Review: Run, Fight, or Die

Zombie Games. Once in a while, I like playing one of these thrillers. It gets you into thinking, if there was really a zombie apocalypse, what would be the things you would need to do in order to survive? Could you form a community with others and live off the rations that are found, like they did with Dead of Winter. Or just survive one night in a mansion, running and hiding around town every so often to find resources, like in one of the many scenarios of Last Night on Earth. Even the Zombie version of Escape has you trying to leave a town overrun with the undead. But all of the zombie thriller games have the same essential premise. You run as far away from them as possible, kill them with the limited resources you have if they get too close, seek help from strangers that hopefully will aid you in your survival, or die.

That being said, I came across a Kickstarter game recently, that essentially only give you three choices. In a Zombie apocalypse do you Run, Fight or Die?

Run Fight or DieRun, Fight or Die is a quick Dice Roller Game created by Richard Launius. It has a very similar mechanic to the Dice Roller, King of Tokyo or King of New York. In this game, you take on one of six general and somewhat stereotypical roles usually found in a zombie horror. You could be the high school jock, a military veteran, or the prom queen just as examples. As one of the remaining humans of the zombie apocalypse, you are trying to survive as long as possible, as a giant horde of zombies are coming after you. During this run, players will encounter other generic townsfolk who will either help you in your quest, or significantly hinder your chances of living. You will also run in to and out of many locations, search for weapons and goods, all in a crusade to outrun the zombie horde.

Set-up is very straight forward and simple. Like King of Tokyo, players take a role tile and then take one of the accompanying game boards.Each role has a special ability that will assist you in your survival. Players then place zombie figurines in three different zones. Have the cards shuffled, the dice close by and you’re ready to go.

On your turn you will roll six custom made dice, five action dice and one event die. After you’ve rolled the dice you resolve the event die. Some events are beneficial such as “all quiet” which prevents zombies from coming on the board, or you can heal some of the wounds you took during the fight. Other events add additional zombies onto your own gameboard, and can even cause zombies to charge towards you. Once you’ve resolved the event die, you have two optional rerolls that can be used to roll actions such as killing zombies that are close to you with a bat or shooting them with a gun. (Because every survivor knows you should always carry a stick-like object for beatin’ and a firearm for shootin’) Certain combinations of dice will also allow you to go through locations, find followers, loot, or even clear out all the zombies from one zone. But if you roll a zombie icon, the die becomes locked, and you will get additional zombies added onto your board. At the end of your turn, zombies on your board move close to your role tile and you add more zombies to the furthest zone from you. If zombies land on the player tile, you take wounds. The Players' Board and the Custom Dice

To win the game you must have the most points before the game end. Points are acquired by how many life points you have left, the value of the points for the followers, and how many times you helped kill a mutant boss zombie. The game ends when one player dies, a player finds the town line, a player lifts the zombie curse by killing the mutant boss zombie, or if a player manages to have a certain number of townsfolk on their team.

One thing I didn’t like about the game was the artwork. When I think of zombie board games, either the characters and settings look like they are in a very dark and edgy comic book or they have a sense of realism in their images.  There was a picture of a girl in pigtails holding two guns and  the only reason I was absolutely terrified at looking at the picture was because she looked buck ugly. The artwork seemed too cartooney which takes away from the zombie theme. However the generic sounding townsfolk are what made the game interesting. I drew the wealthy heiress and the cool guy for my followers. The wealthy heiress gave a lot of points, but I had to give her any loot that I had because of her greediness. The cool guy has low points, but cancels out any negative effects of one card. So I could imagine a nagging wealthy heiress to join the group, but then started to get all googly eyed when the cool guy shows up on the team. So much for reminiscing on your former ex-lover wealthy heiress!

IMG_7209The game forces players to juggle between fighting the zombie horde coming after you and finding more resources to add to your arsenal. Just like many chance games you have some control over the decisions you make and thus reap the benefits of making good choices while accepting the consequences of making poor choices.

This game in my opinion is hit or miss. The game has the exact same mechanic as the King of Tokyo Series in that you roll a set of dice three times and take actions based on what you see on the dice. You grab cards and resources based on the rolls you got and then you end your turn.  In Run, Fight or Die however, you are more focused on what you are doing rather than what your opponents are doing. The elements in which you affect other players is weak. Sure, you might be able to transfer zombies from your board to another board if you are targeting a specific player or even steal useful villagers to join your crew, but your board eventually becomes overrun with zombies, and your attention becomes shifted towards keeping your own player alive rather than to take malicious actions against others.

In addition, this game has a lot of random elements to it. Because there is no rule where you can foresee cards, you essentially are at the mercy of the decks. There is no strategy in whether or not you should pick a follower, a loot card, an event, or a location, although most cards are in favour of the player who drew it. There is one deck we can ensure has all bad events, and that’s the fleeing deck. You only draw from this deck if you have too many locked zombie faces on the dice and you want to reroll them. However, if we are trying to simulate a zombie apocalypse, I’m pretty sure you don’t have many choices when running from zombies.  You run around town, take what you can get, eventually find a person, and either take them under your wing or leave them to the zombies.

So this game essentially comes down to the type of gamers you’re going to have over. If your friends want a simple game where you create the stories that happen in this fictional town and enjoy the absolute randomness that comes from rolling custom dice and the blind drawing of cards, Run, Fight or Die is for you. If your friends are looking for a game that comes with major strategic elements, thoughtful planning, and some amazing artwork, Run, Fight or Die is not for you. At the end of the day, this is a decent zombie game that’s highly entertaining as long as you are immersed in the zombie theme.

Pros:

  • Simple dice roller game with an easy set up
  • Cool looking components such as custom dice and zombie figurines
  • Thematically, the generic names of the characters, and the random cards allow for an immersive zombie experience.
  • Decisions either make or break your survival chances. (It’s your fault, not the card’s fault)

Cons:

  • Too random. You’re essentially playing a zombie version of “Let’s Make a Deal”. Do I go for the Loot or The Location or DOOR NUMBER 3?!?
  • Artwork is a bit too cheesy and cartoony for my tastes.
  • Very little to offer in terms of player interactions; more focus is in what is happening on your board than on the other boards.
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