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Zombie vs. Human RTS

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dnddmdb
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The other day I thought about a new (i think) take on the zombie board game genre. Instead of controlling either zombies or individual people to survive (Last Night on Earth, Zombie Plague), I was thinking about a wargamesque sort of RTS game, in which players would control either the government handling the situation or the zombie infestation.

The board would be one large hex or square grid representing city blocks, each with a number of white cubes (Population). As the virus spreads these white cubes are removed and replaced with red cubes (Zombies)

As the humans, you would have a deck of cards which could upgrade your abilities to combat the infection, i.e. more effective quarantines, faster evacuations, and easier military placement. Every time you save people you would gain VP. However, saving those who hold incubated disease or who have not yet turned (still need a system for that) make you lose victory points, as well as any people you leave in the city when you decide to endgame (Nuke the city). So until you Nuke the place, your main goal is to stave off the infection while saving as many as you can before they leave the city.

I need more help on the zombie side. So far, I have the ability to immediately turn zombies or to allow the virus to incubate on the victim, potentially spreading or causing reckless human players to lose VP. How you would gain VP is still undecided (probably number of Zombies left when the Nuke falls, plus city blocks with infected). I would also like the ability to sacrifice a number of zombie units to create a hive, which regularly turns out normal or Special zombies (stronger or faster zombies).

Right now, I would just like some suggestions on:

1. Low Luck Combat between Military and Zombies
2. System for keeping track of population cubes with incubated disease (so that the humans do not know, but the zombies do).
3. Ideas for Special Zombies
4. Other Zombie actions to make the game more strategic or developed for both teams.

Any help on these questions or other ideas is greatly appreciated!!

Taavet
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Fixed Abilities?

Here is my take on it. Hopefully it helps although it is basically unrelated:
(Please, don't comment on my post unless related to the OP or the OP comments on it, I don't want to in anyway hijack this thread)

Government has:
Evacuation - retreat human population
Military - fight/kill off Zombies
Quarantine - identify and limit spread of infection
Nuke - obliterate everything
Vaccine - turn Zombies Human again

Zombies have:
Hive - generate forces/power up
Infect - infect Human population
Turn - make Humans into Zombies
Mutate - Zombies possesing mutate gene will evolve when nuked
Resist - develop vaccine immunity

So a 2 player board with lets say 7 rows by 12 columns or so. Battle starts in the middle (humans on column 6, zombies on column 7). Forces/population can be setup randomly before game.
Players each have 7 cards (their 5 abilities and 2 bluffs). Players play cards face down on each of the 7 rows. Cards are turned over and conflicts resolved. Conflict line then adjusts for the next round. First player to get 3 lines back to their opponents side of the board at the end of any round wins. For increased tension strategy cards could be played one at a time and then conflict resolved for that row before moving on to the next. That way players would know the options left to their opponent.

Conflict resolution could be (all advance against bluff):

Evacuation advances against: Infect, and Turn
loses against: Mutate, and Resist
When Evacuating against a Hive the Hive powerup ability kicks in and .... does something else cool in the game. (Maybe they get to reveal the opponents face down card on one row next turn before picking what they will use.)

Military advances against: Hive, and Resist
loses against: Infect, and Turn
When using Military against Mutate the military advances 2 spaces, Zombies are too busy trying to mutate and don't fight back.

Quarantine advances against: Infect, and Mutate
loses against: Hive, and Turn
No effect on Quarantine vs Resist

Nuke advances against: Hive, and Resist
loses against: Infect, and Mutate
When Nuking against Turn, Nuke advances but both adjacent rows to Turn advance, Zombies run (can they do that) like crazy and spread rapidly before being obliterated.

Vaccine advances against: Turn, and Mutate
loses against: Hive, and Resist
Vaccine against Infect gives Vaccine the ability to overcome Resist in the next round.

Something like that? Fairly simple but could still have some fun 2 player back and forth, strategy and bluffing.

It actually sounds like there might be enough depth and mind play to make it fun, I'll see if I can throw a prototype together and play it.

dnddmdb
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Different, but very cool.

Nice job. I like this different sort of take on it, though it reminds me of Rock, Paper, Scissors a lot. It is also very different from my approach, but I still like it.

However, the game I was thinking of would be more like a wargame, whereas yours is more like an abstract. Still pretty cool.

Thanks for the input.

jasongreeno
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So I'm feeling inspired by

So I'm feeling inspired by Stephen King's Cell. He used a hive-mind concept that developed over the course of the novel. It was an evolution of the zombie's. So maybe think about what a long-standing zombie horde would learn as it found less and less population as a source of food.

Some ideas I have:

Cannibal: Eats his own to thrive. Sacrifice X Horde Zombies to add a Zombie Cannibal to the field.
Thinker: Something still twitches in this one's noggin. This zombie can imitate a human's abilities to certain extent.
Bruiser: Strong in life, a terror in Unlife.
Infester: This zombie can transfer the the plague easier than most.
Beast: Not only humans are infested and there's nothing scarier than a zombie cow.

