Review – Rise of the Zombies!
Design – Dan Verssen
Art – Gordon Napier
I have to be honest right up front and say that I find zombies pretty boring and one-dimensional. I mean, Aliens are far cooler. So I have managed to avoid most Zombie games. But having said that, as has been pointed out to me by one of my Twitter buddies, there is this thing about trying to survive against all odds against a Zombie horde. How do you do that anyway?
Well Dan Verssen has a game here which was “Kickstarted”, called Rise of the Zombies! and it has a very simple premise… You need get from a Safe House, to a waiting Helicopter to you can get out of Dodge in one piece, instead of being left behind as Zombie-chow.
From Boardgamegeek –
In Rise of the Zombies, a fast-paced card game of zombie survival, players play Location cards to form a path from the Safe House to the Rescue Helicopter, while fighting off hordes of zombies. The players must also play fast because they are racing a real-world timer. If time expires, the Survivors are left behind and die.
This is a relatively simple and straightforward card-based game. Its all in the cards as they say.
168 Game Cards
2 6-sided dice
8 Plastic Stands for Survivor Characters
1 Sheet of Counters
1 Digital Timer
The cards have very cool, grim, and interesting artwork and set the darkness of the theme for sure. Cards represent Survivors, locations (some of which are more dangerous than others), items, skills, companions, Epic cards and of course, LOTS of Zombies of varying strength, number (yes they can show up as packs), speed and strength. Loads of variety and therefor, replayability here. There will be no playing for an optimum hand here as you will be trying to think and act fast.
The cards are of a very good standard with quite excellent, art which really gives you a good level of horror theme. I think that what’s nice here is that its not overproduced like so many other Zombie games. The art on the cards is plenty for you to enjoy the experience.
In addition, there is plenty of character back story for you to read and that adds nicely to the experience.
Rise of the Zombies! is scaleable from 1-6 players. What makes it tense is exciting/frustrating, is the use of a timer which puts you under pressure from the get go. You see, once the timer starts you are not allowed to stop it for any reason at all so you need to be organised and focused, and communicate with each other as you will be cooperating to get to the helicopter and hoping you won’t get left behind by your “friends”. Yeah its cooperative to a point. At the end of the day, its everyone for themselves when getting on that chopper!
The timer is set according how many players and how tough a challenge you want to try. I recommend trying the easiest, longest amount of time until you really get a working routine amongst the players as this is a tough game to beat.
All players perform these steps simultaneously.
Discard Cards – You can discard 0 or more of the cards in your hand.
Draw Cards – Draw cards until the number of cards in your hand equals your Survivor’s current Health points.
Play Cards – Play cards and Attack at the same time as the other players. Stay in this step until all players say they are done playing cards. You can also purchase cards and trade Weapon and Item cards during this step. Unless a card specifies otherwise, this is the only time you can play cards, trade cards, use card effects, or discard cards to gain an effect.
Zombies Move – Move all Zombies 1 card closer to the nearest Survivor. If a Zombie is already in a Survivor’s card, do not move it.
Zombies Attack – Resolve Attacks for all Zombies in the same Location cards as Survivors.
Zombies Spawn – Draw 1 Zombie card and place it in the Location card behind the rearmost Survivor. If the rearmost Survivor is in the Safe House, place the Zombie in the Safe House.
You will need to cycle through yours cards quickly and as efficiently as possible as although things start off gently, it all quickly gets dangerous and frantic as you seek to get through 7 locations and then arrive at the helicopter. A you go through the locations, different things may happen, especially zombies will be coming at you. More and more zombies. Sometimes you can leave them behind, sometimes there are those that block you from going on until you can get rid of them.
You will find useful items, and you will chuck some of them to get to other more useful cards. You will feel the pressure as the time ticks and you will panic when a whole bunch of Zombies builds up and blocks you. As I said, its really hard to beat this game.
The mechanics are easy, and play well. The thing is you feel so outnumbered. And I guess this is as it should be. Nice features include a variety of weapons and items, all with different value to you. Also, as you kill zombies, you get experience points which you use to do different things that increase your survival chances. That’s cool.
At the end of the day, its a race through a gauntlet and you won’t have a lot of time to build up experience if the zombies are building up. You will need to work together, make smart choices, work efficiently and be prepared to re-cycle cards quickly to get to other, hopefully more useful ones.
Did I enjoy Rise of the Zombies?
As a whole experience, I found this game to be tremendous, if insanely stressful fun. The pressure builds fast and you find yourself becoming more and more desperate for some luck with the cards, as some bad draws will find you getting your butt kicked early.
I think that you need to play this game, expecting to lose, often, but if you do manage to get to the chopper, it will be very satisfying. I haven’t won yet so we will see…
I am concerned by the length of the game though. I think that it feels like it is almost too stacked against you. I would decrease the amount of locations as right now anyway, it seems almost impossible to win. I suspect that this will improve with more games and with effective team work but the trouble is that people may not want to play more games if they don’t feel that they stand enough of a chance to win.
Despite my concern about time length, this is a fun, stressy game with a great feel of impending doom. I love playing it solitaire actually although I think I will reduce the number of locations for sure to stand any chance of surviving.
This is one of those games where I don’t mind losing as its a heck of a ride.
For more information go to – http://www.dvg.com/.sc/ms/dd/ee/60/Rise%20of%20the%20Zombies!