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.