My first blog post was about Pandemic. In that post, I mentioned if you don’t like the theme of fighting viruses, you can pretend that the cubes in that game are zombies. Well in this game, you have no choice, you are fighting zombies and they are relentless and they want a piece of you!
Yes, the theme is zombies and you think that might be scary or gruesome. Don’t worry, when you see the artwork in this game, you will quickly realize it is silly and quite funny. The game boards have some zombie art on them but they pretty much look like what you might see at a haunted house for kids in a more cartoonish way.
Run, fight or die board game is designed by Richard Launius, and published by Greyfox game. It plays 1 to 4 players and may take about 30 minutes to an hour to complete. It says 14 years and older on the box, however, I think you can easily play this game with a 10-year-old. I believe, the 14 year age limit was because of the theme of the game, not the complexity.
On the other hand, if you think your children may be disturbed by the theme or the art work, well, just play with adults :).
You live in a small town in America and the zombie apocalypse is on us. You and the other players each represent a unique character in this town. You need to survive the zombies and at the same time need to find other survivors that desperately need your help. Once any one of the players finds enough survivors, he or she can get them out this crazy town to safety. All others that are left behind, well, better luck next time!!
Game set up
Each player gets a player board and a unique character board that is added to the bottom of his or her player board. The player board has three zones on it:
The player board has three zones on it:
They see you (Zone 3): At the beginning of the game, each player places 4 zombie figures in this zone. These zombies do not attack, but they have just detected you and decided that you look really tasty 🙂
They are coming (Zone 2): At the beginning of the game, each player places 3 zombie figures in this zone. These zombies do not attack, but you guessed it, they are walking towards you and getting closer by the minute!
They are on you (Zone 1): At the beginning of the game, each player places 1 zombie figures in this zone. These zombies are the ones that will start biting if you don not take care of them by the end of your turn. Good luck!
The unique character board each player gets has the picture and the description along with the unique strength of that character the player can use every turn. It also shows how many life points that character has. There are 6 personalities to choose from, the phone technician, the sweet prom girl, the athlete or the army vet, for example, are one of the characters you can choose. They even have a backstory for each one of them on the back of each board 🙂
Then you shuffle and put aside the loot deck, the location deck, the event deck, the fleeing deck, and the followers deck within reach of the players. Decide the first player and give that player 5 player dice and the event die, you are ready to begin.
This game uses a very familiar game mechanism, Yahtzee-style dice rolling to fight ( or run away from ) the zombies, search for survivors or loot, go to locations, trigger events etc.
Turns are super easy, the game comes with a very handy player aid that summarizes the player turn in addition to what your options are based on the dice you rolled on your turn. After a turn or two, you quickly grasp the turn structure. The decisions that you have to make are what make this game fun and also funny!
After you roll the 6 dice on your turn, first you have to deal with the result of the event die. That can be good or bad depending on the roll and must be resolved first. Then you see if you have rolled any zombie symbols. Every zombie symbol rolled is locked and cannot be rerolled, and you will be adding that zombies to your zone 3 at the end of your turn.
If you rolled anything other than a zombie symbol, you can keep on or all of them, or you can, if you choose to, reroll any number of those dice 2 more times. However, be careful, every reroll, you have to lock in the zombie symbols, adding them to the total number of zombies that will be coming after you at the end of your turn!.
The “non-zombie” dice that you have, will determine how many zombies you can kill, or search for followers, or maybe, get a loot card that might help you out on a future turn. Whatever your decision is, you are going to have to live with the consequences, because you may end up waking up the boss zombie monster.
At the end of your turn, first, you move every zombie on your board one zone forward. If you haven’t taken care of the zombies in zone 1, guess what, you are going to be losing a life point for each of them. After you are done advancing all the bad guys on your board and possibly taking damage, you automatically add 3 zombies, plus the number of zombies equal to the zombie symbols you rolled on your turn, to your zone three.
After you are done advancing all the bad guys on your board and possibly taking damage, you automatically add 3 zombies, plus the number of zombies equal to the zombie symbols you rolled on your turn, to your zone three.
If you still have any life points left, you can take a deep breath and hand the dice to the player to your left. It is his turn to deal with the zombies that are coming after him now.
How does the game end?
This game ends if one of a number of conditions is met. The two easiest ways are:
If on a players turn he loses all his life points, the game ends immediately and all the others add up their points from all the followers they have found, the player with the most points wins the game.
If one of the players find a fifth follower, he can choose to end the game at the end of his turn, and everybody again adds up all the points from all the follower cards The highest score wins. There are a couple of other ways to end this game, but this gameplay video here is a great way for you to see how the game plays and learn more about the rules, so I am not going to explain all the details.
In my opinion, other than the game play itself, the followers in this game is the second best reason why this game is so much fun, and silly at the same time.
Every follower you find usually has a positive and a negative “quality”. This makes the game really funny because, you find a follower that gives you a lot of points at the end of the game, but she might be a screaming cheerleader that attracts a bunch of zombies at the beginning of your turn.
Or it might be the town drunk, that keeps stumbling and slowing you down. The dumb jock, who decides to take on the zombies all by himself. There are so many funny characters in this followers deck when you draw a card from it, you start laughing :).
Run, fight or die takes a very familiar game mechanism (Yahtzee), adds a fun theme on it and turns it into a great family game that has a good amount of decision making. It plays quick, usually, takes about 45 mins or less for a 3-4 player game. The rules are really easy to understand, and with the help of the player aid, after a couple of turns, the game starts to flow really quickly.
You will have so much fun pointing and laughing at your opponent’s board because it is covered with zombies and he is about to die, then he rolls a super dice combo, kills all the zombies on his board. Next thing you know, now it is your board that is being overrun with a bunch of monsters and everybody is laughing at you! ( which literally happened to me last time I played this game:) )
If that sounds like your cup of tea, give this game a try, you won’t regret it.
There are expansions available for it as well. One of them adds different types of zombies, and another introduces a cooperative gameplay. Speaking of which, if you like coop games or want to find out more about them, check out my Pandemic review.