Ah, the Yahtzee mechanic; as old as the hills, but still the base for many popular games. Whether it be King of Tokyo, Elder Sign, Poker Dice, Ancient Terrible Things or others that escape me for the moment, the act of throwing a bunch of dice, keeping the ones you want and re-rolling the remainder a couple of times remains sellable. Here’s another one.
Run, Fight, or Die is from the prolific Richard Launius, whose diversity of topics and playstyles puts him way up there in a small list with the other top designers. I’d suggest he may have drawn this one up in about five minutes. Its setting is simple: zombies are coming, and you can either...well, run, fight or die, basically.
Each player has their own board and is assigned a character, of which there are disappointingly few from which to choose. Your character has a unique ability. The player board is marked in three zones, with zone one being the nearest. At game’s set-up, you place two zombies in your zone one, three in two, and four in zone three. Each turn, zombies will move one zone closer to you. If they reach you, you lose a life point. Lose them all and you’re zombie chow.
A turn consists of rolling dice, killing zombies where possible, and/or finding followers and locations. Depending on the mode of play – RFoD can be played solo, PvP or co-op – some may be preferable than others. Each die has symbols on it: a bat, which kills two zombies in zone one; a gun, which kills one zombie in any zone; a runaway, moving one zombie back a zone; a book; a three-way handshake (I think); and a zombie. This last one adds yet another zombie to your zone three at turn’s end, as well as the three you automatically get as part of the rules. The book and the funny Masonic handshake face work differently. Basically, the more of them you get, the better it is for grabbing followers, locations or loot cards. After your first roll you may choose to re-roll any non-zombie roll, and can do this a second time in true Yahtzee fashion. The zombie face cannot be re-rolled unless you take a random Fleeing card, which can be as nice as ‘add one zombie to zone three’, but is often a lot worse.
Once you’ve decided on your dice (and factored in the Destiny Die, another randomizer), you apply the results. All being well, no zombies reach you this turn. You may not have enough power in your dice to kill everything. Luckily for you, then, that the followers you find along the way also have special abilities which can stem the undead flow. You’ll notice, though, that the helpful followers have low point values, and to win this game you must a) be alive at the end and b) have the most follower points, so you’ll be tempted to go with the higher-valued followers. There’s just one problem: they’re total pains in the ass to carry around, because their special actions are detrimental to your escape effort. One might stop you from re-rolling, or another might attract even more zeds. Clearly you’ll need to factor in risk versus reward on top of your fighting skills.
As with any dice roller, there’s an awful lot of luck involved in RFoD. Having said that, even a bad roll (unless it’s five zombies turn after turn after turn) will still be able to achieve something. You may have your heart on rolling to get followers, only to apparently discover a hidden stash of baseball bats. You might not have achieved what you set out to do, but at least you’re still alive. Nonetheless, if the dice are against you, RFoD can be a pretty glum game. Given that luck equals out (allegedly, although that’s not been my experience over the years) and games are over quite quickly in 30 minutes or so, hopefully this won’t be a problem for you. You may also be cursed by bad draws, whether it’s crappy followers or unhelpful location changes. But that’s what you get from a dice-roller, so I’m not exactly revealing any mysterious secret here.
In terms of complexity, RFoD is probably at around the same level as King of Tokyo, but without the direct conflict which can offend in the monster game. There’s not much in the way of player interaction or interference at all, which can lead to thoughts of multiplayer solitaire. I couldn’t recommend this as a four-player game at all, but works quite nicely as a solo, two- or three-player game. I play it with my nine-year old daughter, who loves it – unlike KoT which she hated because of the direct conflict – and as such it’s a nice little filler game. She got a little spooked by the artwork on the player board but, then again, she’s only nine and the box clearly states fourteen-plus. She’s keeping a record of her high-scores (the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, as you can tell), and I enjoy watching her figure out the best way to utilise her dice rolls. For adults, I’d suggest the in-game decisions are much more clear-cut.
Mini-expansions added new zombies (our old friends the runners as well as crawlers and brutes), as well as the option to play 5- or 6-player – don’t, just don’t. Seriously.
It’s easy to be sniffy about Run, Fight or Die, particularly if you compare it to, say, Elder Sign. Mechanically it’s simple and unoriginal, and the plastic zombies bump the price up to more than a filler game should cost, but it’s still fun to get out when your brain needs a little R&R. I’ve had some fun moments unleashing the heroic dog follower on a pack of the undead, or better yet ushering the Hit Girl follower towards a horde and watching her mow the lot down, and I’ve groaned when I’ve inadvertently attracted the big bad mutant zombie’s attention, so for that I’m happy to have this game. It’s a try before you buy, I’d say.
I didn't like this game the first 4 times I played it, and sold off my kickstarter copy with all the trimmings, but I played it last night and a light finally clicked on for me and I enjoyed it a little more than usual.
It's such a casual game that I previously didn't apply much brainpower to it, so I kept trying to kill zombies and keep them from killing me - and always lost terribly with hardly any points.
Finally last night I realized that killing zombies is not going to get you anywhere close to a win - you have to focus on getting followers, no matter what that takes, and trimming down the zombies is a best-effort, secondary concern. If they kill you, they kill you - but die with a few points in front of you ...
I ended up getting 3 or 4 followers before the game ended with someone being over-run and I won the game... finally.
I also was able to use my special combo power and someone else used theirs - in all 4 previous plays, nobody had been able to pull it off and it seemed a wasted mechanic.
In addition, someone killed the big Zombie Boss - something I had never seen before either. This session was definitely more interesting than the previous 4 I'd been involved in.
I bumped my rating up from a 4 to a 5 now that I understood that there was a purpose to the solitaire-style game play that I hadn't seen before.
I don't know if I will ever move it to a 7 - which means I would have to re-buy it for my collection, but it just might move back up to a 6 at some point, which means I would enjoy playing it if someone else put it out on the table to play. We shall see.
- Last edited Sat Jul 4, 2015 4:32 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Jul 4, 2015 4:30 pm