Review – Dawn of the Zeds second edition from Victory Point Games
Design – Hermann Luttmann
Art – Tim Allen, Vinh Ha
Its taken quite a while but I find myself finally being drawn to Zombie Apocalypse games at long last. I’ve played and enjoyed games designed by Hermann Luttmann so I finally had a look at Dawn of the Zeds with a swanky 2nd edition that looks the business, and Victory Point Games‘ States of Siege solitaire engine, I was very excited.
From the rules –
Dawn of the Zeds is a States of Siege™ series solitaire game of survival after the world has gone crazy – apparently some kind of virus or poison has turned ordinary people into vicious, zombie-like killers. It is not clear how the disease spreads (though it seems that physical contact is one way), but it is obvious what the illness does to its victims. And now the undead, nicknamed “Zeds,” are converging on your corner of the world.
As best as you can tell, you have been left to your own devices to stop them while the National Guard organizes a relief column and fights its way to you – but that could take days, maybe even weeks. You must coordinate the defense of the town of Farmingdale and its surrounding villages, utilizing the good citizens and emerging heroes of these communities to halt the Zeds’ advances by (re)killing them, discovering and implementing a cure to this vile scourge, and preserving as much of the area and as many of its inhabitants as possible.
I will say up front that the States of Siege system was made for a Zombies game. I haven’t played many Zombies games but the tension of the other games using the system means this should work really well.
Dawn of the Zeds is at the more complex end of the scale of the States of Siege games and looks to really bring out a strong story, back up by a solid system, and attractive components.
Let’s see what my experience was…
• One 11” x 17” Game Map (very nicely done with an A and B side, one for new players, the other for the more advanced rules)
• One 8.5” x 11” Player Mat (nicely organised and very helpful)
• One 8.5” x 11” Player Aid
• One 8.5” x 11” Quick Play guide and one Quick Play Set Up sheet (this is great as you can use it to get up and playing quickly)
• 19 regular Zeds and 5 Super Zeds units*
• 12 Heroes, 7 Civilians, 5 Villagers/Refugees, 1 Raiders, 1 Bubba’s Band, 1 Dr. Marteuse, 1 VIP Survivors, 1 Rangers, and 2 Green Diamond Security Guards units*
• 1 Supplies, 1 Ammo, 1 Infection Level, 1 Super Weapon, 1 Research, 1 Final Component, 1 Ferry/Collapsed Bridge, 1 Premonition, 1 Player Actions, 1 Noelle, 1 Minefield, 1 Artifact, 11 Casualties, 8 Dead Zeds,18 Chaos, 1 Infected Vermin, 1 1st Player, 1 Loaded, 1 Secret Entrance, 6 Zeds status (Toxic, Zeds Stench, etc.), 1st Player, and 3 Civilians status (Well-Armed, Explosive, and Civilian Leader) markers* (The art is very good indeed and brings out the theme really well)
• 5 Barricades and 1 Strongpoint (minor assembly required)*
• 59 Event, 29 Fate and 12 Hero cards (There is a lot of necessary text on the cards and its all well laid out and is the core engine of the game that brings the story to life)
• 2 six-sided dice (boxed edition only)
• This Rulebook
The counters are colourful, easily functional and the images are terrific.
This B side of the map is for beginners as it leaves out the Tunnel area of Farmingville.
Here is the map Side A of Farmingville including the Tunnel area. Everything is clear and laid out well with a great look.
The Event cards are well done and are easy to follow the game process with.
The components certainly are very good and meet the high benchmark that Victory Point games has set for itself. Just looking at the components was a treat and so onto the game.
First off, this game is nicely set up for different levels of gamer. There is a Tutorial scenario, a Classic scenario (the original version of the game), and an Advanced scenario (which also comes in three lengths). This Advanced scenario uses the new expanded map and provides some additional rules, new types of units, and enhanced procedures.
The game map depicts the town of Farmingdale and its surrounding communities with the Town Center as the central hub that belongs to all Tracks leading up to it. This is the same format used in all of the States of Siege games with the target to win the centre hub and the paths for the attackers the spokes in the wheel. If you are familiar with these games, you will know how the Zeds will travel immediately. On Side A, there are five Tracks leading to the Town Centre. Side B contains four Tracks and is used to play the Tutorial and Classic Scenarios.
The set up for each scenario takes a bit of time but its worth it as although there aren’t many starting pieces on the map, you have specific instructions to set up the Event deck for each scenario. The instructions are easy to understand and well explained and it doesn’t take too long but it needs to be done right as this deck is the engine room of the game.
The rules give you all the information for the various set ups with illustrations and there is even a very nice quick-start guide for the basic scenario. This is excellent.
The coolest part of the game presentation for me is that the Event cards have the Sequence of play so you will find that you will be able to follow it pretty smoothly.
