Hey there board gamers!
I absolutely love Zombies! Zombie comics, Zombie movies, Zombie shows, Zombie video games, but most of all I love Zombie board games! Here I will be showcasing the best Zombie board games out there at the moment so you too can get your Zombie fix!
And I have found a fantastic selection of games for you to try with a variety of mechanics. We’ve got a kids card-based maths game, a tile-based competitive shoot-em-up, a town-based cooperative with beautiful minis, an awesome skirmish and a full-on RPG!
So let’s get started!
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No. of players: 1-6
Artists: Alonso Jacobo, Matthew Tidbury, Rory Walker
Designer: Matthew Tidbury
Publisher: Think Noodle Games
Time: 30 mins
City of Zombies is a great card-based game designed to help kids with their timetables in a fun way! It is a cooperative game with beautiful artwork and several levels of difficulty depending on the stage your children are at. If you want to read more about this fantastic family game, I have written about it already here.
No. of players: 2-6
Designer: Todd Breitenstein, Kerry Breitenstein
Artist: Dave Aikins, Kurt Miller
Publisher: Twilight Creations, Inc
Zombies!!! is a bit more of a serious game in terms of mechanics with gruesome artwork which won’t be suitable for little kids. It still has a very fun feel to it with silly, gory pictures and cards with a variety of actions with which you can boost your own actions or sabotage your competitors efforts.
The rules are still simple and fit on a single double-sided A4 sheet which means that you can be up and running within minutes. Zombies!!! comes with 50 map tiles which you select at random and build up the city each turn as you explore. This means that each game is unique and at the end you have a whole post-apocalyptic city-scene laid out before you!
All players start in the ‘Town Square’ and the object of the game is to be the first to reach the helipad and clear it of zombies. Even though you all have the same objective, it is a medium-weight competitive game. There is no direct conflict between the characters, but you can use cards such as ‘We’re Screwed’ to surround your opponents with biters or ‘Brain Cramp’ to take control of another player’s movement.
Zombies!!! can be played cooperatively and I have played it with my kids where we have worked more as a team to reach the objective together. It works very well, though, as competitive race to the finish with each player hilariously foiling each other’s plans.
The tile art is cool and has interesting locations, such as the ‘Hospital’ and the ‘Lawn and Garden Store’, which you can enter. Inside the buildings you can clean up zombies, collect life tokens and bullets and use special cards to get awesome extras such as chainsaws and Molotov cocktails which allow you to dispatch more walkers!
Zombies!!! comes with plenty of zombie minis and there are tons of expansions which are definitely worth checking out which include fantastic new mechanics and minis such as glow in the dark zombies, zombie-dogs and zombie-clowns. There is also an expansion called Humans!!! in which the players take on the role of the biters and must try to infect the most people!
All-in-all, if you like zombies, then you will love Zombies!!! – a quick to learn zombie shoot-em-up which will provide hours of fun!
No. of players: 1-6
Designer: Raphaël Guiton, Jean-Baptiste Lullien, Nicolas Raoult
Artist: Édouard Guiton, Thierry Masson, Eric Nouhaut
Publisher: CMON Global Limited
Time: 60 mins
OK, so Zombicide is another step up in complexity from Zombies!!!. The rule book is several pages long and this allows for a variety of zombie-types and a cool set of asymmetric characters.
Zombicide is a fully cooperative city-based zombie shoot-em-up with great artwork and fantastic minis. Each character has their own skill-set and special abilities and the game has a simple but very effective experience system.
The rules take a little longer to learn but once you get them down they are simple to play. Zombicide is loads of fun either solo or with up to 6 players. It is fast-paced and you feel like you are in a classic Zombie movie as the trickle of zombies become an encroaching hoard as you progress through the town.
Each time you kill a walker you gain one experience point and with enough experience you level up and either gain an action or gain a new skill. But watch out because when the characters level up, so does the threat level. Players will need to work together in order to be successful and will need to use their abilities to the best advantage of the group, even sacrificing themselves to save another!
