Saturday, April 11, 2015

[Int'l Tabletop Day Review] Escape: Zombie City by Queen Games

Welcome to The Savage AfterWorld and International TableTop Day! We're participating in a multi-site "Boardgame Review Bloghop" today, so zip down to the bottom of this post to see who else is participating. And now, on with my overview!

Most boardgame enthusiasts by now have probably heard about and/or played Escape: The Curse of the Temple by Queen Games. This frantic, real-time, dice-rolling, adventure game is great fun for would-be Indiana Jones-types as they hurriedly roll dice, explore the tomb, retrieve the treasures, and try to get out alive before time runs out! But what if you prefer "less Raiders" and "more Living Dead"? Well Queen Games' recently released Escape follow-up will slake that zombie hunger!
 Escape: Zombie City is Queen Games' newest entry in their real-time, dice-rolling, exploration-and-escape game series, and it has quickly become a favorite in the Sniderman household. Gameplay is similar to the first Escape game (explained later), but in Zombie City, the game is divided into two distinct phases. (First, you'll want to pop in and play the enclosed CD soundtrack which acts as both a 15-minute timer as well as a nifty ambiance soundtrack.)

During the first phase, players spread out from their church stronghold into the zombie-infested city. While running through the streets and exploring the town, you'll need to scavenge up several specific items necessary to escape: first aid supplies, food, weapons, etc. During all of this, zombies are rising from the grave, attacking the players and wandering the streets back to the church. If three manage to enter your home base, your base is overrun and you lose immediately! So simply avoiding the zombies isn't enough -- you'll have to destroy them, spending valuable time in the process.

The red and blue players team up to fight a red zombie while the white player contends with a yellow zombie that popped up on the new area he entered. (No thanks to the zombie card shown!) Meanwhile the green zombie is just one step away from walking into the church to the right!

Every five minutes of real-time when the zombies groan with hunger, you must race back to the church to both drop off found supplies and take shelter from the undead horde. Fail to do so, and you lose the use of one of your precious dice for the rest of the game! Hopefully during the chaos, you'll be able to find the road that leads out of town as well as collect enough supplies to make a run for it! When (and IF) you do, phase two begins...

During phase two, you load up the beat-up church van and try to drive out of town. At this point, the streets are overrun with undead, and the players must now fight together as a team to get themselves, the van, and all of their supplies to the exit ramp and out of town. Movement slows to a crawl as EVERY player must successfully move along with an extra movement rolled for the van. Any zombies you encounter must be fought rather than bypassed or fled from. And by this time, you have a scant few minutes before time runs out!

The yellow van is loaded with supplies and ready to head out to the exit in the upper left of the photo. But the road out of town is loaded with zombies! Good thing they're escaping, as two zombies managed to enter the base as shown in the lower left next to the zombie card pile.

Like its predecessor, each player constantly rolls five dice, attempting to make matches that will allow them to perform actions. Matching a pair of "getaway" icons allows you to reveal and place a new city tile or enter an area previously exposed. "Fist" and "bat" icons let you scavenge for necessary supplies and attack the zombie hoards. Be careful, as "panic" icons become locked and unusable unless you can unlock it with a "caution" roll. It sounds simple enough until that looming 15-minute countdown begins, then it becomes a frantic dice-rolling free-for-all.

Complicating things are the zombies and the zombie cards. With each new street section exposed, a player must draw a new zombie card. Some cards cause one or all zombies to move toward the church. Some cards cause a zombie to explode out of the ground in the section the player's now in. And other cards cause zombies to pop up throughout the city! There are also injury cards -- such as a broken arm (you must play with one hand only) or bitten by a zombie (lose a die). Also zombies come in three strengths. The weak "green" zombies are easily defeated, needing three fists or bats to put them down. Moderate "yellow" zombies need four fists/bats to stop them, and the hearty "red" zombies require all five of your dice to show fists or bats. With the stronger zombies, you'll need other players to run to your aid as you can then combine your dice if you're in the same section. However, while you pool your fighting resources, you lose time scavenging for supplies. And the clock is always ticking down.


Unlike Escape: The Curse of the Temple, Escape: Zombie City adds a new dimension to the gameplay as the gameboard is now alive (in a manner of speaking). Players are not just trying to gather supplies and escape to they must also defend their base from an ever-approaching -- and ever-growing -- zombie horde. And as the timer ticks down, more zombies enter the game, staggering towards the church, cutting off the players' hope for Escape! If you enjoy the quick-paced exploration mechanic of the original game, Escape: Zombie City adds a great new element with the approaching relentless zombie horde as well as horrifying zompocalypse theme to the game. Good luck, and try not to get eaten!

Be sure visit these other International TableTop Day "Boardgame Review Bloghop" participants!

Channel Zero – Thunderstone by Alderac Entertainment

Fractalbat – The Hills Rise Wild by Pagan Publishing

The Gibbering Gamer – Dragon Dice by SFR (formerly TSR)

Random Encounters (From Ohio) – Nano Bot Battle Arena by Derpy Games

Troll in the Corner – Star Realms by White Wizard Games

The Savage AfterWorld – Escape: Zombie City by Queen Games


  1. I wrote a little something on the Crawljammer blog about my Top 5 games I have played this year.

  2. Sounds great, I like the idea of a soundtrack as a timer. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. That sounds really fun. It reminds me of Zombies!!!, but faster paced and cooperative. I need to play this. Thanks for reviewing it.