Wednesday, January 28, 2015

All you zombies

The zombie apocalypse genre has exploded in the past few years. It seems like every hipster from Portland to Brooklyn has a zombie apocalypse survival plan in place, The Walking Dead is a successful show on a mainstream cable network, the novel World War Z was a bestseller, and game store shelves are absolutely choked with zombie board games.

Zombies!!!, first published by Twilight Creations in 2001, has the distinction of being one of the first zombie-themed board games to hit the market, and while it may not be the most complex or nuanced game, it is still one of the more playable.

Game play is refreshingly simple: each player's figure starts in the center of town square, with a handful of life and bullet tokens, and three cards representing special actions. On each turn, a player draws a random tile and places it adjacent to one of the tiles already in play. The nicely illustrated tiles represent the eerily quiet streets of a town in the grip of a zombie apocalypse. Buildings on the tile might contain life tokens, which keep you alive longer, or bullet tokens, which make it easier to shoot zombies. Unfortunately, as each tile is placed, a number of zombie figures are added to it.

Players have to move their figures across the tiles, evading or destroying the hoards of zombies in their path, biding their time until the Helipad tile (randomly shuffled into the bottom half of the tile stack) is placed. The first player to reach the center of the helipad tile is the winner, but they'll have to fight their way through a lot of zombies to get there.

The base game includes 100 plastic zombie figures, and it's not uncommon to run out over the course of a game. Seeing 100 zombies on the board, even if they're only an inch tall, is a pretty terrifying sight. It is in this way that the game really succeeds at recreating the tone of the George Romero zombie films of the 1970s, with hoards of undead making our heroes' plight seem pretty hopeless.

Expansions add standard zombie film tropes such a military base (with glow-in-the-dark "government enhanced" zombies) and a shopping mall, among others, and players can also buy bags of additional zombie figures for those all too frequent times when 100 zombies aren't nearly enough.

Rating 3 (out of 5) A fine game that is true to the source material and really puts you in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, but a bit simple to be really engaging.

Date played: November 27, 2014

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