It’s not easy being a Zombie

In my last post I ran through the whats-in-the-box basics of Incursion. Now it’s time to get down to the nails and lagbolts in order to answer that most important question: How does the thing play?

For today’s exercise, I’ll be using some examples from the game’s introductory scenario — “Recon”. Essentially, a couple of American APE troopers are trying to get from one side of the game board to the other. Their only obstacle is an unending stream of very pesky Sturmzombies.

The forces available for each of the game’s scenarios are generally customizable. Players are assigned a number of Resource Points (RPs), and they expend those RPs to purchase their forces. The first scenario is a bit limited, though. Each side gets 6 RPs, but the scenario mandates that the Americans must purchase two ‘models’ (ergo, two ‘Grunt APE’ models at a cost of 3 RP each) while the Crazed Maniacs must spend all of their RP purchasing Sturmzombies.

Faced with Reaction Fire, even Zombies want to be someplace else.

Faced with Reaction Fire, even Zombies want to be someplace else.

For 3 RP the Nazis buy the Sturmzombie ‘card’, which gives them 3 new Sturmzombies EACH turn. So in this scenario, the Bad Guys buy the Zombie card twice and will get 6 fresh undead nightmares to bring into play every turn. That’s a lotta stinky Zombie.

There is no time limit on the scenario, but it seems like it will be in the Grunts’ best interests to hurry up. To win the game, one of them has to survive to get off the map. If both Grunts die, the Zombies win. If at least one escapes, it’s another glorious victory for the troops of the Lucky 7th.

Probably the biggest thing the Americans have working in their favor is the game’s Reaction Fire rule, which allows gun-armed troopers to fire every time a model expends an Action Point in their field of fire. But there’s a catch – in order to use Reaction Fire, a model has to end its turn with NO enemy models currently in its line of sight. Additionally, if a reaction-firing model with a multiple ROF rolls doubles, it loses Reaction Fire mode. So Reaction Fire can be a powerful tool, but it isn’t always easy to end up in the right spot to make use of it.

So. In order to get at least one of their guys off the map alive, the Americans are going to have work to maximize their ability to lay down Reaction Fire. The light machinegun bolted to each of the APE Grunts has ROF (2)  for Reaction Fire, which gives them a pretty good chance of scoring a kill each time they fire on a Fortitude (4) Sturmzombie. In ‘normal’ fire, the Grunts have ROF (3) — but they also have only AP (3), so they’re not exactly sprinting across the board.

The Zombies, on the other hand, have to work at keeping the Grunts out of Reaction Fire mode so they can get in close for Hand-to-Hand combat. They’ve got AP (5), so they can move fast enough. The trick for them is getting some big waves of Zombies going so the Grunts don’t have a chance of ending a turn with nothing gribbly in their line of sight.

It’s a tough proposition — and the congested nature of the subterranean setting cuts both ways. All of the twists, turns, doors and short lines of sight make it easier for the ‘Zeds’ to get closer without getting shot at. But it also makes it easier for the Grunts to get themselves into spots where they can go into Reaction Fire mode.

With nothing in their arsenal to make the Grunts duck and cover, the Zeds have a tough time in the ‘Recon’ scenario. They can circle around, make big Zombie conga lines and try to use doors and corners — but sooner or later they’re going to run into a wall of Reaction Fire. A Grunt who ‘loses’ his Reaction Fire status (by rolling doubles on his shooting) might get himself into trouble, but the Zeds really have to work to put together a perfect storm of threats if they’re going to have a chance at winning.

If the Grunt player remains patient, doesn’t panic and manages his lines of sight he is going to get to do a lot of shooting via Reaction Fire. In a couple playings of ‘Recon’ so far, I haven’t had the Sturmzombies get close to winning.

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