Each turn is quick so even with more players there is not a lot of wait time and after the players have finished, the walkers, runners, fatties and abominations take their turn! Zombicide is quick and brutal – each character can only take two wounds before they are toast so you will need to think fast and strategise on the hoof in order to stay one-step ahead of the biters.
If you like cooperative games and you like zombies, then Zombicide is the game for you!
No. of players: 2
Designer: Ash Barker
Artist: Arthur Asa
Publisher: Osprey Games
Time: 1+ hrs
If you are into tabletop war games, then Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse is for you. It is an awesome skirmish game for 2 players in a contemporary post-apocalyptic setting. It comes in a gorgeous hard-back book with amazing artwork by Arthur Asa.
Both players control a group of survivors battling it out in a variety of encounters, competing to claim resources. As you do battle the noise attracts zombies which add a whole new level of threat to the usual skirmish game.
Obviously, as a tabletop skirmish game, there are a fair few more rules than in the other games above, but if you have played any other similar games, such as Necromunda or Mordheim, then you will be used to that. Last Days is no more complicated than those classics.
Each player chooses a leader-type. You can be ‘Selfless’, ‘Selfish’, or ‘Trained’ and each type allows you certain combinations of skills and recruits. You then assemble your group members from a cool selection of characters including Cops, Cronies, Tough Guys and even Kids and Dogs!
Each character comes with their own point cost, stat-block, special rules and skill-types, so there is a fair amount to learn at the beginning, but once you have chosen your party and read up on each character’s skills, the game flows pretty well. Best played on a 3′ X 3′ space, each player begins by placing their characters along one edge.
The base game is just a rule-book, so you will need to buy, make or borrow minis and scenery. This could be a barrier to entry for many people, but you can get creative. You don’t need to spend lots of money to get started, borrow minis from other games and use Lego or anything lying round the house for scenery – you might need to use a little more imagination to get in the mood, but you won’t miss out on game play by not having a professional set up.
We manage just fine with my Necromunder gang minis, the zombies from our copy of Zombies!!!, a cardboard house, some homemade scenery and some plastic trees and rocks nicked from one of my kids old toy boxes! Don’t be put off by the high standard set by the stunning art in the book – The example set-ups in the books look amazing and all credit to Ash Barker and his team for creating such inspiring scenes, but remember, these guys are professionals – you can build up over time to custom minis, high-quality scenery and perfect mini painting, but my advice is just get stuck in first and worry about the aesthetics later!
One particularly cool set of rules in Last Days is the mechanics around your ‘Refuge’. Each player chooses a base from a list including classics such as ‘The Farm House’, ‘The Mall’ and ‘The Police Station’. Each refuge can hold a certain number of survivors, comes with built in perks such as a ‘Fenced-off Garden’, ‘Store Room’ or ‘Armory’ and are customisable as you earn ‘Scavenge Points’.
There are also fun rules for the time in between battles where you assign roles to your team members whilst back at base which give additional benefits and between each encounter you must defend your base against zombie attacks! This ties into the campaign mode in which your characters will level up with experience, gaining skills and you play a series of skirmish encounters with special rules which keep the game fresh.
So if you like zombies and you like skirmish games, then Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse is for you!
No. of players: 2+
Designer: Al Bruno III, C. J. Carella, Richard Dakan, Jack Emmert, M. Alexander Jurkat, George Vasilakos
Artist: Samuel Araya, Stephen Brotherstone, Mike Osadciw, Brad Rigney, Christopher Shy, Dan Smith, George Vasilakos
Publisher: Eden Studios Inc.
Time: 1+ hrs
So now for the final game in the list. All Flesh Must be Eaten (AFMBE) is a zombie survival RPG. It is a full game with over 200 pages of rules which includes awesome, gruesome art, fun narrative interludes, a brief history of zombies and detailed rules.
The character creation includes stats for ‘Strength’, ‘Dexterity’, ‘Constitution’, ‘Intelligence’, ‘Perception’ and ‘Willpower’ which sounds a lot like everyone’s favorite 5e RPG. (In fact, there are conversion rules to both the Unisystem and D20 Modern.)
There are several things, thouogh that set AFMBE apart from simply ‘DnD with zombies’. Firstly, it is a D10 system. Secondly, the concept of ‘Attributes’ and ‘Drawbacks’ makes for some excellent role-playing opportunities.
