John gives a the low down on the Kontraband expansion for Zona Alfa, and a prize winning battle report on one of the scenarios from the book.
John tells us “There’s a competition on the F/B page for battle reports. I sent a copy of the article to the rules author and I’ve won a copy of the rule book signed by the author and illustrator.”
Zona Alfa was published by Osprey in early 2020. It’s a skirmish game set in the Chernobyl exclusion zone where teams battle for salvage and hope to survive. I’d hoped to play it at the club, then along came the pandemic. The author supports the game well via the Stalker 7 website and solo or Coop rules were soon developed, where the player games against the zone itself rather than a physical opponent. I’ve posted 3 battle reports here and you can check out Guerrilla Miniature Games U Tube channel where a full 7 game campaign is played out. These rules are highly recommended.
Kontraband is an 80 page expansion to the Zona Alfa ruleset (which you will need to play Kontraband), available through Amazon as hardcopy or Wargames Vault as a pdf. It develops the ideas above to take the game in a different direction, recommending a play area of 3’ x 3’ and a crew of 4 veterans. It is set deep in the Exclusion Zone at high threat level so it’s worth playing through a few standard Zona Alfa games before diving in. Here’s what’s in the book.
Crew members can either be Stalkers – good at combat or Scientists – good at technical tasks, a further option is to include a dog companion for which there are detailed rules and additional rules for Hazmat suits. Each crew member can have different equipment or skills so it’s worth spending the time to make them complementary.
The play area is populated with a recommended nine searchable locations (points of interest). The crew have to live off the land so these need to be searched for food, drink, ammo etc. to sustain the crew for the next game. There are 20 points of interest cards from which the 9 are randomly selected, shuffled and placed as an Incident Deck, the top card being revealed when a point of interest is searched. These cards are nearly all bad news and may spawn a zone hostile within close combat distance, dangerous plants or booby traps. There is a greater emphasis on melee combat than in Zona Alfa.
The objective of the game is to search Anomalies to retrieve artifacts (the recommended goal for a campaign being 12 artifacts). It is recommended that the play area for a game has 3 Anomalies to search. The rules for anomalies are fleshed out and there are options for different area effects if the anomaly search goes wrong – four ways to die. Models can be caught in a gravity force field, electrocuted, blasted or teleported away from the anomaly.
There is no game turn limit, the risk of staying in a dangerous area is handled by zone events. Starting on the second move, and becoming more likely with each subsequent move, there is a risk of a zone event, for example: an energy wave, vermin stampede, security patrol, angry mutant or anomaly movement to ruin your day.
This covers a better way of dealing with wounds than the original rule book, there are new weapons and accessories with better options for melee combat. Zone hostiles can be made more dangerous and the concept of fatigue and obsessions are introduced. In Zona Alfa, progression is covered from Rookie through to Veteran. In Kontraband, crew members can add sixth sense, extra toughness, and an additional skill after a number of survived missions.
Missions and Expeditions.
There are 6 separate mission ideas for pick- up games or to link together to form an expedition and a sample expedition of 5 missions in the rulebook. So whilst waiting for some new figures, I decided to try out the reconnaissance mission.
For the first turn the crew will check out the POI closest to their entry point, the abandoned farm equipment. Each crew member can have three actions per turn and it’s worth using one action “alert” to provide overwatch for the Searcher. The top card from the Incident deck is revealed.
Had the incident card been a bandit ambush, it’s likely that one or more crew members would have been out of action on turn one, unless crew members are on alert to take pre-emptive action.
The Searcher (Ali) has the scrounger skill so can search the POI twice, He secures rations, water and ammo which the crew will need for the next mission – in the game you have to think about the future as well as the present.
At each turn after turn 1 a D10 is rolled. The die roll is added to the turn number and if the result is greater than 10, a zone event occurs the subsequent turn. No zone event for turn 3.
The crew head up the board and Sukova (a Scientist) is best equipped to search the anomaly, which she does.
A zone event, an anomaly shift will take place at the start of turn 4. The crew move up to the top RH corner of the board to search the POI, next turn. This will not affect the crew as they will be out of range.
