Note: This preview uses early components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, Kickstarter version of the game.
Despite the constant cries that zombies as a theme is overdone/oversaturated, the criticism doesn’t seem to be stopping new games from both coming to the market and flying off the shelves. Love it or hate it, it appears the undead are here to stay.
Today we are going to be taking a look at a rather unique game called Zombie Tower 3D. First published in Japan, Zombie Tower 3D will be coming to Kickstarter this February. With its eye-catching 3D tower, I was curious if the game play matched up to its unique components. So let’s climb the tower and see if this one will be worth your Kickstarter dollars.
Zombie Tower 3D is a semi-cooperative board game where players are trying to survive in a crumbling, zombie infested tower. Each player will control a survivor on their hidden side of the tower. During the game, players will be moving around the tower and must spend their actions both fending off zombies and searching for useful items.
Players have 12 rounds to find both a vaccine and also the equipment they need to escape. If any player dies or they run out of time, it’s game over.
How to Play:
Zombie Tower 3D only plays with 3-4 players and the tower is set up in a specific way depending on the number of players. Each player gets assigned to one side of the tower and they are not allowed to see other player’s sides. Players also control a hero, each with their own unique ability.
Zombie Tower 3D is played over a series of rounds and each round has the following phases:
1. Emergence: Players use a 2 sided deck to determine where new zombies and survivors appear. One side of each card has a number that corresponds to a room on their side of the tower. The other side shows a number of zombie or survivor icons. As players flip cards, the newly revealed number will show which room the zombies get placed in, and the newly revealed card will determine how many zombies. This process is related for the survivors.
2. Actions: Each player gets 3 action points to spend on their turn. A player can take an extra action at a cost of 1 health. Different actions include:
• Move: Move to an adjacent room (or up or down a staircase)
• Search: Draw a card from the search deck of your floor
• Rest: Heal one wound
• Use an item: Some items, such as guns, require an AP to use
• Pass a card to a fellow player: Some rooms have slots in them, if you are in one of these rooms and another player is on the other side of that same wall, you can pass a card to them through the slot. This is a free action.
• Pick up or drop off a survivor: Survivors are worth VPs at the end of the game. This is a free action.
3. Zombie attack: Zombies on each floor will move towards survivors and PCs and will prioritize going after survivors vs players. Each zombie moves one room towards the nearest target. If a zombie ends its turn in a room with a survivor, they are munched and become a zombie. If the zombies end in a room with a player, the player takes damage based on the amount of zombies in their room.
4. Cleanup – Barricades are removed, any zombies, players, or survivors in a room that’s on fire are immediately killed. The first player token passes to the left.
Rounds will continue in this manner until the emergence decks have been cycled through twice (12 rounds) or a player dies. In this case, the players all lose.
If the players manage to fulfill one of the games 2 win objectives (each player has a vaccine, one player has the escape items, and all players are in the specific escape room) then the players win and move to final scoring.
To see who the real winner is each player gains 1vp for each survivor they rescued and also bonus VPs based on their three secret objectives. These objectives usually required a player to have a specific item at the end of the game, such as a gun and bullets.
The main draw of Zombie Tower 3D has to be the tower component. It was a really clever idea and it certainly added something to the game play. Since you can only see what’s on your side of the tower, you really have to communicate with your fellow players to know how they are doing. This also has the added benefit of curtailing alpha players from trying to quarterback the whole game. Cooperation is important in Zombie Tower 3D.
I will say that the Tower in our preview copy of the game was a tad rickety. I hope they adjust this some in the upcoming Kickstarter because more than once we bumped the tower and accidentally knocked a floor out of sync with the tower, causing the tokes on it to spill onto the table. It was a bit frustrating and I’d like to see some kind of clips to keep the floors security attached.
As mentioned above, there are slots in the tower that allow players to pass items to your fellow players. Both player’s characters have to be on opposite sides of the wall and, if so, you can freely pass a needed item through the slot. To be honest, it would probably have been easier to hand the player the card, but part of me had a bit of fun using the tiny mail slots.
The decision to make the game semi-cooperative was an interesting design choice for Zombie Tower 3D. It certainly altered the way we played the game. More than once I didn’t use an item to kill zombies because I wanted to save it for victory points. In one game I even managed to convince a fellow player to hand me a VP item, telling him I needed it to survive. Sucker. Time will tell if your group is a kind hearted bunch willing to work together or a doomed batch of survivors out for themselves.
The semi-cooperative nature of the game does make it a bit harder to win though. If players get greedy for end game points, then the chances of even winning the game start to drop. This is especially true as the tower starts filling up with zombies. In one game, I had a room filled with at least 15 zombies. I just decided there was nothing I needed on that floor.
Another good design decision was how the game allows you to take an extra action at the cost of one life point. This was almost a necessity as drawing a fire card at the end of your turn could have been game breaking without it. However as most characters only have 3-4 life points, this is usually saved for the most dire of situations.
Finally, I think the game plays a little harder with four vs three players. With four, you have a person sitting across from you who you can’t interact with at all. You can only pass items to the player on your left and right. So if you have an extra vaccine, it will take a few turns for you to pass it to someone else, to give to them. Regardless, the game still played well at both player counts.
While Zombie Tower 3D does have some fun moments, it probably isn’t going to be too much more than a filler game on your tabletop. The game play is fairly light and the constant searching definitely gives the game a somewhat random feel to it. Is that a bad thing? It depends on what you are looking for. The semi-cooperative gameplay and the hidden-information nature of the tower definitely created an appeal for me. I enjoyed both trying to survive and also accomplish my secret objectives.
If Zombie Tower 3D sounds like your type of game, keep an eye out for their upcoming kickstarter campaign this February. Even in a very crowded genre, it does have enough unique aspects to allow it to stay in your gaming library. While not incredibly deep, there is still fun to be had trying to survive in this three dimensional tower.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review.