So, I picked up Zombie Dice by Steve Jackson Games the other day. I’m kind of a sucker for dice games–well, really for dice in general.
So, thirteen new d6’s with little brains on them couldn’t be resisted.
The game is pretty compact–13 dice, a fold-out sheet of rules, and a dice cup. The dice cup reminds me a lot of a frozen orange juice container, but it’s nice to have a dice game that’s not in a bag. The dice are all red, yellow, or green, which corresponds to how tough your victims are. (What this means is that a red die has 4 shotgun blasts on it, and only one brain, while a green die has fewer shotguns and more brains.)
The gameplay is simple. Shake the dice in the cup, pick 3 out without looking at them, roll those three dice. Keep your dice showing brains (’cause zombies like brains) and shotgun blasts (’cause zombies don’t like them). Any dice showing feet can be rerolled, along with more dice from the cup; you get to reroll three dice in total. You keep rolling until you decide to stop (and then you score the number of brains you got), or until you get three shotgun blasts (and then you get no points and pass the dice/cup to the next player). The winner is the first player to get 13 brains.
My wife and I played yesterday (with my 3-year old son as my teammate). We played three games, and my son and I won two of them–with me deciding when to roll again, and him having fun saying “Need more braaaaains!” and rolling lots of dice. Our first game was really close, but my wife eked out a win. The next two games were blowouts.
As a dice game, the game is mostly luck. However, there is some strategy in knowing when to roll again. For example, if you have two shotgun blasts already and a red die showing feet, then you know that rolling again is more likely to get you another shotgun blast than if your feet die was green. Mostly though, the game is a dice fest, and it moves quickly. Our longest game was only about 10 minutes. Obviously, more players would slow the game down a bit, but they might also add a bit more suspense about the winner. In two of our three games, the winner was ahead after the second roll and stayed that way for the next 2-3 rounds. There’s not really any interaction between the players in the game–you can’t steal their brains or anything, but it moves quickly enough that downtime isn’t much of an issue.
Overall, I like the game, and will probably drag it out before our regular gaming sessions when we’re waiting on our last player to show up. But it’s unlikely to show up as the main event on any given board game day.
I give it a grade of B as a distraction game. (Yeah, I need to set up some criteria of what the grades mean, huh? Maybe next week.)