B&D Playtesting Day

I invited a couple of friends over to Yew Tree today to have a go at playing a full game of B&D.  The idea was to get some people other than ourselves to play the game and see if they could make it work/break it.  It was massively successful, with both players picking up the rules very quickly and not having to refer back to the fast play sheet very often.  Chris, the human player was really good and ended up winning by keeping his squad nice and bunched up and thinking through the best positions for the various different weapon types he had.  He managed to get right to the end of the mission before he even allowed a Zombie to get into close combat with him.  Unfortunately, this made the experience a little dull for Robbie, who was controlling the Zeds.  In fact, the experience made us realise that as the zombies have to follow set rules for movement, there really isn’t much of a game for the person who controls them.  They don’t get to make many decisions.  To rectify this, we’re going to introduce ‘Zombie Masters’ who have a bubble of influence within which the zombie player can control the zombies much more.  I’m already thinking of a few neat ideas to make this rule a possibility.  There’s also the idea of having some zombies be ‘rage’ style ones, who can run when within a certain range of a human target, meaning that it makes it harder for the human player to guarantee that they cannot be reached by any zeds.

Other than this, most of the rules worked how we intended them to and the game was pretty enjoyable.  I was definitely pleased with the dead zed tracker idea that I blogged about a few days ago; it kept the board topped up nicely with zombies, they just weren’t always where Robbie wanted them to be.  Other rules ideas we came up with:

  • Other zombies being drawn to one of their number who is ‘feeding’ on a dead human
  • Dead humans staying on the board as draws for feeding -needs some kind of marker
  • Grenades

BaD: The Problem with Zombies

The last few games we’ve played of BaD Zombie War (still a working title) have had the same problem -there are either too many or too few zombies on the board at certain times in the game.  This is a real issue as too many Zs means the human player gets bogged down fighting their way through and the Z player gets bogged down doing the random movement for the majority of zombies who can’t see the humans yet.  Too few means that the game isn’t enough of a challenge for the human player, and is pretty boring for the Z player.  I’ve put my mind to working this out today and come up with what I think is a workable idea: The Dead Zed Tracker.

The Problem

Most of our scenarios start off with a random number of Zs on the board, kind of randomly allocated.  Lately we’ve been splitting the board into quarters and letting the Z player put 2D6 zombies wherever they like in each quarter.  This seems to start us off with a good number of Zs, evenly scattered around the board and I’m quite happy with it as a system.  The problem comes when we start thinking about when more Zombies come onto the board.  In the last game, we started off with a blanket ‘2D6 come on a turn’ strategy, but it soon became obvious that there were too many stacking up and the play was bogging down.  So that left us at the beginning of each turn having to decide whether more came on or not.

The Solution: Dead Zed Tracker

I’ve decided that we need a mechanism that tells us when more Zs need to come onto the board, which needs to be triggered by how many/few there are currently.  The idea is that you have a ‘track’ on which you place any Zombies once they die.  Once the number of zombies on the track has reached a certain point, you then bring on a random number of zombies.  I think we’ll need to experiment a bit with the right level at which new zombies come on, but I started off thinking that 12 would be good (with 2D6 coming on), but then I thought about the starting situation and worked out some numbers.

For this system to work, you need a set number of Zombies for the whole game.  I figured this would just be the maximum possible starting Zs i.e. 48 (4×12).  You then need to determine you starting Zs as described above.  This will leave you with a number of zombies remaining (between 0 and 40), these then need to go onto the DZT.  If this number is 0, the human player is very unlucky and starts off with a board teaming with the walking dead.  And to add insult to injury, he only has to kill 12 for more to come onto the board. If the number is 40, then the human player is very lucky and has an almost empty board to start with.  However, new zombies will be coming on for a long time before they stop, meaning that it will fill up a bit too much after a while -but I guess that’s just the luck of the draw?

My final idea was to have 2 separate levels on the tracker -one that means you start bringing Zs on, one that means you stop.  The mean number of starting Zs is 28, leaving 20 to go on the track.  If we made it so the human player has to just kill a few to bring more Zs on, that would be pretty balanced, so if we set that point at 24.  The problem with this is that the level will never get below 12, so you may as well just ignore those 12 Dead Zeds.  Unless we make it so that once the DZT is over 24, you bring on 2D6 new zombies at the start of every turn until the DZT drops below 12.  I quite like that idea, but it may be too complicated.  I’ll mock up a DZT for the next time we run a game at school.

BaD -Courage and Stomach

At various points in the game, a model will be required to test their courage. The courage of a model is determined by its training level. Courage is tested by rolling 1D6 aiming to score equal to or over your courage rating, after adding any relevant modifiers. We think that a 1 will always be a failure and 6 always a pass.

