Board Game of the Week- Zombicide

zombicide-cover

  • Game Title: Zombicide
  • Release Date: 2012
  • Number of Players: 1-6
  • Average Game Time: 45-180 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Guillotine Games
  • Website: https://zombicide.com/en
  • Game Designer: Raphael Guiton
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Online

I got my copy of Zombicide way back in February, but didn’t get a chance to play the game because it looked so complicated and I wanted to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to learning the rules. The game sat on my shelf and was passed over for games like Hanabi, Exploding Kittens, and Ticket to Ride all spring and summer. Finally I was able to try it out last weekend with my roommates and my girlfriend. Not long after opening the box, I realized that I had truly missed out on playing an amazing gem of a game before that night.

zombicide-pieces

Zombicide is an in-depth, interactive cooperative game based on surviving the zombie apocalypse and achieving specific mission objectives. The game has ten missions, each of which has a different board layout and strategy, so it is a completely different experience every time you play. The game is very intense; the rulebook is about 30 pages long and it took us at least half an hour to get everything set up and ready to play. Still, once we learned the game mechanics it was the best game I have played in a long time. It plays very similarly to Dungeons and Dragons (yes, I play D&D, are you surprised?) You roll to attack, you gain experience and level up to get more experience zombicide-amypoints, you equip weapons that you find by searching a room/area, and you have the option of trying to be sneaky or barging in guns blazing. The underlying premise is to move from different “zones” on the map and either defeat zombies, find items, or reach objective points depending on the situation at the time. All while this is happening, more zombies are arriving and looking for a way to get to you and eat your brains. There are rules for combat, item usage, and taking damage, and after each turn new challenges form that you have to overcome. Because the game is cooperative, if a character dies your team can still win; it is possible to sacrifice yourself to keep your teammates alive as they reach their mission objective.

Zombicide is a great way to spend an evening for a number of reasons. It is extremely engaging and is set up to add difficulty as the game progresses, creating a fun gaming experience all the way through the mission. Because the game is cooperative, there is a lot of discussion around player actions and what moves everyone should make, which encourages communication and combined strategy. The game is truly immersive, making it easy to get engrossed in a mission and suddenly look at the clock and see it’s 1 AM. And yes, I am speaking from experience… Finally, the artwork and models used for the game are great because they have a fun and unique style. With 4 different types of zombies, 6 player options, and a number of different maps, you see the designer’s talent all over the board with Zombicide.

zombicide-maps

I think the game’s biggest issue would have to be its length. Of the ten missions that are available, only one of them is under an hour (not including the tutorial), and there is one that is listed as being around 3 hours long. The game is set up to be very lengthy and evolving, and while that is a lot of fun it is also difficult to dedicate that much time to a game. It’s definitely more tailored towards hardcore gamers, but it is also a lot of fun for casual players if they are willing to dedicate the time to playing. In addition, the game takes up a lot of space, so it doesn’t work well as a travel game.

Overall, if you’re looking for an intense gaming experience with a high level of difficulty and a great game mechanic, this is the game for you. While not applicable to all situations, I guarantee that if you take the time to learn the game you will have a great time and will want to play it again.

zombicide-logo

Jack’s Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Board Games on a Budget

There have been a lot of positive changes in the board game industry over the past few years. Unfortunately, one of the negative side effects of games becoming more intricate and advanced has been a higher price tag for a number of games. Game pieces have become more intricate, artwork more painstaking, and boards more elaborate as a whole, causing the cost of making the games to rise and consequently the price for the consumer to rise as well. A number of the games that I have mentioned on this blog are sold in the $50+ range, and while I enjoy investing my money in good games I also realize that people on a budget are looking for better options. In response to this, I have put together a list of my favorite games that you can buy for less!

Under $10- Games in this price range are almost always compact and straightforward card games. Card games have a significantly lower production cost than board games, and the straightforward play style means less space needed for rules or additional pieces.

