December 21, 2022: Zombie Dice, 11 Years Later
When zombies started to become A Big Thing, rather than merely a Thing, I wanted to do a zombie game. I quickly got to a couple of different prototypes. In one, the zombies were invading a neighborhood, a house at a time. The other one involved chasing down the individual victims . . . who shot back! Respect to Randy Scheunemann for arguing persistently and correctly that the second one was better, and for good suggestions on making it better yet!
So that became Zombie Dice. Like Munchkin, it was a little game that just took off. My original design notes are here. http://www.sjgames.com/dice/zombiedice/notes.html
There's no way in Zombie Dice to directly affect the other players . . . you can't shoot at them or steal their brains. But it is not an isolationist game. Your table talk and bad advice can get your opponents to do things they shouldn't, and make them forget the maxim "Eat brains. Don't get shotgunned." So it works just fine as a party game.
Where do we stand, more than a decade after the first zombie ate that 13th brain and went to Zombie Nirvana?
We've re-skinned it more than once to fit other themes. The re-skins didn't come close to the popularity of the original, though. The mechanic is good, but clearly the "lightning in a bottle" came from combining it with the zombie theme.
Other people have also re-skinned the game, without permission, and sometimes without even a token attempt to cover their tracks. This may be aggravating, but it is legal; you cannot copyright a game mechanic. Forgive me, though, if I don't link to them!
We released an app version of the game – code (and artificial undead intelligence) by Kira, sound by Tom Smith. Although intended mainly to promote the dice game, it actually turned a profit.
We did some shotglasses, and a big bar glass, featuring the zombie character drawn by Alex Fernandez. And there are T- shirts, of course. Zombie lifestyle products for the win!
It was translated to German, as Zombie Wurfel – "wurfel" meaning "die" – and was also a success.
We released two supplements. One of them features Santa Claus, among other zombie-fighters. The other has a big yellow 12-sided die that represents a school bus. Lots of little brains there (yes, I am a horrible person). But also lots of shotguns, because in Zombie World the kids can shoot back.
Then we released a Horde Edition which is the original game plus the two expansions. You can still get this version in Warehouse 23.
Most recently, The Last Gameboard has released Zombie Dice on their new game system. And it was the most popular offering there during October!
What's next? Zombie Dice, The Movie? There have been worse concepts. Not enough movies tell the story from the point of the zombies? Hollywood, you know where to find me . . .
-- Steve Jackson
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