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Subject: A Review of Zombies!!! -- Not Our Cup of Tea rss

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My wife sneaked up behind me while I was working in the garden. I was so startled I soiled myself.
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This past Saturday the Shreveport Strategy Gamers group met and played Zombies!!! for the first time. Actually, the game’s owner, James ("ShreveportLAGamer"), had played 3-4 times before, but the rest of us, including Aaron, John, Ariel, Jeremy, my wife ("trophywife"), and our two kids -- ages 10 and 8 -- had never played before.

Before we started, James offered me a choice between playing Zombies!!!, That's Life! , or Citadels. Having never been interested in playing any kind of zombie game, I had never read up on them, and was concerned about the possible level of "gruesomeness", especially if our kids played, and was leaning towards Citadels. However, James assured me that the violence in Zombies!!! was mostly abstract, so I acquiesced, and we all sat down to play. My wife and I each partnered with one of our kids, letting them draw the tiles, roll the dice, and move our figures, so we ended up with a total of seven players.

James handed me a notebook full of rules, and my heart sank. I wasn’t wanting to have to deal with numerous pages of rules and exceptions. However, it turned out that the basic rules only covered three pages, and the rest of the notebook consisted of his collection of rules for expansions (all of which he owns), variants, and copies of Q&A sessions, plus notes on the game from BGG. That was a relief.

While James got all the cards, tiles, and various items laid out (including a pair of non-skid mats for kitchen shelves that he laid side-by-side to keep the tiles from sliding around), I read the rules aloud to the other players. Each player’s turn consists of six steps:
1. Draw and place a tile (with constraints similar to Carcassonne);
2. Add zombies, life markers, and bullet markers to the new tile as necessary;
3. Combat any zombies currently in your square;
4. Draw Event cards until you are back up to three (if necessary);
5. Roll 1d6 and move that many squares, combating zombies along the way; and
6. Roll to move some zombies.

Giving you a blow-by-blow description of the game we played would be really dull, so instead I’ll give you some of our impressions of it. Let me preface these remarks by saying that I am not a fan of zombie movies, or even horror movies in general, so the theme of the game didn’t do anything for me. This allowed me to view the mechanics and game play dispassionately.

Lackluster Game Play
At its heart Zombies! is a roll-and-move game. The ability to interrupt anyone’s turn at any time with an Event card, some of which can affect everyone, might seem like a break, but you are quickly back to rolling those d6s. Apart from stopping to fight and occasionally pick up a life or bullet token, there wasn’t much difference between this the Game of Life, where you spin and move, and occasionally pick up a family member.

Something that bothered me was that the game seemed to be set up to force the humans to compete with each other for the extra lives and bullets. In any movie I’ve seen where a small group of people are menaced by some strange creature(s), the humans band together and work for the survival of the whole group. Instead, the Event cards in Zombie! seem to be more like a series of "take that" actions. Although I wasn’t expecting a co-op game, I didn’t expect the level of competition between the humans that I found.

Slow Moving
We played that one game for three solid hours and still weren’t finished when my wife and I had to leave at 10 p.m. to take our kids home to put them to bed. I don’t know how much longer the rest of them stuck it out, or even if they finished the game.

There seemed to be a lot of down time during the game. Some of that can be attributed to six of the seven players being unfamiliar with the game, but after a few turns we had the system down pretty well, so that can’t be the whole answer. Part of the slowness could be blamed on having seven people playing, but James said the game is supposed to accommodate up to eight players, so that can’t be it.

I think the biggest holdup was each player having to stop the read the cards that s/he drew in the middle of the turn. The text is not always the clearest to someone new to the game, and sometimes the card had to be read 2-3 times before the sense of it sunk in and you could decide whether it was a good one to keep, meanwhile all the other players are waiting on you. Maybe if the cards were drawn at the end of the turn, the player could take time while others are rolling and moving to read and comprehend their new cards.

The high amount of down time quickly bored our kids, and they kept starting impromptu games of "hide and seek" under the tables in the pizza place we meet in. We had similar-sized groups at previous meetings and played Small World, Pirate's Cove, and Ticket to Ride, and the kids never got bored with those games, sticking with them to the end (each of those games took about an hour and a half). I blame their inattention to Zombies! on the fact that it’s just not a very fun or interesting game, and it dragged on all evening.

And only moving your human the distance rolled by 1d6 made for really slow travel. Again, two or three poor rolls and your character could take two or three entire turns just to run the length of one whole tile.

Plays Like a Video Game
Zombies!!! reminded me very strongly of an ‘80s video game that had been converted to a board game. You start out with three lives and three bullets, and if all your lives get used up, you immediately go back to the beginning and get three new lives and bullets. The only difference is that you get to keep half the zombies you killed before dying.

Scarcity of Supplies
There didn’t seem to be nearly enough lives and bullets scattered around town. Even with a 50/50 chance of killing each zombie, if there were several zombies in one building, and you had a string of poor rolls, you could easily spend more lives and bullets in killing the zombies than you would get in return for picking up the tokens. Thus the "risk vs. reward" comparison mostly seemed negative. Consequently, most of us stayed out in the streets, just waiting until the helipad was turned up.

We were all surprised that the police station and sporting goods store had so few bullets. We discussed making a house rule that once someone had collected all the bullets in either place, after that player left the building, the bullets would be replenished. (We were also surprised that the record store had as many bullets as it did. We joked that maybe the store gave you a free box of bullets with every gangsta rap CD sold.)

Unequal Point Distribution
We all found it irritating that it took the same effort (i.e. die rolls, bullets, and lives) to kill a zombie dog as to kill a zombie person, but the dogs only counted as half-kills. Also, although it was much harder to kill a radioactive zombie (6 on a 1d6), it still only counted as one kill.

