The Best Zombie Board Game

There are a lot of zombie board games out there.  But which game should rightfully hold the title of Best Zombie Board Game of ALL TIME?  That’s a tough question to answer, what makes a truly great game is entirely subjective.  Not to mention each game can vary drastically in tone and mechanics, from the light hearted dice roller to the pulse pounding mini game.  So instead of declaring a single victor, we decided to put together a list of our favorite Zombie themed board games (there are hoards to choose from… see what we did there?  ARE WE NOT CLEVER?!?!) and let you decide which is the best zombie board game of all time.

Zombie 15′

Zombie 15' Board Game

<clears throat… assumes voice of movei trailer guy> In a world where every adult has been turned into a vicious blood-thirsty zombie, and most of the children have been fed to the flesh hungry adults, a small group of teenagers scrambles to survive.  Your team has to work together to find shelter, food, find other survivors, and solve the mystery behind the terrible plague.

This is a super fast paced zombie board game.  If you’re looking for in depth play with complex choices, then move along, this is not the game you’re looking for.  But if you want a frenetic experience, where you have to make split second decisions in real time, then this might be the perfect game for you.  Each game only takes 15 minutes to complete (not including the setup), and speed is of the essence.  Each player can take four actions per turn, but you need to be quick.  An audio track plays, and when you hear the zombie growl, then bad news: you have to draw a card and add more zombies to the board.

It is a very easy game to play, and can be a quick palate cleanser on one of your board game nights.  In most instances, the actual setup takes about as long as the gameplay, and it’s very easy to learn or teach to new players.  The speed of this zombie board game can really ramp up the tension.  And if you’re looking for a longer experience, no worries, there is a campaign mode where you play multiple games that are connected.

Best with 4 players

You will like this game if…

  1. You want some serious frantic and fast paced action
  2. You want a fun campaign mode
  3. You want a game that keeps all players invested

You won’t like this game if…

  1. You don’t want to think fast
  2. You want a longer game

Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game

Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game Board Game

Imagine yourself as a small town hero, pitted against a hoard of the mindless undead.  In this game, one group of players (3-4 players) play the heroes, each with their own unique set of skills and abilities.  The remaining players (1-2 players) control the undead, seeking to quell their unending thirst for braaaaaaiiiiiins.

This zombie board game includes several scenarios, including survival, rescue, or escape, allowing for a variety of different game styles, all of which can be incredibly fun.  The board is modular, which allows you to change the layout of the town from game to game, which drastically increases the replayability.  This is a fun, nasty little game that really ramps up the tension, and is currently the second highest rated zombie board game on Board Game Geek.  What’s even better, once you are familiar with the rules and how everything works, you can start putting together your own home-made scenarios, and even heroes.

One of the greatest aspects of this zombie board game, is how it naturally rewards and requires team work to survive.  It reminds us a bit of Pandemic in that sense, where you simply cannot survive alone, but working as a team never feels forced or awkward.  Much of the gameplay boils down to luck, card draws and dice rolls, so if you’re not a fan of the “random” factor, this may not be the game for you.  But if you don’t mind a little blind luck steering the course of your gameplay, this is a fantastic choice for the title of best zombie board game.

Best with 5 players

You will like this game if…

  1. You want game that tells an interesting story
  2. You want a game with lot of variety and options
  3. You want a game that you can customize with home-brew heroes and scenarios
  4. You like tactical games

You won’t like this game if…

  1. You don’t want zombie players to feel board
  2. You don’t like luck based games
  3. You like strategic games

Dawn of the Zeds

Dawn of the Zeds Board Game

The world has descended into madness.  A virus has spread across the globe, turning the masses into mindless brain eating zombies nicknamed “zeds”, who are now converging on your location.  The National Guard has organized a battalion who are fighting their way through the hoards to rescue your group of survivors, but in the meantime, you are left your own devices to survive.  And it could be days, weeks, or even months until help arrives.  You are called upon to organize the defenses of Farmingdale and its surrounding villages.  How long can you hold out?

Dawn of the Zeds is a great game, where you stand alone, protecting the center of the map, fighting wave after wave of zombie as they slowly shamble their way towards your crew.  There are multiple stereo-types from the zombie genre; the sheriff, the mayor, old coot, mad scientist, and more.  There are a variety of possible Actions, from fighting to healing to the extremely important scavenging (without scavenging your precious Supplies and Ammo resources dwindle until you’re fighting Zeds with pitchforks and rocks).  The game has a much more camp feel to it, so the gameplay tends to be more light hearted and fun than some of the other options on this list.

