Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Board game review: Zombie!!!

A week doesn't go by without another zombie apocalypse or two so while you're waiting for the next one, why not play it out yourself?  That's the reasoning behind this board game, released by Twilight Creations in 2004.

Run like the wind.

Players take turns laying out map tiles making up a city.  As the city grows, more and more zombies shuffle into view, awaiting quick despatch at the hands of the few meagre survivors.  The objective of the game is to kill as many zombies as possible or escape via the helicopter.  Of course, you can't rely on your fellow survivalists to help you, they'll stab you in the back given the first opportunity (you know, as humans do).

For 23 quid or so, there are a LOT of components.  100 plastic zombie figures in two different flavours, a whole slew of counters, cards and nicely-drawn city map tiles.  Quality is not bad but for the low price, compromise has had to be made.  For instance, the health and bullet tokens are punched out of flimsy card and are quite tiny.  The map tiles in particular are of thin stock and move way too easily on the gaming table.  Even heavy breathing will shift your growing city around. The plastic figures are decent enough though and there sure are a lot of them.

Lots of luvverly bits
Rules are moderately easy.  During a turn, players will place a map tile, draw cards, move, attack zombies, move zombies and play cards.  Or something like that anyway.  Combat is easy.  Roll a die.  Over 4 is a hit, zombie dies.  Less than 4 and you're hit.  Lose a health token or use a bullet token to make up to 4.  Weapons or other cards can be utilized to make zombie despatch easier but be careful, other players will hinder your progress.

Actually, for the low price, it's a pretty decent game.  There aren't many tactics - kill or die, but the tension mounts up as more and more undead crowd the board.  Sticking it to other players is where the most fun is to be had.  Oh, you want to use that grenade to kill a whole building full of zombies do you?  Whoops, butter fingers, drop the grenade army-boy.  You know, that kind of thing.

The dreaded 'miss a turn' card is ever present and I really hate that.  There's nothing worse than giving up time to spend it on a lunchtime or evening board game club only to frustratingly spend it on the sidelines, watching others play, not able to do anything.  It's a lazy tactic by the game designers and takes me back to Snakes 'n' Ladders, a misspent youth, older sister rubbing butter in my hair while shouting 'He's toast! He's toast!'.  I shudder, thinking about it.  Combine the horrible missing a turn card with 5 players and not a huge amount of player-interaction in between turns, sitting around and picking ones nose is a real possibility.  Now I know how Michael Owen feels.

For an occasional slaughter-fest, Zombie!!! is good fun as well as good value.  It's pretty brainless and will provide a laugh or two but those looking for a bit more depth and strategy will feel disappointed.  In larger games, be prepared to sit out for a while so take along a cross-stitch or something.

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