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Subject: Rushing! Biting! Bashing! - A Back Burner Games Review of STUDENT BODIES rss

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Zach Lorton
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Alton
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It's been a while since I've been able to share a good review with all of you fine, fine people. Today, I bring you my review of the 2014 game STUDENT BODIES from Smirk & Dagger Games and Angry Duck Games, designed by Matthieu Regney, Michel Grenier, and Aaron Russo.

I had seen Student Bodies in the clearance section of many online retailers, such as Miniature Market, Cool Stuff, Inc., and several others. The common thread of thought is that if there are a ton of games in the clearance section of a well-known game retailer, it must not be any good, right?

NOT TRUE, GOOD PEOPLE! Student Bodies is fun with a capital BRRRRAAAAAAAAIIIINSSSSS . . .



I purchased a brand new, still in shrink-wrap copy of Student Bodies from someone at Geekway to the West 2017 for the paltry sum of $12.00, and it was money well spent. This game does a wonderful job of conjuring up not only the fun of being in high school, but also the terror of being in high school, and adds freaking zombies to the mix. Where Dead of Winter is fully immersive and provides a great deal of tension without letting up, Student Bodies brings a greater sense of fun and complexity without being as weighty. Don't get me wrong, Dead of Winter is the superior game for sure, but if you want to have a great zombie experience where you play high school students running back and forth down the same hallway while trying to avoid getting the undead bite (their hormones make them a little stupid), the Student Bodies fits the bill in about 90 minutes or less.



The artwork in this game is fantastic. Fun, easy to see in a comic book, and whimsically violent, the artwork speaks to the fun and horror that you're about to embark on.

Student Bodies is a competitive game rather than a cooperative. The idea is "I don't have to outrun all the zombies, I only have to outrun all of you," and the choices you make on your turns will be dictated by that.

Turns are simple.
1. Ready your items! Each player has a backpack that can hold many items that can give you an advantage, and you can ready up to three of them for use on your turn.
2. Zombie Turn! Pull a card from the Zombie Deck and follow the instructions. You could spawn new zombies, or give all the zombies on the board a number of actions, or any other variety of . . . things. On the zombie turn, you have to start with the zombie nearest to a player -- ANY player, even if it's not your own. Zombies can move toward the players, attack them, and . . . yeah, that's about it.
3. Player Turn! Each player starts with 3 Stamina, which they can use to move in any direction, and 5 cards they can use to play on their turn any way they're able. The card abilities include attacking enemies (an enemy is anyone but you, but usually other zombies), rushing past zombies without being attacked, pushing enemies out of the way, knocking them down, and other things. Some cards can be played without spending any stamina, and some have a stamina cost. Some cards are reactive, and can only be used if a trigger condition is met, even if not on that player's turn. Other cards can be played as a Fast Action, which means it can be played at any time during the game.
4. Clean Up! Reset your stamina, discard any cards you don't want in your hand, and draw cards back up to your hand limit (usually 5).

And that's how it goes. Each player goes through those four steps, which means that zombies have a higher chance of attacking you and the other players between turns, especially if you play with 4 or 5 players, and if you don't have any defense cards, you're kind of screwed. Or are you?

In Student Zombies, you have 5 health to your character. Once your character has been bitten 5 times, you die, but in true zombie fashion, you become a Smart Zombie and begin playing against all the other student players! Your role suddenly becomes eat everything. Sure, you can attack other zombies if it gives you an advantage, but you might not want to if keeping them on the board will help you.

The object of the game is simple if you're a Student. Run down the hallway of the school, break into the science lab, find the zombie virus antidote, drink it, then run all the way BACK down the way you came and out the exit doors before any other player does. If you do that, you win!

If you become a Smart Zombie, though, your goal is to make sure all the other Student players die and/or become Smart Zombies. If you do that, you win!

The mechanics of the game can bog down a good review, so I'll leave you to discover those on your own. The course of playing this game is a lot of fun, and once you get the hang of how everything works, you'll find yourself whizzing through this as quickly as the other players at your table will allow you to go. Along the way, killed zombies are replaced with Corpse tokens, which could have valuable items underneath, or they could be empty, or they could result in you getting bitten. There's a level of risk to everything you do, so you'll have to carefully measure your health level against those risks to see if it's worth trying. The game does reward risk though, so have fun trying some things out. If you don't like the cards in your hand, discard them! There's always a possibility you'll get something that will help you out between this turn and the next.

You can play up to five players, but you're definitely going to be attacked more, and I would expect at least one or two Smart Zombies to appear in the games with higher player counts. So run at your own risk, swing those weapons, and do your best to find the antidote in time, because if you don't make it out alive, someone else might.

I give Student Bodies a hearty 7 out of 10 brains!
A wonderful, enjoyable time for fans of gore and blood and fun, without all the nasty emotions. If you can pick it up, even for a discounted price, you won't be sorry.

Bon appetit!
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Bill Cook
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Wasn't Student Bodies a movie I tried to watch through wavy lines back in the early days of pay cable?
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Zach Lorton
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EMBison wrote:
Wasn't Student Bodies a movie I tried to watch through wavy lines back in the early days of pay cable?

Likely, yeah.
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Scott Mohnkern
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EMBison wrote:
Wasn't Student Bodies a movie I tried to watch through wavy lines back in the early days of pay cable?


Yes it was, but has nothing to do with the game. Student Bodies the game is a cutthroat zombie run game. Student Bodies the movie is a parody of slasher films, made way before the current set, and in my opinion, a better treatment.
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