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Subject: Time For A Second Slice Of Zombies!!! You'll Like It! rss

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Danny Stevens
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Zombies!!! A Second Slice is my rewrite of the rules for Zombies!!!

In this review of my own rules I will explain the motivation for creating them and then explain the major design considerations. I will leave it up to you to rate the new rules, but I hope that if you are one of those that has put this game on the back shelf you will pull it out for a second slice! If you haven't bought Zombies!!! then perhaps you might consider buying it knowing these rules are here for you to use.

Note that I have only applied these rules based on the base game. I don't have sequels (well I have a Bag O' Zombies) although I have read about each one. I intend to get the sequels over time and add Second Slice adjustments for them if needed (probably for event cards at least).

What's Wrong With Zombies?

Well, lots really. For a beer and pretzels game it goes on for far too long, the mechanics build up tedium instead of excitement and many players both young and old find it both boring and frustrating. This review The "MUST KNOW FAULTS" with Zombies!!! by Nathan explains it pretty well.

There are some that particularly like this game as is. If you are one of them then you may still like these new rules but probably not. There are others who like the game once they try some of the various house rules. If you are one of them you may really like Zombies!!! A Second Slice.

The Goss on the Second Slice

There are many variant rules to be found here on the Geek. I have scoured them and incorporated many into the new rules. However the variants are written to deal with flaws and patch Zombies!!! up. I have looked at the game as a whole design instead. I wanted rules that would be simple enough for kids to play and newbie gamers to enjoy, as was the intention with the original rules. However I wanted something that built some tension, rewarded players for using some strategy without being too punishing if they don't and that builds to an exciting climax. It had to retain or enhance the theme.

Those Dead Undead, What To Do With Them?

The first thing I had to look at was the victory conditions. Helicopter or zombie trophies. It seems good but doesn't really work, especially since the helicopter falls easiest into the hands of the player with the least zombies.

My first thought was to adopt the idea that dead players become zombies instead of being thrown back to start position. This had some merit if only for the variation. I didn't like the idea of zombie players getting a joint win though. That means all players win by losing. It had to be that winning as a zombie was risky and still competitive. Then I hit on it. The zombie players retain their zombie trophies and can drain them off human players by various means, and the zombie with the most trophies in an all zombie Armageddon becomes King of the Zombies.

That was good, but what about this 25 zombie trophy victory for humans. That doesn't sit well with me and judging by the many reviews and attempts to vary the rule it doesn't work for many of you either. I decided at first to do away with it and just reverse the helipad rule, person with the most trophies, human or zombie player, gets to place the helipad. That certainly worked but it wasn't enough. That was the thinking that led me to "The Frenzy Condition". Players, well human ones, have a trophy goal which, when achieved, lets them go into a frenzy similar to adrenalin rush. However they lose a couple of trophies so its a condition they need to restock by going and thumping zombies.

The frenzy condition is a real hit with the play testers. If there are no zombie players the game crescendos until the helipad comes out and all these frenzied humans race for it. If some have become zombies they are constantly looking to hold back the frenzy condition and...uh..make converts.

So, this has turned zombie trophies into a more interesting game clock and a source of tension between players.

Tiles, Tiles, Tiles

In the original rules you keep just adding tiles to the city and you put them anywhere. This actually becomes tedious as the places you add the tiles to are further and further away from the players and irrelevant to play, but the players still have to stop and set the tiles up.

In a second slice you only add a tile if you are human and you are on a tile with a road exit. You must add the new tile to your own if you can otherwise you can add it elsewhere.

This kept the placement of new tiles close to the action and meant that there would be turns where players did not have to bother placing tiles. This can lengthen the number of turns of the game before the helipad comes out but the experience is a much faster, less tedious game.

This did introduce a new problem however. The new tiles are the main source of fresh zombies. In the original rules the new zombies ended up further away and irrelevant, its true. I wanted to keep the pressure on, and with players who have become zombies they never place new tiles (except the helipad if they have the most trophies at the time). So what to do? Two new zombie placement mechanics of course!

A human player who does not place a city tile will instead place 1 new zombie on any free, disconnected road space. That alone keeps zombies shuffling into play. A zombie player gets to place two zombies after having moved other zombies. So the zombie player can move the occupants of disconnected road edges and unblock those spaces to let in her new minions.

Balancing on a Wire

There is a miscellany of minor tweaks that work together to tune the flow of play and excitement.

First there are move points (no dice and move) based on your current health. Zombies get two move points. Player zombies get three (humans get health plus three and zombies have no health). Moving from a named building on one tile to a named building on an adjacent tile is allowed but it costs two move points (a whole move for a zombie). This also allowed me to adjust human player movement. Entering a space with a zombie costs an extra move point. Suddenly with this rule being surrounded by zombies slows you down and racing for the helipad can see players deciding to go for it against the risk of clearing obstacles from the path of other players.

