Wednesday, 16 December 2015

All Things Zombie: Reloaded Board-game

Tonya the Rep:5 Star in the thick of the action. Go girl!
This is a game I have been waiting for for a long time - All Things Zombie: Reloaded (or as I shall call it, ATZ:Reloaded). Let's make one thing clear from the start - this is NOT a replacement for ATZ - Final Fade Out. If you want to game with miniatures and 3D scenery then stick with ATZ-FFO*. ATZ:Reloaded is a stand alone board-game played with card counters on a hex map. The game was written and designed by Ed Teixeira as an improved version of the old ATZ board-game, which is now out of print. Gone are the character specific scenarios to be replaced by generic encounters. The rules are more in keeping with those found in ATZ-FFO. Indeed, ATZ:Reloaded would work as a perfect primer for those wanting to get into ATZ-FFO, as it is much more streamlined and less detailed. Also, if you are limited for space, or lack sufficient figures and/or 3D scenery, then this is a worthy substitute.


Inside you'll find:
  • A full set of colour counters including Survivors, Gangers, and Militia characters, as well as a wide range of weapons and loot that you can find during your games.
  • A set of Event Cards that provide all the info you need at a glance, from friends, enemies, zombies, loot and more.
  • Newly designed Player Aid Cards to help you keep track of your characters and their “stuff”.
  • An easy to use campaign system that ties all your games together where the results of one affects the results of the next.
  • Six 11” x 17” maps that can be laid out in over 50 different ways, making each game unique.
  • Specific objectives that provide ways for your characters to increase in skill and ability when they succeed.
  • All this and more.
ATZ:Reloaded can be played solitaire, cooperatively with everyone on the same side, or competitively with everyone against one another. It can also be played as a “one off game” or part of an ongoing campaign.
Components consist of:
  • 25 Event Cards
  • 6 - 11" x 17" Maps (2 Rural, 2 Suburban and 2 Urban)
  • 20 Character Cards (11 named and 9 generic)
  • 88 Counters
  • 3 Rules Reference Sheets (printed double-sided)
I have played this game quite a lot these past couple of weeks and I have mixed views on it. Let's start with the good points. First impressions were highly favourable. Production values are high. The rulebook is in full colour with lots of examples of how the rules work. The Event Cards, Character Cards and Maps are well designed. The Counters are printed on thick card and are very durable. It might be that I am extremely familiar with the ATZ rules but I found the rulebook very easy to understand. Game play is more akin to the tabletop skirmish version than the older board-game version. I'm a huge fan of the whole All Things Zombie franchise and followed the progress of this board-game throughout its production with keen interest. Overall, the game is fine but it is not without its faults.

Most of the bad points about the game are relatively minor. What always annoys me about any book is sloppy proofreading. This rulebook has not been properly proofread. For starters, the right hand column of text on page 6 is repeated on the left hand column of page 7. On page 11 under the heading TURN SEQUENCE it says "if the die scores are the same (doubles) neither side will activate." However, in the glossary under DOUBLES it says "when 2d6 are rolled for Activation and the results are the same both sides activate." I believe the text on  page 11 to be correct. This is how it works in ATZ-FFO.
The Damage Table for Ranged Fire on one of the Reference Sheets is badly worded. It says to roll 1d6 vs Rep and apply the result. Usually when it says this you roll against the Rep of the person making the roll, which in this case should be the Shooter. But this wrong. What it should specify is that you roll against the Rep of the Target! And that makes a HUGE difference! It is explained in one of the combat examples in the Zombie rules section but you could easily miss that. I know I did first time I played the game. This rule really should have been made much clearer, because as written, it is just confusing.
I have a few very minor quibbles regarding the Counters. Quite simply, I'd like to have seen more. You get counters for 3 generic Gangers, 3 generic Militia and 3 generic Survivors. These should have been doubled at the very least. Three of each is just not enough. Your choice of ranged weapons is fine and ditto for equipment. However, your choice of melee weapons is pitiful - a baseball bat or a frying pan. Really?! Is that all? Where are the axes, knives, machetes, swords and most iconic of all, the chainsaw?

I really want to recommend this game to you because Ed is a great bloke and this is a good game he's designed. But, and this important, it could have been a great game if a bit more care had been taken. It felt like it had been rushed into production, which I know was not the case. I did enjoy the games I played of it but it isn't a game I'll be rushing back to. Sadly, there is one more negative comment I have to make.

