Its the near future and while you are in a meeting with your cabinet, the television started reporting news flashes. Reports are now coming in of a strange outbreak and its not just an isolated incident. At least 1 outbreak of an unknown disease has been reported in each of the 5 major areas of the world. As live footage start to trickle in, you are greeted with scenes of chaos and people eating people and the dead rising afterwards. As the horror starts to set in you realise, this is it! This has been foretold in so many movies, books and TV shows. This is the Zombie apocalypse! Can you keep your population alive enough to overcome this scourge? Will you be the first to succumb to the unstoppable horde? Welcome to Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead!
|Its just beginning....|
Wait a minute you ask; Isn't this an Ameri-trash game? What's with all those dice? Why does it look like Risk ? Is it just Risk with Zombies? What's with all the tacky colors ? Did I actually enjoy this game? Has Eric gone off the deep end?
Yes while the tacky name and Zombie theme does suggest this is an Ameri-trash game, it is, surprisingly a somewhat thematic Euro-style game. This is because during your turn you have Freedom Point (goodness another tacky term) or action points/pawns with which to perform actions. There are a variety of actions you can perform from drafting armies to research. All of the actions are either to help you combat the zombies OR prevent them from destroying your population. What's with all the dice? They are to count the number of population you have in each area under your control. So as zombies eat your population at the start of EVERY turn, they will reduce the pips down and spawn more zombies. Whenever a die is reduced to zero, that means the entire population of that area has been consumed and you take back the die to place on your player board. The only die you get to roll is a 12-sided die when you attempt to perform research.
|Look at all that Tech you can research! 24 in total!|
|Fortress UK, the last bastion of Humanity in Europe!|
Is there a way to stop the horde? Well if you manage to have military yea that may help. But, for some strange reason, they are rather weak OR function like some kamikaze troop and often die together with the zombie token they were trying to kill. Researching some military tech will beef up their defences, allowing them to kill more zombies before they die, but its costly to draft units. You could also build walls and barricades but that requires research which, for our game, nobody did until it was too late.
|Turn 1 to Turn 8 where Europe was decimated and the game ended.|
Did I enjoy this game? YES! Surprisingly yes. It is amazingly thematic and everything is quite intuitive and easy to understand. Even the technologies make sense and I had a lot of fun. Most of the time we were groaning as more outbreaks occur and we struggle to contain the ever growing horde. We groaned when we lost population and in this regard it felt a bit like Freedom the underground railroad to me. Once I researched Evacuation technology, I was shifting population all over the place in hopes to entice the hordes to get out of my lands but the random outbreaks foiled my plans and got more groans from everyone.
Africa player seems to have an uncontrollable horde that was threatening to overrun everything until she hunkered down and built up her fortress in South Africa. Then through clever Red Cross technology, she managed to slowly repopulate her desolated regions. Until outbreak came and foiled her plans. Another groaning moment ;p.
Europe player was also bombarded with hordes from Asia and North America and wanted to stage a last defence in UK, building Fortress UK. Alas the hordes were hungry and the army failed so they got into UK and ate him out.
I was South America and originally I had mine well managed until outbreaks occurred and I could not control them. Luckily they were attracted northwards via Mexico (sorry Mexico!) and I managed to research Quarantine tech which prevented anymore losses when the game ended!
Australiasia player cleverly isolated his hordes while pushing the rest away to Europe and had a bastion in Australia until an Outbreak occurred there and started eating his population away. Luckily though this occurred near the game end and he had enough population to beat mine by 1.
So all in all, I had quite a bit of fun with this game. It is definitely not perfect but it gave me a feel of World War Z (a book which I love) and also how it feels to try to manage and contain and possibly reverse this epidemic. The randomness of the events and tech dice roll will not make this a game for everyone but there's a free expansion with some variant suggestions out now that may help to mitigate this. There is quite a fair bit of interaction amongst players as while you cannot directly attack someone, you can try to lead your hordes into your neighbours. Researching after everyone has researched will also make it easier for you to succeed. If you don't mind zombies and what I have described sounds interesting to you, then I highly recommend you to give this game a go. It may require the right group to play and may cause everyone to become very depressed afterwards, but it provided me with such an experience and story to tell that I won't hesitate to play this again.