There are three main components in this game: player and zombie figures, the action cards and the map tiles of the city. The figures are good design and have a good weight distribution. Very few things are more annoying than figures falling over every time you touch the table. However, both the zombie and player mold are exactly the same for all the pieces. This isn’t the biggest deal for the zombie figures, but I would’ve like to have different molds for the play figures. This would’ve added a nice bit of distinction and flavor between the players.
How to Play:
The game setup involves setting the town square card down on the table. This is the starting point for all the players in the game and where they respawn if they die during the game. Within the pile of map tiles, the Helipad is placed in the bottom half of the pile. Each player gets a figure of their color with three life tokens and three shotgun bullets. These come into play during the combat phases. The players also draw three event card that a player can use to help themselves or hinder other players.
Each player turn will consists of up to 7 steps:
1. Draw a tile from the map deck and place it adjacent to another map tile.
When placing the tiles they can be put in any orientation as long as they don’t cause a dead end running into another piece. When the tile is played, the player needs to add zombies to the tile. There are special map tiles that are named buildings, such as the police station, flower shop or hospital. These not only add zombies to the game, but also more life and bullet tokens. Players will need these if they want to survive, but they tend to be heavily guarded by zombies. It’s a risk versus reward choice.
2. Combat any zombies on your current space.
If you start your turn with any zombies on your tile, you have to do some killing first. Combat works with 6-sided die rolls in this game. If you roll a four or higher, you defeat the zombie and take the figure and add to your collection (collect 25 before you die to win). If you roll below a four, you either pay enough bullet tokens to get yourself up to 4 or you forfeit a life token and roll again. If you happen to run out of life tokens and fail a combat, you go back to the town square. You lose half of your zombie total and start again with the same arsenal you had when the game started.
3. Draw back up to three event cards.
Event cards can be played at anytime. They range from stopping zombie movements, weapons that help you with attacks, or cards that can hurt other players. You can only play one card per round.
4-5. Make and move up to your movement roll.
Roll the six sided die. The number that is shown is your movement. A player cannot move diagonally, but players can occupy the same space. The movement must also be either on a road or in a named building. While moving you will probably run into a zombie or two. When this happens you make the same combat rules listed above and if the player survives, you can continue your movement.
6. Roll and move zombies.
At this point you roll the six sided die again and move the number of zombies on the die one space.
7. Discard an event card.
This is good way to get rid of card that are of no use to you. Some cards require you to be in a specific building to receive a weapon or some bonus. If the building is on the other side of the board, no reason to keep a hold of it.
This sequence continues until the helipad map tile comes up. The player with the least amount of zombies in front of them places the tile and then its a race to get to the middle square of that tile or collect 25 zombies.
We played Zombies!!! with five players. The game was a slow one at the start. People were taking their time figuring out the mechanics of the game, understanding the cards and deciding where they wanted to go on the map. I think the slow start was due to the lack of any map tiles at the start. Once you get the tiles out there with some zombies, the game increases in intensity and enjoyment. The first 5 turns were quite grueling though. You have very limited amount of resources on the board, not many zombies to kill, and a small map to explore.
I must say, there is something extremely satisfying about going through a turn and just demolishing every zombie in your path. Later in the game, if you are able to pick up a few more life and bullet tokens you start to feel a little invincible and might consider going after the 25 zombie total. All of us enjoyed having the zombie killing total as a game ending condition. Most exploration games only have winning conditions that don’t come out until later in the game. The zombie total allows you to have a clear goal to win the game before the helipad map tile is played. This gives the players something to strive for while they are waiting for the helipad to show up. Admittedly, the 25 zombie total in front of us was a little daunting. The most anyone got to was 20 before they died and lost half their zombie score.
There is also a slight issue with the way that combat is done that I find a little annoying. The problem with the dice rolls in this game is that a couple of bad rolls can send you back to the start. This happened to a few of us early in the game and we found it very frustrating. The other gripe I have with the game is the event cards. I like them as a collective group. They add a lot of different conditions to the game play and good weapon cards that help to thin out the zombie mob. The issue is with the cards that affect other players.
There are some cards that stop movement, cause you to re-roll an attack roll, and other cards clearly designed to screw over the other players. When the helipad is played or a player is getting close to the zombie total, everyone will gang up on that player. This causes the game to slow down as everyone tries to stop that player from winning. At least three times a player was stopped from winning by an event card being played. I don’t mind cards that affect other players, but it becomes such a factor in this game that I feel it hurts the overall game play. By the second half of the game it becomes a gang-up-on-the-leader type of game. I find those games to have an artificially longer play time than necessary because of that type of mechanic (I’m looking at you Munchkin).
That being said, we still enjoyed the game. We had some really fun moments in the game. At one point, a player was at one health and seemed like they were about to die. However they managed to take out a few zombies and find that life saving weapon they needed. The game was a lengthy one, over 2 hours, which is way too long for this type of game. Everyone agreed that it should have had a shorter playing time.
Zombies!!! isn’t a bad game, but I don’t feel that it’s great. It uses the theme well and has mechanics that fit in the genre, but those event cards can cause the game to grind to a halt. The major issue I had with the game was the gang-up-on-the-leader mentality that occurred when someone got close to winning. As one of the players that could have ended the game, it was very frustrating. The game play isn’t varied enough in its actions to keep anyone’s attention for the two hours it took us to finish this game. If this game could consistently be a quicker game, I would play it more often. I think with a 45 minute game time, Zombies!!! would be a much better game. Still there are few things greater than killing a bunch of zombies, so don’t be afraid to give this a try.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $21
Final Score: 2 Stars – An ok game with an overused theme that has some fun elements but is dragged down by long play times.
• Gang-up-on-the-leader aspect takes some of the fun out of the game.
• Lack of different molds for player figures.
• Takes longer to complete a game then it should.