Summary
In short, we didn’t care for Zombies!!! at all. In fact, only halfway through the game my wife and I had lost interest in it, but we hate leaving in the middle of games because that isn’t fair to the remaining players. Unfortunately, the game lasted an hour past our kids’ bedtime, and we finally were forced to leave. On the drive home we agreed that we had no interest in ever playing this again, and that it would not be a game our family would buy.


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Gordon Adams
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Nice review of a game that I find extremely tedious.

I usually make up my own grades from zero to ten after playing a game at least five times. Zombies!!! got a 1 from me...yes, I was probably in a generous mood at the time whistle

Edit:typo
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Bernd Caspers
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Funny, this is one of 2 reviews of Zombies!!! very recently and the other reviewer seems to think just the opposite of what this reviewer says of the game.
That´s normal, people have there opinions and tastes.
What´s strange however, is the fact that whenever there is a negative review of Zombies!!! here, some people seem to feel the need to come to the poster of the review and give them a virtual hug and say:"You...you hate Zombies!!! too?", with tears of bittersweet joy in their eyes.
That´s a BGG phenomenon...
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Dan O'Brien
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Quote:
Funny, this is one of 2 reviews of Zombies!!! very recently and the other reviewer seems to think just the opposite of what this reviewer says of the game.
That´s normal, people have there opinions and tastes.
What´s strange however, is the fact that whenever there is a negative review of Zombies!!! here, some people seem to feel the need to come to the poster of the review and give them a virtual hug and say:"You...you hate Zombies!!! too?", with tears of bittersweet joy in their eyes.
That´s a BGG phenomenon...


I thought the same thing when I popped open the Geek. 2 reviews of Zombies?

It's usually fun and light for those who like the theme. If you don't, why bother?
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"L'état, c'est moi."
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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A nice review summing up exactly why I don't like the game either. And I even like the odd zombie movie, like Shaun of the Dead.

The best thing I can say about Zombies is that it comes with 100 plastic zombies, which has been handy for my RPG sessions, but really, I could have saved a lot of money by just buying the zombies by the bag.
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Sven Teuber
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claymore_57 wrote:
At its heart Zombies! is a roll-and-move game.


Yes, Zombies!!! is basically about rolling dice and moving around. It doesn't pretend to be anything else. In fact, it's even printed on the box: This game is a no-brainer. ;-)

That's why I raised an eyebrow or two when I read "Shreveport Strategy Gamers group" right at the beginning of your review. Zombies!!! involves about as much strategy as Pachisi or Uno.

Accepting this premise, it's a fun, light game with a nice theme, picking up on the clichés of zombie movies. One of them being that the crazy record store owner has a whole arsenal of guns and plenty of ammo in his store.

And yes, most of the fun comes from competitive play.

I agree that the game can drag on for hours when played with more than 3 or 4 players, because it's much harder to gain 25 Zombies since there is the same amount of them as in a two player game. The game becomes a "waiting for the helipad"-exercise then. So you can blame the box, saying "up to 8 players", for luring you into the too-many-players-trap. We usually play this as a two or three player "filler" game between two heavier games, with an average of 30-45 minutes per play.

For that, it's perfect.
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The Jakster wrote:
What´s strange however, is the fact that whenever there is a negative review of Zombies!!! here, some people seem to feel the need to come to the poster of the review and give them a virtual hug and say:"You...you hate Zombies!!! too?", with tears of bittersweet joy in their eyes.
That´s a BGG phenomenon...


It's common for online reviews to be positive. Since online reviews are free, the motivation for putting in all that work to write a review must come from some other source. That source is the enthusiasm or dislike generated from a game ("This game is so good / bad that I must tell others.") But, when reviewing a game, you go through the experiences you had when playing it. If you have a good experience playing the game, you'll have a fun time writing the review. But if you had bad time playing the game, you're still not going to enjoy writing the review. Hence, you need even *more* motivation to write a negative review then a positive one. On top of this, a proper review should have multiple plays. But why should I play a game a second or third time, if I didn't enjoy it the first time (and am sure I won't enjoy it another time)?

So it should not be strange for the "attaboys" for a negative review of a bleh game. We simply have no desire to go through the experience of writing a negative review. Maybe we'll post a Personal Comment or rate the game, but that's about it.

I just hope the Mid-Evil game plays better...!
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claymore_57 wrote:

Summary
In short, we didn’t care for Zombies!!! at all. In fact, only halfway through the game my wife and I had lost interest in it, but we hate leaving in the middle of games because that isn’t fair to the remaining players. Unfortunately, the game lasted an hour past our kids’ bedtime, and we finally were forced to leave. On the drive home we agreed that we had no interest in ever playing this again, and that it would not be a game our family would buy.

zombie
This game is one of those perfect examples of of a game with whom you play with is just as important (or more so) than the game itself. As games go, this is a so-so game which can be better with at least one simple house rule use, but more importantly, Zombies!!! is a very social game. The first time I played it I thought at first that I might not like it, but I had a good time. But it wasn't good because of the game itself, it was good because the company in which I played the game with.
zombie
Anyone looking for a serious game will not find it in Zombies!!!, but those who are looking for a simple game to play with friends, than this is a good choice. Also, it helps that the players are zombie movie fans. "Night of the Living Dead" just happen to come on TV about 30 minutes after we started playing a four player game of Zombies!!!
zombie
In short, this is a simple social game not to be taken seriously. It is the players that make the difference in this game.
zombie
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My wife sneaked up behind me while I was working in the garden. I was so startled I soiled myself.
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I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am.
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RayGuns wrote:

zombie
This game is one of those perfect examples of of a game where who you play with is just as important (or more so) than the game itself. As games go, this is a so-so game which can be better with at least one simple house rule use, but more importantly, Zombies!!! is a very social game. The first time I played it I thought at first that I might not like it, but I had a good time. But it wasn't good because of the game itself, it was good because the company in which I played the game with.
zombie
Anyone looking for a serious game will not find it in Zombies!!!, but those who are looking for a simple game to play with friends, than this is a good choice. Also, it helps that the players are zombie movie fans. "Night of the Living Dead" just happen to come on TV about 30 minutes after we started playing a four player game of Zombies!!!
zombie
In short, this is a simple social game not to be taken seriously. It is the players that make the difference in this game.
zombie


I could tell this was intended for a more social setting, and one that needs to be played with long-time friends. For budgetary reasons our family has to be choosy about how often we attend the game nights (they are held weekly, but we can only attend once a month), so we have not gotten to know the other players that well. They all seem to be real nice folks, we're just not around them enough to form strong friendships.

