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Subject: Personal houserules/variant that doesn't derive to much from the base game rss

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Sirhc Toib
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Zombies!!! is a neat little game that simulates a zombie apocalypse. The components, low price tag and simple gameplay mechanics are appealing but alas this game is flawed. Yet the base rules allow for some great customization and changes. Still I wonder how this game got this popular despite some pretty unclear rules and broken gameflow.

First of all I want to state the aspects that disturb the general gameplay.

-The game has not real direction at first and there is no incentive to explore the city
-looting buildings is not really profitable, you will loose more tokens than actually benefiting from them.
-The game takes way to long due to imbalanced gameplay which is caused by several factors
-a lot of beneficial event cards are only seldom useful and there are many cards that screw over other players which drags the game out almost indefinitely
-there isn't much strategy to the combat (which is not really an issue for me) but the bullets/health tokens should be used more sensible.
-zombie movement is nonsensical and draw the game out
-death has no real penalty and even helps you depending on where the helipad was placed
-getting x many kills to win the game is absolutely anticlimatic and also uses up a lot of zombies that could be used on the board
-end game drags on way to long due to the many negative cards and lack of strategic possibilities
-game drags out so long but doesn't offer any in-depth gameplay. This game takes away much more time than other complex boardgames.

This is just a brief overview of the things that annoy me the most. Now here is a list of things that I changed and worked pretty well. I own the base game and play mostly only with those cards and components although I have the mall expansion, I use some of those cards to provide some variety and use more cards that actually benefit the player.


-Shuffle the city tiles and put the helipad randomly in the bottom half of the stack, additionally you can put out some of the roads which drastically decreases the play time.

-The town square is in the center of the table with a randomly picked city tile that is put adjacently, with the standard zombie positioning. This makes the start somewhat more visual and gives a feeling of having a city instead of just one tile where you don't actually know what to do.

-For the cards, all the weapons and location based cards are put visibly on the table. A pile for each sort of card. (those are used later when certain buildings appear during the city exploration)

-All the other events cards are put together one pile, which is the normal event card pile. Only the weapon and location based cards are kept out of it.

General changes of the rules

-a maximum of two zombies can be placed on one tile

-City tiles are placed when a player reaches the edge of a tile, this increases the actual exploration aspect of the game and makes it more interesting. (Although I also like the vanilla tile building aspect as well)

-When a special location is being placed, the associated weapon/event card will be put beside it. The player can actually loot the building when no zombies are present in the building. A player can decide to roll for a search by rolling a dice. Rolling a 4-6 will give you the according card. You will fail to find anything by rolling 1-3 which also terminates your remaining movement. When those cards are picked up, you can keep the until they are used or the player dies. The card will not be replaced and eventually a building can run out of according cards. A player can only hold 1 weapon/event card that is played in front of him, but he can swap between those if he wishes.
This mechanic is actually introduced to make the weapons actually useful and give the player a major boost in the game, because the player has to face massive zombie hordes. This will boost the players strength and shorten the play time.

-Upon death, the player looses his weapon card and the half of the killed zombies. He respawns at the townsquare with 3 health tokens and 1 (or 3) bullet token.

-Killed zombies act like a currency. Killed zombies can be exchanged at the town square for health and bullet tokens. 2 zombies are worth 1 bullet or health token. Furthermore when a player draws the helipad, the player with most zombies can decide where to put it. (when using the edge based exploration mechanic, this can be ignored) This actually gives the player some strategic choices, spend zombies for supplies or keep them until the helipad is drawn. I also like the mechanic of being able to trade something. (thematically speaking you could interpret that the survivors are looting the bodies and obtain various supplies)

-Before the actual game starts, each player need to pick one random card from the weapon pile that is thrown together to add in some randomness. This card will be a starting weapon to boost the start of the game. When everyone picked the weapons, the remaining cards are being put aside until the according locations are placed on the map.

Gameplay changes during the phases

-Movement: roll a die and add the amount of your health tokens. This enhances the speed of the game, especially during the end game.

-Exploration (already mentioned): put the a city tile next to your character when you're on the edge of a tile.

-Combat: 2 possibilities
Shooting from distance: use one bullet and roll 4-6 to kill one zombie from a distance, bullet tokens can be used to up the result. You can shoot zombies that are in your line of sight but only up to 2 squares or less. The player cannot shoot through windows and walls. If you fail the roll, the bullet token is still lost and the zombie immediately moves one square towards you, if two zombies are close both move towards you. This concept actually gives you the feeling of having a gun and adds more strategic options.

Melee: same as the base game, at first I added some dodge and sneak mechanics in order to give the player more possibilities but I got rid of it because it adds to much complexity to a game that doesn't really need it. Having to remember different results for different outcomes is annoying and disturbs the gameflow. I also added a mechanic with a high risk, high reward combat roll for killing two zombies on one tile but I forgot about it (shake) I'm still not entirely sure about the melee combat, I really want to add something but don't want to make it to complicated.

- Zombie Movement: Player rolls the die and decides which zombies can be moved. Each zombie can only move one tile but they always move towards the nearest player that is in line of sight (open roads and entrances). If no zombie is near is in sight of a player, the player decides which zombies will move where. (another variant is that you don't roll a dice at all and zombies in line of sight move automatically towards the nearest player.

-Cards: Each player can only have up to two cards in his hand. This reduces the amount of negative cards that a player can hoard in order to screw over other players. Although it removes some of the tactical options for the player. At the end of the turn the player can discard one card for a new one. I also might some slight adjustments to some cards that are unclear.

"Other foodsources" - you can pass all zombies without fighting
"Claustrophobia" - you run out of the shop without fighting zombies
"Hysteric something" - the player does nothing on this turn and skips it completely

This is my list of changes and the first adaption of the game that I have created by reading a bit about the various houserules and adding some of my own ideas, trying to enhance the game a bit. I apologize in advance for grammar mistakes and wrong use of words. English isn't my native language and I don't own the game in english.

Suggestions and comments are welcome! Thanks!

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sebastian gurgul
United States
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Looks interesting, might get me to pull this one back off the shelf. I had just about written it off since finding other games, but this with the addition of Deadtime Stories may save this game for me. We will see what 3rd edition brings as well.
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