The Best Zombie Board Games

It's no secret that zombies have massively shuffled back into fashion over the last few years, and even if we're getting a little tired of them sometimes they remain a compelling popular culture fixture. Board Games are similarly on the ascent; one only needs to look at the number of Board Game bars, indie companies, and larger-scale publishers creating games in every genre, from casual have-a-few-beers-with-your-buddies board games, to ones with rulebooks that rival textbooks. Either way, nothing beats getting together with some other people and having a friendly (or not so friendly) game night from time to time.

These are our favourite zombie board games, in no particular order, with slight reviews and our opionion on whether they're better for a more laid-back hangout situation, or an intense battle of wills and wits.

Last Night On Earth




 With a pitch-perfect B-movie theme, Last Night On Earth makes a perfect crowning event for a zombie movie night. The game supports 2-6 players, with most controlling stereotypical film-trope heroes and one or two acting as a zombie master. It's played with relatively detailed miniatures and cards, and games can go fairly quickly once everyone knows the rules but generally you're looking at around an hour and a half to two hours once you start.

Gameplay is fairly straightforward and accessible but with enough depth and complexity to keep veteran gamers engaged. You play by moving miniatures around a board, fighting zombies and performing actions via card abilities and dice rolls. There are tons of call-outs to great zombie movies, both well-known and obscure, and you can tell the game was a true labor of love for it's creators and not just a simple cash in (as some of the lesser zombie boardgames seem to appear).

What makes Last Night On Earth really great is it's high replayability; each game begins with a different scenario that changes your goals and win conditions, and it contains tons of modular and random elements to keep things always exciting. There are four or five expansions out for it as well; I haven't played any of them but some of them add a lot of value.

Last Night On Earthis easily one of the most fun, accesible, and exciting zombie boards games I have played, and I'd rank it up there as some of the best board game nights I have ever had.

Zombicide




Zombicide plays a lot like Last Night On Earth, with great art direction and a lot of emphasis on bloody survivor-on-zombie combat. Games of Zombicide start slow but ramp up quickly and lead to a climax of bloody proportions as a horde barrels down on you and quick decisions and sacrifices are all you can do to try and survive.

Zombicide is a hectic brawl against overwhelming odds, with great art and cool miniatures, and a lot of replay value; like Last Night On Earth there are a ton of variety in scenarios and randomness keeps things exciting. Unlike some of the other games on here the Zombies are all controlled by the rules of the game itself, and the interplay between the fast zombies, the slow ones, and the more hulking boss-zombies creates lots of interesting and tense moments.


The game has fantastic miniatures

I've played Zombicide a handful of times and it's a great afternoon party game, casual enough for anyone to get in on and always exciting. I've heard a fair amount of criticism from hardcore board gamers about some of Zombicides rules and mechanics and well I haven't played enough to really comment on that I would say that Zombicide is really fun, fast, and perfect for more laid-back and/or beer fueled hangouts with board-game addicted friends.

City of Horror

 

Pretty much every other game on here follows the same trend; you fight and kill escalating hordes of zombies with whatever weapons you can scavenge while either working as a team, or working at angles from each other.

City of Horror however, like the truly good zombie movies and books out there, is about more than just the fighting and the running; it's about dealing with the apocalypse and certain doom surrounded by people you can't really trust but have to depend on. Like in Romero's movies, the heroes can usually deal with the zombies; its each other, or other people, who prove to be their downfall.

True, in City of Horror, the players control a range of survivors with certain abilities and start off with a deck of action cards to help them survive and fend off the growing threat, but ultimately City of Horror is about negotiation, about threats and votes and underhanded plays and sneaky trades. You get points for how many of your people you can escape with at the end of four turns, and more points if they haven't used their abilities or they've found vaccines.

Interesting situations develop almost immediately. Your buddy is begging you to use one of your abilities to help him out; what do you make him give you? Do you help him out and hope he stays loyal and will vote to help you out, or do you let him suffer and hope it knocks him out of the game? Who has to be sacrificed when the zombies burst into a building; one of your characters (but which one?) or one of theirs? City of Horror is one of the only games I know where you take votes to see who gets eaten. Many of the abilities can seriously alter the flow of a game, and playing the right one at the right time is a friendship shattering as any game I've ever played. And those abilities aren't coming back; what you start the game with is all you get, except in very rare circumstances. And the zombies are circling.

