Cardboard Children: City Of Horror

By Robert Florence on October 21st, 2012 at 1:06 pm.


Hello youse.

There are a lot of zombie themed board games. Let’s be honest – everything has a zombie theme these days. Films, TV shows, lipstick – zombies are everywhere. But the greatest zombie board game of all time was Mall of Horror. I’ve told you about it before. I made a little video about it. I love it. But it’s long out of print, and very difficult to find.

Now, City of Horror comes along. Where Mall of Horror was the low budget, cool, indie zombie masterpiece, City of Horror is the big budget remake. Everything is bigger, everything is slicker, and remarkably EVERYTHING IS BETTER. This game is my darling Mall of Horror with the niggles fixed and the action ramped up to the maximum. If you buy any board game this year, it must be this. Let’s chat a little bit about it.

CITY OF HORROR

In City of Horror, up to 6 players try to lead survivors through a zombie-ridden city in the four hour wait for the rescue helicopters to arrive. Each survivor is unique, with its own power and points value, and each player will look after a few of them.

The game plays incredibly simply. In the city there are six locations. There’s a Water Tower, a Hospital, an Armory, a Church, a Bank, and the Crossroads in the middle of the board where there is no shelter from zombie attack. Each turn plays like this:

1. If any characters are on the Water Tower the controlling players can check the next zombie invasion card, to see where the zombies will appear on the board. A massive advantage.
2. Each player will select one movement card from their hand, and all will reveal simultaneously. These movement cards display locations on them. If you want to move a character into the bank, choose the Bank card.
3. Zombies invade. There are four cards, each representing an hour that has passed in this terrible night. Each of these cards will instruct on where to place zombies, and where to place dropped supplies like antidotes and action cards.
4. Movement. Players now carry out their movement, in player order. If you chose Bank, move one of your characters to the Bank. If the Bank is full (each location can only hold so many characters) your character gets bumped to the Crossroads. The character is out in the streets!
5. Resolve locations – here’s where the game explodes into life. For each location, there is an ability. Every player who has a character in the location can use that ability. For example, in the Hospital a player can discard an action card to take an antidote. Antidotes are VITAL. Any character without one ain’t getting on no chopper. Then, the location is checked to see if zombies manage to break in. The Hospital doors will be breached if ever there are more zombies at the location than players. If the zombies come through, someone is getting eaten. But who?

THE VOTE

City of Horror is all about the Vote. Oh man, this Vote.

Every character in the building is one vote for that character’s controlling player. If Purple has two characters in there, and Yellow has one, and Green another, that’s two votes for Purple and one each for the other two. Everyone votes to decide which character gets flung to the zombies. The negotiations begin. The bargaining and pleading. The begging. The fighting. Further intensifying the vote is the fact that in the case of a tie, the First Player decides who dies, even if they’re not in the building. This spreads the negotiations out across the table. Like a virus, soon everyone is shouting and growing red as they argue and make deals.

“Okay, listen – if you two agree to vote against her, then I’ll break the tie and fling her out. But I want an antidote from one of you, and you have to promise that when it comes to the Bank, you won’t fling me out.”

“Yeah, but listen – if you don’t vote against him, if you DON’T, then when we get to the Church I will hammer you out of that door so fast-”

“SHHH! Stop trying to manipulate the – You aren’t even involved in this!”

“Why am I not involved?! He has four antidotes and four characters alive! He needs pinned back. He needs-”

“I’m on the Water Tower. If you vote against her, I’ll tell you where the zombies are coming to in the next turn.”

“If you are all voting against me, I’ll just kill the zombies.”

“Enjoying yourself on that water tower?”

Let’s talk about the ACTION CARDS now.

Every player starts with a hand of action cards, and can get more throughout the game. These cards let you do lots of cool stuff. You might have a shotgun that can kill two zombies. This means you can negotiate some serious deals for yourself, and protect yourself from attack. You might have the card that lets you put a gun to the head of one of your opponent’s characters and steal their vote. (That card is brutal. It raises HELL at the table.) You might have the card that sends a little white cat out onto the streets, leading the zombies away from one building to gather at another at random. Risky, and exciting. All the cards are beautifully thematic, and heighten the drama of the game.

