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Subject: The Game of Zany Zombie Defense! rss

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Box of Delights
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Privateer Press are really stretching the boundaries with the types of games they produce, targeting a wider audience and getting better and better. Privateer Press are becoming a very significant publisher in our world. Just look at the job they did with Level 7 [Omega Protocol] !

Zombies Keep Out is not like the other zombie games out there, and has an 8+ age advice on it thanks to the absence of horrific imagery. The most scary image is on the "Bite Tokens", and with it's cartoony artwork and accessible rules is a great family choice.

As a co-op it can be played with 1-6 players and you will all win or lose together. Always great with siblings who are liable to argue over a victory!

There is also a very satisfying solution to the ALPHA-PLAYER problem, and for me this is the game's USP (Unique Selling Point). But we will come to that in a moment....

You are a group of goblins tucked away in your workshop, with a relentless stream of zombies marching up the board to take down your defenses on five columns ( two windows, a cellar, a balcony and a door ).

If they beat down three of these defenses then you lose; if they beat down the door then you lose. Each of those 5 defences protect a "contraption" which you goblins can play cards, to "tinker" with, to add the next component to.

Each of these five contraptions need 8 components. Build three and you win the game. The extra bonus is, when you build a contraption it provides a special ability that you can use to defend your workshop from the zombie onslaught.

Like all good zombies, they are not partcularly intellgent, but there are four different types (in four different coloured and nicely sculpted miniatures) and they march up the board following differently coloured arrows, so it is simple to follow.

This "advancing horde and defending with cards" game reminds me very much of Castle Panic (which also has the zombie themed Dead Panic ). What is great, is the addition of the contraptions and that USP I was talking about which solves the "alpha-player" problem.

Each turn a player secretly draws a "Terrible Thing" card on which there are three, well let's call them "Terrible Things"

These present the player with three options, which they cannot reveal to the other players, and they alone must decide which to take... so noone can be telling you what to do... it is each and every player's independent choice.

Likewise, during the actions phase which follows ( which gives the players an opportunity to respond to the unfolding disaster ) the players can only take actions depending on "Part" cards in their hand, either to add components to the contraptions, repair defenses, defeat zombies, draw new cards or "push the button" (which I'm sure all Chemical Brothers fans will enjoy) on a completed goblin contraption.

There is an opportunity for the alpha-player to poke their noses in at this point, but unless players reveal their hand of cards the alpha-player can only offer hollow advice.

The game offers a simple (though a step-up in compexity from the "panic" series) family-friendly zombie game, with the ever-increasing tension you expect from a solitaire or co-op game, and without the "out of nowhere" randomness of a story-teller. More akin to an abstract in terms of mechanics than to a co-op story-teller, but the "goblins building contraptions" and the immediate visibility of the zombie encroachment on your workshop, offer strong thematic elements.

Added to this is a wonderful laugh-inducing "bite tokens" additon, like a party-game mechanic, that if you choose to take one or more bite tokens as a "terrbile thing" option, then you will slowly turn into a zombie - players will lose the ability to take certain actions, but also have to start talking like a zombie, first with slurred speach, to only using groans, grunts and hand signs, until you can (with 5 bites) only give a zombie moan. Take joy in having the alph-player gagged by only being able to grunt and mumble their directions !

A wonderful combination of ideas and this will be a fun family favourite.

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