VPG company (Victory Point Games) is particularly known for their characteristic red box with colorful paper hose working as a drawer and their laser-cut jacket tokens, which were not made of cardboard, rather than wood. Included is always also a napkin, which is used to clean the components, because the laser cardboard may soil a little.
We can not imagine a better company, which should take production of a zombie game, than just VPG. Why? At the moment, when you first open the box, you get a scent of authentic stench of decay. Well, its actually laser burns, but it does not matter. VPG games simply are somewhat different, but this definitely does not detract from their attractiveness.
We already have another version of Dawn of the Zeds game. This one is from 2011, while the second one (we will be reviewing today) was published two years later and currently is also third version in preparation. New version is supported by the fans on Kickstarter and compared to previous versions, on top of solitaire it should offer also full-fledged game for up to 4 players. Author of all incarnations is Luttmann Hermann, who has enough experience in wargame genre. We’re telling you this is a wargame? Yep, wargame with zombies.
You will be defending town of Farmingdale in this game, where a few brave heroes are trying to master plight. Aim is to bring all survivors into the city and, of course, prevent zombie plague, that brought humanity to its knees. You will not only have to fight off hordes of enemies, who never for a moment cease to roll into your town, but you also must develop an antidote in the lab, while addressing about a million other dreary situations.
Game at first glance seems somewhat complicated. The culprit is a game board, that resembles deviated pizza and rules on the level of university script. But when scouring through pretty box, you will find a separate tutorial, that can be played basically at that moment. To get at least some idea of how the game is played, you can read the rules, that describe basic and advanced finesse. Overall, you also have the option to play the tutorial and classic scenario of the previous game and new Walking Zeds scenario, that can be played in three variants: short game, medium and campaign.
All possible variations of the game have a beating heart in the same place: event deck. At the beginning of each round, you turn top card and gradually resolve everything on it. The more advanced scenario you play, the more the game will blossom and the more things you have to deal with. For example, in your first game, you do not even have to think about healing your units, you will spend one action and behold – your heroes will shrug and all bruises are gone. In more advanced games, this won’t be nearly so simple. You will have to deal with the hospital, which must have appropriate staff and of course, you must have some experience with the infection, so you need to invest in research and everything will cost time. Exactly that time, which you have so little to spare. And the result will also always be uncertain.
But let’s go back to the beginning. In the middle of the playing area is the town Farmindgale. Several paths for walking undead lead to it. On these routes is a number of locations. In smaller villages, civilians are hiding and waiting for you to take care of them. And you definitely should, not only because it is the goal of the game, but also zombie-infested villages are hotbeds of destruction. The need to be cleaned, cleaned and cleaned.
Based on event cards, zombies will move towards the city and then you have a chance to respond. It is safest to shoot, but you do need weapons. You have some at start, but soon you will need to search locations to find the much needed ammunition. If you decide to fight zombies with machetes, cutlasses and shovels, be aware that your infection level will grow faster and it will get back to you in the next rounds in the form of an even larger infestation of zombies. Extra cards with more and more themed events and especially advanced scenarios have truly cinematic feel.
Yet, you do not have quite as many options to do in your turn and some action start to repeat itself after a few games. Do you have enough resources? Fine, brace the doors and windows and try to survive. Do you have a good shooter in your team? Provide him, if possible, with enough ammunition to be able to clean the game board. And so on. With most events, you will be rolling the dice and so you need not only good planning, but also a bit of luck.
Combat system is centered around two tables, where you will always compare power of units and outcome of roll of the dice. There is nothing complicated about that, and after a while, laws of combat will be transferred into your blood without any problems.
We are still a little puzzled about game time. Reportedly, there are people, who are able to finish full game within 90 minutes, but we never succeeded to fit under three hours. Truth: continuous scrolling in the rules to ease the plight took too much time and without it, we could probably get down a little, but 90 minutes? It probably never will happen.
Game rewards all lovers of the topic, who is not afraid of complex rules and has enough time to play it. Thanks to thematic cards, game is gaining great momentum and atmosphere exudes also from chewed tokens. It’s not game for constant repeated playing. After completing it, it will no longer be such a challenge, but it can be still recommended. Lovers of solitary wargames will surely be satisfied. Game is currently already very difficult to buy, but in a moment, there should be the third version available. And it should even bring a number of improvements and will certainly be worthy of your attention.
Solitaire card game for control freaks? Gameplay, where you prevent invasion of zombies? Well, we say yes. Wading through the rules is a game by itself, and if you start with the main scenario, it will eat your whole afternoon. But you'll have fun fighting off zombies. No doubt about it. But even this fun is little lacking, especially in the field of replayability. We'll see, how well will the forthcoming third edition of the game improve on these problems.