The character powers, too, are great. Take the Pregnant Woman, for example. If you use her power she gives birth, and is worth two votes. The Priest has the power to cancel a character’s movement with his religious wrath. The Businesswoman is super-organised and can check the Action Card discard pile for something to use. Whenever you use a character power, the character is worth less points – so it’s always a big decision. The ideal scenario is keeping all your characters alive, finding an antidote for each, and never using a power.

What else? At the Crossroads you can search an overturned food truck for cans of food that are worth points at the end of the game. You take one at random though, so it could be an empty or spoiled tin. Agonising. (In the last game I played, a player made a deal with me and gave me an empty food can. I was LIVID, but kept quiet because I wanted to trade it on to some other idiot.) Also, at the Crossroads the zombies will always attack if any are present. And there is no vote to decide who dies. At the Crossroads, the zombies decide. There is a Zombie Leader there who shows interest in eating different players at different points of the game. You can manipulate him too, though. In this game, you can manipulate EVERYTHING.

And then there’s that Water Tower. Every time you use anything explosive to destroy some zombies, you need to place a fire token on either the Armory or the Water Tower. If enough fire tokens build up on these places, they go KABOOM. Spectacularly, if the Water Tower goes, every character and zombie near it dies too. It exists on the board as a physical raised platform. Knocking it over is a blockbuster movie moment, a game-changer.

At the end of the fourth hour, the chopper arrives. All characters with an antidote get in. The points are tallied – character values, extra antidotes, points from cards and food cans. The player with the most points wins, and is hated.

IN CLOSING

In closing, this will most likely be my game of the year. It is one of my favourite games of all time, refined and cleaned up, and laid out on a giant board. While a part of me misses the cool, indie look of the original game, the sheer spectacle of this thing wins you over in no time.

The game amazes me. Seriously. Only Cosmic Encounter comes close in terms of player interaction, but even the mighty Cosmic isn’t so brutal and tense and dramatic. You are involved in every action of the game. If a player moves to the Bank, that might lock you out. If they kill those zombies, that might bring down your Water Tower. If they vote to fling your character out to its death, you might lose a vital power you needed. Alliances are made and broken in the blink of an eye. No deal needs to be adhered to. You can take an antidote from someone, promising that you will back their cause in a vote, and then hurl them into the arms of the zombies. The game is heated from start to finish.

Understand this – each turn of this game is like an act in a four act play. The best bit of zombie theatre ever written. To put it simply, with the right group – a group of players who are happy to hate each other for a couple of violent hours – this might just be the best board game ever made.

It certainly has my vote.

, .

34 Comments »

  1. pakoito says:

    What Would James Purefoy Vote?

  2. Shadowcat says:

    That was a good read. The best CC in ages, in fact — a nice mix of game mechanics and player experience, and really focused on the game. More like this please? :)

  3. dubatc says:

    AArgh, 3 people, I need another person right now, just got back from Essen last night and this is my highlight but there are only two of us at home right now, this game is so amazing, the production values are a sight to behold and I managed to get the bonus lawnmower weapon card.
    Rab thanks for introducing me to this wonderful pastime/obsession.
    Now what to do with Suburbia, king of tokyo, copycat, kingdom builder, the resistance, castles of burgundy- i need a bigger house Rab.

    • President Weasel says:

      I played it in Essen too! It’s rather good, like Mall of Horror without the broken win-machine security room.
      In our game I used the little girl’s “hide” skill to force the old lady to get eaten instead at the water tower, and this irked the old lady’s player enough that he used a firebomb on some other zombies, which blew up the water tower and the little girl as collateral damage. Fun times.
      Been a few years since I’d been to Essen- I was surprised to find the dining room at the Ibis hotel stayed full of people playing games on all the tables until past one in the morning.

