Shunning the Zpocalypse

I’m moderately obsessed with Kickstarter right now, but purely for board games. I’m not sure why – there are plenty of games out already that I want, which I don’t own, but there’s something more altruistic about this type of consumerism. Though I worry that it’s eating away at revenue streams for indie retailers – we’re essentially consuming our way up the food chain – I do recognise that this is a niche market, and that risks are taken on a daily basis by publishers already.

Enough of that, though, there’ll be time enough for me to dwell on the mechanics of Kickstarter next week. This week, I’m focused on Zpocalypse. Or more to the point, I’m focused on not focussing on it.

By its initial listing it looked like exactly the kind of zombie board game I’ve been looking for. Co-operative based gameplay with RPG elements allowing the player to manage a team of survivors through the end times. It sounded fantastic, based on the opening blurb:

Zpocalypse is a survival board game set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Two to four players start in a basement/fallout shelter which can lead out to several base locations or even through the tunnels to sewer grates throughout the  transformable board. Their survivors are trying to make it day to day in a world torn apart from the walking dead.

As in any survival game one needs food, guns, ammo, and more. Players go out into the wasteland and scavenge for supplies, or perhaps to find a new gun or melee weapon to fend off the next zombie attack.

In addition to gathering supplies, each player forms and controls their own squad. Each squad works to fortify the base(s). However your walls and barbed wire won’t hold the dead for long, and they’re getting hungry.

That was all I read, and I backed it immediately despite the high cost once I combined international shipping. Then I watched the Tom Vasel/Dice Tower paid preview:

I removed my backing immediately. Not because there’s anything wrong with the game, nor because Tom does a bad job. It just looks like something that’s not going to suit me. It’s actually not the zombie game I’ve been looking for – a fully co-operative, movie like experience that allows my wife and I to work through scenarios (random or otherwise) as a team in a thematic experience we can both relate to.

*breathes in*

Instead, it’s something else. Something I’m desperately disappointed wouldn’t get played at my house. Were it cheaper, easier to get hold of, anything, I’d have it in a heartbeat. It’s not though. Perhaps once it gets a local, properly distributed release I’ll reconsider.

It may be too late by then, however. I’ve already printed off Dead Of Night, a print and play game that ticks off the fussy list I’ve constructed. It’s GM-less, it’s fully co-operative and it’s cheap (free). It also negates any need for me to buy Last Night On Earth, except it doesn’t include miniatures. Both games are scenario driven, but the latter needs someone to control the zombies or to understand a solo variant. If Last Night had a full suite of miniatures – rather than the mere 14 bad guys it does – I’d be more inclined to give it a go, but the plethora of expansions already available at quite some considerable cost puts me off a tad.

Then there’s All Things Zombie, which is alarmingly similar at its core to Zpocalypse, though it doesn’t have the modular board design. It’s also bloody expensive (£45 in the UK) which is surprising given it’s made almost entirely out of cardboard. Get the pricing right, guys.

And what about Zombicide – a game that is remarkably similar right the way through to Zpocalypse again, which will have a commercial release later this year. This has some beautiful miniatures that come with it and what looks to be an interesting mechanic (KILKILLKILL), but doesn’t quite sate that “co-op survival horror” thing I’m looking for.

There’s certainly plenty of choice, and I already have the rather lacklustre Zombies!!!, so I’m sure I’ll figure something out eventually!

Author: Padlock

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  1. Why not just wait until it gets released as a proper game then buy a copy in the UK for what ever it’ll cost (£30-£35 I guess)

    It looks OK, can’t say I’m tripping over myself to get it, but I don’t have any Zombie games, ohh apart from Zombie Fluxx (poo) and Zombie in my Pocket (sort of poo).

  2. That’s my plan, I think. I just like the thought of helping someone get stuff off the ground through Kickstarter as well.

    Just got the BoardGameGuru newsletter so there’s plenty to keep me interested at the moment.

  3. > It’s actually not the zombie game I’ve been looking for – a fully co-operative movie like experience…

    Greetings Pele,

    First off, I’m sorry you dont’ like our game.

    I’m a co-creator for Zpocalypse, and just wanted to field this line of your review.

    While we may not have co-op on “rails”, forcing the players to work together, their is a very huge emphasis on cooperative play to survive.

    If players do not work together, they won’t last very long, as selfish playtests have proven. However, we don’t force the players into a co-op, b/c that’s not how a real Zpocalypse would work. Realistically you would have people working together to suit their own goals, but when opportunity presents itself, some survivor would likely sell out their other survivors(A very common zombie movie motif) for resources or to survive longer(think Shane/Otis from TWD).

    As for the thematic movie qualities, that is all being addressed in the recently included Z-Master expansion that has been added to the middle+ tiers of kickstarter so players can have an optional zombie player control the zombies, cliche’s and shape events of the game. In this style of game the players would be more focused to work together then before, because now their is a conscience force shaping the events around them instead of just luck of the draw, with the base game.

    anyway, I would hope you might reconsider our game. We also recently dropped international shipping by $5.

    Zach, from GreenBrier Games: makers of Zpocalypse

  4. Hey Zach

    Thanks for taking the time to read and respond, I really appreciate it. The explanation you give is great, and I understand the style you’re going for. In fact, I still love the look of the game, which is what I meant by:

    “Instead, it’s something else. Something I’m desperately disappointed wouldn’t get played at my house. Were it cheaper, easier to get hold of, anything, I’d have it in a heartbeat. It’s not though. Perhaps once it gets a local, properly distributed release I’ll reconsider.”

    I think it’s the curse of the international backer for Kickstarter, to be honest. For me to get the game is well over $100 without factoring in custom duty (I’m UK based). That’s well outside of the “Wow, this looks neat, I’ll take a chance on it” and into “I absolutely, positively need to know that this will get played in my house”.

    My playing opportunities are limited to my wife and my (currently) 4 year old son. This restricts the themes and mechanics that are getting an outing, as both are very much at gateway game levels. I’d love to spend the time on more complex, difficult to understand things, and I already have Arkham, Warhammer Quest, Ashardalon sitting waiting for that moment.

    So, I genuinely wish you all the very best – it looks like a really neat and unique take on the genre and I like the look of the mechanics. I also really want you to get international distribution sorted out and, if you manage that, and it gets stocked in the UK at a normal kind of retail price (£40-odd), then I’m there, day 1.

    (and you guys have hit 100% already, so I’m sure you’re going to have great fun with this – congratulations!)

  5. Understood,

    It has been a very unfortunate circumstance for international folks wanting the game. It’s that damnable shipping! We’ve looked high and low for ways around it, changed the size of our box to compensate and make it cheaper, but no matter how we cut it, it’s just too expensive to ship overseas for us.

    This is our first game, so we don’t’ have the intrinsic inside deals that larger distributors have. Nor the hidden financial backing to just throw money at it till it fits.

    I’m just saddened you wont’ be able to take advantage of any of our kickstarter only addons, as some of those items will only be available via kick starter, and we lose control of pricing once it hits the shelves.

    Surprisingly, the international demand for the game has been much higher then we thought it would be, so we’re looking at options for international distribution.

    but anyway, who knows what the future holds right?

    Thanks, from all of us at GreenBrier Games.

  6. Oh you swine, now I’m heading back to see what I’ll be missing out on 😉

  7. Wow. The 2 (existing) stretch goals and the reduced shipping have tipped this back into ‘want’ territory. I…I crumbled. Well done 😉

  8. *Takes a humble bow*

    FYI: check back later tonight or more likely tommorrow. Looks like your backing may have just pushed us over our 40k goal, so we need to scramble for our next goal.

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