Last Updated on January 11, 2023
Zombies are everywhere. Not literal zombies, mind you, but there has been a definite invasion of zombies in pop culture and it’s gone far beyond George A. Romero movies and late-night cinema.
There’s even a teenage zombie love story… That one may have gone a bit too far but the point is, they’re everywhere. Today we’re looking at the best zombie board games out there!
Our Top Picks for Best Zombie Board Games
In a hurry? Check out our favorites below.
If you’re a complete weirdo like me, you can’t get enough. Ever since the original Night of the Living Dead where in the first 5 minutes a zombie eats someone and a random guy comes running up to dropkick a zombie in the face, I was completely hooked.
Just as zombies have invaded pop culture, the infection has spread to board games of all kinds. There are quick zombie card games, epic zombie RPG games, zombie dungeon crawlers, cooperative zombie games, and basically, anything else you can think of has been bitten by the zombie virus.
It can be difficult to navigate through the massive hordes of undead but luckily, you have a guide.
Dawn of the Zeds (Third edition)
“Welcome to Fabulous Farmingdale!”
Oh boy… Where do I even begin?
Dawn of the Zeds is insane.
Dawn of the Zeds takes damn near everything zombie-related you could possibly imagine and shoves it into one box. That’s a bold statement but it does it in a way that I’ve never experienced before. Dawn of the Zeds feels like at least six separate games all put into one box and to a certain extent, that’s what they did.
The game scales in difficulty from Basic to Director’s Cut. The basic game is what you expect from a low-budget zombie movie. The zombies shamble along and the survivors mow them down.
It’ll get players into the ruleset without too much trouble, but as you go up in difficulty more and more components, rules, victory/end conditions, events, locations, and zombies come out.
There’s so much in this box and once you get into it, you can start to mix-and-match to create your own perfect apocalypse.
Dawn of the Zeds is a board game that keeps on giving. The deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the better the rewards. It’s a game that easily earns its spot on your shelf and keeps getting better every time it’s taken out to play.
The rulebooks can be intimidating but there’s so much zombie goodness in this box that I highly urge you to give it a try.
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
Dead of Winter has quickly become one of the quintessential zombie board games. The zombie apocalypse has already happened.
There is no rescue coming at dawn. There’s only survival. And betrayal. And winter is here. It’s cold and food is scarce… Good luck!
In Dead of Winter, you take on the role of a character in a motley crew of survivors. You could be anything from an urban ninja, a drunken Santa Claus, or even a dog. It gets a little weird sometimes but it’s all in good fun.
The thematic elements in Dead of Winter are top-notch. Not only do you have to contend with the flesh-eating zombies but the unforgiving elements of winter as well.
There truly is a sense of danger in which even going outside could see a character bitten or stricken with frostbite. There’s always a sense of danger when simply going outside can get you killed.
A Traitor in Your Midst
Other dangers hide in plain sight. There’s always the possibility that one of the players is a hidden traitor. You could always banish them from the safety of the hideout but there’s always a chance that you’re wrong and just made yourself another enemy.
Plaid Hat Games also designed a really cool story-driven mechanic called the Crossroads system. When players encounter certain events on a Crossroad card, another player will immediately pause the game and read from the card.
It’ll be some kind of thematic element injected in the middle of the turn. They are always stressful but they add so much thematic flavor to the game.
Be sure to check out our full review of Dead of Winter here!
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game
Resident Evil was the KING of horror during my childhood. I still remember the first time I played Resident Evil 2. Until that point, video games (for me anyway) held your hand and when you started playing, usually were able to obliterate anything in your path, especially during a tutorial level.
Resident Evil 2 does not hold your hand. I cannot tell you how many times I had to restart. I wasted my ammo, got eaten by zombies, and overall, got ripped apart.
The level of tension the series brings to gaming is unreal. I was so on-edge and nervous. I about had a heart attack when the first Licker jumped through the window. When I heard about the board game adaptation, I hopped right on-board the hype train, but…
Does the board game live up to my expectations?
The Resident Evil 2 board game is a cooperative experience where players take on the classic roles of Leon Kenndey, Claire Redfield, Ada Wong, or that one guy (Robert Kendo).
