It is just a regular day, you are hanging out at the shopping mall browsing the shops and grabbing a bit to eat. But then you notice something is amiss, people don't quite look right, they have a lumbering walk and are staring at you with hunger in their eyes. You suddenly realise you are in the middle of a zombie outbreak and you are in a fight for your survival. This is Tiny Epic Zombies!
Tiny Epic Zombies is a 1-5 player game from Gamelyn Games, set in the Tiny Epic Series with the unique ITEMeeples the games are now known for. This time players are survivors in Echo Ridge Shopping Mall and there has been a zombie outbreak. As a survivor you must complete three objectives to win the game. As a zombie you must kill all the survivors. Tiny Epic Zombies has five different game modes to choose from and can be played with 1-5 players. The games modes include;
- Co-operative with the game controlling the zombies.
- Co-operative with a player controlling the zombies.
- Competitive free for all with the game controlling the zombies.
- Competitive free for all with a player controlling the zombies and
In this review I will mainly talk about the co-operative mode with the zombies controlled by the game but will discuss the changes/differences for the other modes at the end.
The nine mall cards are laid out with the courtyard in the middle and the other stores surrounding it as detailed in the rule book. One zombie is added in to each of the rooms at the mall entrance depicted by a coloured icon.
The barricade token and two survivor tokens (for normal difficulty) are added to the courtyard card. A zombie card is randomly selected from the player card deck and placed zombie side up
Each other player is randomly dealt three player cards and chooses one to keep. They pick an ITEMeeple in their colour and place it in the courtyard. A wound token is placed on the zero spot and the ammo token is placed on the nine spot on the player's card.
The nine objective cards are shuffled and three are dealt randomly with the co-operative side face-up. The objective cards will have some set-up and token requirements and these are now followed.
The search deck (made up of item cards, event cards, weapons and backpack items) and supply deck (made up of weapons and backpack items) is created as detailed in the rule book and placed near the zombie card and the objective cards respectively. Each player draws a face-down card from the search deck and places it face-down next to their character.
The items and melee die are placed near the supply deck, the vehicle (motorbike or police car) is placed near the relevant store, the trap tokens and supply tokens are placed in their respective spaces on the board.
Gameplay (Co-operative vs Game Controlled Zombies)
Each turn a survivor must move three times and after each move could result a number of other actions being taken:
- Kill a zombie.
- Use the Room's ability and/or interact with a token.
- Collect items.
A player can then search the store they are currently in. Each survivor has a special ability which may trigger at different stages of a player's turn.
Then the game controlled zombie has a turn where they;
- Check for noise.
- Add new zombies and
- New search cards are drawn.
A player must move in to an adjacent room. If a room is connected with a flat section of wall it is considered adjacent. This also includes moving through a room in to an adjacent store. Each card represents a store and each store has three rooms. If a player starts in a room with a zombie they must still move first before doing anything else.
Kill a Zombie
After moving one room players may kill a zombie by either a melee attack or a ranged attack. After a zombie is killed it is removed from the room and returned to the supply.
If a player moves in to a room with a zombie it must be attacked using a melee. This involves rolling the melee dice. No matter what the result of the roll the zombie is killed, but the dice can cause various other affects to occur. If the overkill is rolled (green skull) the player may immediately move to another adjacent room for free. It is possible that if this free move is in to a room with a zombie another melee attack happens and multiple overkills are possible in a turn. If the grey head is rolled nothing extra happens. One or two wound symbols means the player receives one or two wounds.
If a player moves in to a room without a zombie they can perform a range attack on a zombie in adjacent room. They spend a bullet and kill the zombie..
Room abilities and tokens
If the store (i.e. all three rooms) is free of zombies the room's ability can be used and tokens can be picked up. Room abilities include gaining a bullet and heal two wounds amongst others. Supply crates can be collected and taken back to courtyard to heal the barricade two spaces and allow players to draw from the supply deck to receive items/weapons. Objective tokens can also be picked up at this stage.
Throughout the game various items/weapons and backpack items will be left in the store from the Search the Store step below. If the store is free of zombies these can be collected by the player and depending on the item either used immediately or kept for a later turn. Weapons are added to a player's card in the indicated area. Only one melee weapon and one range weapon can be carried at a time.
The player repeats the steps above until they have moved three times or something causes them to end their turn.
Search the Store
After moving three times the player now reveals their face-down card that they drew from the search deck and places it in the store that they ended their turn in. If the card is an event card (red exclamation mark) this is resolved immediately.
Check for noise
The search card that the player revealed is used to check if the card's entrance symbol matches the entrance symbol of the store the player ended their turn in. If it does not match then the human player does not make noise and one zombie is added to each of the stores that match the search card's entrance symbol.
