Sunday, 27 April 2014
Zombies Keep Out, Part 1: Box Contents
We've mentioned (more than once) in the past that zombies hold a special place in our hearts here at Games & Tea, and as such there is no shortage of zombie games in our collection! With zombies as popular as ever though, it seems that a new zombie game is getting released every other week, and it can sometimes be hard to separate the quality from the chaff. So far we've taken a look at Zombie Fluxx, which we thoroughly enjoyed (although Fluxx isn't everyone's cup of tea), Zombies!!!, which we found clunky and very repetitive, and the yet-to-be-reviewed Zombicide, which seemed to be using a lot of fancy components to hide a lack of depth. Now Privateer Press have thrown their hat into the zombie ring with the latest game in their Bodgers series: Zombies Keep Out, a cooperative board game for 1-6 players.
Privateer Press are perhaps best known for their Warmachine/Hordes tabletop systems, but are no strangers to the world of board/card games. The light-hearted Bodgers series always centre around a team of goblins, and the different games all have separate themes, with the theme of Zombies Keep Out obviously being the undead. It's not a game that takes itself seriously, as evidenced by the box art, so if you're looking a gritty, immersive survival horror game then you're probably best leaving now.
The players take on the role of the Bodgers, who have barricaded themselves in their workshop in reaction to a zombie outbreak. As the zombies advance on the workshop and attempt to tear down the barricades, the Bodgers must rely on their resourcefulness and mechanical skill to construct 3 devices to fend the undead horde off. Part 2 of the review will go into how this works in detail, so for now let's take a look at what you'll find inside the Zombies Keep Out box.
The Zombies Keep Out box is very nice and compact, and in fact is the smallest box for a board game in our substantial collection. As a result, the board itself is also quite small, requiring only a small amount of set-up space to play. The board shows the front yard outside the Bodgers' workshop, with the numbered circles representing the path of the zombies as they shamble towards their intended lunch. The swimming pool at the bottom of the board is the waiting area for the zombies (cleverly referred to as the zombie pool in the rulebook), and the five areas of the workshop are represented along the top row; the cellar, the front door, the balcony, and two windows.
Of course a zombie game wouldn't be complete without zombies, and there are four types in Zombies Keep Out; Brutes, Runners, Leapers and Creepers. If you notice on the game board, the front door, balcony and cellar are all colour coded, so the Brutes, Leapers and Creepers all shamble in the direction of their preferred targets. The grey Runners are a little more mindless and just shamble forward in a straight line. The little zombie miniatures are of a nice quality, but we have to confess to being slightly disappointed that the same sculpt was used for all of the zombies. Even if there were only two or three different designs it would have been nice to add a little variety, but as it stands, all 45 zombies are identical.
In order to fight off the zombies, the Bodgers need to build some suitably ramshackle contraptions. Zombies Keep Out features 15 contraption cards, with a blueprint of the device on one side and its abilities on the other.
In order to build these contraptions, the Bodgers are going to need parts, and this (appropriately) is where the part cards come into play. As players are only allowed to take one action each turn (more details in Part 2), these cards serve multiple purposes. They can be used to advance the blueprint track of a contraption as long as the part matches next requirement on the blueprint, they can be used to repair barricades if the zombies have weakened one part of the workshop, or they can be used to kill zombies in one location on the board, buying the rest of the team some precious time!
A zombie apocalypse is generally considered to be an unfavourable affair, as represented by the Terrible Things cards - the final card type in Zombies Keep Out. At the start of each player's turn they must draw a card off the Terrible Things deck, resolve one of the events on the card, and then discard it face-down. The Terrible Things options always advance the zombies' cause, by either causing them to shamble forward, adding more zombies to the board, biting players, or moving the blueprint track on a device backwards. One of the nice mechanics in the game is that the players don't have to tell anyone about the two options they didn't choose - as the rulebook puts it, you have enough to deal with without the other players second-guessing your every move!
This just leaved the tokens, which are present in Zombies Keep Out in mercifully small numbers! Progress tokens (left) are used to keep track of how close the players are to completing one of their contraptions. Bite tokens (centre) are used to track how many times each player has been bitten by a zombie (which can have hilarious consequences), and barricade tokens are used to represent just how well the fortifications are holding up in each section of the workshop.
And that's the entire box contents of Zombies Keep Out! Or at least the entire box content relevant to the game itself. It also contains a handful of cards which can be used to add a zombie edge to some of the other Bodgers games, but as we're looking at Zombies Keep Out as a standalone product, we won't be looking at these.
But before we sign off on the box contents and move onto the gameplay, we're just going to take a quick look at the inside of the box, to see how well these components are stored...
Well it's certainly not the worst box we've ever seen (that accolade still sits firmly with BioShock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia), but it's not great. The cards are just the right size to fit sideways into the box insert, so if you're careful about which way up you stand the box to store/transport it you should be able to avoid having them scatter all over the place. The tokens and zombie miniatures, however, are free to rattle around to their hearts' content. This can easily be addressed by the simple addition of a pair of resealable polythene bags, but it would have been nice if Privateer Press had included these as standard in the box.
So that's it for Part 1! Come back for Part 2 where we'll be looking at the gameplay mechanics and revealing whether Zombies Keep Out has won a place in our cold, dead hearts...