Each character gets a different skill set and can only use specific equipment. The overall game is very faithful to the original, giving players a very cool nostalgic feeling during gameplay. You’ll notice a lot of mechanics attempt to mimic that same feeling you had when you first played Resident Evil 2.
What if you’ve never played the video game? Well, I feel bad for your childhood… but seriously, if you’ve never played Resident Evil 2 that’s no reason not to check out the board game.
There’s a reason Resident Evil coined the term “Survival Horror”. With this terrifying board game, you’re in for a real treat.
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is a cooperative, zombie-filled experience that can be devastatingly difficult to play if you don’t work together. The designers faithfully recreated the same atmosphere, which translates extremely well to the tabletop.
If you’re a fan of the games or if you’re looking for a solid cooperative board game, Resident Evil 2 delivers.
Tiny Epic Zombies
I really enjoy the Tiny Epic series. They are all, as you might guess, tiny games with epic themes and gameplay. Each one draws from a different set of mechanics and plays quite differently.
Tiny Epic Zombies has probably one of the coolest-looking meeples I’ve ever seen. Now you might be thinking, “How do you make a meeple cool?”. The obvious answer is: give it a chainsaw.
The meeples in TIny Epic anything are usually pretty unique. Tiny Epic Zombies has equippable meeples!
If you find a chainsaw and a shotgun, grab them out of the pile and strap it to your meeple.
“Hail to the King, Baby!”
Tiny Epic Zombies does an amazing job of dropping a big-box game and compressing it into a tiny package. Maybe these boxes are like miniature boxes of holding. The games are seriously small, yet I’ve never felt like I was playing a game that could fit into my back pocket.
Tiny Epic Zombies offers multiple game modes, reversible tiles to add replayability, a full deck of item cards, a ton of (adorable) zombie meeples, and an incredible gaming experience.
Check out Tiny Epic Zombies and if you don’t like zombies (you probably shouldn’t be reading this article), check out the other games in their line up. I guarantee you’ll find something that’ll tickle your fancy.
Zombicide: Black Plague
What are you going to do during the zombie apocalypse if chainsaws haven’t been invented yet?
Strap on some armor and kick some @$$.
Zombicide is a cooperative dungeon crawler from CMON Games (Cool Mini or Not). If you know anything about the company, you’ll know that the box is going to be packed with awesome-looking detailed miniatures.
Zombicide does an incredible job of building tension and scaling the game along with the player count. Zombie spawns are determined by the highest player’s level, so hiding behind one super-tanky character isn’t the best strategy. The numbers and types of zombies will scale with the players’ strength.
It’s not all about slaughtering zombies either. Players have a series of objectives that they’ll need to complete to win the game, and the base game comes with tons of scenarios.
If for some reason you manage to get bored with those, there’s basically an unlimited supply of fan-made scenarios online too. If somehow you manage to hack and slash your way through all of those, CMON has an insane number of expansions (for all the Zombicide games, not just Black Plague).
Zombicide is one of those games that demands a higher retail cost but I think it has definitely earned it. If you manage to play it once a week for a year, it’ll still be hard to get bored with it simply because the games are so large in scope and come with so many extra goodies.
The Walking Dead: All Out War
The Walking Dead took the zombie genre and brought it into the popular consciousness. AMC’s TV show, based on the comic book, made it cool to like zombies again. As with most things in the pop culture sphere, there are a ton of different spin-offs, merchandising, and collectibles that go along with it.
It’s almost as if the original zombie films were warning us about over-consumption and consumerism and we’ve now become the monster we feared…
Anyhoo… The Walking Dead has numerous board games and spin-offs to choose from but I wanted to showcase this one in particular. The Walking Dead: All Out War is a miniatures skirmish game.
Normally when you buy a miniatures game, you end up mortgaging your house in order to field enough units to play a game (I’m looking at you Games Workshop).
In The Walking Dead: All Out War, however, it’s relatively cheap to get into. One box will have enough minis for two players to battle it out and fight for survival. There are not many mini-games that can claim that. There are, of course, a bunch of different survivors and upgrades, but they’re not necessary to enjoy the game.
So how does it all work?
In All out War, each player controls a group of survivors from the comics/TV show. Each character has their own stat sheet and can equip weapons. Over the course of a round, players compete for resources and generally get in each other’s way.
