Zedtown: Twin Cities

Roughly 600 humans began the latest Zedtown. 1 got evacuated at the end.

Yep. Around 600 started, and 1 made it out. True, there were a number more who survived (I believe around 100, though I could be wrong), but weren’t at the evacuation point at game end.  But still, 600 go in and 1 comes out. That’s one hell of a Thunderdome.

20160529_113815Woooooooo!

That was my third Zedtown, second as player and it was a joy to participate in. I continued my track record of A:not surviving and B: managing to hide from photographers, both of which I’d like to change in future. If I had to sum up how I felt, it would be with one word: ow. My legs ache, shoulders are sore and the fingers on my left hand were cramped from holding a trigger for several hours. Praise be to Deep Heat, the miracle substance! Mercifully the paranoia is fading, though we had someone run past us at the shops post game and we almost went for our blasters. That might have been awkward.

The Cons:
The cold. Nothing the orgs can do about that, but I was damn glad for the Driza-Bone I had on.

The line. Look, the queue at set up is part of the experience, but having clearer signage as to which line is for what faction would have been useful. We almost made it to the front of one line only to find that we were in the wrong faction’s line…

The Pros:

Really, everything else. The NPC’s were fantastic, the mods helpful and polite and any issues we had were dealt with promptly. Sure, there were technical issues with a couple of things and the game did start late, but those are minor quibbles.

The level of costuming was it’s usual high standard. There was one group clad in bright primary colours and tuts, Mario and Luigi, some nuns, one group in doctor’s scrubs and a seemingly endless variety of tactical gear, slings and combat webbing. My group? We were the squad ‘Those with Guns’, dressing old west style.

13254891_10153782092346461_667116875512524000_o“There’s two kinds of people in the world my friend. Those with loaded guns, and those who dig.”

When the game began paranoia kicked in incredibly quickly. There was talk of a corridor near Gold Base that held a zombie spawn point with an improved zombie said to be guarding it. There wasn’t as much paranoia over hidden zombies as I remember from the previous event, at least that I saw, mostly cause my group hadn’t ticked the OZ box.

We spent some time foraging for fuel coasters and dodging zombies, the numbers of which were still under 100. Early on the survivors far outnumbered the zombies, but that doesn’t help things much. Panic and nerves are high, especially with Original Zombies (Or OZ’s) hidden away in each faction. We ran from Alpha Zombies (We didn’t know they could be killed at the time) and ended up taking ‘sticky eggs’ (Ping Pong balls covered in something I think was lube) over to the shop, which was roughly 2/3rd’s of the map away. It was during that quest that the first of my squad was lost, and I was separated from the second. Much travelling, some running and wracked nerves managed to bring my egg to the shop to claim my reward, that being a disgusted shopkeeper giving me a coin to take the egg away.

Shop Assistant 2

The shopkeeper’s ‘assistant.’ Never did find out if they managed to open the safe.

 

We trekked from one side of the map to the other, escorting an NPC with a flashy whirly device, said to be able to turn the territory into an evac point. The members of Red Faction seemingly let us have it, possibly in the name of human solidarity. They outnumbered us, and we had zombies at our backs, but the flashly whirly device was kept safe through it’s countdown and the point was ours.

We got told to hold that point (While the rest of the group fought their way back to gold base), so we spent the next hour on the edge of the clearing watching lights moving through the trees, dealing quietly with any zombies who were nearby and trying not to freeze. The later it got, the louder the chants of “HORDE!” became and the more we tried to sink into the earth, both so as not to get spotted but also because it might have been warmer there. As the time ticked down, we decided to blast our way into the safe zone and ran for it. I’ll admit, I might have been tagged as I was leaping into the zone – I can only apologise and blame adrenaline.

zedtown-twin-cities-mapThe map itself.

We’d made it to the safe zone and evac, or so we thought… Given the number of zombies the safe zone was decaying and the clock was ticking. After a countdown, the zombies charged and it was all over. Well, except for 1 lucky sod, who had hidden away under all our corpses. Nicely done sir!

For Next Game:

Carry more snacks with me. I was starving and cramping up by the end. It’s not often I say I’d have killed for a Mars Bar, but I was close by the end.

A torch, preferably gaffa taped to the barrel of my main blaster. I hadn’t expected it to get quite so dark as it did, though we were up around the top of the map away from buildings and light sources. This didn’t help much when car headlights from the nearby street kept seeming like torchlight.