1) Set

  • Price on Amazon: $8.27
  • Average Game Time: 30 minutes
  • Number of Players: 1-20

2) Hanabi

  • Price on Amazon: $9.77
  • Average Game Time: 25 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-5

3) Pit

  • Price on Amazon: $7.73
  • Average Game Time: 45 minutes
  • Number of Players: 3-8

4) Rook

  • Price on Amazon: $5.50
  • Average Game Time: 45 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-6

5) Loot

  • Price on Amazon: $8.75
  • Average Game Time: 20 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-8

Under $20- These games are slightly more complex than those in the $10 range, but still are primarily card-based and do not have a large amount of additional pieces. The artwork on these games is of good quality and the gameplay is in the easy to mid-range.

1) One Night Ultimate Werewolf

  • Price on Amazon: $17.99
  • Average Game Time: 10 minutes
  • Number of Players: 3-10

2) The Resistance

  • Price on Amazon: $13.00
  • Average Game Time: 30 minutes
  • Number of Players: 5-10

3) Sushi Go! Board Game

  • Price on Amazon: $14.39
  • Average Game Time: 15 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-5 players

4) Munchkin

  • Price on Amazon: $18.89
  • Average Game Time: 60 minutes
  • Number of Players: 3-6

5) Codenames

  • Price on Amazon: $14.39
  • Average Game Time: 15 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-8

Under $30- If you’re willing to pay up to $30 on a game, you can really find some impressive gems. These games can be quite complex and have a number of different moving parts and pieces, but also keep the boards they use relatively compact in comparison to other games.

1) King of Tokyo

  • Price on Amazon: $28.81
  • Average Game Time: 30 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-6

2) Citadels

  • Price on Amazon: $24.95
  • Average Game Time: 40 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-8

3) Pandemic

  • Price on Amazon: $24.99
  • Average Game Time: 50 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-4

4) Qwirkle

  • Price on Amazon: $24.70
  • Average Game Time: 45 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-4

5) Carcassonne

  • Price on Amazon: $22.39
  • Average Game Time: 30 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-5

Overall, while playing some of the best games on the market will cost you more, you can find some great value on the cheaper side of the gaming industry too. If you keep an eye out for good deals and understand the level of investment you want to make on board games, you will soon find yourself with an impressive collection without breaking the bank.

Fun Outdoor Board Games

I’ve been to a number of weddings over the past few months, and have realized that large outdoor games have become very popular for receptions and these types of outdoor events. With games like Corn Hole and Bocce Ball becoming commonplace in colleges and vacation spots as well, it got me thinking about the best games that can be played outdoors. There are large-scale versions of a number of board games, but there are also games that are created solely for outdoor play. Here is a list of my top 5 outdoor games from both of these categories:

Large-Size Games

  • Yahtzee- Everyone’s favorite dice rolling game, there are multiple versions of outdoor Yahtzee, or “Yardzee”. The rules of the game are pretty much the same as the original game, but can be played out in a large space.
  • Monopoly-Lifesize Monopoly where the players are the pieces is a pretty fun concept. This is less a game you can buy and bring to a party and more of something that can be found in certain parks and vacation spots.
  • Jenga- While not necessarily an “outdoor game” giant Jenga is available at a number of bars/breweries, parties, and receptions. It is a popular game because of its simplicity and excitement, especially when someone loses!
  • Chess/Checkers- Another popular vacation/park game, outdoor chess and/or checkers have become almost as popular as their regular-sized counterparts. With rules that everyone knows and heavy strategy, these outdoor games are perfect for all ages.
  • Connect 4- This is one game that surprised me during my search for life-sized games. Connect 4, the chip placing game is available for relatively cheap in a large-scale version. This can be used for any number of events.

