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Zombies at Your Heels Review

Zombies at Your Heels is a new game by Andrew Rowse that puts players in control of a group of “survivors” attempting to escape from a zombie horde. It is fast-playing, tactically rich, more than a little chaotic, and ultimately, very satisfying. I would recommend it in normal publishing circumstances, but given that the designer is donating all proceeds to a worthy charity, Zombies at Your Heels is nearly a must buy.

In Zombies at Your Heels, players are dealt identical teams of survivors. Each survivor has a speed value, a victory point value, and an ability that can be activated on a player's turn. The game begins with each player randomly placing a number of survivors (determined by how many players are in the game) in a line that runs from a zombie horde, on the left, to a escape bunker, on the right. The order of the line is determined by speed stat on the survivor card—fast guys move to the front of the line. So, the idea is the line of survivors is running to the safety of the bunker in I-don't-have-to-be-faster-than-the-zombies-I-just-have-to-be-faster-than-you mode. Experienced gamers will be reminded of Richard Garfield's Guillotine by the basic set up.

During a turn, survivors are played from a hand of three cards. After playing the card, a player has the option of activating that card's power, another card's power, both, or neither. Regardless, the turn ends with either the survivor at the front of the line escaping to the bunker (only if he belongs to the active player) or with the zombies eating the “survivor” in the back of the line. Though each player has an identical personal deck of survivors, the three-card hand means there is limited number of actions available on each turn which must be used to get survivors to the front of the line or out of danger for that turn and hopefully your opponent's turn.

Play continues until players are unable to draw a card and fill their hands at the end of a turn. The points on the survivors in the bunker (and the tragic teens in the graveyard) are scored—the highest score wins. The whole game plays in between fifteen to twenty-five minutes, according to how much analysis the group is prone to.

Being a big fan of Guillotine, I had high-hopes for Zombies at Your Heels when I first saw its page at indigogo. The hope was the theme and tweaks to  Guillotine's basic game play would make for a different, but equally rewarding experience. Now that I had a chance to play the game in a couple of different situations, I'm happy to say Zombies at Your Heels is as good as I'd hoped it would be, even if it won't necessarily work for all groups.

The main appeal of the game is the interesting tactical decisions that face the player each turn. The need to either save one of your team of survivors or doom one of your opponent's survivors coupled with the equally important need to protect your guys for your opponent's turns (meaning—get them grouped toward at least the middle of the line) makes for tense rounds. I really like that the game gives you the option of activating two abilities. If you could only do the ability of the card you placed (making it more like Guillotine's one action-card limitation), the game would be too chaotic and the three-card hand too limiting. As it is, the game features a good balance of chaos and control, though I'm sure many players would say it errs on the side of chaos. If it wasn't such a short, fun time, I might agree. The tableau does change a lot between a player's turns, especially in a four-player game. The two-player game allows for a bit more planning ahead, but a player is still restricted by the cards they have in hand, so this isn't a deep strategy game by any means. It is a chaotic, tactical game that matches its theme perfectly.

As I mentioned in the introduction, Rowse has designed this game as part of a fund-raising effort for SpecialEffect, an organization that develops technologies and techniques that allow those with physical limitations to play and benefit from video games and computers. Follow the links here for both Rowse's Indiegogo page and SpecialEffect. It is a great cause and Rowse has come up with a great way of raising money while giving people a fun game to play. I seriously can't imagine why, if you have the money, you wouldn't go donate right now. The game is fun, the price is right, and profits go to a great cause.  


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    Zombies at Your Heels Review - Home - Board Games, Video Games, Reviews, Previews, Fantasy Flight, Z-man, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead
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    Zombies at Your Heels Review - Home - Board Games, Video Games, Reviews, Previews, Fantasy Flight, Z-man, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead
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Reader Comments (1)

Turning the zombie survival theme into a card game is genius! I haven't played this game but I can imagine it's quiet fun and detailed. I'll definitely check it out- I'm a huge fan of anything zombie themed, from video games to novels, to card games now.

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