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Subject: Have I written this game off unfairly? rss

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Ian Toltz
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Zombie Dice is a stupid game.

I think.

Actually, I've never played it. I wrote it off the moment I heard of it. It sounds like there isn't much in the way of meaningful decision making, it has an overdone theme which didn't interest me that much when it was fresh, and I just automatically assume anything put out by Steve Jackson Games is trash marketed towards geeks from non-boardgaming disciplines who haven't seen the light of true modern boardgaming and are just happy to have something with a theme they like that's slightly more interesting than Monopoly.

So... yeah. I might be a bit biased. whistle Also, no need to call me an elitist scumbag. I already know I am.

That said, it has occurred to me that this game might not be without merits. It would be nice having something that I could pull out at a restaurant which plays quickly and has minimal setup/teardown/space requirements.

Reading the rules, I don't see this having much lasting interest, but not every game reads as well as it plays. So I ask you, my fellow geeks: does this game have interesting, non-obvious decisions?

Relatedly, if anyone wants to wax philosophic on Martian Dice, and whether one is particularly better than the other, I'd be interested as well.
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EnderWizard
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Simple push your luck mechanic with rules simple enough to teach non- hobbyists within a minute or two. It's easy to stash and bring anywhere. The dice are tough and well weighted to bring and play outdoors. This is a favorite of ours when we're in the backyard grilling and eating on the patio. It comes with me to every outdoor concert venue (along with Hive Pocket). And you can play it on a pub table and not be concerned about spilled beer. Some folks need paper and pencil for score tracking but we just keep our own counts and keep each other honest. If the zombie theme isn't your bag there's another dice game that just came out and is near identical called Dino Hunt (easier theme to play with kids).
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Alexandra Logan
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Asmor wrote:


Reading the rules, I don't see this having much lasting interest, but not every game reads as well as it plays. So I ask you, my fellow geeks: does this game have interesting, non-obvious decisions?



I find the game enjoyable. That said, my gaming group is made up of persons only slightly more "enlightened" about board gaming than the Monopoly folk you speak of.

To answer your question, no. The game has very little in the way of meaningful decisions. Basically, do I risk rolling again or play it safe and take the three brains I've already got?

I have always enjoyed this sort of push your luck and minimal thinking because it is the turns of other players that brings the excitement. Egging them on to roll again and then cheering or commiserating with them.

I was also able to use it as an excuse to make a bunch of mini-brains from modelling clay.

But if you are looking for a game with interesting and non-obvious decisions? Not my first choice.
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Justus
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Fun cheap little PYL game! I like it better than Martian Dice preciesly because it involves less thinking.

It pure in that way...do you roll again and risk the third shotgun blast or not?

But is it more than that? Nope.
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Aaron Bohm
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Not all games are created equal and each has it's place.

There is more to game night than three 1-2 hour long euro games. Every once in a while, especially to either start things off, end the night, or to pass the time in between two groups finishing games there is room for a filler.

Zombie dice is quick, it has dice, it's a similar press-your-luck mechanic as million of other such games, and it does have some interesting probability when you factor both the pulling and rolling of the red-yellow-green dice.

Is this going to be your favorite game ever? No, but can you think of a better way to pass 5 minutes of gametime?
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Andrew Walters
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If you don't like gambling games, if you don't care for push-your-luck, if you're looking for Puerto Rico, Zombie Dice is a clean miss. But if you like Can't Stop and Pig, ZD is a *great* game. It's basically super Pig.

Pig is a classic (or "traditional") dice game where you roll a single die and add that to your score for the turn. Anytime you want to stop and keep your points you can, but if you ever roll a six you lose all your points for the turn and have to pass the die. It's fun, but there's not a lot to it.

Zombie Dice adds three different types of dice, and the three-at-a-time mechanism, both of which change Pig from neat--but-trivial to quite enjoyable.

I think Trophy Buck goes one better, because the different dice have different values, so you still have the evaluations and control of ZD but even bigger swings of manageable luck.

Neither game is a substitute for Agricola, Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations, or The Awful Green Things From Outer Space, but few of us are satisfied by any single game. Just a few of the Chess players.

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Steve Wardell
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Asmor wrote:
Zombie Dice is a stupid game.

I think.

Actually, I've never played it. I wrote it off the moment I heard of it. It sounds like there isn't much in the way of meaningful decision making,

It's a 'push your luck' game. There are decisions to be made... the 'meaningfulness' is a matter of opinion.