The battlefield can be a terrifying place, especially if you are unused to it. It is even worse if you are fighting hideous aliens or the zombified corpses of your best friends. A model’s training level determines how much bloodshed or horror it can stomach seeing, or more accurately, how close it can be to that bloodshed. If one of a model’s fellow combatants is killed within a radius of its stomach rating in inches, it has to test its courage.  This will probably also allow for other things like monstrous creatures being within that distance.

Failing a Courage Test
When a model fails a courage test, it has to run away. At the moment we’re thinking they should run to the nearest cover and then have to test again if they want to come out again. This is a work in progress idea.

BaD -Training

Right from the start, we both wanted the training level of models to be an important part of the game. We’ve come up with a system we really like.

There are 5 different levels of training: civilian, rookie, soldier, elite and badass. These names might change, but they are pretty self explanatory.

The training level of a model affects several aspects of how it behaves. These are: courage, command distance and stomach. I’ll explain how these systems work in later posts.

Training level Courage Stomach Command Distance
Badass 2 2″ 6″
Elite 3 3″ 5″
Trained 4 4″ 4″
Rookie 5 5″ 3″
Civilian 6 6″ 2″

Training in Zombie Scenario
The squad of humans in this scenario are mostly standard trained soldiers. 2 of them are only rookies, however, and the sergeant is elite.

BaD -Damage

Once a model has hit their target (either in shooting or close combat), they need to cause damage.  To do this, they roll 1D6 on the damage table of the target that they have hit.  The result of the dice roll, plus or minus any modifiers that result from a weapon, having scored multiple hits or having a higher number of combatants in an uneven fight.

Once you have determined your result, look it up on the table and enact whatever outcome results, such as removing the model if they have been killed or laying them down if they have been knocked down.

If a model is already knocked down when they are damaged, any result of ‘knocked down’ becomes a ‘killed’ result, in addition to any ‘killed’ result that already exists.

Damage in Zombie Scenario

This is the human damage table we are currently working with:

D6 roll Result
1 Unharmed
2 Test Courage
3 Test Courage
4 Knocked Down
5 Knocked Down
6 Killed

and this is the zombie one:

D6 roll Result
1 Unharmed
2 Unharmed
3 Knocked Down
4 Knocked Down
5 Killed
6 Killed

BaD-Close Combat

When it came to a close combat system, I was all for not having one at all, believing that in real modern (or fake SF) combat, the last thing fighters want to end up doing is hitting each other (I always thought that was a silly aspect of 40K). Chris pointed out, however, that some factions won’t have distance shooting ability, for example the zombies in our initial, zombie based scenario, so we need one.  We wanted a system that was nice and simple and turned to the very easy nature of fighting in DBA for inspiration.

Basic Combat Rules

When two models are in base contact, they must fight in close combat.  To do this, each side rolls 1D6, adds any modifiers they might have and compares the results.  The winner (obviously) wins the combat and rolls on the damage table for their opponent.  If the result is a tie, nothing happens (this might change).

We haven’t worked out a full list of modifiers yet, but they will mostly involve weapons or racial abilities.

Multiple models in combat

Normally, combat should only take place between one model and one other.  If there are multiple models in contact with one other model, they are in an uneven combat.  In this case, the side of the combat with more models receive an additional modifier per extra combatant on their side (for humans, we say an extra +1).

In addition, if the side with more models wins, they gain +1 to their damage table roll for each extra combatant on their side.  Conversely, if the outnumbered side of the combat loses, they suffer -1 to their damage table roll for every extra combatant opposing them.

For example, Frank is fighting 2 zombies (arrgh!).  He rolls 1D6, as does the zombie player.  Frank rolls a 4, and the zombie player also rolls a 4.  Frank is fighting with a bayonet mounted on his rifle, which gives him a +1 modifier, giving him a total of 5.  The zombies get a +1 multiplier for being generally bloodthirsty and mindless, and an extra +1 for having one extra combatant on their side, leaving them with a total of 6.  The zombie player rolls on the human damage table, with a +1 modifier, probably tearing Frank’s head off and eating his brain (BRAAAIIINSS!!!).

Combat in Zombie Scenario

We haven’t totally sorted this out yet, but here are the modifiers we are likely to give the models in the Z scenario:

Humans: Are armed with bayonets mounted on rifles, giving them a +1 modifier.  Obviously, this puts the sergeant and machine gunner at a disadvantage, so they need protecting.  As the soldiers are trained to fight together, they gain a +1 modifier for every extra combatant on their side in a uneven fight.

Zombies: Gain a +1 to combat rolls for being bloodthirsty.  They cannot gain any modifier to their combat roll for being on the larger side of an uneven fight.  Any modifiers to the damage roll stand as normal.

These stats have worked out reasonably well so far, leaving lots of humans dead once the zombies get up close and personal.

BaD – Shooting

For shooting, we wanted to avoid the whole squad having to shoot at the same target. We also wanted to avoid the need for too many tables to look up target numbers. So, we decided to go for a system based on that used by most of the games designed by Spartan Games.

