Stats at a glance
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
The walking dead are here, and they’re after brains. But don’t worry. In this game, you’re one of them, and you’re hungry!
So, get your fake blood out and practice your best “Braaaaains” groan. It’s time to become a zombie.
Brief Overview of Zombie Dice
Zombie Dice is a dice game all about pushing your luck. The aim is to become a connoisseur of the cerebrum by eating more Brains than your opponents. Be careful though, some of those pesky humans have shotguns and, if you get blasted three times, it’s over.
The game is decided by rolling dice. You want to get the Brain symbols, and avoid the shotgun ones. There’s no real skill involved, just chance, a lot of tension, and, hopefully, Brains.
Zombie Dice works nicely as an easy-going game for all the family, or simply as a quick way to fill the time without having to think too much.
Versions & Expansions
Zombie Dice has several expansions that add new elements to the game. These include:
Zombie Dice 2: Double Feature
Pleasingly themed around classic horror movies, this pack includes two expansions. The first, Big Summer Action Movie, introduces two new characters to the game: the Hunk and the Hottie. Both operate just like the humans in the game, however, if you pick out these dice, the stakes are suddenly much higher.
The second is Santa Claus Meets the Zombies. In this one, a festive red and white die is thrown into the cup, too, with a lot of brains on offer, along with some other goodies.
I especially enjoyed The Direct-to-Video Sequel addition, which combines all three!
Zombie Dice 3: School Bus
In this expansion, your zombie has found itself with a penchant for hunting the tasty brains of school children. It comes with a 12-sided die, introducing a bunch of new possible outcomes to the game. Now, alongside looking out for shotgun-wielding children, you need to avoid being hit by the school bus, too.
Zombie Dice Horde Edition
Zombie Dice Horde Edition brings together all the expansions and the original game into one box. You also get an additional cloth bag and a scorepad, which weren’t included in the original.
Unboxing Zombie Dice
There’s very little to unbox with Zombie Dice. For starters, it doesn’t even come in a box! Here’s what you’ll find:
- 13 dice: 3 red, 4 yellow, 6 green
- A cup
The aforementioned ‘cup’ is more like a cardboard tube with a plastic lid. This will be where you store the dice and is also what you use to shake them during the game.
The dice are black with symbols on them in different colors. They’re well-produced and easy to understand.
Pleasingly, the ‘rulebook’ is just a one-sided A5 piece of paper, as that’s all this game needs to be explained.
In terms of artwork, it has a very ‘Plants vs. Zombies’ feel to it. They’ve taken a cartoony approach, rather than focusing on being anything close to scary. Considering the simplistic nature of the game, this is the right choice as it can’t rely too heavily on the theme with so few components.
How to Play Zombie Dice
Zombie Dice is a game for two players or more, where the objective, of course, is to eat as many Brains as possible.
As per the instructions, the player to go first is the one who can say “Braaaaains!” with the most feeling. For added gusto, can I recommend rolling your eyes into the back of your head. (If you’ve already played a game, whoever won last takes the first turn).
You start by shaking all the dice in the cup. Each die represents a tasty, tasty human. Pick three at random from the cup (without looking) and roll them.
The dice come in three different colors – green, yellow and red – increasing in difficulty in that order. So you’ll want to hopefully avoid those red dice. There are three symbols you could roll:
- Brain – well done. This means you successfully ate a brain! (Yum) This counts as a point. Take the die and place it on your left.
- Shotgun – curses, the damned human decided to fight back and fired a shotgun at you. Put this die on your right.
- Footprints – the victim got away. Keep these dice in the middle.
At this stage, you have the option to either stop rolling or keep going. If you choose to stop, then you score one point for each brain you have. Note your score down, put all the dice back in the cup and pass it on to the next player for their turn.
Alternatively, if you choose to keep going, pull out of the cup enough dice to bring your total in play up to three (the dice already in play are those you rolled with the Footprints symbol showing). Roll again, and do the same as above.
If, at any point, you reach a total of three Shotguns, then, I’m sorry, you’re out – the Humans got the better of you. Your turn ends and you don’t get to keep any of your Brains (IE. you got no points).
Otherwise, you can keep rolling as many times as you like, trying your luck and looking to rack up those points.