Asmor wrote:
it has an overdone theme which didn't interest me that much when it was fresh,

The theme isn't terribly important to the game. Like most themes, it's completely a matter of opinion, and the more you like the theme, the better chance you'll like the game.

Asmor wrote:
and I just automatically assume anything put out by Steve Jackson Games is trash marketed towards geeks from non-boardgaming disciplines who haven't seen the light of true modern boardgaming and are just happy to have something with a theme they like that's slightly more interesting than Monopoly.

I'll have to somewhat disagree with you here. Steve Jackson Games games are obviously aimed towards geeks, but they're more simple, easily accessible games, than games aimed at people that aren't aware of 'real' boardgames. No one could seriously argue that I'm not aware of 'true' modern boardgaming, but I enjoy several Steve Jackson Games games. They tend to be very easy to approach (for geeks), but that doesn't neccesarily make them bad games. I play them slightly less often with my gaming groups, but I play them more often with my non-boardgaming groups. That doesn't mean I enjoy them any less.

Asmor wrote:
So... yeah. I might be a bit biased. whistle Also, no need to call me an elitist scumbag. I already know I am.

That said, it has occurred to me that this game might not be without merits. It would be nice having something that I could pull out at a restaurant which plays quickly and has minimal setup/teardown/space requirements.

This definitely fits that bill. You would be hard pressed to find a better fitting game (assuming you have a non-obtrusive way of tracking score).

Asmor wrote:
Reading the rules, I don't see this having much lasting interest, but not every game reads as well as it plays. So I ask you, my fellow geeks: does this game have interesting, non-obvious decisions?

Once again, it's a 'push your luck' game. That seems like a meaningful enough decision: "Keep rolling, or stop now", but that's definitely the only decision.

Asmor wrote:
Relatedly, if anyone wants to wax philosophic on Martian Dice, and whether one is particularly better than the other, I'd be interested as well.

I own both (and carry both with me in the same tube), and they're pretty similar, but I prefer Zombie Dice, not that I have any concrete reasons why.

If you enjoy other 'push your luck' games, you'll probably like Zombie Dice, if not, you probably won't.
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Herodian Smith
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Asmor wrote:
So I ask you, my fellow geeks: does this game have interesting, non-obvious decisions?


Not particularly. Like most simple games, it is exactly as fun as the people you play it with. Play it with boring people, it will be boring.
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Charles Bame
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A couple days ago I played Zombie Dice in a restaurant with this age spread: two 70-somethings (I'm in there), two people in their 40s, two in their 20s, an 8 yr. old and a 4 yr. old. Much laughter ensued. And the 4 yr. old (with a bit of help) won. As some have said, it's just mindless fun.

My wife and I usually have Zombie Dice, Martian Dice, Cosmic Wimpout, or Cookie Fu with us in a restaurant.
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Shawn George
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It is a stupid game. It's heavily luck-driven, there aren't any meaningful decisions to be made, and most games have a player that doesn't even score a single point by the end.

However, it's still fun every once in a while as a quick, easy to learn filler. The fun doesn't come from the strategy, it comes from rolling dice, egging other players on, and watching them lose.
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Josh C
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I think its a great little game.

There are some minor strategic decisions, like stopping at 12 brains so your next run you can try to go to 15 or 16 for the endgame round, but other than that its pretty simple.

Its a great game to play when you are waiting on people to show up for a session or while sitting around. For the price, its a fantastic value.
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Stupid and fun.

Actually, I think they did a really good job of "balancing" the dice, in the sense that there are infrequent (but not rare) runs where someone gets a lot of brains, many runs where people get 2 or 3 brains, and just enough 3-blast rounds that you know you're risking everything every time you roll, but you still feel like you have a chance.

Even though the decisions aren't tough from an analytical point of view, I easily get as emotionally invested in them as I would in a casino game, but there's no money on the table. (Just braaaaaaains!)
 
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seth desu

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I like to think of it as a time fill.

Here's my use case for it; I frequent a game night at a local bar where we have to fight for table space to get a game going. In the time it takes to tear down one game and set up another, whilst finding the necessary amount of players, myself and any other stragglers can get in a quick game of Zombie Dice.

Plus, it's just silly fun. You can literally drag anyone into a quick game with under a minute of rule explaining.
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Simon Harris
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Asmor wrote:
So I ask you, my fellow geeks: does this game have interesting, non-obvious decisions?