Thus, we ended up playing the game more like a co-op: helping each other choose the best spot for a tile, keeping relatively near each other as we traveled towards the helipad, etc. If we knew each other better we would probably have been more cut-throat in our play, and the game might have moved quicker.

If we had been able to stay for another turn or two, I think I had a good shot at winning. I was only two squares from the helipad, and had one zombie ahead of me, plus I had a "Minefield" card. Even though I only had two life token and no extra bullets, I thought that if I could roll a three or better to move, then I could take out the zombie ahead of me, move onto the helipad tile, and before fighting the zombie there, play my Minefield card. If I could roll a two or better, I could clear a path to the center and win the game. So, I didn't take the decision to leave the game early lightly.

If my wife hadn't been so bored (she was almost to the helipad early in the game, but someone played the "It Was Right Here" card and moved it to the other side of town, leaving her a long way away), and the kids drooping in their chairs, I would have at least stuck it out through another turn.

This is definitely not a serious game, but since neither my wife nor I are "into" zombies (I haven't seen a zombie movie since Night of the Living Dead back in the 70s) the game just didn't provide that spark needed to really get into the theme. Still, I'm glad I at least had the chance to try it and see what it's about.

So, that's why I said the game wasn't our cup of tea -- we didn't care for the game, but that doesn't mean that other folks won't love it.

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My wife sneaked up behind me while I was working in the garden. I was so startled I soiled myself.
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I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am.
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Figilano wrote:

That's why I raised an eyebrow or two when I read "Shreveport Strategy Gamers group" right at the beginning of your review. Zombies!!! involves about as much strategy as Pachisi or Uno.


James, the guy who organizes the Shreveport Strategy Game Group, gave it that name to try to narrow down the people who attend. He doesn't want to turn it into a chess or backgammon club, and he doesn't want folks showing up to play Monopoly or Risk, or to think we're playing card games or Trivial Pursuit. We mostly play Euros (see the list in my OP), but that's not a concept that the average Jacque in the street will understand. So he uses "Strategy" to try to indicate that we're not playing something you'll find in Wal-Mart, Kay-Bee, or Toy-R-Us.

We've played a number of "filler" games, especially the early arrivers, who want something to do while the rest of us are having our pizzas.

(BTW: I make sure our family washes their hands after eating, and before playing any game, to be sure the pizza grease doesn't contaminate any game components.)
 
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While I appreciate the review and your points are well thought out...I have to disagree with you.

Can I ask, how many expansions did you guys play with? From the sounds of it you played with at least 2-4. This alone must cause the game to be brutally boring. Too many different places to explore, slim chance of getting useful weapon cards... While there is nothing that says you can't use them all at the same time, I believe they work much better when using one at a time (along with the base game).

I will admit that I have never had a 7 player game of zombies going, it does fit into about an hour with only 4. As a 60 minute "screw fest" it works very well. Also I disagree with your assessment of the humans banding together in movies. While that works for other horror movies...a staple of the zombie genre is that the humans are actually far more threatening. Thus, the backstabbing nature of the game is thematically sound for any fan of zombie horror.

I also disagree that this is as simple as The Game of Life. If you could play a card in life that allowed you to swarm your opponents SUV with a horde of freshly reanimated corpses it would be fantastic! All kidding aside, it's not a very deep game nor is it meant to be. It's not really about winning rather it's more about the theme and chaotic mess that unfolds. We have had some wacky games of zombies and seeing what some of my friends and family do is downright insane.

Zombies is far from one of the best games out there, but it's alot of fun to break out for an hour of fun. It's best served with several cold beverages and a desire to see your fellow man get swarmed by the undead and eaten alive...all while you light up your victory cigar on your helicopter ride to greener pastures. zombie

~ Bones
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Something that bothered me was that the game seemed to be set up to force the humans to compete with each other...
This is why I think the game constantly gets a beating... People expect this to be a game where a group of humans take on a zombie horde: it's not.

This game is very much a player vs. player game where the zombies are merely the death fodder that the players throw at each other.

There is only one winner in this game: only one player makes it to the copter.

That said, I feel the game needs a ton of house rules to be enjoyable and I highly suggest reading up on the ones posted here on the geek.

Either that, or use the figs from this game to build yourself a copy of Zombie Plague.
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BonesJackson wrote:
Can I ask, how many expansions did you guys play with? From the sounds of it you played with at least 2-4. This alone must cause the game to be brutally boring. Too many different places to explore, slim chance of getting useful weapon cards... While there is nothing that says you can't use them all at the same time, I believe they work much better when using one at a time (along with the base game).


James, the game's owner, likes to own all available expansions for his games. I have no idea how many we played with, but we split the stack of Event cards into two, each of which were about 3" high. The stack of tiles (which we eventually ran out of) started out about 3" tall, also.


Quote:

I disagree with your assessment of the humans banding together in movies. While that works for other horror movies...a staple of the zombie genre is that the humans are actually far more threatening. Thus, the backstabbing nature of the game is thematically sound for any fan of zombie horror.


As I said in one of my earlier replies, I don't watch zombie/horror movies, so I am not cognizant of what is standard in those genres. Seriously, the most recent zombie movie I've seen was when Michael Jackson's Thriller video premiered on MTV.


