Zombies!!! is a pretty straightforward game of escaping zombie hordes and getting out before your fellow humans do. It moves fast and has simple D6 mechanics. If you want something a little deeper from your Zombies!!! experience, there’s a free RPG conversion.
Last night’s planned epic Conquest of Nerath game went awry somehow, with one player running out to a ridiculous lead three turns in. So we turned in our wizard minis for zombies and played a pretty thrilling game of Zombies!!! with expansion number 5, School’s Out Forever.
Zombies!!! is a game in which the board is built by drawing random map tiles, each of which is populated by hordes of zombies and a few power-ups. Players run around trying to kill zombies and juice up their characters, all while searching for the helipad that will give them a way out. Most of the fun lies in the event cards, most of which cause unfortunate things to happen to your fellow players. Once the helipad appears, the game gets brutally cutthorat and hilarious, with the humans doing far worse things to each other than the zombies ever could. It’s probably more like The Walking Dead than any other zombie board game in that respect — there’s even an event card I plan to retitle, “Shane vs. Otis” via Sharpie.
One of the joys of Zombies!!! is how simple it is. If you want a bit more complexity, there’s an unofficial fan-made Zombies!!! RPG that makes use of the map tiles, minis and D6s from the original game. It’s free (and thanks again to Hal Weaver for drawing it to my attention).
It’s not entirely accurate to call this version of Zombies!!! an RPG. It does give someone the role of Zombie Master, but it is effectively a reworking of Zombies!!! with more slightly more complex rules. There are some adventures, which are basically scenarios that let you play something other than the basic, “escape in the helicopter” scenario of the original game.
This isn’t a bad thing — it’s always great to find new uses for old games. You can get really into the characters and delve into some creepy role-playing if you want to, but the rules as defined don’t really lend themselves to that sort of thing. For instance, there’s a mechanic where if you’re wounded by a zombie, there’s a 1-in-10 chance you’ll be infected. That just means you’ll die in a few turns if you don’t find and use a med pack. If I were writing a zombie RPG, I’d be thinking more about how someone would hide a zombie wound, what it would do to their personality as they gradually become sick, and the psychological effects on their friends who might have to kill them to prevent zombification.
I do suggest giving these rules a try if you’re a Zombies!!! veteran. You might get away with skipping the Zombie Master and just playing it as a semi-competitive game using more in-depth scenarios, or you can go full RPG with it.