How many times did I play the game before this review?
Seven times solo:
- 6x with normal rules but without timer: 2 loses (Scout), 1 win (Historian), 1 lose (Scroundel), 1 win (Scroundel), 1 win (Yachtsman)
- 1x with timer, standard 55 minutes: 1 win (Construction Worker)
And I played a 2 players game once but we had to quit the game on the 4th Location with a good position to win.
Background: the long and winding road to get the game (you can skip this to the game below)
I keep reading about Warfighter in BGG. They say that the game is fun and very narrative. I am afraid that my group will not like the game because the game is too complicated and because of the theme. And I remember that I tried to learn how to play Up Front myself and keep banging my head on the wall (and somehow I entered the Up Front Kickstarter, and... you know the rest).
Then I read that Rise of the Zombies (RotZ) is Warfighter's little brother/sister. It's lighter, you can see the complexity in BGG is about 2.00, compare with Warfighter's 2.71. Then I read more about RotZ in BGG. The more I read, the more I intrigued with this game. People say the game is sooo hard and not fair, but some others say that it's winnable but you have to use EVERYTHING in the game. Means the game is very tight and will evoke the zombie apocalypse feel. Hmmm. Sweet.
After reading more, I need to get the game. To my surprise, there are more and more online board game shops that remove Indonesia from their country list. WHAT? I mailed them the question, they say that many packages were lost while shipped here. Really? I have ordered many games from many sources around the world and every - single - one arrived safely. And I have shipped hundreds of my games (I self publish my little games such as Goblins vs Zombies and Soccer 17) to the world and every - single - one arrived. Yes, no missing package at all from and to Indonesia for me. Oh well...
But then I found NWS. They sell mainly wargames, and they have RotZ in stock with an incredible low price. wow! (it's a WOW! but after adding shipping to Indonesia later, it's just a wow! ). Again, Indonesia is not in their country list. But it will be worth the struggle, so I mailed them, and long story short, they agreed to ship the game to me. BIG thanks NWS for the extra work to process my order. They are very helpful.
And now waiting for the game... after about three weeks, the game showed up. You see? No problem shipping to Indonesia. Hear ye! Hear ye!
But now it's time to open the box!
The box is nice and quite big. I will prefer smaller box though. Because there's no board, the one that have the same size with the box is the rulebook, and of course I prefer smaller rulebook too.
The paper insert is weak and thin but still serviceable.
The timer is an ok addition but I prefer using my HP for that.
The cards, the meat of the game, are great. The cards are thick and feel good in your hand. I like the pictures, fit the game really well.
There are so many counters for the Health and Experience. I haven't played with 8 players so I don't know the counters are too many or not, but a little bit bigger counter size will be better I think.
The plastic stands are ok but I only get 8, and there are more Survivors available than that. This means you have to pick a Survivor first then put the standee in the plastic stand. It will be great if they can provide more so each Survivor standee will have a plastic stand.
So far the components are good enough. I like the box (although wants smaller box) and the cards. Now to the game!
Learning the game solo
You choose one Survivor starting from the Safe House (1st Location) and must reach the Helicopter (8th Location), clean all the Zombies on that Location to fly away with the Helicopter to win the game.
Suggestion to publisher: the back of the rulebook shows an ads for DVG's other games. I will much, much prefer a rules reminder on the back of the book. For example, in my first few games I need to flip the book again and again just to make sure the turn order is correct (it's on page 6 out of 20 pages), and to check many things else. Put the rules reminder on the back of the book and you will have happier gamers
Here's the turn flow (6 steps):
1. Discard 0 or more cards from your hand
2. Draw until your HP
Tips: This reminds me of Castle Panic where you will use most/all cards drawn because your hand will be restocked again next turn. Sometimes you will save some cards for future turns, but usually it's better for you to play them or give them to other players this turn, especially the free / zero cost card.
Beware: when you take damages, your hand size will shrink. Prepare some healing nearby in case that happens.
3. Player Turn.
There is no turn order in this step. Each player can play any cards until everyone satisfied and continue to the next step.
Now this is interesting, and this is the one that intrigue me the most. Why? Because if all cards are in each player's hand and there's no turn order, it will create a good discussion between players and there will be less alpha player syndrome. Any one can play any card anytime. Interesting.
4. Zombies move
5. Zombies attack
This means you have to clean the board from any nearby zombies or else they will move then attack you.
6. Zombies spawn.
Spawn one zombie one location behind the rearest survivor. If you're in the Safe House (1st location) the Zombie will appear there. After you move from the Safe House (after you are ready, of course), the Zombie will spawn one location behind you. Prepare yourself a ranged weapon for that if you can.
How's the gameplay? They say this game is insanely hard?
Yes, the game is hard and tight. You need to understand a few things first (especially when to move and when NOT to move) before the game will click. If you play randomly or carelessly, the zombies will eat you alive. Guaranteed. In your first few games, unless you have understand the strategy a bit, prepare to lose the game badly and sometimes on the Safe House. Enjoy the journey
I'd say that the game is hard but fair.
Suggestion for new players: play the game without the timer so you will have the time to think about all the available tactics/strategy.
But, but it has dice!
Yes, you will have the 'aaarggh it's a 1', then 'reroll!' (using Historian special ability), then 'arrrgh! Another 1!!' moment .
But this game cleverly has the no-luck attack: Final Attacks. You discard that weapon and immediately deals X damage divided to any Zombies of your choice in that weapon's range. You can even attack normally with the weapon (roll the dice) then discard it to use the Final Attack. Do you throw away this precious weapon for the Final Attack, or do I keep it for future turns?
