Walking Dead Solo Game - Sorta

03.21.2021

This is not the post I hoped to make.

Ominous sounding, isn't it?

About 3 weeks ago I set up the kitchen table with game scenery and thought I would play a solo game of Walking Dead. It's been long enough that I forgot some important rules. No double movement in a turn was the biggie. I wasn't playing a predefined scenario that told me how many of what to place where. More importantly, I wasn't playing on the standard 20" X 20" board that is the game standard.

A big part of modern day gaming, especially for me, has been house rules. This was my chance to house rule up some big-board tweaks. I read somewhere in my game development adventure of years ago that a good solo game is won 25% of the time. I bought in to that, and how I found that playing games solo is more about the story of the game rather than winning or losing. Especially losing. For my big board test I would take 1 Survivor (with the point value close to a normal, small group) and try to reach a target convenience store and search for supplies. The board was setup with scenery, a plethora of zombies, and I was off.

The biggest house rule I changed was how Threat automatically rises at the end of each turn. It doesn't rise like that if there's more than one player, and that bothers me. I can see where it forces you to get to the goal faster. How fewer players equates to fewer potential interactions that will raise the threat, but I just don't like it. So I nixed that rule straight off the bat.

The first pass... well, that was where I found I glossed over some basics (like that movement thing I mentioned). Roughly 7 turns in I had reached my goal with only interference from the undead twice. Was I not placing enough zombies for the bigger board? That was when I looked back into the rules and saw that when you perform 2 actions in the Action Phase, you can't repeat any. Well. Crap. That test was a bust due to a basic rule being broken.

I reset the board and tweaked things a little more. I made some overly-complicated math problem to determine how many zombies to start out with on the board. The area I'd be using was 24" X 48", with me starting at 1 end and the convenience store on the far end. This time, I also took notes per turn which would help be both analyze how the rule tweaks played out, as well as force me to write down/repeat the steps of each turn so I, hopefully, wouldn't gloss over or skip anything.

And, it kind of worked. When it came to die rolls, I would roll 3 (sometimes 5) times to see what my worst & best outcome would be. Based on how things were going, I would pick the roll to use. Over the course of forcing the game to last 10 turns, I died twice before reaching the convenience store. When I reached the convenience store, I could make it inside if I scooted 1 of the zombies out of the way a little, else I would have died. If I did indeed scoot him and enter the store, I ended up dying 2 different ways by the end of the turn. I think that 1 game made me 0-5, which is not a 25% win rate. But half of those loses game with a win just out of reach, and that's the best way to lose - it makes you want to try one more time.

I've made some more rule tweaks. The number of zombies to start with isn't a calculus problem any more, but based on scenery points, the size of the play area, and starting survivor points. Where they spawn will still need some work, especially to not turn into another overly complicated math problem. I haven't played through the latest set of changes. After 3 weeks of scenery set up on the kitchen table I was ready to put everything away for a while and tidy up.

It's a lot of pictures, but here's what I snapped on the game where I made it to the convenience store before dying. Game play details are moot, but it's a good excuse to look at the layout.



Turn 1: (Starting Threat 1) Driving up and stopping at a barricade, it's time to switch to making it the rest of the way on foot.



Turn 2: (Starting Threat 3) Time for some strategy, as hopping the barricade will make it 2 on 1. Maybe a tactical retreat can work in my favor?



Turn 3: (Starting Threat 5) Start sneaking forward, but 2 on 1 melee ensues.



Turn 4: (Starting Threat 6) Still moving forward, but a Pandemonium Event Card looks to make life difficult.



Turn 5: (Starting Threat 6) The pass through the gas station looks like a good bet. The Distracted Event Card beings a zombie closer.



Turn 6: (Starting Threat 7) Keep trying to get to the gas station when a Car Alarm (via Event Card) starts.



Turn 7: (Starting Threat 8) While zombies are distracted and drawn to the car alarm, a chance to run by! Based on how many zombies are already at the car, trying to silence it really isn't an option. 1 of the zombies is drawn into combat as I run by.



Turn 8: (Starting Threat 11) Keep running!