 

Original Outdoor Games

  • Cornhole- By far the most popular of the outdoor gaming genre, cornhole can be found pretty much anywhere you go outdoors. The object of the game is to throw bean bags onto a slanted cornhole boards; throw them into the small hole in the board and you get extra points.
  • Bocce Ball- Bocce ball has always been fairly popular in Europe, but it feels like it has only picked up in America recently. A game based on strategically throwing heavy balls towards a smaller ball (the “jack”) and the player with the bowls closest to the jack receives points
  • Ladder Toss- In ladder toss, you throw two balls connected to a string (formerly called “bolas”) onto a ladder. You get points for which rung of the ladder you catch your bola on.
  • Quoits (ring toss)- Ring toss is a well-known game in amusement parks, but quoits takes the same concept and makes it more portable for smaller gatherings. The board is set up specially to provide a greater score to certain rings, adding to the difficulty.
  • Croquet- While it tends to take up more space than the other games on this list, Croquet is a very popular outdoor game based on smacking croquet balls through rings in a particular order. You also have the ability to knock other player’s balls out of the way as you move towards the finish.

All of these games, and more, are great additions to a party, wedding, or any other outdoor social event. While some of them will be more expensive and more popular than others, they are all fun games that deserve consideration for your next big even

Different Ways to Buy Board Games

I’ve written about the evolution of board games numerous times on this blog, but I can’t stress enough how different things are than a while ago, especially when it comes to board game purchasing. Local game stores were the main place to buy board games when I was younger, and while they aren’t as common as in the past, you can still find local shops selling board games in most places across the country. Chain stores and Supermarkets also have taken on a wide range of different games and have begun to stock their shelves with newer and more popular games. The biggest change has probably been the Internet, which has taken over a lot of the board game space in the last few years, providing easy access to a large collection of games. So of these three major options for board game purchasing, what are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks, so knowing which one makes the most sense for you helps with the game purchasing experience. Here is a list of some of the pros and cons of each way to buy board games:

 

Local Stores:board game shop

Pros

  • Supporting Small Business
  • Greater Knowledge and Expertise of games
  • Meeting other gaming enthusiasts

Cons

  • More expensive than chains and online sales
  • Less accessible, fewer store locations
  • Limited store space and product availability

There isn’t anything like the feeling of walking into a board game shop and browsing through their wares. Local stores can have a great vibe and give the option of learning and playing with other like-minded gamers. Unfortunately because of the local flavor and inability to get products in bulk, prices are usually higher and there are times when the product you are looking for isn’t available. It’s best to use local stores when you are looking for help finding the perfect game, and also want to be sociable and learn about the game industry.

Chain Stores:target board game aisle

Pros

  • Cheaper Prices than local stores
  • More Accessible store locations
  • Can buy other items while buying games (convenience)

Cons

  • Less variety of products offered
  • Limited expertise in games
  • Slow to expand to new game options

Stores like Walmart and Target have been very good at stocking popular board games recently, so being able to buy products in these locations is very convenient. You can buy games along with groceries or household wares, and usually prices are fairly cheap because the stores get good deals on rates. However, supermarkets don’t have the same expertise available and it takes a while for the game options to change, so the variety isn’t really there compared to the other options.

Internet:best sellers page

Pros

  • Largest pool of games available
  • Cheap prices and potential for additional discounts/sales
  • Easiest way to access games

Cons

  • Longer wait for delivery
  • Potential shipping costs
  • No human interaction or assistance with purchase

Ah, the Internet- finding ways to deliver things right to your door so you never have to leave the house. The Internet is the ultimate source for finding that obscure board game not available on the shelves of local stores, and it certainly allows for cheap prices and easy access. There is a longer waiting period once the game is bought though, and ultimately the lack of assistance in buying could cause trouble for newer gamers where they accidentally buy the wrong game for them.

 

It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses for the different board game buying options. Being able to decide on the best option for you to buy is a great way of ensuring that you get the games you want when you want them and have the best possible experience. Hopefully these different buying methods continue to grow and help expand the board game footprint nationwide.

