In a lot of the zombie games I’ve played, I usually find myself without ammo, medical supplies, and anything else I might need to stave off the undead. You’d think that putting countless hours into the early Resident Evil games would teach me everything I needed to know, but I guess herbs and ink ribbons just don’t hold up in the grand scheme of things. Luckily, I came across a game that doesn’t require me to fight off the undead…quite the opposite.
Zombie Dice puts all players in the role of zombies hungry for their dinner, which just so happens to be, “BRAAAAINS!!!” It wouldn’t be a zombie game however if shotguns weren’t involved, giving players something to think about when faced with chasing their next victim or holding off and being satisfied with what they have. Before I explain all of that, I’d like to thank Darryll Silva from Steve Jackson Games for sending me a free review copy.
Dice – All of the dice have three different pictures on their faces: Brains, Footprints, and an explosion-like graphic that represents a Shotgun blast. These dice represent the victims that players will be chasing. The dice also come in three different colors, which indicate how difficult it is to catch a victim, green being the easiest and red being the hardest. Green dice have one shotgun blast, yellow have two, and red have three…more on why that is relevant in a bit.
Paper and Pencil (Not Included) – I recommend that you make these two things available in order to keep score, as they aren’t included in the box/can.
Setup & Gameplay
The game begins with the player who won last or says “BRAAAAAINS!!!” with the most feeling…if you have kids or have friends that brought copious amounts of alcohol to game night, this decision will be a no-brainer.
On a player’s turn, they will shake up the dice inside the cup and draw three dice from it randomly. They then roll those dice to see what happens next.
1) If the player rolls brains, they move those dice to the side and save them until the end of their turn.
2) If the player rolls shotguns, they move those dice to the side and save them until the end of their turn.
3) If the player rolls footprints, nothing happens.
After the first roll, the player moves the appropriate dice off to the side and must choose to either keep rolling or score the brains they have (one brain = one point). If they choose to keep going, dice are drawn from the cup to replace the brains and shotgun dice that were moved off to the side. A player who goes to draw dice from the cup and notices that there is less than three dice left, remembers how many brains they have and puts all of the dice back in the cup before drawing. If at any point a player rolls three shotgun blasts, their turn is over and they score nothing for that round, no matter how many brains they may have collected.
Players continue taking turns and scoring points until one person reaches or exceeds thirteen points. At that point, every other player takes one final turn in an attempt to score as many brains as they can. The winner at the end of it all is the person with the most points…erm…BRAAAAAAINS!!!!
The above is simply an overview of the game, but should give you an idea of how it is played. For more information, you can view the manual here:
Zombie Dice is incredibly easy to play and it won’t take long for newcomers to the game to grasp the rules. The components are sturdy and the graphics on the dice are easy to make out. The manual is laid out well and explains the rules nicely, though after a playthru or two, you won’t need it.
The “press your luck” mechanic keeps things pretty interesting and it’s fun to see how each player responds to the situation in front of them. Some players might stop at two, or even one shotgun blast to keep the one or two brains they have while others might take a more risky approach and roll on absolutely anything.
One might not think that there isn’t strategy in Zombie Dice, but the fact that the dice are colored with three different difficulty levels makes one pause to consider the odds. A player who has had a run of good luck but has been drawing green and yellow dice from the can might be hesitant to keep going as the odds of drawing red dice increase. Red dice have more shotguns and less brains on their faces, so it’s important to consider not only your current standing in that turn but also the dice that are left to be drawn. There are no guarantees that the green dice will be kind to you, but the odds are much better that they will be.
The kids had fun with it. Vinnie (11) is in a zombie phase where he loves everything zombie and probably got the biggest kick out of playing the game. Anthony (16) was less reckless than Vinnie, taking into account dice colors and odds. Both took sadistic enjoyment out of watching me roll three shotguns on my first or second roll. I was probably the most cautious of the three, stopping when I could simply because dice and I never get along. It’s well-known in my house that the odds of me rolling something bad is equivalent to the odds of a redshirt getting knocked off in an episode of Star Trek.
Zombie Dice is a fast and fun game to play with friends and family. The play mechanics will make you think each turn, keeping you actively engaged from start to finish. Its short to average play time makes it ideal as a filler in between longer games and serves well as a quick pull-out-and-play kind of game on hectic school nights. All in all, it’s a wonderful dice game to add to your collection.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about “Zombie Dice” by visiting the following websites: