This post is based on 5 solo plays of the pnp condensed version of the game.
I wanted to share my impressions as well as some issues/doubts I had while playing.
I wanted to try DA for 2 main reasons: it can be played solo and it is a zombie game, a theme that for yet unknown reasons I am recently interested into.
The art is dark and seems to approach the theme in a "serious" way (in the sense that it is not cartoonish), while the names of the different types of zombie sound, on the contrary, a bit ridiculous ("diligent zombie", "callous zombie", "maniacal zombie", "disgraceful zombie" etc....).
I assume this was done on purpose to put some humor into the game, but to me it appears just as if names and art don't belong much to each other. It is of course a very personal opinion, as everything else in this post, but I think the game would have gained more with a continuity of "seriousness" in the cards names too.
I liked the mechanics because they carry on very well with the theme: you are a survivor on your way to the CDC (Center of Disease Control) and you have to defeat a multitude of zombies in order to access the resources needed for the journey: allies, locations, equipments.
This is simulated by having a row of zombie cards in front of the resource row. To get a resource card in your discard pile you first have to defeat the zombie card.
This works much better thematically, in this particular game, than the usual deckbuilding marketplace where you buy stuff with money.
Also, defeating the zombies that stand in your way is just the first part of the hurdle as you always have to suffer "after combat" effects.
This means that every encounter with a zombie, either because it attacked you or because you decided to attack it, will end with you temporarily discarding a resource or permanently losing ("ditching") it altogether.
The minimum that can happen is getting infection cards that will clutter your hand of cards that, being of just 5 cards, it is already very small.
Another smart design choice was done by placing the goal (the CDC card) among the last 10 cards of the zombie deck and to rule that if you don't defeat at least one zombie during your turn the zombies will devour 1 resource card from the resource deck for each player.
This make it so that you cannot just sit and wait but are forced to fend your way through the horde until that goal card shows up BEFORE all the resources available are depleted.
I found this very thematic and well done.
Some cards in the full game seem to have also a "repeat" effect that accellerate this resource consumption by zombies left unchallenged.
What left me a bit cold was the fact that, since each resource card is protected by a single zombie card, the difficulty of finally reaching the CDC is mostly left to the type of zombie card in front of it.
You may have a bad hand with 3 infection cards or lose more resources than you wished due to combat but, generally, you grow stronger and better equipped as you go on defeating zombies (in this regard the generic mechanic of deckbuilding is still the same).
So in my plays I found that the challenge was not much of defeating that last zombie protecting the CDC (which could be a mere "2" value card) but rather of surviving until that chance showed up.
The tension seems to remain pretty much the same during the whole gameplay while I probably would have liked a bit more of build-up of tension and difficulty towards the last phase of conquering the CDC.
I liked the fact that in total I won only 2 out of 5 games so I cannot say it is too easy.
But I think that was also partially because I interpreted the rules so that any location not occupied or that had just been occupied at the beginning of a turn (therefore whith humans cards "tapped" and not fighting) did not contribute to the total damage that can be dealt to the zombies.
I mean that I treated a location as something giving a bonus to its occupants and therefore not participating in combat if no human was occupying it or if occupied by humans not able to fight.
I could not find an explanation in the rules, on this matter, so I don't know if this was correct but I assume that the game would be much easier (maybe too much) otherwise.
Another doubt I had was about the priority of the "after combat" effects: I played down all my cards first, then I picked a fight with zombies one at a time applying its effects immediately after defeating it. So, for example, if I defeated a "diligent zombie" walker then I ditched a Survivor in play BEFORE I could use it.
This reduced the number of cards I could play on the next zombie.
Again I am not sure this is the correct way:
I could have defeated all zombies cumulatively, using all cards put in play, and only then applying the after-combat effects to cards in play when they had already been used.
Or I could have played cards in sequence, for example playing a Survivor AFTER having defeated the "diligent zombie" with another human or with a location so as not having to ditch the Survivor because it was not in play yet.
If anyone has the right instructions to offer, that would be helpful and appreciated.
So, in conclusion, I found this game appealing to me for theme and mechanics. It plays very well solo. I think it is interesting and challenging even if without much climax, but I imagine that this could be easily adjusted with a few house-rule tweaks.
Finally I believe it may benefit by a clearer explanation which is lacking in the PnP condensed version but I assume it is present in the actual game rulebook.
A nice game experience overall and congratulations to the designers.
- Last edited Sun Nov 13, 2016 3:10 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:12 pm
Hey there, thanks for the delightful review. You were correct to have said: I interpreted the rules so that any location not occupied or that had just been occupied at the beginning of a turn (therefore whith humans cards "tapped" and not fighting) did not contribute to the total damage that can be dealt to the zombies. However, when it comes to power from Humans and Locations, you can determine the aggregate of all power acquired for the turn prior to dispersing. That way in your example, you still get the benefit from your survivor prior to it being ditched. I hope this helps