Zombies!!!: Roll Them Bones!

Publisher Twilight Creations Inc.
Design Credits Kerry Breitenstein and Todd A. Breitenstein
Art Credits Dave Aikins
Game Contents Six Distance and Health Trackers, six reference cards, seven six-sided dice (one standard, six specialty “zombie” dice), six event tokens, six item tokens, rules
Guidelines Zombie killing-and-evading dice game
MSRP $14.99
Reviewer Andy Vetromile

Twilight Creations has turned zombies and their dark ilk into games of every stripe from board games to card games and, somewhere along the way, even a windup miniatures game. Could the cube version be very far behind in the current dice-rich atmosphere of gaming? Answer: Zombies!!!: Roll Them Bones!

The object of the game is to traverse 16 zombie-infested city blocks first.

Zombies, guns, little explosion-looking thingies, running for your life - now it's a party

Two to six players are trying to escape hordes of downtown undead, and each gets a Distance and Health tracker. Arrow-spinners on the card rotate to indicate your current health and how many blocks you’ve covered. There are seven six-sided dice – one standard and six specialized – and on your turn you throw them all. The black die indicates how many zombies have caught your scent this round. The specialized zombie dice must display that many zombie heads or “kills” to clear out your pursuers. If you don’t put down the corpses the rest of your turn is forfeit and your health goes down one; otherwise you get the rewards from any remaining dice.

An item facing (the gun picture) gains you a counter off the top of the item stack, and the little explosion-looking thingie nets the top event token.

Yes, "little explosion-looking thingie" - it's a gaming term

These carry special abilities. Items are things like weapons that kill extra zombies or protect you from damage while events may, for example, reroll die results or force someone to lose a turn. After collecting tokens, it’s time to get gone. Every “run” icon represents another block conquered – advance the Distance dial. Dropping to zero health eliminates a player from the game, but anyone who perseveres long enough to make it 16 full blocks gets the last chopper seat out of the zombie wasteland.

The components of the game are simple but sturdy. The dice are a good example of this – the illustrations are black and white and (ahem) mostly barebones save for the zombie result (hollow eyes and a hole in the forehead – it looks a little like Jason Statham with a hangover and a five o’clock shadow). Some die facets show a “double” result (two run or kill symbols), but even at reduced size the images are clear. The dice aren’t all carbon copies of one another, either; someone went to the trouble of casting cubes with various icon frequencies, so it’s harder to average out the statistics of a roll. Maintaining your scores with the Distance and Health tracker is easy – the cards are heavy stock with small cardboard arrows on spinners. They’re precisely the right degree of stiff, so they rotate freely but stay where you put them. The item and event tokens would be easier to pick up if they were but a shade thicker, but they do the job, and the same holds with the thin cheat sheets describing the uses of all the counters.

According to the clock on the wall it's about a quarter past move your !@#!

Breaking from the recent pack of push-your-luck style dice games, Zombies!!!: Roll Them Bones! is still from the school of quick, easy, and not terribly challenging pastimes. No one’s going to mistake this for a deep strategy game, but don’t sell it short: Sometimes the dice just love one player more than another, and everyone feels a swell of hope behind his every throw. Most games play in under 10 minutes, and this can change depending not only on the number of players but the starting health you choose and the number of blocks to shoot for. You can even use these quotas to handicap the game for the younger set (after all, it’s women and children first, right?).

There are a couple of questions that go unanswered (can you keep “regifting” the marbles token? If “We’re Screwed,” who chooses the omitted die?), but asking them is like debating where you get to sit in the lifeboat. The abstract action defies spending too much time on such arguments, and Zombies!!!: Roll Them Bones! is focused enough to convey a mounting sense of tension . . . nothing to compare with a Hitchcock film, sure, but then he made a minimal number of zombie slasher flicks. With walking dead, a low price, and enough equipment for six players (another Twilight Creations hallmark, it seems), this between-games snack feeds a need for a lot of people in a short time.

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