The second day of our mini-game con kicked off with a morning session of Zona Alfa. Astute readers of this blog may recall my general infatuation with Stalker-inspired gaming, and that is what Zona Alfa delivers in spades. The game was released in January 2020 and Comrade’s Wargames got its grubby paws on an advance copy to read and review.
I was pleased to return to Zona Alfa for this session — and to incorporate some exciting elements from the new supplement Kontraband.
I designed our session as a cooperative scenario that tasked four groups of stalkers with traveling the length of the infamous Khimbruk Road deep in the anomalous Exclusion Zone. There were a several points of interest along the road, and each crew also had its own unique goal that they could work toward.
The road, as you might imagine, was fraught with both threats and potential rewards. Only the hardiest crews would survive to reap the benefits and return home with packs bulging with salvage.
Zona Alfa and Kontraband both use a system to generate random bad guys and loot when players interact with “points of interest” on the map. We had 7 such points of interest on our map, each corresponding to a particular Good Thing or (more likely) a Bad Thing.
The first firefight erupted when John sent his commandos tiptoeing up to a leaking chemical tank. Turns out it wasn’t just a chemical burn he was risking…
A swarm of nasty rad bugs surged out to attack the crews. Thirty years ago their descendants might have been locusts and cockroaches skittering around the irradiated ruins of the Zone, but today they were fearsome chitinous monstrosities that had to be dispatched with brutal prejudice.
While this was happening, Paul’s tunnel scavengers hoofed it to the roof of a nearby outpost and looted another objective marker — drawing the attention of a nearby band of raiders in the process! They popped out of cover and began pouring automatic weapons fire into the unlucky crew! We’re not alone, comrades!
Nearby, the crews noticed a swirling, pulsating energy field that seemed to warp the laws of physics. This could only be an Anomaly — one of the enigmatic hazards that frequently occur in the deepest reaches of the Zone. At great personal risk, the crews moved in to explore the Anomaly.
Well, they didn’t die! That much is certain. Will they sprout vestigial third limbs a few weeks from now? Perhaps. Only time will tell.
The crews continued to battle their way down the pockmarked asphalt of the Khimbruk Road. The presence of enemies ebbed and flowed as points of interest were searched and bad guys dispatched. Rad bugs continued to be an ever-present threat. Thankfully, Vince’s warband was comprised of medics led by a doctor, so there was a limited supply of first aid on hand to keep the injured on their feet.
By turn 6, the warbands had nearly crossed the entire length of the tabletop and had achieved their individual objectives. Remarkably, nobody died — though we had several close calls that required med-kits to patch up warriors in the heat of the moment.
Special props to Vincent’s sniper, who scaled a tower early on and provided pinpoint fire support throughout the game. I doubt the outcome would have been quite so favorable if not for the guardian angel watching over them from above.
As with our previous game, we planned lunch at the conclusion of the game. I had prepared a Russian-themed meal to reward the stalwart Zone explorers. Hearty dark rye bread, gigantic dill pickles, and cold salami — a fine spread to be eaten whilst squatting in the dirt at the end of the Khimbruk Road. Давайте есть, comrades!