Roswell ’98: A North American Exclusion Zone in 20mm

A child of the 80’s, my favorite genre was near future dystopia. The media I was immersed in at the time all pointed to the 90s being a dark period. Games Workshop’s cult game, Dark Future…1995. John Carpenter’s classic film, Escape From New York…1997. One of my top 5 video games of all time, Smash TV…1999. As a personal tribute to these influences, I’ve grabbed three recent Oprey titles to game my vision of an alternate dystopian America in the 1990s.

Rewinding a bit, I want to talk a little more on how this all came together. I’ve long been a fan of Dark Future, owning it on several occasions, writing it about it in various blog posts over the years, but it’s always felt a little bit like a heartbreaker. The game has a lot of great imagery with the internal Carl Critchlow art, some fun novels by Kim Newman, and a line of great 20mm pedestrian Citadel figures by the Perry twins. However, the game itself never really brought all this together.

The above image from the back of the Dark Future expansion, White Line Fever, is the near future, post apocalyptic aesthetic I prefer. It’s grounded a little in reality. Not gonzo mutants, robots, super science, etc. But there wasn’t really a way to game pedestrians in the Dark Future rule book. This kinda thing really fired me up though.

There were some pedestrian rules in White Dwarf #105, and I did use those for a few games, but to get the real effect of the minis on foot in play, the game had to basically be a loop track. Playing the game with the rolling road scenario, minis would be on the side taking a few pot shots then gone. With a loop, when their car was wrecked, drivers could get out on foot and stay in the full game. This made all the games basically Circus Maximus in cars. It was fun, but I really wanted to include the gang on gang narrative like in The Warriors, or what would later come in GW’s Necromunda.

So, the wonderful Perry figures basically existed without a real game to do them justice. They remained my favorite metal minis for over 30 years, but I just didn’t have too much to do with them. This is where the recent set of Osprey releases have breathed new life into this hobbyist’s old obsession.

The first title on my radar was Gaslands. Reviews were amazing, but I was a late adopter as I already had a favorite game of auto duelling. I wanted something that uses gangers to go with the cars. Especially, since Mark Copplestone started releasing 20mm figures to go with Gaslands. A game attempt was made in an issue of Wargames Illustrated to include pedestrians in Gaslands, but I still wanted that gang vs gang feel that was missing in those rules.

Enter, Zona Alfa. This was gang vs gang, in an easy to play, narrative driven rule-set. Once the author confirmed the rules worked as is for 20mm, I knew this was it. But this was a totally different system than what Gaslands uses…how would this work. Easy, two different games in the same setting! I could use tricked up cars and gangers all in the same head cannon setting using two great, modern rule-sets.

So, for games of Gaslands the pedestrian figures will be used on the table for spawn points, flags, objectives, etc. This will make use of the models on the table. For Zona Alfa, the vehicles will be set up as the border of the gang’s starting deployment zone. It’s like the vehicles pulled up and all the members filed out to explore the area on foot. I’m also setting up my game to make use of the fantastic Copplestone and Perry figures in a way that ties into the Zone Alfa and Gaslands rulesets. Here’s the general plan…

Models : Zone Alfa Faction : Gaslands Sponsor

Copplestone Highway Patrol : Military : Highway Patrol
Copplestone Corporate Team : Scientist : Mishkin
Copplestone Punks : Bandits : Slime
Perry Dark Future : Independents : Miyazaki
Copplestone Wasteland Warriors : Cultist : Warden
Copplestone Bootleggers : Traders : Rusty’s Bootleggers

I’ll post more detail on these gangs in the future. Currently, I’m tackling this project with terrain, objectives, and hostiles first. Oh, a little more on this setting. Living in Texas, I’ve fallen in love with the American Southwest, and New Mexico’s Roswell is the perfect place to set a fictional exclusion zone. The timeline of the setting is similar to Gaslands, but with a few small additions. Essentially, that wasn’t a weather balloon in 1947, but an actual crashed alien craft. Reverse engineering that is what enabled earthlings to develop travel to Mars per the Gaslands background. 50 years later, a large scout fleet came to find the fate of that first ship, but with a War of the Worlds type illness befalling the aliens, they all crashed in and around Roswell. Currently, there are many crash sites around Roswell emitting gases, space spores, alien chemicals, etc. There are also creatures in the area spawned from these fumes or survivors from the wreckage. With the Y2K bug looming in the near future, earthlings are scrambling to get off planet to Mars before all technology crashes, and they’re stuck on a dying Earth forever. This is Roswell ’98.

