Do you ever feel like you are missing a joke? That’s how I feel when I hear the title “Zombie Fried”. Is this a zombie restaurant game? One where you are frying things? No? Hmm…
Well, then is this a game where you fry zombies with giant lasers or something? Not that either? Uhhh… Is it a play on words? A pun perhaps? I don’t know, I just don’t get it. What Zombie Fried is is a game where you are trying to kill zombies in order to gain brain points. A game is played to a given number of brain points, and the first to reach that value is the winner. The game is silly and lighthearted, and reminds me a lot of Steve Jackson’s “Munchkin”, but with zombies.
The day before I left for Who’s Yer Con 2012, this game arrived on my door step. I ruffled through the cards briefly, but didn’t get much of a chance to look at it before I rushed out the door for a weekend of fun and gaming. However, while at the con I ran into the owner of INWAP games, and designer of Zombie Fried. He’s a really nice guy and we chatted for a while. He mentioned he was doing some demos of the game that weekend, and I wished him well, but politely refused. I like to learn a game from the printed rules, because that is how most people are going to learn the game (and I must say I found the rules easy to understand and quick to read). Even though I didn’t play his demo, some of my gaming group did, so I got some first hand feedback before I even got to break in my copy. Their response: It was fun, but the game took too long with a large group.
When I got back home and had recuperated from my weekend, we dove into my copy of the game. Heeding the advice of my game group we tried the game with a smaller group than they had in their game at the con. I believe they had played with at least six players, maybe more, so we tried the game out with four players and played on the “quick game” setting. This still resulted in a game that took nearly an hour, although I felt satisfied with it,I certainly wouldn’t want it to go much longer.
One of the things that seemed to slow down the game was the turn order. Players draw at the beginning of their turn. This is something that was almost immediately vilified by my players: they couldn’t plan their next turn while they were waiting, because they didn’t know what they might draw. They also couldn’t mess with each other very much, because they often had little or no cards in their hand. It was a unanimous decision that drawing back up to your hand size should be the last thing you do on your turn, not the first. However, I’m a stickler about no house rules while I am reviewing a game, so testing that theory would have to wait.
What else made the game take so long? Well, on your turn you are trying to kill zombies that are present on the table. You declare your intent to attack and then play cards that help you beat the chosen zombies value. If you exceed that value, you kill the zombie and take him as a trophy (and get the brain points). However, the game is riddled with cards that screw with your opponents. While I am all for “screw your neighbor” kinds of games, typically in this style of game you simply see the value that they are trying to beat increased (or your effective value decreased). So if the zombie had a value of 5, maybe they could make it a really hungry zombie by tacking on an additional 10 points. While there were cards that did this, there were an extremely large amount of cards in the deck that stopped the fight all together, making it impossible to take out the zombie that turn. When this happened, it seemed to zap away part of the fun, because a big part of the enjoyment is in the back and forth struggle between opponents. It also made the game a lot longer because stopping fights mean that no one gained brain points, and reaching a brain point total is the only way to end the game.
Despite these couple of down falls in the game’s design, there are some up sides too. For starters, I really liked the flavor text and art on the cards. The designer did an excellent job of keeping the game fun and light. However, if you are the kind of player who doesn’t take the time to read flavor text because “it doesn’t impact the game play”, then you might find yourself pretty disappointed. The games flavor is a huge selling point. One of my group of players never really seemed to stop and take the time to read the flavor on their cards, and it was a pretty stony, even dull, game. However, when people did take the time to read their cards, there was plenty of giggling.
The components of the game are really a mixed review, at least for now. The cards are a nice heavy card stock, and are wonderfully illustrated. INWAP has done a very nice job making this game look and feel like something that could have been published by one of the “big boys” in the gaming industry. I must give one small ding on quality because my copy of the game did not arrive in a box. It’s a small thing, but when you house as many games as I do, games in baggies are a pain. I don’t know for sure how these are being shipped to customers, but I hope a non-baggie solution has been reached. Certainly a solution will have to be reached before you can expect to find this on your FLGS’s shelf.
So this game was a mixed bag. The players who were a little more light hearted, and wanting a laugh, enjoyed the theme and flavor text on the cards. The players who were more concerned with mechanics and having a cut throat game were very “Meh?” on the game, but offered up small ways to improve the mechanics to make it more interesting to their liking. The one thing that both groups agreed on was that an hour game was plenty long, and any more than that was undesirable, so playing the game on its short game settings was crucial.
If you are the kind of gamer that enjoys more laughter and less seriousness in your games, I can recommend this one. However, you might have some struggle finding it. This is the product of an unsuccessful kickstarter. I do not know what the team at INWAP plan to do with this brain child now, but it stands to reason that if you want a copy, sending them an email might be the best thing to do now. You can contact the team over at INWAP by clicking here, and make sure to tell them that Game Paradise sent you!
Until next time, Happy Gaming!
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