"Rise Up Like The Dead"

“Alive or dead, the truth won’t rest. Rise up while you can”
Mira Grant, Feed

Well it’s been a long time but welcome to the reanimation of Tankard Tales. Shaking off the tomb soil of a premature burial, this occasional blog re-emerges into the warm light of a British summer intent only feasting on filling your brains with what passes for wargaming wisdom and the muses of a middle-aged gamer.

So let us turn to Zombies. The living dead have long been a staple of horror cinema, although not always well treated by the medium. A quick peruse of my zombie movie shelf reveals a ratio of roughly 4 clunkers to every classic. You don’t have to be brain dead to what a bad zombie movie, but it helps.

Fortunately, some recent outbreaks have been headshots. The on-going Walking Dead series on TV and DVD continues to fill the gaps between Game of Thrones episodes amongst my students. Robert Kirkman's graphic novels are better, and nastier, than the TV version, and very affordable in 50-odd issue Omnibus format (tax-“challenged” Amazon is your friend here).

The Brad Pitt vehicle World War Z isn’t a bad zombie flick, but the book on which it is (very) loosely based is outstandingly good. Even if you have no interest at all in the zombie apocalypse you really should read this book . Author Max Brooks has also written The Zombie Survival Guide, which gives contemporary zombie gamers more scenarios than they can shake a chainsaw at. Brooks hasn’t limited his zombie writing to merely riffing on the Living Dead; fancy zombies vs. vampires? Read his Extinction Parade graphic novel (or read the text version of the same story in Closure, Limited). What about zombie’s through history? Try Recorded Attacks.

What about zombies through history? Here is where I think wargamers having been missing a trick with zombie hordes. A rag-clothed zombie horde in any scale can be fielded against any historic period army that you happen to have. Buy a basic core horde of rag-clad figures and then bulk them out with spare figures from whatever historical period you are playing. It really isn’t that difficult to “distress” spare figures from multipack – a less radiant skin tone and lots of blood on the uniform does wonders for the freshly slain. What to change period, swap out the spare figures and add new castings to your core horde. Fighting zombies in C.18th North America, Hundred Years War France, and against Alexander the Great’s pike phalanx in Persia give completely different and very rewarding games. Give it a go.

Next post I will talk about one of my own games which has been brought back from the dead by those nice folks at Wargames Illustrated and I’ll include some pictures and new rule ideas for the game.

Matthew Hartley
July 2014


Webmaster's Notes

This article was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on the 5th August 2014. 

You can read Matthew's previous Tankard Tales by clicking on the maroon tag just below and to the left.