This was the first time I would have died when I drew the Frayed Nerves Event Card which would have drawn 9 zombies on top of me. This was skipped, and instead the Walking Dead Event Card came into play which ended up spawning a few more zombies while only 1 came to attack.



Turn 9: (Starting Threat 14) Zombies are starting to group up between here and the convenience store. They're not getting distracted enough by that car alarm! I make my way to the corner of the convenience store to try to better my odds for the zombies that I know are going to get close enough to attack. Thanks to the Roamers Even Card, what I hope was going to be just 1 zombie to fight turns into 4. Based on worse case die rolls, I would have died. Best and middle of the road cases, Health ends up going down from 8 to 4.



Turn 10: (Starting Threat 16) This was the turn with lots of tweaks to see if the goal was possible. The zombie in the door skootched a little so I could make it inside, but drawing a Hoard Event Card pulled him in (I ruled that the door was still open and allowed the zombie(s) outside to follow along with a couple of his friends. Increased Threat from base contact and the ongoing car alarm pushed the Threat to 18 which is supposed to instantly end the game. Even if playing through the turn, and a miracle of not losing combat against 4 more zombies, there was no way to perform any search actions in this turn.

So there you have it. That's how I ended up spending the last couple of weeks. Based on how I like to play, here's my rule tweaks for trying out next time:

1) Threat 18
If the turn starts with a Threat of 18, the game is over.
If the turn ends with a Threat of 18, roll the black die. If a Badge is rolled, Threat is reduced to 17.
If the Threat reaches 18 during a turn, any threat that would be added is discarded.
This gives that One Last Chance that I tend to like in games - you know it's over, unless you can pull off just 1 lucky thing.

2) Actions that might interrupt movement if they fail. I can't really see clarity on some of these, but crossing barricades, going through doors, and (a homegrown rule) of checking for a locked door should be allowed during movement. That's probably the way it is, but I'm making a list of what falls into that category.

3) Locked Door Check. The rules mention Open Doors and Closed Doors, with Closed Doors requiring melee roll(s) to break through. In my zombie world, a door might just be closed and you need to check if it's locked or not. Here's where the good old Black Die comes in - on a Badge, it's unlocked and you can proceed through. Otherwise, it's locked and a traditional Closed Door. This was important when I got to the convenience store in the last test. I moved 1/2 my movement (1 action) and got to the door and checked to see if it was locked. It was unlocked so I proceeded through the door (Open Door, 1 action) and completed my movement. I didn't have actions available to close the door, and that's part of what ended up screwing me in the end.

4) Define the play area at the beginning. Although I kept to the 24" X 48" section I meant to stay in, I had zombies placed all over the board so that I could effectively try to wander off wherever I wanted. This was just needlessly overcomplicating setup. Even if it did look pretty cool.

I'm not sure when I'll next dig out everything and play again. Putting the map in frames, and then placing some shelf liner under the frame corners to prevent them from sliding around worked really well. The frames give me some "zones" to work with if I want, and don't raise up too bad and tilt scenery. The glare on the glass is a little annoying for pictures, but alternately they make for a great wet-street look.


boardgames gaming miniatures walking dead

Wee Folk, Batch One

03.16.2021

I'm still working on getting through my Walking Dead game, so no updates on that front. I did finish up some minis from no particular game that have turned into a great bargain. These came to $1 each when I bought them, and the only drawback is they're on the small side - 28mm instead of the 28-32mm range I usually paint. That's ok. People come in all shapes and sizes, and these aren't so much smaller that they aren't usable. The detail on them is better than I expected (for the price, especially). I picked a handful out of the box of 30 minis and ended up with these - an assorted, small (ha!) group of folks.


gaming miniatures

The Station That Plays The Hit

03.10.2021

The last couple of weeks have felt productive, but I don't really have much produced to show for it.

First up is the 4Ground Tyre Store, which has been rebranded to a local radio station. I have no need of a tyre store as I have a perfectly good full service gas station that seems to be stocked with plenty of tires. Maybe even tyres. While gluing everything together it hit me that much like the other 4Ground building that I turned from whatever it was into a vacant building for lease, I could tweak this one to my needs also. After a quick meeting with Jerry to go over the list of what the city needed, neither of us could remember anything past "radio station" and thus, radio station it was. There's no interior details yet. This was one of those times to just get the outside glued together for when the detailing inspiration strikes (hopefully) later.

