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Review: Rise of the Zombies – The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Game (DVG)

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on March 8, 2013

Game: Rise of the Zombies – The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Game Review

Publisher: Dan Verssen Games (DVG)
Published in: 2013
Designer: Dan Verssen

Topic: Surviving in a  Zombie Apocalypse
Game Type: Cooperative-Competitive Card Game
Contents: 168 Game Cards, two 6-sided dice, 8 Plastic Stands for Survivor Characters, 1 Sheet of Counters, 1 Digital Timer, 1 Rulebook

Number of Players: 1-8OFFTOPIC_rund

HFC Game-O-Meter: E 


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8
Rules: 8
Playability: 9
Replay Value: 9

Overall Rating: 8.5

PRO Easy game mechanics, fast to learn, good written rules, lots of decisions, very thematic, good simulation, high replay value because it is difficult to win, cooperative, quality components (cards, rule book, box)…
CONTRA …but some of the components are less convincing (counters hard to read because of the chosen font which sometimes looks too cramped; plastic stands are ugly and don’t hold the counters in place too well; the timer looks a bit cheap and battery sometimes detaches from the electrical contacts so it stops working), no player aid, for some players the extremely unforgiving nature of the game may lead to frustration.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Introduction

RotZ_table

Zombies on the table!

There are so many Zombie games available on the market that it didn’t really awake my interest when Dan Verssen Games announced Rise of the Zombies, their new game funded by Kickstarter. We own several Zombie themed games and all of them are fun to play once in a while, but there was no reason to believe that a new game would actually bring some new game experiences to the table, so this game was not really on our radar. Then a review copy of the game arrived out of the blue and we did what we always do when a publisher sends us a new game – we quit playing the games we were currently playing for fun, took Rise of the Zombies into the HFC Test Lab and started our test sessions. 

So, what is the game about? It’s the usual setting you would expect from a Zombie game: the players are survivors in a world which was overrun by Zombies, no one knows what and why it happened, the world is just a looting ground and life is reduced to a constant run from a safe house to a new shelter, while trying to survive the walking dead. Actually, the rule book draws you into the story right away by letting you read a letter written by a certain “Gordon”:

The Howler is very dangerous because she attracts more zombies

The Howler is very dangerous because she attracts more zombies

“If you can read these words, there is still hope. On these sketch cards you will find my recounting of The Last Days of our World. Did it start in the water? The food? As a bio weapon? I never found out. 

I was touring Washington D.C. when the President declared a National Emergency and the Army barricaded the streets. Trapped in my hotel room, I watched Apache helicopters firing wave after wave of rockets into the shambling masses surging up Pennsylvania Avenue. I sketched what I witnessed on the cards you are holding now. For two days, the helicopters came, and my towering hotel shuddered from the ever approaching blasts. The third day was the worst. I awoke from a troubled sleep to silence.

Just before dusk of the fourth day, flames engulfed the White House. It burned throughout the night. At dawn, our flag over the White House had fallen. I raided the hotel’s kitchen for food and supplies and began my trek out of the city. For six days, I slept in sewers, slunk down alleys, and peered out of garbage dumpsters, sketching deep into the night to preserve my sanity. Seeing was never a problem. Something was always on fire. They were everywhere. Swarming. Searching with mindless eyes and rending flesh with outstretched hands. They never slept. They never stopped feeding. They mindlessly stalked the living. That’s all they did. 

I met other survivors along the way, but they each fell to the mindless hoards through carelessness or misplaced courage. On the seventh day, I found this house. I call it my Safe House. It was fortified with boarded windows and barbed-wire around the front yard. I met the guy who did the work. He was a construction worker before things went bad. There are more of them every day, and it is dangerous to sneak out for food. I don’t know how much longer I can stay here. I saw an Army helicopter circling the park on the other side of town yesterday. If I see another one, I’m making a run for it. I asked the construction worker if he wanted to come with me, but he said he’d stay here for a while and wait for the Army. I wish him well.

I’m leaving my sketches behind as a sign of hope. All is not lost. We will survive”

-Gordon

This letter explains the situation at the beginning of the game because the players start in the mentioned safe house, and since it’s not really safe there anymore, they will have to follow Gordon, who left the house to make a run for the rescue helicopter he saw.  This story introduction also gives the background for a very distinctive art style that is used in the presentation of the game: it’s a card game and all cards are sketches, pencil drawings that look interesting and fresh, and that’s what Gordon left behind to give other survivors some hope. It’s a nice touch, a great introduction for such a game and it did awake our interest and we wanted to know more…

Read the rest of this entry »

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Rise of the Zombies – Now available from DVG!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on February 4, 2013

RotZ_Contents

“Rise of the Zombies – The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Game” – a new release from Dan Verssen Games (DVG) funded with Kickstarter is now available! It’s a coop game, playable solitaire or with up to 7 other players who try to survive the Zombie Apocalypse and reach the helicopter that brings them all to safety. It’s played in real time – that’s why the game comes with a timer – how cool is that? 🙂 – and the Zombies are controlled by the game system. Play together, stay together, or go and be a lone wolf trying to survive on your own…

Zombie Hunters can now add a cool dude to their game – go and look for Zombie Santa, perhaps he’s got some nice gifts for you 😉

The new card is free to download and can be downloaded here.

Since DVG sent us a review copy of the game (Thanks Dan!), which arrived yesterday, RotZ now enters the HFC test lab, so this first unboxing pic is only the beginning – stay tuned for the in-depth HFC review. Is this Zombie game fun like a Romero movie, or is it rotten as Zombie flesh? We’ll play the game and let you know 🙂

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New Year’s Gaming

Posted by Denny Koch on January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Dear fellow gamers!

