I love a good, spooky-themed game, and recently I got to try a great one! I had one of my favourite, funnest gaming experiences with Zombie Teenz Evolution the other day, so I’m just going to gush about it a bit.
ZTE is the follow-up to the similarly fun Zombie Kidz Evolution, which was billed to me as the first family legacy game. The two share very definite DNA. In fact, ZTE carries on the story of ZKE following the events of the first game. The public school had been saved, but right around the corner at the high school, the nightmare is just beginning!
The great appeal of this series is that the core mechanics of a round are extraordinarily simple. So simple, in fact, you probably wouldn’t often want to play the base game too often on its own. What makes these games so much darn fun, are the envelopes you get to open on a satisfyingly regular basis that: advance the story, add new rules, upgrade the challenges you’re facing, or provide you with some sort of bonus that will make your situation better.
In ZTE, the zombies have been driven back and have entered the sewers to attack from another angle. The Teenz have to leave the relative safety of their school to find supplies around the town. To win a round, you have to work together to move ingredient crates from the four locations on the corners of the board and get them back into the school. There’s Ketchup in the diner, Medicine in the hospital, Donuts in the police station and Popcorn in the arcade. Get those to the school in the centre of the board and you’ve won the round. However, you do have to deal with the advancing zombie horde. They emerge from the manholes on the board and advance towards their favoured location. Once they reach a building, it becomes overrun, and you’re getting very close to losing. If all four buildings get overrun, the zombies take home a victory.
The structure of turns are quite simple. You start by rolling the Zombie dice which either advances a horde if they’re on the board, adds a new horde emerging from a manhole, or forces you to reveal an Event card. Some of these events are good for you, like Taxi, which allows you to move your hero to any space on the board or Viva La Siesta, which pauses the zombies for a turn. Many Events are negative, like Invasion, which places all of the zombies on the board at once or Assault, which advances all zombies on sewer spaces.
After the die is resolved, you have two actions to spend with your hero. You can move, fight a zombie horde, removing them from the board, or you can transfer an ingredient case. Transferring can mean moving a case on to an adjacent player, or taking one from a player. In this way, you are able to move the cases towards the centre of the board. But no player can do it on their own. You have to work together to accomplish your goals.
If a zombie reaches a building (they all shamble towards the location they were most familiar with in life) it becomes overrun. The next time that horde advances they jump to the next available building that has not been overrun and well, overrun it. This can mean big bad trouble in a hurry. If the whole city is taken over, you’re cooked for the round. I’m not ashamed to say we lost a few games along the way. Y’know, omelettes…eggs.
Remember, this is a legacy game and win or lose you’re going to advance on the progress track on the back of the rulebook. It lets you know when you can open a new envelope. The more you win, the faster you progress. The rulebook also contains a number of missions you can try and complete during the game. Some of these are pretty easy, like just winning a game will earn you a trophy. Others can be surprisingly tough, like winning a game with no overrun buildings. Completing missions is worth it though, partially for the sweet sweet satisfaction you feel, and partially because it gets you closer to opening envelopes, which as I’ve been saying, is the REAL fun part of the game.
Here is where things get super exciting. I had an immense, joyful reaction when I opened Envelope #1. It was very smart of publisher Scorpion Masque to put in such a great prize so early. I was hooked after that!
Now, I don’t want to spoil any of this outstanding game. Suffice to say, that each envelope you open is a heck of a lot of fun. On a round I know I’ve completed some missions and there will be some new info to digest, I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be. A new rule? A new character? Will we unlock new missions? How is the story going to progress?
ZTE is the most fun i’ve had playing a game in a long time. Will I keep playing it after I’ve opened all the envelopes? Maybe not a lot, but by then I will have had so much fun with the rounds I did play, and will likely have gotten in 20+ rounds of a game that’s constantly evolving. How many other games can you say that about? Definitely, definitely try this game. You’ll be hooked.
A media copy of Zombie Teenz: Evolution was provided for this article.
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