Friday, 17 March 2017

Zombie Death Mettle

Unable to cajole any gamers to my house last night, I sat with a doleful expression on my face as I tried out Martin Wallace's game of zombie apocalypse travel, Hit Z Road. It's a terrible title as, as a Brit, you can't say it without sounding like you're doing a bad impression of a German tourist.

Three routes, but the bottom one costs 2 extra resources to travel

The game itself is a rather un-Wallace-esque blend of luck-pushing and simple resource management. You're trying to get from the zombie-infested east coast of the US to the sunnier zombie-free climes of California, and begin with 5 Survivors and some resources of bullets, adrenaline, and gas.

Cards are flipped that represent routes the players can take, and there's a bidding round where players decide who gets first choice on the routes, which are pivotal: some have lots of resources to scavenge, some have lots of zombies to fight (and possibly die fighting).

pick up bullets, fight 5 zombies

The catch is the bidding is made with your resources, so the more you spend bidding, the less your chance of survival on the road.

Each card has three elements played out in order: you scavenge (picking up more resources, though where you might find adrenaline is never explained) you deal with an event (on some cards only, and quick to resolve) then you fight zombies, if there are any present,  using bullets first, then at close quarters in a melee. Or you can speed on past by spending gas, which is safer, but doesn't get you any victory points.

Targets are hits. Skulls mean you've been bit

Unlike most GNN games, there is player elimination here - which feels kind of appropriate. It's possible no-one wins. But if more than one player makes it to the west coast, points are tallied: which is where your bravery in fighting zombies will come to count for you.

I played for myself and Dirk, and unusually I actually won. Dirk found himself outnumbered 6-1 after spending too much on the bidding, and though he fought bravely - the final battle was tense - he was eventually eaten. I played it safe and drove on to victory, at which point Stanley appeared saying he couldn't get to sleep.

Well, the game was already out on the table. What harm could it do to put a 9-year-old child through a deadly apocalyptic wasteland after bedtime?

This time we both made it through the end, but I won because I had a bunch of resources and 4 survivors left. Stan had scraped through with only 2, narrowly avoiding consumption in the final battle.

Zombies aren't my thing, but the game is simple to teach and plays in half an hour, making it a decent GNN filler that most will enjoy, I think - like Cosmic Run, but with extra cannibalism.

Probably best with four though, because the interaction is really all in the bidding - that's where you can get totally stiffed.


  1. You know, I'm trying to think of a zombie board game I liked. Zonbie Dice is closest and, frankly, I'd rather play Pickomino or Age Of War. Still, I trust Wallace, so I'm willing to give it a go.