Happy New Year – hopefully, a year full of new wargames (and old classics, of course!). Thanks again for keeping faith with the HFC and for your appreciation and great feedback!

Christmas provided us with new games, so we spent the prolonged weekend around New Year with unboxing, glueing, and counter-punching.

A Game of Thrones: Battles of Westeros (FFG)

However, before trying one of our gifts, I had to solve a problem I was occupied with since early December: Andreas’ House Stark armies were still undefeated in the Battle for the Kingsroad in FFG’s A Game of Thrones: Battles of Westeros board game. This Friday, my House Lannister forces challenged House Stark to a return game!

 

The Battle for the Kingsroad, as seen from the Lannister POV

The game started as bad for House Lannister as the last game had ended. My armies were crushed under Stark’s bowmen, infantry, and cavalry. In the final turn, I didn’t have anything left besides my two leaders Kevan Lannister and Adam Marbrand and one lone 3-step Casterly Rock chevalier unit. My objective was to cross the River Trident and to occupy two strategic hexes which were heavily defended by Stark’s bowmen and Richard Karstarks cavalry. We discussed whether it was possible to fulfill the victory conditions with my poor, lonely units, but decided to play it out.

And, as every experienced A Game of Thrones fan knows, things always turn out differently and with a big surprise you didn’t expect or see coming. This was also true for my game I had thought lost.

My cavalry unit managed to lure Andreas’ infantry over the Trident, so that they couldn’t reach and defend the objectives in time. Kevan Lannister (without any accompanying men) escaped an engagement at the ford and rushed into one objective hex where he stood adjacent to Stark’s archers. Since he was a sole leader, he couldn’t be killed but had to be captured, but the bowmen were incapable of achieving enough hits to capture him.

Kevan Lannister and Adam Marbrand, defending the objectives!

Simultaneously, Adam Marbrand remembered his strength – riding through any terrain, even impassable, even a river, as long as his move ended in a legal hex. And so he galloped into the Trident, followed the river until he reached the objective and occupied the hex – again, adjacent to the bowmen who couldn’t capture him either.

Richard Karstark then attacked Kevan Lannister because it would ensure his victory if he captured at least one of the two leaders, but the attack failed. In the nick of time, House Lannister won the battle (for the first time), by utilizing typical Lannister tricks and strategies 😉

War is Hell: The Hell of Stalingrad

We then tried out Andreas’ Christmas present: The Hell of Stalingrad, a card game by Clash of Arms Games.

This game proved to be an absolute blast, we got the hang of it really quickly, despite the fact that the structure of the rulebook isn’t optimal and you have to do a lot of page turning.

The game certainly requires some table space...

We were immediately thrilled by the innovative and very cool mechanics, the impressing and quite explicit artworks, the historical photos, and the overall look and feel of the game.

In our first game, I played the Germans and Andreas played the Russians. In the game, you have to fight for single historical buildings and locations (for example, the Tractor Works, Red October). It’s the German objective to capture the buildings and reach the Volga and it’s the Russian job to hinder them and to fight for each building. The combat system is extremely bloody and gives a very good impression of the chaotic, bloody, and desolate battle for Stalingrad.

In the evening, we supplemented our game by watching the German 1997 movie “Stalingrad” which depicts the Battle of Stalingrad from the perspective of four German grunts and their Lieutenant. The movie is quite visceral and realistic, showing heavy fightings, tanks and overruns, fanatic Nazi officers, arbitrary executions, desertion attempts, as well as (forbidden) contacts or cease-fires with the Russians in order to retrieve the wounded, catastrophic conditions on the battlefield hospital next to the airfield within the cauldron (where, in real life, my mother’s cousin, 18 years old and from a miner’s family in the Ruhr region, died of a shot in the belly. I still got pictures and the letters to his mother from his superiors and the army chaplain.)

Heavy fighting in the Red October steel works factory

If you are interested in this movie, there is a dubbed version available, but I have read that the dubbing is terrible and completely destroys the atmosphere, so you should  do yourself a favor and watch the German version with English subtitles!

The problem is, even if you know some German, you will have a hard time understanding it  without subtitles because most soldiers speak in various local dialects from Northern German to Prussian to Bavarian or Swabian or are shouting while under heavy artillery fire. In addition, working-class slang of some soldiers in contrast to the educated speech of the officers gives valuable insights into the background of the characters.

More games, more fun!

A game I got for Christmas was the strategic board game “Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead“. This isn’t a wargame and you don’t shoot zombies either, it’s a strategic game where states have to deal with a zombie pandemic by sending the military, doing research to find a cure, or developing other technologies. We didn’t try it out yet, but it looks very promising and certainly is an unusual approach to the zombie topic.

Another zombie game which found its way to us was the dice game “Zombie dice” which can be played within minutes – very quick, very funny. You roll dice with symbols which symbolize close combat against attacking zombies. There are brains, there are shotguns, there is escape. If you need a game which doesn’t need table space and which can be played on the train or on a party by 2-99 players, check it out 🙂

A game you certainly won't find on the HFC website: "Monopoly Junior"... played by Denny with niece and nephew 😉

Last but not least, the brand-new Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations by DVG  reached our HFC test lab after being delayed by German customs. The box is very impressive with cool artworks and even the customs officer was impressed and couldn’t believe that this was a board game (he thought it was a PC game because it looked so modern and stylish). Hornet Leader is a Solitaire Game like its cousin Thunderbolt / Apache Leader, but like TAL, it can also be played with two players cooperatively. Watch out for our review where we will take a special look at the cooperative aspect of the game!

We are also looking forward to the new cooperative The Lord of the Rings LCG by FFG which will (according to unconfirmed rumors) be published February / March 2011.

2011 will be a great and interesting gaming year (as was 2010), so stay tuned and visit us again for more information, reviews, and stuff!

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