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Subject: Playing Zombie Dice with Kids - a review rss

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Aaron S
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As always with these reviews, I want to answer the question "Should I play Zombie Dice with my kids?".

Original review posted here: http://beyondsettlers.com/2014/05/29/playing-zombie-dice-wit...

THE SHORT VERSION

Just like King of Tokyo, and Castle Panic, and Tsuro of the Seas, Zombie Dice fits right in my wheelhouse of games to play with my kids (4 and 5). It has:

* No required modification of rules.

* No reading required - There is not a single word to be read (other than the rules, which I explain to them, of course).

* Nearly all luck - It's dice rolling, what do you expect?
* Short playtime - You know kids, they get bored easily. We can play 2-3 games before either one of my kids get bored.

Since it's just dice rolling, there is little skill involved, but as you'll see if you read on, my 5 year old daughter has quickly picked up when it's a good idea to move on, and when it isn't.



The main downside is the imagery. The packaging is a bit gruesome, and the theme isn't much better. But we make a couple tweaks that make it playable. I hide the packaging and we call the shotgun blasts "explosions".

THE LONG VERSION

Manipulating the Pieces

The dice are "normal" size, so neither kid (who are both pretty small for their age) has trouble rolling them. Not much else to say besides that.

Keeping Track

We've gone two ways when keeping track of the score (which goes from 0-13 (or more if you decide to go over)). One option is to get a piece of paper, put people's names on it, and keep track each turn. The advantage of this method is that it helped my daughter learn the concept of putting tally marks in groups of five.



The other option is, of course, to just remember your score. At first this ended up with me having to keep everyone's score in my head, but after a few nights of play, both kids were doing a good job of remembering their score.

This memory and the simple addition that happens at the end of each turn wasn't too bad, and was also educational (as I discuss more later).

Each Turn

Each turn is simple. Roll three dice and go until you want to stop or you get three "explosions". My son is still at the level where he will always roll until he has two explosions. Once he gets two, he stops.

My daughter, only a year older, has already figured out that if she gets on a good run and hasn't seen all of the red dice yet (red dice have more explosions), she might want to stop even if she only has one explosion. The thought of losing 6-8 brains and the fact that there might be 2 red dice left in the shaker make her think twice about taking another turn.

Modifications

The only modification we play with is what we call the shapes on the dice. We have "brains", "explosions" and "feet". There's no need to modify any rules.

Imagery





Of the games that I've reviewed so far, Zombie Dice is the worst for imagery. The imagery on the shaker is somewhat grotesque with several bloody zombie figures. I do my best to keep the shaker out of clear view while playing, or but them in another container to shake them in.

As mentioned above, we also change what we call the pieces, the main one being "explosions" instead of shotgun blasts. We pretty much ignore the entire theme of zombies eating people or those that are running away not quite making it.

Even the name itself might not be something you want to utter to your little ones. "Hey kids, do you want to play Zombie Dice?!" might not go over too well.

Education

As with most dice game, simple addition is an educational element of Zombie Dice. Adding up your existing score with new brains provides some simple math. It's pretty easy for my 5 year old, but my 4 year old still benefits from it.

The other piece is the requirement of remembering your score while others are playing. It might seem simple, but this simple memory requirement has proved very beneficial for both of my kids. It helps keep them focused on a specific number for a couple of minutes, even while doing other things (watching others play).

Final Thoughts

Zombie Dice is a great filler, or play two or three games in a row to fill a larger block of time. It's simple, doesn't require rule modifications, and is easy for even my youngest to play.

But I can't give it the "highly recommended" rating with the blood and guts. My wife wasn't thrilled to have them playing a game with a blood dripping zombie on the container, but by tweaking the names of pieces we turned it in to something that we play nearly every game night. And because it's so short, we'll play it on many other nights too, where we just want to kill a few minutes.

Rating: Recommended
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Jack Francisco
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Totally agree. I was particularly amused that I call the shotgun blasts explosions as well! Martian Dice is also a good dice game for kids.
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Aaron S
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I'll have to give Martian Dice a try!
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Mark Nicosia
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+1 for Martian Dice. We have them both, and my kids (5 & 7) seem to love them both about equally, with perhaps a slight edge to Martain.

Other dice games they adore are Sushizock im Gockelwok and Heckmeck Junior, though you'd probably have to order them from Germany, and game shipping price from there to the US just about tripled this month. :/ If you can find 'em, grab em.. especially Sushizok.
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The War Chief
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+1 Martian Dice.

If your wife objects to the zombie theme, but doesn't mind hunting, try Trophy Buck. It's a straight retheme of Zombie Dice.

If you want to avoid the whole "killing Bambi" thing, you can always tell the wife and kids they are rounding up reindeer for Santa.
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Aaron S
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Love the idea of rounding up reindeer!

Thanks for the suggestions.
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Jack Francisco
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Let me also add Ra Dice as well. My daughter is 8 and easily grasped what was going on at 7.
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Philip Reed
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Thanks for the review! If you want something that may be better for your kids I suggest trying Dino Hunt Dice . . . which was created in response to parent and retailer feedback to Zombie Dice.
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Mark Patterson
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My six year old had been playing this for a while now, she certainly gets the press your luck concept... But what I don't get is how she has these amazing streaks of brains without shotguns. Past the point of normal probability distribution. She's eerie.
 
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Jack Francisco
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She might be a zombie. zombie
 
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Mark Toffoli
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I second the Dino Dice recommendation. I too had reservations about the Zombie theme after playing with it once with him. So swapping in dinosaurs for Zombies is great. I didn't find the dino's getting "stomped" that bad. And they hid in the leaves instead of running away. Unlike Trophy Buck which has some rules differences, Dino Dice is pretty much a straight port. We still play it quite often too. He got a hold of the rules much easier than some of the 4 to 6 year old games and their rules.
 
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Bob Bob742
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toffman wrote:
Unlike Trophy Buck which has some rules differences, Dino Dice is pretty much a straight port. We still play it quite often too. He got a hold of the rules much easier than some of the 4 to 6 year old games and their rules.


Dino Dice is the one with different rules, as if you run out of dice in the cup, any leaves you have left turn to dinosaurs. I forget the flavor explanation for this.

Trophy Buck is exact same rules, just slightly different strategizing, as per the point differences. Plus I always forget that the 6 & 8 points are the same as the red dice in ZD. Haven't played it enough to remember.
 
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Brian Fong
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I have played the game with some of the kids I teach (as young as 7) and I don't have to modify the rules or the game (much). The kids love it and I make them keep track of their own score.
 
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Eric R
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Thanks for the suggestion about "Dino Dice" (as my son now calls it). As mentioned below, dinosaurs are much more interesting theme (and perhaps more appropriate) for a four-year old to play. Picked this up two days ago and it's been played countless times already.
 
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