Zombies are cool, and right now they are big business. TV shows, movies, merchandise, and games all seem to sell well when they have the zombie theme on them. However, I start to find it irritating when games simply have a zombie theme pasted on top of an otherwise un-zombie game. That is exactly what you find in ZombiePox.
The game play isn’t terrible, let me say that up front. This game is a cooperative game, with elements similar to Go. It’s also very simple by comparison to other cooperative games. Having an understanding of Go is only somewhat helpful though, because unlike Go where you are playing against an intelligent human being with some ideas about strategy, in ZombiePox you are playing against a deck of cards, which essentially places randomly.
|Designer||Zara Downs, Mary Flanagan, Max Seidman|
|Artist||Zara Downs, Ed Flanagan|
|Publisher||Mary Flanagan LLC, Tiltfactor|
|# of Players||1 - 4|
|Mfg Suggested Ages||12 and up|
|Category||Abstract Strategy, Educational, Medical, Zombies|
|Mechanic||Area Enclosure, Co-operative Play, Pattern Building|
So, I’ll talk about the pros of the game first. For one, it’s very quick to pick up. The average player only needs 1-2 minutes of explanation to fully get what is going on. Given that I teach people rules all day for a living, this is a beautiful thing. This ease of learning makes it strongly preferred over other co-op games which typically can take 10-20 minutes to explain, and often have a ton of follow up questions.
Secondly, I liked the components. The board is a roll out, rubber backed, mat. So there is no slipping and sliding, which is wonderful, and the “board” behaves more like a play mat, which makes the pieces easier to pick up and manipulate. There is also no warping, which can be a problem with some boards. They also gave players two plastic containers to keep the pieces in. I usually use baggies for this, but the little plastic bins were much more gamer friendly.
The cons, for me, are a little more numerous than the pros though. Firstly, the rules are slightly lacking. They are a very simple couple of pages, but they leave large bits of ambiguity. Such as, what does it mean to have the virus completely contained? You see, even if I have it completely surrounded, that doesn’t necessarily mean contained. There are cards in the deck that let random people on the board be picked to out break the virus, and for this reason, it seems that a new outbreak can start at any minute, regardless of your defenses. So what does contained mean? Does it mean when the whole board is full and you haven’t lost? When had to house rule this part.
So my final impression?
If you really have a desire for an abstract logic game with a zombie theme, this will suffice. However, this is one of those games that is likely to get lost in the back of your closet, rather than broken out fondly and often. Kudos to the designers for not skimping on components, but if they had, it would have likely lowered the price point enough to really reflect the number of plays you are likely to get out of it. What might make the game more interesting is if you played against an intelligent zombie opponent who could control the spread of the virus. But really, at that point, you might as well play GO instead.