Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 1-8
Amount of time to play: 60 – 90 min
Age requirements: 12+
Set-up time: 5 minutes
Rise of the Zombies is a cooperative zombie survival game. You and your comrades must get from the safe house to the helicopter. Of course you are being chased by zombies but you must also race against the clock.
Although not alone in this game genre Rise of the Zombies does contain some unique elements.
To begin each player starts with a hand equal to their health, starting health depends on the number of players. You also select which character you’ll play. Each survivor has a starting weapon and special ability. Everyone places their survivor stand up on the safe house and the game begins.
The goal is to get to the rescue helicopter before time is up. Yes, you read that right, there is a timer and once it goes off anyone not on the rescue helicopter is left for zombie fodder. You need to play six locations after the safe house to get to the helicopter.
Each turn you may discard any number of cards. Then you draw cards up to your health. After everyone has drawn you simultaneously play cards from your hand. There are several different types of cards. Weapons are used to fight the zombies. Items can help you defend or heal. Companions are pets that can attack and take wounds for you. Skills are permanently added to your character and help you the rest of the game. Instant reaction cards help you react on the zombies’ turn. Locations can only be played once per turn. They advance you toward the rescue helicopter and come with zombies on them. Location attachment cards are things like barricades that help you defend a specific location.
Weapons and items can be traded amongst players at the same location. Some cards also have a weapon or follow icon on the side. Discarding a card with a weapon icon allows you to attack with one of your weapons again. Discarding a card with a follow icon allows you to move.
You may play weapons, items, skills and attachments by spending experience points. You get experience points by killing zombies. The tougher they are the more experience you get.
Once the players have played their cards the zombies move then attack. Some zombies have special abilities that can stop you from moving, attack all survivors at a location or attack as soon as the spawn. On the last part of the zombies’ turn more zombies spawn at the location behind the last survivor.
Combat is pretty straight forward. You roll a six-sided die for each attack and each survivor, weapon, or zombie card has a chart. The chart defines what hits and how much damage the attack does.
Rise of the Zombies is a tough, cooperative survival game. It is fun and while the genre is flooded this game has a few unique elements I really like.
The components for the game are good. The sketchy looking line art work helps evoke the theme and the cards are of really good stock. The rules are pretty good but you will probably want to read them a couple times before playing. There are a lot of little details that you might miss.
I really like the timer. You are not to stop the timer for anything. Even if you need to look up a rule, you are told to keep the timer going. There are difficulty levels and an easier setting means having more time. I just think real-time cooperatives help avoid one player playing for everyone.
I also like the way you can gain experience and add things to your survivor. You can hone your character to get the most out of their intrinsic abilities. And form a team that works well together.
A word of caution this game is tough and sometimes that is just in the cards. There are definitely ways to play the game better or worse, but getting a tough draw or really hard zombies early can mean a quick and harsh defeat. Solitaire is also very difficult. I think you are better off playing two hands solo than trying to win alone. It is just super tough, especially if you get a weaker survivor.
The game can also be long for an elimination game. If you are killed early you might be watching for awhile. You might want to have a filler around that ex-survivors can play while you finish up.
If you like the zombies and like cooperative board games you should pick up. Rise of the Zombies If you like either the theme or play style you should give this game a try.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 3 out of 6
Luck 5 out of 6
Player Interaction 5 out of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 4 out of 6
Fun 5 out of 6
Overall 5 out of 6