Asaf Fabbi
United States
Albany
New York
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The King of Meeples
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Snap Summary
1-4 players
40-60 minutes play time
Light filler zombie game with a yahtzee and scrolling mechanic

The Tweet
A light fun zombie game where you Run fight or die. Which pretty much says it all.


The Overview
In Run, Fight, or Die!, you play a surviver who is on the run from zombies in a post zombie apocalypse. Your objective is to manage your "tableu" which scrolls up and is constantly producing zombies that are chasing you. I like to call this the, "jogging dead" mechanic. You use dice and a Yahtzee mechanic similar to King of New York/Tokyo to select actions that help you run and or fight zombies and mutants or to explore and recruit new survivors into your party.

The goal of the game is to either find, "the town line" and have enough survivors in play to meet the requirements for end game or to recruit enough survivors into your party to win the game. A party with five members ends the game. The person with the party that adds up to the largest amount of total victory points actually wins though. In sum, you don't have to be faster than the zombies, just your opponents. The person with the best cardio and most charisma will win the day and make it out alive.

Components and Art

Components List:
zombie 4 Action Boards
zombie 6 Player Boards
zombie 16 Loot Cards
zombie 18 Location Cards
zombie 16 Event Cards
zombie 16 Fleeing Cards
zombie 25 Follower cards
zombie 24 Mutant Zombie Boss Cards
zombie 7 Custom Dice
zombie 46 Tokens (20 Mutant Boss wound, 25 Wound, 1 Mutant Boss)
zombie 60 Walker Zombie Miniatures
zombie 1 Actions and Events Guide Player aid
zombie 1 Rule Book

Action Boards:
The action boards consist of three distinct zones where groups of zombies congregate. Zone 3 is the furthest, where the zombies, "see you". Zone 2 is where they start coming for you and zone 1 is when they are on you. Bat, Gun, and Run icons are displayed on the right side of each zone indicating that you can use these actions in these zones. So, for example, you can always run and shoot, but you can only use the bat in zone 1 when they are on you.

Player Boards:
Each board describes a special power and roll combo unique to the character illustrated on them. The boards are placed at the base of the action boards during play.

Loot Cards:
Hobbit sized cards of decent stock which provide players with all manner of goodies like first aid kits, axes, and boom sticks.

Location Cards:
Regular sized playing cards that help take your character on a wistful journey through zombie land from one bucolic scene of gore and death to another like the graveyard, bridge, and, if you are lucky, the town line.

Event Cards:
More hobbit size cards that add an element of unpredictability to an already dangerous and uncertain situation. Sometimes they are good! sometimes, not so much. Other times they give you a chance to screw over another player for your own gain. These are one of the few ways to mess with other players in the game.

Follower Cards:
Regular sized playing cards. Just like in a regular post apocalypse, people can be assets and liabilities. This is illustrated as good traits (the green icon) and bad traits (red icon). Characters also sometimes have special powers (star icons) which are exactly what they sound like. Good or bad, these followers are also worth the points indicated in the top left corner of the card.

These points are often negatively correlated with the followers abilities. So, for example, Infected Tim is worth a lot of points but could turn on you any moment while a geek is worth less points but gives you an extra die because he is a wealth of knowledge in this new world

Mutant Boss Cards:
You'll learn to hate these cards. They're the cards you draw whenever the mutant zombie boss is out and attacking you. They are never a good thing. Unless, you know, you like the idea of more zombies charging you on your turn.

Custom Dice:
These are the dice at the heart of the game. They are the event and action dice that a player rolls on their turn in order to determine what happens to them and what they can do. They are good quality dice. Large, weighty, and reminiscent of King of Tokyo dice. They also have engraved/sunken and colored icons.

Tokens:
The Mutant boss (unless you get the expansion with the model (which I highly recommend), wound tokens, and mutant zombie boss wound/vp tokens. They are thick cardboard stock, smooth and well illustrated.

Walker Zombies:
Really well sculpted zombies. Male and female. Expansions have different models and rules for each but in the base game there is no distinction. I'd love to paint these one day when I have the time.

Action and Events Guide Player Aid:
A comprehensive, thick, cardboard board which shows what each action and event rolled does. This is most useful for book of the dead and search for followers actions and every event. Useful to pass around as a sign of your ending your turn.

