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

Subject: "The gameplay's the thing" is right! rss

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Ben Thornton
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I've been looking into Dawn of the Zeds (Second Edition) for awhile now, enjoyed reading session reports and reviews.

I finally picked up a copy when I visiting a FLGS (maybe GS is a more accurate acronym but that is another issue) while I was checking out PAX Australia.

I'd punched out the tokens and read the rulebook before I'd even got home.

Components:
The components for Dawn of the Zeds consists of 3 parts:
Cards - Standard playing card size of decent thickness. Good art, easy to use/shuffle although I did find the font for a bit annoying at first as I assume it's meant to look like it's been type up with a typewriter. I've come to like it.

Boards - There are 3 boards. One double sided game board where the main play occurs. This can be either the mounted game board or card board (2nd edition box comes with box). The mounted board is great. Nice and thick but mine came with a bit of bubbling. Not a big issue as I placed a few heavy books on top overnight and that seems to have fixed it. The card board version is good too but tends to reflect light a bit too much for my liking. There is also a player and player aid board. They are both the same card board as the alternate game board and are very funstional but the font might bug some people.

Tokens - These are just plain fantastic. If you can get over having to clean the soot off them (due to the manufactoring process) then you'll appreciate the art style and how easy these are to use. I spent about an hour using toilet paper in my hotel room cleaning these (as I didn't get a napkin in the box) but it was well worth it.

Gameplay
Now this is were this game really shines! The tense feelings this game creates, the attachments to the heroes and the stories this evokes. All with, relatively, simple rules. You'll have moments where your heroes have battled against the odds to hold off the shambling hoards, thinking things are going a little too well when one of your heroes has a nervous break down and kills themselves, or a heroe falls in battle because you had no ammo to us before you find a shack loaded with ammo. It is a frustratingly amazing game. Check my idea section at the end of this review on how I intend to add even more to my copy.

Rules
The rules are simple enough. The rulebook can be somewhat confusing at times and certain rules may be hard to find. Fortunately, a lot of sections have reference and page numbers to related sections. So if you can find a related rule then it's easy enough to work your way to the rule you're after. After repeated plays this should be made less of a problem

Summary
If you enjoy a tense game that evokes emotions, tells a story of heroic sacrifice, can be played solo (I've played this with my wife co-op) and looks good. Then this game is a must have. I've played a solo game over several nights, using the ideas below, and been emailing a friend a progress report each day. He's loving it! Buy this game. Buy it now

[u]Alternate idea to add more character to your gameu[/]
After my first game I came up with this idea. It adds more personalization to the game and really adds to the story telling aspect.
1. Check out google maps of your local area for something similar to the game board (pay close attention to main locations that correspond with those of the board)
2. Rename board locations with those in your local area, it's ok if they are slightly off. The power station for example on my board is a private hospital.
3. Place your house or other familiar location as town centre
4. Rename characters to be yourself, friends, family etc.
5. Play game and delight in when you personally defended the mcdonalds down the street from the zombie hoard allowing the refugees to make it back your place where your wifepatched them up and sent them back out to relieve your brother that is wounded and needs help ASAP.

I plan on printing out a 3' x 2' map straight from google earth. Marking it up similar to the existing board and playing again using miniatures. Think that'll make it look impressive and really add to the immersion.

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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Benzy311 wrote:
The rules are simple enough.


I wouldn't call the rules of a game with a rulebook of 32 densely printed lettersize pages (if I remember correctly) simple . But perhaps that's just me being used to lighter fare .
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Ben Thornton
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mortenmdk wrote:
Benzy311 wrote:
The rules are simple enough.


I wouldn't call the rules of a game with a rulebook of 32 densely printed lettersize pages (if I remember correctly) simple . But perhaps that's just me being used to lighter fare .


Haha yeah I see what you mean. I must admit they are a bit daunting at first. I read through the rules once and the game play example and got my head round 80% of the rules pretty quickly. Thats the simple enough part. Its just the little details that you have to go searching for that complicates the matter somewhat.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Thanks Ben - that's a wonderful review! I'm very glad you're enjoying the game. Morten's point is well taken - the rulebook is long and thick, but the essence of the system is pretty easy. There is a lot of stuff and the rulebook does tend to over-explain things to help out the newbies.
We do still have an active contest to add content to the upcoming expansion, so if you guys have any ideas for new cards, etc. please submit something!
Thanks again,
Hermann
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Benzy311 wrote:
mortenmdk wrote:
Benzy311 wrote:
The rules are simple enough.