  4. Nyogtha says:

    Oh noooo, something else to buy that I can’t play because my gaming group drifted apart ( something about responsibilities, or some such nonesense). If anyone in the wonderful county of South Yorkshire, specifically the lovely town of Baaaaarnsley or there abouts, is in a similar situ and looking for players (other than the handful of homeless people I lured into the cellar) you can give Mr C Chaos on steam a shout to help me get thru a towering backlog of cardboard and plastic. ;O)

  5. McDan says:

    Almost shaking in excitement as I read that. I definitely need that game. After the hate and paranoia filled hours from Panic station this sounds like the next excellent addition to our house’s boardgame fun. Oh the many brilliant times we’ve had.

  6. Synesthesia says:

    It sounds fantastic, and i am definitely going to get it as soon as it gets to argentina -sigh-; but i cannot get past the horrible new artwork. What were they thinking? It was so unbelievable spot on on the previous version. Never seen cards as cool as the polaroid ones.

  7. Reapy says:

    Fuck. You will never allow me to clear off my boardgame wishlist, will you? ;)

  8. GrimDestruction says:

    Has this game been released yet?

  9. Slinkyboy says:

    All my friends wanna do is Yugioh and Magic, but Board games are too cool for them .(

    If they had single player versions of these games with the same fun factor, I’d be all over board games.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Don’t Lose heart. There has been a revolution amongst my friends. Game of Thrones the Board Game is the gateway drug. Now they can’t get enough of it and we’re meeting to play all the time.

      • AngrySasquatch says:

        Game of Thrones is a good game, but a gateway game? I’d advise you introduce people to boardgames with something that doesn’t take 4+ hours the first time you play.

        • Aedrill says:

          That’s true. I’d recommend either Descent 2nd ed. or Lord of the Rings the Card Game. Both require cooperation, so people new to board games don’t feel lost since they can always receive help from other players, they’re both about adventure, not gathering victory points and they keep this nice balance between challenge and fun (until you try doing lvl 7 adventures in LotR… *shudder*).

          If your friends are somehow familiar with card games and they don’t mind something slightly more competitive, Summoner Wars is an amazing choice. You’ll spend about 7 minutes explaining the rules and then you can start having fun. The biggest drawback is that it’s two players game unless you’ve got second board.

          I managed to get a game called Mona Lisa on car boot sale one day, and it’s surprisingly good. There’s a lot of guessing other people’s intentions which generates more tension than you might think. It’s certainly lightweight, casual, you might say but still quite fun. My biggest problem with the game is that it’s too random. I usually end up with board looking exactly like I want, having most valuable cards with me, and losing, because of the random factor. That’s not good design. Still, if your family is visiting or you’re meeting with some not playing friends, it’s quite alright, because it’s not theme heavy, and it shows that board games can be different than Monopoly and still fun.

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      Shaid says:

      Buy Mage Knight. It’s possibly better solo than with other players.

  10. Aedrill says:

    No. This game sounds so off-putting that it hurts. Firstly, it’s about zombies. Zombies are shit, we must finally get over zombies, for our own good. The only zombie based thing I tolerate is DayZ, and I like it DESPITE zeds, I’d rather play this game with wild animals or something. Sure, this is extremely subjective argument so you don’t have to agree, I’m fine with that.

    Secondly, the skills… Pregnant woman giving birth which gives her two votes? You’d kill her with your own hands after 15 minutes, when she started screaming in fear that she might attract zombies. And priest? He’s stopping people from getting to places by means of RELIGIOUS WRATH? Seriously? How is he doing that? Threatening with excommunication? Using God’s power? Shouldn’t he use it to, you know, get rid of fucking zombies? And business woman is just dumb, not as stupid as priest but still dumb.

    But all of this is nothing compared to the biggest problem I’ve got with this game. Thing is, the idea is great. I love this voting system, it sounds really amazing, if done well (and it most probably is). I could forget about tedious zombie theme, and try to ignore stupidity of some character’s powers just to have some fun with this voting system. But points? Really? I’m in the middle of the Apocalypse, the world is ending, civilization goes down, nothing will be the same any more. I have to steal, lie and even murder innocent people to survive just one more hour, waiting for the chopper which might save me but who knows what’s next? Will I ever be safe?

    And in the middle of all of this, of all this drama, tension, I have to count fucking points, to see if I SURVIVED ENOUGH. I don’t want to fight for points, I want to fight for life! If I managed to get to the chopper and I’ve got the antidote with me, I’m good, nothing else matters. It’s a zombie outbreak, it’s not like you’re gonna write a book about it and make a fortune. You can’t WIN zombie apocalypse, and you definitely can’t score points during one.

