Over the past decade or more, there’s been a massive increase in Zombie popularity and public demand for anything zombie related. Zombie-based books, comics, graphic novels, TV shows, video games, board games, card games, street games and pretty much anything else you can imagine are appearing on shelves so quickly, it’s impossible to keep track of them.
From the big screen… To the knitting needles
Once relegated to purely B-movie territory; the Zombie apocalypse is now fully embraced by Hollywood, producing World War Z, 28 Days/Weeks Later and a whole host of other zombie infected titles. In fact, Zombies can be seen in living rooms across the nation on a weekly basis in shows such as The Walking Dead and In the Flesh.
The spread of the zombie craze seems every bit as voracious as the viruses that create these shambling monsters. It certainly appears to know no limits with even the world of knitting embracing the flesh-eating monsters in a book dedicated to knitting your own Zombies.
Despite the claims from some that it’s just a “fad”, there’s definitely no sign of it slowing and it leaves me asking how long it has to continue before people realise that fads come and go whilst zombies appear to be here to stay?
A fad, or not a fad… What is the Kickstarter?
Crowd-funding phenomenon Kickstarter, has also been described as nothing but a “fad”. However, it also appears to be outliving that belief and spreading at the speed of a virulent zombie virus.
Originally established in 2009, later expanded to the UK in 2012, and Australia, Canada and New Zealand in 2013; the extremely successful platform has raised over $1 billion of funding across over a hundred thousand projects. Seven years since its creation and so insanely successful, is this really just a fad?
As of writing, if you type the word Zombie into Kickstarter you’ll get 1188 different results. Being a gamer, I browsed about 30 of the 99 result pages and noted about fifty different zombie-based board, card, miniature and roleplaying games. That’s actually quite a lot!
Tom in Wonderland… With Zombies…
The sheer number of Zombie related Kickstarter campaigns got me wondering… With all these zombie games being funded via Kickstarter, how does the platform impact on the quality of the games being produced? How do these Kickstarted zombie titles compare to some of the non-Kickstarter titles and are they any good?
With these very simple questions in mind I took a look through my own games collection and at some of the games I’ve played over the past few years. Here’s my thoughts on some of those titles:
A very popular game that dates back to 2001. It has a multitude of expansions including the latest, 13th, expansion “Zombies!!! 13: DEFCON Z” which in actual fact took the Kickstarter route and finished up with a total of $20,633 of funding.
This was one of my first game purchases when I started out in the hobby and I was torn between this and Last Night on Earth. I played this one four or five times, added some expansions, house-ruled a few things but couldn’t bring myself to like it. It no longer has a place in my collection and is hopefully entertaining the gentleman with whom I traded it away.
Flying Frog productions have created a great selection of games over the years, one of their best being the 2007 release of Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game. This game oozes with theme and as you play through the different scenarios you feel as though you’re actually part of your very own little B-movie getting caught up in all the crazy situations that the silver-screen brings to life so well.
This is by far my favourite Zombie-based game. It seems to do everything right, the rules are fairly straight-forward and it works well with 2-6 players, although personally I would only ever have one person playing as the Zombies and I always prefer a 1 on 1 game if given the chance.
Interestingly Flying Frog has recently branched out into the world of Kickstarter themselves, with their much anticipated Shadows of Brimstone title (Not a zombie-based game.) which raised a staggering $1,341,305.
This is one of the first games I considered backing on Kickstarter. The game itself sounded interesting and I’d not used Kickstarter before so the excitement of being involved in backing a game, perhaps even having a card with my image on it, was very appealing. Something in me made me change my mind though and I withdrew my pledge. The project eventually managed to raise $47,874
When Eaten by Zombies was finally made available at retail, I managed to trade for it on BoardGameGeek. Eager to see what the game was like I sat down for my first play-through. A quick read of the rules and I was ready to… read them again… Looking at cards, re-reading rules and staring into space for inspiration… none of it helped – I just didn’t like it.
Don’t get me wrong! Although I’m not a fan of the game it has some interesting stuff which will appeal to some gamers. For example:
Building a deck that you’ll lose, quickly and entirely, as you flee from the undead horde.
No real winners! The horde always wins! You just have to survive the longest!
Artwork that fits the theme and looks really great!
Calling it a day… Tune in next time…
So there you have two of the more well-known, non-kickstarter, Zombie titles out there, and the first of the Kickstarted Zombie titles that I’m looking at. I’m going to call it a day for now because I need to go and play some new games.
In my next post I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the more prominent Kickstarted Zombie titles of recent years and will give my conclusions on the Kickstarter “fad”. Please check back over the next week or so to find out more!
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.