Quote:

All kidding aside, it's not a very deep game nor is it meant to be. It's not really about winning rather it's more about the theme and chaotic mess that unfolds. We have had some wacky games of zombies and seeing what some of my friends and family do is downright insane.


I didn't expect the game to be deep. Even the slight exposure I got from seeing it mentioned on BGG told me that it was supposed to be a fun experience, and I'm sure it is for a lot of people. All I was trying to say is that I (and my family) am/are not interested in the subject matter, and so the game doesn't push any "fun buttons" for me/us.

But, I am glad I at least tried it. I would hate to think I had missed out on a good time by insisting on playing a different game. I tried it, didn't care for it, so I'll move on to something else. I didn't say I hated the game, just that it wasn't interesting enough to me to make me want to play it again.
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I have to agree, and not just because we're related. :)
Jason and I can't play this game anymore. It's too competitive. The only way to win is to totally screw the other player, which just makes us mad. The Last Night on Earth is much better and its cooperative play. Although enjoying the zombie theme would be helpful.
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Well, I needed something stronger than tea....strong black coffee after this soporific game snore At least now, it is the box that is hibernating at the back of the shelf !
 
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jjenelds wrote:
I have to agree, and not just because we're related.
Jason and I can't play this game anymore. It's too competitive. The only way to win is to totally screw the other player, which just makes us mad. The Last Night on Earth is much better and its cooperative play. Although enjoying the zombie theme would be helpful.


Wait, what?
Your dislike of a competitive style casts an entirely different light on what you have to say.
If you don´t like competitive games, Zombies!!! is a poor choice of you to begin with, because it´s a by the book example of "screw your neighbour".
There are lot´s of people out there which love this style and while they not necessarily will also like the game, their opinion is a much better indicator of how likely they will like the game as the opinion of someone who feels uncomfortable with competition in the first place.

It´s like saying:"I don´t like Railroad Tycoon, because I hate trains and Space Hulk is a much better game, because it has no trains."
O.k., it´s not excatly like saying that, because Zombies!!! and LNoE are both Zombie games, but sometimes you have to exaggerate a bit to make your point clear.
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Figilano wrote:
I agree that the game can drag on for hours when played with more than 3 or 4 players, because it's much harder to gain 25 Zombies since there is the same amount of them as in a two player game. The game becomes a "waiting for the helipad"-exercise then. So you can blame the box, saying "up to 8 players", for luring you into the too-many-players-trap.


Just for the record the box says:"For 2 to 6 players", but I agree that it is a drag with 5 or 6 players played "out of the box".
But simply lower the Zombie count to win to 15-20 and you got yourself a tense game again.
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Having played Zombies!!! quite a few times and owning several of the expansions, it seems that you must have been playing the game with several of the expansions included. You mentioned radioactive zombies, zombie dogs. These are from some of the expansions. Three hours? I like the game but could not ever stand for that amount of play on one session.

The game owner did a disservice to you and the game by not just introducing you to the basic game alone or perhaps with one expansion. If you had finished a session in an hour, as you would have with the basic set and perhaps one expansion, you might have had a somewhat better experience.

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With radioactive zombies and zombie dogs and seven players the game you played was not a regular game of Zombies!!! The more expansions and the more players you add the fewer bullets and lives you get, the harder it is to reach 25 zombies to win, and the longer it takes for everyone to play one turn.

Your review would be more helpful if you played a standard game instead of pointing out flaws that happen when you throw all the expansions together at once. Things run much more smoothly with one kind of zombie and 3-4 players.

And if you don't like zombies there's not much point to playing a game that focuses far more on referencing zombie movies than being a strategic war game.
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This game sucks even without the expansions.

I'd rather play How Many Shards of Glass can you Shove Under Your Fingernails" than be subjected to this festival of tedium again.

Great review!
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dannorder wrote:
With radioactive zombies and zombie dogs and seven players the game you played was not a regular game of Zombies!!! The more expansions and the more players you add the fewer bullets and lives you get, the harder it is to reach 25 zombies to win, and the longer it takes for everyone to play one turn.


From remarks made by other commentors and by checking the page for the game, it now appears that we were playing with all the expansions combined. I was unaware of that when we sat down to play (In fact, I didn't even know what game was planned when we arrived or I would have read up on it ahead of time). This explains why there were so few lives and bullets, and why the game seemed so hard.


Quote:

Your review would be more helpful if you played a standard game instead of pointing out flaws that happen when you throw all the expansions together at once. Things run much more smoothly with one kind of zombie and 3-4 players.


I know *now* that this was not the basic game, but was unaware of that fact when I wrote my review. I don't hate the game, I just found it kind of "Meh", so, based on the replies to my review I would be willing to try it again with 3-4 players and only the basic game and see how that goes. I expect to have a completely different experience.


Quote:

And if you don't like zombies there's not much point to playing a game that focuses far more on referencing zombie movies than being a strategic war game.


Just because I'm not a fan of zombie movies (or some other narrow interest) doesn't mean I'm unwilling to try a game based on that theme. I might surprise myself and actually have a good time, and gain an appreciation for the subject matter. If I was completely against the idea of zombies, I wouldn't have even sat down to play.

One thing I've learned as I've gotten older is not to automatically turn down the opportunity to try a new experience. This game was new to me, so I tried it. At previous meetings of this gaming group my family and I tried Ticket to Ride, Pirates' Cove, and Small World for the first time, and enjoyed them all. We now own a copy of TtR, and I have the others on our list for Santa to bring. I was willing to try a game based on zombies, and I did. I understand now that this game has a different objective than I thought, and it's best when played in a small group of good friends who are comfortable with the "take that" nature of the game. If I hadn't tried it, I wouldn't know those things -- therefore, even though it wasn't our "cup of tea", I still learned something, and I count that as a positive.
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claymore_57 wrote:
based on the replies to my review I would be willing to try it again with 3-4 players and only the basic game and see how that goes. I expect to have a completely different experience.


