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Dispatching the Dungeon Master » Blog Archive » Rehabilitation: Zombies!!!
Rehabilitation: Zombies!!!

Okay, I haven’t played in a year or so, but my recollection of Zombies!!! is basically that you never have enough bullets, health or lives, mathematically, to make it through any serious amount of zombies to the end. Bullets only work half the time and there are far more zombies than bullets, hearts and power-up cards put together. There are essentially two strategies: wait for other people to exhaust themselves clearing a path to the helicopter and then make a break for it, or work cooperatively and mostly still die a couple times. Admittedly these are pretty good strategies for a real zombie outbreak, but they don’t make for a very fun game–it’s more a matter of slog than strategy.

Josh and Kevan have already been discussing an appropriate postapocalyptic twist using the Zombies terrain tiles. What else can we do with it? The building-board-as-you-go could be cool for a tactical wargame, with the “player” tokens controlling armies of zombies (although it’d be tough to remember whose were whose–maybe colored dot-stickers?). Can we combine the figurines with other toys (Dieslinger: Zombies vs. Polyhedrons) or use them as currency?

Each player controls a pack of zombies (use… I dunno, orientations to distinguish whose zombies are whose? So your zombies are always facing away from you?). There’s a few small packs of survivors who are controlled by simple rules (run away from large packs of zombies, shoot at small ones, etc).

Most survivors eaten by the end of the game wins.

I can’t see why you’d want to explore in a “pack-of-zombies” game since the objective wouldn’t be to explore at all. Especially if all the zombies have to start out in the town square initially. Maybe at the beginning players take turns placing the town pieces to create the map?

Here is an idea, though: Zombie outbreak. The players are each a single zombie at the town square, instead of a survivor. Gameplay begins as normal but instead of zombies you have panicking citizens - when you kill one you place your coloured dot on them and they become under your control. Alternatively: they’re returned to the town square.

Major worry here is that turn-length would increase exponentially with the zombie population. Perhaps once you reach a certain zombie amount the zombie just regains health or something analogous to bullets when he kills a survivor?

Maybe include rules for zombies under different player control attacking each other? Or how about, each player has a necromancer controlling the zombie pack that needs to be protected while eliminating the rival necromancers! Yes!

I like the necromancer idea! Regarding exploration, it can have a very classical RTS theme, really. You control a small initial band of zombies, playing on a grid comprised of a finite number of location cards (say 20×20), which begin face-down. As each necromancer’s zombies move over the tiles, they turn face-up; some of these tiles are just roads, but some are buildings - universities, science labs, shopping malls. These locations can be recruited from; perhaps different classes of zombie can be recruited from different locations? Shopping malls will give only normal zombies, good for eating brains and not much else, but labs would give scientist zombies, who can research augmentations; building sites would give worker zombies, who can build barriers; Universities can give - if you’re lucky - professor zombies, to make your barriers stronger, or, if you’re unlucky, hippie zombies, who won’t eat anything more meaty than cauliflower and spend the whole time trying to impeach you. Eh, use them as a meatshield. Perhaps zombie types are invisible to the other players; coloured dots denoting zombie type could be placed on the underside of the token, and only revealed when it becomes appropriate.

To avoid bloating, perhaps we can limit the amount of moves each player has - each turn, a player has five moves, which they can use to either move their zombies, or recruit more zombies from a resource tile that their zombies are already occupying. This can be augmented or extended by, Christ, I don’t know, time-travelling zombies.

What about combat? Brendan, were you covertly suggesting adapting the Dieslinger system? What rules did we decide on for Dieslinger, in the end? Is the wiki still extant?

The wiki is extant; it’s linked on the sidebar on the front page (but not the archive pages, hmm, should fix that) or you can just go to /dispatch/wiki/.

My suggestion was half in jest, and was basically that we bowl with dice as balls and zombies as pins, and use that as some kind of resolution. But I definitely like your zombie-classes idea.

I don’t know if you own it or not, but the Zombies!!! board game actually does come with landscape tiles much like those you suggested (although they’re more oriented toward player survival: hospitals, hunting stores, garden shops for chainsaws, etc). The only problem I can see is that they have roads through them with some sides blocked, which could theoretically lead to both armies getting stuck on their own sides with no way through. Maybe digger zombies can add new roads, or rotate existing tiles. And fast scout zombies can turn over tiles faster!

If you just had a movement penalty for moving onto another tile through a building (if you havn’t researched Free Running, har har), you wouldn’t have to worry about the logistics of map manipulation.

Fast zombies would obviously ignore this, since they just climb up the storm drains and leap from rooftop to rooftop anyway…

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