- For ages 9 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
- For 1 to 4 players
- Variable game length
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Cooperative & Team Play
- Child – Presumed Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- The final wave of zombies approaches! Can you survive the onslaught?
- Gamer Geek mixed!
- Parent Geek rejected!
- Child Geek untested!
You’ve always kept one step ahead of the undead masses that have overrun the city. Survival has been your only goal and you’ve managed to stay alive so far without incident. But your luck has officially run out and you now find yourself surrounded. Taking a deep breath, you tell yourself you can survive this if you just keep your cool. Of course, it would help if you had more ammo, but let’s try to stay positive here.
Zombi Final, a self-published game by Ramón Montejano, is comprised of 55 Zombie cards, 36 Survivor cards, and 1 standard six-sided die. Not included with the game, but necessary to play, are some tokens to help keep track of damage. If you are wondering why “zombie” would appear to be misspelled in the game’s title, it technically isn’t. “Zombi” is the correct spelling of the word “zombie” in Spanish. Now don’t you feel smarter? You’re welcome.
The cards are durable and standard size. The artwork on the cards gave many of our Parent Geeks a bit of a shudder. Some of the zombies were considered too gruesome which made Zombi Final an unacceptable game to put in front of the Child Geeks. I’ve provided several card examples here that depict some of the more horrific undead that the Parent Geeks disliked. As always, I’ll leave it up to you, the reader, to determine what is appropriate for your own family.
For the record, a “Zombie Clown” is the stuff of nightmares.
The Basic Game Play
Zombi Final can be played 4 different ways. Regardless of how the game is played, a basic rule set is used throughout. The rules are summarized here.
When a survivor rolls the die…
- A roll of “1” means complete and total failure. If the survivor has a weapon, they run the risk of losing it (to failures causes the survivor to lose their weapon).
- A roll of “2”, “3”, “4” and “5” allows the player to take an action in a specific direction. A “2” indicates an action can be taken directly in front of the Survivor card (per the perspective of the survivor portrayed on the card, not the player). A “3” indicates the action can be taken to the survivor’s left, “4” is to the rear, and “5” is to the survivor’s left.
- A roll of “6” means the player can draw 1 card from the Survivor deck.
When a zombie rolls the die…
- A roll of “2”, “3”, “4” and “5” indicates a zombie in a specific location in relationship to the survivor attacks! A “2” indicates a zombie attacks the survivor from the front, “3” indicates a zombie attacks the survivor from the right, “4” is to the rear, and “5” indicates a zombie attacks the survivor from the left. Again, the direction is based on the perspective of the survivor, not the player.
A player can take a few actions on their turn once the direction has been determined.
- An “attack” action allows the player to use a weapon. If the weapon allows for ranged combat (a gun, for example), the player can target a zombie other than the one closest to them.
- A “push” action allows the player to move a zombie off them. This doesn’t shift the Zombie card’s position or damage the zombie, but it does buy the player some time.
- A “move zombie” action allows the player to shift the position of one Zombie card to the rear of another row. The origin row and the destination row are determine by the roll of the die. A zombie cannot be moved to a row that has 7 Zombie cards already in it. This is a great way for the player to stack zombies for big kills, shift a dangerous zombie to another player, or simply place a deadly zombie further away in hopes of having better weapons to defeat it in the future.
Each player will be given 1 Survivor card to represent their position to the zombie masses that are attempting to overrun them. Each Survivor card starts with 2 empty hands (that can be used as melee weapons) and helps keep track of the survivor’s position to the zombie rows that surround it. Players will attach weapons to their Survivor card and place barricades around them for extra protection.
Each Zombie card contains up to 4 different pieces of information. The zombie type identifies what kind of zombie is trying to attack the survivor. The front of the zombie is used to place the Zombie card in the right direction in one of the four rows that surround the Survivor card (front, left, right, or rear). The points of death number value indicates how many points the Zombie card is worth at the end of the game.
The zombie features require a bit more explanation. Some, not all, zombies have one or more special features that influence the game play when they are drawn or an action is taken with them.
- Resistance: these zombies are harder to kill. Most zombies only take 1 shot, but a few take a lot more. A special tracking card is provided in the game (which is where the tokens will come into play) to help players keep track of what zombie has taken more than 1 point of damage.