The zombies are controlled by a board AI and the more noise you make, the more zombies show up.
All Out War is a quick skirmish miniatures game, that is very easy to get into. The rules are easy to pick up, everything you’ll need comes in one box, and the entry price is far lower than most miniature games.
After The Virus
After the Virus takes a different approach to the zombie apocalypse. What separates After the Virus from other zombie board games is the fact that it’s a deck-building card game.
You don’t see that mashup very often but it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. There are 15 different scenarios, so objectives will change depending upon which one you’re playing. When the scenarios are played in order, there is a bit of an overarching storyline that comes through.
I really like the deck-building mechanic combined with zombies. As zombies show up, players need to kill them or they end up in the discard piles (and will reappear later). As the game continues, your deck will start to get flooded with zombies. It’s such a simple way to deal with the thematic elements of zombies and yet it works so well.
Customization & Theme
The hero characters themselves all start with different cards in their decks. Certain heroes will be better equipped for different situations. Customization is one of the best parts about deck-builders and I think they handled it quite nicely in this game.
Traditionally, deck-builders have a pool of cards that players can purchase but After the Virus turns this on its head. Instead of simply heading down to the card store, players need to scout out the surrounding area by playing cards in their hands.
As players explore, cards become available for purchase. Resources are scarce in the apocalypse and picking up new cards requires a lot of searching around. It’s just another cool way they incorporated the zombie apocalypse thematically into the game mechanics.
I really enjoy deck-builders and zombies and the innovative way that After the Virus presents those two elements is impressive indeed.
Dark Darker Darkest
Dark Darker Darkest had a bit of a rocky start. There were quite a few issues with the Kickstarter and even the final product was a little dodgy, especially with the rules.
The designers, however, were seriously committed to putting out a quality product and decided to revamp the rulebook and clarify a bunch of ambiguous rules. Through the fire and flames, a damn good game was born from the ashes of controversy.
Dark Darker Darkest puts players in the house of the evil Dr. Mortimer. Hidden behind the locked door in the laboratory is the cure that will save humanity… but getting through it won’t be easy.
Dark Darker Darkest finds players running around a booby-trapped, zombie-filled house trying to unlock doors in order to get the final code to enter the laboratory.
If you do manage to actually open the door, the game completely flips and enters a final showdown with a boss. It’s either Dr. Mortimer himself or Lisa Mortimer. Every game is random so you’ll never quite know how the showdown will go.
Other zombie games feature survival but this is the first one where the players are actually on the offensive. They’re sneaking through the doctor’s house, avoiding traps, killing his zombies, and, ultimately, trying to kill him and retrieve the antidote. It’s a rather refreshing theme.
Don’t be intimidated by the rules. As I mentioned at the beginning, the first printing of the rules was rough but they’ve been revised and are much clearer and more streamlined now.
If you’ve read a lot of angry reviews, that’s understandable, but you can actually download the revised rulebook and check it out for yourself. There are A LOT of moving parts to this game, and even a little bit of ambiguity can be troublesome.
The game itself is highly-strategic and thematic making it an excellent addition to any zombie-lovers collection.
Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead
For the truly masochistic gamer, let me introduce to you Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead.
Don’t let the title fool you. There’s actually very limited player interaction in Diplomacy of the Dead. Player interaction is basically limited to dice roll bonuses and (possibly) a player funneling zombies away from their territory and into yours.
Where does the diplomacy come in? The name seems like a bit of false advertising but that’s my only real complaint, so let’s look at the actual game.
Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead is a brutal game. Zombies will be constantly spawning and flooding into your territories and it’s actually extremely difficult to get rid of them.
You can build military units to remove zombies from the board but they’re expensive and military units are removed at a 1:1 rate. It’s a losing strategy and a delaying tactic at best.
So… surrounded by zombies, your neighbors pushing in more to your territory all the time, and your only defense is an ineffective military. What are you going to do? What can save you now?
One of the unique mechanisms of Diplomacy of the Dead is its science track. It reminds me of a tech tree on old 4x computer games. There are 3 branches of science and 3 tiers to each branch. To get the higher tiers you’ll need to research several of the lower technologies first.
