Lead the Exodus
The second edition of the Dice of the Living Dead PnP was released a few months ago but flew under the radar. I've only seen it mentioned twice by PnP fans on BGG, with both gamers praising its merits. As a zombie aficionada, I had to try it and see for myself.
And it did not disappoint. The rules are simple, the gameplay is simple and tense. It is a pure dice chucker but one that I enjoyed a lot. Don't expect deep decision making or complicated chain reactions. You're just rolling to save the survivors. Which you lose one by one. They go down fast, as all the map areas are overrun. You win if you manage to reach the Extraction Zone with at least one survivor alive, healthy or infected. Easier said than done.
In each session, you have to traverse three different town locations until you arrive at the Outskirts and exit the Zone. The locations are randomized so you won't go through the same ones every time. You will choose a character from the available range (I immediately chose pizza delivery guy for my first game), and equip them with the street map. Each character has their own strength and weakness. Then, you set up the player board: you start with 12 healthy survivors, 6 supplies and 6 ammo. You also need a variety of dice: a Zombie die, a Scavenging die, a Time die, 5 Survivor dice and a few extra dice for combat.
On every round, you will roll the Zombie, the Scavenging and the Survivor dice. The Zombie die determines how many zombies you will be fighting, the Scavenging die gains you resources, and the Survivor dice will be used for movement and fighting. As your pawn moves along the track on the map tile, you will pass through more zombies and tokens with exclamation marks (which you flip to see what you find). Zombie icons on the map generate stress. You will draw a stress card and hope its conditions don't apply.
At first, the 12 survivors seem like a crowd. It won't be long until they begin to drop like flies. Ammo won't last either and zombies multiply whenever you roll 1s. You do have re-rolls, both during the Survivor dice allocation and during combat, so that you can save your people, walk a bit further and maybe reach the Safehouse. An Event card draw awaits you there, and oh, what to do with the survivors that have been infected? Some turn into zombies, others infect the healthy ones. You just consume supplies and press on, if you can.
After the first round, I thought 'meh'. After the second round, I was hooked. And remained so. Once you get used to it, the game flows fast. I appreciate that it doesn't end quickly (unless you lose), as it feels more like an adventure. For fans of the undead genre, this is a good one.