City of Horror is probably one of my favorite board games ever; I love social, backstabbing-ridden games, where the rules are simple but it is knowing and trying to manipulate and deceive other people where the fun comes in. It doesn't satisfy the same simple zombie-killing mayhem that games like Zombicide or Last Night on Earth do, but it provides an experience every bit as intense if crushing the dreams of others is your thing. Some people don't like that; depending on the competitiveness and thick-skinned of your game group, you may want to only break out City of Horror on certain occasions.

 

Zpocalypse

Zpocalypse is somewhere in the middle of Last Night on Earth, Zombicide, Zombies!!!, and City of Horror. It's rules aren't as simple and streamlined as some of the former, and it's not as much about diplomacy and shady dealings as the latter, but it has elements of all, and is the perfect boardgame to scratch that zombie survival itch. Zpocalypse isn't just about a bunch of survivors trying to escape a town or fight their way down a street; it's about trying to survive for days, scavenging food and building defenses and holding out as the hordes come shambling towards your camp.

Zpocalypse has a lot of killing; you're not dealing with a handful of zombies at a time, or even a dozen, but more like 40, 50... If many of the other games are about more intimate encounters between a couple characters, then Zpocalypse is an orgy on a grand scale. The game does a good job of suggesting narrative; though every game ends with death in a blaze of glory, getting there is full of twists and turns and emergent stories that suggest themselves.

 I would recommend Zpocalypse for people who want a more complex, survival-centered board game about surviving a zombie apocalypse, and who are okay or willing to learn more complex rules. Zpocalypse certainly isn't an impossible game to learn, but it is a little clunkier than many of the others on this list, and as such requires about half a full game to get a handle on.


ZOMBIES!!!


Unlike many of the other games on this list, ZOMBIES!!! is not a cooperative game, but instead a game that pits survivor vs survivor vs circling undead horde in a race to the helicopter. It's been out for some time and has like ten expansions, which range from new settings and zombie-types to extreme variations on the original ZOMBIES!!! gameplay.

Play starts with each player putting his character down in the centre of town; again, figurines are used for players and zombies, and a deck of tiles are used for the map. Turns start with players drawing tiles and placing them down, "revealing the city." It's a great game for dickishness; the cards you draw all either help you or hurt someone else, you get to move a few zombies on your turn (like, say, into your friends), and you can place the tiles to really screw with someone. ZOMBIES!!! is not nearly as friendship-shattering as a game like Risk, but it's close.

Zombies!!!, as well as all of it's expansions, can be picked up pretty cheap on Amazon. In-fact, it's probably the cheapest game on here by a long shot, which is something for zombie gamers on a budget to consider.

Dawn of the Zeds


Unique on this list, Dawn of the Zeds is a grueling and awesome solitaire board-game (i.e, one player) where you take control of the town of Farmingdale and try to survive, find a cure, bring a mad doctor and his grotesque creations to justice, and deal with whatever undead insanity comes your way as you wait for the army to rescue you.

If intense solo board-gaming is your thing, and you want to do that but have zombies too, then Dawn of the Zeds is your thing. The game is played, like many of these types, with a combination of dice-rolling and decisions and modifiers, leveraging each situation that comes your way the best you can while trying to fulfill as many of the goals as you can. It's a true battle, but it always feels fair, and the game design is top notch. The board and pieces themselves aren't particularly amazing, but the times I played Dawn of the Zeds I was so engrossed I hardly noticed, and the art style has a charmingly authentic 80's zombie movie budget look to it.

Dawn of the Zeds is the closest you can come to living out Day of the Dead, and if that sounds awesome to you then I heartily recommend it.

3 comments:

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  2. http://www.greenbriergames.com/main/index.php/product-category/world-zpocalypse/

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  3. Nice titles! Check out my Top 10 Zombie Board Games - http://www.boardgameking.com/top-10/zombie-board-games/

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