No zone event is rolled. Spassky (Bounty Hunter) checks the POI – not the best option. The card reveals a zone hazard ‘Spores and Spitters’. He survives one attack and retrieves a sample from the POI.
The zone event roll results in an Alpha Predator entering the board at the start of turn 6.
The crew move towards the POI at the top left hand corner of the board but reserve an alert action to use against the Predator when it enters the board. Where possible, they move into cover, this will give protection against the attacking Predator which has Ranged and Melee combat abilities
An area emission effect will arrive at the start of turn 7
The predator enters, this is a dangerous opponent with high armour value. Ruined buildings prevent a direct attack route and it is forced wide and after 3 movement actions it has none left to attack the crew. It’s the crew’s turn and Ali fires the grenade launcher and scores one wound. The Leader gives him an extra action to get into cover. Spassky with Steady hands and a Red Dot sight on his battle rifle fires at the predator. It takes 3 firing actions but the predator is downed. Spassky is stuck in the open.
The Zone event roll results in another Alpha predator arriving. Things are not good for Spassky. He takes the full force of the Zone emission, he’s pinned and wounded and it takes all his actions to recover. Nimzo gives him an action to go on alert. The rest of the team move round to deal with the Predator when it enters.
The zone event roll brings up another zone emission at the start of the next turn.
The Predator enters, Ali fires a grenade which causes one wound, whilst Nimzo causes another. Spassky lobs a smoke grenade at the Predator which has to take a will check. It rolls a 10. This is an automatic pin and the will failure adds another. It will take 2 actions to remove the pinned counter but the Predator will still be able to attack Spassky once when it emerges from the smoke.
Ali makes it to the thicket which holds the POI they must search for. Sukova manages to search a second anomaly and grab an artefact before ducking into cover. Nimzo orders Spassky to seek cover under farm machinery. Nimzo joins him there to apply a med kit.
The zone event for the next turn is another Alfa Predator
This turn, the effect of the zone emission is negated because all crew members are in cover. Nimzo and Spassky go on alert whilst Sukova searches a POI, which reveals a mutant.
Meanwhile Ali’s search triggers a Zone Hazard – cobwebs.
Nimzo gives Ali an extra action so he can go on alert and get in position to attack the Predator the next turn
The zone event for move 11 is another zone emission.
The Predator enters but the crew are ready. Ali fires a grenade causing one wound and Spassky finishes it off with two shoot actions, the extra damage from his AS Val battle rifle proving crucial. In their move, the crew race towards the final POI that needs to be searched to complete the mission. They duck into cover to avoid the effect of the emission. Ali moves slower as he is slowed down by the heavy weapon.
The zone event for move 12 is the arrival of a Spetsnaz zone patrol
The zone emission has no effect and the crew continue towards the final POI. Spassky searches the POI – Marsh gas, if he fails the will check, he will fire at the nearest crew member! He passes and collects a sample having an action to clear the board. The rest of the crew follow, Ali needs to take a swig of Electric Juice to give him the extra action before the Zone Patrol enters.
The incident packed game had taken just over 90 minutes, a bit longer to make commentary notes and photos. I really enjoyed the game which adds extra detail to the Zona Alfa ruleset. I’ve played this scenario 4 times now, each game was different and challenging. I’d recommend this game to all players- whether you are a regular player or a sceptic who felt the original game wasn’t for them.
Zona Alfa and Kontraband are well supported by the author who has answered any queries or clarification promptly. The Facebook page is an excellent and supportive source for the game, no bitchy point scorers on this site which is refreshing compared to other wargaming Facebook pages I subscribe to.
Well this week got away from me. It galloped off in the distance before I had a chance to jump on.
Late it maybe, but here’s this weeks efforts from the club. Above is the star of the show, Tony’s contribution to our Stargrave scratchbuilt spaceship competition. This one is going to be tough to beat.
Next up Stephen has finally attained some scrub terrain features, often over looked is a bit of scrub, so well done Stephen.
