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Subject: Team Play: "The Key to Survival" rss

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Shawn T
United States
New York
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Hey gang. Here's a variant I made up for a game last night. We had a good time with two teams of two. Change it up as much as you'd like! There are notes within, but here's one for now: We used Zombies!!! 2nd Edition with only one of the two decks from 3.5.
"The Key to Survival"
A Zombies!!! Variant by Shawn T (chronicdichotomy)

Description: Stranded in a town teeming with walking corpses, you and your partner(s) have just learned that there's a chance at escape--in the form of a helicopter somewhere in town. It's got enough room only for you and your team. There are just a few complications: First, it's gonna need a bit more gas to get past the town limits; second, you'll need to find the keys; and last, other survivors just learned the same thing and plan on getting the chopper before you do!

1. If you and your partner can be the first to amass 50 zombies in your collection (combined, though keep separate pools for ease of play), you win. Essentially, you've mastered survival tactics among the undead and are guaranteed to make it until help arrives.

2. Before it can take off, the helicopter requires more fuel from the gas station. The survivors also need the ignition key. If the helicopter is refueled and one member of the team can make it to the center of the 'copter tile with the key, that team wins! (It's assumed that that player flies over to rescue his or her team.)

(Note: Unless stated otherwise, play or set up as normal. For instance, you should shuffle the copter tile into the bottom half, place Town Square, etc. as normal...)

1. Before shuffling, flip through tiles until you come to the first named building. That's the building in which the helicopter pilot bit the dust and dropped his keys. That information is announced to all players, then the deck is shuffled and set as normal.

2. Create or establish tokens to signify fuel cannisters and the key. (We used a penny for the key and dimes for the fuel.)


1. As stated, partners keep separate piles of zombies, but the piles are totaled in order to make the winning number of 50.

2. Teammates can trade cards and/or items and/or bullets (but not health) ONLY if their pawns meet in the same square on a tile. Unless a card says otherwise, a player can only boost his or her own character when playing a card, and not his teammates. (Ex. If you play "The Keys Are Still In It," it must benefit you.) If you want your buddy to enjoy the card, meet him somewhere and swap cards, keeping totals in hand to the normal max of 3. At any time, you may plot, secretly show/view cards, and grin wickedly in efforts to intimidate your opponents.

3. As soon as the Gas Station is placed, that player places one gas token in addition to the normal set-up. It goes right inside the door of the station for easy reference. As with other tokens, it is picked up by a player as soon as the player enters the space and no zombie is in that space. Note: There is one gas token for every player. (They drop on the tile one at a time, with one replacing another.)As such, several people can have fuel at once, which may or may not lessen the amount of "stealing" that occurs for fuel. (See "Stealing.") A player can only hold one fuel tank at a time. The keys, one the other hand, are a different story.

4. Once the pre-determined building card drops, place the key token in addition to normal set-up. The player who drops the card decides the square in which the key is placed, and the key can defy normal limits to what can appear in a single square at one time. Note: Unlike the fuel tanks, there is only one key to the helicopter--to start, anyway! If one has the inclination, a player in possession of the key can enter the Hardware Store and use its equipment to copy the key! A player may hold multiple copies of the key. (Be sure to pay the hardware store owner for use of his machine with a bullet to the head, since he currently wants to eat your face...)

5. "Butter Fingers" can be used to force an opponent to drop a fuel token. That fuel cannister tips and the gas spills into the earth, gone for good. Bummer! You can't "Butter Finger" the key, but don't worry; there are other methods for nabbing it...

6. So, how the heck do I get that key from my opponent?!

A) Use your abilities to manipulate zombies and events (cards) to kill opponents carrying valuable fuel or the key. These items drop onto the very square in which the poor player met his or her horrible fate. Since the killed player is back at Town Square, this hopefully puts you or yours in a better position to grab the goods.

B) Enter combat, which is modified from the basic zombie plastering stuff. Here it is...

1. You can enter combat ONCE each turn, so long as you share a space with an opponent (by moving, playing a card, etc.). You may not enter combat with an opponent unless you intend to steal either fuel or a key (or both) from him or her. Also, you don't have to enter combat at all, if you don't want to.

2. Only the player whose turn it is may initiate combat; should he or she pass through opponents, those opponents may not call for combat.

3. Here's the system: The player who initiates combat attacks in the usual manner. Regardless of the number, he or she may add bullets as desired to achieve a higher number.

**If this initial result (with bullet modifiers, if any)is between 1 and 3, the player has two options: He or she can either 1) call off the fight (and that's the last of it) OR 2) spend a heart token to try again.

**If this initial result (with bullet modifiers, if any)is between 4 and 6, the *defender* has three options: He or she can 1) use bullet tokens to LOWER the attacker's total result to 3 or less OR 2) use a heart token to force a re-roll (bullets spent by attacker are still spent) OR 3) submit to the attacker and hand over the goods. All of them. If the defender chooses to surrender the goods, he or she does NOT lose a heart token.

If two teammates are on the same square and an attacker comes along, the attcker joins them in the square but engages only the player in possession of the item. (Consider it a surprise attack.) It's still advantageous to buddy up on squares, however, since the attacker can't get very far, and will possibly be weakened from the first fight...

It's obvious that player vs. player fights can be costly, but that's inherent to the theme of so many of our favorite zombies films--humans fighting one another, taking casualities even as the horde staggers ever closer.

Also evident is the fact that a player with more heart and tokens is more likely to win an exchange for precious items. But, um, that makes sense, doesn't it? So, teammates should try to help their friends by giving them bullets and items while pushing zombies toward opponents.

It's also clear that, whenever possible, it's better to have the zombies take out an opponent (or at least weaken him or her) rather than do it yourself.

7. If any player arrives at the helicopter center square with fuel (and no zombie), the helipcopter is considered fueled and needs no more. AFTER THIS POINT, any player with a "Molotov Cocktail" card and a fuel tank may spend the fuel to activate the card. Might as well put it to good use!

That's about it. The variant hasn't had much playtesting, but I think it's a solid one that we on the boards can firm up. I will also say that it lends itself to several good qualities sometimes lacking in the original game:

1. Teamwork (obviously)
2. A need to move around the town.
3. Increased problem solving and plotting.
4. Increased drama. (The weaker, wounded guy sometimes chooses to give up his weapons, bullets, fuel and/or key so a healthier character can make for the chopper and eventually come back for the rescue. Also, opposing players, hoping to avoid spilled blood and spent bullets in light of the surrounding zombies, may negotiate a non-violent exchange.)

Oh, and if you're thinking it's crazy that one person could heft enough fuel for a flight out of town... 1. The helicopter isn't empty, it just needs a bit more. 2. You're playing a game where death means respawning in Town Square. Let it go!

Enjoy, and let me know how it goes!

- Shawn
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