Maybe not completely different, because the core gameplay machanics will be the same (a cutthroat roll-and-move-game), but certainly / hopefully more enjoyable than your first encounter. From what you've written in this thread, I doubt that this will ever make Santa's list, but I'm looking forward to your "Zombies!!! - Revisited" review nonetheless.
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claymore_57 wrote:
This past Saturday the Shreveport Strategy Gamers group met and played Zombies!!! for the first time. Actually, the game’s owner, James ("ShreveportLAGamer"), had played 3-4 times before, but the rest of us, including Aaron, John, Ariel, Jeremy, my wife ("trophywife"), and our two kids -- ages 10 and 8 -- had never played before.

Before we started, James offered me a choice between playing Zombies!!!, That's Life! , or Citadels. Having never been interested in playing any kind of zombie game, I had never read up on them, and was concerned about the possible level of "gruesomeness", especially if our kids played, and was leaning towards Citadels.

However, James assured me that the violence in Zombies!!! was mostly abstract, so I acquiesced, and we all sat down to play. My wife and I each partnered with one of our kids, letting them draw the tiles, roll the dice, and move our figures, so we ended up with a total of seven players.

Even though it can accommodate up to 8 players, "Citadels" is not a game that I could envision your preteen children being able to play from the get-go by themselves. And only if you had prior scanned or read its rules set in its entirety could you yourself determine and credibly vouch for whether your kids could handle its complexity by themselves and/or stay engaged in it even while playing with you and your wife as team partners to assist them.

Moreover, I had inferred that your kids wished to play a game that they could conceivably participate in without having to team up with a parent. It was only after we were getting adjusted around the table and choosing game tokens that I realized that you & your son as well as your wife & daughter were going to be playing as teams again after all.

Comparatively speaking, although "Last Night On Earth" is by far a better zombie game and strategy game than "Zombies!!!", it's also more graphic in the sense that its card & game components' depictions of the characters and events were intentionally meant to be evocative of actual movie-still photographs depicting scenes from an actual zombie flick, "Last Night On Earth." (The game even comes with its own CD soundtrack!) Some of the depicitons in "Last Night On Earth" border on being a bit too evocative of the stylized goriness of some zombie movies.

On the other hand, the text and art of the action cards of "Zombies!!!" were written and drawn in an exaggeratedly dark satiric comic-book style.


claymore_57 wrote:
James handed me a notebook full of rules, and my heart sank. I wasn’t wanting to have to deal with numerous pages of rules and exceptions.

In proper context, the notebook I handed you contained not only a photocopy of the rules to the "Zombies!!!" base game but also its FAQ and various fan-created variants to "Zombies!!!" I did not allude to any other rules set in that notebook to refer to for playing our game other than the basic rules to "Zombies!!!" I put all those items in plastic sheet/page protectors in one notebook simply for ease of reference and keeping up with them all under one cover.


claymore_57 wrote:
However, it turned out that the basic rules only covered three pages, and the rest of the notebook consisted of his collection of rules for expansions (all of which he owns), variants, and copies of Q&A sessions, plus notes on the game from BGG. That was a relief.

Although I own most of the expansions, I don't own them all. And those variant rules sets contained in my notebook were clearly titled as variants and included the fan authors' names and BGG user names as well.


claymore_57 wrote:
Giving you a blow-by-blow description of the game we played would be really dull, so instead I’ll give you some of our impressions of it. Let me preface these remarks by saying that I am not a fan of zombie movies, or even horror movies in general, so the theme of the game didn’t do anything for me. This allowed me to view the mechanics and game play dispassionately.

Based on your aforementioned initial reaction to the content of my notebook -- which you readily acknowledged above as your initial prejudgment that it was supposedly chock full of original rules comprising the base game's own original rules set -- I would be hard pressed to believe that you could view the game's mechanics as dispassionately as you represent, especially when you also acknowledged above that you were adverse to the theme of zombies in general (even though some of your comments above alluding to surviving humans in zombie movies cooperating to survive leads me to infer that you may have seen some scenes from zombie movies if not such movies in their entirety).


claymore_57 wrote:
Lackluster Game Play
At its heart Zombies! is a roll-and-move game. The ability to interrupt anyone’s turn at any time with an Event card, some of which can affect everyone, might seem like a break, but you are quickly back to rolling those d6s. Apart from stopping to fight and occasionally pick up a life or bullet token, there wasn’t much difference between this the Game of Life, where you spin and move, and occasionally pick up a family member.

I beg to differ here. "Zombies!!!" is [/i]not[/i] as limited in gameplay to anything as simplistic as "The Game of Life." Indeed, the gameplay of "Zombies!!!" does amount to more than merely rolling, moving and collecting bullets and life tokens.


claymore_57 wrote:
Something that bothered me was that the game seemed to be set up to force the humans to compete with each other for the extra lives and bullets. In any movie I’ve seen where a small group of people are menaced by some strange creature(s), the humans band together and work for the survival of the whole group. Instead, the Event cards in Zombie! seem to be more like a series of "take that" actions. Although I wasn’t expecting a co-op game, I didn’t expect the level of competition between the humans that I found.

Without regard to your preconceptions, since "Zombies!!!" is in proper context a flawed beer & pretzels zombie game and not a cooperative game, do you really think it's fair to judge it out of context for failing to be a cooperative game?


claymore_57 wrote:
Slow Moving
We played that one game for three solid hours and still weren’t finished when my wife and I had to leave at 10 p.m. to take our kids home to put them to bed. I don’t know how much longer the rest of them stuck it out, or even if they finished the game.

We finished playing the game around 15-20 minutes after you left. Jeremy won and even bested my last-ditch effort to have him refight the last zombie battle to reach the helipad.

