AN ONGOING NEWSLETTER November 2001


Combat Zone Battle Book
A review by Pete Garnham

The Combat Zone Battle Book is the long awaited expansion to the Combat Zone core rules.

Contained within are in-depth campaign rules, army lists, expanded Machine Rules and some essential new equipment. Despite being advertised as the "Playtesters version", this 58 page book contains a wealth of useful information that is ready for immediate use on the gaming table.

The campaign rules recommend that any campaign be limited to a set number of linked battles with three games being the minimum. Eight mission types are listed and all the information required to play the game including objectives, terrain, and force deployment is provided. These missions make a pleasant change to the weekly firefight at the gaming club and inject a new dimension to the game, no longer is it necessary for a player to kill everything on the table, as some missions require a much more subtle approach.

Directly linked to the campaign but also playable as stand alone rules are explanations on damaging terrain features such as walls, fences and obstacles. There are four new equipments described, namely Molotov Cocktails, Flamethrowers, Sentry Guns (a la Aliens), and Incendiary Grenades. These new bits of kit can come in useful when working through the scenarios or when battling Machines designed using the expanded Machine rules.

Machines now come in three different classes Avenger, Sentinel and Street Tiger, the number and type of weapons they can mount differs as does the wound score required to damage them. This does not make these Machines invulnerable, though the Street Tiger is particularly tough, but does require a careful review of tactics and squad/gang weaponry. Replicant rules are included; They are almost machines but not quite.

Machines now come in three different classes Avenger, Sentinel and Street Tiger, the number and type of weapons they can mount differs as does the wound score required

to damage them. This does not make these Machines invulnerable, though the Street Tiger is particularly tough, but does require a careful review of tactics and squad/gang weaponry. Replicant rules are included; They are almost machines but not quite.

Techs and Medics are now featured, Techs for repairing Machines and overcoming security systems, Medics for patching up the wounded during the campaign. Casualties are still removed from play during a campaign game but, if luck is with them, are able to recover to fight again another day. Fighters also gain experience during games enabling them to roll for extra skills in four categories, Physical, Combat, Weapon and Survival.

The Army Lists contain information on two Corporations, namely Bionetica and the Dekka Military Foundation (DMF), and on standard Gangs and Cultists (my favourite). Each Army gets a short write-up and comprehensive lists ranging from average street units to elite troops. Some lists contain special rules available only to that group (Bionetica's Alpha Clones and Cultist Zealots are good examples.)

I found the Battlebook an essential expansion to the core rules and recommend it to all Combat Zone players. Even if you have no intention of running a campaign, the extra rules really do flesh out the basic set. That is not to say that that the Battlebook is perfect. It would benefit from a bit of a polish, but the typos and inconsistencies can easily be overcome during play by applying logic and common sense. I look forward to the next rules installment: Rumour has it that it could involve Law Enforcement, Vehicles, Cyberwear or perhaps even all three!!


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