Then bullets became +2 to combat as in the quicker play rules by Robert Martin. As with those rules players start with 5 bullets. And then I added my "Suprised by Zombies" step where players suffer -2 combat against zombies that are in the players starting space when they begin movement.

I also tidied up event card play a little. Players start with none. Each turn they gain one and must immediately discard if they have four. When you play a card from your hand its exhausted and you place it face down. Refresh at the start of next turn when you pick up your new card. Easy and mindless.

Not so Goodness

Well, the event cards needed adjustment. I had promised myself I would not change any game components but..well..I had to. So there is a single sheet, listing the event cards of the base game in alphabetical order. It explains how each card really works. For example, "Alternate Food Source" means no combat with zombies and no zombie movement and zombie players skip their whole turn! Many weapon cards can be found in different places other than those listed and "Hey look, a shotgun!" gives you three +3 bullets.

Oh and "I Don't Think They're Dead..." forces a player to deploy zombies from his trophy stash to his space and adjacent spaces. That is a fun take that effect.

So....What?

Well I think the game with these rules is faster while being just as easy to learn. Its more exciting and achievements feel like real achievements. Running zombies down with the car is heaps fun if you get to do it, as is blowing them up with the grenade. As a zombie player you are always worrying about being got at by a buffed player but don't want to miss out on some juicy brains if you can get them. The race for the helicopter or to survive as the last woman on earth is climactic and the anti climax of the 25 zombie trophy is gone.

I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.
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Ian B
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Although I don't own and haven't played Zombies this sounds excellent. I came here from seeing it in a Math Traded and now I think I'll make an offer for it! Thanks.
 
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Danny Stevens
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Good one Ian. Don't miss out on the errata that are on the file page. They are built up by feedback I got from new players since I released the new rules. I'll bring out a revised rule PDF in a few weeks incorporating the errata.
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Ian B
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So I got the game in the Math Trade and I have run it through solo tonight to get my head around it. I have not really read the original rules at all.

It seems that it's going to be a lot of fun so thanks for spending the time putting this together - you've done a great job

I have a few questions. Do you want me to post them here or somewhere else to keep them together?

zombie
 
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Danny Stevens
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Hi Ian,

post questions here, and if you have any interesting sessions please give us a write up in the sessions part of the forum.

cheers

Danny
 
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Ian B
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OK. here goes with some questions!

1. Can you use more than one bullet per die roll?
(1a. Can you add multiple weapons per combat die roll?)

2. In combat should you choose to use a bullet before or after the die roll?

3. With locations like 'Drug Store' you get 3 Zombies and 3 Life. Is it legitimate to put the 3 Life in the road and the 3 Zombies in the building? It seems a bit easy for the person placing the tile to run past and grab all the life.

4. In the 'Surprised by a Zombie' step is the -2 combat modifier for every round of the entire combat or just the first die roll? I think it is the whole combat but this is thematically a bit weird (and also quite devastating!)

5. In the 'Slight Miscalculation' card does it double the number of Zombies on the tile or just those within the building spaces on the tile? When doubling can you put the new Zombies in the road? (This is probably errata for the card rather than your rules!)

Thanks!
Ian

 
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Danny Stevens
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Batz wrote:
1. Can you use more than one bullet per die roll?
(1a. Can you add multiple weapons per combat die roll?)


Definitely multiple bullets (blam blam blam). You can only have one of each type of event card in your inventory but other than that there is no limit to using multiple combat bonuses. To do it properly would require something like Arkham Horrors one and two hand icons with two hands being the most you can use. Too much for a conversion of this game. If you like add a one weapon per combat house rule.

Batz wrote:
2. In combat should you choose to use a bullet before or after the die roll?


After. Those bullets are effective and very helpful until they run out.

Batz wrote:
3. With locations like 'Drug Store' you get 3 Zombies and 3 Life. Is it legitimate to put the 3 Life in the road and the 3 Zombies in the building? It seems a bit easy for the person placing the tile to run past and grab all the life.


All zombies and tokens are placed in the building. Max of one zombie and one token to a space.

Batz wrote:
4. In the 'Surprised by a Zombie' step is the -2 combat modifier for every round of the entire combat or just the first die roll? I think it is the whole combat but this is thematically a bit weird (and also quite devastating!)


The -2 is for the whole combat and represents the human being on the back foot and off balance. Being surprised by zombies when your bullets have run out, you have no weapons and no frenzy tokens is bad. That's when you try to stay 3 or more spaces away from any zombies and your competitors have to decide if its good for them or not if you become a zombie.

