Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Gamed with A Zombie! Part Two

As mentioned in my earlier post, May of the Dead (held on May 31 at Guardian Games) was a great opportunity to try out zombie and undead themed games. But I also had a chance to talk with Martin Vavra of Galaxy Sailor Productions, who showed up to promote his web series, The Last Stand.

The series deals with the survivors of an airborne virus that killed millions. The virus mutated, reactivating the dead and turning them into rabid zombies. The disease, now spread through the zombie's bodily fluids, is poised to infect the rest of the population unless the survivors can find a safe place to bunker down.

This web series is filmed here in Portland, though Vavra mentioned that not many residents know about the show. So I'm spreading the word. The first two episodes (available on Daily Motion through July 19th) are well shot, nicely written and are a bleak, uncompromising depiction of humanity after the fall. I wish I knew more about the fate of the survivors that didn't make it to episode two. But those events seems likely to come back and haunt the current cast later in the series.

Much more ambitious than a zombie shoot 'em up series, I recommend checking out The Last Stand. I think Portland zombie fans will find a lot to like about this home grown effort. The episodes revert back to TheLastStandOnline.com after July 19th, and more episodes are on the way. The website also has lots of information about the series, so be sure to visit. I'll post any new developments as they become available.

Back to the games. I tried out another local product, the RPG Cannibal Contagion. At the start of the game, players are given randomly generated characters, each with randomly generated abilities and psycho-triggers. The game master then sets up a scenario where the characters are about to die, and it's your job to prevent such an outcome.

Battle is handled by playing your hand of cards (a standard deck of cards with Jokers included) against the game master's hand. You will either take damage, which affects your various abilities, or your sanity will be decreased. If that happens, you have to follow the actions dictated by the player controlling your psycho trigger.

Did I mention that players fill out forms guessing who will be the first to die, to go insane, to turn and so on? If you're right, you gain more power tokens. So sometimes, screwing with the other person might be to your advantage.

The game seems like it would be a lot of fun, but the rules are too complicated to comprehend in your first go round. And, with only about an hour to play, I was frustrated by my lack of understanding the rules and the potential consequences of my actions. However, with the right group of people and a chance to read through the book, this game could be a real blast. For more details, visit the official website.

As most of the other games had started as our game ended, I pulled out my edition of Zombies!!! and started up a game with a few other players. This is a 2 - 6 player game, where everyone starts at the town square. Each player draws a tile at the start of their turn, generating a map of the town. It makes the game unpredictable, as you have no idea what's around the next corner until someone places the tile on the table.

Of course, each tile is occupied by the living dead (the number of zombies dictated by the tile). Combat is very easy, accomplished by rolling a six sided die. If you roll 4-6, you kill the zombie. Roll a 1-3 and the zombie takes a bite, unless you have enough bullets to increase your score (for example, a roll of 2 plus two bullets makes a 4). Be careful, though, as bullets are in short supply.

You have two ways to win the game. Either be the first player to kill 25 zombies or be the first person to make it to the center of the helipad (the last tile drawn). If you die, you're not out of the game. But you must start over in the town square and forfeit half the zombies you've bagged.

Players also have three cards, which will either help them or hinder the other guy. Yes, this game takes the idea of tripping your best friend to escape the zombie horde to heart. You can move a certain amount of zombies at the end of your turn, adding to the other player's woes, or use a card to give the person in the lead a real headache.

This is an easy game to learn, and a lot of fun to play. Several expansion packs are available, including a circus scenario with zombie clowns! Check out the official website for more details.

Finally, I played a round of Last Night on Earth, a zombie board game. The board is designed so several pieces are chosen at random, as are the characters. The game offers several scenarios which you can play, from killing a certain amount of zombies to saving town folk. If you fail in your mission, or do not complete it in a given time, the zombies win.

One to two players control the zombies (depending on the amount of heroes playing).Heroes get to draw from a deck of cards (gained by searching various buildings), in order to gain some advantage in their battle. Unfortunately, the zombies also have a deck to play against the humans.

Unlike Zombies!!!, this is a game where cooperation is the only way to survive. Players can aid each other, and trade cards that might be better used by certain characters, but only when they are close together. As any good zombie fan knows, only when humans start fighting amongst themselves are the zombies able to gain the upper hand. Stay together, work as a team and you might be able to survive the last night on earth. You can get more information on this game here.

As our game ended, so did the 2010 May of the Dead. I'm hoping that, like the undead, 2011 brings about the resurrection of this zombie game festival.

All the games mentioned on this, and the previous post, are available at Guardian Games. Visit them on the web, or swing by their store at 313 SE 3rd Ave in Portland. And be sure to mention you read about them on The Shadow Over Portland!