Last weekend at the Lonewolf tournament I had a chance to play in a game using the beta rules for Secrets of the Third Reich (SoTR) by Westwind and Gotterdamerung Studios.The game involved 7 players and took about 1 1/2 hours to play (that included a walk through of the rules required to play). The first picture shows the terrain we were on. I think that SoTR will play well on a board with lots of places to move and shoot from and to. Standard 25 to 32 mm based terrain stuff will work fine but I think that the HO scale stuff will be too small.
You can see some of the miniatures in their starting positions. Being the dapper gentleman that I am, I got to play the well dressed werewolfs seen in the lower left of the photo. The terrain was a mix of Armorcast, MBA, and scratch built stuff (the tower in the background is a GW castle piece with a scratch built top.) The force was a mix – the kid in this photo (Comrade Burrski) had two snipers, to his rtight was an American squad, on around corner-clockwise with the fuzzy Dr. Martin is a German rockettrupp figure with two supports. To the left of the werewolfs was another American squad of 8-10 guys (Bobby), and around to the next position clockwise was a German squad with an LMG and a couple of riflemen (Matt).
The next picture shows Jim Bailey placing the zombies in the town and environs. They are scattered out but do have two minders that control them to some degree. The general rule of thumb, however, is that zombies move towards the closest living enemy they can smell.
Here Jim is showing us the objective – be the first to get to the piano and play it with no zombies nearby or in contact with you. I suppose music hath charms that soothe the savage undead breast as well. But what the hey, it was a good objective in the center of the table.
Here you can see the American squad that was two places from me to the right. He benefits from a limited amount of cover here but it does no good as the zombies don’t have weapons. Line of Sight is what the figure can actually see even through windows, doors, and so on.
How a zombie got to the second floor, I’ll never know (use the appropriate Groucho Marx voice with that part of the paragraph)! Jim painted almost all of the figures we used and they were beautiful! Nicely sculpted by Andy Cooper, the details really shine when a painter like Jim gets hold of them. The Seperate Head System (SHS) is a nice touch, too, allowing for multiple variants of poses.
Matt’s forces are shown here looking toward the village. A daunting prospect, needless to say. I think the rounded bases add to the look of the figures and allow for lots of creativity. Again, note the care Jim lavished on the miniatures. He’s disgusting!
Being a retired ex-military type, I started out in the woods at the edge of the board with my two wolves. I did not get initiative, but I don’t remember who did on the first turn. To determine who goes first, each player rolls a die and the high number goes first in movement and shooting. We then proceeded clockwise around the table. I don”t know if that part of it was a demo event rule or one in the rules. You can move and fire or fire and then move, your choice. The Americans to my right and the German rockettrupp chose to fire and remain where they were. Neither could hit the broad side of a barn! The effect was to stir up the zombies and have them move towards the firers.
Each rifle/semi-automatic rolls one dice and each automatic rolls multiple dice. If a 4-6 comes up, then you roll again for damage. A 6 is a headshot/kill, a 4-5 is a knockdown. The next turn, you roll for the figure to see if it gets up with a fleshwound (1-3), stays down (4-5) or dies (6). You can see the zombies perambulating across the battlefield in this picture!
At this point in the game, I was allied informally with the Americans to my left (he had no choice – I was his ride home from Dallas) and the Russian Snipers. This was an alliance of convenience, as both the American and Russian knew that I would screen them from the zombies while they could use their fire to kill them off. In this picture, the American squad is preparing to drop down off of the hill.
The Rockettrupp remained in position as the armored soldat attempted (and failed miserably) to bring down any zombies. This, of course, was his second turn, as on the first, he had fired at the Americans to his left for chuckles and grins and knocked one down! There was a lot of good and otherwise natured ribbing going on on that flank!
I slaughtered the zombies to my front with my dark werewolf, rolling two sixes for my damage rolls. Pieces of zombie went everywhere, including onto the other werewolf who was knocked down by two zombies! The Russian snipers took down a couple of zombies so I was in pretty good shape.
Next turn my white wolf leapt back on his feet and carried on with the mission! This was a good thing, because even though my dark wolf had rampaged through the zombies to his front and carried on into the piano, my erstwhile Russian ally killed it with a headshot! Hmm…. The white wolf diverted for a bit and bit the head off of the closest sniper that did the shooting! A quick note on hand to hand. The wolves each got two dice to roll for attacks – 1 as a base, and another since they had teeth and claws. The zombies each got 1… unless they had more than one in contact with the enemy. Then, for each additional attack, they got an extra dice! It behooves you to not get into hand to hand with zombies unless you have a lot of support!
The white wolf continued his rampage towards the center of town while the other squads were having difficulties. Matt’s German LMG team and soldaten whiffed twice and did little damage to the zombies facing him. Dr. Martin’s high-tech guys decided to run off the board due to a failed terror check followed shortly thereafter by Matt’s group. They then let Dr. Martin play the zombies and we figured we had a sure win! (A terror check is taken when horrors get within 6 inches. You had to roll a 7 or less on two dice to stay!)
The next turn, I got to the piano once again! And then that blasted Commie shot me again! I was out of the game… but the laugh was mine, however, for as the two American squads closed on the objective, the zombies closed on them! The situation at the end is shown in the final picture below. Duane, the American player to my right, and I were declared the winners as we had actually touched the piano at some time during the game.
Although both of my allies bailed on me, the Russian sniper hurt me the worst. Revenge was sweet, however, as he left his tape measure on the table when the game ended. I had sold it to him that morning and I told Bobby that I’d just sell it to him again tomorrow when he was looking for a new one. Sure enough, the next day, his father came by and said “we need to buy another tape measure since he left it on the table and someone picked it up.” I laughed and told him that I did have another one and started walking with him to my vendor’s table. Before we got there, I told him I had picked it up and gave it back to him. He laughed (we have been at several tournaments together and are good friends) and he went over to his son and told him that someone had picked it up. What was funny was the next line to his son – “give me my money back that I gave you to buy a new tape measure!”
My overall impression of the rules was very favorable. They were quick to learn and led to a fast-paced game. I think that platoon level will be the most you can play with at this point as there are a lot of decisions to make each turn. It will be interesting to see how vehicles will be integrated and how the different arms will interact. Oh, and the figure to the right? Just another of Jim’s cool Westwind miniatures! You can get more info on SoTR on the forums.