I wouldn't call the rules of a game with a rulebook of 32 densely printed lettersize pages (if I remember correctly) simple . But perhaps that's just me being used to lighter fare .


Haha yeah I see what you mean. I must admit they are a bit daunting at first. I read through the rules once and the game play example and got my head round 80% of the rules pretty quickly. Thats the simple enough part. Its just the little details that you have to go searching for that complicates the matter somewhat.


I read throught the 2nd edition rulebook for the first time last weekend and I agree that you'll get most of the game after one read through (though I've played the 1st edition a few times last summer, so I already had a good idea about what was going on).

My personal opinion is that VPG generally make rulebooks that are easy to understand and well suited for looking up issues that crops up during play and I rate them among the best rulebooks on the market. On the other hand I think they're generally too long and dry.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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HORST324 wrote:
Thanks Ben - that's a wonderful review! I'm very glad you're enjoying the game. Morten's point is well taken - the rulebook is long and thick, but the essence of the system is pretty easy. There is a lot of stuff and the rulebook does tend to over-explain things to help out the newbies.


I think you may have gone overboard in this case, because I think a lot of people that could have gotten a lot of enjoyment from the game will either be scared away or simply grow bored before getting to the end.

I know that you included easier versions of the game, but the rules for that are spread out all through the rulebook with just a small symbol to mark them (if I remember correctly). This means that it still seems very daunting to start reading the rules (when starting it still looks like you need to read cover to cover) and it's easy to miss which paragraphs you're supposed to read or not read.

Did you consider whether it's possible to instead have the first X pages be the simple version and then have sections afterwards with the rules added by the more advanced versions? I know that it would be difficult to do with out making it difficult to find a specific rule while playing the full game, but if it's doable I think it would make the game much more approachable for less hardcore gamers.

From what I've read in the VPG newsletters it's my impression that it was your goal to make the game approachable for the non-hardcore, but I'm sorry to say that I think it likely that you've failed in this regard. Please don't take this the wrong way - it's coming from someone who counts DotZ as the best solitaire experience he's ever had - and I really hope that I'm wrong.

HORST324 wrote:
We do still have an active contest to add content to the upcoming expansion, so if you guys have any ideas for new cards, etc. please submit something!


I'd love to do that - I hope I'll get the time to play it soon so that I can try out new ideas, but I'm facing the problem that I currently don't have a table where I can leave the game setup, and I seldom have enough time to play a full game of DotZ in one session.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Hey Morten and thanks for your comments. I'll just say that the layout of the rulebook and its overall organization and cross-referencing was handled in-house at VPG. I'll defer to them as to how and why things were done the way they were. I believe the theory was to have all the rules (basic and advanced) in the same section of the book and the frequent cross-referencing to help newbies find their way around easier. I do agree that the length and depth of the rulebook can be intimidating for some.
I'm glad you're enjoying the game and I hope that we can make the next game, Armazeddon, even more fun and entertaining.
Hermann
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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HORST324 wrote:
Hey Morten and thanks for your comments. I'll just say that the layout of the rulebook and its overall organization and cross-referencing was handled in-house at VPG. I'll defer to them as to how and why things were done the way they were. I believe the theory was to have all the rules (basic and advanced) in the same section of the book and the frequent cross-referencing to help newbies find their way around easier. I do agree that the length and depth of the rulebook can be intimidating for some.


I think that lumping it all together makes it harder for newbies to find their way around when playing the simple versions of the game because the rule they're looking for is mixed in with lots of rules that don't apply to them. Of course the challenge is to make a version of the rulebook where each version has it's own section where it's still easy to find a specific rule when playing the full game.

HORST324 wrote:
I'm glad you're enjoying the game and I hope that we can make the next game, Armazeddon, even more fun and entertaining.
Hermann


DotZ is going to be very hard to top . Can you provide any info on Armazeddon? The only thing I can find about it on the web is this post - which by the way has me a bit miffed with the remark about being the first "inside out" States of Siege game, since I've already made such a game: Army of Daftness, a parody SoS game where you play the bad guys. Unfortunately it was mindnumbingly bad so I trashed it .

I also seem to remember reading a bit more about Armazeddon, but I can't find it. Perhaps it was in the rulebook of DotZ?
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Victory Point Games
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mortenmdk wrote:
I think that lumping it all together makes it harder for newbies to find their way around when playing the simple versions of the game because the rule they're looking for is mixed in with lots of rules that don't apply to them. Of course the challenge is to make a version of the rulebook where each version has it's own section where it's still easy to find a specific rule when playing the full game.