Each Player gets a certain amount of points to spend on their character which must be split between their stat-block, ‘Attributes’ and ‘Skills’. There is a wide choice of attributes to choose from such as ‘Acute Hearing’, ‘Charisma’, ‘Fast Reaction Time’ and ‘Hard to Kill’. Each attribute provides certain benefits to the character and, optionally, players may ‘buy back’ points to spend elsewhere by choosing one or more ‘Drawbacks’. These are really fun and include ‘Lazy’, ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Recurring Nightmares’!
AFMBE also includes cool optional rules for the ‘Supernatural’ which come with a whole host of extra attributes and drawbacks. There are also loads of skills to choose from including ‘Acrobatics’, ‘Brawling’ and ‘Cheating’ which allow for a really bespoke character generation process.
The XP system in AFMBE is also well-thought-out and you can either buy extra levels in a skill or stat at the start or use XP to upgrade skills and stats as you progress. I really like this kind of skill system as it means skills aren’t binary. Its not like you can either do ‘Martial Arts’ or you can’t; you can be a beginner or an expert or somewhere in between.
On top of the supernatural rules, there are rich metaphysical powers which you can choose to include in your game if you like including ‘Inspiration’, miracle-working, and ‘Faith’, all of which can have an impact on game play. There are also a bunch of pre-generated characters which you can select if you want to get going quickly.
I won’t go into the details of the rules here, but suffice to say, one thing I love about AFMBE is how customisable it is. Many rules are optional and it is easy to adapt or change rules to fit your ZM (Zombie Master) style or group preferences. The basic mechanic is roll a D10, apply modifiers and hope you get 9 or more – so it is pretty simple at its core, but there are a whole host of other rules which you can opt for to give extra flavors.
There are detailed rules for combat, both melee and ranged, and Armour, as well as special rules for damage and healing and vehicles. There is a whole chapter on equipment, both for in and out of combat and a full weapons list which covers most eventualities.
The chapter I love the most, though, is the chapter on zombies! There are several options for zombie-creation and the Zombie Master can choose how tough, how fast and how hard to kill the zombies are and there is a whole host of special rules you can apply in order to customize your zombies.
For example, do you want your Zombies ‘Slow and Steady’, ‘Life-like’ or dead quick? You can give them special abilities such as ‘Burrowing’ or ‘Aquatic’. They can be ‘Strong Like Bull’ or ‘Flame Resistant’; they can have ‘Claws’, ‘Teeth’ or senses ‘Like a Hawk’! The combinations are endless and super fun to dream up, and of course, you can have many different types of zombies in the same game.
The rest is left up to your imagination and there are plenty of narrative story hooks to fire your imagination as well as more detailed campaign ideas to get you started. When I ZM’ed AFMBE I played with all my old gaming crew from back home in South London. I set the game in the streets where we grew up and I got each player to make a character which was as close to their real-life self as possible.
I then led them into the beginning of a full-on Zombie outbreak with the goal of escaping London to meet up with their families who had been evacuated while the partty were busy playing role playing games in Zein and Dave’s mum’s loft. We played ‘play-by-post’ on WhatsApp and used Google Maps for our battle maps. I didn’t really include any of the supernatural or metaphysical rules as I wanted it to feel as realistic as possible.
It was so much fun! And if you’ve never played a RPG via text, I would recommend it. We played a-synchronistically but everyone was expected to check their phone once a day to keep up the pace. Highlights include luring the characters into a Zombie battle arena in Screw-Fix created by delinquent teenagers, Tom having his leg accidentally amputated by Ted’s fumble with a chainsaw and the party planning raids and break-ins and making quick getaways when everything went Pete Tong!
I could go on all day about AFMBE, RPGs and ‘play-by’post’, but I’ll leave it there for now. Suffice to say that if you like Role-Playing Games and you like zombies, then you will love All Flesh Must Be Eaten!
I love them all, but let me know which one your favorite is in the comments below. Let us know if you’ve played any of these or if you have any other zombie games you know and love!
Thanks for reading,