100 Days of Halloween: Tabletop Horror, Part 1 – ZOMBIES!
We are excited to share with you a guest post from our friend and fellow writer, Tommy Brownell. Tommy is the author of The Chronicles of Rachel Strand (Equinox Comics) and is an avid gamer sharing our love of all things MONSTER!
Our question to him was “What are some games that would be perfect to play during the Halloween season?” He has put together a list of games that are great for game-nights, parties, or any Halloween or horror-themed event. So, as part of our #100DaysofHalloween, we are thrilled to share Tommy’s recommendations and reviews. Be sure to click through his links at the bottom of the post and follow Tommy through his blogs and social media.
Today, he shares the first two of ten games in our “Tabletop Horror” series…
Take it away, Tommy!
A bit of an introduction: I am Tommy Brownell, freelance writer and editor, as well as tabletop gamer, reviewer and blogger. The Monster Guys asked me to provide my thoughts on Ten Horror Board Games, and I graciously accepted. These games are horror-themed tabletop games, all games that I own and have played, and all currently in print to the best of my knowledge.
First up, two zombie games, since everyone loves zombies, right?
Last Night on Earth
Last Night on Earth was the game that began my costly consumer relationship with Flying Frog Productions, as I have since spent a *lot* of money on their games.
Last Night on Earth is a scenario-based zombie board game, designed for 2-6 players, with 1-2 of those players controlling zombies instead of survivors.
The board is modular, using a double-sided center tile (an open field and a house), with L-shaped boards fitting around it that round out the “town” (schools, churches, grocery stores, junkyards, police stations, etc.).
The survivors all fit horror archetypes, such as the local sheriff, his rebellious son, a mysterious drifter (Henry Cartwright – portrayed by Matthew Morgaine, FFG’s on-staff cartographer), etc., and each is portrayed by a model in costume rather than just artwork, both on the character cards and on the game cards, intentionally evoking a cheesy horror movie feel while simultaneously boasting great production values.
The game’s name is checked in a Zombie card called “This Could Be Our Last Night on Earth…” which can be used to cause a male and female character who happen to be on the same square to, ahem, miss their turn…usually while zombies gather around them.
Multiple expansions are available, including additional cards for the Hero and Zombie decks as well big-box expansions that add more board tiles and more heroes, as well as small-box expansions that add even MORE heroes, as well as zombies that are “armed” (like one that is wrapped in barbed wire – that sort of thing). One even takes the game out of the town and places it in the woods, where a handful of surviving characters from the base game meet up with new survivors.
If you’re a fan of movies like Night of the Living Dead, this does a very nice job of capturing that feel and I have yet to find anyone who sat down at my table with this game and didn’t enjoy it.
By Guillotine Games and CoolMiniOrNot, Zombicide is a great zombie-fighting game that focuses more on killing zombies than any kind of characterization or deep story objective. Unlike LNoE, it is completely cooperative, with zombies being controlled by rules AI, rather than a human player. This also opens Zombicide up to Solo play, which is becoming a bigger selling point for gamers all the time.
Zombicide has impressive production values, using heaps of minis combined with modular tile sets for gameplay. Zombicide comes with a book of scenarios that ostensibly tell the tale of our heroes escaping the overran city and making it to a small town.
One unique mechanic for this game is that the heroes level up as they kill zombies and acquire objective tokens, and as they reach new experience thresholds, the zombies become stronger and more numerous. This means that any heroes lagging behind in XP can find themselves quickly lagging behind in power level.
The zombies in this game include standard shamblers, but also fast runners, durable fatties, and terrifying abominations.
(I’m told this feels very Left 4 Dead.)
The mall and prison expansions add radioactive and frenzied versions of these zombies for more variety, to go along with mall and prison-based scenarios. The mall expansion even includes rules for heroes coming back as free-willed zombies and fighting the good fight against the undead as zombivores.
Zombicide has some tense moments, but never takes itself too seriously, as evidenced by the cast of characters who are almost entirely pop culture riffs. (My favorite being a take on Michael Douglas’ character from Falling Down.)
Zombicide is a great outlet for co-op, video game-like zombie combat that never forgets to laugh at itself.
Stay tuned as Tommy brings us more Tabletop Horror. In the meantime, check out his links below and share with your network. We appreciate it!
Happy Halloween 2014!!Tommy Brownell is freelance writer/editor and a tabletop gamer/reviewer. He writes The Chronicles of Rachel Strand for Equinox Comics and has worked with Savage Worlds licensees Savage Mojo, Daring Entertainment, Gun Metal Games and Third Eye Games, and has recently begun developing his own creative imprint known as Empyreal Creative, through which he is developing his own comic series, among other projects.
You can find him on the web at: http://mostunreadblogever.