Theme and What is it?
In Tiny Epic Zombies, players either play cooperatively or competitively to complete three objectives before the zombies overrun them in the mall. There is always a Zombie Player whether it is controlled by a player or by an automa. There are five modes of gameplay giving it a lot of replay ability. There are variations for solo play as well as different modes playing with a Zombie automa.
I have played two of the five game modes. I will go into detail on those two in this review.
The five different game modes are:
- Cooperative vs. Zombie (3-5 Players) – This mode is for a team of Human Players versus a Zombie Player
- Cooperative (2-4 Players) – This mode is for a team of Human Players versus the game’s A.I. controlled Zombies
- Competitive vs Zombie (3-5 Players) – Competitive Human Players versus a Zombie Player
- Competitive (2-4 Players) – This mode is for a competitive Human Players versus the game’s A.I. controlled Zombies
- Solo (1 Player) – This mode is for one Human Player versus the game’s A.I. controlled Zombies
I am going to start by explaining the second game I played first because it is the main way to play the game. The other modes are variations. I will explain the variation we played with an A.I.
We played the first game mode with three Human Players and one Zombie Player. For setup, place the Courtyard Card in the middle of the table and surround with the Store Cards at random. The stores entrance should face the outside. A zombie should be placed on each store’s entrance. On the Courtyard Card, the barricade token is placed on the “2” space on the barricade track and two survivor tokens (teeny, tiny white meeples) are placed in the Pool area. Only one of the vehicles will be active during a game depending on which side is used. It is placed during setup as well as some other tokens.
Then, a Zombie Player is selected and they are randomly given a Player Card flipped to the Zombie side. They place a horde marker on the “1” space of the horde track on the Zombie Player Card. They take the rest of the zombies to form a supply.
The other players are randomly assigned three Player Cards and chooses one to play. Then, they choose an ITEMeeple color and place it in the Courtyards center Room. They place a Wound Token matching their color on the “0” spot and an Ammo Token on the “9” spot at the top of their Player Card. The other Player Cards are returned to the box and could possibly be used during the game later.
Shuffle the Objective Cards and select three and place them out with the “Cooperative Objective” side face up. Read the setup on these cards and place any extra pieces or tokens out from the box.
All of the Search Cards are the same but among them form a Search Deck and a Supply Deck. I will not go into any detail on how these decks are formed but the Zombie Player will control the Search Deck. The Zombie Player draws 8 cards from this deck and decides on one card to place face down in front of each Human Player. The Human Players cannot look at these cards yet.
The Human Players’ goal is to complete all three of their objectives before the game end. The Zombie Player’s goal is to attack the Courtyard until no Survivors remain, OR prevent the Humans from completing their Objectives until all the Search Cards have been revealed and they’ve each taken one final turn.
Each Human Player tracks their Wounds and Ammo on the same track. If their Wound and Ammo Tokens meet on the same space or if they cross each other, then the Human Player is eaten alive. They are not removed from the game, however, their Player Card is flipped to the Zombie side. The Zombie Player now has control of this Zombie Player Card and places a horde marker on the “1” space of the horde track and removes a survivor from the survivor pool. The Human Player is given a new Player Card from the box.
The Human Player MUST move three times. After each move, the player could potentially do other actions (kill a zombie, use a room’s ability and/or interact with a token or collect items). After moving and taking any actions, the player searches their current room by flipping over the Search Card that the Zombie Player placed in front of them. This card cannot be collected the turn it is revealed and is placed next to the room where the Human Player ended their turn.
After each Human Players turn, the Zombie Player has a turn. First the Zombie Player checks for noise. If the Search Card that was just revealed on the Human Player’s turn matches the Entrance Symbol of the store the Human Player is in, then the Human Player made noise. At this time, The Zombie Player chooses one of the Zombie Player Cards they have in play and performs the action next to the horde marker, then moves the horde marker up. Obviously, these get worse for the Human Players as the game progresses. Then, the Zombie Player adds two new zombies in store(s) matching the Search Cards entrance symbol. There can only be one zombie in each of the three rooms on the Store Cards. When a store is full, then the new zombie is added into the next store or into the courtyard depending on the situation. If a zombie is headed to the courtyard, it is never added, but the barricade track is reduced. If it is ever moved to 0, then a survivor is removed. After the Zombie Player has checked for noise and added new two new zombies, they give another Search Card from their hand facedown to the Human Player that just acted. Once the Zombie player has played the initial eight cards in from of the Human Players, they draw back up to four cards from the Search Deck.
The game continues like this until an end of game condition is met.
The first game we played was with two players so we were forced to use one of two game modes. We decided to play competitively against the A.I. Zombies. We still had three objectives but we used the “Competitive Objective” side. The Courtyard was flipped to the “Competitive Courtyard” side. For two players, two survivor tokens are placed on the player’s color in the courtyard. The barricade token is still placed on the “2” space of the barricade track. Each player has their own colored objective markers to track their own progress of each objective. The A.I. Zombie Player does not use the horde actions. If the Search Card matches, then two more zombies are added into the rooms matching the entrance symbol, otherwise it is just the normal two zombies added. If a zombie reaches the barricade, it takes a survivor token from the player with the fewest wounds (there are tiebreakers for this if needed). If any Human Player completes all three objectives, the game ends and they are the winner. If a Human Player dies without any Survivor Tokens to give, the Zombie Player collects 2 survivors from each player, or the Search Deck runs out, then the A.I. Zombie Player wins the game.
I have enjoyed all the Tiny Epic games that I have played so far so I was anxious to get this one to the table. When the ITEMeeples were introduced in Tiny Epic Quest, it made this collection of games even more fun even though the items are mostly aesthetic.
Game Build Quality
Just like all other Tiny Epic games, the components are high quality. Most of the components are wooden, along with the zombies. The zombies and vehicles do not have stickers but have a silk screen printed on them for the graphics. This is much better than stickers in my opinion. All of the cards are high standard and everything fits in the box just like all of the other Tiny Epic games.
The artwork is awesome. The stores for the mall look very realistic and have a fun feel. The Player Cards are well done and are different characters that you would potentially find in a mall. The items are well designed and are fun to attach to the ITEMeeples.
The game is a lot of fun and plays quick. Most zombie games out there, aside from Zombie Dice, are quite lengthy. When we played the game as two players competitively against the Zombie A.I., the Zombie A.I. won. The game proved to be quite difficult with two players playing competitively. We probably should have chosen cooperative for the first play through. When we played with one player as the Zombie Player and three of us working cooperatively, the Zombie Player won. This was a result from poor planning. We had several stores that were full of zombies which resulted in them breaking our barricade. We focused too much on our objectives. There has to be a balance.
Age Range & Weight
The age suggestion on the box is 14+. I think this is slightly high. I believe players 12 and up could catch on fairly quickly to the mechanics. And it is possible than even a younger child could at least be the Zombie Player. There is not much decision making to be the Zombie Player.
What I love most about the Tiny Epic games is that they are all very diverse and portable. You could easily take all of them on a trip without them taking up a lot of space. I have not played all of the Tiny Epics but all the ones that I have played were different. My only complaint with Tiny Epic Zombies is that the items did not really have a purpose in this one like they do in Tiny Epic Quest. Some of the items are just to be equipped for fun in Quest, but some are a goal to aim for on your character card. In Zombies, they were only aesthetic. However, this does not take away from the game in any way. I just like to see components be a part of the gameplay. I cannot say that Zombies is my preferred version but that does not take away from it at all. I just enjoy the mechanics better in Tiny Epic Galaxies, my favorite so far. If you enjoy cooperative games where the game or a player is heavily working against you, then this version is for you.