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Dueling Memes: A Review of ‘Aliens vs. Zombies’

Aliens vs. ZombiesGame Name: Aliens vs. Zombies

Publisher: Victory Point Games

Designer: Chris Taylor

Year: 2013

Players: Two

Ages: 10+

Playing Time: 45 minutes

Retail Price:  $19.95 for the boxed edition

Category:  Light science fiction wargame

 

 

Contents:

  • 8-page rule booklet
  • 8 ½” x 11” paper game map and another identical 8 ½” x 11” jigsaw cut map cardstock map
  • 96 game pieces
  • 6, six-sided dice
  • 1 napkin
  • 2 small baggies (to store the game pieces)

Aliens vs Zombies? Hmmm…Zombie games are plentiful these days, especially with the success of AMC’s Walking Dead series and alien games are popular as well but you don’t see too many games (if any…) where space invaders go toe-to-toe with the shambling undead.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at this game and see what it’s all about.

The release comes in a 9 ¼” x 6” x 1 5/8” box. Being a road warrior, the first thing I thought was how I could easily put this game in an overnight bag or luggage and enjoy a game when I’m sitting in a hotel room. With summer vacations rapidly approaching, this size makes for easy portability on those trips. Likely, VPG put some thought into the portability of their games and I like that. As you can see from the images, the box artwork contains fun, cartoon-like aliens and a menacing horde of zombies. At this point, I’m still not sure what to make of the theme though. Is it more horror or is it more light hearted fun?

AvZ_countersInside the box is a sheet of game pieces. These game pieces were printed on heavy duty, 3mm thick cardstock! Right away, I’m impressed with that. You might lose these pieces but you’ll never inadvertently bend or fold them. The game pieces follow the box artwork. The aliens look like something you’d see in a cartoon and the zombies look a bit more grim. Maybe they’d be seen in a darker, grittier cartoon, I suppose. After I separate the pre-cut game pieces, I notice my fingers are a little dark from ink-dust.  Now, I know what the included napkin was for. When I saw the napkin in the box, I figured it was to put my coffee or other beverage on but now it makes sense.

The game comes with two identical game maps. One is printed on heavy paper and the other is printed on the same thick stock as the game pieces. The board version comes in three jigsaw puzzle type pieces and this makes sense, allowing the cardboard version to fit in the same box since it can’t be folded like the heavy paper version of the game map. Both also contain a cheat sheet at the bottom to keep you on track of how the game is run. The game map itself looks like an aerial view of a city under siege. Most of the buildings are on fire and it appears this might be the downtown area of the city.

Before we begin, I think we should probably briefly mention the types of zombie and alien units.  On the zombie side, we have rotting zombies, rotting zombie mops, fast zombies, fast zombie mobs, tough zombies, and tough zombie mobs.  On the alien side, we have troopers, UFOs, tanks, leaders, one mutant, and one BFAR (battle faction armored robot).

The rules aren’t complicated but you’ll definitely have to play at least one game to get the flow of the game down; casually browsing the rules just won’t cut it. Essentially, it goes like this:

Determine which player will be the zombies and which player will be the aliens. Put all ten event tiles face down, mix them up a bit and discard two of them. Put all the zombies in “the grave”. The rules suggest using a coffee cup (empty the coffee first!) although any container will do. Randomly select 15 zombies from “the grave” and place them on the map. You can put up to three zombie counters in one location. Meanwhile, the alien player creates three groups of aliens. Each group contains a trooper, a UFO, and a tank. After the zombie player puts down his zombies, the alien player puts down his three groups on the map where there are no other counters. The game runs eight turns and each turn is made up of the following phases:

AVZ_map1. The zombie player selects and turns over one event tile. Each event tile will have a number on it. The zombie player reaches into “the grave” and randomly pulls out that many zombie counters. These zombies are placed on the dirt lots noted on the map or on the outside edges of the game map. At this point, the event tile is played. Besides noting how many zombies get placed on the map, each event tile has one of six actions which may take place. These actions include wiping out aliens or zombies en masse, immobilizing land based aliens, spawning additional zombies, or the introduction of a high powered alien unit.

2. The alien player rolls 1d6, adding 1 to the result. The alien player then selects aliens of this combat strength or less to place on the map. As an example, troopers have a combat strength of 1 and UFOs have a combat strength of 2.

3. The alien player now gets to perform an action. Each alien can make a full move, move one space and take a normal attack, or not move and complete a special attack.

4. Finally, the zombie player takes their turn. Each zombie can also make a full move, move one space and take a normal attack, or not move and complete a special attack.

To resolve attacks the attacking player rolls an attack die (or dice) and the defending player rolls a save die (or dice). Any hits over the save rolls are counted and casualties are removed from play. Zombies are put in a “dead pile”…or I guess you can call it an “extra dead pile”. Dead aliens are put in a reserve pile.

When the last event counter is played, and all phase actions are resolved, the game is over. The winner is determined by the number of zombie casualties. The zombie player wins if they sustain 20 or fewer casualties, a stalemate occurs if there were 21-25 zombie casualties, and the alien player wins if there were 26 or more zombie casualties.

Overall, Zombies vs. Aliens isn’t a bad game. It’s an interesting concept and not difficult to play once I thoroughly read through the rules. VPG was very thorough in the extras included like the extra map, the napkin to clean the counters, and even the two baggies to store the game pieces. The art is so-so; not bad but nothing which really stands out. The game is probably a good one to take and play on a summer trip, or overnight business, but I’m not sure you’ll come back to it again and again once you’re home.

TGG SCORE - 6.5

6.5

Overall, Zombies vs. Aliens isn’t a bad game. It’s an interesting concept and not difficult to play once I thoroughly read through the rules.

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David Hinojosa

David first learned about roleplaying games in junior high when he heard some kids talking about this new game they were playing. His curiosity got the best of him and he bought the blue Dungeons and Dragons box set at his local hobby store.

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One Comment

  1. Actually David, I believe the residue is from the laser cutting method VPG uses. I use an old towel to clean the counters since, if you don’t, you’ll find your hands will get fairly dirty the first few times you play a title if you don’t.

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