Because the rules are pretty complex and detailed, we designed the Quick Play booklet for those completely new to the game (and even those new to the States of Siege system). It was designed so that you didn't have to reference anything in the rules until you got your feet wet and wanted to dive right in with more rules. The different "versions" (i.e., Intro, Classic, and Nightmare) was put in place a bit later than when the rules were laid out, so we settled with the blue moon and bloody feet icons next to specific Rule cases.

mortenmdk wrote:
DotZ is going to be very hard to top :). Can you provide any info on Armazeddon?


It's going to be epic! :)

- Noelle
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Victory Point Games wrote:
Because the rules are pretty complex and detailed, we designed the Quick Play booklet for those completely new to the game (and even those new to the States of Siege system). It was designed so that you didn't have to reference anything in the rules until you got your feet wet and wanted to dive right in with more rules. The different "versions" (i.e., Intro, Classic, and Nightmare) was put in place a bit later than when the rules were laid out, so we settled with the blue moon and bloody feet icons next to specific Rule cases.


OK, thank you for the explanation, I can see how it would seem daunting to attempt a complete restructuring and I know that I can't expect everybody else to share my fetish for rewriting text .

Victory Point Games wrote:
mortenmdk wrote:
DotZ is going to be very hard to top . Can you provide any info on Armazeddon?


It's going to be epic!


Ah! Great news! Thank you for the info packed update .

mortenmdk wrote:
- Noelle


Will I be infected by Z.E.D. by being in virtual contact with Noelle "Hell" Razer?
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mortenmdk wrote:


Ah! Great news! Thank you for the info packed update ;).


I can't say too much (I don't know a whole lot on it myself), so I'll let Herm be the bearer of zombie news.

mortenmdk wrote:
- Noelle

Will I be infected by Z.E.D. by being in virtual contact with Noelle "Hell" Razer? :)


Only if you create Chaos!

- Noelle
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Victory Point Games wrote:

mortenmdk wrote:


Will I be infected by Z.E.D. by being in virtual contact with Noelle "Hell" Razer?


Only if you create Chaos!

- Noelle


Well one could argue that I make my living decreasing chaos .
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Army of Daftness! I love it - you have to follow up on that one! A parody of SoS would be welcomed by all of us, I'm sure. You could have some real fun with it.

As far as Armazeddon is concerned, here's the skinny. It will be an inside-out SoS game. Whether it will the first or not will remain to be seen, as Alan has told me there's another one lurking in the submitted projects. So maybe it will be the second one. There will be a super-secret lab in the middle of the map, run by you-know-who. His secret Zed-soldier experiment has been discovered and the Zeds are now being released to raise havoc all around the world - and you must stop them from breaking out off the map. You must contain the various tracks. There will be a harbor town (Greenport) and a new river track (the Brea River) which will allow the player to move by water (but not the Zeds .... unless something goes really bad, and you know it will). So if a Zed gets off, you lose. Unless you've invested actions on the "Sweeper Squads Track" which gives you a chance to deploy specialized "Sweeper" squads of helicopters and biological warfare specialists. They may be able to get the escaped Zeds before they disappear - if you're lucky. That's the general idea - there's tons more which I can't reveal yet (because I haven't come up with much else!) Just kidding - it should be awesome.
Thanks!
Hermann
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HORST324 wrote:
Army of Daftness! I love it - you have to follow up on that one! A parody of SoS would be welcomed by all of us, I'm sure. You could have some real fun with it.


Well apparantly the game was so bad that I purged the name I gave it from my memory - it was of course Legions of Daftness. It was ment as a reference to Chris Taylor's SoS game, not the movie Army of Darkness. Unfortunately the only "fun" in it were a few bad puns based on titles of SoS games.

It was one of those things that sounded interesting in my head: You had to balance your attention between your legions which would tend to wander home if you or your General weren't close and you needed to balance the use of your General with the risk that he would betray you and crown himself if he saw the chance to capture King Emrich's castle before you did.

But when it got out of my head and into a prototype it turned out to be rather daft , so I trashed it and shortly there after stopped designing games for a while. Luckily a friend got me interested again so now I hope to show a design to the public for the first time (via the 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest) after toying with game design on and off for three decades.

Perhaps I'll retry making Legions of Daftness after that .

I apologize for rambling on about something completely unrelated to this thread.