Oh, I haven’t mentioned Last Days. Zombies are a hostile and objective in both Gaslands and Zona Alfa, so it made sense to pick that up too for games of strictly surviving in Roswell. I was buying zombie models at this scale anyway, so this gives me three titles, at least, to game as I work on this project.

Speaking of hostiles, let’s dive into some that set this area up as an exclusion zone and an area of excitement for televised Gaslands events.

First, we have the crew of the crashed UFOs. Each time I game this setting, I’ll put a crashed UFO somewhere on the table. It’s existence is what creates the area of interest. The model was a 3D print I bought off Etsy for 20mm scale. It’s got a lot of those 3D printing lines on it that I’m not too excited about. It looks fine on the ship, but not so good on the kicked up dirt and soil. The aliens are 15mm models from Rebel minis. I contemplated going green for better contrast with the table, but this being set in the 90s…Greys were all the rage. Alien Autopsy anyone? I’ll use these models as ‘Bandit’ hostiles on the ZA hostile chart.

The Greys didn’t come without guards. I wanted models to represent T-800 style killing machines. These models from Reaper were the closest I could find at 20mm. They’re actually ‘Small Robots’ designed for 28mm, but work perfect for what I need at 20mm. They’ll probably be used as ZA mutants. I might make them a little tougher than the default in the book.

Speaking of scale, one of the other joys of 20mm for me is how few models there are. I’m not awash in too many choices like with 28mm…anything I come across that can work feels like a found treasure. Above is a Perry Dark Future model taking aim.

Greys and their robot protectors aren’t the only things that arrived on Earth in the crashed crafts. In the background are open egg sacs…they must have somehow stowed away on or under the ships or something. Hatched spawn are surrounding a 20mm Perry Dark Future driver. These will be vermin hostiles in the Roswell zone.

To make the matter worse, they grow up into these nasties! Clearly these and the vermin above are references to the Alien films. Both sets of creatures and the eggs are from Elheim Miniatures under their 20mm sci-fi line, called Hives. The plan is to use these as the rad ghouls from the ZA rulebook. Again, I may modify the stat-line slightly. For the wet effect, I simply painted them Eschen Grey, sealed with Testor’s Dulcote, then when dry, did a wash of Nuln Oil Gloss. Super easy and very effective for this scale.

So, this kicks off my first major project of 2021. I’ll probably tackle a few more hostiles, then some terrain before I dive into the specific gangs and their rides. Here’s an early preview of one of ’em. Greenlight vehicles in true 1:64 scale. Perry Dark Future on the left, Copplestone Gaslands on the right, dog…far away.

6 thoughts on “Roswell ’98: A North American Exclusion Zone in 20mm

    • Despite playing pretty much every other Specialist Game from the 90s. I’ve actually never touched Gorkamorka. Did it have gang growth rules? I was originally tempted to paint my Northstar Wasteland Warriors minis (the not-warboys) in a tribute to the digganobs from Gorkamorka, but have decided to go another direction. Oh, I as also tempted by that recent orc auto duel game GW put out a few years back, but I didn’t read a lot of people actually playing it. Did you give that one a chance?

      • Yeah, it was pretty much Necromunda 2.0 as far as the rules went – the advancement rules were a little better. I haven’t been playing mini games for a while so I’m not familiar with the new game.

  1. I’ll be watching this project with interest. Dystopian / post-apocalyptic themes are a long-standing interest of mine. It fits well in rpgs but I have yet to encounter a satisfactory wargame to scratch the itch.

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