If you like zombies and are looking for solo or co-op experiences then Dawn of the Zeds should be on your want list.
Theme and What is it?
Everything is quiet and peaceful in Farmingdale until the morning the Zeds arrive. Initially instant chaos breaks out, but that is soon replaced with a coordinated effort to turn back the zombie hoard that approaches the city.
The remaining citizens of the area must band together and eliminate the undead as they descend upon the small town. The towns folk must scavenge for the needed resources to use in battle and to keep themselves alive. At this point they only have two choices: kill the undead or become the undead. The latter is less appealing.
Dawn of the Zeds is campaign driven solo board game adventure that, with the newest edition, adds the ability to be played cooperative or competitive with up to five players.
In Dawn of the Zeds, the goal of the game is to survive the zombie attack. The attack is represented by a stack of event cards which determine how the zombies behave. Each round a new card is drawn and this tells the player what the zombies will do and where they will move. The player updates the game board accordingly. This card also lets the player know how many actions they will have for the round.
When it is the players turn to complete their actions, they use their hero, which they selected before the start of the game, other heroes and citizens tokens to fight against the zombies, or to scavenge for supplies and ammunition. To fight the Zeds, the player can use hand to hand combat or attack with guns. Scavenging can take place in many locations on the game board and each location has different items that can be discovered based on dice rolls.
During combat, the results are based on a combination of the total power of the Zeds compared to the total power of the survivor and then factoring in the dice roll. This is all laid out on a chart on the player aid cards to show how much damage Zeds and survivors take as well as letting the player know which group will have to retreat after each combat.
If the player can overcome the wave after wave of zombies and reach the final event card in that deck, then they have survived the attack and win the game.
The game is played over a number of stories and each story adds new rules and elements to the game.
I have not played too many solo player games and never one that was originally designed to be a solo experience. That was a bit intimidating and once I opened the box and saw the rule books (that’s right I said books, with an s) I was even more intimidated.
I put the kids to bed and got started. I spent a good hour going through the rules and the initial setup. The game is set up to ease you into it. The first campaign cut out some things to help you get comfortable with what becomes a fairly complex game over the course of the rest of the campaigns.
Once I got a few rounds of play under my belt, I felt comfortable with what was going on. I eventually stopped consulting the rulebook and was able to make it on my own.
The game can last a long time. At about 1:30 in the morning I decided to call it a night and finish the next day. I moved everything to a card table and set it aside. The next evening, I picked it back up and played to the end, which ended horribly and everyone became zombies.
Game Build Quality
Really solid build on Dawn of the Zeds. The game board and the cardboard components are high quality. The cards are nice stock. I did not run into anything that was suspect. Of course I have not made it all the way through the campaigns, but there are not any components that aren’t similar to ones that I have already seen.
I feel like the artwork of Dawn of the Zeds captures the classic zombie feel but adds its own flavor. In some cases, the zombie theme can be overdone and feel cookie cutter, but this game does a great job allowing it to fit in with the zombie mythos yet still having something new and interesting to offer.
The art is dark and intense. My kids wanted nothing to do with this game (except my four-year-old who loves zombies). The 10 and 7-year-old asked me to turn the game sideways on the shelf so they couldn’t see the cover. Maybe they are oversensitive, but I am just letting parents with young ones know that was how it affected my kids.
For myself, I love zombies and really enjoyed the art. The characters were well done and had their own story to go along with their unique character abilities.
Going through this game as a solo experience was fun. I was not sure what I was getting myself into, but after that first game I just kept thinking about what I could have done better. I kept waiting for another night where I would be up late by myself so I could play again. It had me hooked. I started to research other games that were designed for solo play. Yes, I began to head down that rabbit hole.
The reason I got into board games was to find a way to reconnect with other humans. I wanted to find a way to bring people together instead of just staring at our phones. I feel like I have accomplished that in my life now, and in my first hesitation to play a single player game, I discovered that it was so much fun. I learned that I can be a social and a solo board gamer and that was OK.
Plus, zombies. Anytime I can battle zombies it is going to be a good time.
Age Range & Weight
The age recommendation for Dawn of the Zeds is 14+. That is a healthy suggestion since there is killing. Sometimes it is humans killing the undead and sometimes the undead get the humans. My kids had issues with the cover art so it will be some time before I even think about letting them give this a shot, if they are ever interested.
I would say that the rules have a high complexity rating. Unless someone is willing to spend some quality time learning how to play, there may be some frustration involved while playing. If the time is invested, I don’t think it would be very difficult to explain the rules when playing cooperative.
After getting over some hang ups about a solo game, I discovered that I really enjoyed the solo experience and even looked forward to it. It gave me a new way to enjoy my “me” time. I did not regret the amount of time I spent learning how to play. It was a great investment.
The art was great and the game play was fantastic. Pair those with the high component quality and you have a very strong game experience.
If you like zombies and are looking for solo or co-op experiences then Dawn of the Zeds should be on your want list. I can’t speak to how well the competitive plays, as I have only played solo and co-op, but knowing that the original game was built for solo says something to that. But if its solo you are looking for, you really can’t go wrong with Dawn of the Zeds if you want a rich immersive story driven experience for yourself.
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