Kickstarter and its effect on Board Games

A
few months back I wrote an article about the internet revitalizing board games, where I listed Kickstarter as a major contributor to board games being revitalized over the past few years. That, coupled with my recent activity supporting some upcoming games on Kickstarter, has made me realize how big the tool has become for many game designers and enthusiasts alike. Being able to fund a game without the backing of a larkickstarter-logoge publishing company may not seem like the most effective way to get to where you want to go, but taking the game to the masses and hoping the concept draws enough support is certainly becoming more common. There have been over 9,000 board games that were created and published through a Kickstarter campaign, including significantly popular games such as Exploding Kittens, Zombicide, and Dark Souls- the Board Game. Still, there is a limitation to the effectiveness of Kickstarter, and it has to be noted that it is only one of the many avenues for finding new and exciting games on the market. Here is a list of pros and cons for using Kickstarter as a means to fund your board game ideas:

Pros:

  • You have full control of the process- For people who want to have full control of the creative process, having a publishing company come in and make decisions on how to proceed would be very bittersweet. There are plenty of people who probably feel like the freedom to make decisions without other interested parties is a blessing. While it does also equate to more work, for someone who has dedicated time and effort to creating a game a little extra management isn’t going to ruin things.
  • Gather a strong fan base before the game is created- The great thing about Kickstarter is that your game doesn’t even have to be published and it can still grow a huge following. Depending on the number of backers and the prizes each backer signed up for, you could already have a large number of people to send games to right away. In addition, Kickstarters thrive on social media expansion, so the more a Kickstarter is advertised the more likely it is to gain more traction once it is finished.
  • Easier access to funds than through publisher- It’s difficult to make the case that a Kickstarter game is going to have significantly more funds than if the game was published by a game company (Exploding Kittens being the possible exception), but there certainly is an ease of access that helps Kickstarter campaigns become beneficial to game designers. Once a successful Kickstarter campaign is completed, funds are transferred to the game creator within a matter of weeks to begin the creation/distribution phase. Gaming publishers, especially larger ones, most likely would take a lot longer to go through the process of devoting resources to a game.
  • Lower risk post-funding- Because of the clientele already built up with the campaign, a game that is funded through Kickstarter already has a good following and a group of customers lined up to purchase the game. Because of this, a game funded by Kickstarter has less risk than one that is published directly from other funding. That isn’t to say that there is no risk whatsoever, but after the funds come through the game has a group of supporters right away to take advantage of.
  • Cost-effective alternative to self-publishing with personal funds- There are certainly some people out there who have the ability to use their own money to create a game themselves, but for those of us without that kind of funding available having an option to receive funding directly from the consumer cannot be understated. People who never thought they would have a chance to bring a board game to life have suddenly received that opportunity thanks to Kickstarter.

Cons:

  • Goal must be met in order to receive funding- The biggest con about Kickstarter is that if you miss your goal, even by a dollar, you do not receive any of your funds. This means that you could spend countless hours promoting the game and making a working prototype, only to not receive funding because you weren’t able to generate enough backing.
  • Start-up costs incurred for prototypes, incentives, etc.- Ultimately you can’t just start up a Kickstarter with an idea- you have to have put a lot of time and resources into it if you want it to succeed through a Kickstarter campaign. This is true if you were going to fund your game any other way, but it is enhanced when using Kickstarter because of the rewards programs usually created in a project. In order to incentivize backers to pledge higher amounts, a campaign will provide additional incentives to people who give greater amounts to the campaign. While this does benefit the designer by giving them a clientele to work with right away, it also means that the costs of the initial game creation can potentially be higher than in other situations.
  • Less name recognition than if game is published- This isn’t always the case, and is only really applicable when compared to a game that is published by a larger gaming company, but Kickstarter funded games don’t always carry the same weight as with a major publishing company like Hasbro or Iello. It’s also more difficult to get a Kickstarter funded game into the hands of major stores, because the large companies have a significant investment in getting their games on shelves.

