ZOMBIES!!! (Second Edition: Directors Cut) [Board Game Review]

I’ve been a keen gamer since a young age, be it videogames or much loved board games such as Frustration, Guess Who? and the iconic Monopoly, where I was accused of being a bad loser, throwing all the money everywhere. Ahem…

Board games I have played in recent years have lacked the enthralling quest, competitiveness and in some cases, detailed instructions, to play the game. Much to my pleasure though, a game which ticks all those boxes and more has arrived and its name is ZOMBIES!!!

We all know how a typical zombie film goes down: surrounded by zombies, you must survive by raiding shops for supplies and destroying every zombie in your path as you try to make it on foot to your getaway point. Creator of ZOMBIES!!!, Todd Breitenstein of Twilight Creations, Inc, has taken the adored genre plot and adapted it into an exciting, action-packed boardgame that will have you strategically plotting to see your opponent eaten alive…or at least moved back to the start!

Let’s take a look at the boardgame itself.
ZOMBIES!!! comes in a beautifully packaged, small cardboard box with a cool design reminiscent of Ash from The Evil Dead.

Inside are the following pieces:
30 Map Tiles
50 Event Cards
6 Plastic Player Characters (various colours)
50 Plastic Grey Male Zombies
50 Plastic Green Female Zombies
2 Dice (blue and red)
Instruction Manual

It’s been years since I’ve seen a boardgame with plastic characters, such as the survivors and zombies in ZOMBIES!!! Many games nowadays opt for cardboard counters rather than spending the money on some decent materials. The inclusion of the plastic micro-figures brought a nostalgic feel to the proceedings and the level of detail included is just tremendous.

Take a look at the two zombies below. In the box, you have a bag of 50 of each type to use. They are both classed as zombies and are included just to give a bit of variety and spice to the game. The detail is astonising, with the male zombie’s ribcage protruding from his chest and the female zombie firmly gripping a severed head. Nice!

The 30 map tiles are used to create the town in which your survivor character is stranded and the aim of the game in order to win is to get your character to the centre square of the helipad before the other players, defeating any zombies that should shuffle into your path. However, you can also win should you defeat and accumalate 25 zombies before reaching the helipad. With these two contrasting methods of winning the game, players will begin to plot their every move in a bid to succeed right from the very first roll.

ZOMBIES!!! is a game for 2-6 players, ages 12 years old plus. We played a 2-player game which was an absolute blast and highly competitive, but the fun and arguments will really explode with a full team of 6 players!

One player is chosen as ‘dealer’ and shuffles the map tiles and event cards and shuffles the helipad map tile into the bottom half of the map tile deck. For a shorter game, the map tile can be shuffled into the top half of the deck instead, but where’s the fun in that?! The town hall map tile is placed in the centre of the table and acts as the starting postition for all players.

Each player starts off with 3 event cards, 3 lives (red tokens with hearts on them) and 3 bullets (black tokens with bullets on them). The lives and bullets are used when battling any zombies you should come across when moving your character. You cannot escape from a zombie, you MUST fight it, even if it means losing your life! There are three ways of defeating a zombie but all point to the same conclusion. When your character lands on a square occupied by a zombie, you must role the dice. If you roll a four, five or six, you’ve successfully defeated the zombie and can add it to your collection. Roll a one, two or three and you must either spend a life token to roll again, in hope of getting the required 4, 5 or 6, or use the amount of bullet tokens that will take your roll number up to 4. So if I rolled a 2, I’d either have to spend a life to roll again or spend 2 bullets to add to my role of 2, to make 4 and defeat the zombie. The bullets and lives you use to defeat a zombie are left on the tile you battled upon, which means you or another character can pick up these much-needed tokens later in the game. Should you use all of your life tokens, you must return to the Town Hall map tile, where you’ll receive 3 bullets and 3 lives, but you will lose half of your zombie collection.

Bullets and lives are also littered throughout the store tiles, but in order to pick them up you’ll have to slice and dice your way through a rampaging army of the undead. It’s always best to ensure you have enough lives or bullets before you embark on that suicide-mission though!

Each turn, the player must take a map tile from the map deck and place it onto the table. The map tiles are varied, with shops, dead ends, crossroads, straight roads, T-junctions and L shaped roads featuring upon them. The shuffled variety of tiles and the fact they can be rotated and placed anywhere means no two games are ever the same in ZOMBIES!!! A unique playing experience like this ramps up the excitement and creates you into a smart player, forward-planning each and every move.