Next up Andy has moved on from the Dark Ages (when did that actually end?) and is in the medieval period with some medieval sergeants.
Marcus has continued painting up 6mm tanks to go with the modification of the Two Fat Lardies rules ‘What a Tanker’ he has been working on.
And lastly (becoming a tradition now) my further efforts for a Napoleonic era balloon, I changed the net to something more in scale with the balloon.
Next week should be back on schedule with Work in Progress Wednesday actually being on Wednesday.
Stephen takes us through the return match of the Wars of the Roses that was the second battle of St Albans.
The Second St Albans has always struck me as one of those battles that no one’s heart was really in.
It’s more of a surprise battle that happened by accident.
Coming quickly on the heels of the battle of Mortimer’s Cross it had the Yorkists, led by Warwick, looking north expecting an attack.
Meanwhile, the Lancastrians, led by Somerset, were actually approaching from the south. The Yorkists had deployed in depth – most of the army looking north around the area of Normansland Common, with Warwick encamped at the village of Sandridge, and the artillery park (with King Henry) a mile or so south, just north of St Albans.
Scouts had reported to Warwick that Lancastrians had been seen approaching from the south at St Albans. Warwick had none of it. The Lancastrian vanguard marched into St Albans, sweeping aside the York pickets. Warwick still wouldn’t accept it.
On they marched, north, out of St Albans on the road heading for Sandridge. The Yorkist artillery had been dug in, but facing north! Urgent reports went back to Warwick – the Lancastrians are advancing from the south.
This time Warwick listened and sent out his own scouts to see how true it was. Meanwhile, the artillery was over-run and King Henry was given the chance to join the Lancastrian cause – unsurprisingly, he agreed.
It was only now that Warwick started funnelling troops south to face the approaching enemy army. The outcome was inevitable – the Yorkist army was routed.
Like all the other battles in this series it was gamed using Basic Impetus on a 3×2 foot board. The important aspect of this battle is that both sides had to continually feed troops in to the battlefield. The Lancastrians start with most present. The Yorkists have just their artillery, some handgunners, and Henry VI’s camp.
To represent troops entering the battlefield I decided that from Turn 3 onwards whichever side won the initiative could roll a second die – on a 4, 5, or 6 no more troops entered. On a 1, 2, or 3 that many units of their own troops could enter the table from their edge within 1 base-width of the road.
Here’s the initial deployment. North is to the right, south/St Albans is to the left.
Initiative went to the Lancastrians for the first couple of turns, which allowed them to move up with speed and also meant that on Turn 3 they brought more troops on. This was as it should be, since the rest of the army was just 500m to the south coming through St Albans town, whereas the York army was a good couple of kilometres further north.
The artillery stayed still, waiting for the Lancastrian archers to come into range. The handgunners moved forward so they could start scoring hits sooner than later. However, neither side was rolling that well and what exchanges there were proved desultory. Nevertheless, the inevitable happened – the handgunners fell under the weight of the archers.
More Lancastrian troops arrived and I was starting to wonder if the Yorkists would ever arrive and maybe they’d just march right across the battlefield unopposed.
The artillery opened up but it was more noise than effect. The archers concentrated their fire and that was that.
At this stage there were no Yorkist forces in the table!
Without much resistance the Lancastrians rolled into King Henry’s camp and they captured the King.
At this point it had all gone pretty much according to history.
Then the Yorkists stole initiative and they could bring on some troops – just the one unit this time, so I opted for the fully armoured men at arms. There they stood, that one unit looking toward St Albans, all alone, facing the entire Lancastrian army.
The men at arms moved forward, optimistically expecting more troops to arrive and wanting to make room for them.
This wasn’t misplaced optimism, and close on their heels came a couple of units of Yorkist longbowmen.
The Lancastrian army started to get a lick on and advanced quickly to hedge in the newly arrived York troops and make it difficult for them to manoeuvre into position.
The Yorkists knew there was nothing to be gained by staying still and so they pushed the men at arms forward – they had to get stuck in as quickly as possible to halt the Lancastrian advance and to strike a blow. The archers protected the flanks of the advancing men at arms and an arrow exchange between the two sides ensued.
