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I want to share a session report of a member of the Aruok community, Nossferat, that has the opportunity to play the game with the designers.
Here is the original report (spanish):
Last weekend from 7 to 9 of October 2016, some members of the ARUOK community travel to the International Cordoba’s Board Game Con and could enjoy a new Kickstarter project that will reach the 11 January 2017: Day Night Z.
I had the opportunity to play with the designers Carlos Alberto Gomez and Miguel Angel Osuna. I have to say that, although that was the first time we met, it seemed like I was playing a game between lifelong colleagues. We had so much fun and had a series of anecdotes that I will share with you.
Day night Z is another zombie game with miniatures. Another Zombicide? Not at all. It would be very difficult to list all the sources from what that game is inspired. To simplify it, this is a Warhammer Quest alike board game with Arkham Horror type events which are happening throughout the adventure. If we mix it with a very narrative style like Sherlock Holmes board game, where all, and I want to emphasize, ALL decisions taken are important, we have something very, very attractive.
It is a "collaborative" (non cooperative) game, for 1-4 players, in which the difficulty is scaled depending on the number of survivors in the game.
It consists on an open world, with four cities (initially) and a settle. The missions are divided in three parts:
1. An exploration phase where the survivors must perform a series of tasks that have been assigned to them.
2. A travel phase where the survivors, that are still alive, must travel in a travel map, choosing between a known route (safest) or an unknown route (more dangerous) where they have to overcome several events, to get to their camp.
3. A phase in which the survivors spend their accumulated points to improve camp buildings, get upgrades to get the ability to hunt or plant, and new skills.
Let's begin to explain each of the phases, but so many aspects will need an article for themselves.
The exploration phase is played on a map that represents a big city, where the locations change according to the mission being played at that time. The survivors move on this great map by the streets or the alleys until they reach a location. When they enter a location, they have to form the area (police office, hospital, etc) represented by 28/32 scale gridded tiles where the action unfolds. The AI cards control what items appear in each area. Highlight two aspects: there is always at least one random element in the map that can serve as a cover, difficult the line of sight or can be used to find objects (among other things), on the other hand, the zombies appear closer to the survivors as long as the threat level is grows up.
In some events, or when a mission objective is achieved, such as finding a person, there is a narrative in which we have to choose, for example, if we found a survivor we are called to choose between giving him help or wait for the zombies to kill him and ransack. Sometimes the game itself impose us decisions with its random effects, no matter how much do you want to help someone if you are surrounded by zombies… it’s better to scape. It is possible that, at the same point in the same mission in other circumstances, you need that ally's help to get out alive.
The hours go by in the form of events and when it gets dark zombies become stronger and we go clumsy, and this is where the name of the game makes sense. During the day, combat can be an affordable task, but during the night it can be a hell in which we must think twice before face with the undead. If this is not enough, there is a very powerful Zombie Hunter coming out only at night and it’s recommended to escape before you become a pile of meat bits (unfortunately I checked this point). The real magic of the game reveals in this type of moments, "collaborative" is filled with quotes and each survivor seeks its own survival; looking for that hole to hide, loot the corpse of former teammate with whom get drugs or weapons to return to action, or escape with the only flare able to give some light to combat. As real as life itself.
In addition to our friend the survivors exterminator, there are different types of zombies with special features that change the strategy. Each has its own attributes in a specific monster card and an ability to be used on certain occasions. They are as follows, although I must add that it is confirmed that during the kickstarter campaign more monster types will appear:
Roamer ->Catch (Grab a survivor who cannot move and benefits the other zombies attack).
Crawler -> Infectious (A ranged attack that infects automatically).
Howler -> Call (Howl to attract more zombies to where the survivors are).
Leader -> Zombie Excitation (generates gases that make zombies become more active and earn action points).
Mole -> Bite (Automatically breaks protections on impacted areas).
Hunter -> Blade (His attack causes hemorrhage in survivors. They will lose life each turn).
The travel phase. We were the lucky few ones that were able to play this. It is designed so that you can choose to travel through a fixed area (whole group), in our case we have two travel events, or go for a risky trip and travel through a variable area where you have to throw a series of dice and check out if you encounter more or less events in your way.
Another of the decisions we have to make during the game. Travel events are divided into three decks: plain, forest and mountains. The randomness will decide that you find that lost ally, that group of wandering zombies or a group of looters who want all your possessions. We were brave and wanted to play that dice. Our result was that we face the same number of encounters than the safe path and Carlos explained that the odds were similar for one or another way (average), but the dice give the surprise element and can cause that you can encounter fewer or more encounters.
Unfortunately we could not play the camp phase during our game play, although I could talk to Carlos for a long time about this (until I made him lost his voice, almost). The survivors camp has a number of buildings with two possible improvements and the ability to add others. This includes allow our survivors to heal, buy new skills and resources, be self-reliant, acquire cattle, defend our refuge from zombies and robbers, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Let’s see more about the game.
The character mat is as complete as we could find in a game. Let's summarize to give an overview without going too deeply, as far as possible.
The player mat can accommodate two one handed weapon or one two handed weapon plus protection for each part of the body: head, chest, hands and legs. Wounds are located, so if we get a protective vest and we get a hit on the head, we could not reduce the damage.
