Gather items to survive the zombie apocalypse in this deck-building game or turn into a zombie and eat your opponents.
|Eaten By Zombies||Mayday Games||Card Game|
In The Box
We had a chance to try out both the 2P (In Cahoots) and 4P version of Eaten by Zombies, which combine to support up to 6 players. Because math! After testing both we’d say that Eaten by Zombies: In Cahoots is a great introduction to the series that will have you up and running a bit more quickly, but some gameplay differences give the 4P version an advantage, even if you never play with more than one opponent.
Both games come with a mix of Swag, Zombie, and Starting cards. These are the basic building blocks of Eaten by Zombies, and the expansion mainly offers new swag along with starting decks clearly marked for each player. There is also a special Zombie Cards set packaged with In Cahoots that makes things more challenging for larger groups. In one of several slightly confusing discrepancies, the original game suggests using five piles of swag while In Cahoots has you pick six. Another typo we found created some confusion by swapping the Flee and Fight conditions.
The deck building in Eaten by Zombies focuses on collecting swag each turn from available stacks to build strength against zombie hordes. Swag cards include offensive items like Crowbar, Shotgun, or Box of Ammo but you’ll also find cards like Binoculars and TV Dinner that make it easier to escape the horde. The funniest and most eclectic cards are those that perform special actions like stealing cards or modifying zombies, with titles like Grandma’s Pantry and I Saw It First! Eaten by Zombies comes with 25 swag items, and In Cahoots adds another 11, meaning that you can keep things fresh and new across multiple games.
How It Plays
The best thing about Eaten by Zombies is how it combines the transactional, card-purchase aspects of a game like Dominion with the battle mechanics of something like Ascension or Blue Moon. A modest starting hand gives you just enough Fight and Flee to escape or destroy zombies as they appear while creating opportunities to scrounge for items that you’ll add to your deck. Defeated zombies also go into your card collection, for reasons that become clear as you progress. Each time the zombie deck is depleted the zombies come at you faster and harder, moving the game more quickly to a conclusion. We like how there are several ways a game can end. With just two players, it generally comes down to the last player alive, but it’s also possible to defeat all the zombies and survive together. Zilling zombies actually increases your chance of drawing them and losing, but constantly running away depletes your deck by forcing you to discard as you retreat. In a 3P or 4P game you have the option to continue playing after you die with nothing but zombie cards, which is a nice thematic touch.
The main downside of mashing up different play styles is that you’ll need a few games of Eaten by Zombies to get into the groove. The zombie deck that constantly spawns new shuffling terrors makes things feel a bit like solitaire, as opposed to the strategy of playing against an opponent’s monsters or power cards. Like any deck-building game there’s good reason to flush low value cards and replace them in your hand, but the influx of zombie cards lends a feeling of rushed inevitability to the proceedings. Your choice of swag definitely influences how the game plays, but the limited strategic depth makes this a good candidate for gaming groups interested in a lighter version of traditional deck building, or those yearning for more zombie action around their game table.
The zombie craze may have peaked a while back, but this is definitely one of the better undead game interpretations. It’s probably best suited to zombie fanatics than deck-building fanatics, but it does earn points for some unique approaches and for being a game that always ends up being very social and interactive.
The idea of one person being left alive is intriguing because you end up cooperating at some times and trying to kill each other at other times. Buying the expansion gives you a lot more swag combinations, and In Cahoots makes it easier to learn the game. A few issues keep it from being on my top list of deck-building games, but if you like zombies and deck building, you can’t go wrong.