarily disappeared under the gnashing ghoul. Jake was poised to help when A.J. broke the zeds neck and tossed it aside. The pair then finished off the last of the club zeds together.

NOTE: A.J.'s charge against this zed actually resulted (through some absurdly unlikely dice rolls, I might add) in his death. Luckily we all still had our Lucky B*****d attribute to burn so old A.J. pulled off a miraculous counter attack instead. Close one.


Not today, dead-heads

"You okay, A.J.?"

The air was suddenly shaken by a huge BOOM! as Jim dropped the grenade he'd been given by Officer Diggs after Act 2 into the horde converging on the alley. Every zed at the centre of the blast was blown apart and the rest were thrown to the floor.

"Eat this!"

Out on the road, the gun fire ceased as several of our team's weapons ran dry. With the sudden break in tempo and the horde well out of reach, Eddie decided it was time to get everyone moving into the club.

Corporal Harris of Zulu squad was the last member of the group to enter the building and he remained on the ground floor to barricade the door as everyone else made their way to the roof.

CLICK! Time to go.

Lock that door!

As the group in the street secured the club, Jim managed to discretely climb down the other side of the garage and sneak passed the alley horde to the safe house.

The entire group on the roof took up the rope and with A.J. being the fastest, he volunteered to be lowered down. Gently reaching the ground, A.J. ran to meet Jim as the P-Sec officers provided cover with their silenced SMGs, dropping a lost zed wandering outside the safe house.

Ready for round two

The horde remain unaware of their presence

Jim quietly climbed the ladder and once again used the Peek-a-boo mechanic to observe the room. Inside, five zeds were foraging for scraps in the darkness.

Survivalist Jim remembered the remote controlled car he'd found in Game 1 and decided that this was the time to use it. He planned to toss it through the window into the room (Physical Challenge) and use it to lure the zeds away from the group's escape route by driving it deep into the building (Savvy Challenge). 

It failed. The zeds had caught a glimpse of Jim and could not be dissuaded from crowding at the broken window to get a taste of real meat.

Thankfully our P-Sec friends on the club roof now had a clear line of sight into the safe house and they silently sent three of the zeds back to the grave.

A.J. climbed the ladder and with two rounds from his silenced pistol (reward from Act 2), he killed the last two zeds. The room was now clear so A.J. clambered through the window and tied off the rope inside (Savvy Challenge).

NOTE: We agreed that tying a rope to something wasn't really a "challenge" but we took the test to establish whether or not the knots were secure. It turned out they weren't. A.J. failed the challenge, leaving the rope dangerously loose. We then agreed that anyone crossing would need to pass a Physical Challenge or fall to the ground. Since it was me that failed in the first place, I volunteered Eddie to go across first and make sure it was safe.

Eddie slid down the rope and through the open window. He landed safely but felt the rope give a little (he only just passed the challenge on the second attempt). Checking the knots (Savvy Challenge) he noticed that they weren't tight enough so he made sure the line was properly secured (Hard Savvy Challenge) before giving the signal for the rest of the group to come across.

Everyone made it into the safe house apartment without having to take a Phyisical Challenge (thanks to Eddie) and with 5 turns left before the chopper arrived. 

HANK and P-Sec took point clearing the next room - the room with ladder access to the third floor.

The group were stunned to find Officer Diggs covering the passageway.

Officer Diggs? You're alive!

NOTE: Yup, we drew another one of those 'yellow' cards that kept cropping up in Act 3. Deciding to run with it we randomly generated Officer Diggs. And here's why:

Officer Diggs sure was a sight for sore eyes. We had feared the worst after the radio cut off back on the road. He had fought his way out of the station and booked to the safe house to warn the refugees about the incoming horde. That guy. Always doin' the dumbest things. 

Officer Diggs hurried the group up the ladder hole and they were helped up by the reaching hands of Officer Ramirez, Phil and Maya (another Survivors result!).

"Looks like you guys could use a hand."

NOTE: Since we had so many player character on the table now I decided to make things more interesting. Any zone in the safe house adjacent to a zone containing survivors would have to be revealed. The results were...interesting.

Our group's friends pointed to the adjacent rooms where they saw Sally and Todd from Springvale and they could hear Bridges' voice nearby warning of the four zeds that had broken in. Nick was in the other room about to open fire on another five dead-heads.

Friends in high places

Our friends had really come through for us. Even Laquanda was lendin' a hand! Apparently a month in the Lily Ave lock-up and a brush with the horde had taught her some valuable lessons about 'community'. Now she was watchin' our backs with the rest of our amigos. Just one thing left for us to do...

The group's friends let fly with a deafening volley of gunfire and the nine zeds that had broken into the safe house were no more. 

Survivor and ganger, side by side

Our path was clear with 4 turns of activation left on the dial. 

