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2021 Top 10 Solo Skirmish Games Countdown : #5!

 

#5 - Zona Alfa


Zona Alfa wasn’t even on the radar last year and yet here we are in 2021 at #5. It's just another indicator of how the pandemic has spurred the production of rules for solo skirmish gaming.


Zona Alfa is another minis-agnostic game that has you visiting an anomaly zone caused by weird science experiments. The rest of the world is going on as normal, just as we know it. But in the Zone… it’s a weird, post-apocalyptic world where any can (and likely will) happen.


You can play PvP, co-op even, semi-co-op, or solo. 

Specific narrative-driven objectives coupled with hotspots that will generate random events and enemies all combine to make a game that throws surprises at you. Even though you can level up your team of scavengers a la Necromunda, don’t get too attached to them. They can die easily, forcing you to recruit new team members because the objective is the goal.


The core rulebook comes with a 3 chapter mini campaign to give you a flavour of things, and ideas where you can take your games.


One way of playing is to go into the Zone, get loot... especially the weird stuff you can find should you discover an anomaly, fight off monsters, mutants and what not, and retire your crew when you manage to save up $10,000. (It's not in USD but I didn't want to introduce too much game terminology into this).

The one thing that differentiates this game from others that also use hotspots to trigger events is you can actually throw a rock (or something similar) at a hotspot so you can trigger it at a safe(r) distance than the normal 3"... which is just nice for yo to be charged at by a pack of giant mutant rats if you so mange to roll that on the table.


The game apparently riffs off the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and METRO 2033 fictional settings for its post-apocalyptic feel and uses anywhere from a 3x3 to a 4x4 table with the appropriate minis and my favourite dice type: d10s.


If this sounds up your alley (and the game is really fun) you can grab a copy of the rules during one of the frequent Osprey Publishing sales (and the expansion off Wargamevault if you really like the game), stat up your crew and play on, comrade!


HONOURABLE MENTION


Pulp Alley


In what seems to be a recurring theme for my 2021 list, Pulp Alley is another of my 2020 Top 10 games that I wasn’t able to get to the table in 2021 despite my best efforts. However, its relegation to Honourable Mention in no way implies its not a good game… just a game I wasn’t able to play due to various reasons. 


Pulp Alley's theme hits all my buttons. The pulp era! Think of Doc Savage and the Gang of Five! Versus all those cool 30's era villains! The scenery! you could get sucked into a time lost jungle with Neanderthals and dinos! A mad villain's outlandishly equipped lab. Foil nefarious plans! Fight with hill tribesmen who are henchmen of the Big Bad Guy. The sky's the limit!


The game system is lots of fun, as you face encounters and challenges with every sign post on your adventure quest. The game uses multiple dice types and 4 is always your target number, you just have different dice types (d8 and d10) to roll to get your hits. The game uses a deck of bespoke cards to provide you with challenges and tests along the way.

You do need to stat up your heroes and sidekicks. There's just so much stuff available that making a gang or two can take a whole day, especially if you're OCD (like me!).


The game engine is flexible enough it can encompass a lot of genres beyond pulp. I’ll probably repurpose the rules for my Barsoom game (Deja Thoris!) that I’ve got the minis for… but no rules. Watch this space in 2022.

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