$18.00
GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters: 92.84

6,004 Supporters

$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
37.8% of Goal | 26 Days Left

Support:

Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
 Hide
20 Posts

Dawn of the Zeds (Third edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Dawn of the Zeds Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
R.P. Kraul
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mb
Zeds is VPG’s first outsourced game and purportedly superior in quality to their in-house games. The artwork is very nice, I must say, though I was disappointed that the barricades were not cut through, forcing me to extract them with a blade. The results will not win any beauty pageant, but the model clippers helped. The tokens themselves, especially the shapes, remind me of other games from VPG’s states of siege line, such as Ottoman Sunset. I prefer VPG’s thicker laser-cut counters, but opted not to get them. The cards, they look great, what with their linen finish, but a few had chips on the edges even before I opened them. The board is nice, with a simpler side for the easiest sets of rules—there are at least six sets of rules—and another side for the advanced rules.

What I found baffling was the plethora of rulebooks. There’s the “Basic Game Rulebook” stamped with a red “Start Here” message. On page four of said rulebook, Otto “Sarge” Hauser has a dialogue box that says, “First, don’t crap your pants. This game is a helluvalot [sic] easier to play than it looks and if you started here, you’re in the right place. …” Well, not really, Sarge, because no where in this rulebook does it document how to set up the game. Instead, you have to look in “The Setup & Epilogue Book.” “The Setup & Epilogue Book” has something called “Deck Construction Tables,” and these are so baffling and non-intuitive that the book actually has to explain them. And once you figure that out, you’ll likely get referred to one of the other rulebooks. Maybe it will be the “Level Up! Rulebook” which talks about the more advanced rules. Did I mention the “No Brains Rulebook,” which is a simpler game mode in which you fight off zombies? Are you seeing a pattern here? Options, options, and more options cross-referenced with yet more options.

This is absolutely the most bizarre and fragmented documentation I’ve ever seen for a game. At its core, Zeds is not that complex, but you wouldn’t know it by browsing these rulebooks—all six of them. And have I mentioned that there is an “A to Zeds Book” detailing everything from basic to “Director’s Cut”? And you can play all of these levels as a solo game, a co-op, and even a competitive game. Options, options, options. The game has so many levels, so many styles of play, and so many rulebooks that the results are jumbled and intoxicated. VPG must have thought that Zeds' complexity rivaled that of Mage Knight and Twilight Imperium.

Rule gripes aside, let’s talk about game play. What did I expect from Zeds? As far as zombie games, I expected Zeds to be the one with brains, excuse the pun. I’ve played Zeds twice, both solo on the basic level, and I didn’t win either play. Zeds is definitely challenging. But winning and losing is immaterial.

Zeds is fiddly. For instance, you have to build your event deck at the beginning of the game, where you choose the cards based on difficulty level and sort them into acts. Honestly, this part didn’t bother me too much, as I deck build in Arkham Horror as well. What does bother me, however, is that I felt more like a game bellboy than an actual player. Move these counters and place these tokens and markers and flip over these cards—after a few rounds of this, it got tedious, but I gave Zeds the benefit of the doubt, as I was still learning.

After my second game, I concluded the following: Zeds is more of a puzzle than a thematic game. Zombies come down various tracks toward Farmingdale, and if they reach the town, you lose. This abstracts the final conflict to the extent that the Zeds become Azathoth Zeds. I suppose that message is that when the living dead get too close to civilization, someone gets bitten who bites someone else bites a hero who—

It’s Fulci-like in its bleakness, I suppose.

Zeds is mechanically solid, using VPG's states of siege engine. States of siege games are typically historical battles in which you control a disadvantaged side as it is attacked from multiple directions. In Ottoman Sunset, for example, you control the ailing Ottoman Empire during World War One. In those games—I’m talking the other states of siege games such as Ottoman Sunset and Cruel Necessity—the theme isn’t as important, as the player already has some historical context.

