Zombies Keep Out Review – Looking Back

Zombies Keep Out - Privateer Press - $35.99
coreBox

Game title: Zombies Keep Out

Game description: It’s bodge or get bitten when a giant mob of zombies attacks the goblins’ workshop. Now it’s up to you and the other bodgers to repel the undead or become a zombie’s late-night snack! Barricaded in your workshop, you and your goblin cohorts must rely on your mechanical expertise to construct the sometimes ramshackle but always maniacal machines you’ll need to overcome the endless Leapers, Creepers, Runners, and Brutes trying to break down your doors. Collect parts to build your machines as fast as you can, but don’t get bitten—or you’ll be left moaning and groaning as you join the horde and turn on your friends!

Overall
2.8
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

I first had a chance to play Zombies Keep Out the year it was released, 2014. I remember getting my copy for review during my first PAX East when I was still writing for Purple Pawn. Back then, my kids and I really had a fun time playing it, though, over the years, it stopped coming off the shelf as more games arrived. Lately, thanks to my 6-year-old, we’ve rediscovered the game and have been playing it fairly regularly again. How does it stack up after all this time?

Pros

  • Zombie miniatures
  • Goblins
  • Handles 1-6 players cooperatively

Cons

  • Plays a bit too long
  • Difficulty doesn’t scale well

Full Zombies Keep Out Review

I first had a chance to play Zombies Keep Out the year it was released, 2014. I remember getting my copy for review during my first PAX East when I was still writing for Purple Pawn. Back then, my kids and I really had a fun time playing it, though, over the years, it stopped coming off the shelf as more games arrived. Lately, thanks to my 6-year-old, we’ve rediscovered the game and have been playing it fairly regularly again. How does it stack up after all this time? Let’s break it down.

Zombies Keep Out is a game where the players cooperatively control a group of goblins barricaded up in a house as zombies relentlessly try to get in. It almost has a Plants vs. Zombies feel, but the goblins create crazy inventions to protect themselves instead of planting a deadly garden. Each of the five lanes on the board has a contraption card at the end that needs to be tinkered with until complete. Complete three of these contraptions using parts cards before the zombies either break down the front door or three total locations to win.

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The zombie pool is literally a pool

Every turn, the current player will flip over a Terrible Things card and choose one of three terrible things to happen. This could be adding zombies to the board, moving zombies across the board, or taking bite tokens (which stifle your actions the more you have.) After that, the player can tinker with a parts card they have, discard a parts card to remove a zombie listed on it, discard a parts card to repair a barricade, draw two new parts, or push the button of a completed contraption. It all seems very simple, but zombies tend to amass on the board, especially when they start shoving each other forward since only three can be in one spot at a time.

To make things more difficult certain types of zombies will do more damage to specific locations. Creepers will do two damage to the cellar, while brutes do the same to the door and leapers do the same to the balcony. These zombies will also always move towards their preferred area of attack, making zombie movement chaotic. It’s always a tough choice to use your action during your turn, especially later on in the game.

Zombies Keep Out holds up fairly well as a simple-to-learn cooperative game for the family, though it does take longer to play than I remember. Sometimes my younger guys lose interest. Also, the difficulty is supposed to scale, with rules included on making the game easier or harder, but in practice, it doesn’t work that well. It’s pretty difficult to beat unless you make the right choices. One bad choice often leads to a string of chain reactions that can lead to a pretty quick defeat. That being said, it’s still a lot of fun to play, and the zombie miniatures are pretty damn sweet.

Now that it’s a bit older, you can snag Zombies Keep Out for a pretty good price. If you’ve got zombie fans in the house or fans of Plants vs Zombies, it’s worth checking out.

A copy of Zombies Keep Out was provided free for review a long time ago by Privateer Press. “Looking Back” is a series of reviews spotlighting older games that may or may not still deserve some love.

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