A different loadout. The Slingfire’s a fine weapon, but it fires a bit too slow and the reload is cumbersome. We’re torn between twin pistols (Hammershots most likely), or a full auto rifle (Most likely the Rapid Strike). At the very least something pump action, maybe one of the Rebelle Crossbows.

Night Vision Goggles. I kid, mostly. At the very least, a set of binoculars or scope would have come in handy.

Radios. Sure, they don’t fit the old west theme, but they could have been useful when we got seperated.

Costuming: More comfortable shoes for one thing. We’re looking at coming as Templars, from the roleplaying game Deadlands: Hell on Earth for the next event, both to keep the post apocalyptic theme going and to stand out again.

Time to go apply more Deep Heat. Ow…

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A Fistful of Nerf Darts

So Zedtown is a few days (At the time of writing) anticipation is high, though their social media currently seems flooded by people making “Is my blaster OK” jokes after this post.

Loosely inspited by the group at UK game Zombie LARP who turned up as Morris Dancers, a housemate and I were kicking around costume ideas. The standard approach of tactical gear was out, as there’s plenty of other groups doing that.Labcoat clad corporate scientists was an idea, but we settled on dressing old west, mostly due to a shared love of the works of Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone. A drizabone thanks to Ebay and a holster from Artisan Leather Crafts and I’m ready to go.

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It took a while to narrow down that idea though – some of the others on the list are as follows:
Archers – everyone use Nerf bows or crossbows and cosplays as famous archers. One of my housemates has claimed Green Arrow and I’ve called dibs on Hawkeye. Hey, I like purple.

Hawkeye_Arrow_Stance

Arnold – Schwarzenegger characters, complete with either abs drawn on in texta or foam mucles suits. I’d expect a large number of T-800’s but me? Dutch Schaefer. Because zombies bleed, and if it bleeds, we can kill it. 🙂 Hopefully I’d also be able to make to when the escape chopper arrives… Normally I’d go as Conan (I’m about as close to REH’s Conan as Schwarzenegger was, though I’ ll defend the first movie till the cows come home), but since melee combat is banned by the system*, there’s not much point.

keep-calm-cause-if-it-bleeds-we-can-kill-it
There was an afterthought to that one, of going as 80’s action movie characters or the Expendables, but that’s more military than I prefer. I’ve got nothing against the guys who wear tac gear and carry around more foam (darts) than a mattress factory, but that style of play isn’t for me. Still, going as John McClane with a dart blaster taped to my back isn’t a bad idea.

Flash Gordon –  Given how often ‘I love you’ in my house is followed by “But we only have 14 hours to save the Earth!” this seems  a natural idea. My wife is very enthusiastic, more so to see me dressed as Prince Vultan than to play. I’ve already got the beard, though I’ll need to carry a loud hailer to come close to matching BRIAN BLESSED for volume. And we’d need someone called Gordon to frequently check in on. Granted, running in that kit wouldn’t exactly be practical, but that get’s you Zombie Vultan.

brianblessed-flashgordon

3 days to go. I should probably watch Commando and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly again in preperation…

*I’m fine with that by the way. As much as I’ve love to bring a longsword along with me, it’s nor worth the risk. 500+ excitable people, few of which would have any sort of training and that’s more potential for injuries than I’d be OK with. Besides, spending the game in a block of pikemen and musketeers would just be dull. Efficient, but dull.

Iron Maiden? Excellent!

Iron Maiden – – Qudos Bank Arena, 06/05/16

An Iron Maiden concert is a special thing, like a gathering of the clans. Young, old, male, female, it matters not – all are here to worship at the altar of Maiden. There’s a wonderful atmosphere in the air, a lot of love in the venue that those unfamiliar with a heavy metal crowd might not expect.

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The train journey there had a fascinating conversation with a very drunk Chilean man (Also on his way to the show), with such revelations that his first STD was from an Aussie girl (Chlamydia to be exact), that he’s on the lookout for a German girl (Or someone from that general part of the world – he doesn’t discriminate) and how when Chile conquers Australia and appoints him overlord he’ll rollback the lockout laws and make polygamy legal. So, all hail our very drunk Chilean would-be overlord?

