Card of the Dead
I’m a sucker for zombie-themed games…if that hasn’t been made readily apparent by now. There’s just something about those lovable undead walkers that gets the adrenaline pumping…perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they want to eat your brains. One might think that professional help would be in order, but I’m sure I’ll have the last laugh when Milla Jovovich shows up in your town with a ten-ton nuke strapped to her back. At any rate, “Card of the Dead”, as you may have guessed, is a quick zombie-themed card game that tasks players with earning the most survival points over three rounds. Before we see whether or not this zombie game stacks up with the others I’ve played, I’d like to thank the folks at Alderac Entertainment Group (the same company who published “Smash Up” and “Trains“) for providing me with a free press copy.
The only real component to this game (besides the rulebook) is a deck of fifty-six cards. The card types featured in this deck can be summed up as follows:
Zombie Cards – Zombie cards have green titles and are broken up into “Zombie”, “Zombies”, and “Zombies!!!” categories. These are the cards players will be wanting to stay away from at all costs.
Action Cards – Action cards have yellow titles and can be played to give the player either movement points or a special action…they’ll have to choose one or the other when playing them.
Event Cards – Event cards have blue titles and change the game in various ways.
Setup & Gameplay
The cards are shuffled and ten are dealt face down to each player. Each player will then choose up to three action cards to keep (they each must have only one movement point), with the rest being returned to the deck. The deck is shuffled again and the player who last visited a shopping mall goes first.
A player’s turn is relatively simple:
1) Draw a card – The current player will draw a card from the deck, resolving it as appropriate. Zombie cards are placed face up in front of the player, event cards are resolved per the card’s instructions, and action cards are added to the player’s hand.
2) Play a card – The current player MAY play a card (optional). Since a player’s hand will only consist of action cards, they’ll either be able to play a card for movement points or for the special action listed. In the case of the former, the player will play the card face up in front of them to keep track of how many movement points they’ve accrued. If the player uses the action, the player follows the instructions and then discards the card.
Players will continue taking turns clockwise around the table until certain game conditions are met. If a player has a certain number of zombies in front of them, they’ll first become surrounded. When this happens, they won’t be able to play action cards for movement points. When even more zombies surround the player (the values change depending on the number of players), they’ll be eaten and thus eliminated from the current round.
A round ends when:
1) There is only one player left alive…the survivor gains a bonus of five survival points.
2) One player accrues a certain number of movement points to escape the city. When this happens, each player not eaten gains a number of survival points equal to the movement points in front of them.
3) The draw pile is empty when a player ends their turn. When this happens, each player not eaten gains a number of survival points equal to the movement points in front of them.
Players note the scores on a separate sheet of paper, shuffle the deck, and play a new round. The player with most survival points after three rounds is the winner!
The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played. For more information, you can check out the rulebook here:
There was nothing to really complain about with regard to the components. The art style was reminiscent of “Smash Up”, a game also published by AEG that I recently reviewed. The rules are only a few pages long, so it won’t take that long for zombie loving families to get into the swing of things. The rules that were featured were done so in an organized fashion…I didn’t really need to glance at it throughout our games except to check for the “surrounded” and “eaten” values. A reference card would have been nice, but I can also see where such a feature might have been a bit redundant.
There’s not too much strategy to this game, as most of the time you’re at the mercy of the card you draw on your turn. When you do have action cards, there are some choices a player will need to make but it won’t result in them sitting there for hours on end. Essentially, players will need to decide when it’s appropriate to play movement points instead of actions or vice versa. While movement points will bring them a step closer to escaping the city (and thus earning survival points), utilizing the actions will help fight off those zombies. Focus too much on movement and you might find yourself surrounded/eaten just before crossing the finish line.
“Card of the Dead” is by no means a complex card game…quite the opposite. I found it best played as a filler in between longer play sessions, or as a quick fifteen minute game to squeeze in before or after homework on school nights. While the manual instructs players to accrue points over three rounds, you can simply play one round if you’re pressed for time. Likewise, you can play over five or ten rounds if you have the spare time…”Card of the Dead” is flexible that way. There’s a bit of replayability in the randomness of the cards, though after a while you will get accustomed to seeing the same ones over and over again.
In short, “Card of the Dead” is a light card game that is family-friendly to boot. There’s not too much depth here, but it’s an overall fun game to play when you’re not in the mood for heavier games of strategy. Parents need to be aware however that this is a competitive game, one that rewards players for throwing their opponents “under the bus” so to speak. You’re aiming to get as many points as possible while seeing to it that your opponents get eaten…needless to say tempers may flare if your kids don’t like to lose. You can find it for about ten bucks on Amazon via the below link, which isn’t a bad deal.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Card of the Dead” by visiting the following websites: