Review – Zombiepox
Chris Snyder, Play Unplugged
Harold sprinted from the back of his ambulance to the mangled wreck that once was a luxury sedan. Skidding to a stop, he dropped his emergency kit and peered into the busted window to assess the damage. An EMT with almost a decade of experience, Harold knew with a glance that the older man behind the wheel was almost gone.
The victim’s eyelids fluttered, and a pair of watery blue eyes stared out at Harold. “Here”, he mumbled. His hand gestured at a black case beside him.
“Shhh”, the EMT whispered. “Just be calm, we’re going to get you out of there.”
“No”, the man sighed. “I am finished, but here….” Again he waved weakly toward the case. “Here is the cure. You must take it….”. A gasp, a shudder, and the old man was gone.
“The cure?”, thought Harold. “The cure for what?”.
Then, from behind the car, he heard a low moan….
ZombiePox is a cooperative board game published by a TiltFactor. Designed for quick play, it allows 1-4 players aged 12 and up and should take around 30 minutes to complete.
The game components are really quite nice. The board itself is a flexible material, similar to rubber, with a non-skid application on the back. Infection and vaccination counters (discussed below) are made of a hard plastic, while the zombie tokens are a thick cardboard. Finally, the cards, the component that will see the most wear and tear, are fairly sturdy.
The rule book is only a few pages but does a good job describing the rules and showing examples.
How does it look?
The game art is fairly limited, confined to the portraits of the people on the board and a little on the cards and tokens. All-in-all, it is somewhat cartoonish, likely designed to appeal more to families and children than more “mature” zombie portrayals.
OK, enough of that, how does it PLAY???
Before I get into the gameplay, allow me to introduce the players.
- Daddy: That would be me. Check out my profile page on Play Unplugged if you’re interested.
- Mommy: My wife likes to play games, but she’s more interested and comfortable with classic family games such as Uno, Rummy, and Sorry.
- Princess: My daughter is just turning 8, so she’s a good four years younger than the recommended age of the game (12+), but she absolutely loves to play games.
- The Boy: My son just turned 11, so he’s a little bit young for the listed age as well. He has also apparently entered into the “I know everything” phase of his life a little early. Joy. But he does like to play some board games and was willing to give it a shot.
The game is fairly simple: two zombies (which cannot be cured) start on the board. Each player takes a turn drawing one card. The card first tells the player which direction the infection will spread (infected people can be cured). The infection either spreads from one or more directions from zombies and other infected, or it’s an Outbreak, in which a person is named on the card and you place an infected token on one of the board squares showing that person. The player can then vaccinate some number of people, which blocks the spread of the infection, or cure one person of infection, which also blocks the spread of the infection. On an Outbreak card, however, you can only vaccinate one person.
The player next checks to see if any of the infected are turned into zombies: this occurs if the infected is completely surrounded by other infected. There are also some people on the board (denoted by babies), that will immediately turn into zombies if infected.
The players win if they manage to stop the infection from spreading. The rules weren’t clear on this, but we played the game as if all potential “spreads” were blocked by vaccinated people and that no Outbreak could occur. The players lose if there are more zombies than their “tolerance” which is decided at the beginning of the game. Remember, you start with two on the board.
The four of us played 2 games together and had a pretty good time. The Princess and I played another game afterward, and then she played a couple of solo games.
Well, what did you think?
In brief, we liked it. ZombiePox is a good family game, especially for those times when you don’t have a whole lot of time. The materials are sturdy and would stand up to a lot of play.
Mommy: My wife liked the fact that we could play with the kids, but on a personal note she wasn’t a big fan. To be fair, however, she doesn’t really care for cooperative games. She likes competitive games, especially those where she can screw me over (see Parcheesi Blocking).
The Boy: He enjoyed the play, but got bored quickly.
Daddy: I’ll give my opinion in the summary below.
The Princess: Loved it. LOVED IT. She was bouncing up and down chanting “ZombiePox” when I got home from work the next day.
The most important judgment of any game is whether or not you had fun playing it. We did. The only thing that put me off on the game was the age range. Personally, I don’t think the game has enough glitz to keep the attention of many 12+ kids, and the tactics were simple enough that most adults would lose interest. However, even though I believe my daughter is a little advanced for her age, I think the game is simple enough for 9-12 year olds to understand, and they won’t master it too quickly.
Now, while the above might not sound too positive, please remember that family games have a different dynamic. The goal is to produce a game that the kids will enjoy, and will allow the parents to enjoy time with their kids. ZombiePox succeeds at that. It was fascinating to watch my daughter ignore the theme of the game and start “seeing” the mechanics underneath. The kids weren’t fighting, and Mommy and Daddy got to chat while the kids were figuring out what to do.
So, if you’re looking for a quick game, playable in under 30 minutes, and can be enjoyed by most anyone, give ZombiePox a try. The wife thinks it would really shine when dining out. Zombiepox retails for $25.00.