 

While there are risks involved in setting up a Kickstarter campaign for a board game, ultimately if done well and with a good idea it can be the perfect way to create something you never thought you could. Any aspiring board game designers out there should give a long thought towards using Kickstarter for your next game idea!

Board Game of the Week- Dungeon Roll

  • Game Title: Dungeon Roll
  • Release Date: 2013
  • Number of Players: 1-4
  • Average Game Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Edge Entertainment
  • Website:  boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/138778/dungron-roll
  • Game Designer: Chris Darden
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

Dungeon Roll Chest

Dice games seem to be rarer to me than the other types of games out there, so whenever I find a game focused around dice rolling I always go out of my way to give it a try. My friend pulled out his copy of Dungeon Roll last weekend and I was immediately intrigued. The game is based on the classic Dungeons and Dragons story; a mysterious stranger goes into a tavern and recruits a party of adventurers to complete a task for him. These adventurers journey out into the world and fight monsters, gather treasure, and gain experience as they move toward their goal. This theme is then simplified from an all-encompassing and complex tabletop game to a straightforward dice-rolling mechanic where the goal of the game is to get the most experience of the group after three rounds of play.

Dungeon Roll Cards

To start off the game, each player is given a Hero card that has both a passive and an active ability (passive can be used any time, active can only be used once per round). These abilities can be used each round to help defeat monsters, change dice rolls, and any other number of abilities to help you succeed in the game. Each Hero card has two sides, one regular and one upgraded. If you are able to get at least 5 experience points in one round, you are able to flip your Hero card over to the upgraded sidDungeon Roll Party Dicee and gain even stronger abilities. Once each player has a Hero card, the player who starts first rolls the white party dice to assemble his/her “party”. This party can consist of up to 6 different options, including five different classes (Champion, Wizard, Fighter, Rogue, and Cleric) and also a scroll dice which allows you to reroll any dice once. Once the party has been assembled, the player to the left of the one who rolled the party acts as the Dungeon Lord. The Dungeon Lord is in charge of rolling enemies for the party to fight.

Dungeon Roll Enemy Dice

There are four different monsters (goblin, skeleton, slime, and dragon) and there are also treasures and potions that you can pick up after the monsters are destroyed. In order to destroy any goblins, skeletons, and slime, you have to sacrifice party members by removing the dice from your party. If a dragon is rolled, it is taken out of play until there aDungeon Roll Treasuresre 3 dragon dice total. Once the third dragon is rolled, the party has to fight the dragon, which can only be defeated by sacrificing three different class dice. Once you defeat a dragon, you can an extra experience and can grab a treasure chip from the treasure chest.
The more enemies that a party defeats, the more experience points the party gets and subsequently the more dice the Dungeon Master rolls. The player’s turn ends either when they decide to leave the dungeon, or they run out of dice cannot defeat all of the monsters, which causes the party to fail that round. If the party left the dungeon, the player keeps all of the experience earned up to that point. If the party dies, the player doesn’t get any experience from that round. Once three rounds of the game are finished, experience points are calculated and the person with the most points wins.

The game is certainly engaging and I had a lot of fun when I played with my friends. There is a lot of luck involved, but there are also important decisions about how you use your dice and your treasures that need to be taken into account. It took some time figuring out the best strategy for conserving versus using dice, but once you get the hang of it the game moves fairly quickly. The Hero card abilities also add an important layer of strategy, especially the active ability you can only use once per round. The game works better with a smaller amount of people, because with four people there are always two players that aren’t doing anything while the party and the Dungeon Master complete the turn. Apparently the game can also be completed with one player, but without other players to compare scores to I feel like this isn’t as exciting as with 2-3 people.