Batz wrote:
5. In the 'Slight Miscalculation' card does it double the number of Zombies on the tile or just those within the building spaces on the tile? When doubling can you put the new Zombies in the road? (This is probably errata for the card rather than your rules!)


I have always taken the card to mean in the building and staying in the building. It means the larger buildings are the more dangerous.
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Ian B
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Thanks for the clarifications!

Danny from Tower wrote:
Batz wrote:
[q="Batz"]2. In combat should you choose to use a bullet before or after the die roll?


After. Those bullets are effective and very helpful until they run out.


I can see the game logic for this but thematically it jars a bit, also the "do I/don't I" use the bullet is quite a nice bit of tension. Adding them after turns it into more mechanical and removes some of the nice 'gambling' element.

Maybe you could choose to add them first for +2 or after for +1? Or after for plus d6/3 (i.e. 1, 2 or 3 = +1 or 4, 5 or 6 = +2)
 
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Simon Barnes
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Batz wrote:
Thanks for the clarifications!

Danny from Tower wrote:
Batz wrote:
[q="Batz"]2. In combat should you choose to use a bullet before or after the die roll?


After. Those bullets are effective and very helpful until they run out.


I can see the game logic for this but thematically it jars a bit, also the "do I/don't I" use the bullet is quite a nice bit of tension. Adding them after turns it into more mechanical and removes some of the nice 'gambling' element.

Maybe you could choose to add them first for +2 or after for +1? Or after for plus d6/3 (i.e. 1, 2 or 3 = +1 or 4, 5 or 6 = +2)


It's probably easier to not think of bullet tokens as representing individual bullets but instead as clusters.. when things get tight (you need the bonus) you blast away and deplete your ammo.

Anyway I have recently acquired the game after being initially skeptical while reading reviews. These proposed mods convinced me there is a good game in there.. I am now itching to play it with my Wife and 6 year old son... I just need to decide whether to play the base game first and then add this mod when the base becomes stale or just go with the mod. Decisions, decisions.
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Danny Stevens
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Hi Simon, the original rules are easier for a 6 yo but you want to try and keep it short. My advice is to put the helipad near the top third of the deck. It can be a fun experience anyway but is very random and adding tiles far away can get a little tedious. You might also want to swap out the dice roll for movement and make it a constant 3 result, or alternately count rolls of 1 or 2 as if they were 3.

 
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Danny Stevens
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I don't think adding the bullets after causes a thematic problem. Consider: your first shot is wild, the next hits but doesn't take the zombie down, you decide to fire again and again and again till either the zombie is dead or your out of bullets and in trouble.

Yes, the gambling on each bullet is gone but the game is more one of quick logistics erosion than many dice roll gambles.
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Danny Stevens
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There is a version 5 of the 2nd Slice rules at the file page. It tightens up the end game, beefs up zombie players a bit and shortens overall game length.
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Laos the Lurking
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Hello

First: 10/10 zombie for this amazing work!
I'm currently working on the adaption(/translation) of your rules and some other variants for my personal Zombies!!!-Mayhem. It all sounds really fun, especially the "turn into a Zombie" and "frenzy" mechanics. Hope they work as well as they sound )

While I'm gathering all the rule-bits together, I was wandering: What stops a Zombie-Player to spend his trophies to "automatically" win a fight with a human player? As I see it, the Human player can alter his roll by spending bullets and/or frenzy-token. Does this mean, that a human player with fewer bullets/frenzy token has no chance to win against a bloodthirsty zombie-Player with enough trophies? (As each trophy the Zombie-Player spends gives "-1" to the attack-dice)

Or am I missing a point here?

Thanks for your advise and again: THANKS a lot for sharing your creative work!

 
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Danny Stevens
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You have it about right Laos. When the first player turns zombie the other players have to beware, especially if the zombie player has a large trophy store even after losing half of it.

OTOH zombie players win by having the most trophies once all players have been turned. If you spend too much on killing the players they may convert to zombie with a competitive advantage in trophies.
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Laos the Lurking
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Thanks for your reply, Danny.
Another question: Did you or anyone else tried to combine the Second Slice Rulse with the Weapons of Mike Holyoak (anubis9)? I Like the idea of bringing some more firepower into the game. But it probably overpowers human players in the Second Slice Variant.

Well, I guess I need to test it out myself anyway (some of my players have more fun in fighting to death and destruction than in winning the game )
 
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Danny Stevens
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Let us know how that works out. I have adjusted some of the expansions for 2nd Slice already and published the files on their pages.
 
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Alexander Kuprijanow
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All right, I bought the original game and am dying to find out how this tweaked version will make the original playable and more fun.

Tnx for the details on the dev process, very interesting how you approached the different flaws and corrected them. Kudos to you, fair zombie lover!

:-)
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