Rule Book:
Short (11 pages), very well illustrated rule book which has plenty of pictures art, and clear explanations of play.
Setup
zombie Shuffle each of the decks (follower, loot, etc) and set them up in the center of the table.
zombie Give each player a action board and a character (randomly or by choice) which is placed at the base of each action board.
zombie Place 2 zombies in Zone 1, 3 in Zone 2, and 4 in Zone 3 on each players action board.
zombie Determine start player however you like.
zombie Hand the start player the dice (except the bonus black action die). zombie Begin!

Game Play
Each player takes a turn, then passes their dice to the left if the game end conditions haven't been met.

Each turn has 4 phases:

Phase 1 - Action
During this phase a player rolls their 5 action dice and 1 Event die. The event die locks (cannot be re-rolled) and resolves immediately and before the player can take any actions. Then, the player may re-roll any dice they choose up to twice except for the red zombie icons. They can choose to re-roll these dice only by taking a flee card (flee card draw is only allowed once per turn). This is usually bad. Players then spend their dice to take actions of their choice based on what they rolled.

Events:

All Quiet:
One of the best things that can happen in a zombie apocalypse. Nothing! Another words, you don't add 3 zombies to your zone 3 in the hunt phase. However, you still add any zombies you rolled in zone 3.

Ambush:
Your character takes a wound. Ouch!

Amulet:
A player can either change any non zombie facing die to any new face/action OR re-roll all dice that rolled a zombie in the first roll along with any others of the players choice.

Charge:
A player must advance any 3 zombies on their board one zone towards their character. Any zombies moved onto the player character board cause a wound and are discarded normally.

Nurse:
Helloooo Nurse! You can immediately heal 1 wound or move any 2 zombies back 1 zone.

Zombies Rise:
Braiiiiiins.... Immediately add 1 zombie to the rolling players zone 2 and 1 to their zone 3.


Actions:
Bat:
Each bat rolled kills up to 2 zombies in the rolling players zone 1.

Run:
Allows the rolling player to move any zombie on their board back one zone. If they move a zombie from 3 back than this zombie is discarded and returned to the surplus.

Search for Followers:
The result depends on how many Search for Followers are rolled.
1 = Draw an event card.
2 = Draw one follower card or draw one location card.
3 = Draw two follower cards. Keep one and discard the other.
4 = Draw two follower cards. Keep one and discard the other. Then draw one location card.
5 = Draw two follower cards and keep both OR steal one follower from another player.

Gun:
Each gun a player rolls enables them to kill one zombie in any of their three zones OR to do one damage to the mutant zombie boss and collect a VP/wound counter from it.

Book of the Dead:
Clautu, verata, cough cough nicktu!... Books are powerful. Like the search for followers icon, the more you roll the better they are.
1 = Draw and event card.
2 = Draw a loot card or a location card, or heal one wound.
3 = The rolling player clears any one zone of ALL zombies in it and draws an event card.
4 = The rolling player can either swap any of their followers with any of their opponents followers or clear any zone of all zombies or heal all of their wounds.
5 = The rolling player can either steal one follower from any of their opponents, clear any zone of all zombies and draw a follower card, or draw 2 followers and keep both or draw a loot card and heal all wounds

Zombie:
These dice cannot be re-rolled unless the player character has a special power or if the player draws a flee card (which only works once per turn). Each die with a zombie icon adds one additional zombie to the players zone 3 during the hunt phase.


Phase 2 - Zombies Advance
All the zombies on the player action board now advance from their current zone to the next zone. So, for example, all the zombies in a players zone three move to zone 2. Any zombies on zone 1 that advance onto the player character board cause one wound and are then discarded. A player dies when they accumulate enough wounds to equal their total health. Then, they become one of the walking dead and the game ends.

If the game doesn't end, than the mutant zombie attacks the current player (a mutant zombie card is drawn and resolved for the active player so the mutant zombie will attack every player on their turn).

Optional house rule:
If you are interested in extending the length of the game, my group has a variant play rule where your life pool is actually your followers VP and your characters. So, when you take damage, you can instead make your followers take some or all of it. In this way, you get to feel that, "leaving them behind" "You or me" sort of aspect to the zombie apocalypse and get to decide if you want to be more of a Rick Grimes or a Governor sort of leader

Phase 3 - Hunt
Add 3 zombies to the current players zone 3 PLUS 1 additional zombie for every die they rolled that shows one of those pesky zombie icons.

Phase 4 - Check end game conditions
If a player has 5 followers at the end of their turn, they declare the end game. Every player then gets one last turn (this includes the player that declares the end game condition was met).

Alternative game end conditions would include:
zombie Any player character dies.
zombie Someone finds the town line (draws the town line location card) and the total number of followers in play equal the requirement specified by the card.
zombie Someone manages to accumulate 20 mutant VP tokens (shoots the hell out of the mutant zombie boss).