ATZ:Reloaded costs $59.99 from the Lock n Load webstore. What they fail to mention is that there is a $35.00 international delivery charge on top of that. As if that wasn't bad enough, I had an extra £15.00 customs charge to pay for it. As you can imagine I was well pissed off! Good value for money? No way! If you can find a UK supplier I strongly advise you to buy from them.

ATZ-FFO* Please note that Ed is working on a new version of the ATZ tabletop skirmish rules called All Things Zombie: Fade To Black. This rulebook will also be published by Lock n Load and they will replace ATZ-FFO. RRP is $29.99 but you can pre-order it for $24.99 from the Lock n Load website. Having been stung once I won't be ordering from Lock n Load again. One major change is that the book will be printed in full colour throughout. A big thumbs up for that! I have no idea when this book will be released but I'll let you know as soon as I'm able. I'd expect it to hit the shelves sometime in 2016.

33 comments:

  1. That's a shame, Bryan I was all ready to hint to the wife for a new Xmas day board game for us to play. Don't think I can justify that kind of outlay for a game with limitations. I'm an ATZ fan as you know having been blogging about my ATZ games for months, so look forward to your review of "fade to black" and see whether i want to upgrade.

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    1. I know you like ATZ, Andy and I'm sorry my review couldn't have been more positive. I fully understand your reservations about the game. I'm just wondering what new stuff "Fade to Black" can bring as it will essentially be ATZ version 4.0.

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  2. I've also been watching this with interest, wondering if it would indeed attract more people into the wonderful world of zombie apocalypse gaming. I don't think I'll be getting "Reloaded" myself, though.

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    1. For a newbie getting into zombie gaming it's a good enough primer. For veteran players like myself, I wanted more out of it.

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  3. Ah... What a shame Bryan. I was so hoping you'd recommend this unreservedly, as that sort of endorsement hasn't let me down so far... Though having forked out for "High Moon" already this week on account of you, I'm sure my wallet is rather grateful. Hopefully however, you're enjoying the arrival of "Zombicide: Black Plague"? Another of your recommendations which had my bank manager rubbing his hands with glee and my shelves groaning in anticipation.

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    1. As I said in my review, Simon, ATZ:Reloaded is a good game but it's not a great game. It has faults.

      Yes, my copy of Zombicide: Black Plague has arrived and I was playing it earlier today. Expect a full review on Sunday when I'll be praising it to the high heavens. My initial thoughts on it - BEST ZOMBIE GAME EVER!

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  4. Wow, I'm glad to read your review of the board game. I had considered purchasing it to use a primer or traveling version of ATZ. I don't think it has the value that just taking the time for the full ATZ would be. I'm a touch worried about Fade to Black, there have been some rumors on the message boards about some changes coming to ATZ, not all I am a fan of. I'm interested to see what they end up doing.

    Thanks again for giving us an open review!

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    1. Thanks, Steve. I remain open-minded about "Fade to Black" until I actually see a copy.

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  5. A fair and honest review Bryan. When it comes to zombie boardgames, Zombicide is really hard to top Dude! Which is essentially what he is competing with.

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    1. I totally agree with you, Bob. As far as board-games go, Zombicide is in a class of its own and just can't be beaten. I never tire of playing it. Sadly, I can't say the same about ATZ:Reloaded.

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  6. Unless I win the Euro lottery jackpot This will have to be a NO from me with shipping and customs hurting FAR too much. I may just stick to "Last night on Earth!" For my zombie board game fix.

    As for Fade to Black! I thought FFO was supposed to be the FINAL set. So I feel like it was a broken promise and as such will steer clear of Fade to Black..... after all in 2 years time there will no doubt be another version.

    But I do thank you for the review and did find it very interesting.

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    1. I can fully understand your feelings, Clint. Learn from my unfortunate mistake.

      Apparently FFO was supposed to be the FINAL ATZ set. But LNL are now producing many of the THW rules and games. As result, a new version of ATZ is now in production. I, too, have mixed feelings about this.

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  7. I purchased ATZ: Reloaded and I feel like I overpaid by quite a bit. The book quality is great, the cards are okay, but the cardboard markers are very low quality.. and paper maps(?).. really? They wont last long (unless I don't play it much). For what I paid, I feel ripped off and that's because of the game itself, but for the materials that come in the box. Sorry for the rant.

