Xeno: All Out War

Another day, a fresh start as they say. Following on from my last article about an on-going project that started back in 2017, I followed up a few things due to requests from fellow hobbyists on social media.

I contacted Mantic for their permission to share what I did to convert their rules for their game to be used for sci fi. Happily I got a positive response and I got it very quickly. Without any further blathering, we shall dive straight in!

The Basics

First of all, this is a relatively straight forward reskin of Mantic Games’ Walking Dead: All Out War. If you’ve not played that, do. Really DO. It’s a brilliant game that I think could be reskinned for a variety of different genre’s. Anyway, the basic rules are free to download just scroll down and select the free quick start rules.

If you don’t have the base game you will need to make your own threat tracker and sort some basic charts for dice – I have not done this myself as I have the dice but it should be easy enough.

Ideally you need the cards for the game as well, as I am not sure how many I will be able to share as they are just reskins. I’ll see where we get to!

Character cards

You’ll need to make your own character cards – I used the free ones from Mantic as a template to create some sci fi styles ones. I am sure there many of you out there who are vastly better at graphic design and have more than a free copy of CS2 to design them on!!! But for those of you who can use them – feel free to use these, you can cut and stick images over the window top left used to stick the character image.

Character Cards

Just in case you wonder how the difference areas work or look like when a character sheet is completed, here is one I made earlier:

For the blank cards, just put numbers in the circles to indicate the health levels you would like. For those of you with CS2 or better, I’ll try to put together a drop box for you at a later date so you can more easily edit the character cards.

Equipment Cards

These are a little more straight forward. The image of the equipment goes in the central space, he points cost in the circle, top left corner. The name and type goes to the right of the circle and the description and rules go in the box at the bottom.

Supply Cards

Supply cards are essentially the same as equipment cards, only they are used when searching for items in allocated places, as per main rules. Also, because it’s searching, there are a few surprises in the deck. This is where you can let your creativity go wild really, add all kinds of cards to add flavour to your games. I made a few both to replace “finding nothing” and to add a bit more pop-culture flavour, and humour, to games.

Event Deck

The final reskin I did of the original cards was for the event deck which is an essential part of the sense of threat and tension for the game.

New Rules and Cards

So now we come to the part of the system that I have added on. I wanted to represent an aspect of sci fi movies we know and love such as Aliens and Pitch Black where your adventurers cannot always see the full extent of the numbers of the enemy that stalk them like prey. They are left to rely upon any technology or skills they have to detect what is going on around them.

The first challenge was to work out how to represent hidden numbers of xenos. Some games in the past have had double sided tokens with “blip” style artwork on one side and a number on the other representing how many models that token represents when revealed etc.

Now, for someone producing this at home, tokens can be a bit problematic to produce neatly and consistently. I also wanted a way to adjust the enemies a bit on the day depending upon how the players with their adventurers were doing. No one wants to get severely stuffed in a participation game aimed at being fun. Equally, no one wants a walk in the park. This is hard to do with tokens as players have to close on the token you intend them to reveal.

The answer was two fold. First of all the blip tokens would be just that – represent the blip itself. Nothing else, no numbers, just a token. And for that I went to Ian at Fenris Games to see if he could help me come up with a suitable token. He came up trumps.

Fenris Games Blip Tokens

So now we had the tokens sorted the next part of the plan is a deck of cards that can provide an adaptable basis of the xenos creeping around and also any other things we may want to introduce such as other survivors and larger, nastier xenos than the standard types. The blank card is used to place the image of whatever nasty creature you want onto – add and remove as you like. Rules wise, I used the armoured zombie rules for the larger nasty creatures, though this is something I would like to revisit in the future.

Now, you can play around with your deck construction as much or as little as you like. The one rule I tried to stick to when putting it together is that the 0’s never outweighed the 2’s. In terms of points, I kept the xenos the same as per the rules but instead of a model, the points purchased the blips. The key thing to remember is that a ‘0’ card needs to have either a ‘2’ card or two ‘1’ cards to balance this out – ideally a ‘2’ card.

If you are going for a more narrative approach, this is less important and you can build a deck to be as nasty or as easy as you like depending on the players and the scenario you wish to represent.

I know what your thinking at this point, “Now we have the blips and the deck, how do they work in game?”

Blips, Xenos and Spotting

Blips enter play in the same way zombies do in the Mantic rules. If event cards demand it, they are placed or moved onto the table.

Detecting Blips:
There are three ways to detect blips.
1) Any blip token within a characters kill zone AND line of site at any point in their turn is ‘spotted’.

2) Cleanse by fire, those shadows are too shift to just trust, if the character has a ranged weapon they can fire at a blip token. If they score at least one hit the blip is spotted. Keep the die roll as if any xenos are revealed they roll defense die as normal against that roll. If no hits are rolled, the blip counter remains un-spotted – it must have just been a shadow.

3) Motion Scanner – each team has a motion scanner, the character carrying it can use it for one action. Pick two blip tokens within 10″ of the character – they are then spotted. These do not have to have line of sight, after all, that’s what the motion scanner is for!

Revealing Blips
Each time a blip is spotted, turn over the top card of the xeno deck (perhaps blip deck would be a better name now?) to see what has been lurking out of sight. You keep doing this until all of the deck has been revealed. At this point, all of the cards that are to be reused get collected together, shuffled and then placed back face down in a fresh pile. Rinse and repeat until the games end. It’s that simple.

Without a Xeno Deck method
When we play tested this for the participation game originally, we didn’t have a xeno deck so we rolled a red die instead and place the number of xenos down as per the result of the die roll. This works well enough and for basic games is absolutely fine. You could set a sort of rule of thumb that after every ten normal xenos that appear on the table, a special xeno appears as one of the next ones rolled, either on it’s own or with another, as per roll of 1 or roll of 2.

Xenos Rules Changes
Xenos can traverse obstacles like humans. So they still move in straight lines but rather than stopping when they run into something, they roll a black die to see if they can get across it. If they pass they move across the obstacle, if they fail they stop. This is to reflect that xenos move a bit faster and are not mindless husks of the living dead that just walk into stuff. Otherwise they are treated the same as zombies as per Mantic’s rules. Blips move as per xenos…

That’s it for now folks, hopefully you’ll enjoy giving this a go. I’ll see about finding ways to have all of the resources loaded up at some point – event cards, equipment cards etc.

Mcfonz aka Matt