    /rant

    I’d love to play a game with this voting system, but please, let me believe, just for a moment, that I’m voting for my life, not some victory points, because it kills the tension.

    • drinniol says:

      If you’re looking for something with a more, for want of a better term, ‘serious’ theme then maybe Flying Frog’s Last Night on Earth or it’s alien equivalent would be worth your time. 1-4 Human player(s) vs 1-2 Zombie player(s), and the only way to win as the survivors is survive. They have the odds stacked against them to start with and it escalates, the risk/reward balance is excellent, the different game types are great.

      With a little imagination you could house rule a voting system similar to City of Horror.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      I’m having trouble with your main complaint. I’ve read the summary twice and nowhere does it say that you are fighting/voting over points that I can figure out. It’s absolutely everything that you said you wanted – people are fighting for their survival. If you lose votes, there are situations where that can get you very killed. I don’t know how much clearer the statement “Everyone votes to decide which character gets flung to the zombies” could be.

      On top of that, there’s some accounting at the end where each person gets a bunch of points based on how they did (if they survived). It’s not uncommon at all for games to have a scoring system even when scoring isn’t necessarily the focus. Space Alert has one, for example, but in that game you are basically happy if you survive. It’s just a simple way of judging your effort against others.

      In the above review there’s exactly two sentences written about the points: “The points are tallied – character values, extra antidotes, points from cards and food cans. The player with the most points wins, and is hated.” From the way you were ranting, you’d think it’s the entire game, when it’s clearly not. It’s just the stats screen at the end of Civilisation or XCOM that chucks a few numbers at you.

      Basically, I think you got the wrong end of the stick.

      • Rab says:

        Yeah, this is a weird rant. This game creates more actual stories than 99% of other board games. It’s all about survival, and the points are purely there to heighten the fight over certain characters.

        Also, in NO WAY is Last Night On Earth a more serious take on this theme. It’s campy and silly. It’s nowhere even close to being the savage and brutal game that City of Horror is. It’s a fun ride, but it’s not in any way serious.

        • Aedrill says:

          I already replied to this post, it’s few posts below, I’ll just add few thoughts here.

          What’s worth noting is that I didn’t play this game. I based my post on your review only. It is entirely possible that this game will steal my heart and I will forget to feed my children. It’s unlikely, but possible. It’s just I won’t buy it before I have a chance to play it (which is, unfortunately, very unlikely).

          I still think that this game would be SO much better if you could have only one winner, only one player who is considered a survivor, it would bring much more tension to the game. It still would be about zombies and women in flash labors and priests shouting at people to stop them from walking but I would forgive all of this silliness, just to have a go with this voting system.

          • SurprisedMan says:

            You still seem to be missing the essential point that according to Rab (whose account is the only one you have), the voting actually does matter, and is more or less completely about survival. You can keep saying it isn’t, but you’re arguing against an imaginary version of the game. It could be that the point system completely ruins the game (I haven’t played it either so I can’t rule out the possibility) but you have to grant that:

            a) the one person in this conversation who has played it insists that they don’t ruin the game
            b) He barely even mentions the points system in the first place, mainly talking about how important the voting in the game is, and that it’s all about survival.

            Here’s an example of how you’re constructing an imaginary version of the game in your head – and I don’t mean to be snarky when I say that. In your latest reply you said: “I still think that this game would be SO much better if you could have only one winner, only one player who is considered a survivor, it would bring much more tension to the game.”

            How can you possibly know that when this is all you’ve read? I mean, it’s a fairly short summary of the game, almost certainly leaving out a lot of subtleties and surely no substitute for actually playing it. I’m not saying you can’t make certain inferences from it, but how, for example, do you know that there aren’t some aspects of the game that just wouldn’t work at all if there had to be only one survivor? Maybe a one-survivor game would need some major changes in the rules and structure of the game, but then you’re getting to the point of just wanting to throw the game out and start again.

