Monday, December 7, 2020

Zombies Shuffle Back Home: My Reacquisition Of SPI's Dawn Of The Dead Game

Back in 1980, I was 13 or 14 years old and was just starting to discover what my hobbies and interests were going to be. I liked monster movies, and board games, and late night TV, and other campy-type entertainment. I hadn't yet discovered RPGs, but I was beginning to discover boardgames. But not just games like Sorry or Monopoly and Scrabble. I was starting to fiddle around with wargames. Even though I wasn't interested in combat or world history, I loved the simulation aspect of moving little chits around a map and rolling dice for outcomes. Names like Avalon Hill, Metagaming, and Steve Jackson were on my radar.

One day, I stopped by the local toy shop and saw what would become one of my deepest gaming loves: SPI's "Dawn of the Dead" boardgame (1978). Now at that age, I don't think I'd seen the Romero classic yet, but I had a friend with a Fangoria subscription, so I knew alllllll about it. A game that simulated a horror movie with cannibal undead? My mind reeled at the idea and I plunked down all of my pocket money for the game. My brother (who was likely 9 at the time) had no interest in the game, and we lived out in the country, so neighbors and local kids were nonexistent. But this game had a SOLO mode! I could play AGAINST the game. Once again, my eyes were opened to gaming possibilities I never dreamed of.

Flash-forward 8 or 9 years later. I'm now in college. My well-loved and well-played copy of DotD went to campus with me, still complete (though the box was held together with tape by now). The campus game center was my second home, and by now I had discovered D&D, Call of Cthulhu, and other RPGs, so boardgaming happened a lot less for me. I had a bit of money troubles (as all college kids do), and the gamestore owner - knowing of my DotD game (and its collectible value even back then) - made me a generous offer. So I sold it off without regret. Ok, a LOT of regret. 

Over the years, this game's always been in the back of my mind. I loved playing it. Sure, there are a ton of solo zombie boardgames now with better production, better rules, and deeper gameplay. Hell, you can even download and create your own fanmade DotD game, if you wish. But I really wanted to get this back in hand. Recently, I had a stack of trade-ins at Noble Knight - one of my favorite online gamestores - and they had a used copy of DotD available. That's all I needed to know. My trade-ins were sent in, approved, credit was was spent, and now I have SPI's Dawn of the Dead back in hand - where it shall remain.

I plan to spend the next few weeks getting reacquainted with the game and trying to keep Fran, Peter, Steve, and Roger safe from the zombie hordes invading the Monroeville Mall. And the game will have a place of honor on my shelf next to other cherished games from my youth: Mayfair's Family Business (1989), Mayfair's Encounters (1982), and Dark House's Dark Cults (1983).