Technology will vastly improve your outlook on the zombie apocalypse. With the help of technology, your region can start to build zombie-proof walls, entrench soldiers, or you can even start to manipulate the flow of zombies by preventing them from showing up on the board at all.
It’s a really cool mechanic, and it adds a ton of replayability to the game.
Now if you’ve read through this and think, “I thought you said this was hard?” I have some news for you.
Every turn, zombies will be spawning and constantly pushing towards your population. Every territory you lose will also reduce the number of action points available. At the beginning of the game, you’ll be at your strongest and it’s only going to go downhill from there.
Oh, and remember those awesome walls that you built around your territory? There are zombie outbreak cards played every round that can spawn zombies right smack in the middle of your homeland.
That’s okay, though. Zombie outbreaks are known for being easy to quarantine… right?
Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead uses the zombie apocalypse as a canvas for one of the cooler technology tree systems I’ve seen in board games. If you’re looking for a serious challenge, Diplomacy of the Dead delivers.
I absolutely love the artwork and production of Zpocalypse.
Zpocalypse is the first game developed by Greenbrier Games and it’s really cool. Players form squads of survivors that emerge from their fallout shelters and try to make their way into the new apocalyptic wasteland (full of zombies, of course).
Zpocalypse is one of the games that you either love or hate. I enjoy it, but it does have its issues. Greenbrier Games definitely went through some growing pains with Zpoc as their first game.
The rulebook is… rough. There’s a lot of ambiguity in the core rulebook but fortunately, they’re a company that truly likes making games and seem to be in the industry for the long haul.
After facing a lot of criticism, they’ve taken the lessons learned and revamped the rulebook, which can be downloaded on their website.
It’s a solid entry into the zombie apocalypse but it’s definitely not for everyone.
Zpocalypse 2: Defend the Burbs
The cities have fallen. Nuclear ash hangs heavy in the air. Suburbia, once the pinnacle of the American dream, is now the bloody battleground of the apocalypse. But how long can the white picket fences hold back the horde?
Zpocalypse 2: Defend the Burbs, the sequel to Zpocalypse, is an interesting amalgamation of things.
Did you ever play the tower defense custom games from Warcraft/Starcraft? That’s kind of what Zpocalypse 2 is like. It’s a mashup of tower defense games and RPGs.
By day, players scrounge through the apocalyptic wasteland and by night, they hole up in their base attempting to push back the hordes of zombies. This is one of the few times where I’ve seen a tower defense mechanic that translates well into a board game.
Players need to upgrade their squads and find new equipment but the more they search and make noise during the day, the more zombies will come out during the night.
It’s a very fine balance of risk vs. reward.
What I like most about Zpocalypse 2 are the game components. Not only is everything durable and solid but they’re very cool-looking and functional. The player boards themselves look amazing.
They look like rusted-out pieces of post-apocalyptic technology (reminiscent of the Fallout series) and each one is a functional tracker for everything you’ll need for your squads.
The Zpocalypse series doesn’t revolutionize the genre but they do it justice pretty darn well.
You gotta be quick for this one.
In Zombie 15’, all of the adults have turned into zombies! All that’s left are a handful of 15-year-old kids and they have about 15 minutes before they’re eaten alive.
Zombie 15’ is an oddball game that plays in exactly 15 minutes. There’s a real-life timer where the game will end after 15 minutes (whether you’re done or not) and you better have completed your objective by then.
Although the game itself is in real-time, turns are not. Players still take turns normally and have to wait until their turn before they can make any moves. It can get extremely stressful if you’re not into quick decision-making.
By killing off literally every adult and turning them into zombies, this game is clearly aimed at a younger audience. Seriously, every protagonist is 15 years old. It looks a little cutesy but there’s actually quite a bit of game to be had here.
Escape: Zombie City
Escape: Zombie City is another contestant in the real-time board game sphere.
It’s a fast-paced, real-time, cooperative, dice-rolling game in which you have 15 minutes to gather supplies from the surrounding area, return safely, and then escape. All the while, zombies are spawning around you and attempting to rip apart your safe house.
Now you may think, “Hey didn’t I just read about this game in the previous section?” (Zombie 15’). Although they sound a bit similar, they both play rather differently.
