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


eztitle.jpg (15944 bytes)


25th 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 Home Page

Combat Zone Reviews:

Reviews of CZ are just beginning to appear. This one appearred in a recent issue of Ragnarrok. The Journal of the Society of Fantasy & Science Fiction Wargamers


Science Fiction Wargame
Paladin Publishing
32pp plus accessories - £25.00

Combat Zone is a set of SF Urban combat rules that were originally to have been published by Hobbygames. However when this fell through authors Derek Mugridge and Robin Dear refused to give up and with a little help went it alone and a year on from debuting it at Salute '97, Combat Zone is available for purchase. But in an increasingly crowded market place what is it that makes Combat Zone a worthwhile buy?

Combat Zone isn't big on background and with this sort of game who really cares too much. Basically the Corporations have taken over and built secure cities within existing cities to safeguard their employees. Outside the walls life is tough, violent and short. Everyone outside has a territory called a Turf and it must be protected at all costs.
Yep, it's very cliched, straight out of Robocop and similar books, films and games, and it won't win any prizes for originality, but this isn't important - let's get out there and shoot something, blow something up and shoot something else!

In Combat Zone figures are organised into Squads (if they are Corporate Troopers), Gangs (if they are gangers) or operate as Individuals (if they are heroes). Squads and Gangs can have different quality levels (Elite through Green) application of which drives the unit's Quality Bonus (additional modifiers to Shooting, Close Combat and Morale Tests) and the number of Action Points they have to use each turn. Individuals are always Elite.
The system of Action Points is used to determine what a figure does within the turn sequence and whilst not the first game ever to use this system, it works well in skirmish games such as Combat Zone and provides the necessary flexibility to cope with rapidly moving characters in a lethal missile fire environment. The Action Points vary dependent on Quality, so an Elite Unit would have seven Action Points per turn, whilst a Green unit only five.
Action Points can be expended in any fashion that the player wishes in his turn (although he must complete an action in full before starting a new one - eg. he cannot stop halfway through crossing an obstacle to make an aimed shot). This means that a Green figure can fire a shot (1AP) move 5cm (2AP), fire another shot (1AP), then drop down (1AP). This level of flexibility makes Combat Zone a very unpredictable game to play and one where careful players weigh up their move intentions before rushing into expending Action Points, lest they find themselves stood in the open with a big "Shoot Me" sign flashing over their head following the expenditure of all the figures Action Points!

Shooting is a simple enough process and is in keeping with the speed of the game. The shooter has to declare his target and the number of shots he intends to fire (some weapons such as a Machine Pistol have a Rate of Fire of 4 which means that four single shots can be fired in the turn - expending four AP's or a burst of two to four shots - expending only two AP's). The range to the target is then measured and the shooter then rolls the appropriate number of Hit dice (so if you fired a burst of four shots from a Machine Pistol you roll four D6). A score of six is required to hit. Standard modifiers for range, quality etc and these are applied to the score, though an unmodified one always misses and a six always hits (as in Warhammer).
So using our Average Machine Pistoler firing at Short range, rolling 4D6, scoring 1, 3, 5 and 6, we have two hits (the 6 and the 5 with a +1 Short range modifier). With the same scores outside short range a Green shooter would get one hit the 6, which although a Green figure has a -1 modifier, the 6 automatically hits.
To see the effects of your hits you roll the weapons damage dice (for the Machine Pistol 2D6), add or subtract any standard wound modifiers (such as cover and armour) and if the final score is equal to or greater than the Target's toughness score then they are removed from the game as a casualty. If the score is less than the Toughness but within one to three points then the target must take a panic test. All pretty straight forward stuff.
There is a reasonable selection of weapons to keep the average gamer happy and any hardware freak will find it a simple enough process to design others at his leisure.

Close combat is the ever popular opposing die roll system, though here multiple dice are rolled dependent on the type of figure and there is a wide range of scoring that makes it very unpredictable (a basic figure rolls 2D6, a Hero 2D8 and 1D6, this still means the Hero could score 3 and the basic figure 12!). The winner then rolls wound dice in a similar fashion to the shooting, the only difference being lower scores with a 1 to 2 difference results in the wounded figure routing, 3 to 4 being subject of a panic reaction.

The book also includes area effect weaponry and rules for Robots that follow a similar pattern to that for humans but wound results mean that the Robot's level of damage is checked rather than automatically removed from play.

Rounding off there is a points cost table for those worried about such things and three scenarios linked together to form a mini-campaign (as well as some special Tech rules for these scenarios).

Combat Zone comes boxed with six grey plastic sprues of 28mm scale miniatures for the game. These provides you with ten Corporate Troopers, fifteen Gangers (six female) and six Robots. The Robots are from the Hobbygames Steel Warriors box and give you three different mecha types with a good variety of weapons. The humans are brand new miniatures and are really very, very good.
The figures require a degree of assembly and their component parts are unusually split, but in such a way as to provide the gamer with the best possible choice of variety, whilst still remaining simple to glue together and robust enough to stand being pushed around a gaming table.

Review Continued