But with a zombie game, theme is absolutely vital, and text on cards, as clever as it might be, isn’t enough. The story and the mechanics have to intersect. Unfortunately, this is where Zeds comes up short. The engine’s puzzle aspect is neat, but at no point did I feel that the zombies had to be zombies. They were just enemies, little different from soldiers, diseases, or sword-wielding pirates. The zombie theme, in my opinion, is just subterfuge to hide the gears and valves. Compared to something like Last Night On Earth, Zeds is relatively dry. I found it devoid of the narrative present in so many Ameritrash games.

It's not that VPG didn't try. It's more that the engine obstructs the theme. When Zeds started to absorb me, when the cards started to work together—there was that damned engine vying for my attention. Sort. Move. Flip. Maintain.

In a zombie game, combat is almost as important as theme. The combat in Zeds is tight, but it's too abstracted. Two opposing groups come together, and you toss some dice, and you consult a chart, and you apply some wounds. Maybe one side will retreat. Maybe not.

I do enjoy the puzzle aspect of Zeds. I’m hoping that as I play the more advanced rules that something will click. I appreciate that Zeds has high ratings and that so many people enjoy it. I have to give VPG credit for delivering a more tactical zombie game. Unfortunately, I just found that it falls short as a thematic game.

6/10
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
YM C
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
No argue here. Otherwise it will become another battle thread.
Totally respect your view. Agree on some, but disagree on others.
For me it's a good game. Maybe you are right, the game might get the score too high. But then I found the game offers me a lot of content. After all, I just level 1 right now. More to go
Anyhow, I'll take note on some of your problem. Maybe good for me for coming games. In fact, this is my 2nd game that I owned. And I only got 2 games
Maybe I need to play more...
Thanks again for your thoughts meeple
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin
Australia
Terrey Hills
NSW
flag msg tools
mbmb
Co-op with most advanced rules is the way to go.

Agree about the rulebooks. Also agree that the rules can be fiddly. But having said that, I find that the games with the fiddly rules are sometimes the ones with depth to them and where I can get fully immersed (I'm thinking of Robinson Crusoe, D-day At Omaha Beach and Arkham Horror).

Disagree about the story aspect of the game as I find it a most cinematic experience. But I think you can't get the true benefit of this until you've played a few games first. Also I guess everyone has different things which trigger their imagination more than others.

Must also try Last Night on Earth then given what you said.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R.P. Kraul
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mb
slim17 wrote:
Co-op with most advanced rules is the way to go.


I do want to try this, as I'm not completely sold on the way the solo rules work. I would much rather play co-op as a solo player. I've always wondered about limiting actions and then removing zeds movement pressure. It doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense.

slim17 wrote:
Agree about the rulebooks. Also agree that the rules can be fiddly. But having said that, I find that the games with the fiddly rules are sometimes the ones with depth to them and where I can get fully immersed (I'm thinking of Robinson Crusoe, D-day At Omaha Beach and Arkham Horror).


I adore Arkham Horror, and I may be thought nuts for saying this, but I think AH is far more intuitive than Zeds. Granted, if you compare the rules, Zeds is ultra-light in contrast, but the upkeep is too obtrusive in my opinion.

slim17 wrote:
Disagree about the story aspect of the game as I find it a most cinematic experience. But I think you can't get the true benefit of this until you've played a few games first. Also I guess everyone has different things which trigger their imagination more than others.


This could be true. I'm not going to give up on the game just yet.

slim17 wrote:
Must also try Last Night on Earth then given what you said.


LNOE is certainly not perfect--the need for a zombie player is a drawback, IMO. Of the zombie game I've played, however, it's by far the most thematic.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Boeren
United States
Marietta
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I have Last Night on Earth but it's not that good. Very light game without much strategy, needs someone to play the Zombie side, and the zombie player is rewarded for un-zombielike strategies like running away from the humans.

This is the original one, I've heard the new Timber Peaks version may be better.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm not an expert on the game yet, and I think the theme comes out more as the complexity advances. I've only played on the basic and outbreak level, and adding in the infection and supply rules really helped with the tension level and the feel of zombie aspect (in the basic level things were relatively generic). I want to step up to the next level soon to get more cards. At just the basic levels, it's fairly easy to know what to expect in each act, and I don't want to use the same 5 heroes (because the 5th one will always arrive) every game.

