Combat Zone Chronicles, an occasional newsletter devoted to em-4's Near Future combat game, Combat Zone.


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30th June 1998.


All the latest from Combat Zone HQ.

Battle Report
Playtesting of the Battle Book is in full swing.

Combat Zone Reviews
Independent reviews

Combat Zone Products and Mail Order
How to find your nearest Combat Zone stockist, and mail order details.

Combat Zone Home Page

Battlebook Playtest.

Hand in hand with writing any rules must go the playtesting. Part of the first Combat Zone supplement (The Combat Zone Battlebook), is a campaign system. This allows you to link games together to form an on going story. As you go on from game to game your troopers and gangers gain experience, and new skills, and buy or acquire new weapons. An individual can rise from being a lowly Green squaddie or ganger, to a fully fledged Hero. So attached can you become to these brave men and women that when they become wounded, and dare I say it killed in battle, it takes a strong man to stand there showing no emotion. Many stand there, bottom lip quivering, trying to understand where they went wrong, crying WHY......WHY...? Much to the amusement of their opponents, who usually mock or heckle in response.

Our design criteria for the Campaign system was to keep it simple. Both myself and Robin have been gaming for about 15 years, and in all that time we have never properly finished a campaign. The reason for this is that campaigns are notoriously time consuming, and they usually fizzle out after a few weeks. What we have done is enabled players to play an entire campaign over the course of an afternoon, or evenings play. Each battle should take about an hour and a half, so a mini-campaign of 3 games could be played out in about four and a half hours. If gamers want to extend them, and make the games larger, the provision is there for them to do so.

The campaign generation system comprises of 8 missions. All these missions have objectives, which must be acheived in order to win the game. Some missions also have special rules which are specific to them only, but may be employed into any of your own stand alone Combat Zone batlles.

The Battle Report below is a Firefight mission, the first game in a series of three battles. A Firefight is a basic Combat Zone battle to the death,

 Battle 1 - Last Man Standing.

The Corporate troopers emerged from the confines of the perimeter wall, and moved swiftly into cover. They were heading into the turf of the notorious Zero’s gang. The gang had carried out several hit and run attacks over the last week, and the troopers had been dispatched to teach them a lesson. The only problem was finding them, as they not only lived above ground, but also below, in the old subway, and sewer systems. The platoon consisted of a 4 man tactical squad, two 4 man rookie squads, and a medic.

D.M. Robin and I had got together to playtest the campaign system. Part of the first supplement which involves mission types, medics, casualty recovery, and a victory points system which enables the player to enhance his campaign forces. This mission was a straight Firefight, the objective being to kill or force the opposition to withdraw off the table. The game was played on a 3 foot square table. Robin is playing the troopers, while I have the gangers.

Zero, the gang leader was alerted to the trooper incursion, and quickly assembled a reception committee. This was made up of a well armed, and reasonably experienced 5 strong Street Gang, one 8 strong gang of inexperienced Pack Rats, 5 inexperienced Sewer Scum, who apart from the leader, who was armed with a pistol and club, only had hand to hand weapons, and finally 1 medic. The Street Gang advanced towards the Tac squad, while the less experienced Pack Rats, and Sewer Scum headed for the Rookie squads. They quickly started firing in an attempt to impede the troopers advance, until they had the opportunity to strike at close quarters. First blood went to the Street Gang, but the trooper medic was right there, and dressed the wound quickly, enabling the trooper to get back into the fight. The gangers were not so fortunate, one of the Street Gang fell, and although only lightly wounded and treated by the medic, he came under increasing fire until he panicked, and made a run for it. A Pack Rat was also caught in the firefight, fell with a major chest wound, and took cover where he lay until the battle ended. All the time the Sewer Scum were advancing unchecked by the troopers, until they climbed on the roof of the building, and leapt on the unsuspecting Rookie squad below. This frenzied attack by three members of the gang, armed with a mixture of swords and clubs, left three of the rookies, including the squad leader, mortally wounded.

D.M. I had managed to advance my gangers with minimal casualties, however, it was proving slow going, and my gangers were slowly but surely getting picked off. I had a lot of short range weapons, and needed to get close. Unfortunately I was finding it difficult to win the initiative, which was making it very hard to close the gap successfully. I needed Robin to make a mistake, and boy did he make one. He won the initiative (yet again) and concentrated on his Tactical squad, loosing off a few rounds at my gangers, and placing the remaining troopers on opportunity fire, again effectively pinning them down. However Robin had missed the fact that my Sewer Scum were in position on a roof nearby for a close assault. With a shout of "BANZAI" from my side of the table, accompanied by a huge grin, I seized this chance. Robin realising his mistake sat opposite me with his face in his hands. This round really turned the tide of the game.

The Sewer Scum continued their relentless assault losing one of their number in the hail of bullets flying in their direction from the other Rookie squad who were now splitting their fire between the Sewer Scum, and Pack Rats. Another of the Scum fell when his body was ripped apart by an explosive round fired by the last surviving member of the squad. The last attacker fell with a head wound, which would cause him to lose the sight of one eye. He was later captured by the troopers, and taken for interrogation. This did not deter the remaining Sewer Scum who leapt on the remaining member of the Rookie gang, while Khan, the gang leader bravely avoided a heavy burst of fire to take on the medic, and a member of the other Rookie squad, who was acting as her bodyguard. Again they stood little chance.

D.M. With a squad annihilated, Robin was now at a disadvantage in the initiative roll. I started to win the initiative every time, allowing my other gangs to continue to press forward. My Sewer Scum leader was doing a superb job. When he killed the medic, Robin knew the game was all but lost.

Meanwhile the Pack Rats were still advancing, however two of them were dead, another had fallen with a light wound. This left the gang at half strength. The Street gang were still battling on bravely having lost no one else, since the ganger who’d done a runner early on in the battle. The Leader armed with an assault rifle, and a ganger armed with an auto pistol, continued an unrelenting fire on one of the Tac squad, who eventually panicked, and ran for it, a fellow Tac squad member, soon received the same treatment and followed suit. The remaining two Tac squad troopers withdrew, followed by the one remaining Rookie, who was now threatened by the Pack Rats, but managed to escape unharmed. The troopers withdrew with the sound of victorious cheers from the gangers ringing in their ears. But the Gang leader knew this wasn’t the end of it. They would return even more eager for a victory next time. He’d just have to make sure he was ready for them.

D.M. Robin put up a brave fight, but with shoulders slumped had finally conceded victory, and withdrawn. If he’d managed to kill my Sewer Scum leader, he would of had a chance, but the failure to do so signalled the end of the game for him. Totalling up our victory points at the end of the game, I had 8 to Robin’s 3, so this gives me plenty of scope to improve my gang before our next meeting. As for the playtesting, the extra rules had made for a much deeper, and tactical game. Although this mission was a straight firefight, neither of us could risk an all out frontal assault on the first game of the campaign, as this would weaken our forces for later games. So both of us played a more restrained game than normal. The medics had also worked well adding a new dimension to the game. They were kept pretty busy, running around tending to the casualties. All in all the game had proved quite complex, tactically, and above all fun, even though it was played on a mere 3 ft square table, and had taken less than 2 hours.