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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 133 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Zombies! At the door!] Most fun I've had in a while  (Read 6011 times)
Osmo Rantala
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Posts: 33


« on: September 23, 2007, 05:00:32 AM »

Last night I played Zombies! At the door! (which is an unofficial translation of the game's name), from Eero Tuovinen (who I believe is also out here somewhere), and enjoyed it. A lot.

The rules worked like charm: everything about the game supported it's supposed purpose fully, making it a great experience. We created a story about zombies and three resident's of a small, god fearing, conservative, all-american cornfield-town called Salvation at the backwaters of USA, who were faced with zombie apocalypse, and how they handled it all.

My character escaped through the sewers, my brother's character was eaten by the zombies and our shared friend's character escaped with a "borrowed" car just minutes before the whole area was "purified" (napalmed to the ground), only to end up being one of the few survivors in a world overrun by zombies.

The only thing about the rules that came up during play is, that when there are multiple zombie-players, are there multiple people rolling for the zombies or just one rolling for all of the zombie-players?

I think that if there were multiple people rolling for the zombies, it would fuel the game into a spiral of hopelesness, as each time a player is eaten by zombies or escapes them, it gets more likely that the rest of the players get eaten by zombies. If that is a good thing or not, I don't know.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2007, 06:25:17 PM »

Last night I played Zombies! At the door! (which is an unofficial translation of the game's name), from Eero Tuovinen (who I believe is also out here somewhere), and enjoyed it. A lot.

Thanks! The thing I'm most gratified by in the reception of the game is that it's apparently getting played, and a lot. I've seen around eight actual play reports for the game during the month after the game's release, which is huge for a Finnish game. Either the game's getting more actual play than your average Finnish title, or the forginess of the game is encouraging people to report back on their experiences in a way atypical for roleplayers here. Either way, I like reading about the experiences.

Quote
The only thing about the rules that came up during play is, that when there are multiple zombie-players, are there multiple people rolling for the zombies or just one rolling for all of the zombie-players?

The status of not having a character anymore only affects two things:
- The player may ally into an argument without needing to have his own character participating, as long as he describes some NPC party that supports the side he's allying with.
- When it is that player's turn, the characters in the scene may declare an argument against the zombies, in which case that particular player will have to roll for the zombies. If the character players do not want an argument with zombies, though, the acting player is free to loan his die or ally on behalf of a NPC party, just like normal.

So the answer is that only one of the characterless players (I don't want to call them zombie players, because they have no onus to side with or act for the zombies most of the time) is required to roll for the zombies, and then only if it's actually his turn. The other players may choose who they represent and which side they'll be on freely. It is not uncommon to have all characterless players pile on the zombie side or simply loan their dice to the active player, but it's equally possible to get on the side of the characters.

Also note that as characterless players do not have pawns on the board anymore, loaning dice vs. allying is a less significant difference for them in that regard. The important nuances are two-fold: by allying, the characterless player may win narration, but he may only ally if he is able to describe a NPC or several who stand in support of the character's goals.

Quote
I think that if there were multiple people rolling for the zombies, it would fuel the game into a spiral of hopelesness, as each time a player is eaten by zombies or escapes them, it gets more likely that the rest of the players get eaten by zombies. If that is a good thing or not, I don't know.

My current opinion is that it's better if the characterless players have the freedom to choose their sides. The point of the game is very much to let the players stand in judgement of the characters, and often the most significant judgement comes from the ostensibly neutral and marginalized characterless players. It's an excellent opportunity for value judgements when all players get to play their dice on one or the other side of the equation, and forcing characterless players to take the zombie side would make this less interesting, I think.
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Osmo Rantala
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Posts: 33


« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2007, 11:13:41 PM »

Oh, there seems to have been a misunderstanding on our part on the rules. Well, nevertheless, we had a lot of fun, and isn't that what matters the most? Anyway, thanks for correcting my interpretation of the rules, Eero.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2007, 11:46:07 PM »

No need to worry about the rules in that regard, really. I left several things less than spelled out in an effort to make it easier to comprehend. My goal was to make sure that you'd get the important parts in one read-through and could play the game right out of the box; part of this was throwing out the idea that every little bit should be explained in utmost detail, as doing that would make the text longer and slower. making it easier to miss the important parts in between the chaff. This approach seems to be working thus far: everybody is reading the little bits with their own assumptions and applying them according to their understanding, but so far nobody's had any major misunderstandings that'd ruin the gameplay. The little bits are easy to get right on the second play-through.