            Maybe you’re saying the fact that it’s possible for more than one person to survive is SUCH a point against the game that it’d be better if they completely changed the game to support a one survivor only model, but I don’t think that’s a very useful discussion to be having. And I also think THAT’S something which is impossible to assert without a more detailed picture of how this version works.

            (aside: it wouldn’t at all surprise me if they tried a one-survivor-only model when they were early-prototyping the game, but they ran into various problems that lead towards what’s there now. That sort of thing is very common)

            Of course, it’s fine to raise concerns – but my issue is that this concern appears to be based on pre-conceptions about how the game plays that the original article up there doesn’t really support. Maybe they’re correct concerns – I have to concede that having not played the game either, but at the moment they seem weird based on what’s written up there.

          • Aedrill says:

            OK, I think I understand where you’re coming from and I know what causes this confusion. Let me give you an example.

            Let’s assume you’ve never played FarmVille (and I really hope you haven’t. It’s shit.) and I’m writing a review. In this review I’m explaining all of the features, describing, how the game plays, and so on. Everything written down, step by step. When you read it you think “Well, I don’t like this idea, it sounds quite shit.”. And then, at the end of my review you read: “I really loved playing FarmVille, it made me feel like a real farmer, spending my time on hard but rewarding work.”. At this point you’re thinking “WTF?” and if you’re one of the Internet’s nutjobs you conclude that I must have been bribed by Zynga. If you’re normal human being however, you decide that you simply perceive all of this stuff described in the review in a completely different way than the author of the review. Basically, everything in there is true, you just don’t agree with the author about the conclusion – and here’s the key part – based on what you learned from the article. It is still entirely possible that if you give it a try, you’ll love it. Maybe there is something to this game that’s really charming, and I simply failed to communicate it. It is possible, but highly unlikely. Is it worth a shot? Maybe, but you don’t have all the time in the world, so you have to prioritize.

            That’s why I’m not gonna change my mind until I have a chance to actually play this game. Just because Rab said it’s fun, doesn’t mean it’s fun for me. I used all the information he chose to give me, and generated my own opinion – even though there are some ideas in this game that I love, I don’t want to risk spending money and time on a game that is very likely to miss my taste.

            “aside: it wouldn’t at all surprise me if they tried a one-survivor-only model when they were early-prototyping the game, but they ran into various problems that lead towards what’s there now. That sort of thing is very common”

            Yes, I thought about it too. Fistly, it’s not my problem, I’m not a designer, I’m a potential customer. Secondly, I believe it would be possible to determine the winner without using shortcuts like points without breaking the game totally. You might have to redesign it here and there, but not necessarily from the scratch.

            @PresidentWeasel
            OK, points for certain characters are fine, they’re good for balance, and they make sense in the “lore”. It is a much bigger achievement to survive when you’re somehow handicapped. But points for hoarding stuff are stupid. Sure, it gives you this risk-reward factor, but it’s a shortcut. It can be done without points, it’s just slightly more difficult to create and balance. I’ll use aGoT as an example again – there is no artificial, point based risk-reward mechanism in this game, everything fits the “feel” of the game. If you’re taking a lot of castles, there is no penalty for that in rules. Instead, you can be sure that people will gang up on you, and you won’t have enough troops to protect all your estate and within very few turns you’ll find yourself making really tough calls. On top of that, most castles are quite useless resource wise, so you need to make a choice – do I go after power, supply, or VP/bigger army? And this VP part is completely unimportant to you until you actually see the chance to win the game.
            And it’s the same with every part of this game – every decision you make lets you gain some advantage while leaving you vulnerable in different field, so you don’t think in “Points” and “Mechanics” but in “Castles”, “Resources”, “Politics”, and so on. Yeah, you guessed it, I kind of like A Game of Thrones.

