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148. Zombie Series - Zombies!!!

**WARNING!**  Some of the graphics in this post are, well, graphic.  If you're squeamish about blood and guts, even illustrated, you should maybe just wait until the next post to pick up this series.  It won't be nearly as gross, I promise.

Moving the open seas to your own backyard, let's talk about zombies.  Reanimated corpses appear in a number of different cultures throughout history, but it was George Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead that established them as a pop culture phenomenon, and one of the monsters of choice in modern horror fiction - from movies to television to comics to classic literature (even Pride and Prejudice now features zombies).  Now, I wouldn't call myself a zombie expert (though I loved Shaun of the Dead), but there's no doubt that zombies are spreading their influence all over, even into games.  ESPECIALLY into games.  And with that, we're going start this zombie series with (fittingly) Zombies!!!


(BGG image by user RichardC)

Zombies!!! was originally released in 2001, with a second edition released in 2006 that updated a number of the rules and added some more stuff.  The game is for 2-6 players, was designed by Todd Breitenstein, features art by Dave Aikins and Kurt Miller, and was published by Twilight Creations.  You are a survivor in a city filled with zombies, and your goal is to either make it out alive or take as many zombies as possible with you.


(BGG image by user Maeglor)

In the game, you get 30 map tiles, a 50 card event deck, 6 plastic shotgun guys (that's really how they're referred to in the rules), 30 life tokens, 60 bullet tokens, and 2 dice.  In addition, since you can't have a game called Zombies!!! without a few title characters, the box includes 100 plastic zombies.

 
(BGG images by user haccpmonkey)

At the start of the game, each player takes one shotgun guy and places it on center of the town square tile.  Each player also gets three life and three bullet tokens.  One player is chosen to be the dealer and shuffles up the remaining map tiles, with the helipad shuffled randomly into the bottom half of the pile.  The dealer will also shuffle the event deck and deal three cards to each player.  You're ready to play.


(BGG images by user haccpmonkey)

Each turn follows the same sequence: draw a tile and place it, fight zombies in your current space, draw back up to three event cards, move your shotgun guy (fighting any zombies you encounter), move zombies, and discard one event card (if you want).

Tile placement involves simply extending a road.  You can't block a road with a building...as in other tile placement games (Carcassonne and Galaxy Trucker for example), legal connections must be made on all sides that are touching other tiles.  Some tiles have named buildings on them, like the hardware store, the skate shop, and the police station.  You'll notice that these spaces have some letters and numbers near them.  At the time of placement, you must place the number of zombie (Z), life tokens (L), and bullets (B) indicated in the building.  They can ONLY go in the buildings, never in the street.  The zombies will move later.  Placement of these items is up to the one who drew the tile, but with some restrictions.  There can only be one zombie per space.  In addition, there can only be one life or one bullet in a space, never both (though one can be in the same space as a zombie).  So, if you look at the hardware store, there are 5 available spaces, and the tile gets three zombies, one life token, and two bullets, giving you a number of options.  The skate shop has three spaces, gets three zombies, no life, and one bullet.  This means that every space has a zombie, and you can choose which space also gets a bullet.  The police station has six spaces, gets six zombies, two life, and four bullets, meaning that every space has a zombie and a life token or bullet (cutbacks must be really bad if there are only four bullets in the entire police station).

Some cards have no named buildings, so they come out with a number of zombies equal to the number of exits from the tile.  So, if there are three roads leaving the tile, the tile comes with three zombies, which can be placed on any legal road space.

There may be a point where you close off all exits from the map and prevents you from adding more tiles.  If you do, you lose the rest of your turn.  Since all hope of reaching the helipad has been lost, you'll be playing to try to kill 25 zombies.  On the other hand, if you just draw a tile that can't be played (though there may be possible exits), you just discard the tile and continue your turn.

 
(BGG image by user streaky2007 - don't say I didn't warn you)

Event cards can be played at any time, though you can only play one per round (from the beginning of your turn to the beginning of your next turn).  Some cards will give you special actions, others are items you can play in front of you.  You can never have more than three event cards in your hand at the end of your turn, and you do have the option to discard one once you've done all you can.


(BGG image by user Amiral)

Before moving your piece, you have to fight a zombie that is in your current space.  You'll also have to fight if you ever enter a space that contains a zombie.  Combat works like this - roll a die.  If you roll a 4, 5, or 6, you win and the zombie is added to your collection.  If you roll less than four, you lose.  You can then forfeit a life token and roll again, or you can spend bullets to increase your roll (one bullet per point).  You can't run away, you must fight until you either win or die.  If you run out of life tokens, you've lost and must return your shotgun guy to the town square.  Once there, you forfeit half of your collected zombies (rounded up) and any weapon cards you have in play.  You'll start the next turn with three life and three bullets.

If you were fighting a zombie that occupied your current space, you can now roll to move.  Each number allows you to move one space, but you do not have to move the entire amount.  You can't move diagonally, but you can occupy a space with another player.  You can move in any street space, or into any named building through the indicated doors.  If a building isn't named, you can't enter.  Whenever you enter a space that contains a zombie, you must fight it, but then you may move on.  If you land on a bullet or life token and there is no zombie there, you can take the token.  However, you cannot have more than five life tokens.  If you've been forced back to the town square, you can't move anymore this turn.


(BGG image by user haccpmonkey)

Once you have moved, it's time to move some zombies.  Roll a die, and move that many zombies one space.  There's no set pattern of movement from the zombies, so the player can decide which zombies to move where.  You can try to sic them on other players, or you can try to get them out of your way, you can draw them to you so you can collect more zombie carcasses.  Remember that there can only be one zombie per space, and zombies have the same movement restrictions as humans (no entering unnamed buildings, only enter through the door, no moving diagonally).


(BGG image by user cobalt60)

When the helipad tile is drawn, the player with the fewest killed zombies gets to place it (choose randomly if there's a tie).  Once a player gets to the helipad and kills any zombies that might be there, the game is over.  Alternatively, the game also ends if one player kills 25 zombies.

Read more at BGG, and expect to pay $28 in an FLGS.  There are lots of expansions for this one, and you'll probably see a whole pile of them if you're looking.  Join me next time for more zombie goodness.  Happy gaming!
-Jesse

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This blog is all about board and card games. Look around and find out about some games you may not have heard of. For a complete table of contents, click on the supplements tag and look for Supplement #4.

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