I'm also not a huge fan of all the rulebook flipping, and I'm hoping that will decrease as I get more familiar with the game. I have enjoyed the games I've played so far and, although I bought the game to play solo, now want to give the coop a shot.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R.P. Kraul
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mb
dboeren wrote:
I have Last Night on Earth but it's not that good. Very light game without much strategy, needs someone to play the Zombie side, and the zombie player is rewarded for un-zombielike strategies like running away from the humans.

This is the original one, I've heard the new Timber Peaks version may be better.


I was comparing them in theme only. I agree LNOE has some issues. In fact, I've yet to play a stellar zombie game. The ones I've played have obvious deficiencies.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Boeren
United States
Marietta
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Drpretorios wrote:
I was comparing them in theme only. I agree LNOE has some issues. In fact, I've yet to play a stellar zombie game. The ones I've played have obvious deficiencies.


So far Dawn of the Zeds is the best I've tried. I had hopes for Zpocalypse but it seems to have issues too - maybe the 2nd Edition will be better.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin
Australia
Terrey Hills
NSW
flag msg tools
mbmb
dboeren wrote:
Drpretorios wrote:
I was comparing them in theme only. I agree LNOE has some issues. In fact, I've yet to play a stellar zombie game. The ones I've played have obvious deficiencies.


So far Dawn of the Zeds is the best I've tried. I had hopes for Zpocalypse but it seems to have issues too - maybe the 2nd Edition will be better.


Yea. I like the look of zpocalypse 2 hopefully it will live up to my expectations. Also dark darker darkest is a great game too but another one with fiddly rules.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Uwe Heilmann
Germany
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Hi from Germany,

allow me to add some thoughts and opinions.

I actually use three game systems when it comes to the "Zombie" theme.
I also like to call it the challenge of "the few, brave, smart guys" against the "stupid masses nonetheless very dangerous".

DAWN OF THE ZEDS (all three editions) (I don't throw away old stuff, it is adapted into the new versions transferring also all the good stuff no longer available in the recent versions):
The focus of this game system is the complex situation as such, the dynamics of action, counter-action, etc. Very demanding, as there is no way to predict even the outcome of a single phase within a game turn.
The game system marvelously maintains the balance between the two "parties". Too bad, the game system prefers the undead, i.e. if the player(s) do not change their patterns, he/she/they are doomed.
If you lack anything, add your own ideas. The game system is robust enough.

RISE OF THE ZOMBIES: Far less protagonists on the side of the good guys (just a team, not defending the Alamo, but trying to escape from Doomstown). This is a brutal game system, but also very rewarding once you play as brutal against the revenants.
A few modifications and additions and the game system turns into a nail-biting experience.

ALL THINGS ZOMBIE: Even less protagonists on the good side, but with a lot of details for each and their equipment, etc. The game system uses a "hex" game board, i.e. it is a very tactical and military oriented game. The few ones better apply effective ways of firefight, cityfight, close combat tactics, etc. or the many will simply overrun and "eat" them.
Again, easy and inviting to modify some elements, and there is again no limit to any additions.

I incorporate all other "Zombie" games I got my fingers on into ATZ (e.g Walking Dead, ZOMBIES!!!, and so on).

All three game systems are great and provide a lot of fun playing them. The impact of the theme on the game play is mainly ensured by the players, not the system. The way you play, i.e. enter the l'entre-deux, will determine your pleasure on creating and being part of such a gloomy story. The game systems are NOT providing any of this. It is the mind, imagination and the involvement of the players.

Just some thoughts.


Cheers
U.L.H.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Thank you for the review!

