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Return of the Kickstarted Dead – World of Zombie Games

In my previous post, The Kickstarted Dead, I looked at Zombies!!!, Last Night on Earth and Eaten by Zombies. In this gruesome sequel post, I return with a horde of Zombified games and provide a few opinions on the Kickstarter publication route. So, without further ado, let’s get back into the action and talk about some of the bigger Kickstarter zombie game titles out there.

 

Zpocalypse – Kickstarted – Greenbrier Games

 Zpocalypse Board Game - GamesQuest

This one gets some very mixed reviews but I think it’s pretty damn good board game. It was launched on Kickstarter, got a lot of attention and has a very cool Zmergency expansion. It raised an impressive $210,237 for its first campaign and a further $190,021 during its successful expansion campaign (Aftermath Fortifications, Z-Team Alpha and Beta).

Get past the zombie rules…

I’ll openly admit that I was really surprised by this board game. It’s another one that I got in a trade, and I actually really enjoyed it. It took a while to decipher the rules because they were quite poorly written, but once we’d worked it all out there was a lot of fun to be had. In fact, for those of you unsure about the rules for this one, Greenbrier recently updated the rulebook to make it simpler to pick up and play. Some of things that I really like and you might find cool are:

  • Squads! As a player you’re a team of two characters who wander around together. Very nice touch.
  • Fortifications! You get to build defences against the zombie horde!
  • Objectives! You have an overall scenario objective that you’re playing towards, but with each new day you get a new personal objective. This adds a lot of variability to the game!
  • Something Happens! These cards tell you a little story about what’s going on out there before moving zombies and launching more of the vile undead onto the board. Good stuff!

Dark Darker Darkest – Kickstarted – Queen Games

 Dark Darker Darkest Zombie Board Game - GamesQuest

This is a game that I followed for a long time before it finally hit Kickstarter raising a not too shabby $198,232. When it was announced it looked and sounded great, so I backed it.

Unfortunately the Kickstarter campaign was mired by mistakes and reactive decisions which since its conclusion have come back to haunt both publisher and backer alike. The delivery time for the main game was spectacularly quick for the amount of content we were getting and it arrived just in time for Halloween. Alas… missing components, inaccurate order fulfilments, badly written rules and decidedly average plastic minis resulted in a lot of bad feeling.

Positive Feedback…

Despite all this, there are still some very positive points that often get overlooked by unhappy backers.

  • The game itself is actually quite good with some fun mechanics. The one that I like the most involves the very building you’re exploring bursting into flames! Flames you can use to rid yourself of the Zombie menace!
  • The designer, David Ausloos, has been fervently working to provide support for those struggling with the rules. In fact, David recently released a new version of the rulebook which was rewritten from the ground up.
  • David is totally committed to expanding and improving the game which backers should take as a real positive.

For those of you who are interested in reading more about Dark, Darker, Darkest, I recently interviewed David about his experience during the Kickstarter campaign.

 

Zombicide – Kickstarted – Guillotine Games

 Zombicide Board Game - GamesQuest

I own both Seasons 1 and 2 (Toxic City Mall and Prison Outbreak). However, unfortunately I didn’t Kickstart the first season and missed out on some of the exclusive characters, most regrettably “Dave the Geek” a spitting image of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory.

Amongst all the Kickstarter zombie games created to date, Zombicide has to be regarded as the biggest. The first season raised $781,597 and the second, a mammoth $2,255,018.

Expand you Zombie Game!

It’s a great game with some exciting scenarios and endless waves of zombies. It’s fast to learn, fun to play and provides scope to create your own, epic scale, stories.  Speaking of scale, you can get extra tile packs that boost the size of the cities you create by quite a considerable amount.

Like many great games there’s the odd thing that doesn’t necessarily make sense thematically, but it’s easy enough to house-rule them as you go. Most notably for me is the rule for when you fire into a space with a survivor in it. Essentially, when using a ranged weapon, you’ll ALWAYS hit a survivor figure in the target space before you’ll hit any Zombie figures. Yet somehow you can fire through a space into another without hitting anyone in the first… I’m sorry… That makes absolutely no sense what so ever… Some of the characters are probably quite adept at firing a weapon… The cop for instance… Or at least you’d certainly hope he could…

House Rules Fix…

So, to fix this, we simply house-rule it so that when you encounter this situation, you roll a die, if you roll a 1 then your shot hits a survivor, if not then we use the modified ranged targeting priority order table:

  1. Walkers
  2. Fatties
  3. Abominations
  4. Runners.

Even with this slightly odd rule, the quality of both the rules and components for Zombicide are extremely good and I really do recommend this game to anyone!

 

Zombie 15’ – Kickstarted – iello

 Zombie 15’ Board Game - GamesQuest

This is a game that I backed recently. It looks like a fun and refreshing approach to the Zombie genre. Produced by iello, the geniuses behind King of Tokyo, Zombie 15’ makes players think quickly or die trying. It achieves this by borrowing the panic ridden timer mechanic that you’ve seen in games such as Escape: Curse of the Temple and Space Alert.

