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Subject: Beating a dead corpse rss

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Christopher Lawrence
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First off let me say that I love zombies. Not in the 'forbidden love' sort of way, perhaps, but in the 'nothing scares me more' sort of obsession that results in watching lots of bad horror movies.

I want to love this game. Really, I do. It's a box full of plastic zombies, after all. What could be wrong with that?

Sadly, plenty.

The gameplay is less about surviving the dreaded zombie holocaust or escaping the city (the nominal goal) and more about trying to slog through a deck of map tiles to get to the endgame. And 'slog' is exactly how it feels.

There is more tedium than tension in this game, as it devolves into a slow process of placing map tiles while waiting for the helipad (the means of escaping the city) to be placed. This is the result of turn rotation rather than real exploration, so there's no real sense of 'discovery'. Rather, it's just a matter of (considerable) time until the deck of tiles is depleted. Until this event finally occurs, triggering the endgame, the rest of the game is a largely useless exercise in waiting.

The pace of the game is very slow for something so simple, much like the classic zombie itself. This might lend itself to the "Night of the Living Dead" or "Dawn of the Dead" scenario of humans defending a house/mall/burger hut under siege by the undead, but this isn't at all an option. Instead, this is a race to escape a city overrun by walking corpses, but it's the slowest race you could imagine and the starting positions are completely random (more on that in a moment).

The game does include a nice deck of action cards that add unneeded randomness (the game is already random enough) and some much needed humor and color. There are some funny and/or thematic names and elements to them, and are overall a good addition. Playing the "We're screwed!" card (that allows you to place ten more zombies anywhere on the board) is pretty funny under any circumstances.

When the helipad is finally placed, the players all rush to the helipad to escape/ The first one to get there wins, presumably by leaving all of his buddies behind. The big problem with this is that when the helipad is placed, players are likely to be spread out all over the map since cooperation is discouraged. The result is that players will have wildly varying chances of getting to the helipad.

One of my biggest problems with the game is a purely subjective one, that being the discouragement of cooperative play. Only one player can win, which is at odds with zombie/horror movies. Having only one person survive is common enough, but typically the genre doesn't have people deliberately trying to have their comrades killed. I think "Mall of Horror" accomplishes the back-biting (hur hur) element of zombie horror far more successfully. Otherwise, I would prefer a purely cooperative game here. Unfortunately that's not in the cards (literally, since so many of the cards are meant to harm other players). Again, that's a personal preference not related to the actual mechanics of the game.

I really want to like this game, and I know some people who do. I just like my zombie games to have either decent strategy/decision-making elements or a good feeling of horror, and this game has neither.

On the bright side, it has lots of plastic zombies.
 
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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Quote:
The pace of the game is very slow for something so simple, much like the classic zombie itself.



The whole game shambles along in Zombie time.

I agree the competitive nature of the game runs counter to the traditional humans against the horde.

In fact, with the basic roll and move mechanic you could lay the tiles out in a square and play it Monopoly style with the winner being the first one roll the exact number required to land on the helicopter space!

"I need a three for the win....Damn, a 5. Now I have to make another lap around the board."


Off the top of my head...

Arrange the tiles in a square. Ignore the street access restictions if you have to. The Town Square is GO! [

b]Everytime you pass the Town Square you get 3 life and 3 bullets.[/b]

The helicopter pad is placed in the corner counter clockwise from the Town Square so if a player fails to land on it exactly he still has to make it to the Town Square.

Place all the named buildings and as many generic tiles as necessary to complete the square. Place Weapon Cards on the appropriate named buildings. No Zombies are placed on the map!

Each player in turn rolls two dice. He/she may choose one number for movement and use the other to place that many Zombies on any space on the board. No more than 1 per space per player turn. The player must move the indicated amount but only needs to fight Zombies in the space he/she lands on.

If doubles are rolled the player draws a card from the remaining deck...

...and it sounds like that's how Parker Brothers would have designed it.

I could go on but what's the point.

 
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Sean Swart
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The cool thing about Zombies!!! is that you can play the game any way you wish. You do not have to play against each other, you could have one player the Zombie Master and have two decks of cards, one for the zombie Master and one for the players. There is a niffy variant for such a game on the Twilight Creations website.

With the release of 3.5 you can even make custom decks for each player.
 
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Christopher Lawrence
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Da Black Gobo wrote:
The cool thing about Zombies!!! is that you can play the game any way you wish.


Certainly. And the components can make a good start toward constructing a new game (as many people have done with some great variants). I'm just reviewing the game "out of the box" for those who would play it as-is, however, not for us more enterprising folks who like to construct their own games.

Thanks for your comments!
 
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mike hibbert
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I think that the most telling thing about Zombies!!! is that we played a game that lasted two hours, and when we decided to call it a day we were all within 3 spaces of the town centre where we started!
It's a real drag!
 
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