Fortunately, more Yorkist troops now started to arrive – Warwick had clearly come to his senses!
Up until now the Lancastrian army had been unscathed, but now they started taking casualties and wouldn’t be having it all their own way. Nevertheless they were also dishing it out. Those Yorkist men at arms became an arrow magnet and arrows fell heavily on them, but eventually they made their way forward and charged the Lancastrian bow line.
For what good it did them, though. Drained by the shower of arrows they were soon finished off by the archers but gave a good account of themselves in return.
Meanwhile, the Yorkist troops had moved forward to get the Lancastrian army in close range – there was nothing to lose and they had to hope that God (the dice) would be on their side and they could blast the Lancastrians.
This tactic wasn’t lost on the Lancastrians though. Recognising that each side had a 50/50 chance of success in a bow exchange they decided to swing the odds in their favour and advanced their men at arms and billmen through their lines and charge into the York archers.
And it was a tactic that paid off.
The weight of the fresh Lancastrian melee troops fell upon the Yorkist archers and the combat was brief but decisive – the day would go to Lancaster!
Previous entries in Stephen’s War of the Roses battles:
With the announcement of the release of Stargrave last year one of our members suggested that as a lockdown project those interested might like to kitbash or scratchbuild a shuttle or spaceship and paint up a 15mm crew for the game, with a target date of early 2021 when we hoped we might be able to resume meetings. The due date was of course extended.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Actually, no, it was in the 1970’s in Rochester, I bought and made up an Airfix Space 1999 Eagle Transporter. Said model has followed me around various student lodgings, digs, flats and finally my current home.
So, I had a search in the loft and found the Eagle. It’s not had very much use, but at one point I completely repainted it into a non-cannon scheme.
I noticed that the thruster units were missing, I have a vague recollection that I removed them for the last repaint, and put them in a ziplock bag somewhere. Exactly where I don’t recall, hopefully they will turn up at some point.
Having found the model I decided I didn’t want to do a full strip and repaint, but I wasn’t that keen on the colour scheme I had used for the doors on the cargo pod or cockpit.
I decided to just touch up the grey and repaint the cargo pod and cockpit panels. I started off by giving the doors and the cockpit panels a couple of coats of Foundation White. Once dry I then repainted the doors and panels with Fluorescent Orange, with some black lining. The instrument panels at the top of the doors were painted Gunmetal Grey.
I also decided that the main engine nozzles need a touch-up, matt black inside and Gunmetal Grey outside. I also repainted the black panels on the cockpit section. I suspect my decision to use a grey and orange scheme may have been influenced by old Royal Navy SAR helicopters.
I had a rummage through my spare transfer box and found quite a few sheets from some Hasegawa 1:72nd scalexe UH-1D Helicopters I’d built for Vietnam games. This gave me a load of duplicate registration numbers, plus some Japanese Kanji characters. I gloss varnished the areas I to which I was going to place the transfers, added some 5-digit numbers to the front and sides, and larger two-digit numbers to the sides and top surfaces. I also added a Kanji block to the sides of the cargo pod, these actually read Rikujōjieitai or “Japan Ground Self Defence Force”. The reasons for adding some Kanji characters will become clearer later.
While I was working on the Eagle and posting WIP pictures on the MWS groups.io discussion page a debate arose about whether I should give the Eagle some weapons. There were arguments in favour and against, some of which were quite passionate.
I decided to try and have the best of both worlds, and make the guns detachable. Looking at the Eagle the spinal lattice work had gaps of approximately one inch. I thought I could make some inserts to fit this lattice to hold the guns.
I started by cutting some 25mm square sections of 5mm foamboard, then trimming about 2 mm off each edge of one of the cardboard faces and the underlying foam. This needs to be done carefully so as not to cut through the second face. This results in a roughly 21mm square “plug” with a 25mm square upper face. I made two of these.
I painted the guns Gunmetal grey and the body of the pack as close a match to the Eagle’s grey as I could mix. I then gave the guns a liberal coat of Army Painter Dark Tone wash.
