Now that the U.S military and its contractors are preparing to fight a zombie war, it seems a good time to examine a zombie wargame.
“All Things Zombie” is a board game from Lock ’n Load Publishing, maker of fine tactical wargames. Not surprisingly, that’s what “All Things Zombie” is.
Up to six players can assume the role of an eclectic group of characters in zombie-infested Las Vegas, including what appears to be a pair of Vegas streetwalkers turned zombie-hunters. Each character is rated for reputation (which covers strength, skill and mental resilience), how fast they move, and how well they fight in melee (the streetwalkers are pretty tough). For their part, the zombies tend to have weaker melee skills, but they move about as quickly as the humans. These aren’t the shuffling kind of undead – and there are a lot of them.
The game comes with some small scenarios that require players to search buildings or kill a certain number of zombies, and a long campaign where they must safely convey The Professor With the Cure to a helicopter. It isn’t just humans versus zombies, either. Some scenarios pit rival teams of humans against each other. If you’ve seen George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead,” you know how this goes.
The zombies are controlled by the game through dice rolls. Each turn starts with dice to see whether the living or the undead move first. Zombies basically charge the humans, who have more flexibility. They’re able to move and then take an action such as firing a weapon, searching a building or taking a second move action (useful if you want to put some distance between you and a horde of flesh-eating monsters). Combat is resolved by rolling dice.
Humans can use weapons such as pistols, rifles and grenades, but only as long as the ammo lasts. Each human character can take a certain amount of wounds before succumbing.
Napoleon’s dictum that morale is more than numbers is no less true in zombie warfare. When humans are charged by zombies, they have to roll dice against their reputation to see whether they can react or are paralyzed with fear. Thus the players can never be sure that the character with the assault rifle won’t turn to stone just when they need the firepower.
As we all know, the fog of war hangs thickly over the zombie battlefield. One never knows what lurks inside that farmhouse. Unfortunately, to obtain weapons, ammo and medical supplies, the humans must search buildings, which just happen to be where the zombies are. Players draw from a deck of zombie cards to determine how many zombies they encounter.
Plus, in a rather neat twist, every time a human fires a weapon, a card is drawn to see how many zombies swarm to the sound of gunfire. It’s actually textbook counterinsurgency theory: the more firepower you use, the more enemies you generate.
“All Things Zombie” plays fast and fun. The zombies keep a-comin’, and you keep shooting them (or running for your life). The world of the undead is no place for the weak.