Basic Shooting Rules

Range is measured in a series of ‘bands’, each of 8″.  We reckon most weapons will only work in the first 3 range bands, to make sure people have to move about on the table in order to shoot.  Each weapon will have a table which tells you how many D6s to roll when firing in each different range band  Each dice does not necessarily represent a ‘shot’, it just shows an increased chance of hitting your target.  Of the dice you roll, all of those that come out as a 4+ count as a hit.  Any additional hits above one give you a +1 modifier when rolling on the damage table.

For example, if Frank is firing a bolt action rifle at a zombie who is 10″ away, he looks at the rifle’s table and finds that he has 2D6 to roll.  He rolls them and gets a 5 and a 2.  This means he rolls on the Zombie damage table with no modifier.


In terms of cover, we haven’t come up with an exact system yet, but are at the moment working with the idea that any obstacles in the way create trouble for the model shooting.  This halves their shooting pool, rounded up.

Multiple Targets

If there are more than one target in the same range band, and a model has more than one dice in their shooting pool for that range band, they can choose to split their fire between these targets.  You should split the dice physically and place them next to their targets, then roll hits and damage for each target in turn.

A machine gun (or similar) can also choose to ‘spray’ an area, hitting as many targets as they can.  To do this, choose a target on which to start, and one on which to end your ‘spray’. You then roll your shooting pool of dice and place any ‘hit’ next to a model within your spray, starting with the first model in the spray, moving in the direction of the last model.  In doing this, you obviously forgo the modifier to the damage roll given by more than one hit, as you will only ever roll one hit per target.  Any hits ‘left over’ once every target in the spray has one assigned are simply lost (spraying with a machine gun is much less accurate than firing aimed shots, meaning the damage is likely to be lower).

For example, Frank is firing an LMG at range band 3, meaning he has 5 dice in his shooting pool.  He decides to spray a group of 5 zombies moving from left to right.  He rolls his 5D6 and comes up with 4 hits.  This means that all but the furthest zombie to the right get hit.

Shooting in Zombie Scenario

We decided that most of the soldiers would be armed with a bolt action rifle for the scenario, similar to what soldiers would have been armed with in WW2.  The sergeant of the squad will have a pistol, and there will be one soldier with a Light Machine Gun or similar (maybe medium?).  The armaments will have the following statistics.

Range Band 1 2 3 4
Pistol 3 1 X X
Rifle 2 2 1 X
LMG 1 3 5 X

The theory was to make all of the weapons suitably different, having strengths and weaknesses in realistic areas.  As with other areas of the game, playtesting will determine whether or not this has worked.

BaD -Movement

When it came to movement, we wanted to keep it nice and simple. Each race will have a set movement rate in inches. In their movement phase (we’re using phases right now but that might change) each model can move upto their movement rate. They can also choose to run, which adds a racial dice roll to their movement. When moving through terrain that we deem to be enough to slow someone down, movement will be halfed. We wanted it to be as simple as possible, so went with this. Play testing will determine whether this is too simple.
We’re starting everything off by coming up with stats and rules for a scenario involving human soldiers fighting zombies so as I post here I’ll put what we’ve come up with for that here too.

Movement in Zombie Scenario

-Humans can move 6″ and gain an extra D6″ when they run.
-Zombies can move 4″ (we went with slow Zs). They cannot run.
-Zombies must move towards the nearest human in Line of Sight (more about that later).
-If no human is visible by a zombie, their movement is determined randomly (by a scatter dice or similar) this sometimes means they walk on the board only to wander back off again.

BaD -Guiding Principles

We set out with the following ideas in mind for our game:

  • It should be small scale (as in size of battle, not size of miniatures), with only a squad or two on each side for each game.
  • It should not be winnable at the army building stage through combinations of killer units.
  • It should be scenario based.
  • It should be winnable through tactical skill, but there should be a significant random element to contend with.
  • It doesn’t need to be balanced, as war very seldom is (either in SF or real life), and as it is scenario based, any ideas about balance can come in at the scenario design stage.

So the basic concepts that the rest of the game is built on are:

  • Each model represents one person/entity.
  • Each person/entity is the member of a squad, but this does not dictate anything about their behaviour (the squad don’t all have to take the same actions as each other, or stay together).  Remaining together will give benefits to the squad, mostly morale-based.
  • Each ‘side’ takes it in turns to move all of their models, and this will possibly be split into phases (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix) but the order in which players move is determined in each turn.  This means that you might go last in one turn, but first in the next.
  • We will not have complex, point based army lists for factions or races.  Instead, models can be ‘skinned’ with various layers (e.g. race, squad, individual), giving different benefits or hindrances.
  • The level of training that a model has will also be important to their abilities to do certain things.
  • The results of damaging a model will be determined by a race/faction specific damage table.