I have never played the prior editions, but I've played the current one 4-5 times solitaire, adding the rules up to and including LEVEL III: Brains

This game feels very thematic and I'm not sure what could have been done to make it more so. You are fighting off hoards of zombie mobs as they encroach on the town. Each hero has their own unique and thematic ability. Supplies dwindle, villages are overrun, hospital beds fill, refugees try to escape, each hero you desperately try to find a cure, hope in the form the National Guard is on the horizon, new heroes or even raiders appear ... I could go on and on ...

A strong narrative is built up as slowly the country side is overrun ... will the heroes hold out as the hoards slowly get closer and closer to the town centre?

I find its quite a tense and exciting game that only gets better and better as you add the

So, I agree with some of your comments, but theme, it is OOZING with theme for me
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R.P. Kraul
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mb
slim17 wrote:
dboeren wrote:
Drpretorios wrote:
I was comparing them in theme only. I agree LNOE has some issues. In fact, I've yet to play a stellar zombie game. The ones I've played have obvious deficiencies.


So far Dawn of the Zeds is the best I've tried. I had hopes for Zpocalypse but it seems to have issues too - maybe the 2nd Edition will be better.


Yea. I like the look of zpocalypse 2 hopefully it will live up to my expectations. Also dark darker darkest is a great game too but another one with fiddly rules.


In the one test playthrough, I really liked DDD. I guess I never thought about it as a pure zombie game, because there's so many other things going on. But you could call it that, and if so, it's probably the best game of the type I've played.

Unfortunately, the publisher didn't put much effort into this game, which is a pity because the designer introduces some clever ideas. DDD is pretty complex, too, so it would never have the mass appeal of something like Zombicide.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
P.O.G.G. wrote:
Thank you for the review!

I have never played the prior editions, but I've played the current one 4-5 times solitaire, adding the rules up to and including LEVEL III: Brains

This game feels very thematic and I'm not sure what could have been done to make it more so. You are fighting off hoards of zombie mobs as they encroach on the town. Each hero has their own unique and thematic ability. Supplies dwindle, villages are overrun, hospital beds fill, refugees try to escape, each hero you desperately try to find a cure, hope in the form the National Guard is on the horizon, new heroes or even raiders appear ... I could go on and on ...

A strong narrative is built up as slowly the country side is overrun ... will the heroes hold out as the hoards slowly get closer and closer to the town centre?

I find its quite a tense and exciting game that only gets better and better as you add the

So, I agree with some of your comments, but theme, it is OOZING with theme for me


That's kind of where I was going with my comments. A lot of the theme you mention doesn't exist in the basic game. However, from skimming the rulebook, it seems more theme is added at every level.

And I believe once you've learned all the levels, you mostly only need the A to Z book to play, although I guess you'd still need the setup book and dossier.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R.P. Kraul
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mb
P.O.G.G. wrote:
Thank you for the review!

I have never played the prior editions, but I've played the current one 4-5 times solitaire, adding the rules up to and including LEVEL III: Brains

This game feels very thematic and I'm not sure what could have been done to make it more so. You are fighting off hoards of zombie mobs as they encroach on the town. Each hero has their own unique and thematic ability. Supplies dwindle, villages are overrun, hospital beds fill, refugees try to escape, each hero you desperately try to find a cure, hope in the form the National Guard is on the horizon, new heroes or even raiders appear ... I could go on and on ...

A strong narrative is built up as slowly the country side is overrun ... will the heroes hold out as the hoards slowly get closer and closer to the town centre?

I find its quite a tense and exciting game that only gets better and better as you add the

So, I agree with some of your comments, but theme, it is OOZING with theme for me


I suspect that, at the basic level, reducing the complexity of the engine would bring out the theme more. Theme versus mechanics--it's challenging to balance both.

As for the more advanced levels, I have to reserve judgement until I've encountered the things you mention.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Morten Monrad Pedersen
Denmark
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
It's interesting how opinions can differ. To me this is the most thematic and cinematic board game I've ever played and it's also one of the least puzzly games.

That said I've only played the game at Level V (the highest of the complexity levels), so I have no clue how the other levels feel.
5 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R.P. Kraul
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mb
mortenmdk wrote:
It's interesting how opinions can differ. To me this is the most thematic and cinematic board game I've ever played and it's also one of the least puzzly games.