Each round players draw an event card, moving the zombies or causing other actions that hurt the defenses of your small town.  One of the great aspects of this zombie board game, bad decisions have terrible consequences, and it seems there are never enough actions to cover your needs.  Often times, its deciding between two things you desperately need (throwing up a barricade or healing a wounded hero), and those decisions can make or break your game.  All in all, this is a great game, and one you’ll want to revisit for multiple plays.

Best with 1 player

You will like this game if…

  1. You want a campy zombie game
  2. You want a game with lots of rules that layer nicely
  3. You want a game that is deeply strategic

You won’t like this game if…

  1. You want something more serious
  2. You want a more immersive zombie game
  3. You want a stronger zombie theme

Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead

Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead Board Game

The world has fallen.  The MV1 virus has gone global, and wiped out most of humanity.  As the leader of your people, you must move quickly to consolidate the local governments in order to present a united front against the undead masses, and find hope where there is none left.  You must research new technologies, and retrain your military in time to defend your budding nation.  Resources, and more importantly, their effective management will become increasingly important as the MV1 virus continues to sweep across your country.  Do you have what it takes to keep your people alive, or better yet, can you muster the forces to eradicate the zombie plague altogether?  Welcome to The Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead.

The game has a lot of great things going for it.  Unlike many board games, you don’t end this game with a tally of scores, comparing to see how many points you have wrung from the game mechanics.  Instead, the game tells a story, a ragged group of survivors clinging to life, or the total annihilation of civilization by the walking dead.  In this game, a tactical error can lead to millions of people becoming the brain eating undead.  The game can be brutally hard, so if you’re looking for an easy game, look somewhere else.  The rules are fast, furious, and unforgiving.

The title of this zombie board game can be a bit misleading, in particular if you’re familiar with one of our all time favorite board games, Diplomacy.  There really isn’t any player interaction or negotiation, although the player turns do all happen simultaneously.  But don’t be fooled, this is a really great game, a gritty, survive by the skin of your teeth kind of zombie fighting game on a grand global scale.  Instead of a small group of survivors, this is about how world leaders would deal with the sheer horror of a mass zombie infestation.

Best with 5 players

You will like this game if…

  1. You enjoy coop games
  2. You want a game that creates fun stories
  3. You want a game that has depth of strategy

You won’t like this game if…

  1. You don’t like resources management games
  2. You want a light, easy game
  3. You want lots of player interaction

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Board Game

Well here we are.  The grandaddy of Zombie Board Games.  The current top rated zombie themed board game on Board Game Geek by a wide margin, and likely the most popular choice for the best zombie board game of all time.  There are a number of great expansions for this game, which add fun elements to the main game, and can expand the replayability quite a bit.  But even on it’s own, this is a heck of a game, one you will revisit over and over to itch that zombie craving fix.

In Dead of Winter you are running a new colony, one that is trying to survive a series of strange enemies with ties to the mysterious Raxxon pharmaceutical location.  Will you increase your colony’s defenses, hold out against raids by rival colonies, and survive the undead hordes?  Each player takes on the role of one of the survivors, who must band together to protect the colony from various outside forces.  But an interesting twist, each player is given a secret objective card, which can vary wildly from a dangerous obsession, a need to sabatoge the main objective, or even a desire for revenge against the colony.  So one player may be secretly working against the group (similar to another favorite game of ours, Battlestar Gallactica).

Dead of Winter is a lot of things, it is a colony survival game, a resource management game, a diplomacy-esque game of secret motives and betrayal, an long term campaign with an engrossing narrative, and a cooperative game of whack-a-zombie.  There’s a reason this zombie board game is so dang popular, and is easily one of the best zombie board games around.  Pick up a copy, you definitely won’t regret it!

Best with 4 players

You will like this game if…

  1. You enjoy secretly working both with and against a group
  2. You want a true horror survival game
  3. You want a game that is really, really hard to beat

You won’t like this game if…

  1. You want pure coop with no betrayals
  2. You want a game with little to no downtime
  3. You don’t like luck factoring into your gameplay

Escape: Zombie City

Escape Zombie City Board Game

It’s your worst nightmare.  Zombies have overrun most of the world.  You and your fellow players have set up camp in a church deep in the heart of a major metropolis.  But bad news, a wave of zombies are headed your way.  Your rag-tag team of survivors must now scramble to repair the old VW Microbus, and get out of dodge before you and your friends become a delicious brain flavored snack for the undead.