And sometimes when you need Location cards, you can't have that (happens to me 3 turns in a row in my last game, wasting my precious time). Just keep digging the cards, and you will find one soon. With the zombie apocalypse theme, it's just make sense. It's chaos and you have to manage the chaos on your favor. And I like it a lot.
But what if the first Zombie is Herd? (the toughest Zombie card with 12 Health)
Usually it's not the end of the world (uh?). You can still get rid of it. Read here.
It's the same complain in Goblins vs Zombies: a first turn Knight Zombie or Dwarf Zombie makes it not winnable! No. Keep digging, you'll find a Goblin that can do the job. It's part of the design and the designer (uh) aware of that. Eventhough you are really unlucky, you still have the Dragon to clear the board.
(Yes sometimes it happens too. In my 4th game with the Scoundrel, Herd is the first Zombie. It's an epic struggle for many turns before he died without going anywhere. Replay! Again, the Herd is my first Zombie. Revenge time! I win that game )
Is it fiddly?
I like Sentinels of the Multiverse. I even start a journey to find the best 2 players game variant (since SotM is for 3-5 Players, if you play 2 players one/both players must use two Heroes, which I don't like).
One thing about SotM that keep bothering me is the fiddliness. Counters will be everywhere and many effect will resolve on many conditions (if you discard a card, the first time you attack, the first time you take damage, all fire attacks will... etc etc). Many times during the game usually my head spins because I don't like playing the game wrong.
RotZ starts the game with not many cards in play and slowly go to the same route. Cards will be everywhere, but even though when the cards are all over the place sometimes it's quite difficult to remember and follow, it's still in my limit, still manageable with many things to consider and to decide. I like it a lot.
Do you feel the zombie apocalypse?
Yes. YES! For each card play, for each roll (even if the result makes you groan) if I take a moment, I can see a scene of zombie apocalypse movie in my head. And with many different cards, the movie will be different each time. (but too bad if you use the timer, you will not have the time to enjoy the scene! )
In my last game with the Construction Worker (standard game, 55 minutes), the clock is ticking with only a few minutes left and the helicopter is about to leave.
Between me and the heli, there are many zombies, including a Herd of Zombies (with 12 Health!) and 2 Howlers that attracts more Zombies. Yikes! Looking around, I found a Propane Tank, and throw it to the Zombie Herd. KABOOM!
Then I use my Riffle to shot a Hulker, but click click! Need reload. D*mn! No, not this time! I use my other Riffle to shot the Zombies and killed one. Then I use all attacks I can to weakened the rest of the zombies and destroy the Zombie Herd. A dog helps me with one of the Zombies, thanks Beast! But still, too many undead left blocking my way to the heli.
Then I hear the helicopter engine starts (54th minute!). WAAIT FOR MEEEEE!!! They can't leave me behind after all I went through! But those undead will not let me.
What can I do?
I count the rest of the Health of the remaining Zombies. 12 Health. I have no more attacks. The only hope is my Final Attacks since the heli is starting to move up (seconds left!).
I count the number of Final Attacks on all my weapons. If it's enough, I will survive, if not, then I'll become zombie snack. Gulp.
I count.... Final Attacks with 12 damage. Exactly the number I need!! With a final burst, the Construction Worker run and jump to reach the heli.
Right on time as the heli flies, leaving the destroyed city below where more and more zombies are coming...
The ending feel like the ending of a game I played a long time ago (above picture).
(tell me the title of that game above on the comment below, the first correct answer gets five GG from me!).
A grand finale! Phewwww!!!
I win with a level 1 Epic Victory because I was forced to go to the sewer (an epic, harder location) as my 6th location because of the time. When you use the timer, the game becomes much more interesting because you will be forced to do things you don't want to do.
- Some components can be better.
- Rules and Cards design can be better/clearer.
- When I play, usually both the Zombie deck and the Action Deck will be reshuffled once. After you understand how the game works, sometimes you can predict what kind of Locations you will go/wait, what kind of weapons you will keep/discard, etc (it's NOT that predictable since the struggle at the beginning of the game is the hardest and at that time you must use whatever you have). If the publisher ever releases an expansion , I'm sure the size of the deck will be doubled (or tripled )so we will not see all cards in one play, and this will boost the uncertainty and replayability. And maybe an alternate endings to spice the game up. And then this may reach my first ever '10' rating game!
If you like a tight game, if you like zombie survival game, this game is highly RECOMMENDED!
Hi from Germany,
yes I agree, RotZ is a good game (system).
But it has a much bigger potential than the original game itself.
Too bad, nearly all players are (apparently) content with the original, and they miss the chance to turn a game like RotZ into a really enjoyable experience time and again.
Customize the game, add own ideas and game elements. Develop the original system further and further. The results are incredible. And the investment in the original game fully pays off.
WARFIGHTER is "too complicated"?
I do not share this assessment. The game is as straightforward as a burst from an assault rifle and the game mechanisms are simple (that's a compliment not a negative criticism).
The challenge of the game is TO MASTER it.
And again, customize it!
You would be surprised how much one can get out of such a brilliant game system.
Just some thoughts.
Let's hope RotZ gathers more players so the publishers can make expansion(s). I think at least one with a lot of cards will be enough
About Warfighter: well, there are a LOT of small counters and thicker rulebook, so it looks like more complicated.
(I forgot to tell, I ordered RotZ together with the core game of Warfighter . Already bite the bullet )
hi Jack. Please make more games! Zombies of D?
Thanks for the pat on the back. Right now I have one game ready after many many playtests but want to tweak it some more. Need to find the time to do it