Released in 1978, Dawn of the Dead is truly a high point in zombie film history, featuring a very well scripted story that follows four survivors of the zombie rise as they escape the deathtrap their city has become and take refuge in a shopping mall.
The mall is already inhabited by the walking dead and before the group can call it home they must clear it out and make it safe. This is where the players come in.
Dawn of the Dead is a board game focused on the four characters sealing the outside doors of the mall and then eliminating all of the zombies still inside.
Play alternates between the Zombie player and the human player(s). The human players are all armed, with the two SWAT members starting with the more powerful rifles and the two civilians carrying only pistols. The humans begin at pre-set spaces within the mall and are immediately set upon by the zombies, a certain number of which also start within the mall and usually within a few spaces of the humans. The humans are given a number of action points that can be spent for movement, attacking, picking up rifles (for the civilians) and locking doors. However, players are limited to the number of humans that can move and act during a turn, allowing the zombies a small advantage as this limits the humans high movement in comparison to the slow shamble that the zombies are forced into.
The zombie player controls the hoarde of flesh craving beasties trying to enter the mall. Allocated a base number of zombies to start with, some in the open and some hidden, the zombie player receives a random number of reinforcements every turn as they flood in through the open doors. Once the doors are closed, if the player manages it, then the zombie player no longer receives direct reinforcements and must rely on eliminating the remaining humans and hoping they resurrect in time to join the zombie side.
The game also includes a good set of solo play rules where the zombies move and act according to certain rules and the lone player takes the part of all four humans.
Overall the game is nicely put together, though the rules can seem a little complicated at first. However, after a game or two they come pretty easily and allow for either good long games of cat and mouse between the humans and the zombies or quick and bloody gore fests as the humans are overrun.
Though this game has been out of print for years, a copy of it can be downloaded at Homepage of the Dead and is located in their Games section. This can then be printed and assembled into the full game, including rules. SPI is no longer in business, to the best of my knowledge, and the game has been out of print for over 15 years at the least.
I have personally had 2 sets of this game destroyed already after downloading (stupid cats) and have taken the time to download and assemble a third set, safely hidden now. The movement rules and turns provide for a good, suspensful game as the human player is constantly forced between holding still and clearing an area of zombies while more rush in from the outside doors or making a run for it and hoping to dodge around any zombies they come across. Several strategies are available, from banding all your humans together for a high amount of firepower but slow movement while trying to get around the mall to the doors, to splitting up, reducing your firepower but increasing your mobility. A cunning zombie player can drive the humans into a frenzy with special rules for hidden zombies, frenzied zombies and the dreaded “super zombies”.
Overall this game is worth the download and assembly time and is a great way to kill an afternoon, especially with the original film playing in the background.
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)Substance: 4 (Meaty)