What greater love can a man have for his town than to immortalise it in a board game where it's overrun with zombies? Paul Stapleton certainly knows and loves Brighton, and this game will have you navigating your way around this seaside city, dodging and fending off a plague of zombies while racing to be the first to catch the train to safety after racking up 50 points.
One player controls the zombies and 1-5 other players control the survivors. In similar scenarios, games often expect survivors to work together to tackle a zombie threat but in ZomBN1, it's everyone for themselves. The zombie player will be out to get you, for sure, but your fellow survivors aren't your friends; they could be equally likely to attack you - and you them.
Players can score points for die-rolling success on some of the cards they draw when they land on Encounter squares but scoring is primarily through completing Objectives: drawing a location card and making your way to that location. The player controlling the zombies also always has an Objective card. They score for that by getting three of their zombies to that location but they can also steal and score for players' Objectives by overrunning them with three zombies. This creates a surprisingly well balanced and actually quite tense, if still tongue-in-cheek, asymmetric game. Zombies will be eliminated by players but new zombies are always being added, so the zombie player will always have an army of avatars to control - always aiming to get three zombies converged on an Objective. So tho' ZomBN1 is a family level easy-to-play game, it is marginally harder to play controlling the zombies rather than as one of the survivors.
This is a roll & move game: you roll dice and move that number of squares. This makes it intuitively easy for anyone to play. But before more hardened gamers turn away, ZomBN1 isn't a game where players are merely rolling dice and mechanically following the pre-set path ahead. This is Brighton, after all: a city laid out not on the well-ordered linear grid found in so many other European or American cities. Brighton's streets form a twisting maze, so for almost any given die roll players will have plenty of choice about where to move. This gives ample scope for tactical play. There are tactics too in the use of survivors' individual special abilities and players will be accumulating and utilising Loot and Sneak cards to aid them and to hinder opponents. Some Encounters will even give survivor players Companions to aid them. Each Companion adds their own further special ability, so, for example, the Man With a Van allows you to carry an unlimited amount of Loot (ignore the hand-size limit) and the Stray Soldier lets you pick up an Airdrop card, which will give you a powerful ranged weapon. PvP combat allows the winner to steal the loser's cards...
It helps if you know Brighton - otherwise you'll initially struggle to find some of the locations on the map board - and those who know the city well will recognise some of the in-jokes and Easter eggs hidden in the game. The game celebrates Brighton's eccentricities and eccentrics, and you'll spot familiar archetypes and even some well-know local celebrities - the city's Green Party MP even makes an appearance as one of the Companions. All of this makes ZomBN1 a great souvenir as well as a fun game; certainly way preferable to the more conventional alternative of the localised edition of Monopoly (Hasbro / Winning Moves).