Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Zombies! Run for your lives!

Plays: 3Px1, 6Px1

The Game

This is a simple card game where players are trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. You win by being the last survivor, or by collecting five different items. There are two types of cards - zombie cards and item cards. Each zombie type can be defeated by another specific item type. On your turn, you usually play a zombie card in front of another player, or play an item card in front of yourself. Duplicate cards cannot be played in front of the same player. If you collect five different items, you win. If you collect five different zombies, you, ahem, become a zombie. You discard your hand of cards and cards in front of you, and from then on you just draw one card on your turn and play it on someone still human.

There is a special action you can do. On your turn you can play an item card in front of another player, or a zombie card in front of yourself. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it can be useful. If you do this, this play is considered a free action, i.e. you then draw another card and take your turn as normal. This special action can be done only once per turn.

So the game is two races running at the same time. You try to get others killed by zombies, while trying to collect five items yourself. Matching zombie and item cards always cancel each other out, i.e. both get discarded. So you play a zombie on an opponent not only because you want to get him killed, but also sometimes because you want to discard one of his items.

Box cover.

Cards with black backgrounds are zombie cards. Cards with white backgrounds are item cards. The icons on the top left corners are used for matching item to zombie. This leftmost card is a special cockroach zombie card, which cannot be killed, thus no icon.

This is how an item is used to defeat a zombie (or a zombie is used to force an opponent to use up his item).

Telephone books and mice can be used as weapons too.

The Play

My three-player game with my two children (7 and 5) dragged. I think they were being too nice. There was no ganging up to get another player killed quickly (although eventually they did do that to me, which was a relief for me). They played fair, so zombies were spread around quite evenly, and we seldom got close to five different zombies. My conclusion from that game was you should not play nice. I think the whole point is persuading others to kill someone else, and working together to throw another player to the zombies. You should negotiate, you should gang up to bully others, you should plead and beg.

When I did the 6-player game with adults, I told them this. I was first to instigate a kill, by playing a 4th zombie on a player 2 turns away from me, which tempted the next player from me to play the 5th zombie on him. The next player knew it was a golden opportunity, and since he had the right card to do it, he went for it. After that I could keep telling the (now) zombie player that it wasn't me who got him killed. Aah... I'm a politician! A zombie player still participates in the game, so if he draws a zombie card on his turn, he can decide who to play it on. Of course sometimes he has limited choices because he can't play it on other zombie players or still-human players who already have that zombie card.

After that first kill, other humans started falling like flies. However when it came to the last two survivors, things reached a kind of stalemate for a while, because the zombie players didn't particularly side with one or the other survivor, so neither survivors approached five zombie cards nor five items. Eventually I (as a zombie player) was the one who made the kill. Wai Yan had four zombies when it was my turn, while the other survivor had three. So I said if I drew a zombie that could be played on her, I'd do it. And it was such a zombie. Game over.

Four zombies means close to be surrounded.

I probably shouldn't be playing this with the kids. The artwork can be a little gross.

The Thoughts

Zombies! Run for your lives! is a very simple game, which is all about group dynamics and people skills. You are playing the players, not the game. There is not much skill to learn in terms of game mechanisms. It is all about avoiding attention and diverting it to someone else instead. It is not really my type of game, because I feel there is too little control in terms of game mechanisms. These "play the players" games can be a fun romp with the right group as long as you are not expecting any particular depth in gameplay. However things can get ugly if a game devolves into a popularity contest. This is not a game to take too seriously. Actually, it is not a game to take seriously at all. In which game can a mouse frighten a lady zombie in a bikini?

I think the game will work better and be more fun with a bigger group, because there will be more group dynamics.

1 comment:

Blackscreamerz said...

This game is good to build human skill at least.