            I have to admit that you eased my mind a bit, and if I ever get the chance to play CoH, I’ll do it and then I’ll think about buying it. Who knows, maybe I will forget about dumb skills and shitty points while fighting for those precious votes? Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in Leicester who’s likely to get this game so I could try it. But who knows…

          • SurprisedMan says:

            The problem with this is that this account WASN’T an step by step account of how the game plays. You describe it as if I could sit down and play the game without help now, but no, after reading this I’d definitely want to go through the actual rules. You say you’re not a designer but I -do- have some game design experience and I know for a fact that certain design decisions don’t necessarily make sense at first glance but will make perfect sense when you discover their function through play or a better understanding of the rules. What we have here is a basic account of the general flow of play and a lot of talk about how it feels, and so I still don’t see any decent explanation for why you’ve decided to pay undue attention to the two short sentences Rab devoted to the scoring mechanic which at best seem to be an afterthought. Particularly when the entire rest of the piece seems desperate to convey to you that this really IS a very tense game.

            I understand your point about same facts, different conclusions etc, but it just seems very strange to me that you would weigh two sentences that strongly against all the other points which take pains to point out how important the voting and the survival is in the game.

    • plugmonkey says:

      I really, really cannot understand this random, automatic, knee-jerk hatred some people have for anything involving a zombie scenario. I understand it’s a subjective opinion, and you are obviously well within your rights to like some scenarios and settings and dislike others, but when people dismiss things entirely out of hand for no other reason, it always seems a bit silly to me.

      I mean, I don’t particularly like modern war settings. I just don’t find anything particularly evocative about it. BUT, if someone tells me that there’s a great new game doing interesting, innovative and imaginative things with the scenario, I don’t immediately head for the nearest comments thread to cry “Not a modern war setting AGAIN! This game is automatically worthless!”.

      It completely baffles me. You don’t see it with anything else. There’s nobody dismissing Space Alert for being about spaceships. Or Game of Thrones for being about swords and dragons. Like we don’t have enough games about those already! Everything else – aliens, war, swords, sorcery, crime, spies, racing cars, martial arts etc. etc. – can be reused ad infinitum, but on every single comments thread about a new zombie game, there will always be someone who has a problem with it.

      Judge things on their merits, not on the fact that Call of Duty is very unimaginative. That’s a reason to dislike Call of Duty, not everything else.

      • Aedrill says:

        I’m not going to answer for other people, I’ll tell you about my opinion only. Firstly, it’s not random and it’s not knee-jerk. I don’t like zombies, because I find them boring and cheap. Sure, it is possible to make something great with them. Like I said earlier, I like DayZ (I still think it would be much better without zombies), I played Die2Nite for quite a while, and I stopped because of griefers and trolls, not zombies.

        Thing is, most of the zombie themed games are unimaginative. “Hey, let’s make a game in which you’ll have to avoid being eaten by a horde of undead!” Sounds familiar? That’s because almost every zombie game focuses on that. Meanwhile, DayZ and D2N focus on survival, scavenging, fighting for water and zombies are there only to make the rest more difficult, that’s why I like them.

        You’re giving aGoT and Space Alert as examples of themes commonly used in other games. Sure, the theme itself is nothing new, but what they do with it is extraordinary. There is no game like aGoT besides Diplomacy, and even that is very different. And AFAIK Space Alert is one of a kind.

        Zombies are boring, that’s what I think. They were boring to me since the very beginning, even before every other game/film were about them. Make me run from wild animals, other people, government, whatever! There’s so many options, don’t use lame, completely not scary and definitely overused zombies. If you make a remarkable game about it, I’ll play it, sure. I’ll still wish it was about something else but it won’t stop me from buying a good game.

        • plugmonkey says:

          Yeah, I’m rather muddling my point by replying personally to you, but also commenting to a general behaviour.

          What I mean is that while your opinion on zombie scenarios isn’t a knee-jerk, random thing, your applying it to this particular game, as your opening response, is. You haven’t stopped to find out if your usual zombie grievances apply or not, you’ve just lumped it in with the crowd regardless. (Ironically, in much the same way as I have done with you and the other zombie haters…)

          If it IS possible to make something great with them, why not start there? Why start with how all zombie games should be stopped? Why not save that response for the boring, cheap zombie games?

          Most of the zombie themed games ARE unimaginative. But then again, most of the war / space / fantasy themed games are unimaginative. Yet they don’t come in for the same blanket judgments, despite being used far, far, far more often in games, films and TV. We discriminate between them.