As others have said it *is* very simple and hence decisions are 'small'. Factoring in the 'colour' of the dice still in the cup before deciding to push your luck again is an extra level of complexity, if that's not being too generous
Interesting that someone did mention the 'stop at 12' strategy! There seems to be two ways of interpreting the 'one more go each after someone breaks the 13 barrier' rule as it is written.
Supposing a 6p game, player #3 scores 14;

Interpretation #1 - players 4-6 get one more go each, game ends.
Pro - everyone gets the same number of turns
Con - players 1-2 don't get a chance to top the 'trigger' score

Interpretation #2 - players 4-6 and 1-2 get one more go each, game ends.
Pro - everyone gets a chance to top the 'trigger' score
Con - players 1-2 get an extra turn

Or am I just 'over-thinking' a very simple game?
 
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Chris Hawks
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harris_family wrote:
There seems to be two ways of interpreting the 'one more go each after someone breaks the 13 barrier' rule as it is written.

The rule, as it is written, simply says
Quote:
"Play until someone reaches 13 Brains. Then finish the round."

If you interpret a "round" as "starting with the first player's turn and continuing until the final player's turn" (as I think would be reasonable) then your first scenario is correct. The rules as written don't guarantee extra turns for anybody.
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Tim Binder
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Salt-Man Z wrote:
harris_family wrote:
There seems to be two ways of interpreting the 'one more go each after someone breaks the 13 barrier' rule as it is written.

The rule, as it is written, simply says
Quote:
"Play until someone reaches 13 Brains. Then finish the round."

If you interpret a "round" as "starting with the first player's turn and continuing until the final player's turn" (as I think would be reasonable) then your first scenario is correct. The rules as written don't guarantee extra turns for anybody.

This interpretation is confirmed by the Zombie Dice FAQ at http://www.sjgames.com/dice/zombiedice/faq.html:
Quote:
Q: Once a player banks 13 or more brains, what happens?
A: All players get an equal number of turns to tie or beat the score that triggered the end-game. For instance, in a six-player game, if player A starts the game (the play continues in alphabetical order), and Player C hits 13 brains, then Players D, E, and F would all have one more turn to attempt to tie or exceed Player C's score. Players A and B do not.
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Verdigris97 wrote:
Even though the decisions aren't tough from an analytical point of view, I easily get as emotionally invested in them as I would in a casino game, but there's no money on the table. (Just braaaaaaains!)


Though any casino interested in licensing Zombie Dice is welcome to contact me. It would make me insanely happy to see Zombie Dice being run in a Vegas casino.
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Nicky Hunt
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cobame wrote:
A couple days ago I played Zombie Dice in a restaurant with this age spread: two 70-somethings (I'm in there), two people in their 40s, two in their 20s, an 8 yr. old and a 4 yr. old. Much laughter ensued. And the 4 yr. old (with a bit of help) won. As some have said, it's just mindless fun.

My wife and I usually have Zombie Dice, Martian Dice, Cosmic Wimpout, or Cookie Fu with us in a restaurant.


I think that is so excellent that you all had such a wonderful game together. I need to carry ZD in my purse more so I can play it more often with people!


ZD is personally one of my favourite games; it's short, sweet, and to the point. I love deep RPGS and all sorts of different table top games, but, to me personally, nothing will beat the "quickies". Then again, I have an attention span of a fruit fly so I enjoy filler games quite a bit.

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Clive Weaver
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Exactly what I think, it's fun, with tiny little decision making, but it's about luck and a quick game.

Beats sitting in a room playing a game for 3 hours with people who probably haven't invested in deodorant for the last month.
 
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Jeff Staff
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Nothing funnier then the guy who scores 0 for 3 games in a row.
 
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Brad Conder
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Zombie Dice is pure luck and barely counts as a game. It's as meaningful as everybody rolling dice until somebody gets a 6, then that player wins. For me, it works as an excellent test to see if somebody has poor taste in games so that I don't have to waste my time with them.
 
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Andrew Walters
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Push Your Luck games have a significant luck component (it's right in the name...) but there are strategies that work better and worse. Read the section on PIG in Knzia's Dice Games Properly Explained and consider how much more involved the strategies become when you have to pull one of three types of dice from a known pool before the roll. There is an expected value of each pull-and-roll, it just can't be calculated on the fly by normal humans - unlike PIG, where you can calculate the expected value of the next die roll.

So "pure luck" is probably the wrong description. It's probably less luck than Blackjack but more than Poker. I wish we had good way to measure and describe how much of a given game is luck vs strategy, but humanity hasn't sorted that out yet.
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