15 December 2010

Combat Zone - mysterious post apoc game

This game is a mystery, I got this box earlier this year from my SoTR supplier as a thanks for helping out during one of the conventions I tagged along to (think it was RydCon). I know absolutely nothing about this game, I've never seen it before, never heard about it - there is no information on the internet beside a few scraps of info on BoardGameGeek ( http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/11947/combat-zone ).

I couldn't find any information on what year this game was published on the box or the rulebook. It says it was printed 1998 on BGG. The rulebook says this game was printed in England. I found it interesting that it listed "Royal Airforce Wargames Association", "RAF Odiham Wargames Club" and "RAF Halton War Games Club" in the credits.

Published and distributed by "Paladin Publishing" Southampton, England. Designed and written by Robin Dear and Derek Mugridge. The small list of beta testers and people involved gives me the impression that this was some sort of small / indie project somehow associated with game clubs run by RAF members?  And why would a bunch of RAF members create a game where the measurements are in centimeters instead of inches?!

As I said, this game is an enigma, it seems as if this box is either meant to be a standalone product or a "starter set" much like the starter sets Games Workshop are doing. The box includes:

30 Miniature
1 Rulebook
12 dice
Counters and templates
1 Quick Reference Sheet
A pad of roster sheets
1 Getting started guide

The box itself isn't impressive, it's that kind of soft cardboard as your generic WHFB/WH40k starter boxes. Opening the box, it all looks generous and cheap at the same time, like the components are all low budget but what you get must have been included by someone who wanted you to get everything you needed in order to play this game. Someone with foresight to include  D4 as well as D8 dice beside the D6's. I have absolutely no idea how much this game used to cost, it looked "old"/"used" when I got the box so I don't know where my SoTR supplier got it from as he doesn't carry it in his store.

But OK let's take a look at this weird game and try to figure out things along the way.

From the box cover and first page of the rulebook this game says it's some sort of futuristic "world has gone to shit" deal - it uses Mad Max as reference on BoardGameGeek.

The rulebook is black and white, the pages are made from glossy paper. And here's what I found interesting enough to keep me going after seeing the initial box contents. This game is squadbased, alternate activation, action point based combat. Never done action point skirmish before, at least when not confined to a boardgame. The rules actually seem to be quite clever, and detailed, I can imagine the creators having some sort of military background since the rules are quite tactical. Lots of modifiers, different rates of fire, movement etc  it looks as if there is a lot of things going on during a squad activation. It also comes with complete army lists if you want to call it that, for both sides included in the game. Some sort of futuristic police force and your generic crazy gang members. Everything is priced in points, there are guidelines on how to equip and build squads for both sides.

There is really too much rules for me to describe at this early point, I have not yet read the whole rulebook, but I already have some ideas of how to make use of this game.

The models then, you get 15 gang members, 10 security guards and 5 rather anime looking robots. They all come in groups of 5 per sprue, and you get all the parts and weapons needed for 5 miniatures on each sprue. It also makes it easier to know which parts belong to which faction I guess. What I don't like is this cheap ass plastic they are made off. The parts are "snap fit", but will of course need gluing. There was a lot of trimming, and with this particular type of plastic it is sometimes hard to see whether you have trimmed away the mouldline or not. I don't have any spectacular expectations towards these models, but I will give them a shot.

Here's how they look assembled, and compared to some of my metal models. They seem to be in the 25-28mm scale so expanding them shouldn’t be any problem.

What I'm thinking of is to use this game, as written - but make it "Fallout". As in Fallout 1 and 2.

The "gangers" look like Fallout Raiders to me. And the "security" miniatures could pass for Fallout 1 and 2 Gun Runners in combat armor. The weapons have a certain Fallout esthetic to them. There are more weapon profiles described in the rulebook than there are included in the box, which should come in handy if I find the rules fun enough and decide to expand beyond what I get in this box.

I will paint those two test models tomorrow and see how they turn out before I decide whether or not to assemble more miniatures or just start looking for alternate models.

Anyway, this will probably be my "Christmas project", still waiting for some of my Strange Aeons blisters to arrive so this should keep me busy and also allow for some variation in content for the blog

 Here are  bunch of photos to show you guys what I have to work with, the pictures of the rulebook content should give you a general idea what sort of game this is. I will most likely not use the cutout terrain. But activation tokens and blast counters will come in handy. The hex bases are used because of the action point system, turning more than 90 degrees costs 1 action point, so the edges will make it easier to check things like that.


  1. The game is available through EM-4 Miniatures (http://www.em4miniatures.com/acatalog/Combat_Zone_products.html)

    They have an online newsletter with additional information & modelling ideas (http://combatzonechronicles.net/)

  2. Thanks for the info Auton, I became convinced it was a "dead game" out of print when I could not find anything through google and only scraps on BoardGameGeek.

    I was made aware of the newsletter through The Miniature Page just a few minutes ago :-)

  3. I'll make sure to include that info in my next blog post as well.

  4. Systemically, it's something of a descendant of Grenadier's old Kill Zone/Future Warriors game (and miniatures line).

  5. Looks like fun mate, you'll have to post more once you see how it plays.

  6. You may now be aware, but just incase....

    It is supported by EM4 http://www.em4miniatures.com/

    They still sell it, have conversion packs for the plastic figures and have a range of metal figs (copplestone Kill Zone) to go alonside.

    Also they have the 'Combat Zone Chronicles'

    This is a great resource for the game with various articles on new untis, painting tips, scenarios and such like.


  7. Thanks Amren, Auton posted the same links - though his post vanished and I just discovered it had ended up in the "spam filter" for some reason.

    My current goal is to paint up one unit for each side and give this game a try, full report will follow :-)

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  9. Raul Van Allen.
    Anatoli thank you for a good review!

  10. Glad it was useful :-) You can also check out the rules overview in this post -> http://anatolisgameroom.blogspot.com/2011/01/combat-zone-how-rules-work-blog-special.html


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