Each character has eight stats (yes, you read that right, eight) that define itself: Melee Combat, Ranged Combat, Constitution, Agility, Perception, Will, Mechanisms and Medicine. In this way the survivors will be better in combat, finding things, dodging zombies or making objects. These characteristics can be improved by modifiers in certain situations and the improvement may be permanent, but they will be depleted at night. If we add that zombies improve their own at night, things get ugly for our friends. However, there are certain items such as flashlight and flare that allow us to temporarily recover our capabilities, like in the Day phase.
At the bottom of the player mat we find three bars. Life, infection and stress. The survivors will die if their life reaches zero or if your infection is completed. In the latter case we certainly eat our past teammates.
Life determines how many actions can make a survivor in a turn. While we are healthy we will have more ability to move, if we get wounded our abilities are diminished, recalling the iconic Resident Evil. We can heal ourselves with game elements.
Infection increases if we had bad luck. A bad roll of the dice when survivors attack a zombie or scavenging the wrong corpse, make that the infection goes up and we have to make, from time to time, a series of dice tests with mixed results (still to be confirmed).
Last but not least, the stress is gained by getting injured or events and recovers if we rest for a full round. It is not the best idea to do nothing while you're in a zombie apocalypse but as we said before, in this game you will have to make decisions. While we are stressed we will use the colour given in the stress section of the player stress track. Thus, the green section of the stress track has three chances of success while only one in red section.
As an addition to the own player mat, each character wears a backpack in which objects can be stored (as many as your strength allows you), as well as ammunition, batteries and food. Survivors need to eat at certain times of the day, so the food is a very precious resource. Bullets serve to shoot the dangerous zombies but we must not waste them because we don’t want to attract the undead to our position. The city is quiet and, as the noise increases, the more we will find walkers along the mission, so hitting with the butt of the gun is often better than shoot. Batteries are necessary for certain useful objects like the flashlight.
Let's explain how one of the key points works, Points of Survival. From what I could see empirically, points of survival are acquired by killing zombies and with getting successfully tests. These points of survival are unique to each survivor and are represented by a wheel on the own character play mat. How can we spend this points? To lower the threat track, buy skills for our characters and add dice to a combat roll or test attribute. In addition, you may lose or decide to lose even during the campaign for profit.
In the camp phase, after a mission, we will have a kind of points, a part from the normal survival points, to be used to construct buildings or make actions in the camp. These are limited, so you have to reach a consensus among the players to spend this camp points.
I want to expose my impressions and therefore personal considerations of the game that we had the chance to play with Carlos and Miguel Angel. SPOILER attention.
We started with a predefined character with basic starting cards and an ability, that was intended to speed up the game. The game does not work that way. Each player creates his own character by choosing an initial skill and weapons among several options. We do the same when a character dies and we “find” a new survivor at the camp.
At first everything was great. The leader decided the order of initiative for the survivors each turn and we all moved together to accomplish the mission. On the streets, thanks to an event, we found a container, and we must decide if we make noise hitting it to know what's inside, or if we pass, or if we open it at our own risk. I’m not going to spoiler it, I will only say that we had to pass some tests and everything went well, so we could resume our way.
Our mission goal was to register a house in what we had seen lights. When we arrived, we had zombies everywhere to not get bored. The amount of zombies depends on the AI cards. Luckily, cause we had a low risk level in the threat track, the zombies spawned far away from us and we were able to get ride of them without any problems. At that point, some survivors started to hide to get more defense and let the zombies to the others (and there are not hideouts for all the survivors).
When searching in the room, while Marie Lebeu collected resources and ammunition in the bodies of dead zombies, the poor Shigura Kenji scavenged on three bodies and all three had the symbol infection on the back. He had to throw the dice to see if he gets infected and get infected twice. If we consider that there is only one infection symbol in the die, he had very bad luck. Hopefully we will find a cure for Kenji, we said to ourselves.
In the basement we found a survivor who asked us help to find her daughter and we decided to help, gaining him as an ally. In that same basement, Jörgen Olson found a powerful two handed axe that was able to dismember zombies with joy. It got dark very early and we arrived at the location where her daughter were, there were clueless zombies. Olson begin to walk stealthily to avoid the zombies but it may trip over (since the dice roll was a disaster) and all zombies turned to get feed. What during the day could have been a fairly easy battle, at night was a challenge where we spent a hard time to kill a zombie.
The last to join the party was THE HUNTER. From that moment there was no longer friendship between the players. Everyone screamed, I'm out of here! It happened that we had to cross the area of the hunter and zombies to escape so things got worse. The hunter does 4 attacks in a turn and is able to perform 3 injuries in each attack. Kenji Shigura ignited his flare and managed to escape. He ran out of there and left the tile in the dark again, and having to use our night attributes again. Olson and Kevin Swift scarified their ally but died and Marie Lebeu could flee thanks to its agility. The aim of the mission changed. Escape the city as soon as possible or die. Each on a path, the survivors managed to escape before being eaten by the hunter. The End.
We had a great time during the game. There was backstabbing, opposing decisions, exploration, action and have lots of fun. I'm looking forward to the January 11 to put my bit in what may be one of the next year blast.
A cordial greeting. See you at the table.