Similar to Zombie 15′, this game is played with a soundtrack that lasts only 15 minutes.  Once your time is up, the zombies have arrived, and are dining on the delicious goo inside your skull.  In this zombie board game, each player takes turns exploring, laying out new tiles within the city, and fighting zombies as you search for the pieces needed to fix up your vanigan, and escape the zombie incursion.

Escape: Zombie City is a light hearted, intensely fast paced zombie board game, one that requires you to think quickly on your feet, and tests your fight or flight reflex.  It will definitely get your blood pumping in short order, and the randomness of the tile placement makes it ideal for replaying over and over.  The rules are very simple, so this can make a great family game, to include younger players in the action.

Best with 4 players

You will like this game if…

  1. You want fast paced action
  2. You want a game that you can play with your kids

You won’t like this game if…

  1. You want to spend time thinking out your moves
  2. You want a long, complex game

Zombicide

Zombicide Board Game

Find weapons, kill zombies.  Those are the simple words to live or die by when playing Zombicide, a great zombie board game that distills the genre down to one of its simplest pleasures: the visceral joy of splattering zombie brains.  In Zombicide, players take on the role of a survivor, each with its own set of unique abilities, who must work together to fight their way through the unthinking hordes of the undead.  The zombies are controlled by relatively simple rules and a deck of cards.  Seems simple enough, but in reality, there are MANY more zombies than bullets in this game.  The more zombies you kill, the more skilled your survivor becomes.  The more skilled your survivor becomes, the more zombies show up, ready to eat your brains.

This zombie board game oozes theme, so if you are wanting something that feels like a zombie shoot ’em up, then this is the game for you.  It includes a number of scenarios that can be played in a campaign style, and the scenarios are hard.  Brutally hard.  Some people might complain about the difficulty, but we’re talking about the zombie apocalypse here.  Name one movie where the heroes have no problem escaping the zombie hordes.  You can’t do it, because that would make for a terrible film.  So why should a horror board game be any different?

The rules are relatively easy to learn (although the rule book is a bit of a disorganized mess) and some of the mechanics feel a bit clunky, but that doesn’t change the fact that the game is a whole lot of visceral fun.  If you get hung up on rules, this may not be the game for you, but if you can overlook some clunkiness, nothing on this list approaches the gut punch of zombie shooting fun this game packs.

Best with 3 or 6 players

You will like this game if…

  1. You want a game that really nails the zombie theme
  2. You want to shoot zombies.  Shoot them in the face!
  3. You want a tactical game

You won’t like this game if…

  1. You want a strategic game
  2. You want a customize-able map
  3. You want a quick and easy game

 

Mall of Horror

Mall of Horror Board Game

And now we come to the last game on our list of potential options for the best zombie board game of all time.  The concept of Mall of Horror is just too fun to leave out.  In Mall of Horror, each player takes control of a stero-typical character: the blonde, the bad boy, the brute, who must survive a mall that has been invaded by hundreds of zombies.  But this is not your typical survival game.  Players are out for themselves, so team work only happens when the arrangement is mutually beneficial.  Players will negotiate, lie, ally, betray, and do what it takes to survive.

In some ways, this may be the most psychologically realistic game on our list.  Sure, most of us like to think that, if we found ourselves in a life or death situation involving zombies, we would do the admirable, noble, selfless thing.  But in reality, most of us would slam the door shut in the face of our loved ones if it meant keeping our brains inside our heads.  Sure, we’d be bummed out watching our mom ripped to shreds by the undead, but when the chips are on the table, it is survival of the fittest.

This is a great game, but one that has the potential to ruin friendships.  Or heaven forbid, relationships.  DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER!  If you think Monopoly can strain your relationship, you need to steer clear of this beast.  But with the right group of people, this game can be loads of fun, as you all scramble, lie, back-stab, manipulate, and negotiate your way to the top.  Many of the other games on this list have a similar look and feel, survivors using cards and rolling dice.  Mall of Horror has a singular and unique feel to it, one that is a really great time with the right mix of players.

Best with 6 players

You will like this game if…

  1. You love backstabbing your friends
  2. You enjoy trash talking your fellow players
  3. You only want zombies as window dressing

You won’t like this game if…

  1. You want a true coop experience
  2. You want a rich zombie theme
  3. You want little player interaction