By: Jenna Duetzmann, staff writer
Steve Jackson Games (yep, the same person as the Munchkin series)
Steve Jackson Games
Published in 2010
Players: 2 − 99 players ages 10 & Up
Braaaains! Grr! Zombies are THE in thing right now, and Zombie Dice capitalizes on that. Play time is on average 10 minutes, making this a great warm up game or ice breaker, much like Tenzi, which I wrote about earlier. The concept is simple: You are a zombie hungry for “BRAAAAINS!!!” and you’re searching for victims. The victim can flee, defeat you with a handy shotgun, or get their brains eaten.
Sounds gruesome, right? Nope, not all all. The game comes in a cool dice cup filled with 13 dice and an instruction sheet. The picture on the cup is a little creepy, but nothing a 6 year old can’t handle. The dice aren’t gruesome at all. They are black six sided dice with simple graphics of an explosion, some running feet, and a cartoonish brain. The dice are supposed to be the ‘victims’ that zombies will be chasing. The dice are three different colors, which indicate how difficult it is to catch a victim. Green is easy, yellow a slightly bigger challenge, and red is difficult.
Here’s how the game is played:
The player with the most terrifying “BRAAAAAINS!!!” sound effect starts the game (usually my 7 year old son). To play the game, players will shake the dice inside the cup and draw three dice from it without looking. They then roll those dice. If the player rolls brains, they move those dice to the side and save them until the end of their turn. Brains are good! If the player rolls shotgun blasts, they move those dice to the side and save them until the end of their turn. Shotguns are bad! If the player rolls footprints, nothing happens.
After the first roll, the player can choose to either keep rolling or stop and tally the brains they rolled (one brain = one point). If they choose to keep going, they draw more dice from the cup to replace the brains and shotgun dice that were moved off to the side. If 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.
Each player takes turns 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 is the person with the most BRAAAAAAINS at the end of the game.
Zombie Dice is very easy to play and can be handled by children 6 and up, even though it is suggested for a slightly older audience. Our guess is that they labeled it for 10 and older because zombies are scary. But, if you have kids in your house, you know that zombies and gross things are fascinating to kids 6 and older. Since there is no necessary in game reading, we decided to introduce it to our boys and it didn’t take long for them to understand the rules.
We found that the “press your luck” mechanic and strategy part of Zombie Dice (the dice being coded with three different difficulty levels) is a bit complicated for younger players, but it is a big part of what makes the game interesting. One of my children was super cautious and the other was a HUGE risk taker. It was surprising and fun to see how each player responded to the dice rolls.
Overall, gameplay in Zombie Dice is fast and fun. The game requires you to make a decision each turn, which will keep players actively engaged. This is another portable and fun addition to our family game night. Our only complaint is that over enthusiastic shakers can shake the bottom right off of the dice cup and dice will go flying everywhere. But that’s hardly a real complaint, right? All in all, we love it and can’t wait to try out the expansions!
We actually have managed to play this with a zombie-obsessed 3 year old. She LOVES it! Mostly, the issue she has is being FAR too conservative! It’s very similar to pass-the-pigs in the decisions being made each turn (Keep or Roll Again), and after she lost all her points from touching pigs — the moment she sees one shotgun she ends her turn!