- Call Zombies: these zombies make so much noise that they attract other zombies! Two more, in fact. These are placed randomly in one of the four rows.
- Barricade Mole: these zombies know how to dig and will find cracks in hastily built barricades. Most of the time, a barricade will keep a zombie at bay, but these zombies will simply pass right through them.
- Barricade Destroyer: these zombies are so big and tough that they smash through barricades!
- Rabid: these zombies are so brain-hungry that they cannot be moved to another row.
- Incendiary: these zombies are on fire. This is actually a very good thing. If a player is able to trap zombies between 2 incendiary zombies, the entire row will catch fire!
- Explosive Combo: these zombies are carrying with them some sort of highly flammable substance. A clever survivor will put 2 or more of these zombies together and cause the entire row of undead to explode with a single shot!
Weapons, Barricades, and Other Great Stuff
The Survivor deck contains weapons, barricades, and other cards that are intended to help the survivor stay alive. They don’t always work. Weapons will fail, barricades will fall, and help or support is pretty rare. The only way a player can get to these cards is by rolling a “6” during the game, but they do start with a few supplies.
Every Survivor card can have up to 2 weapons attached (either in their left or right hand). The weapons are placed so they overlay the Survivor card. The result is that the Survivor card now looks like it’s holding a weapon. The barricades are placed to a Survivor card’s left, right, front, or rear and are there to hold back the zombies, but if enough zombies get behind the barricade, it will fail.
Other helpful cards include help from unknown survivors, much-needed adrenaline rushes, well-timed distractions, and the possibility of help and a quick rescue.
Four Games in One
Zombi Final can be played 4 different ways. Each game variant is summarized here.
Solo Game Variant
This game variant pits 1 player against all the zombies. To set up the game, the player selects 1 “Survivor” from the Survivor deck and removes the rest for the duration of the game.
Second, the player separates the “Weapon” and “Barricade” Survivor cards and shuffles them together. They then deal 3 to themselves. Weapons are equipped right away and any barricades are placed wherever the player likes. Any remaining Survivor cards are put back with the rest of the Survivor cards, the deck is shuffled, and then placed face-down as a draw deck.
Third, the Zombie deck is shuffled and placed face-down next to the Survivor deck. The first two Zombie cards are drawn and randomly placed using the die to determine their initial starting position.
Game play is pretty straight forward after the game set up. First the player rolls the die for the survivor, takes whatever actions they can, and then rolls for zombies. This continues until the survivor is overrun, the player finds the “Help” and “Rescue” Survivor cards, or they survive all the zombie attacks.
Versus Game Variant
This game variant pits players against each other, but they are essentially playing their own game simultaneously. Game set up is identical to the solo game variant, with each player placing their survivor and zombies in their own space directly in front of them. The Survivor and Zombie decks are shared. The only significant rule change is the roll of a “2” during the survivor’s turn. A player can select an action OR move a Zombie card to an opponent’s row.
The versus game variant can end several different ways.
- When a players kills all their zombies, the game ends. Players add together the Points of Death values on each of their collected Zombie cards. The player with the most points wins the game.
- When a player collects the “Help” and “Rescue” Survivor cards, the game ends. The player who has the two cards wins the game and the other players are left to be eaten.
- If all the players die, the game ends. Players add together the Points of Death values on each of their collected Zombie cards. The player with the most points wins the game.
Cooperative Game Variant
The cooperative game variant allows players to put their survivors back to back. This essentially blocks any possible zombie attack from the rear as long as a survivor is protecting it. Survivors share a direction, however. For example, one survivor’s left side is the other survivor’s right side, because they are back to back. Zombies act a bit differently, too, but only when a survivor is overrun. When there is a gap left by a fallen survivor, the other survivors regroup and put themselves in a new position so they are covering as many directions as possible.
The game ends when all the survivors are overrun, all the zombies are killed, or the “Help” and “Rescue” card have been drawn and collected by any player. Note that 1 player need not have both to get rescued because everyone is working as a team.
Cooperative-Versus Game Variant
This game variant allows 1 or more players to work together (cooperative game variant rules) and attempt to get rescued before an opponent does (versus game variant rules).
To learn more about Zombi Final, visit the game’s web page on the Game Crafter.
I don’t believe we are going to have many Child Geeks available to us to play this game. The artwork has already made a number of the Parent Geeks raise their eyebrows. I’ll respect their wishes, of course, but I don’t personally see anything included in the cards that might upset my oldest Child Geek. I’m going to try the game with him.