It was unfortunate that you had to leave when you did because you confirmed you were practically at the helipad tile and as you showed us, you had an action card in hand that might have facilitated your reaching it first within possibly two or three turns if not your very next turn.


claymore_57 wrote:
There seemed to be a lot of down time during the game. Some of that can be attributed to six of the seven players being unfamiliar with the game, but after a few turns we had the system down pretty well, so that can’t be the whole answer. Part of the slowness could be blamed on having seven people playing, but James said the game is supposed to accommodate up to eight players, so that can’t be it.

As I so noted at the time we played it, "Zombies!!!" can be and has been played by a wide ranging number of players not only in gaming groups but also at gaming conventions. (As it was, we had enough tiles, zombies, action cards, tokens, etc. to accommodate up 10 players.) Indeed, some of the photographs in the BGG "Zombies!!!" picture files section depict entire metropolises of "Zombies!!!" games in progress using far more tiles, zombies, etc. than we played with.

When I first played this game for the first time a few years ago, it was new and novel to me then, and so, I didn't take opportunity then to analyze its gameplay in depth. Since our game last Saturday night, I've attempted to brainstorm some solutions because over time, the game fails to be as engagingly fun in subsequent plays as it had initially; i.e. the novelty wears off over time.

One of the components of my proposed variant is to first select only one of two possible objectives: Either get to the helicopter first OR kill 25 zombies. Once the objective is chosen, then the next step would be to construct the appropriate cityscape in its entirety with a prior-agreed-upon grid size (5X5, 5X6 or 6X6) and to populate all the tiles with its complement of zombies, bullets and life tokens. (If one chose the Kill-25-Zombies objective, then the starting tile would be the regular mid-city park plaze tile and it would be set in the very middle of the grid. If one chose the Get-To-The-Helicopter-First objective, then the starting tile would be a regular street tile in the southeast (bottom rightmost) corner of the grid and the helipad tile would be placed in the northwest (top leftmost) corner of the completed city grid.

I'm also exploring the feasibility of incorporating game designer Tom Jolly's "Lightning" Simultaneous-Turn System into "Zombies!!!" that he developed for his own game "Tom Jolly's 'Camelot'" whereby player turns are regulated by the use of two Turn Tokens. That is, at any given time, two players will be simultaneously taking their turns while other players wait. When one player finishes his turn, he passes the Turn Token clockwise around the table to to the first player on his left who does not already have a Turn Token. When a player receives a turn token, he may begin his turn immediately.

Now, I could envision that if the Lightning Simultaneous-Turn System were used in "Zombies!!!", then there could arise certain occasions when both simultaneous players would have to coordinate their individual actions in a sort-of back-and-forth tennis match style, especially if/when playing action/event cards against each other. But the viability of the Lightning Simultaneous-Turn Game System doesn't seem entirely out of the question for "Zombies!!!"


claymore_57 wrote:
I think the biggest holdup was each player having to stop the read the cards that s/he drew in the middle of the turn. The text is not always the clearest to someone new to the game, and sometimes the card had to be read 2-3 times before the sense of it sunk in and you could decide whether it was a good one to keep, meanwhile all the other players are waiting on you. Maybe if the cards were drawn at the end of the turn, the player could take time while others are rolling and moving to read and comprehend their new cards.

I agree with you wholeheartedly on this matter. This same issue plagues the B Movies card games ("Grave Robbers from Outer Space", "Scurvy Musketeers of the Spanish Main," "Bushwhackin' Varmints Out Of Sergio's Butte") from Z-Man Games. For that same reason, I created a house rule for the B Movies card games where cards are drawn at the end of one's turn because you really have to read through the text of those cards thoroughly and think about it some before deciding how to best use them. (In the B Movies card game, the rules had it where drawing cards was the first action of one's turn.)


claymore_57 wrote:
The high amount of down time quickly bored our kids, and they kept starting impromptu games of "hide and seek" under the tables in the pizza place we meet in. We had similar-sized groups at previous meetings and played Small World, Pirate's Cove, and Ticket to Ride, and the kids never got bored with those games, sticking with them to the end (each of those games took about an hour and a half). I blame their inattention to Zombies! on the fact that it’s just not a very fun or interesting game, and it dragged on all evening.

As I'd told you upon your arrival, since I'd not received your usual advance-notice email confirming the Saturday night of the month that you planned to attend, I hadn't brought any family games last Saturday night. Indeed, I'd only brought those other aforementioned family games above because you'd notified me in advance to confirm the date of your once-a-month game-night attendance. And the only reason I had "Zombies!!!" on hand last Saturday night was because two other members from the previous week, Jon and David, had expressed interest in playing a "Zombies!!!" game. (I learned last night that they had had to work last weekend though.)

For that and the other reasons I've provided, I don't believe it's fair to judge "Zombies!!!" either as or alongside those aforementioned family games. Moreover, even with some of those great aforementioned family games, there were indeed down times during which your children were distracted, seemed bored and/or when their attention wandered enough to cause them to momentarily pursue other activities around the pizza parlor.


claymore_57 wrote:
And only moving your human the distance rolled by 1d6 made for really slow travel. Again, two or three poor rolls and your character could take two or three entire turns just to run the length of one whole tile.

And yet, on balance, I remember quite a number of rolls where players continually encountered several zombies in sequence while moving on a D6 roll.

In my opinion, the times when one had to roll two or three times in "Zombies!!!" to purposefully transverse through a single tile would also have appropriately and logically included their stopping to go inside a building to collect bullets and/or life tokens and/or to fight zombies in one's path. (The length of a staight city street in a tile is only 3 squares long. And the length of the course you'd have to travel to turn the bend of an L- or T-shaped street tile is 4 squares.)


claymore_57 wrote:
Plays Like a Video Game
Zombies!!! reminded me very strongly of an ‘80s video game that had been converted to a board game. You start out with three lives and three bullets, and if all your lives get used up, you immediately go back to the beginning and get three new lives and bullets. The only difference is that you get to keep half the zombies you killed before dying.

