All Things Zombie – Boardgame Review
All Things Zombie. Boardgame Review. Lock’N'Load Publishing. $50.00
Passed Inspection: Perfect for groups or as a solitaire game. Fast-paced, tactical-action game with some optional roleplaying elements. Great counters and maps. Easy to learn and play.
Failed Basic: Some scenarios need more zombie counters than are included. Missing a colored die referenced in the rulebook.
All Things Zombie is a change of pace for Lock’N'Load Publishing, which is known for its detailed but fast-paced World War II war games such as Band of Heroes and Heroes of the Blitzkrieg. It takes LnL’s award-winning tactical combat system and transposes it from real-life historical events to a world under attack by the living dead, such as that seen in such classic horror films as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, and their blood-soaked kindred.
The more noise a survivor makes fighting zombies, the more zombies may appear to investigate the commotion.
Why, some readers may ask, is a zombie game being reviewed on ArmchairGeneral? Because, I respond, this game makes players use legitimate small-unit tactics just to stay alive, and because it is published by an always innovative publisher of war games.
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All Things Zombie is attractively packaged in a quality box with wonderfully evocative artwork and includes 90 pre-cut counters of zombies and survivors, 88 equipment and status counters, two double-sided map boards, rules and play aids, plus six dice.
The rules use a somewhat modified version of the action/re-action system that Lock’N'Load is known for. A turn can feature zombies moving, survivors shooting, reacting to each other’s actions and survivors trying to work together to secure a building. A turn goes as follow: generate zombies; roll initiative; zombies and survivors move, fight, search and roll to see if the noise of combat attracts more zombies to the area. Once the subtle intricacies of the game are figured out, the turns fly by with amazing speed.
Each character, zombie or survivor, has the following statistics: Reputation (which affects how well the character can fight and how well the character can hold up when a moral check is needed), Movement/Speed, and the number of Melee Dice to roll when the character is engaged in hand-to-hand combat.
Equipment such as rifles, shotguns, pistols, baseball bats, etc., affect the combat ability of the character. Zombies, of course, tend to just use their claws and teeth to attack the survivors. Each survivor also has a hit point count and when they get chomped, they lose hit points. After a certain number of wounds, the survivor’s counter gets flipped over and you get to see a wounded picture of the character dripping in crimson gore.
One very innovative element of the game is that the more noise a survivor makes fighting zombies, the more zombies may appear to investigate the commotion. This can become really nasty when a survivor blasts away with a full clip from an assault rifle: suddenly every zombie in the area wants to find out what made the big noise! During our games, we found that melee weapons such as baseball bats were the best way to take on a zombie while sneaking around a (hopefully) abandoned building looking for ammo or other survival gear.
This game is fun! From one to six players can have at zombie bashing. Yes—it is set up for solitaire play, as the zombies are always controlled by the game rules. Whether playing a single scenario, a campaign, or the free-form Skirmish Game, players will have a ball blasting the hungry undead.
In one of the games I played, my character, “Jimmy” the gun collector, and “Bank” the Hit-man were trying to rescue two hot babes, “Tonya” the model and “Beck” the lady of the night (for lack of a more discrete term) from a hospital full of zombies. Jimmy’s assault rifle ran out of ammo in the first turn, so Jimmy went on the run to find more while being pursued by over 20 zombies. He approached a house on the outskirts of town but found it full of the living dead. He managed to sneak out of the house without attracting their attention and ran in to another building—only to discover Bank blasting some zombies.
Meanwhile, Beck and Tonya found themselves in a real bad spot as zombies surrounded them. Beck went down to the claws of the hungry zombies while Tonya tried in vain to rescue to rescue her. The burly character named “Sailor” tried to rescue Tonya but was jumped by a hoard of zombies. By the end of the game, the last man standing was Bank who, after witnessing the carnage, ran out of town to make his way to a place of safety in a world gone mad.
Unfortunately, the game is not without flaws. The rules reference the white dice that are included but also reference a colored die, which is not (at least in my copy). For most of us gamers, this isn’t a problem as we all have multiple dice bags with enough dice to trip a thousand zombies, but new gamers may be perplexed, asking, “Where is that non-white die the rules keep talking about?” The colored die is intended to differentiate non-zombie die rolls from zombie rolls, primarily in regard to initiative.
The quick-reference card is helpful but should include the sequence of play for first-time players to reference without having to go back to the rulebook. An extra sheet of zombie counters should have been included, as several times we almost ran out of zombies during our games. There were no rules for survivors who died becoming zombies themselves (a staple in zombie horror films and games), and there were no rules for vehicles such as cars, buses, etc.
Negatives aside, All Things Zombie is a damn fun game, so get out your survival gear, strap on your guns and prepare to blast some zombies into the next life!
About the Author:
A college film instructor and Executive Director of Nouveau Cinema Group, Inc., an organization which rescues old movie theaters, Richard A. Martin has also worked in the legal profession, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War 1 and 2 gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!