That said I've only played the game at Level V (the highest of the complexity levels), so I have no clue how the other levels feel.


I've since played at level III. More strategic options, maybe a touch more theme, but I have to stick to my original conclusion, namely that Zeds is more of a puzzle than a thematic game.

Tastes definitely do vary. Perception of what makes a thematic game--that varies, too. Let me mention a game I consider strongly thematic: Camp Grizzly. CG nods to the slasher films from the 1980s, and what makes it such an evocative experience is that the mechanics are in tune with the theme. A seemingly ubiquitous killer? Check. The killer can literally appear anywhere in the map in a given turn. Characters who do dumb things? Check. You can draw cards that put your character, and possibly others, at risk. A big final conflict between the survivors and the killer? Check. The theme dives so deep into the mechanics that you couldn't separate the two with a hammer and chisel.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a strategic game, Camp Grizzly won't make you happy. But I lean strongly toward thematic games, especially horror games, and for this reason, maybe I'm being hard on Zeds. VPG promises solid gameplay, and I can't argue. They've also done an ample job with characterization. I like these humans (and dogs). Unfortunately, Zeds abstracts the conflict between these humans and the zombies, resulting in a system that flows mechanically but comes up short as a thematic zombie game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alan Emrich
United States
Irvine
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Unfortunately, Zeds abstracts the conflict between these humans and the zombies, resulting in a system that flows mechanically but comes up short as a thematic zombie game.


Well, naturally I do not agree or I would not have developed and published three editions of DAWN OF THE ZEDS.

Quite simply, we have learned that our customers who enjoy our thematic games (this reviewer excluded, of course), and this includes our wargames, prefer that the GAME is great FIRST, and the THEME should be done with through careful research and developed narrative SECOND. After all, if they wanted theme first, most would prefer watching a movie or TV (which is always the entertainment basis of comparison).

So, we have learned, The Gameplay's the Thing -- a motto we live by.

Now, like many here, I believe that ZEDS, after being a great game (the Prime Directive), is also (blood) drenched in theme. Plot point after plot point is revealed in storied acts, and the game's narrative is carried on the backs of the great characters defending Farmingdale (and the rogues and superzeds bent on its destruction).

So, those were our priorities. And in them I feel (like many others) that we "nailed it" and delivered a solid one (game) - two (theme) punch with a crap-ton of replayability solving the ever-shifting dilemma of saving the town and denizens of Farmingdale.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Designer Hermann Luttmann and publisher VPG were well mated making DAWN OF THE ZEDS for the gaming public, and we anticipate greater things for ZEDS in the future.

Alan Emrich
Developer, Publisher

11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R.P. Kraul
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mb
Alan Emrich wrote:
Quite simply, we have learned that our customers who enjoy our thematic games (this reviewer excluded, of course), and this includes our wargames, prefer that the GAME is great FIRST, and the THEME should be done with through careful research and developed narrative SECOND.


I haven't tried your other thematic games, though there are a few I would like to try. In fact, I backed Darkest Night, which I look forward to playing in 2017. Nice try, though.

Quote:
After all, if they wanted theme first, most would prefer watching a movie or TV (which is always the entertainment basis of comparison).


Movies/TV shows pluck different strings than board games. Thus I don't get what you're saying. Games have structure, and they're interactive. As to which types of games appeal to each of us--that's completely subjective. It's kind of like writing a book. You can't appeal to everyone, nor should you try.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
YM C
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Alan Emrich wrote:
prefer that the GAME is great FIRST, and the THEME should be done with through careful research and developed narrative SECOND.

If Theme comes first, I doubt the replay-value...

Alan Emrich wrote:
The Gameplay's the Thing

meeple
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kuene
Switzerland
Zurich
Zurich
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
great storytelling game
This is one of the most thematic games I have ever played. Second only to Codeword Cromwell: The German Invasion of England, 8 June 1940 The storytelling is impressive. But it really starts to work at level 4 and above.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.