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Man the barricades!

December 16, 2013

So, City of Zombies has arrived. I know I’ve posted about this a couple of times already, but I figure I’d like to flag it up one more time.

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A nice, shiny box full of zombies.

To recap, this is a cooperative dice rolling game which requires players to add, subtract, multiply and do other arithmetical acrobatics with the numbers on three dice in order to have results matching the numbers on zombie cards that steadily advance across the board. Match the number and you get rid of the zombie. So this is sort of an educational game, but it is a lot of fun. The creator set this up as a Kickstarter project but fundraising through that channel was going slowly, so he pulled the plug and managed to find alternate methods of funding an initial print run.

And now that print run is complete and Miss B and I have our very own copy of City of Zombies. Very nicely produced it is too. Being a small print run, you don’t get as much for your money as you might for some games from major manufacturers, but I am very happy with what we have here.

This blog isn’t really a review site and I generally just report on games as seen by Miss B and I without getting properly critical, but I feel that as I am cheerleading a bit for this project I should perhaps put in a few words about the shortcomings I can see with the game, so you can make an informed decision.

What I have mentioned before is that there isn’t a lot of game here, and no real strategic decisions to make. What you do is roll the dice, which effectively generates a puzzle to solve, so you find the best solution that you can to that puzzle, then it’s someone else’s turn. There are optional abilities for the heroes, which will give you some extra decisions to make, but it’s still really a game about small mathematical puzzles.

Possibly worse is that the game doesn’t scale gracefully. What I mean by that is that in other cooperative games, like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, the “bad things” that happen do so at a rate that is proportional to the number of players (in those examples, bad things happen once after each player’s turn). In City of Zombies, all players take a turn, then bad things happen, and those bad things are the same regardless of the number of players. As a result, a two player game will be significantly tougher than a four player game. The rules suggest ways to tweak difficulty, but you should be aware that this does not happen automatically.

With these caveats, though, I still think that if you want a fun activity to stealthily exercise the kids’ maths skills that doesn’t feel like that is what you are doing, this is well worth a look. It may even be fun as a filler for adults (particularly if you add in some of the nasty optional zombies). I’m delighted with our set now, and I’ll be enthusiastically showing it to other parents (I know one friend who has already bought one for her kids). Tt would be really great if ThinkNoodle Games can sell out of these and go on to produce more stuff, as Matt has some other projects on the go which sound good too. You can order a copy at their website.

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