HANK, the P-Sec officers and Zulu squad gathered on the roof as the survivors bid farewell to their friends. 

The marines and company men laid down a torrent of fire on the horde with their assault weapons, clearing a path for the survivors holed up in the nightclub to escape unseen out the back door (this entire time the few zeds left from the horde outside had been bashing on the front door of the nightclub - thank you for the barricade, Corporal Harris).  

Guardian angels...

...clearing the way...

...for the ones we left behind.

It was time to go. Everyone was on the roof and the marines deployed red smoke to signal Whiskey One Niner. And this was playing in the background (from 1:26) as chopper blades beat a steady rhythm on the city air:

The safe house evacuees hold the roof

Home is where the heart is

The sound of rotor blades cuts through the moans below...

...and Whiskey One Niner touches down.

Our friends were safe. That's all we could think of as Whiskey One Niner took off towards the rolling ocean. Our guilt at leaving them for Halifax felt a little smaller with that knowledge. Our friends were safe.

Final thoughts: Where do I begin? The final game of our campaign was so laden with action (final body count was 83 dead zeds!!) and gloriously thematic events that it is absolutely impossible to pin down the thing I enjoyed the most. From that first-turn massacre in the street to our presumed-dead friends arriving in the eleventh hour to ensure our escape, this was the ultimate way to wrap up Safe House 2014.

I suppose my defining moments (a little ATZ pun for the fans), from this game and indeed the entire campaign, were those moments that exposed a new thread of story progression without any interference from the organiser (muggins, here). Things like Bridges rounding up our allies or Laquanda turning over a new leaf (turns out her real name is Cheryl) are examples of the game mechanics gelling with players' imaginations and of what makes All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out so great; unplanned, creative character development all wrapped up in a simple and accessible rules set.

And when that smoke was popped on the roof, and the stereo played that track, and our survivors were free and clear... I must admit I felt a bit emotional ending this fantastic event, with two top guys, on such a high note. It was the same feeling that I'm having right now as I type, in fact, knowing that in a few short moments Safe House 2014 will be truly over.

Much thanks to Jim from Hive City Terrain and to Ross; My brothers-in-arms.

See you all for Safe House 2015.

Catch up on all of the Safe House action below:


  1. What a finish dude.
    The whole campaign was a real rollercoaster of an adventure.
    Thanks HP.

    1. Ah, another night owl ;-) Cheers, Bob. I had a great time reliving it through the reports.

  2. That.....Was a fantastic read mate!! Thank you for doing these. All 3 of you. Amazing that you did them all in one go!!

    Music is ace! Really sets the mood. As a gamemaster myself I know how important this can be. Sometimes the music just plays right too....

    1. You're most welcome, bud. Doing it all in one go was actually a huge benefit as long campaigns can quickly lose momentum in my experience. I really wanted to utilise all the awesome campaign mechanics like Fame and Fortune points and Involuntary Encounters but it turned out to be a good idea to streamline things for this.

      I am going to get the guys together for some follow-up games and I'll be doing a solo series in the wake of this.

      I'll also do a post so you can get a better look at some of the characters (think of them as 'Safe House bonus features and webisodes').

  3. A great ending to a truly epic game. Kudos to all three of you for taking the time to deliver a first class example of how to play ATZ. Everything about it was spot on, from the figures, to the scenery, to the music, to the heroics and sometime unexpected turn of events, but most of all, to the great story. I salute you all.

    1. You're too kind, mate. I really couldn't have hoped for a better result. And it definitely helped designing a flexible story so the players felt genuinely involved in its progression.

  4. Oh, I have fallen behind your posting, but I will read them all. From what I've seen when I was skimming this and the last post, there are plenty ideas to "borrow".

    Well done!

  5. Awesome Climatic end to a campaign. ME thinks you need some special zombies for 2015.

  6. This would have to be one of the best ATZ campaigns I've read in a long while. And being able to follow the story from start to end in one go is a bonus! It's a good length too. Shows you don't need to include everything to create a gripping story.

    1. Thank you very much, Chris. And welcome to the blog.

      I must admit that I had no idea how it would go as it was my first ATZ campaign and the 24 hour format was as restrictive as it was ambitious. As it turned out, sticking with a Hollywood structure and shamelessly "borrowing" from the big and small screens was the way to go.

    2. No worries. I'm following with interest! I'm hoping to start my own ATZ campaign once I have other projects under control. Lots of inspiration to be had here!

  7. EPIC! And congratulations for being able to create all the Batreps following on fomr the games too. Sounds like you had awsome fun and a supber selection of fantastic tunes to keep you fired up!

    1. Thanks, Ad. I've got to say I'm pretty proud of it. I should also thank you, personally as it was reading your batreps and music posts that inspired me to do this.