Saturday, March 26, 2011

Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice

I'm in a mixed marriage. My wife likes card games, but I prefer dice games. Like many married couples, usually we compromise by doing whatever she wants to do. But luckily I've been able to find a few dice games lately that she enjoys too. Recently we picked up a set of Zombie Dice, by Steve Jackson Games. In the package, you get a cardboard dice cup/tube, 13 six-sided dice, and a page of instructions. Each die has sides showing brains, shotgun blasts, and footprints. The dice come in green, yellow, and red, indicating the difficulty of getting a good roll on that die.

The Rules:
This game can easily be taught while playing, and within minutes everyone at the table is an expert.

The first player shakes the tube and pulls out three dice. Since some dice are more favorable than others, they're not allowed to look at the dice until they've pulled them out. The player then rolls the three dice. They're hoping to get as many brains as possible, without getting shotgun blasts. Brains represent victims the player ate, blasts represent victims that fought back, and footsteps are victims that are getting away.

After the roll, they put any blasts to the right, brains to the left, and feet in the center. The player then decides if they want to keep the score they have, or risk rolling more dice for a higher score. If they decide to end their turn, they write down the number of brains they've collected so far, put all the dice back in the cup, and hand it to the next player. If they decide to keep going, they take any footstep dice they have, and take enough more dice from the tube to make three dice. Then they roll those three dice, and the process keeps going.  If they collect three or more shotgun blasts on their turn, their turn is over and they lose any brains they've collected that round (but they still keep the points from previous rounds). So the strategy revolves around deciding whether it's worth risking another roll and losing the brains they've collected so far this round.

The winner is the player who collects 13 points first.

Example of Gameplay:
On your first turn, you roll three dice. You get one shotgun blast, one set of footprints, and one brain.

At this point, you could play it safe and end your turn, writing down the 1 point for the brain. But you're not worried about it, and a single point isn't much to lose, so you roll again. You grab the footsteps and two more dice out of the tube. This time you get another shotgun blast, and two more brains.

Not bad! You have three points now, but you're only one blast away from losing those points. So you choose end your turn, and write down three points on the score sheet. You put all your dice back in the cup and hand it to the next player. The other players take their turns, and it comes back around to you. This time your first roll is one blast and two brains.

That's a good start! You consider ending your turn now, so you can keep the two brains. But you're feeling lucky, so you grab three more dice out of the cup and roll again.

Oh no! You've collected three blasts, so you lose all the brains you've collected this turn. You still get to keep the three points you got on your first turn, though.

Generally, if I have only one shotgun blast, I'll keep rolling. If I have two blasts, I end my turn. But I'm also more likely to end my turn if I've collected more than five brains, since I don't want to risk losing them. But the colors are also a big factor.

The colors of the dice indicate difficulty. Red dice have the most shotgun blasts, while green dice have the most brains. Most of the time, this doesn't do much for gameplay other than make you go "Oh, crap" when you pull three red ones out. However, knowing how many red dice are left in the cup can help you decide whether to end your turn. If you're a couple of rolls into your turn, and all you see in front of you is greens and yellows, then you know you're due for some red dice. You might want to quit while you're ahead.

We played this with a group of four, and we all loved it. The game is very simple, and only takes about 30 seconds to learn. It plays pretty quickly, so you can pull it out when you've got a few minutes to kill. It's not very expensive, and it's a lot of fun. I highly recommend this game.

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