These gun packs just push fit into the spinal lattice, the foam is flexible enough to deform as they fit into place and expand again to hold them solid. The separate twin turret just fits into a recess in the cockpit section.
Now onto the crew.
A while ago I was tempted by a couple of GZG figure packs that bore an uncanny resemblance to the cast of a certain 2000’s Sci Fi TV show and film. Shiny. So, these would become the crew of the Eagle.
I mounted these on some 16mm diameter washers, built up the bases with Polyfilla and undercoated them with grey primer.
I found a few pictures of the cast on the web and used those as inspiration for the colour scheme, or as close as I could get with the mostly Valljeo paints I had available. The bases were then finished off with basetex and the figures varnished.
Three of the cast had duplicate figures, either different clothing and / or weapons, so I painted the second version in slightly different colours so that they could be used as different characters if required.
The other six members of the crew only had a single casting each:
Oh, and the use of the Kanji script on the Eagle? In the TV show the characters speak a mixture of American English and Mandarin (the latter usually mild profanities) and the latter also appears in company names and logos, the Kanji decals were the closest I had to Mandarin.
I originally thought that the Airfix kit was 1:72nd scale, but if so, the crew would have to be contortionists to fit in the cockpit.
Off to Google. There’s quite a few websites dedicated to Space: 1999. I found one website that states that the Eagle is 76 feet (23.16m) long which, given the model length of 300mm nose to engine nozzles, would make the kit approximately 1:77th scale; another compares the Airfix kit to the different Eagle models used in the TV series, which were not necessarily consistent with each other.
This suggests that the Airfix model is likely to be closer to 1:96th scale. I could probably start some arguments if I started making pronouncements that 15mm = 1:100 scale (personally I reckon it’s closer to 1:120), but the bottom line is I think that the Eagle looks OK next to 15mm figures, and the crew could get into the cockpit without scraping their heads on the ceiling.
Wherever you have protagonists you need antagonists. As far as I could see GZG didn’t do any of the TV show’s “baddies”, the Alliance, so I went elsewhere.
Brigade models do some Uniformed Starship Crew and some Tank Crew in helmets. I got a pack of each. Unfortunately, the bases on these were too small to glue directly to the washers, so I had to cut some suitably sized cardboard fillers to bridge the gap. These figures got a generic mid grey uniform with some red and silver highlights here and there. Depending on your viewpoint these are the heroes of justice, or the lackeys of the oppressive state.
These chaps don’t have a ship of their own, but I do have a vehicle, a Brigade Javelot scout car, for them.
It might be a bit tight for all 8 of them in there, so I might need to get them more transport!
I can see myself wanting to play it loads (mind you, there’s loads of other games I want to play as well – currently undergoing bad Saga withdrawal symptoms).
Lucky for me, I have enough figures and scenery to get started with Stargrave, no need to paint before play, etc.
So what I have here is an introduction to two crews I have put together.
The first group are a party of scavengers from the Candolorian system. They are led by Elias Dante, captain of The Devastator, and a rogue who has been one side of the galaxy to the other. With Elias is Imjin Tik-tok, a Tuncoul and experienced tekker who looks after Elias’ droids.
The droids themselves are TT-1B and CLN-T 35TWD. 1B is an old sentry bot who’s had his software updated. CLN-T is of unknown origin.
The rest of the crew are made up of Mackenzie Talian, Quill Raiker, and Murch Nagu. Mac and Quill have known each other for years and have worked on many heists and smuggling jobs. Murch is a Thecan and a heavy trooper from the wars.
Next up is Madam Sholay, a psionicist and owner of The Monsoon – a converted Hauler class light freighter. First mate on The Monsoon is a biomorph called Shoggoth, who never strays far from Sholay’s side.
The crew of The Monsoon is made up of ex-military personnel. There’s Aidan Kenver and Yammet de la Cruz, a pair of advance party pathfinders.
And rounding off the group are Mallias Bygrove and Zanford Schneider, two snipers who have a long list of kills to their names.