Review by C.J. Bunce

The classic wartime strategy board game is back, but this time with the strangest update yet.  It’s Axis & Allies & Zombies.  Just released, the game is playable as a standalone game featuring a 1941 scenario, and if you’re a fan of the original and think you’ve exhausted all the scenarios under past editions, you’ll love the included new rule modifications for the 1942 Edition of Axis & Allies.  It’s a great way to reinvigorate your game play (even if zombies aren’t your thing).  Why?  At its core, Axis & Allies is a heavily dice-driven game.  The update really offers some random changes in circumstances thrown at you as you defend the Americans, the Soviets, the British, the Germans, or the Japanese, in an alternate universe battle to win World War II (we reviewed the new Axis & Allies 1942 Edition last year here at borg).  If you love the zombie genre, even better, as no other game will give you this kind of real-world zombie battle, outside maybe your town’s annual zombie run.

Everything you need to play the game under the 1941 Zombie rules–the standalone game–are included in Axis & Allies & Zombies.  Blood-spattered money (Industrial Production Credits), a stained deluxe game board, six new zombie game dice, ghostly zombie characters, new zombie control markers, a set of 60 zombies (plus an 86-card expansion deck for the 1942 Edition), and all the game pieces from the original game are included here.  A big difference is this game can be played on a standard card table as opposed to the 1942 game board which requires far more space to play–this edition of the game includes a smaller game board than the original, but it still has plenty of room for play.

Zombies are created whenever a nation’s infantry unit is destroyed or via a directive from a zombie card drawn during each turn.  Every zombie gets to attack in each round.  Even neutral territories have gameplay–as a “Desperate Times” zombie card may indicate zombie infiltration via those locations, unlike their lack of utility in the classic game.  Optional play of “Desperate Measures” rules can result in good or bad actions, like the ability to use newly conceived anti-zombie technology.  And don’t expect an air attack by zombies.  Why?  Zombies can’t fly airplanes (of course!).  You also can’t deny the cool factor of another new feature–Chainsaw Tanks.

Once a zombie is the only type of unit in a territory that territory becomes zombie controlled.  Once zombies control 25 IPCs it’s zombie apocalypse time and that means game over (after one more round to determine a winner).  But with good strategy, a player can win and save the world by capturing the capital of any opponent and securing all of its own territories.

Quick learners may be able to delve right in, but the rest of us should read up on the rules first.  My recommendation is read the rules well in advance of game play (you can even read them in advance now at the Avalon Hill website here).  Online game play videos are also available on YouTube.  If you’re a master of any of the earlier editions, a quick reference guide will get you underway.  Otherwise you’ll need to learn the included rulebook to get going.

Zombies get to play in every turn, and each defender of a nation plays a zombie hand in each turn.  The gameplay can move quickly, as that’s how the game contemplates a zombie horde movement.  So conceivably a game can be played in three hours or less.  More strategic players should expect a game of about six hours.  Rules are also included for a brief version of the game, a 1939 scenario between Germany and the Soviet Union.

Axis & Allies & Zombies is a must for Axis & Allies fans and anyone looking for a great zombie game.  With a list price of $40 (and Amazon discount price of $26.37 as of December 13) this is an easy choice for a gift for your favorite gamer.  Run, walk, or shamble to your nearest game store and get your copy of Axis & Allies & Zombies from Wizards of the Coast/Avalon Hill now here at Amazon.