Friday, June 15, 2007

Shooting Zombietown

We had a lot of unfinished games at last night’s meeting of the Appalachian Gamers. Usually we stop in mid-game if we’re just playing a filler and a new arrival walks in. But we were playing Zombietown (from Twilight Creations) for the first time, and we found an excuse to quit. Zombietown is not meant to be just a filler game (unless your definition of a filler game is a lot different than mine). I actually can’t remember exactly what caused us to stop playing, but I know the motivation behind the stoppage: we found the game hard to swallow.

Sorry, Zombietown is a game that inspires tasteless humor. This is a game that glories in ultra-gory brain-blasting zombie-killing imagery on combat cards. Not that that’s a bad thing. While I wouldn’t describe the Appalachian Gamers as a small horde of Ameritrash dice addicts who crave red-meat combat games, neither are we a bunch of sherry-sipping wooden-cube-loving elitists who distain any game that doesn’t require a calculator to tabulate victory points. In fact, the majority of the group expressed fondness for another zombie game—Mall of Horror.

So what were our beefs with Zombietown?

One number, the rules. I’ve never seen a game played with the rulebook so much in hand. We had far too many questions and debatable interpretations of the rules—especially considering that the game wasn’t even that complex. Maybe we could have saved ourselves some time and trouble by looking for an FAQ on Boardgamegeek, but that sort of effort shouldn’t be required.

Two, the game play wasn’t that interesting. The zombies seemed pathetically easy to kill. Yes, I understand that as the game progresses the hordes of zombies increase until there is the possibility that players could get overwhelmed. But we seemed to be halfway done with the game and no one was in any danger yet.

Players seemed to have only two things to do: either shoot zombies to gain points, or run to the house next door to get supply cards. It didn’t take long for this kind of decision-making to pale.

Now, maybe I’m being a little hard on a game that isn’t trying to be zombie Puerto Rico. Maybe the game was meant to be played with beer in hand while watching a George Romero DVD triple feature on Halloween. If someone suggests playing the game under those conditions, maybe you could have some fun with it.

But first go to Boardgamegeek and look for an FAQ

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