I myself don't particularly don't like the Get-Killed-And-Have-To-Start-Over-All-Over-Again-And-Lose-Half-Your-Killed-Zombies conditions of the "Zombies!!!" base-game rules. In fact, last Saturday sort of spurred me into brainstorming some possible solutions to that dilemma and others. (As evidenced by all the variant rules sets for "Zombies!!!" on BGG, it's also apparent that many other "Zombies!!!" fans find its basic rules and gameplay less than engagingly fun as it could and should be.)

In my proposed variant, the only time a human player would actually "die" during the course of the game would be after he's spent his last life token on the D6 die level. Thereafter, he would become a zombie himself -- indeed, a Zombie Leader able to control other zombies up to 3 spaces away from himself.


claymore_57 wrote:
Scarcity of Supplies
There didn’t seem to be nearly enough lives and bullets scattered around town. Even with a 50/50 chance of killing each zombie, if there were several zombies in one building, and you had a string of poor rolls, you could easily spend more lives and bullets in killing the zombies than you would get in return for picking up the tokens. Thus the "risk vs. reward" comparison mostly seemed negative. Consequently, most of us stayed out in the streets, just waiting until the helipad was turned up.

While I agree with you here for the most part, the proposed variant I brainstormed would involve the use of several different dice -- D12, D10, D8, and finally D6 -- that a human character would use over the course of the game in a systematic progressive manner; i.e. Starting off, a human character would use a D12 die; but instead of dying after spending his last life token on the D12 level, his human character would demote to the next lower die level, a D10. (A human character wouldn't lose half of his killed zombies, either. But again, as of this writing, I have not tested this variant in its entirety. Indeed, this is but a component of my variant.)


claymore_57 wrote:
We were all surprised that the police station and sporting goods store had so few bullets. We discussed making a house rule that once someone had collected all the bullets in either place, after that player left the building, the bullets would be replenished. (We were also surprised that the record store had as many bullets as it did. We joked that maybe the store gave you a free box of bullets with every gangsta rap CD sold.)

If only gangsta rap CDs worked against zombies like Slim Whitman recordings worked against Martians in "Mars Attacks!"

For my proposed variant, after all zombies and human characters vacated their tiles, the Sporting Goods Store and Police Station would repopulate its full complement of bullets and life tokens. The Hospital and Fire Station would repopulate their full complement of life tokens only.

For my Kill-25-Zombies-objective variant, the vacated tiles which form the perimeter of the city grid would repopulate half (rounded down) of their complement of zombies. (These incoming new zombies would represent zombies wandering into the city grid from other surrounding/outlying sectors of the city.) Other than the aforementioned exceptions, once vacated, the inner-city grid tiles would repopulate half (rounded down) of their complement of bullets and life tokens.


claymore_57 wrote:
Summary
In short, we didn’t care for Zombies!!! at all. In fact, only halfway through the game my wife and I had lost interest in it, but we hate leaving in the middle of games because that isn’t fair to the remaining players. Unfortunately, the game lasted an hour past our kids’ bedtime, and we finally were forced to leave. On the drive home we agreed that we had no interest in ever playing this again, and that it would not be a game our family would buy.

Again, since "Zombies!!!" doesn't advertise or market itself as a family game anyway, I don't believe you judged the game's flaws in proper context as the beer & pretzels zombie game that it is. I mean, when you comparatively invoke the titles of Small World, Pirate's Cove, and Ticket to Ride, you're essentially comparing the gameplay of "Zombies!!!" out of its league to that of family games. Moreover, I brought those particular aforementioned family games because you'd prior confirmed with me in advance by email which one Saturday night of the month you all were going to be able to attend.

Since I advertise my gaming group as being inclusive of older teens with accompanying parent/guardian, I feel that I have been more than fair in allowing the participation of your preteen children in actual games the group plays on Game Night. Since you've introduced them to other strategy games (though more age appropriate), they've always struck me as prospective strategy gamers in the making anyway.

If you choose to continue participating in my game night, then as before, I would appreciate advance notice of the specific game night of the month that you'll be able to attend. That way, you not only could preview upcoming games' rules sets but also determine their overall suitability for your kids and make an informed choice. Also, it would also help me if you could let me know in advance by what time you would have to depart for home so that I could consider choosing games whose duration might best approximate those expecations.

I cannot, however, affirm that I would ever change my mind about playing a selected game based soley on one person's or one family's objections and/or disapproval.

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claymore_57 wrote:
dannorder wrote:
With radioactive zombies and zombie dogs and seven players the game you played was not a regular game of Zombies!!! The more expansions and the more players you add the fewer bullets and lives you get, the harder it is to reach 25 zombies to win, and the longer it takes for everyone to play one turn.

From remarks made by other commentors and by checking the page for the game, it now appears that we were playing with all the expansions combined. I was unaware of that when we sat down to play (In fact, I didn't even know what game was planned when we arrived or I would have read up on it ahead of time). This explains why there were so few lives and bullets, and why the game seemed so hard.
Quote:

Your review would be more helpful if you played a standard game instead of pointing out flaws that happen when you throw all the expansions together at once. Things run much more smoothly with one kind of zombie and 3-4 players.

I know *now* that this was not the basic game, but was unaware of that fact when I wrote my review. I don't hate the game, I just found it kind of "Meh", so, based on the replies to my review I would be willing to try it again with 3-4 players and only the basic game and see how that goes. I expect to have a completely different experience.

We were not playing the "Zombies!!!" game with all the expansions. Indeed, I don't even own all the expansions.