HORST324 wrote:
As far as Armazeddon is concerned, here's the skinny. It will be an inside-out SoS game. Whether it will the first or not will remain to be seen, as Alan has told me there's another one lurking in the submitted projects. So maybe it will be the second one. There will be a super-secret lab in the middle of the map, run by you-know-who. His secret Zed-soldier experiment has been discovered and the Zeds are now being released to raise havoc all around the world - and you must stop them from breaking out off the map. You must contain the various tracks. There will be a harbor town (Greenport) and a new river track (the Brea River) which will allow the player to move by water (but not the Zeds .... unless something goes really bad, and you know it will). So if a Zed gets off, you lose. Unless you've invested actions on the "Sweeper Squads Track" which gives you a chance to deploy specialized "Sweeper" squads of helicopters and biological warfare specialists. They may be able to get the escaped Zeds before they disappear - if you're lucky. That's the general idea - there's tons more which I can't reveal yet (because I haven't come up with much else!) Just kidding - it should be awesome.
Thanks!
Hermann


Sounds good. Thank you for the extra info. As I wrote above I really like DotZ and it even made me buy In Magnificient Style even though I'm not into wargaming or historical games because your name was on it, so I'm looking forward to getting Armazeddon.
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I believe that solitaire game PnP contest is run by my White Dog Games associate Chris Hansen, is it not? He's a great guy and knows his stuff. One of the games that won that contest last year, Raider 16, is slated for WDG publication. So good luck with your design, I'm sure it will be terrific.
Hermann
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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HORST324 wrote:
I believe that solitaire game PnP contest is run by my White Dog Games associate Chris Hansen, is it not? He's a great guy and knows his stuff. One of the games that won that contest last year, Raider 16, is slated for WDG publication. So good luck with your design, I'm sure it will be terrific.
Hermann


It's run by a Chris Hansen. I "know" him from the Print and Play Games News, but I don't know whether he's the same Chris Hansen as the White Dog Games associate.

Thank you for your encouraging words. I'm really looking forward to be a part of the contest and I'm working hard to get my game ready in time. Please keep your fingers crossed for "Endless Nightmare" .

And once again I apologize to the OP for derailing the thread of his nice review.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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That is the same Chris Hansen. He is the new developer at White Dog Games and I've worked with him on a number of designs. As I said, a great guy!
Good luck with Endless Nightmare - sounds scary!
Herm
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Thanks for the review of Dawn of the Zeds!

mortenmdk wrote:
It's run by a Chris Hansen. I "know" him from the Print and Play Games News, but I don't know whether he's the same Chris Hansen as the White Dog Games associate.

It is the same Chris Hansen.
Print and Play Games News
2013 Solitaire Print and Play Contest
White Dog Games Developer
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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chansen2794 wrote:
Thanks for the review of Dawn of the Zeds!

mortenmdk wrote:
It's run by a Chris Hansen. I "know" him from the Print and Play Games News, but I don't know whether he's the same Chris Hansen as the White Dog Games associate.

It is the same Chris Hansen.
Print and Play Games News
2013 Solitaire Print and Play Contest
White Dog Games Developer


Well that makes sense, since WDG use PnP as part of their business model (AFAIK) and you do so much PnP community work here on The Geek (which is greatly appreciate by this PnP late bloomer).
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Benzy311 wrote:

Rules
The rules are simple enough. The rulebook can be somewhat confusing at times and certain rules may be hard to find. Fortunately, a lot of sections have reference and page numbers to related sections. So if you can find a related rule then it's easy enough to work your way to the rule you're after. After repeated plays this should be made less of a problem

I really like the game, but i couldn't disagree more about that point. I found the rules really confusing and over complicated. For each action you make, you have to remember a lot of general rules, and at least as much exceptions to those rules. Some rules are not written anywhere on the board, the counters, or the help sheets (for example that you have to use one or more supplies for some actions).

Your first game will take an eternity, even if you're used to play complicated games like Ghost stories or Arkham Horror, because you will keep searching in the rulebook for everything that happens on the board (and there's a lot of thing happening there!). The rule book lacks an index and is really confusing, when it comes to the titles. It would have been nice to have some references to the page/whapter on the help sheets, for example.

And to add to all this, preparing the event deck may be a real pain if you're not focused enough (or of the kids do something requiring your attention for a few seconds).


On the other hand, the game delivers a good experience, a lot more thematic than many heavier games, really hard, and enjoyable (if you don't mind losing a lot!).
But i really didn't expect such a complexity when i purchased the game.
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Archange227 wrote:
The rule book lacks an index and is really confusing, when it comes to the titles. It would have been nice to have some references to the page/whapter on the help sheets, for example.


I think that the rulebook is very well organised for looking up stuff, since its order reflects the turn order, and if one rule uses another one this is clearly marked with a direct reference to the number of the rule.

With that said, I agree that the first game can take a long time, and the game can be daunting for newcomers.
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