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I don’t catch much of support band The Raven Age (Having been stuck in the slowest moving drinks queue EVER), but what I do has me wanting more. Let this be a lesson – SUPPORT YOUR OPENING BANDS PEOPLE. Or at least be more cheerful than the miserable sod next to me, who barely cracked a smile through the show. That ranks up there when I saw Metallica and the person on my right sat down and barely moved during The Four Horsemen.* The more I think on that I’m not sure he wasn’t dead…

The change-over begins, with regular chants of “Maiden!”*clapclapclap* echoing through the room. It’s the strains of UFO’s Doctor Doctor that get’s people really moving as that’s the signal the show’s about to start. After an intro video which had a giant Eddie (The bands mascot) hurling their plane (Ed Force One) into the sky, the show begins…

Steve Harris’ right hand is the most metal thing ever. More metal than a T-800, Robocop and a legion of Cybermen put together. Let’s face it, his little finger is more metal than Mjolnir. Dave Murray, always dependable, grinning away as his fingers fly over the fretboard. Adrian Smith, the epitome of understated cool – how he carry’s off that ensemble I’ll never know, but it’s his look and he rocks it mightily. Janick Gers doesn’t seem to have aged since 1991 (He certainly hasn’t updated his stage clothes), hurling himself about the stage at all speed, flinging his guitar around and regularly soloing with one foot up on the speakers at a near 90 degree angle. Nicko McBrain is his regular octopus like self behind the drums, complete with customary Sooty doll sitting above his bass drum. How he works his way around the kit I’ll never understand, to say nothing of the giant gong behind him. And then there’s Bruce. Hearing Bruce Dickinson in full flight is a special thing to behold. While yes, age (And a recent throat cancer scare) mean his voice isn’t quite the almighty air-raid siren it once was, it’s hardly missed a beat. We get jokes about the youth of parts of the audience, the story of how it was an Australian who shot down the Red Baron and an emotional speech thanking us and reminding us that no matter the colour, gender or religion, all are welcome at a Maiden show.

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Opener If Eternity Should Fail has lyrics that have been begging me to write a game based around them** since I first heard it, Speed of Light is catchier than a cold and while you could probably shave 3-5 minutes of instrumental from The Red and the Black that would mean denying the audience more chances to go “Woah-oh!” and Steve Harris time to do his trademark one foot on the monitors machine gunning the audience pose. Deny them that? I’d rather die. Seeing the backdrop for The Trooper is alone enough to have me grinning from ear to ear and air guitaring as if my life depended on it. Having that followed by Powerslave? *head explodes* The Book of Souls (The title track from the storming new album) gives us an appearance from a giant Mayan themed Eddie who cavorts around the stage before Dickinson gleefully rips his heart out. The set ends with the traditional blast through Iron Maiden, with a giant inflatable Eddie head looming over the band.  There’s cheering, pyro and picks and sticks being thrown into the crowd, before the agonizingly long wait for the encore.

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Darkness. Red lights. A backdrop that looks like flame. Is that a giant inflatable horned demon I see before me? It is! Which can only mean one thing… Woe to you, O Earth and Sea…”  Yep, it’s The Number of the Beast, the song that hooked me on the band *COUGH* years ago. I squeal with joy more than a little. An emotional Dickinson introduces Blood Brothers, speaking about how regardless of difference, we’re all welcome here and we end with Wasted Years, sounding as glorious as ever. More cheers and a sudden realization that it’s going to take a long time to get back to where we’re staying. Stupid reality.

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As roughly 13,000 people exit the venue to the strains of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’, there’s one thing I know with no doubt in my mind: Iron Maiden never fail to put on a fantastic show and we’re bloody lucky to have them. Hallowed be Thy Name indeed.

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SET LIST:

If Eternity Should Fail

Speed of Light

Children of the Damned

Tears of a Clown

The Red and the Black

The Trooper

Powerslave

Death or Glory

The Book of Souls

Hallowed by Thy Name

Fear of the Dark

Iron Maiden

ENCORE:

Number of the Beast

Blood Brothers

Wasted Years

*Sure, it’s not Creeping Death, but how can you not get up and rock out to it?

** In particular the chorus:
Reef in a sail at the edge of the world, if eternity should fail.

Waiting in line for the ending of time, if eternity should fail
I’m thinking something in the Doctor Who universe, possibly based around the Time War. But it’s not like I’m not already booked up running games til 2019, or so my wife (correctly) claims…