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All Things Zombie Review

Posted By spikexan On September 17, 2009 @ 6:58 am In Other Games | 1 Comment

Available at RPGNow.com

All Things Zombie comes from Two Hour Wargames. Wargaming is a very different hobby than role-playing, which I take part in most often. I’ve tried a few games over the years with minis. Some were true wargames like WarZone while others were toned-down versions like Savage Worlds or HeroClix. The deciding factor for these games to win me over was speed of play. I don’t want to check charts constantly when I’m playing a game. A character sheet and perhaps a index card-sized grouping of key rules is more than sufficient. I’ll allow for each player to work with their own screen because some games dictate that.

At the end of the day though, a game system better have something backing it up if it plans on being convoluted. I realize that some people want as much realism as possible in their miniature combat. I’m not writing this review for those people. I’m writing from the other side, the side where realism takes a backseat after a spell. I’ll elaborate more as I continue.

I have to assume that Ed Teixeira was the sole creator of this game as no credits page exists to refute the theory. The layout in the book, which is just under a hundred pages, is straightforward and clear, despite the immense number of graphs scattered throughout. Some of the graphs have uneven black bars, but all are easy to read. There is very little “wrong” with the layout; nevertheless, it fails to inspire. All the fonts are a dull standard font. There are no borders. There is no excitement. This was a textbook read for me.

The cover art enticed me. It reminded me of 80s zombie movie posters I used to see daily when I worked at a movie rental store. It’s a cool close-up of a zombie with the game’s title running along the bottom alongside a landscape of woods and escaping birds. Haunting and cool. The interior “artwork” consists of photos taken of miniatures. Some of these did make me laugh, but I don’t suspect that was the intention. One picture depicted a mini wielding a gun in one hand and a bottle of liquid courage in the other. That’s how I’d fight zombies too! These clear photos are expertly taken, but they remain close-ups of minis. Unless you’re a fan of photos of minis, I can’t imagine anyone being excited about these additions.

We now come to the writing. I mentioned earlier that this reads like a text book. I should point out that my belief is that all game books are essentially text books. Yep, even the setting heavy material qualifies. Game books may and should entertain the reader; however, the paramount goal of the book is always to educate. Education about the setting or system is simply the groundwork to these books. All Things Zombie didn’t entertain me in the least. I couldn’t figure out why someone wanting a RPG wouldn’t go with All Flesh Must Be Eaten; likewise, I had no answer to why Savage Worlds wouldn’t be explored for mini rules. There is a great adventure called Zombie Run that is much more the page turner than this.

Putting entertainment
aside though, how well did the game educate? Teixeira does a decent job of unloading a tremendous amount of game rules. There are still problems. In places, the writing says there will be two reasons for something, but only one is given. Since the book is laid out more like an ashcan than a finished product, it’s also difficult to find your place. I know bookmarks are wonderful little devices, but at a game table a book full of bookmarks is hardly helpful. There are rules like “Larger Than Life” that all but prevents “character” death. If that doesn’t make you feel safe enough, you can always use the “cheating death” rules. Neither of these really matter since most things can’t kill your characters anyway. You can’t be killed by those with a Reputation less than yours. Stars (you) have a reputation of five. Zombies have a reputation of four. What’s the point?

There are eight pages of charts in the back that players will want to print out for this game, this so-called “RPG-Lite” game. I do appreciate the fact that these are combined together for ease, although some of the space on these pages are a type of short-hand index (the book has an index. The charts just needed a smaller one).

All in all, I felt like this is an unfinished product that needs a great deal of further playtesting. I’d only suggest it for gamers who like to tinker with systems. My scores for this game are:

Layout: Two out of Five Dice (Bland)
Artwork: One out of Five Dice (The cool cover gives this one Die)
Writing: One out of Five Dice (A book three times larger than it should be)
Overall: One out of Five Dice (Trim this down, make it exciting, and make me eat my words)

Review by Todd Cash

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