Zombie 15′ is coming out soon…

Zombie 15’ is still in production following the successful $141,203 Kickstarter campaign; but keep an eye out for it hitting the store later this year! For the time being, here’s a quote from the campaign that should have you eager to play, and if you can’t wait to see what the game looks like then here’s a link to a recent unboxing of a test copy!

“While other zombie games generally let you think calmly, discuss the problem, and plan through every situation, Zombie 15′ simulates the stressful and frantic experience of being chased by zombies. The players have to act fast and think even faster. Cooperation and tactics are decisive, but so is keeping a cool head.”

Take some time… Think about what you just did…

So there you have a few of my thoughts on a number of Zombie games. Looking back at my experiences with them gave me some time to think about what makes Kickstarter games different from games published through a different route. In doing this, I realised three things that I’ll consider next time I hear someone telling me that Kickstarter is inherently evil.

 

1.  The quality of a game is not determined by its publication route.

When you compare the quality of a game with another, it can fluctuate dramatically whether it’s been published through a Kickstarter campaign or not. Take Zombies!!! and Last Night on Earth for example, both games were published without Kickstarter, but they’re in completely different leagues when it comes to quality and gameplay.

This comparison can be made between Kickstarter and non-kickstarter titles alike and it shouldn’t be assumed that a game that was funded through Kickstarter would be any less of a game than one that was not. I think that because people have such diverse tastes, what constitutes good gameplay for one person, will not work for another. Quality, after-all, is in the eye of the beholder!

2. Games that are delivered via Kickstarter face different pressures to those that are not.

Where we tend to see issues with modern games, they tend to be down to rushing the product to market without making sure that everything was tested and perfect. From my humble perspective, this definitely appears to be more of an issue for Kickstarter campaign games than others and I also think I know why this might be…

It’s true that repeated delays annoy customers. However, at the same time, if a company is funding a project in its entirety then a delay does not affect the customer financially. In fact you often see anticipation for the game grow during a delay period.

With Kickstarter, people have already shelled out their hard earned cash, and nothing motivates people more than money… Hence, we see so many more people complaining about delayed Kickstarter games.

Publishers are therefore faced with an extremely tough call, release now and make do with what they’ve got, or delay and face the mob. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure which way I would go if I were faced with that quandary. All I know is that I’ve seen some pretty big mobs heading towards Kickstarter castle!

3. Kickstarter games that get bad press aren’t necessarily bad games, they‘re more likely mismanaged or over promised.

The main problems that people seem to have with Kickstarter games don’t appear to lay with the games themselves, more the preparation and management of the campaign, or the communication with backers. Dark, Darker, Darkest is a great example of this and if you’ve read my interview with David then you’ll be able to see the impact the campaign prep and management had on the game, the designer and the backers.

This is the end… Or is it???

 Zombie Games Kickstarter - GamesQuest

Anyway, that’s the end of my brief delve into the Zombified realms of Kickstarter. However, before I go, there’s one last thing that I thought I’d discuss. Something that’s become quite an emotive subject that keeps fans and critics of Kickstarter, firmly in their camps. I am of course talking about the infamous Kickstarter exclusives! The game items that are only ever given to those who backed the project. Items that will NEVER be reproduced again.

As I mentioned earlier, I missed out on the “Dave the Geek” Kickstarter exclusive for Zombicide. It’s something I regret because I had every opportunity to back the original project and it would have been perfect for one of the players in my group. However! I am not angry about missing it, nor do I feel entitled to it!

Exclusive items my thoughts…

The thing that annoys me the most about Kickstarter exclusives, is the people who let them get in their way of enjoying a good game. I’ve read articles and heard various people waxing lyrical about the atrocity that is exclusive items. About how exclusives destroy their enjoyment of a game because not having access to that little piece of plastic means they won’t even consider playing the game!

To be brutally honest, it’s not the absence of the exclusive items that destroyed their enjoyment, it’s their attitude towards them that did the damage. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a completionist at heart and I try to get all the cool little promos that are available for a game. However, I wouldn’t deny myself the enjoyment of game just because I couldn’t get my hands on an exclusive. That would just be cutting my nose off to spite my face!

My Conclusion…

Ultimately, exclusives are there to reward the people who took the risk and invested in the production of a game before it even existed. If you don’t have the exclusive then you didn’t take the risk. It’s like watching a football match on TV and seeing the winners lifting the cup up at the end. You don’t stop playing football with your mates just because you don’t get that shiny gold cup, that’s just absurd!

5 (100%) 1 vote
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Tom Randell

Driven Instructional Designer by day, board game fanatic by night! Tom has a long background in eLearning design and is a strong believer that story and narrative are crucial to creating excellent learning and gaming experiences. A passionate blogger, game reviewer and play tester, he enjoys spending his time playing games of all genres.

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