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    1. Hey, Rob, no need to apologise for your rant. I fully understand. I doubt if I'll be playing it much and just like you, I felt ripped off.

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    2. Sorry to hear that. I was hoping I would enjoy it, hoping the quality would be higher. I doubt I will be using it at all. I do not think I will be purchasing anything from LnL in the future as this has soured me.

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    3. I agree with you, Rob. I have no desire to order anything else from LnL either.

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  8. Nice review! ouch on the shipping and being stung by customs! I am not so keen on counter games much preferring games with toys in :) Shipping is a killer I really want to pick up the This Is not a Test printed rulebook when it gets run by ks but shipping is going to be $27!

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    1. I have to admit, Simon, that the shipping cost plus the customs charge left a sour taste in the mouth.

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  9. Hi Bryan,
    Thanks for taking the time to do the review.

    The bits in the rules that you mentioned have been caught by LnL and as the game is print on demand they have been fixed in the book. Here's a link to the Living Rules that LnL provides to those that purchased the game. This should have the corrections inserted. Not sure how to specifically do it, but here's the link.

    http://forums.lnlpublishing.com/threads/all-things-zombie-reloaded-living-rules.2074/

    I can only speak on the design portion of the rules - mechanics, etc. It seems the complaints weren't game play related but more board game components. Fade to Black will be straight miniatures so no counters, maps, etc.

    Thanks again,
    Ed

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    1. Many thanks for that, Ed. It is good to know that the proofreading errors have been caught and corrected. I have no complaints about the gameplay. It's probably a good thing that Fade to Black is more of a miniatures skirmish game. This is what I like the most about your games.

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  10. Just spoke with the editor at LnL and the confusion over the Rep of the Target on the Damage Table has been fixed. Thanks for the catch,
    Ed

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    1. Once again, Ed, thanks for sorting that one out. I'm still not sure why you switched to this method for determining ranged damage when the old roll against the weapon's Target Rating worked so well.

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    2. The reason is (mathematically) that it combines the rolling for damage and the old recover From Knock Down Test. So one less test to take.

      Now in Fade to Black, the minis rules, this went a different way. Still roll for Impact but instead of Knock Down and Recover Test it's a straight Duck Back. This makes it a little less dangerous but is balanced out with how it affects Star Power.

      If you reach a Carry On result from melee damage, you -1 to Rep and immediately fight again.
      If you reach a Carry On result from ranged fire, you Duck back instead.
      Less dice rolling and same results.
      If you reach Carry On

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    3. That all makes sense. Thanks for the quick reply, Ed.

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  11. Hello,

    My name is David Heath and I am the new owner of Lock 'n Load Publishing. First let me start by saying that I am sorry some of you feel bad about the game you received. The older ATZ had many issues, 1) Not being the game Ed original designed, limited maps (maps were printed on both sides), mis-cut counters and some other items.

    As the owner of LnL I take full blame on any production issues. We have corrected many if not all of the issues in the rule book and updated the player aid cards. Because of the production issues of the past, we now print everything in house. We are not using paper maps but a heavy card stock. This map card stock is used in all of our current products.

    Ed was not happy with the way ATZ turned out and we wanted to make sure we got the real flavor of the game Ed designed out in ATZ:Reloaded. Yes we made some errors but we have corrected them. We are a publisher that cares about our designers and what we make. So don't write us off just yet.

    We do have dealers in Europe so for those overseas that should help with the shipping and import tax. On the rules of any game we publish, we also make a living rules edition which is free to download (see the link below) before you purchase any of our games.

    http://forums.lnlpublishing.com/resources/all-things-zombie-reloaded-living-rules.77/

    Thank you for the good and fair review, no publisher can ask more than that.

    David

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    1. Thank you, David, for taking the time out to reply. Your comments are much appreciated. I'd also like to thank you for correcting the mistakes I pointed out in my review. Ed told me that the copy of the game I received must have been one of the first ones produced.

      I do wish I'd known about your European shippers. I know import taxes are out of your control but no one likes paying them. I'm glad you thought my review was fair. As a big fan of ATZ that means a lot to me.