Zombie Actions:

-Taint the crops: Insert a plague card into the human's deck. When they draw the plague card they must reveal it and suffer a outbreak.
-Consult the Hive: Make no attack this turn. Draw X cards.
-Shift the Flock: The normally slow to control horde is allowed to move in a new direction at twice the speed.

Got to run...more ideas later

simons
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1. Low Luck Combat between

1. Low Luck Combat between Military and Zombies
-> How "low luck" are we talking? Maybe roll a d6 and add together the strength of all of your units, and from this determine casualties? Ooh, or how about this: each unit has a certain attack and defense. For example, you might have a marine with 2/2, and a zombie with 1/1. Attack represents how much damage is dealt, and defense how much they can absorb. But more than that, if a human takes damage, but does not die, maybe they get infected. Lets say I have 3 marines, and they battle your 4 zombies. Because I do 3x2=6 damage, and your zombies can only take 4x1=4, they're all killed. They deal 4 damage to my marines. Automatically, at least one will be killed. But then, I have a choice: I can either chose to kill 2, leaving one unscathed, or I can kill one, but each one suffers a point of damage, which might mean turning into a zombie later.

2. System for keeping track of population cubes with incubated disease (so that the humans do not know, but the zombies do).
->Why not just have tokens/tiles that are face down, and all look the same on the back. They zombie player can look at any time, but the human player can only look if they are at a doctor's office.

If you use the idea above, maybe each time you are hit, you pick up an infection token randomly from a pile somewhere.

3. Ideas for Special Zombies
->I'd say ditto on the ideas above. Maybe someone that paralyzes, or maybe someone that has you draw 2 infection tokens instead of just 1. I don't know, maybe every now and then draw a "zombie mutation" card, that either enhances all of your zombies (with some kind of check), or gives you one new special one.

4. Other Zombie actions to make the game more strategic or developed for both teams.
->It might be interesting if you did something like Axis & Allies, where there were multiple humans and multiple zombies. Multiple possible endgames (humans can nuke the city, create a vaccine, or defeat the zombies; zombies can kill the humans outright, or infect 3 of the 4 water supply zones). Otherwise, I'm not sure, I'll keep thinking. Maybe gaining victory points somehow hurts you militarily or economically (such as you get victory points by evacuating soldiers), so that there is the tension between battling your enemy now and moving towards victory later.

MarkKreitler
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dnddmdb wrote: Right now, I

dnddmdb wrote:

Right now, I would just like some suggestions on:

1. Low Luck Combat between Military and Zombies
2. System for keeping track of population cubes with incubated disease (so that the humans do not know, but the zombies do).
3. Ideas for Special Zombies
4. Other Zombie actions to make the game more strategic or developed for both teams.

Any help on these questions or other ideas is greatly appreciated!!

Your idea does sound interesting! At this level of abstraction, I imagine the game feeling more like a "control-the-outbreak" experience than an "oh-my-god-we're-going-to-die" experience. If I was in your shoes, I would want to use mechanics and victory conditions to reinforce the feel of zombies relentlessly overrunning humanity to ensure the game doesn't feel like a standard "contain the disease" affair.

The answers to questions 3 & 4 can make a big difference in this respect. One way a zombie infection could differ drastically from regular disease would be to have different effects on different types of people. For example, if the Zombie player could infect a human "research unit," he might gain "semi-intelligent zombies," capable of exploiting human infrastructure (e.g., using power plants). Or maybe infected military units become "heavily armed zombies" with increased movement and attack strengths.

Assuming the city map contains strategic locations like "the Power Plant" and "Genetics Lab," potentially of use to both sides, the Zombie player suddenly has lots to do, deciding which Human units to infect in order to exploit the strategic locations. This assumes that these locations, when controlled, give the Zombie player some sort of special abilities (in standard RTS terms, the Zombie player doesn't construct buildings, he infests them with special zombies capable of using them).

Meanwhile, the human player wants to retain the special locations because they provide research and combat bonuses. For example, controlling the Genetics Labs lets the human player cure incubating humans faster, etc.

As for tracking incubating citizens, why not use blank dice with a single number in permanent ink on one face. The zombie player owns a bunch of these with various values. When he infects an area, he replaces the existing population cube with one of his blank dice, played number-side down, and records the current turn on the top-most face in dry erase marker. When the human player enters the square, he can check the elapsed time (current turn - turn written in dry erase) and compare it to the face-down number. If more turns have elapsed than the number shown, the cube is already fully transformed. If not, the time remaining is the number of turns before the transformation reaches completion.

Oops...gotta go. Great idea -- I hope it works out for you!