          As a long-time fan of the genre, I can tell you I’m also thoroughly sick of boring and cheap implementations of zombie scenarios. After all, “kill as many zombies as you can” is most definitely NOT what the good zombie fiction is about. It’s all about the human interactions and the survivalism, not a frag fest.

          This is why I find it odd that, just when games like this, DayZ, Project Zomboid, Dead State, State of Decay and so on are starting to explore the interesting things about the scenario, people are dismissing them. If you distinguish between good implementations and boring / cheap implementations of all other scenarios, why not this one? Why must we “finally get over zombies”? Why shouldn’t we just stop making shit games about them, and make good ones instead? Like the two you mentioned, and this one right here.

          (Also, if every other game is about zombies, you start naming zombie games, and I’ll start naming war / fantasy / sci-fi games and we’ll see who runs out first…)

          • Aedrill says:

            Well, “every other” is a figure of speech, I thought it was clear. Besides, if we do this contest assuming that you can name games only from the time when this “zombie boom” started, I’m not sure who’d win. And of course you’d have to pick one theme, no adding sci-fi to fantasy, one genre against one genre. Nevermind, I’m sure we both know what I meant.

            “Most of the zombie themed games ARE unimaginative. But then again, most of the war / space / fantasy themed games are unimaginative.”

            This is the key sentence for me. When I play unimaginative fantasy game (say, Descent 2nd ed. It’s been done so many times already I lost count. This time it’s just done very well, nothing more than that.) I’m having fun. It’s not the bast game I’ve ever had, but if it’s well designed, I’ll enjoy it. Let’s forget about board games for a moment, I’ll use mobile games as an example. Two games – ARPG Heroes Call and FPS Dead Trigger. They’re both pretty, well designed and F2P with all the drawbacks. And I can’t play DT, it’s just tedious, it feels like a really boring and pointless job. When I’m playing an FPS I want some tactical challenge, I want to be forced to make difficult decisions in extremely short time. I want to plan my actions and execute those plans against an opponent who fights back. What I don’t want is to shoot ducks that bite, even if there’s a lot of them. Especially, if there’s a lot of them.
            This fantasy exactly-the-same-as-too-many-other ARPG Heroes Call is far from being my Game of The Year. In fact, I barely play it, but that’s because there’s few more interesting games, puzzle games mostly. But I still have it, and I play it from time to time, if I want to relax a bit but don’t feel like doing anything intellectually engaging. It’s still quite dull, repetitive, and brings nothing to the genre, but at least it’s fun to play, it doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like popping bubble wrap.

            That’s why I dismiss zombies by default, and need to be convinced that “this game is, like, totally different!”, and I play only very, very specific zombie games (what’s worth noting is that in all of those games, zombies could be replaced by anything that moves and causes harm, and they would suffer nothing. Well, they’d have to change their names)

  11. Groove says:

    Is this game actually available anywhere or will it soon be available? I’ve searched online and nowhere seems to have a listing for it. Which is a shame, since the review made it look great.

  12. wodin says:

    Sounds great..if I knew anyone I could play it with..anyway Walking Dead season 3 episode 1 was superb..so that and the Walking Dead PC game will have to be my Zombie fix..oh and my Sister bought me the Walking Dead Comic Book that has the first 48 volumes 1 thousand odd pages….so waiting on that..

    • Groove says:

      If you love the Walking Dead tv series, then the books will make you shit your pants. Certainly that was my experience.

  13. Aedrill says:

    No, you’re not voting for points. Technically. But since each player controls more than one character and simply getting to the chopper with the antidote is not enough to win, you’re thinking about your characters as victory points. When people are voting to kill you you’re not thinking “Oh shit I won’t survive the apocalypse”, you’ll think “Damn, I’m gonna lose a lot of points”.

    What I’m trying to say is that if you want to make theme heavy, immersive (board)game you have to forget about VPs. Look at “aGoT” board game. Technically, castles are VPs but it’s not that simple. They’re everything you fight for, because they grant you huge bonuses in game, they’re vital for your survival and/or expansion, so losing them means much more than just losing a VP, it means that you just lost control over a piece of map, you won’t be able to recruit more units, perhaps you have some battle cards that are useful with castles, and so on. And this is great. You don’t think about castles as about VP even for a moment, you think of them as about castles.