With each map tile comes those pesky, brain-hungry zombies. The amount of zombies to be placed on the map tile depends on the tile itself. If it’s a shop, the tile will state in the corner how many zombies should be placed inside the shop squares, along with any bullets and lives. If no writing is present on the tile and it is simply a road, the amount of zombies to be placed randomly upon that tile depends on the amount of exists present. So a crossroad would feature 4 zombies. and a T-junction would feature 3 zombies.

The player continues their turn by rolling a die. The number shown on the die is the amount of spaces that player can move, but can choose to move less than stated if preferred. The player can only move their character to squares in front of, behind, left or right and not diagonally. If the player moves onto a square occupied by a zombie, the zombie must be defeated and put into the player’s collection before commencing to the next square.

The event cards can be played or discarded any time during the player’s turn. The event cards are varied with different abilities associated to them. Some are weapons, like the skateboard and the chainsaw, which give you extra movement points or extra battle points when fighting zombies. Some cards allow you to unleash game-breaking moves upon your fellow players, such as the ability to scatter extra zombies in areas of your choice (read: surround your opponents with zombies). These event cards spice up the game and you never know when the other players may use one of their cards and whether it’ll be a direct or in-direct hit towards your gameplay. Only one event card can be used in a turn and you can also discard any cards you find no use for. Each turn you are allowed to replenish your event card hand so the event cards remain at a total of 3 per player.

When the movement of the player is complete, they must role a die again, this time to decide the movement of the zombies on the playable map board. The number on the dice equates to the number of zombies in play that must be moved one space only each. This is great, wicked fun as you can plot to block your fellow players’ paths and desired destinations with zombies or surround them at their current location. The zombies choosen to move are entirely decided by the player who’s turn it is, so whether the zombies are roaming the streets or lurking in the shops, they can be moved just one square closer to munching on your character’s succulent flesh. Zombies in shops, however, cannot magically pass through walls. Laws of physics do apply, which means for zombies to reach the road outside, they must exit through the main doors, which are clearly made visable on the tiles. Likewise, zombies travelling on the road must stick to the road path and cannot magically cross dead ends onto adjacent tiles that are not linked by roads.

Once the zombie moves are completed, so is the player’s turn and the process is then repeated for each player as they battle their way through this gripping, enthralling survival game in a bid to reach the helipad or defeat and accumalate 25 zombies in their collection first.

So, I know you’re all dying to know if I won or not in our 2 hour long game? Well, I lost…twice. We decided to bend the rules slightly once I had lost legitimately to my worthy opponent after he defeated 25 zombies and proudly showed them off to me from his side of the table. Hmmph. We decided that we would both try our hardest to reach the helipad first. Again, I lost and got into a mini-strop, turning into that little child again. So with my opponent already waiting on the centre square of the helipad, I played on, determined to get there in one piece. Were I would normally move the zombies at the end of my turn, it seemed pointless and an easy way for me to ‘win’, though I’d already lost anyway…twice. So my opponent decided to move the zombies each time I rolled, making my quest to reach the helipad that bit more difficult, but in the end, I made it! (I was the yellow female character)

This is definitely one of those games you’ll curse at (in a good way) and one that may break friendships and cause you to sulk if losing throughout (case in question: moi). This is why ZOMBIES!!! is a REAL boardgame. I’ve not experienced these emotions with a game for quite some time, so to do so, whilst having tremendous fun with my friends, is an absolutely enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon.

With its ever-changing map and influx of enemies at every street corner, ZOMBIES!!! is a unique gaming experience, one that serves up an individual thrilling quest each and every time, turning you into a blood-thirsty survivor who’ll do anything to win.

The addition of ZOMBIES!!! expansion packs, that are readily available on the market, means you can add to the zombie landscape and create bigger and more detailed games, though the base game of ZOMBIES!!!, which I’ve reviewed, is perfect alone and more than enough for any gamer.

ZOMBIES!!! is an unforgettable boardgame experience that young and old will cherish and enjoy. An absolute must for all horror-fans and boardgame enthusiasts.

Rating: ★★★★★

ZOMBIES!!! is available from Amazon

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About Bat 4425 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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