I recently started watching the new series The Walking Dead on DVD, which I highly recommend for zombie fans out there, and felt inspired to write an article looking at some of the many zombie-themed boardgames available. The shuffling, shambling, brain-eating living dead just never seem to get old in popular culture, and the boardgame world has no shortage of games where you can try to survive during the zombie apocalypse!
Of course the first game that springs to mind is the endless series from Twilight Creations called—you guessed it—Zombies!!! Kicking off with Zombies!!! Second Edition, which is justifiably famous for including 100 plastic zombies in the box. No one ever said Zombies!!! was a groundbreaking game, but when it comes to basic, straightforward zombie-killin’ action nobody does it better. It’s one of those games that cries out for variant rules and fan-made extras, and you can even find completely re-worked rules systems for the game online that make it a little less luck-based and, I think, even more fun.
The great thing about Zombies!!! is the zombies, and you get a pile of them, and for even more fun, you can get yourself a bag of glow-in-the-dark zombies and turn out the lights! The artwork on the cards and tiles is good, and with the number of expansions available you could probably built an entire city’s worth of zombie killing field. At last count there were nine themed expansions! Everything from classic trapped-in-the-mall scenarios (Zombies!!! 3: Mall Walkers) to high school madness (Zombies!!! 5: School’s Out Forever!) to undead clowns at the carnival (Zombies!!! 7: Send in the Clowns), and Twilight Creations show no sign of stopping..
For something a little more detailed, the king of B-movie zombieness has to be Last Night on Earth by Flying Frog Games. Set in the sleepy town of Woodinvale, players are B-movie hero archetypes—the priest, the prom queen, the farmer’s daughter, the drifter, to name just a few—banding together to fight for their lives. Eight different scenarios and modular board recreate classic scenes—the desperate race for the truck, the barricading of the manor house, the search for guns and ammo. All the time, unending waves of zombies spread over the town like a plague! So put down that popcorn, grab your shotgun, and hide your brain; the zombies are coming and this could be your last night on earth!
This hilarious and fun game has spawned some excellent expansions: Growing Hunger introduces new game mechanics and three exciting new scenarios to challenge players, as well as a two player mini-game. Four new Heroes and seven new red zombies, new modular game board sections, and new game cards are included, plus lots of new counters and extra bits so you can create your own scenarios. You can expand both your hero options and your zombie types with the Hero Pack 1 and Zombies with Grave Weapons. All the miniatures are really nicely sculptured and a fully painted game of Last Night on Earth is as immersive as you’d ever want to get!
Zombie Dice is a quick, easy-to-learn and fun dice game by the makers of Munchkin (I did mention Munchkin Zombies, right?) Each game only takes 10-20 minutes and includes 13 custom dice which are your victims—push your luck to eat their brains, but stop rolling before the shotgun blasts end your turn!
Steve Jackson Games also make Give Me The Brain Game, a fun and chaotic cardgame filler (excuse the pun) in which players take on the roles of zombies in a fast-food restaurant in hell. They all have to complete a number of tasks before leaving work, and the work keeps piling on. Even worse, some of the tasks require basic intelligence—and there’s only one brain to go around!
In All Things Zombie, players are survivors fighting tactical battles in a devastated world populated with zombies. It’s designed to appeal to both strategy gamers and roleplayers alike. Whether searching a police station for guns and ammo, gunning down hordes of zombies, or blasting through a running gun battle with other not-so-nice-survivors, All Things Zombie will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Which brings me to the exciting news: Z-Man Games have announced The Walking Dead Board Game! Based on the orginal comic by Robert Kirkman, this promises to be another worthy addition to a genre that just won’t lay down and die—zombies!