Fight your way through a town that’s become overrun by zombies, killing as many as you can while you scavenge abandoned buildings for supplies, desperately hoping to survive until you can make it to the city’s helipad. A tile based, strategy board game.
I learned a very valuable lesson from playing Zombies!!! recently. That no matter how good you think you are at a game, no matter how many times you’ve played it over the years, and no matter how confident you are, it only takes one thirteen year old boy with a fresh outlook to kick your ass two ways to Sunday. I hadn’t played Zombies!!! in quite some time, so I figured I’d give it another go before reviewing it, and the perfect person to play it with was my zombie loving protégé and nephew Damien whom I was sure I would be schooling in how one survives a zombie apocalypse. Imagine my surprise when the kid not only beat me but beat me like a boss from Ninja Gaiden. I’m the freaking zombie here, if anyone should know how to survive a zombie apocalypse it should damn well be me, but he had the upper hand at every turn. You should have seen the guy slaughter zombies left and right like they’d personally insulted him. I figured the guy might have a little sympathy what with his uncle being among the undead and all, but no, he saw a zombie, he killed a zombie. Sure, that’s what you’re supposed to do in the game, but damn it, I should have been killing more zombies than him. I’m supposed to take on him and his brother Josh the next time, and while hell hath no fury like a zombie beaten at his own game, or something like that, you should know by now my grasp on euphemisms is tenuous at best, I’m a little worried. That’s okay, I just need to do a good old fashioned 80’s training montage, and I’ll be back in the game. Someone cue up Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”
In Zombies!!! you’ll take control of one of six humans stuck inside a city that’s under constant attack by the zombie hordes, only two players are necessary, but the more you have the more fun the game is. The board is divided into various map tiles that get laid out at the beginning of each turn. The game starts with a single map tile representing the city square where each player must begin, the square being able to connect to any other tile that could be laid down. At the start of each player’s turn they will draw a map tile and connect it to the overall board, making sure that all streets match up. In other words you can’t make a street face the back of a building or vice versa. Most tiles will either be simple street tiles or building tiles such as a hospital, mall, sporting goods store, or firehouse, but they will all have three numbers on them, a zombie number, a bullet number, and a heart number, each number representative of the amount of zombies, bullets, and life you’ll have to place in any order you want on the gridlock of that specific tile. What do bullets and hearts have to do with anything? I’m glad you asked imaginary reader in my head.
The overall goal of the game is to collect twenty five zombies and be the first character to make it to a helipad tile that is mixed into the bottom of the tile deck. The helipad tile has to be drawn like any other map tile, and until it’s found the game cannot be won. Even once it’s out, the player to reach it first will have to have twenty five dead zombies or reaching the pad won’t matter. Zombies are killed by a role of the die. After placing the drawn map tile down, the player will role one die to determine how many spaces they are allowed to move, each tile having anywhere from six to nine spaces on it. You can move around the maximum number of your roll, taking down any zombies you come across and collecting life and bullet tokens until you’ve exhausted your roll. You can take out zombies one of two ways, both involving the roll of a second die. If you roll a four or above, the zombie is defeated and you collect the piece for yourself. If you roll below you can make one of two choices, sacrificing a life token allows you to reroll your die in the hopes of getting a better roll, or you can add bullet tokens to the number you rolled until it’s up to four, so if you roll a two, add two bullet tokens to defeat the zombie, roll a three and simply add one to defeat the zombie. You start the game with three life tokens and three bullet tokens, but you can collect more as you go along. To collect them you simply have to roll the die and move your character over a space containing a bullet or heart token, but once that token has been collected it won’t be replaced. You’ll have to collect more tokens by constantly moving around to newer map tiles that have had more tokens laid upon them.
To either help you or hurt your opponents along the way are various status cards. Some can help you by giving you an extra plus one on all your roles for a certain amount of time, a plus one in certain buildings, or give yourself extra bullet and heart tokens. Conversely, certain cards are used to stop your opponents from progressing, cards like stopping a player’s movements or deciding where they move, surrounding them with more zombies than they can handle, and causing a player to either return zombies they’ve killed or remove the ability for them to collect more zombie for a certain amount of time. You’ll have to use these status cards, your wits, and a good deal of strategy to make your way through the game, collecting twenty five zombies as you go and making your way to the helipad to escape the town. The first player to do so wins the game while the rest are left to become zombie chow.
Zombies!!! is an incredibly fun game that even those who aren’t zombie fans can enjoy, though of course the zombie lover is whose going to have the most fun with it. It plays out almost like an old zombie flick, a group of survivors are trapped in an overrun town and must fend for themselves while other survivors are getting in their way and causing them problems. Only the one who can think the furthest ahead is going to be able to out survive the others. You’ll need to constantly think on your feet as you go, dealing with everything as it comes at you whether that’s being stuck in a specific place with no ammo or being surrounded by more zombies than you are able to handle. These situations are the very reason for the status cards, they mimic the things you’d see in any zombie movie. I also enjoyed the way in which the zombies were dealt with, again, very much like an old school zombie movie. One zombie can be easy to take care of, but if you have to take on too many at a time you might just find yourself overwhelmed by the onslaught. You’ll have to carefully consider your stockpile, making sure never to use too much so that you don’t run out when you need it, but at the same time, conserving too much will end up with you unable to progress, leaving you stuck behind. It takes a lot more strategy than I expected in managing both your supplies and your situation. On top of that, the way you constantly shuffle up the map tiles in between games means that no two games will ever be alike.
There are a lot of expansions you’re able to get as well. I only based this off of the original game, well, not the exact original but the updated edition which is known as Zombies!!! The Second Edition, but there are a lot of other editions you can add to it, up to twelve to be exact. Each expansion adds new map tiles and new situations, but some also add an entirely new gameplay like trying to put the pages of the Book of the Dead back together. Some are standalone editions that can be played by themselves or with the original Zombies!!! These include Zombies!!! 4: The End and Zombies!!! 11: Death Inc. The rest are all additions to the original game that require it to be played but will add things like clowns, animals, or stronger zombies and themed map tiles like a cemetery, sewers, a military base, a zoo, or a penitentiary, among others. These will add new rules as well depending on the theme like Zombie Corps(e) that lets you use a jeep to double movement or Feeding the Addiction that gives players addiction cards that can give upgraded abilities but at a price. There are also spinoff versions that can be played on their own or with other versions of the game. These include Humans!!! where you play as the zombies trying to eat humans, Martians!!! where you will have to fend off alien hordes as well as the undead, and MidEvil that seems to be an Army of Darkness homage where you will fight off skeletons.
Zombies!!! is a game that will give you hours and hours of fun, and should you happen to eventually get bored with the current version, there are twelve additional updates you can play as well as the three spinoffs. If you’re a fan of board games this is something I think you’d like, if you’re a fan of board games and zombies then this is something you can’t pass up.
The Undead Review
Designed By: Todd Breitenstein
Publisher: Journeyman Press and Twilight Creations
Game Type: Tile Based Strategy
Release Year: 2001
Rotting Heads: Five Heads Out of Five