    You gave the example of XCOM. There’s two types of stats you get from this game – one after single mission, and one after beating the game. The latter, I don’t give a single shit about because I just protected mankind from the alien invasion, I don’t care if it was done beautifully, or efficiently. Sure, people died, sometimes because I couldn’t do anything about it, and sometimes I was the reason. What’s important is that we won, we’re safe now. There is no score for survival, it’s a zero sum game, you survive, or you don’t. However the stats you get after the single mission, they’re different. They’re significant, because they mean a lot. How many people were killed, how many aliens captured, and so on. All of this has direct influence over the rest of the game, so you’re doing your best to get as high score as possible during mission.

    Back on topic, you could say that I may ignore the points at the end of the City of Horror. Sure, I could. But that means that after the game is finished, there’s several people who consider themselves “winners” in a non-cooperative game. It’s not the end of the world but it’s a waste of potential, that’s all I’m saying. Give me a game with this voting system and ending that actually matters and I’ll be all over it. Even if it’s about zombies.

    EDIT:
    reply fail, should be to SurprisedMan

    • President Weasel says:

      Castles are victory points, but they’re not really victory points because they do a lot of other things during the game?

      In City of Horror, which unlike you I have actually played, characters are a lot more than victory points.
      For starters they all have unique abilities, and each one you lose is an ability you can no longer play. They also get votes – no player, no vote. Fewer votes, more chance of being thrown to the zombies.
      They also, crucially, block access to buildings as the buildings only have limited spaces inside. Oh, and they can pick up items if they’re in the right place and don’t get eaten.

      Perhaps you’ve just dug your heels in and decided you’re refusing to like this game and it doesn’t matter what anyone says now. If not, perhaps it would help you if you considered the points for each surviving player as a difficulty weighting: some characters are inherently harder to keep alive long enough to get to the chopper than other characters, for example the old woman who cannot change location unless you use her one-shot power of “moving like the other characters can”.
      Someone who manages to keep the old woman and the screaming girl (drawback: attracts zombies to her location) alive has had more success than someone who has merely kept two characters with no drawbacks alive. It seems a little unfair that both players should merely get a “two points, congratulations on your draw”.
      It also seems fair that using the character’s special power costs you victory points, unless you go to the trouble of visiting the church and burning a card from your hand to recharge it – someone who has kept two characters alive without having to use up their power could probably be judged to have won “on a harder difficulty setting” than someone who had saved two characters but used their powers to do so.
      It also makes sense that someone who had the wherewithal to gather food and medicine during a zombie apocalypse is making a better fist of surviving than someone who only manages to escape in the clothes he’s standing up in. Hence, points.

      For the record, I saved one character, the thief, by burning a card at the church to recharge his pickpocket skill, immediately using the skill to pickpocket an opponent’s card, which turned out to be the shotgun card which was the only one that could possibly save me, and playing the card to thin the zombies at the church just enough that they didn’t attack that turn. I only got a couple of points, and came third behind guys who’d saved multiple characters and handfuls of medicine and food.

      I still felt like a winner, and had a grand time.

      • Aedrill says:

        I replied to you in the “proper” thread. Sorry for the confusion.

  14. Bioptic says:

    Whether this indicates a lack of emotional maturity or not, I just can’t play these sort of games with my friends – anything engineered to start arguments or fights!

    I have this tricky relationship with boardgames where I either struggle to engage with a particular ruleset, or get far too caught up with them and the concept of success/failure. The only boardgames that see regular successful play in my group are either co-operative or ‘mental chewing gum’ – engaging enough to be making regular decisions, but without each decision being so significant that it can completely screw things up. Ones you can have an unrelated conversation over, rather than spending all of your time in Analysis Paralysis – something I’m very guilty of, since I both hate making poor logical choices and being rushed.

    It irritates, because I can see I’m missing out on some wonderful narrative experiences – but I suppose it stems from the same root as not wanting to try Dark Souls or ‘Ironman’ X-COM. I want my free time and social experiences to be as stress-free as possible, since I get enough of that outside them!