Where are we going to live? – Abandoned prison, shopping mall, deserted island. Where are going to get food? – Tins from the supermarket, farm the land, cannibalism (…only in extreme circumstances). Our scenarios are foolproof and there are plenty of great board games that explore and challenge these strategies in preparation for the end of days.
Student Bodies is a game less concerned about long-term continuing survival, and more about the initial outbreak. The game is set on the infancy of an apocalypse, and if you want to live to farm the land on your peaceful tropical island you will need to escape ground zero first.
The game’s unique selling point is the setting and set-up. While the game can work as a co-op, ultimately only one person can win, so partnerships have a built-in shelf life. As the game is set in a high school the availability and usefulness of the weapons is limited. You could be armed with anything from a hockey stick to a bag of dice. This adds an interesting element to the game, as players are required to get up close to the zombies in order to kill them. There are no guns and precious few ranged attacks.
At the start of the game two to four players select their student avatar. The game can be played with five players, though the rules suggest four is best. The goal of the game is to move your character through the obstacle and zombie filled school searching for the plague’s antidote. Once cured the character must then run back through the school, and lock the doors to prevent the spread of infection. Leaving the other players for dead. The game generates zombies as the players progress forward. These enemies move or attack the players at the beginning of each turn. If the player’s character loses all health, they too will become a zombie. A player controlled zombie’s new mission is to kill the other players. This helps to keep all players involved in the game, as no one will have to sit on the sidelines should their character die too early.
Each player has a handful of cards that decides what actions they can take during their turn. Usually these are either attacks or defensive actions. Movement can occur as a standard action, though can be enhanced with certain cards. New items and weapons can be found by looting the corpses spotted around the school. The action and item cards contain some detailed, cartoony art work. I really liked the designs and the very tongue in cheek flavour text. The illustrations and text give the game a satirical tone which prevents it from becoming overall gruesome.
I have played the game a few times and found it overall enjoyable. The board is different every time as the number of zombies and obstacles in the school are randomly determined which can keep the game from feeling to repetitive. As the instructions suggest you treat each player and zombie as an enemy it’s more enjoyable to play the game with close friends (who you are comfortable to throw to the zombie horde). The “I just need to out run you” mentality of the game may not be the best way to make new friends at a game evening.
The only real disappointment is that, while each character has their own personality, they don’t have individual abilities so whether you chose to play as the jock, the nerd or goth the game will run essentially the same.
The games I played lasted for about an hour. This is a fun game to incorporate into a gaming group rotation, and not too time consuming to take over the evening. The full rule book can be downloaded from the Angry Duck Games website.