If any of these alternative conditions are met, the game ends immediately.

Strategy

trade Rule # 1: Cardio. Remember that, above all, this game is a perverted race to the town line. Do your best to outpace your opponents in terms of accumulating followers and VPs from shooting the mutant boss. You don't have to end the game first, just be the frontrunner in points when it ends.

trade Rule # 2: Make sacrifices. Sometimes you just gotta take the hit to get ahead. Maybe this means letting the hoard get up close and gamble on being able to deal with them later so you can shoot some VPs off the mutant boss. Maybe it means taking a wound so you can grab more followers. The point of this game is that you can't always play it safe and focus on clearing zombies from your track. Dead zombies aren't worth points. No matter how high you stack em'.

trade Rule # 3: Know when to run. While it is important to push your luck and do your best to get ahead with followers and VPs, don't lose site of the overall, "staying alive" thing. Sometimes the sacrifice you are making is to not pursue lofty goals like points so that you can take a baseball bat to some heads before you have a all flesh must be eaten problem.

Review

The good stuff:

thumbsup Fun! This game was just a fast and fun experience. I like the flow of play. I roll my dice, execute some actions and made some tactical decisions then pass the dice. For whatever reason, this game really hit my fun button more than other zombie games I've played.

thumbsup Thematically aligned: If you let your imagination take over, the game effectively captures the theme of being in a post apocalypse. You are constantly on the run from a hoard of zombies and trying to gather enough resources and followers from location to location to survive. You are constantly making trade offs between keeping the zombie hoards at a safe distance and capitalizing on opportunities to recruit new party members, accumulate loot, and find the town line. The mechanics are well aligned with this theme and complimentary. The dice add that element of unpredictability to the game that you see in post apocalyptic worlds. Will this round involve a huge herd of zombies coming after you or will that barn over there give you a much needed respite. Maybe the farmer had a shot gun you could use or a spunky daughter with some important skill sets. Should you flee from the herd or risk getting hurt so you can gain a follower? A case can even be made for the isolated play of the game being deliberate as it captures that feel of isolation and being alone in the dark. Even the notion that putting together the best group of survivors and making it to the town first before someone dies and turns in a perverse sort of race as the end condition fits with the theme well.

thumbsup Easy teach: Other than knowing what the dice combinations do and remembering order of resolution, the game is an easy teach and entertaining enough to be played as a light filler with gamers or non gamers alike. The theme is pretty mainstream now as well which makes it even more accessible to casual gamers.

thumbsup Components: Really good. The dice, the art, the fantastic miniatures, the cardboard stock, etc etc., There is just a lot of good production value here. Some may argue it is over produced for what it is but I never really mind that. I like to see so much quality put into a game.

thumbsup Solo Play Variant with Difficulty levels: The game includes rules for solo play and has difficulty levels (Hard Enough, Very Hard, and Too Hard). Personally, I don't consider this a big selling point as I prefer to play video games solo to board games because I enjoy the social aspect to board gaming BUT for those interested, it is a nice feature to include. Though, multiplayer is a lot like solo play anyway... which brings me to the, "bad stuff".

The bad stuff:

thumbsdown Isolated play: Run, Fight, or Die! is largely a "group solo play" experience. There are some ways to interfere/interact with other players but the game is largely a solitary venture. For players looking for a game that involves more of an ability to impact other opponents play this wouldn't be for them. This could easily become a plus for people looking for a good solitary experience either in a group or just playing on their own. Though personally, at that point, I'd rather play a FPS like left for dead or something else on my console.

thumbsdown Only one player reference for dice: The game would have benefitted from having a player aid board for each player instead of just one that is passed around.


Conclusion
Run, Fight, or Die! does a good job of constantly forcing you to balance running and fighting zombies and surviving with recruiting and building up your resources to win the game. The play isn't exactly competitive because you mainly just try not to die so it feels more like multiplayer solitaire where you are not trying to run faster than the zombies just faster than your opponents because once anyone dies, the game ends and you want to be in front with the best followers when that happens. The most you work together is to deal with the mutant boss when it spawns because it is bad news for everyone if he is allowed to roam from player to player every turn.

I like to break this game out every Halloween because it is fun, fast, an easy teach, and can be played with gamers and non gamers just as easily so it works at parties or at game nights as a filler. Hardly strategic in terms of play but if you are looking for a light, fun, tactical experience that captures the feel of a zombie apocalypse in under an hour, give this game a try.







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