Rather, we played the basic game which included some city tiles from some expansions that were universally applicable. Aside from those, we also used the Government Lab tile from "Zombies!!! 2: Zombie Corps(e)" using not only irradiated zombies from that tile but also my own variant whereby a regular zombie could enter and be transformed into either a radiated zombie or gain an extra life. We also used the zombie dogs from "Zombies 5", only they counted as 1/2 a killed zombie points-wise (toward the 25 killed zombies total).


claymore_57 wrote:
dannorder wrote:
And if you don't like zombies there's not much point to playing a game that focuses far more on referencing zombie movies than being a strategic war game.

Just because I'm not a fan of zombie movies (or some other narrow interest) doesn't mean I'm unwilling to try a game based on that theme. I might surprise myself and actually have a good time, and gain an appreciation for the subject matter. If I was completely against the idea of zombies, I wouldn't have even sat down to play.

One thing I've learned as I've gotten older is not to automatically turn down the opportunity to try a new experience. This game was new to me, so I tried it. At previous meetings of this gaming group my family and I tried Ticket to Ride, Pirates' Cove, and Small World for the first time, and enjoyed them all.

Again, you're comparing apples with oranges -- beer & pretzel games with family games. Again, I did not tailor last Saturday's game night for family games as you didn't send me your usual email confirming in advance your intent to participate. What's more, two other group members from the previous week had expressed interest in playing a zombie game.


claymore_57 wrote:
We now own a copy of TtR, and I have the others on our list for Santa to bring. I was willing to try a game based on zombies, and I did. I understand now that this game has a different objective than I thought, and it's best when played in a small group of good friends who are comfortable with the "take that" nature of the game.

I'm not convinced that the "Take that!" nature of "Zombies!!!" is all that substantially different in any meaningful way from any other strategy game we've played.

Moreover, since there is a social aspect to gaming, those sentences of yours above lead to me wonder whether even after eight months of once-a-month participation, you can feel socially comfortable enough with us to reasonably engage in any games involving any "Take that!" factors with us if, after all this time, you still don't feel at ease with us as extended friends, if not close friends.

Moreover, if we qualified even as extended friends, it wouldn't matter in any meaningful terms what game we played since "Take that!" is generally "Take that!"

In either case, at a recent month's game night, a friend of yours attended whom I overheard telling another of my group members that he was soley there that night just to try out the main game we played that night and he didn't expect to rejoin us. It was clear that you'd informed him about the game we were to play that week. After all, I could not find any evidence of any previous email contact that he'd ever had with me.

I tried to rehabilitate the situation by inviting your friend to teach us "Dominion" (a copy of which I also have). As I told you, he came across as non-committal to my invitation. Later, when I contacted you to request his email address, you confirmed that he didn't expect to attend my game night on a regular basis but that he nonetheless wanted to know what game we would be playing when you yourself attended on the one Saturday night of the month you're able to attend. At the same time, I note that he apparently didn't give you permission to supply me with his email address because you didn't convey it to me. (I'd also intended to communicate with him by email to set up arrangements to leave the template of my player aid for "Battle Line" -- which he'd admired -- at a local copy center where he could have duplicated it.)

At that time, I reminded you of his earlier overheard remark about his only being there at my game night just to try out a game. He was clearly not there to socialize or form any ongoing friendly bonds. His priority was trying out a game. That's why I told you I was not receptive to such obvious efforts to use my gaming group simply as a game-tryout group. As I told you, if I were wanting to sponsor an ongoing game try-out night, I would throw SimplyFun Games Try-Out Parties instead of holding a regular gaming-group night. I also alluded in brief to a precedent with others who'd taught me a good lesson about some who duplicitously feign friendliness in order just to try to have access to one's games; i.e. to temporarily participate in a gaming group for the ulterior motive of trying out games with no genuine intent of ever joining it in earnest as a group member in the truest social sense.

In either case, in that same email, I recommended to you that if/when your friend asked you about any upcoming games my group would be playing that you shouldn't inform him about them but to simply tell him you didn't know. At the same time, however, I didn't prohibit you yourself from making inquiries with me about such info for your own family's purposes.


In light of this most recent history, I must say that I'm dismayed that you didn't email me over the past week to confirm and verify the info about what other-expansion tiles, mini-variants and all that we were using in last week's "Zombies!!!" game that you misrepresented as "all expansions" in this thread. After all, I would have thought that after eight months, I just might merit that meager consideration.

 
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The Jakster wrote:
jjenelds wrote:
I have to agree, and not just because we're related.
Jason and I can't play this game anymore. It's too competitive. The only way to win is to totally screw the other player, which just makes us mad. The Last Night on Earth is much better and its cooperative play. Although enjoying the zombie theme would be helpful.

Wait, what?

Your dislike of a competitive style casts an entirely different light on what you have to say.

If you don´t like competitive games, Zombies!!! is a poor choice of you to begin with, because it´s a by the book example of "screw your neighbour".

There are lot´s of people out there which love this style and while they not necessarily will also like the game, their opinion is a much better indicator of how likely they will like the game as the opinion of someone who feels uncomfortable with competition in the first place.

A Case In Point: A few years ago while playing "Floorsome Floors" (which, like "Zombies!!!", acts out a horror movie in board game form), I was at the point of escaping out of the haunted house with my last token and winning the game when one of my opponents on his turn began to move the monster toward my token -- and I knew what was coming -- or at least, I thought I did -- but he hesitated and started to retreat back as if reconsidering his move.

When it became obvious that he was reluctant to kill off my token, I told him something to this effect: "Look, since this is in essence the end of a horror movie, why would the monster let me live? So feel free to allow the monster to quench his blood thirst and do his worst."


Naturally, he killed me! zombie


Tonight, while playing "Citadels," after his assassin killed my personage/character, a relatively new group member leaned over and whispered a quick apology to me. I reassured him that I had not taken it personally and alluded to the anecdote above.

And I myself would not expect any such mercy from any member of my group who's playing thematically true to form in the genuine spirit of a game.

 
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