A Reductive Variant of ZOMBIES!!! [In the Lab]

[UPDATE: This post eventually became PARTICLE PANIC.]

This idea came out of a brief discussion about ZOMBIES!!! and how it can sometimes drag out too long if the map gets too big. I got to thinking about how you can make a somewhat similar game using no map at all. A circular, claustrophobic, co-operative scenario like a high-tech lab overrun by its undead creations. Hm! Here are some very, very loose notes.

Torus Lab contains the deadliest viruses known to science. Well, contained. Now, infected staff run rampant through the ring-shaped facility, madly trying to escape. Only the last surviving scientists can find a cure for the four strains of the plague and save the world.

1-6 players
A pawn for each player
A blue die and a red die
Two decks of playing cards shuffled together
Lots of zombie miniatures

Shuffle the deck and deal three cards to each player. Cut the remaining deck into six roughly equal stacks. Arrange those stacks in a circle. Reveal the top card on each stack and place it face-up on top. Each stack is as a space on the game board. Each space is numbered 1 through 6. (Maybe use a post-it to mark this?)

Pawns start at the first space. Place one zombie in each remaining space. Your pawns move per the normal movement rules from ZOMBIES!!!, except that you're moving along the ring instead of on a map tile. You must fight zombies along the way, as per normal combat rules.

When you end your turn on a space that is clear of zombies, you can draw the top card from that deck and keep it in your hand. When you do so, turn over the next card face-up and place it on top of the stack. There is an upper hand limit of five cards.

Once during your turn, you may use cards in the following ways, depending on the suit. You may use as many cards as you wish.

Discard a HEART to reroll a combat die.
Discard a CLUB to add 1 to a combat die result.
Discard a DIAMOND to move your pawn one space.
Discard a SPADE to move a zombie one space.

If a player loses a combat roll, their hand limit is reduced by one.

If you land on the same space as another player, you may give that player any number of your cards. The upper hand limit still applies, meaning that player must immediately discard back down to five cards.

At the end of each turn, 1-6 zombies spawn at a random space. Roll two dice. The red die notes how many zombies will spawn. The blue die notes the space where they will spawn. A space cannot have more than six zombies. If a space ever spawns enough zombies to go over six, split the extra zombies among the neighboring spaces however you wish. Repeat as necessary until all zombies are spawned somewhere on the board.

The goal is to develop a cure for the zombie plague. The plague comes in four different strains, so you must find a cure for each. You can develop a cure on your turn by discarding a full set of five-of-a-kind cards. In other words, you must discard five HEARTS to cure the heart strain, five CLUBS to cure the club strain, five DIAMONDS to cure the diamond strain and five SPADES to cure the spade strain.

The game ends if there is no more room to spawn new zombies; if any player's hand limit is reduced to zero; or if a space runs out of cards. If you cannot find a cure before these events happen, the virus breaches containment and you'll lose the game.

So those are the loose thoughts. It might become a thing by Halloween.

EDIT: As a commenter points out below, this would be better themed as an accident in in the LHC. With that theme, I'd remove ZOMBIES!!!-style zombie movement entirely. Instead of zombies, the danger is widening rifts represented by rift tokens. They stay where they spawn, unless moved by spending spades. Yeeesss. I like this.

» Photo: CC-BY-SA RMTip21


  1. Sounds like you have a really nice idea here! Impossible for me to judge whether it's balanced or not, but that's what community playtesting is for.

  2. Not played yet, but why not change the premiss so the game is at the HLC? That way you have (at least in the public mind) a circular laboratory with the added bonus of ZOMBIES FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION!!! You gotta close the rift quick...

  3. Nice! What would you use as the metaphor for the five-of-a-kind victory condition?

  4. Codes to control each of the four particle beams needed to reverse the polarity of the rifts ;)


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