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  12. Interesting review Bryan. See, this is why I like your reviews, you`re not a fan boy, even if you review something you WANT to like, if its not perfect, you mention those imperfections. Makes reading your reviews an imperative if I plan on possibly purchasing a game for myself. Of course, I don`t just follow the crowd, and I wouldn't just buy (or ignore) a game because someone says so. However, in your case, you write with style and confidence, enough to be able to rely on and trust the opinions given **... and is non biased enough to be able to sift through to the `bits` of personal necessary interest. Very helpful as a buyer`s guide.


    ** though the odd typo here and there never has bothered me the same way as it does you.


    I would be interested in your opinion: how does the original ATZ boardgame (which I own but have never played - all the counters still unpunched) compare to this new game?

    I keep meaning to crack open, learn and play the ATZ boardgame, but somehow, I never got round to it.... mostly because Zombicide came along and I got seriously side tracked.

    have never minded shelling out lots of money on a game, if it is worth it. For example, any of the Zombicide big box sets. cost maybe 100 quid (each box) to purchase and perhaps 35 quid on shipping to Ireland = 135 total.... but if a game is good, and will provide plenty of gaming use, I really don`t quibble too much over the price. If something I want costs more than I have to spend, I simply save money until I do have enough (a prime example of this is Warlord Games "Horns of the Buffalo" Deluxe Collectors Set, which sells for £274 plus postage. It was something I desperately wanted for my Colonial Wargames: so I simply saved money for months until I had enough to place the order. Better than spending money on fags, beer, and other unnecessariness.... I just save instead for things I REALLY want). So no, the cost of this new All Things Zombie: Reloaded Board-game - although steep - isn`t by itself an issue IF the game is worth owning (and I actually do struggle with funds, as I am not rich), but I guess I am asking you Bryan, how does it fare compared to the ATZ Boardgame I already own, still in its unwrapped box?

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    1. Thanks for such an informative reply, Steve. You want to know about the differences between the old and the new ATZ board-game? There is very little difference. Reloaded has more maps (6 instead of 4) but they are of inferior quality being printed on thick paper and not thick card. However, unlike the originals they are not double-sided, which is a plus point.
      The counters for the heroes have changed. In Reloaded a Hero's stats remain unchanged if he/she got wounded. You flip the counter over if the Hero is wounded to reveal an Out of the Fight caption. In the original game if a Hero got wounded you flipped their counter over and the Hero had reduced stats (Rep and Move). I prefer the new rules. The Zombie counters have changed as well. Originally they had a number from 1 to 6 printed on them, indicating how many zombies were represented by that counter. Now, in Reloaded, each counter represents one zombie and the number (still 1 to 6) shows the direction they appear on the map. Much simpler and again, a better rule, in my opinion.
      Finally, originally, the scenarios were linked and you were told which Heroes to use. Now the scenarios have been replaced by generic encounters where you determine who takes part.
      Rules-wise there are a few minor changes but nothing too radical.
      Which set is better? That's hard to say as both have pros and cons. For me, however, I prefer Reloaded to the original... but neither set is perfect. Plus, neither compare to the likes of Zombicide or Last Night On Earth. If I was you, I'd stick with your original set. Reloaded should be low down on your "to buy" list. Get it if you can afford it.
      By the way, all of the faults I mentioned in my review have been rectified with the exception of adding more counters.

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  13. Roger that Bryan.

    Thank you for such an in depth and accurate reply. I understand every rule change you mention (due to a fairly reasonable understanding of the game from seeing it played long ago, and my knowledge of ATZ in general)... so thank you for adding the rule changes: that really helped me to understand the differences.

    Hmmmm, yes I can see the pros and cons clearly now, but like you say I think I will simply stick with my already purchased ATZ Boardgame.... ok, maybe more clunky than the remake, but the nice solid boards and thick good quality counters is a bonus for me, plus I already am fairly familiar with how it plays.

    Cheers Bryan.

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    1. I'm only too pleased to be of assistance, Steve. I think you're right to stick with your original copy.

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    2. Just one comment. Game play wise, which game do you prefer Bryan? Not maps, not counters, etc. Just game mechanics as they are significantly different.

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    3. That's easy, Ed. I actually prefer Reloaded. It seems more akin to the miniatures rules, which I like a lot.

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    4. I agree. I'm glad David gave me final say so I didn't change anything. Thanks again for the review Bryan.

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