Ghouls on Film: 7ombieTV
An old colleague of mine always said that the only horror movies he couldn’t watch were those involving Zombies – the thought of being eaten by loved ones was just too much for him. Its no surprise that shambling hordes of the recently deceased are such a great subject for gaming.
There are already a fair selection of Zombie games on the market (a topic for another day), but the latest one to make its way onto my desk is 7ombieTV, from Crooked Dice. 7ombieTV runs on a slimmed down version of the action:engine, the core rules behind the free Doctor Who Miniatures Game, as well as Crooked Dice’s own 7TV (from where this game gets its background and the 7 in the title).
The rulebook comes in at a fairly trim 66 pages, of which the core rules take up just 6. Anyone with a horror of complicated rules isn’t going to find much to worry them here.
The book begins with a few pages of background – the concept behind this and 7TV is that your games recreate TV episodes produced for the legendary British channel 7TV. The main game is full of nods to the likes of The Avengers, Austin Powers and Life on Mars whilst this book gives you Shaun of the Dead, Evil Dead and Scooby Doo. An obvious love for the source material shines through in the writing and design, with fake movie posters and script pages scattered throughout.
The rules are D6 based, and you can use your own figures, so rulebook apart you may already have everything needed to play. There’s even the template for a card stock cabin in the back which can be photocopied and assembled to provide somewhere for your heroes to cower.
Turns are split into four phases – Initiative, First Player, Second Player and End Phase. Each player rolls a D6 at the start of the turn, the highest becoming the first player for that turn. The difference between the two rolls becomes a number of Audience Appreciation tokens which are split between the players, and can be used on extra actions or rerolls.
Players then receive activation tokens equal to half their number of figures in play (after all, the camera can only focus on a few characters at a time) and can allocate these as they choose. When thats done, the first player activates all their marked models – each can usually perform two actions from Move, Melee, Shoot, Aim or a special action. The second player then takes their turn.
Finally, in the end phase players check to see if they’ve achieved their victory conditions, check whether their forces break and run and finally manage any special statuses (such as burning or Zombie infection).
Playing the game
In 7ombieTV players take the side of Survivors or Zombies, and form a cast made up of a Star, Co-Stars and Extras. Its easy to put together your own team of survivors, or you can choose from pre-made stars who in no way are based on the stars of the films mentioned above. Zombies tend towards your typical shamblers, but there are profiles for Rage Zombies, Dogs and a few which will seem familiar to anyone who’s played Left4Dead.
Models all have a set of stats which govern their skill in fighting, running away, etc. They may also have special rules (Special Effects, naturally) which add extra flavour – things like Medic, Sixth Sense, Danger Magnet and Screamer. Points values are provided for those who like to make sure their games are as balanced as possible.
The book contains four scenarios – a hike across the board and back to retrieve fuel, an escape through a teaming graveyard, a night in a cabin in the woods and finally a last stand in a deserted village. Special rules are included for things like scavenging and barricading windows. The Zombie player often starts with few figures on the table, with more arriving as the game goes on or as ex-Survivors reanimate. Players draw a small hand of Event cards at the start of the game, which allow special actions or events, and the survivor can draw from the Scavenge deck – all these cards can be photocopied from the back of the book, or printed if you’ve got the PDF version.
The undead are notoriously poor at tactics, so its little surprise that the book contains simple rules for running solo (or, indeed, co-op) games. There aren’t any campaign rules included, but as the game is compatible with 7TV it wouldn’t be too hard to alter the existing rules from the Summer Supplement to suit your purposes.
It would be wrong not to mention at this point that this is a beautiful book – there’s no other way of putting it. It’s by far the classiest looking set of Zombie rules on the market, which if you’re looking to involve people who might run screaming from Warhammer is a good place to start. Everything is in full colour with neat legible type, and there are plenty of large photos of miniatures (a good place to start for painting ideas).
Of course style is nothing without substance, and these rules deliver that in spades. Games can become a desperate struggle for survival as barely armed (and sometimes barely competent) heroes make a dash for safety or rummage around in abandoned buildings. Extras can quickly succumb to the Zombie plague, whilst the undead clamber back their feet and continue their relentless advance. Games are quick and fun, and don’t get buried in record keeping. Best of all, the TV theme immediately gives me plenty of inspiration for scenarios – Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set seems like a good place to start. I wonder if I can find a zombie Davina McCall in 28mm?
If this has tempted you, you can buy a PDF for £9 or the book for £12. I went for the combined deal, which was £17 (plus postage charges), although if you want the print version then be quick as only 100 have been produced at this stage. You can also buy printed versions of the Event/Scavenge decks, as well as plastic tokens for use in the game.
Fans have already produced the first free supplement – The Zombieville Post, which contains a special Christmas-themed scenario, as well as new Zombies and rules to add Vampires to your games.
Next time on 7ombieTV
In the second part of this article I’ll be running you through a game. Will my luckless survivors live to see the dawn?