You had one character survive, then? That's a minority result, the game is usually pretty lethal. Did you have any sacrifices in the story?
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Osmo Rantala
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Posts: 33


« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2007, 09:47:45 AM »

You had one character survive, then? That's a minority result, the game is usually pretty lethal. Did you have any sacrifices in the story?

Two, actually, as my character escaped through the sewers and me and my brothers friend escaped with a big car. Just my brother's character was eaten by the zombies, but he didn't mind being dead, as he still got to participate every bit as much.

There were also two sacrifices, one on my part saving our friend from the zombies and one on my brothers part to save me after I had sacrificed myself. (I assume we are talking about the rule that lets you slide down the board so your friend can go upwards?)

It's a pity that there were only three of us playing, I think it would have more fun to have more players (the more the merrier, as they say).
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2007, 03:51:02 PM »

Yeah, that's sacrifice. And you're right that the game is difficult to play with only three players. Four to 6-7 is a breeze, three is challenging. I've found that it's difficult to pace the game with three players, as the zombie moves very fast, but at the same time you really have to be willing to develop deep relationships between the characters, as there's only three (relationships, that is). So you have to be both punchy and deep at the same time, which is quite a challenge to run smoothly.
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Devin P. Owens
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Posts: 9

Interested in shared/rotating/limited GM systems.


« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2007, 01:24:31 AM »

I admire games that manage to convey what play is about with just their title.  All I need to do is imagine a good friend running into the room shouting "Zombies!  At the door!" and Bam!  That's play.

My current project isn't built around a single very particular situation, but maybe there's some other essence to the game that I can find that would work.  A title like this has got to be an enormously helpful tool in convincing people to play, since it must help them feel like they know what to expect.  It's less of an unknown; a game about what you do when zombies bash down your front door either sounds like fun or it doesn't.

At least, that's my conjecture based on how I'd respond if someone told me the title and asked me if I wanted to play.  I'm curious how it works out at cons, and what creative process led to the title.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2007, 11:49:55 PM »

I admire games that manage to convey what play is about with just their title.  All I need to do is imagine a good friend running into the room shouting "Zombies!  At the door!" and Bam!  That's play.

I'm pretty happy with the name as well, at least in Finnish. I used to be a bit uncertain about it as an English title (that's a literal translation), because in English it sounds quite a lot like a light-hearted B-movie title; the game does that, but it can also be pretty dramatic, horrorful and stuff. In retrospection it's not that bad, though.

Quote
At least, that's my conjecture based on how I'd respond if someone told me the title and asked me if I wanted to play.  I'm curious how it works out at cons, and what creative process led to the title.

I tend to name my game projects quite early, almost as the first thing. The name-creation process is also very frivolous for me, I just pull out something that amuses my literary senses, and then get stuck with it when I can't think of anything more suitable. In this case I wrote and published the game very quickly for a Finnish rpg magazine before even considering a separate, more elaborate boardgame publication. The name was fine for the magazine because it expressed very clearly what the game was about.

Zombies works very well as a convention game, I feel; it's not a super-progressive game as stuff around here goes, but it's designed to blow everything else off the water in ease of set-up and play. The small box includes everything needed for play, there's no writing notes nor any preparation, and a full story is played out in 2-3 hours.
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Osmo Rantala
Member

Posts: 33


« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2007, 12:43:43 AM »

...and a full story is played out in 2-3 hours.

Well, we played another episode of Zombies the same night (as the one this actual-play threas originally concerned) and it took us about an hour to finish, but that was mostly because we ended up getting ties between adversaries in almost every conflict we had.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2007, 06:11:47 AM »

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Osmo Rantala
Member

Posts: 33


« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2007, 11:21:44 AM »

Of course, now I have to ask Osmo: did the higher than average number of ties affect the perceived quality of the story? Stories with three players tend to be rather abrupt and either highly abstract or comedic anyway, so I wonder what happens when you get lots and lots of ties.

Well, first of all, our first game wasn't abstract, that abrupt or comedic at all. Okay, there was a certain amount of comedy, of course, but we all approached the game as if we were in the middle of a movie, and movies of the genre we were in the middle of creating have their own requirements, so as to make the most ticket sales possible, and one of those requirements is the balance of comedy, drama and the whole rest of that story stuff. I hope that makes sense, I am tired and need sleep.

Now, the second game, then: having so many ties in the game, the zombies managed to take over the whole of Helsinki and Espoo very quickly. We still had a lot of fun, and as no one survived, we got to tell a story of utter hopelesness. But yeah, I think the overall quality did suffer somewhat because of all those ties.
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