Dale Yu: First Impressions of Zombie Teenz Evolution

Zombie Teenz Evolution

  • Designer: Anick Lobet
  • Publisher: Scorpion Masque
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 15-20 mins per game (so far)
  • Played on review copy provided by Scorpion Masque

Well, one of the things about legacy games is that they are really hard to review!  The whole point of them (at least IMHO) is the discovery of the secret twists and surprises put in the box by the designer.  For the most part, there’s no way to talk about those things in a review without ruining the surprise for the reader – so… what is there to talk about?  Well, I think there is still value in talking about the game, the theme, and the system so that people can try to figure out if this is something they even want to get involved with.  After all, most legacy games require the group to play a number of games in order to complete the story arc.

Zombie Teenz Evolution is the successor to Zombie Kidz Evolution – but to be clear, this one is a standalone.  You do not need to have played the original to play this one – and that’s a good thing for me, as I have never played the original.  Zombie Kidz Evolution was a surprising hit with my young niece, and after hearing how much that she liked playing it, I was quite interested in giving the followup game a try. 

In general, the goal for each game is the same – the players In the game must work together to bring the 4 Ingredient Crates to the School before the Zombies overrun the 4 town buildings.  However, as the game progresses, there are 14 envelopes in the box which will be opened at the appropriate times to change up the  way that the game works; giving new and unexpected challenges to the players with each new envelope.

The Town board is a simple square with one Town Building in each corner and the school in the middle.  An ingredient crate is placed on each building.  There are some white lines separating off areas of the street; you end up with 13 distinct areas on the board.  At the start of the game, 3 zombie horde tokens are placed next to the board, and one starts on the board on the sewer grate matching its color (they are red, green, blue and lavender).   You’ll note that there are lightly colored footprints from each sewer grate leading to a building – this is the path that the zombies will follow… Shuffle the event deck (there are 6 cards in it at the start of the campaign) and place it nearby.  Finally, each player chooses a Hero and places it in the central School space.  That’s the general setup for all games (well… until the rules change to tell you otherwise!)

Turns are played in clockwise order around the board.  On each player’s turn, first the zombies get to act and then the player gets to take their Hero actions.

The Zombies roll the white die to determine what happens.  Two of the sides are a “?” – if this comes up, draw the top Event card and follow the instructions. 

The other four sides have one each of the four zombie colors.  If this comes up, you place the matching zombies on the board (if they are not already on) or you move them according to their footsteps printed on the board.  If they reach a building, they over-run it, and you put an overrun tile on that building.  If the Zombies reach a building that is already overrun, or if they start movement in an overrun building, they simply move to the next building clockwise, and overrun that building.  If all 4 buildings are overrun, then the players lose.

Then, assuming the game hasn’t been lost, the Hero gets to take up to 2 actions.  You can do the same action choice twice if you want.

  • Move – move you hero to an adjacent space
  • Attack a Zombie Horde – If you are in the same space as a Zombie, you can remove it from the board. If you are in a building, the Zombie Horde goes away but the Overrun Building tile stays on the board
  • Transfer an Ingredient Crate – Take or Give an ingredient crate to/from a Hero in an adjacent space

The rules specify that whenever an Ingredient Crate is successfully brought into the school, the players must celebrate with a fist bump.  We have chosen to ignore this rule in these unprecedented times….  If the players are able to get all 4 Crates into the school, they win the game!

That’s it.  It’s really a simple game when it starts.  But the magic of this game happens once you get to the Evolution part.  There are 14 envelopes in the game, and the back of the rules has two tracks where you record your progress.  As you complete groups of Missions, you will gain Accomplishments, and this will direct you to open the lettered envelopes as you progress on this chart.  As you play games, you will add stickers to the progress track.  You will always place at least one sticker with each game as well as one trophy for each individual Mission completed.  As you move along this track, you’ll be directed to open the numbered envelopes.

Without spoiling what’s inside – I can tell you that the rules have plenty of blank pages for “Advanced Rules” – and there is also a mysterious black die in the box that starts completely blank.  There are also places for bunches and bunches of missions to be added to the rule book.  Where does the game end?  Well, right now, who knows.  The base rules don’t actually say!  But I’m sure that this will come up in an envelope somewhere….

At the start, each game is admittedly pretty simple and quick.  Our first game, even with learning the rules, only took 10 minutes, and we were honestly a bit non-plussed by the first games – however, as we got into the envelopes, things got a bit more interesting with each addition.  As I mentioned earlier, the rule book has A LOT of empty spaces for rules and there are new rules stickers with nearly each new envelope!

The pacing of the evolution is nice.  There are two different tracks on the back cover of the rules – the top accomplishment track is where you mark groups of missions.  These are fairly difficult to achieve, and the changes to the game from these lettered envelopes seem to be a big larger.  The lower track is for regular progress, with one sticker going on for every game played (Regardless of result) and an extra trophy sticker for each mission.  As you continue to play games, you will add stickers to this chart and get to open the numbered envelopes on a fairly regular basis.

Above is our book after our first game session of 3 games.  Thus far, the games are still quite short, and we have decided to generally play between 3 and 5 games at a time – and while it feels good to get to a point where you open a new envelope; that ends up often NOT being a place to stop… because once you have new rules and components, you want to keep going to see how the game has changed!  We later modified our play to get to a point where we are supposed to open an envelope, but then START the next session with the envelope and new rules… much better for us!

This also gives us a great chance to re-visit the rulebook and go over all the changes.  As we usually take a one to two week break between gaming sessions – it really helps to take 5 minutes to go over the rules and current missions so that everyone is on the same page.

We are not yet done with the game, so its hard to give it a final rating, but I like what I’ve seen so far.  Thus far, the individual games are still a bit shorter/simpler than Id like, though there is some appeal to each game being only 15 minutes long…  The games still feel a lot like the first, but the initial changes definitely suggest that more radical changes are coming! There still plenty of rules stickers to come, and plenty of potential complications to be added to the game!  Like the original, I think that this one is maybe better appreciated by the younger crowd, or it is at least more accessible to the younger gamer than many legacy games.

Though were not yet done, I have enjoyed it enough that I wanted to write it up now – before the holiday season has come and gone – because this would be a great game for families and kids, and this is the sort of thing which would be quite nice as a gift!

Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

 

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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