Zombie 15′ as the name suggests, is about zombies and only takes 15 minutes to play. It’s a fast, often frantic, fight for survival against the infinite horde of zombies and against the clock because once the 15 minutes are up the full might of the horde catches up to you and they find themselves a snack…
For the TL;DR version click here.
Opening the box
Specs on the box:
- 2-4 players (you can run it solo if you like)
- Ages 14+ (the game is very easy to learn and play, I had no trouble teaching it to my 9 year old)
- 15 minutes
It’s a pretty big box, it needs to be because it’s chock full of Zombies! 100 zombies, 99 regular zombies and 1 alpha zombie. There are 8 hero figures each with their own player card.
I’m not a big fan of these sculpts. I think they lack some detail but they are made from hard, durable plastic which is needed because they can take some punishment as you are racing through the game.
32 double sided terrain tiles, 2 decks of cards, a rule book, a campaign/story book and over 250 tokens take up the rest of the space in the box. There is also a CD with 2 15 minute long soundtracks but these days most people will use the downloadable MP3s.
I actually forgot to size the cards myself, but Google tells me that the 155 cards in the game are all standard sized. So regular Magic the Gathering sized sleeves should fit perfectly. You will need 155 sleeves to protect all of them.
The story in zombie 15′ is that only the adult population has been turned into zombies, leaving the kids and teenagers to fend for themselves. So the heroes in the game are all in their teens.
Together they need to find food, fight off the horde and find a way to stop the epidemic before they themselves are turned into zombies.
The theme is fairly grim but there is nothing really gruesome in the game itself. The artwork and overall presentation lends itself to family play.
Setup is a pain in the neck, literally. You start by finding the mission in the mission book and assigning characters to everyone. Then you need to find everyone’s starting equipment and build the map.
Building the map is what takes long. You will spend far too long hunched over the diagram searching for the right tiles that you need to get the map ready. Pro tip: if you find a tile that looks like the tile you need, just use it. Aside from a few key tiles most are duplicated so it’s ok to just use them, it’ll save a lot of time.
After that you need to populate the map, build the horde deck and find all the tokens needed for the mission then you are good to go.
The setup can actually take longer than the game itself 🙁
The game is easy enough to teach and play. Press play on the sound track and then the first player gets to go. Each player has 3 actions. An action can be used to move, fight, search, pick up a token or to use some equipment that you already have.
Movement usually happens along the roads, to move from tile to tile, unless there are zombies on your tile then you have to fight them. If you kill all of them then you can move to or from the search area that is on most tiles. Every move you make will cost you an action.
If you find yourself in a yellow border search area and there’s no zombies around then you can perform a quick search. Draw 3 cards from the search deck, and you can keep 1 of them discarding the rest into a pile.
Alternatively you can perform a careful search, with this search you can search through the discarded search pile and take any piece of equipment from there, but every card above it must be removed from the game. That’s tricky but careful management of the discards can be critical to success, depending on the situation.
Sometimes, when you are performing a quick search you can find hidden zombies, which usually spells trouble as you have to fight them before you can do anything else.
Fighting is relatively easy. Each player will usually have 1 – 2 weapons. Each weapon will list how much damage it does, simply use an action to remove that many zombies from the space that you are standing on. Some weapons, like guns, make noise which attracts the attention of the horde. The weapon will tell you how many zombies to add to the horde box.
Weapons also have a limited number of uses, after each use you will either remove 1 point of durability or ammunition. Once the weapon is broken or out of ammo it is all but useless.
Every so often you will hear a growl on the sound track. When this happens you need to draw a card from the zombie deck, the number displayed is how many zombies to add to the space that you are standing in. If you draw a horde card then you must add all of the zombies from the horde box!
If you cannot get rid of all of the zombies on you before you run out of actions then you are in serious trouble. You weapons have a fend value, i.e how many zombies you are allowed to fend off without actually killing them. If there’s more zombies on your space than your fend value then you will be knocked over and take a point of damage.
If you lose your last point of health you are knocked unconscious. You cannot do anything unless someone has something like a defibrillator which can revive you. On top of that you will need to be carried by the other players to the end of the mission, this usually means that the weaker characters need to use both hands to carry you can so cannot use their weapons!
If all of the players make it to the end of the map after having accomplished the mission objective and before the soundtrack ends then they win. If the sound track ends or everyone is unconscious then the zombies get their lunch…
15 missions of 15 minutes each does not seem like a lot. In fact it feels like you’re getting short changed for a miniatures game, which are usually rather pricey. This is mitigated somewhat by the 2 different difficulty levels that the game can be played on. Additionally the 8 heroes can actually make a huge impact to how the game plays, some are much trickier to use than others. There is actually quite a bit of replay ability straight out of the box.
One benefit of the short play time is that it’s easy to restart the mission if you fail. At the higher difficulty that can happen very often.
Then there are free downloadable extra missions. The campaign story is not bad, but it feels like it was left open for expansions. You can buy some expansions including a solo campaign.
It’s a fun game. Not for those with heart conditions though, because the pace of the game can lead to some serious tension, you’ve got no time to second guess yourself and just need to make do with what has happened. If your gaming group has an alpha gamer then I’d honestly skip this altogether. He/she would either get a heart attack or end up frustrating the others.
Can I braai with this?
Only if you don’t intend to be playing. 15 minutes can go by faster than you can imagine when your life is on the line.
Thanks to Boardgames.co.za for the review copy of Zombie 15′.