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Board Game of the Week- One Night Ultimate Werewolf

ONUW Logo

  • Game Title: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Number of Players: 3-10
  • Average Game Time: 10 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Bezier Games
  • Website:  http://beziergames.com/products/one-night-ultimate-werewolf
  • Game Designer: Ted Alspach, Akihisha Okui
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

This board game of the week is thanks to my girlfriend, Mary, and a group of our friends. I had heard a lot about “that Werewolf game” from them for a few weeks until I finally got a chance to try it out myself.  The result was a group of 7 people in their mid-20’s arguing about how I was obviously a werewolf, even though I continuously told them that I wasn’t. Lack of trust aside, the game is based around the childhood game “Mafia” and is a fun and engaging way to spend your time. The game is very fast-paced, so the expectation would be to play the game at least 2-3 times in a row in a single sitting.

ONUW Roles

One Night Ultimate Werewolf starts with everyone choosing what “roles” they want to include in the upcoming game. The game comes with 16 different roles that all have different effects during the game. Every game must have at least 2 werewolves, 1 seer, 1 robber, 1 troublemaker, and one villager. Depending on the number of players in the game, additional roles are added before the game starts (must have three more roles than the number of players in any game). Once the role cards are chosen, they are shuffled and one card is given to each player and the remaining three are left face down with nobody viewing them. After you check your role, the “night” phase of the game begins. This is where the Mafia style of game mechanic comes into play- during this phase, everybody closes his/her eyes, and players with certain roles “wake up” (open their eyes) at specific times to complete tasks related to their roles. These actions change depending on which roles were picked, but the order for when everyone opens and closes his/her eyes remains the same no matter what. Once all of the roles have completed the necessary tasks, the night phase ends and it switches to the “day” phase.

Once it becomes the day phase, everyone openly discusses who they believe is the werewolf. The werewolves then try and divert the blame from themselves by accusing others, while the villagers are all trying to determine who the werewolves are. You can say anything you want during this time, but you cannot show your role to another player- they will have to take you at your word. The day phase usually only lasts about 5-10 minutes and once time is up, everyone votes for who they believe the two werewolves are (this is done by pointing, either at a person or at the face-down cards in the center if you think nobody is a werewolf). The two people with the most votes are then accused of being the werewolf and must show their card. If one of them was the Werewolf, then the villagers win. If neither of them was the werewolf, the werewolves win.

ONUW App

There is, in fact, an app for that

This description of the game is very basic and glosses over details of how the different roles affect each other. There are certain roles that switch role cards between players, look at other player’s roles, or even take on the role of another card that you view. After the night phase, you could find yourself in a situation where you have no idea what role you currently have in comparison to when the game began. This makes your strategy and the voting process all the more complicated, and certainly adds to the intrigue of the final results. Another big factor in the game is the speed- it is supposed to be a very quick game which only allows for a specific amount of time to discuss and vote. In order to help with the timing portion of the game, I highly recommend someone from your group download the free app that goes with the game. This app not only keeps time for you throughout the whole game, but also announces the phases of opening and closing eyes during the night shift according to the roles your group is using.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a difficult game for me to review- on the one hand, its gameplay and fast-paced style are quite engaging. On the other hand, there are some flaws in the way the character roles are structured, and the time limit feels constricting at times. I like the fact that you can choose what roles are involved in every game, but I am not a huge fan of the idea that your role can change without you knowing it. The fun of the game is certainly apparent- bluffing and trying to trick your friends into thinking you are one thing when you’re actually another is a staple of many board/card games. Still, the concerns should definitely be noted; knowing what the game is about is important, and will make it more fun because you’re going in with a full understanding of what to expect.

ONUW Text

I feel like you have to be in a very particular mood if you want to play this game- it is certainly a lot of fun when you get a group of people involved, and the positives certainly outweigh the negatives, but I would recommend understanding the rules and formulating a strategy before you dive headfirst into the game.

Jack’s Rating: 3.5/5 stars