The gameplay basically has the Zeds moving inexorably towards the town centre. You will be effectively fighting and running to kill off or at least hold off the Zeds and escape back to the ton Centre until the National Guard. If the Zeds get to the Town Centre, you are toast.
1. Draw Event card: Draw the top Event card from the Event Draw pile.
2. RRR Phase: Raiders, Rangers, and Refugees units are moved as listed on the Current Event card. You want to save the refugees by getting them back to the town centre where you need to decide to protect them or equip them to fight.
3. Outbreak Phase: Consult the Current Event card to determine if an Outbreak occurs. If it does, immediately conduct the Outbreak procedure. Inevitably Outbreaks occur and bring more trouble for you in the form of more Zeds!
4. Supplies Consumption Phase: Consult the Current Event card to determine if a Supply Point is
consumed. If so, adjust the Supplies marker accordingly. (This is the most stressful bit actually. You need to keep trying to forage for supplies and ammo if you want to stand a chance of winning and things don’t always work out).
5. Zeds Phase: The Current Event card indicates which Zeds unit(s) are moved one (or more) space(s) towards the Town Center. Resolve resulting fighting immediately. The fighting is either ranged or hand to hand which automatically raises the potential for an outbreak.
6. Action Phase: You may conduct up to the number of Actions indicated on the Current Event card. Each Action is fully resolved before the next is performed. Ok this is stressful too as you have a limited, sometimes very limited number of Actions available.
There is a good choice of Actions to choose from, but the trouble is its unpredictable how many actions will be available each turn and if you get a few turns in a row with low actions available, its not pleasant.
• Free Actions (if available)
• Fight the Zeds – hand-to-hand or shooting from a distance
• Building a Barricade (eats up supplies though…)
• Search & Retrieval Move
• Forage Action
• Healing the Wounded (Healing Action)
• Research Action (Find a Cure!)
• Manhunt Action (find Dr. Marteuse!)
• Special Unit and Hero Actions
Yes, this is a game of high tension and violence, and hungry Zeds eating brains and the like and the game process works well although it takes a few turns to get with the flow. As the Event cards have pretty much what you need, you will refer to the rules themselves less and less as you go which makes the the game move along nicely.
There are lots of elements in the rules that add a lot of texture to the atmosphere and story such as –
– Different tracks for the Zeds to travel, my favourite of which is the Tunnel track. This is crazy fun as units and Zeds can get lost in the catacombs and there is the secret lab of the crazed genius behind the Super Zeds, Doctor Marteuse. Hilarious!
– Different types of Zeds from Super Zeds, to Wer-Zeds, to Leapers, each with their special qualities.
– Heroes of course. Each of which has their own special capabilities. They all feel like they come out of any classic Zombies film. Great fun.
– Events – There are plenty of events, each with special rules that don’t take a lot of time to go through, and and more interesting stuff.
– Fighting – easily handled via a hand-to-hand combat chart and a Gunfire table.
– Fate cards – Occasionally, you will need to draw a Fate card which will add extra wrinkles to the proceedings.
Not an overly complex game but there are loads of bits and pieces to be honest and new gamers or those unfamiliar with the States of Siege engine will find the going slow until they come to grips. The rule book is really well done with lots of visual examples and the tutorial level and the different levels of difficulty are presented well so you will have a progression of learning.
Did I enjoy Dawn of the Zeds, second edition?
Out of all of the games over many years of gaming, I would have to say that this is one of the most thematic games I’ve ever played. It is also a ton of fun and the combination of strong theme and fun makes Dawn of the Zeds, second edition an absolute winner. Hermann Luttmann and Victory Point Games have really brought the best out of the States of Siege system and created a game that makes you feel like you are experiencing a Zombies film. Love it!
The mechanics work well and the Event cards really make things flow pretty well. You will feast upon the visuals and the production of components are at the highest standards that VPG are capable of.
The flow of the story starts off at a high tension rate and then it kicks you and slams you and beats you up and down as you fight off the hordes and try to survive. The Heroes jump in and do their thing in the most hollywood-ish ways adding to the strong sense of fun. Every Zombie movie cliche is there and works with style and outrageous craziness. The sense of fun is lovely and silly and over the top but thats what you want from a Zombies game.
The key test for me that makes Dawn of the Zeds, second edition stand out in this lovely second edition is that I want to set it up and have another go. There is a load of re-playability here as no two games will be the same. There are loads of discoveries and it will take many plays to work through the myriad of story journeys.
Easily up there with the best of VPG’s creative stable of games for sure. I highly recommend this game if you love Zombies. I haven’t played loads of Zombies games at all and to be honest, I don’t really think I need to as I can’t see Dawn of the Zeds, second edition being bettered at all. In the States of Siege system, Victory Points Games, in my humble opinion, are the benchmark for bringing theme and story out in a very playable game to which all other publishers should be measured against and Dawn of the Zeds, second edition is their flagship.
For more information, go to -http://victorypointgames.com/details.php?prodId=142