Same Same, But Different
Escape: Zombie City is an offshoot of Escape: Curse of the Temple. Through a mad scramble, players must work together as fast as they can. Zombie 15’ offers a more traditional board game experience where turns are taken in order.
The board in Escape: Zombie City is also procedural. As players explore, more sections of the board will be placed so you never truly know what you’re going to find.
The last major difference is that Escape has one final phase at the end of the game. Once you’ve managed to find all of the supplies and loaded up the ol’ minivan, there’s a final cooperative phase where players all pile into the van and drive out of the city.
So, final thoughts on these two:
They both have almost identical themes. Find stuff in a zombie apocalypse and escape before the timer runs out. The time limit is even the same for both games at 15 minutes.
They do play differently, though. I would argue that Escape is much more frantic and quicker-paced, whereas Zombie 15’ offers a more traditional board game experience with players alternating taking turns.
Both of them are extremely tense with the time limit really putting on the pressure.
Rise of the Zombies
Rise of the Zombies is pretty neat. I really like the look and feel of this one. It’s a real-time game similar to Zombie 15’ in that there is an active time limit to the game. There’s actually a small timer in the box that needs to be set which tracks the time limit of the game.
It reminds me a lot of The Oregon Trail Card Game… but with zombies.
Players begin together at the safe house and attempt to make it to the helicopter waiting for them to escape. Rise of the Zombies is primarily card-based and the locations will be cards played by other player characters.
The locations themselves determine the difficulty you’ll face at each one. Each location has a value on it that determines how many zombie cards are drawn.
So, if the zombie value is a three, you’ll draw zombie cards until the zombie value matches the location. Basically the higher the number, the more zombies.
I love the artwork of the game. It’s like a sketchbook rendition of the events so thematically, all of the artwork looks like it could be found in the journal of a survivor. Whether the survivors made it out alive or the journal was found later is entirely up to you.
Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game
Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game was perhaps the first zombie board game I ever played. I’m also a bit of a weirdo and I love B horror movies. One of my favorite pastimes was getting a bunch of crappy horror movies and watching them with my buddies (Murder Party & Special Dead were my favorites).
Last Night on Earth lets you experience (and star in) your own crappy B horror movie and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
The main premise of Last Night on Earth is a zombie outbreak in small, rural town America. Every typical trope you can think of has been thrown into the game.
All of the characters are blatant stereotypes and tropes. There’s the Sheriff, his daughter, the preacher, a random drifter, and even a busty nurse. Last Night on Earth does not take itself seriously and you really shouldn’t either.
One of the interesting things about Last Night on Earth is that it’s played in teams. Zombies vs. Humans. Depending upon the scenario, the humans will have various objectives and the zombies will, of course, be trying to eat some brains.
At first glance, it can seem like the humans have all the advantages and to a certain degree, they do. Zombies move slowly and are easy to kill, whereas the humans have all kinds of fun weapons and toys.
The zombies are far more fun to play in my opinion, though. They’re shambling, mindless eating machines, but you’re not. Make a wall of zombies that they’ll need to run through. Block off the exits and surround the buildings.
It’s a numbers game for the zombie players and the numbers are on your side. Zombies also get a special deck of ability cards that they can draw from. Don’t forget about them. They’re probably the strongest weapon in the zombie arsenal.
Hit Z Road
One Christmas, I was lucky enough to find a copy of Hit Z Road on sale for the crazy price of $10. Any big box game for that price is definitely worth a look. Hit Z Road takes on the Hero’s Journey of zombies and reminds me of the movie Carriers.
Players begin on a road trip to find safety on the other side of the country. Whether they get there or whether it’s actually safer is entirely up for debate.
Hit Z Road has an interesting mechanic that I haven’t quite seen anywhere else. Throughout the game, players encounter various apocalyptic events. How you deal with them is a matter of personal strategy.
Sometimes during an encounter, you’ll get a small token depending upon your actions during an event. Don’t bother trying to figure out what they do. The game will tell you when it’s time.
I spent hours scouring the rulebook trying to figure out what they do but there’s not a single hint. During the course of the game, it will become clear.
