Friday, December 20, 2013

SPI's Dawn Of The Dead Boardgame; Old School Zombie Killin'

As I discussed yesterday, in my eyes, "Old School Recreation" doesn’t just encompass RPGs. Many classic board games and wargames fall squarely under the OSR umbrella. Game companies like Avalon Hill, SPI, and Task Force Games – although not primarily ID’ed as RPG manufacturers – are nonetheless thought of as “old school” by most of us, I’d venture. And with that introduction out of the way…

The “zombie survival” genre is at its peak of popularity right now, especially with an explosion of zombie-related boardgames filling game store shelves. But long before we had Zombies!, Zombicide, Last Night on Earth, or Maul of America, we were playing SPI’s Dawn of the Dead board game.

I purchased my own copy of SPI’s DotD board game at a small local game store known as The Tin Soldier back in 1982. I was never much of a wargamer – moving those little cardboard chits around was tedious. But a horror boardgame based on one of my favorite films? It was a “no-brainer.” (Ha! See what I did there?)

Up to 4 players fight their way through a shopping mall overrun with zombies. The goal is to seal the four main entrances to the mall, then clear out the infestation before the players are overrun and eaten by the horde. There are a lot of deep gameplay choices too. Players can either stick with their cobbled-together, ineffective weapons, or they can try to fight their way to the gun shop for better weapons. Some zombies are randomly “hidden” in the mall, and they can ambush the unwary player during play. Infected players can become “super zombies” who then turn on their teammates. Heck, there’s even rules for solo play! When my DotD box fell apart from overuse, I taped the whole thing up in clear packing tape to extend its longevity. But, at some point in the past, I either misplaced it or threw it away or gave it to a friend. Kind of regret that, as it’s a great game.

But the Internet once again comes to the rescue!

Over on Homepage of the Dead – a celebration and collection of all things “Romero-esque” – they have taken this classic game, scanned everything (map, counters, rules), and posted the parts in a free “print and play” format. Want to play one of my favorite games?  Click here to download, then print, cut out the pieces, and play this classic 35-year-old zombie board game!

And, if YOU have a gaming blog and want to discuss YOUR favorite Ye Olde Wargamme (or RPG or boardgame or whatever), be sure to sign up to participate in the Obsolete Simulations Roundup on December 29! Bring those musty, dusty favorites out where we can all see and appreciate them!


  1. That game set on the shelf of my local mall game store (RIP, Game Keeper) for years, and the cover always captivated me.

    And by that, I meant terrified me silly.

    Now I've gotta download it.

  2. So this is another orphan/abandoned property left-over from SPI? Interesting. It's cool that some folks have kept it alive. Might just have to try this out.

  3. Another great old SPI game for non-wargamers is Spies -- -- where players move their agents around a map of 1930s Europe trying to pick up Secret tokens (representing everything from plans for magnetic naval mines to the atomic bomb) and return them home, without being caught by the various nations' police or "sanctioned" by their agents. TSR apparently reprinted this after acquiring SPI, so the copyrights on it might be more strenuously defended, alas. Still, copies seem to be available on eBay for not much over its original price.