Saturday, September 19, 2015

Zombie State: A depressing but enjoyable dichotomy.

About 4 or 5 years ago, I played Zombie State with Jim and Jeff and somehow, we never got around to playing it again. Given that it's now the Fall and near Halloween, I decided to dust it off and give it the Ol' College try.

Of all the post-Holocaust settings, I find the Zombie one the most depressing. Sure, I've watched the Walking Dead, but that show never inspires me. It's depressing to the end. Same with other Zombie movies. Same it seems, with Zombie boardgames. Depressing and an aura of what's-the-point-of-going-on? If you win, you get at most, to eke out a living in the rubble. No more pizza delivery, no more medicine, no more entertainment, no more amore. Just the Zeds at your doorstep as you get to see the old world rust.

I happen to like Humanity and civilization, so this kind of doom-porn (a Zombie setting) doesn't turn my crank that much, even though it's the latest craze on TV, movies and even "Zombie Walks" in the streets.

That being said, Zombie State should be more popular than it is. 

From what I remember, game reviewer Tom Vasel years ago did not like the game, and thus, it has faded away.  Which is a bit unfair. Yes, Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead by Zombie State Games is depressing. You race to and fro, playing reactively, struggling as a continental government to stem the zombie hordes, husbanding resources and population as best you can. Ultimately, the Zombie virus mutates to an airborne virus and the game is over. The game winner is the person with the most surviving population, but I guess they are future Zombies by that point. Sure, there is some cure backstory in the game, but it seems like a long shot when you see country after country picked clean like piranhas. However, that just means the game designer got the depressing theme of Zombies just right. You can sense the futility when you play. Isn't that a sign the game designer got the theme and mechanics to merge well though?

CB, Jim and I cracked open the board and we played a game. I was Europe, Jim Asia and CB Africa. In a 3-player game, North and South America is not played. They are a quarantine write-off presumably.

Starting Game. Dice represent populaiton

Needless to say, outbreaks happened, country populations get wiped out and pretty soon, you're frantically buidling walls to keep out the hordes.

The game involves researching tech to slow down the Zombie herds and getting resources before time runs out and the Zombies overrun one of your countries that has resources. 

My tech board at the beginning of the game.

Typical resources I would get in a turn.
The game is brutal as each population point eaten by the Zeds increases their number by 1. Pretty soon you have hordes overwhelming you and your troops.

By mid-game, my Western Europe was picked clean, with no one left alive except Zombies.

This (yellow die indicates my healthy population)....

becomes this pretty soon. All of Western Europe dead and overrun with Zombies.

I was so hard-pressed, that I hung on with 2 tank regiments in Moscow and I walled myself in for like 5 turns. Every other European zone was a write-off.

Jim and CB also did their best and pretty soon, the entire gameboard was one giant prison enclosed by surrounding walls.

The walls, coupled with no more humans to feed on resulted in some breathing room as the Zeds could not go anywhere. Neither did we, so all three of us researched tech as fast as we could. Any military we sent out was quickly killed.

At the end, I built up some nuclear technology and wiped out everything around Moscow, but it was over by turn 15. CB, who found the game slow at the beginning, ironically won as he had the most population sitting behind some walls.

CPs Africa was beset with walls, which ultimately saved him.

All in all, the game was chock full of depressing theme, which ironically, resulted in a good session.

I don't know when we'll play again, but it will happen one day.


  1. An enjoyable session to be sure. A replay would help to solidify some strategic ideas before proceeding... the first couple of fumbling turns could be better spent. Although I don't think CB would be up for the replay despite his victory!

  2. Definately, we should do it again. It's a difficult game to master and it will take time to learn not what to do. :-)