As for the Parent Geeks, I don’t believe Zombi Final will get much love. Their tolerance for Horror games and Zombie games tend to be fickle and less than positive if they can’t play it with their Child Geeks. Zombi Final is also very much a Zombie game, which will turnoff a number of our non-gamer Parent Geeks.
The Gamer Geeks shouldn’t have any issues with the game’s theme or gory narrative, but will most likely reject the game based on how random it is. If the players were able to always decide what they wanted to do, I think Zombi Final would be pretty well received. Unfortunately, what a player can or cannot do on their turn is determined by a roll of the die. That’s really gong to irritate some of our Gamer Geeks.
Teaching Zombi Final is very simple. This is not a complicated game. Each turn is guided by what is rolled on the die. The most difficult portion of the game is simply managing the zombies. That’s not something you can’t teach, but you can provide several examples. Make sure you emphasis how fragile the survivors are and that some zombies take more than 1 hit to go down.
After teaching the game to my oldest Child Geek, I asked him his thoughts on Zombi Final so far.
“This reminds me of a much easier version of If I’m Going Down. I like games like this. Let’s play it as a team!” ~ Liam (age 9)
My oldest Child Geek is correct. Zombi Final is like If I’m Going Down, but Zombie Final is a simpler and more forgiving game. To put it another way, Zombi Final is like a soft pillow to the face, whereas If I’m Going Down is like a brick. Let’s play the game and see if its softer gentler side appeals to our players or they are put to sleep.
The only Child Geek that played the game was my son. All the other Parent Geeks passed on the game due to their belief that the artwork was not appropriate for their children. One Child Geek is not sufficient enough to determine the game’s overall and general appeal to the younger players, however. As such, the game remains untested from the Child Geek perspective. I am pleased to report that my little geek had fun playing the game. His favorite was the cooperative game variant and playing the game solo. According to him, “This is an easy game to figure out how to play, but you really got to watch what you do if you want to survive!” There were a number of times he had to leave the table out of pure frustration with the game and the uncooperative die.
The Parent Geeks didn’t much care for the game. The few Parent Geeks who were able to play it and who also enjoyed Horror and Zombie games thought it was “OK”, but mentioned very early on how much they disliked the constant dice rolling. According to one Parent Geek, “I didn’t like how many times I had to go back and refer to what the die results did and how the Survivor cards were to be used in the rules. The need to consult the rule book sort of ruined the game for me.” Now, to be fair, most players picked up and remembered what the die values meant pretty early on in the game. Again, Zombi Final is not an overly complicated game. Despite that, the game just never took off with the Parent Geeks. Another player in the group had this to say about the game, “I like what the game is doing, but not how it goes about it. I like how the zombies are random, but I don’t see any reason why my actions have to be random, too.” In the end, the Parent Geeks voted to reject the game.
Oddly enough, the Gamer Geeks were mixed when it came time to give their vote. Most of the votes fell where I thought they would, but the solo game variant made a positive impression on 2 out of the 4 Gamer Geeks who played the game. According to one of those Gamer Geeks, “The cooperative game variant is OK and the versus game variant is passable, but where I had the most fun was playing the game solo. It was fast, easy to play, and the random dice rolls worked perfectly for both the survivor and the zombies.” Honestly, I am surprised. I thought for certain that random actions would be a deal breaker, but not in this case.
I’ve played a lot of Zombie games and they all more or less have the same feel. Zombi Final isn’t bringing anything new to the table as far as the zombie survival theme and narrative goes. It does, however, have some interesting game mechanisms. Nothing ground breaking, but I did enjoy how the game flowed and how the cards attached to each other. I also liked how I could move the Zombie cards around, which not only bought me time, but also allowed me to create some great combos. Have you ever seen a line of zombies explode? It’s a beautiful sight.
I personally think Zombi Final is best experienced as a solitaire game. The cooperative and versus game variants were interesting, but the game’s overall appeal diminished when I was competing against others or working as a team. My oldest little geek really loved the cooperative and solo game variant. In the end, I’d say Zombi Final does a pretty good job of doing what it set out to do. It’s got some rough edges and a bit too much randomness and luck for my taste, but it was enjoyed at our gaming table more times than not.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.