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2 Minute Tabletop Review: Zombie Dice

I love tabletop games.  I love video games; but, I really love tabletop games.  There’s nothing more enjoyable than gathering around the kitchen table with food and drinks, and rolling dice and playing cards (we’ve yet to take the full plunge into tabletop RPG, though we do own the Serenity Rules Book, and will have to start that this summer).

My collection of tabletop games is quite big, and I hope to go through and review some of them in the next few weeks.  Like most reviews I do here, they’re mostly geared towards what you as a parent/teacher can do with the kids/students and these games.  First one up is actually a brand new one we just got this weekend: Zombie Dice.

I don’t know how it happened, but out of nowhere my 6 year old suddenly became familiar with zombies.  I assume it was something Scooby Doo related (“Zombie Island” is my favorite of the new films, though it’s actually light on zombies), but he’s recently picked up the taste for braiiiiiins.  While at our local gaming shop (The Dice House), I noticed a new Steve Jackson game (he of the Cthulu dice game fame…oh yeah, and Munchkin!).

The game is rated for 2 players, ages 10+.  Normally, I ignore age restrictions on games, because I can always modify the rules to work with my 6 year old.  The only time I follow them is when I think the content is inappropriate.  Zombies, of course, can be inappropriate.  That’s why Xander doesn’t play Zombie Fluxx with us, as the images and content can be a little on the gory (yet hilarious) side.  I also covered up the image on the can.  As you can see in the photo at the top, it can be quite scary for a 6 year old.  However, with the actual dice, there are simply 3 icons:

  1. Brains (score a point)
  2. Feet (your victim’s on the run, roll again)
  3. Shotgun Blast (collect 3, and you’re round is over)

Now, the last one is the one I had to modify for my son.  We’re pretty strict on our gun policy in the house (i.e. no guns), so “shotgun blasts” were not going to fly.  I changed them to cracks in the sidewalk, which seemed to make sense with the gameplay, and still keep it less violent.  If you fall in 3 cracks, your zombie is done with!

The game is your simple Bupkis/Farkle/TossUp fare: Roll the dice, try to score points, avoid getting Bupkis’d/Farkle’d out of the round.  The can comes with 13 dice varying by 3 different colors.  Your object is to roll 3 dice at a time and score only brains.  The green dice have more brains, and less shotgun blasts (or sidewalk cracks), while the yellow have less brains, and the red only have one.

You shake the can, pull out 3 random dice, and roll.  If you get a brain, put it to the side.  If you get a shotgun blast, put it to the side.  If you get feet, you have your victims on the run, and can roll again.  Draw enough dice out of the can to bring you back up to 3, and roll again.  But, be careful!  If you collect 3 shotgun blasts at any time (remember, you keep them after each roll), you lose all points (brains) from that round, and pass on to another.  First one to 13 points (brains) wins.

The game offers some nice opportunities for kids to learn statistics and probability.  We discuss averages by looking at each type of dice, and talk about which color you most wanted to pull out of the can (green).  We talk about how just because the odds say it will happen, doesn’t mean it will (much like the same discussion we have when referring to baseball stats) — a classic example of Theoretical Probability vs. Experimental Probability.

There’s also an element of gambling involved, pushing the limit with 2 shotgun blasts already on the table.  I take some enjoyment in seeing Xander’s face when he’s pushed the gaming gods just too far, and realizes that he shouldn’t have been so greedy.  It’s not that I enjoy him being denied points (though, that does bode well for my score!), but that it provides an opportunity to talk about moderation and contentedness.  I always find that games of chance are the best for teaching kids the skill of knowing when enough is enough, and Zombie Dice does that very well, and with braiiiiiins…

Pros: Easy to play, new game every time, ample opportunities to discuss real-life statistics and probability
Cons: The quest to consume brains may not be appropriate (in which case I suggest TossUp, which can be found at any big box store), need to modify shotgun blasts, dice can is pretty loud (I modded it by putting a piece of foam on the bottom inside)
Price: $9 on Amazon


One Response

  1. […] play a lot of chance games in our family for those days when we’re completely brain fried (or brain hungry), but I really get excited for games that get kids planning and plotting.  There’s nothing […]

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