My side trip into quirkiness is trying to make a semblance of an antenna out of scrap pieces of the kit, just to have something to stick on the roof that might help say "radio station" a little better. Maybe I should have tried making an antenna out of tyres?

I'm taking some PTO this week, so I'm playing around more than usual. Since I like setting up for games more than actual playing, I took an evening and set up scenery for a Walking Dead game. This is the first time I've used the map tiles printed via DriveThruCards. Even more importantly, it's the first use of the frames from Michaels for holding them. Frames which I think I purchased around Black Friday 2019. Luckily, it seems to work! With the help of some rubber shelf liner on the backs at the corners, the frames don't slide around and hold everything well. I can even throw in some scatter leaves under the glass if I want to, which I realized after I'd sorted map cards and put the glass back in 16 frames.

I was worried about light glare for times I wanted to take pics. There's glare, but in a happy accident the road sections almost look rain-wetted. The one, maybe major, drawback is the bevel of the frame above the glass. This will raise/tip anything that crosses the frame border. Right now, it's not bothering me too bad. We'll see if I try to move to some type of border clip to replace the frame down the line.

With the map setup on the kitchen table, I'm going to play a little solo Walking Dead with some tweaks to the rules now that I've gotten the rules compendium and don't have to cross reference between umpteen supplements. The crux of what I play will be testing out those tweaks and see how they work (if they work, I'll pass on good news next time). My tweaks focus on a loose campaign style of play, with bigger maps (duh) than the 20" x 20" standard the game uses. I've got 4 ft per table side and more than enough scenery to fill it up... I want to use it!


4ground scenery

80s Retro TV Minis

02.22.2021

This latest batch looks to have a lot more stuff than when I normally post an update, but the majority of what's included didn't take much work.

The minis were a flashback to the 80s thanks to Studio Miniatures. First up are not Crocket and Tubbs, from Miami Vice, with their white shoes. After that are not the A-Team. I've got to admit, I had fun with not Mr T when painting these up. I used less (maybe no) washes on the clothes on this batch. My washes tend to over-shadow and darken all of the clothes, which I didn't want on these. As such, I played it safe.

During some down time during the week, it was too cold and snowy to seal the above minis or prime whatever the next batch was going to be, so I dug out some little MDF kits and put them together. From Christmas 2019 (maybe 2018) was the 4Ground playground pieces Keith got for me. It took all of about 10 minutes to punch and glue together the swing set and see-saw (or is it a teeter-totter?). Afterwards I added in some grass flocking since these will likely end up in neighborhood back yards instead of an urban playground. The light poles came from Sarissa Precission, and are close to the same quality as the plastic light poles I've gotten in the past, but much more affordable! After the fact, I saw that the MDF on parts of these light poles could have used some sanding, but as they are should work well enough. I may add some weathering effects later, but just plain, simple light poles is what they'll be for now.

Next up on my hobby list: Are the new map tiles going to work out?


4ground gaming miniatures studio miniatures

Mini Church

02.07.2021

In the miniature world of terrain and buildings, I've got a lot more to make than just the 4Ground mall. The mall is a huge, multi-year project that I keep telling myself that I'm in no hurry to finish. If you base that timeline on when I first started purchasing pieces of the mall back in Oct 2019 I'm taking that timeline to heart. I'm in nor hurry, no reason to rush, and I want to enjoying the process of putting it all together. With that comes a need to take a break and do something different every once in a while.

One of those "not-mall" buildings I picked up was Rev Johnson's Church. It reminded me of the kind of churches Pawpaw preached at. This is also one of those buildings I want to customize depending on (1) how it turns out and (2) if the customizations I have in mind will actually work. They're not big customizations, so don't get too excited. First up, though, is putting the kit together.

And that gives you the basic church. There's fencing and a cemetery included in this bundle, but I'm saving that for another time. With the final result here, I think my little customization ideas will work. Part of those ideas needs the garage to warm up enough for the 3D printer to be cooperative.

And that's how my hobby timelines get strung out.


4ground gaming miniatures scenery

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