Some of the tokens will be good for you and others will be a detriment. It’s like finding a small child on the side of the road during the apocalypse. Do you stop and save it? Will it help you out later down the road or will it get you killed?
You literally won’t know what the tokens do until they become important. It’s an interesting mechanic that works well with the theme and does tend to keep players on their toes for the first few rounds of the game.
Fluxx is one of those odd games that you either love or you hate. Personally, I enjoy a game of Fluxx. It’s fairly simple to teach, and it’s a great way to pass the time.
Fluxx is a simple card game where the beginning of the game the only rules are:
- Draw a card.
- Play a card.
As you play more cards, new rules and end-game conditions will be in a constant state of flux (haha get it?). One of the other great things about Fluxx is the versatility of themes.
There’s basically a themed version of anything you can think of. If you’re into zombies, this one will be perfect. If you’re not, there are plenty of others to choose from.
The entire game is about the size of two standard decks of cards and isn’t much bigger than a tin of mints. It can literally fit into your back pocket (except women’s jeans. Who the hell designs pockets for women‘s clothes?).
Fluxx is the perfect game to leave in your car or the bag you normally carry around. I pull it out sometimes when waiting around at restaurants or at a bar. It’s perfect for killing some time and it makes waiting around for anything much more tolerable.
It’s a very simple game that’s perfect as a starter before a larger game or when you’re bored and have a few minutes to kill.
- Roll three dice.
- Score any brains.
- Footprints are rerolled.
- Stop at any time.
- If you roll 3 shotgun blasts, your turn ends and all brains are lost.
That’s basically it. You’ll always roll three dice and when something is scored, you get to pull another die out of the pool. The dice come in 3 colors: green, yellow, and red. Greens have the best odds for rolling brains and reds have the worst.
Zombie Dice usually had a permanent spot near the gaming table. Whenever I’m waiting around or have some time to kill we would play it. It’s great to pull out and play for 15 minutes then be on your way.
GameCows Tip: A beer koozie makes a very quiet dice cup. One of the problems with pure dice games is that it does tend to get pretty loud.
Dead Panic is the zombie version of Castle Panic. Replacing the hordes of orcs and trolls are unending hordes of the undead.
Players are survivors hiding in a cabin in the woods and must use everything at their disposal to defend the cabin before the zombies rip through the walls and eat their tasty brains.
Zombies continually spawn from the edge of the board and move closer and closer to the center (and the cabin). Players need to work together by using weapon cards to kill any approaching zombies. Luckily, every player has their own special ability that they can use throughout the game.
Dead Panic is a spin-off of the original Castle Panic. The orcs and trolls have been replaced with zombies and the characters have been given an upgrade with individual hero powers. There are slightly more rules and complexity added to Dead Panic as well.
Zombie games by nature tend to be cooperative but Dead Panic does it in a very simple and defensive way. All players live or die together by defending a single point. There’s no exploration or discovery just good old-fashioned zombie killing.
Zombies!!! (not to be confused with Zombies???) is one of the classic zombie board games. It’s your standard undead “GET TO THE CHOPPA!” scenario. All players will smash, shoot, and dice their way to the helipad to be the first player to get outta dodge.
The only problem, you ask? There’s only room for one more person in the chopper. That’s right, this is a free-for-all brawl. No cooperative, let’s be friends and build a world together, here. Every man, woman, and child is on their own.
Zombies!!! isn’t without its flaws. It has a bit of component and rules issues, but it’s still a fantastic game and has a ton of expansions that have since fixed all the common gripes with the game.
Zombies get a lot of flack for being overdone but I still really enjoy the genre. There’s something about zombies that keeps me intrigued. It could be the nostalgia but whatever it is, I’m still drawn to them.
The zombie apocalypse has so many different variations that despite the flood of games and paraphernalia, it still can be fresh with a new take. It’s one of the reasons I like crappy B horror movies. In every low-budget horror movie I’ve ever seen, I’ve managed to find a theme, concept, or perspective that I’ve never seen before.
It’s the same thing with zombies. There’s so much out there yet every time I see a new game, there’s a slightly different aspect to explore.
We hope you enjoyed our picks for the best zombie board games. What is your favorite zombie board game? Drop a comment below and let us know if we missed any good ones.