If at any time you run out of Humans in the cup – you’ll be scoring pretty high if you do – simply take all the Brains you have set aside (note how many you had), put them in the cup and continue. Make sure you leave the Shotgun dice, though!
Ending the game
The game comes to a close when someone reaches 13 Brains. At this point, continue the round until everyone has had the same amount of turns. Then, tally up your Brains, and whoever has the most points wins!
Your First Game of Zombie Dice
There’s not a lot you need to know to hit the ground running with this game. The instructions are written on one side of a small bit of paper, and you should be able to crack on with your first game easily.
Bear in mind though, that you will need to provide your own way of keeping track of the score, as it doesn’t come with a scoring pad (unless you have the Horde Edition expansion pack). This can easily be done on your phone. Save the planet and all that!
In terms of gameplay, it’s very straightforward, so there are few areas you could go wrong. All I’d note is that you’re at an advantage if you’re going last each round, as you’ll then know what score you need to beat in order to win. This can stop you from needlessly overstretching yourself and putting you at greater risk of getting three Shotgun symbols.
This makes it a little odd, then, that the person who has the most convincing Zombie impression goes first.
Of course, this was included as a bit of fun, so I’m not picking holes in the rule. I think it’s great. However, why not consider giving the person with the most convincing “BRAAAAAINS” the choice of who goes first, rather than forcing them to take the first turn? You never know, this added incentive might really bring out the Brain Cox (intentional typo) in your group.
Pros & Cons
- Extremely versatile
- Simple and straightforward
- Brains: you don’t need them
- Nothing new
- Can start to easily feel overplayed
Being such a short and swift affair (these feel more like the nimble, vicious zombies of 28 Days Later than the slow, rather dozy Dawn of the Dead (1978) creatures) Zombie Dice is a useful game to have in the house.
It could take as little as five minutes if you play quickly, helping fill the time in all sorts of scenarios. Whether you’re waiting for the pizza guy to arrive, in need of a quick party game where you know attention spans are likely going to be short or providing a light interlude to an evening dedicated to more mentally challenging games, Zombie Dice will work.
The simplicity of the game also adds to its versatility. With just one small page of rules, it can be played fast or slow; with kids or adults; as a drinking game; and with no real maximum number of participants.
Either way, each round can be extremely exciting. The very nature of ‘push your luck’ games means you don’t quite know what to expect. It’s the luck of the draw. You could be out in one roll if you’re incredibly fortunate. Alternatively, you could keep rolling and enjoy a feast of thirteen brains in one turn! (Hopefully, you’ll have a nice mix of abstract, creative, and logical thinking victims or the courses could get a bit samey).
On the flip side, Zombie Dice does have its limitations and is unlikely to provide hours of entertainment in one go. Don’t get me wrong, I like brains as much as the next zombie. But if you play it too often – which is easy when each game is done and dusted in ten minutes – it will start to feel old quite quickly. As such, my advice is to ration it out. There’s only so much that can happen with thirteen dice.
Zombie Dice is a dice game all about pushing your luck. Your aim is to eat more Brains than your opponents. Be careful though, some of those pesky humans have shotguns and, if you get blasted three times, it’s over.
While it won’t be winning any awards for innovation, Zombie Dice is great fun and serves a useful purpose as an easy, pick-up-and-go option for multiple occasions.
I’m a big fan of Zombie Dice. It won’t be winning any awards for innovation, but it serves a useful purpose as an easy, pick-up-and-go option for multiple occasions.
Whether you’re with the kids, a group of non-gamers or pros, it’s guaranteed to provide a few rounds of entertainment as you battle it out for a grey cell supper.
I especially enjoyed the unashamed reliance on gambling/luck in this game. It can be refreshing sometimes to give your mind a break from developing complex strategies and instead just to see how far Lady Luck can take you.
This isn’t a competition for who has the biggest brain. But, rather, who can eat the most of them. It’s about time those with a big appetite got their just desserts. Brain-offee pie, anyone?
Have you tried Zombie Dice? More importantly, have you tried it as a drinking game? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop a comment below and show us your braaaaaains.
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A passionate traveller as well as a gamer, Joe is trying to play board games in as many countries as possible. No surprise, two of his favourite games are travel-friendly Tiny Epic Galaxies and Coup. But when in his home town of London, Libertalia and Secret Hitler are currently top billing.