If it does match then the human player has made noise and two zombies are added to each of the matching stores. The active player then draws another face-down search card and places it next to their player board.
When zombies are added to a store they must be placed on the lowest numbered room that does not currently contain a zombie. When a store is filled with zombies (i.e. three) then additional zombies are added in to the store adjacent or in to the courtyard. If a corner store is filled then they are added to the next clockwise adjacent store. If the store is touching the courtyard (i.e. the north, south, east or west store) the zombie is added to the barricade and damages it. The barricade token is reduced by one and if the barricade token ever reaches zero a survivor is eaten and removed from the game. The barricade token is then reset to two.
The zombie will also have special abilities that need to be taken in to account and checked to see if they are activated. If a zombie is ever placed in to a room with a player, then they are classed as being overrun. The player immediately takes one wound and must move out of the room on their next turn.
The wounds and ammo tokens on a player's card represent how likely they are to survive. If the wound token and ammo token are ever on the same space the player is eaten alive by the zombies. All of their item cards are dropped in the room that they are in. If there are no more survivor tokens in the courtyard the human players have lost. If there are, one is removed and the player is dealt a new player card with zero wounds and nine ammo. The player card for the survivor that got eaten is flipped to its zombie sided and is placed next to the zombies other card. The zombies are now stronger and have additional abilities.
If the survivors complete three objectives they immediately win the game.
If there are no more survivors in the courtyard when a player is eaten alive or the barricade token reaches zero. Also, if all the search cards have been drawn and the human players have one more turn each and the objectives have not been completed.
Co-operative vs Player Controlled Zombies
The are a few differences in the way the zombies play when they are controlled by another player.
- During the set-up, the zombie player draws eight cards from the search deck and can choose which card to play face-down in front of the human players. At the end of a player's turn, when they draw the top card of the search deck, the player controlling the zombie selects which card from their hand to give the player.
- The zombie player card also uses the horde track which grants further abilities. When the humans make noise the zombie player can perform an action based on where the horde maker is on one of their zombie player cards. The horde marker is then advanced one space on the horde track. The zombie player then adds two zombies to one store or one zombie in to two stores that match the entrance symbols on the search card.
Competitive vs Player Controlled Zombies
All the human players are now competing against each other to complete the three objectives to be the leader of the group as well as facing the zombie player.
- The set-up is changed slightly as all the objective cards and courtyard are flipped to their competitive side. One survivor token for each player is placed on the competitive side of the courtyard (two tokens each in a two-player game).
- When a player is eaten alive, not only do they give their player card to the zombie player they also give 1 of their survivor tokens as well.
- If the zombie damages the barricade to zero they take one survivor token from the player who has the fewest wounds but still has a survivor token in the courtyard.
- When one survivor completes three objectives the game ends immediately, all the human players win but the player who completed the three objectives is the leader of the group.
- The zombie player wins if all human player die without any remaining survivor tokens, the zombie player collects one survivor token from each human (or two in a two-player game) or all cards in the search deck have been drawn and each human player has 1 more turn without winning the game.
Competitive vs Game Controlled Zombie
This is a combination of the human rules for the competitive game with a player controlled zombie the zombie rules detailed in the main article above.
The game can also be played solo with the human player controlling two separate survivors and the using the same rules as the co-operative game with game controlled zombies.
Final Thoughts on Tiny Epic Zombies
As regular readers will know I am a massive fan of the Tiny Epic Games series and Tiny Epic Zombies is a massive hit with me. The rules are pretty straightforward and boil down to move, kill a zombie, interact with a room/collect tokens and search a store.
The gameplay is smooth and quick. The objectives are pretty varied, offering a decent amount of replay-ability. I have played this solo and co-operatively with two and four players. All the games I have played have been with the zombies controlled by the game. I am really interested to try out the player controlled zombies. I can see how this will change the game as the survivors will have to be careful how much they plan and discuss tactics. If the zombie player knows exactly what the survivors are doing then they can give them search cards that will cause them to make noise.
The competitive element looks interesting as well. Tiny Epic Zombies feels like a episode of Walking Dead. Walking around a shopping mall with a golf club in hand bashing zombies on the head just feels thematic and delightful.
I enjoy playing this solo when I just want something that is quick and easy to set-up and play. It takes around 20-30 minutes for a solo game. I have also played this as a four-player game numerous times with gamers and non-gamers, all who have had a blast playing.
I really enjoy Tiny Epic Zombies, I think out of all of them so far this might be my favourite but it is a close call with Tiny Epic Quest. Great game, small box and one that I recommend.