Review – Aliens vs. Zombies from Victory Point Games

AvZ_cover_front(LARGE)

Review – Aliens vs. Zombies from Victory Point Games

Designer – Chris Taylor

Art – Nick Hayes

Haha, I’ve had an ongoing, lighthearted debate with Paco of G*M*S* Magazine as to which are cooler – Aliens or Zombies, and I’ve continued to champion Aliens for their diversity and intelligence. But what do I know eh?

Aliens vs. Zombies is a two-player game from my friends at Victory Point Games who continue to produce a wide range of games covering a variety of themes and tastes and in my humble opinion, are one of the most valuable game publishers for our hobby for this reason alone.

With Aliens and Zombies, we have a game “about the life and death (mostly death) battle between two natural enemies: Aliens and Zombies”. My first thought was that it looks like a classic cheesey 1950’s SciFi film setting. And suitably silly!

Unboxing

Included in your AvZ package are the following components:
(60) ½” square Zombie counters
(24) ½” rounded Alien counters
(2) 5/8” rounded big Alien counters
(10) ¾” x 1 1/8” rounded event tiles
(1) 8½” x 11” color game board
(6) six-sided dice (boxed edition only)
(1) Rules booklet

The game map is a depiction of a city which is the battleground for the Aliens and Zombies. I’m not quite sure if it works aesthetically for me. I don’t have an answer other than to say that the grey colour of the buildings is functional but leaves me cold.

AVZ_map

The counters on the other hand, are functional and also work for me, with the Aliens being suitably 1950’s SciFi silly. The counters are thick and clear as to what the are meant to do. Being colourful, they do standout against the grey buildings so they do work in that way.

AvZ_counters(front)

Gameplay

Reading through the rules, it is clear that there is Chris Taylor’s sense of humour and isn’t trying to take itself seriously at all. This is a nice refreshing change compared to the oh so serious and way over-produced games coming out of Kickstarter projects which are churning zombies and space themed games out to the point where its now all very boring.

Aliens vs. Zombies is played out over eight turns. Each turn is made up of the following phases, which are conducted in order. 
1. Event
The Zombie player reveals one Event tile. The Zombie player pulls X random Zombies from the grave, where X is the number on the Event tile, and “spawns” these Zombies on any number of locations on the outside edge of the map and/or dirt lots. So there is a continuous conveyor belt of zombies spewing up from the ground to come after the Aliens. The Aliens bring big gnarly Mutants.

Events

Zombie Bite – Some of the Aliens have been affected by the mutated zombies

Alien Laser – The Alien High Command has seeded space with Alien Orbital Laser platforms. They can target many Zombies in the same area, but take time to recharge. 

Zombie Claw – Various body parts and limbs, separated from their bodies, attack the Aliens. 

Zombie Rise – The peaceful dead are peaceful no more!

Alien Mutant: The mutated Zombie DNA strikes a lowly Alien trooper and creates a 30-foot-tall Alien 
mutant!

Alien BFAR: The massive Alien Battle Faction Armored Robot lands and immediately attacks nearby 
Zombies with SRMs (short-range missiles).

Yes, crazy random stuff happens and it all is silly and right out of a comic book.

2. Alien Landing 

The Alien player rolls one die and adds the result to 1. This is the total combat strength, or less, of small Alien units that will land on the map this turn. The Alien player can choose small units (Trooper, UFO, Tank or Leader) to place on empty locations on the map.

3. Alien Actions
Each Alien on the map can take one action: Move, Attack or Blast ‘Em. 

4. Zombie Actions
Each Zombie on the map can take one action: Move, Attack or Chomp ‘Em. 

The game ends after the 8th turn. To determine the winner, count the number of Zombies in the dead pile.

The game process is very straightforward and simple. Its all about Alien tech versus Zombie numbers so you do the math and see who comes out on top. Very much a beer and pretzels game with a sense of humour. Its very easy to get into and aimed at the audience looking for something that can be picked up and played with little muss or fuss.

Did I enjoy Aliens Vs. Zombies?

The good stuff here include the refreshing approach of not taking itself seriously and having a sense of humour, and this works nicely with the look and feel of a cheesey 1950’s SciFi film, comic setting which is generally very silly. Rather than the usual pretentious stuff, Chris Taylor has opted for words like “Blast em” and Chomp em” which I think stamp the sense of fun here. If you accept this, as I do, you will definitely enjoy this game. Its light and silly and not meant to be anything more than this. At that level, it works. I actually think the audience for this game is kids of say age 10 or a parent/child enjoying silly fun together. I enjoyed playing Aliens vs. Zombies.

Having said that, I’m not sure that there is much staying power. There are no really dramatic moments or events that make you sit back and say, that was cool, other than the sense of humour, which might be enough for me but maybe not others. And at a time when gamers can’t seem to get enough out of zombies or aliens, there is a lot of competition out there for their attention and there might not be enough here to capture much of an audience. There’s nothing wrong with the game as it plays and I enjoyed it, and I applaud a different take on the genre. Unfortunately, it might not have enough of a wow factor which I accept is difficult to achieve.

So overall, a fun game that provides a sense of humour but there are a lot of competing games that probably offer stronger attraction for gamers.

For more information go to – http://victorypointgames.com/details.phpprodId=229&category=&secondary=&keywords=aliens

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