Pastor_Mora
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I think what you need is an AI

I'm imagining all players are human, (I know you said two sides, but read PS) so you need an AI to control the zombies. The AI must be very simple for 2 reasons: 1°) it can make up for the missing party spending as much time as the players and, 2°) they are zombies after all!!! for smart foes choose demons or something. So,

Quick setup: divide the city board in sectors marked with 3 digits in a sexagesimal scale. In english, first sector will be 111, then 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 121, 122, etc. Have the three numbers in different colours, matching the colours of the three dices you will need to play. Preset six starting positions for players (draw field lab tents in the board). Before the players enter the board, roll the 3 dices twice-as-many-players times and set the infection spots placing a red chip in the sector. All others (but the labs) will have white chips (population). Special sites (say eight) get blue (3-D?) chips.

Rules: players can move to a sector adjacent to their labs or a sector connected to it by empty sectors. They can take out a population unit per turn. They can attack zombies (infected sectors) with a d6 dice once per turn. Players connected to the Armory site have a +2 in their attacks. Zombies defend with d6 dices. Every turn, infect as many random sectors as players in the game with the same initial mechanism. The random turn infection can hit a lab and the player must defend itself or be eliminated. Zombies attack labs with the highest attack dice on the board (see upgrades below). So players may choose to retreat in their turn if their defensive capacities are relatively too weak. Their rescue lot remains until all players are dead or have retreated and the city is nuked, for final count. The player with the most white (AND RED!)tokens at armaggedon wins the game.

Upgrading: Humans get upgrades from sites (and Events). Zombies get upgraded (from Events? and ) if a sector is re-infected (same sector rolled twice). In that case, Zombies defend with TWO d6 dices (sum), or three, or more! (Place extra red chips in sectors and name the critters accordingly)

Further upgrading: use an Events deck for more variants. One card drawn per turn affects all.

Plus: try NOT to plot the city in a square, make choke points where players may need to battle zombies to access isolated population.

This was ment to be an example of simple AI (placement and attack only). Keep it simple. You don't want an extra "automatic player" that all other players must play to continue playing (???!!!)

Zombies are fun. Keep thinking!

PS Zombi players? I don't see Zombies winning anyway if the city will be nuked back to hell at the end. Plus, I don't imagine a wargame with VP set by slaughtering villagers.

MarkKreitler
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Pastor_Mora wrote:PS Zombi

Pastor_Mora wrote:
PS Zombi players? I don't see Zombies winning anyway if the city will be nuked back to hell at the end. Plus, I don't imagine a wargame with VP set by slaughtering villagers.

Pastor_Mora has makes an interesting point -- one I wanted to address a bit in my earlier post. As you describe the game, it sounds like it has a human player and a zombie player. That should work just fine, as can your stated conditions and end-game trigger (nuking the city). That said, I wonder if you can't find a set of victory conditions and end game triggers that strongly reinforce your excellent theme.

As a player, I would want this game to be a nail-biter down to the finish, every time. For the human player, it should be a question of when, not if, the zombies finally overrun the city. For the zombie player, there should be a chance to completely overrun the humans, preventing the final nuke (this would be the zombie equivalent of triggering the end-game nuke). Even if the humans trigger the bomb, there should be a chance that enough zombies survive -- or enough humans die -- to call the game in the Zombie player's favor.

The current victory conditions, as I understand them, revolve mostly around the number of humans saved vs lost. I suspect in some games, one side or the other will dominate early and you'll lose that "down-to-the-wire" feeling.

One way to get around this is to play up the elements of uncertainty you've built into your design. Some ideas that build on what you have:

1) Statistical infection: rather than have the zombie player know exactly when infected humans will turn, use a statistical model. For example, when a group of humans contracts the disease, replace its white cube with a 6-sided die. Start the die at '1'. Advance the die by one pip every turn. When it reaches '6', replace it with a red cube. If the human player enters its square before it turns to '6', roll it, and if the number rolled is greater than the number it had been showing, the people are still human (and maybe that resets the die to the number rolled? Maybe this is "vaccination"?). This way, neither side knows exactly how many zombies are on the board.

2) Scoring rounds: rather than keeping a continuous score, force the human player to use "scoring rounds" to earn his points. For example, maybe they player has 3 or 4 tactical nukes that can destroy a large portion of the board (25% for 4 nukes, 33% for three...you get the idea). If the player can get a nuke in place and detonate it, he scores points for all zombie units destroyed (including ones statistically resolved to zombies at the time of detonation) and loses points for human units caught in the blast. Once a nuke destroys part of the city, no units -- human or zombie -- can occupy its central squares. However, the Zombie player could use the outer squares to develop Radiation-Resistant zombies over time (Radiation Resistant zombies resist further nuke attacks unless hit by the blast at ground zero). This mechanic would force the human player to either play his nukes later in the game (adding tension because he would not be able to score during the early part of the game), or spend resources preventing zombies from entering the radiation zone (making it harder for him to prevent the spread of infection). This method also gives you your original end game condition, but in steps (the Humans can end the game by detonating all nukes), making it harder for the human to stop play instantly.

3) Hidden movement: suppose that zombies could gain access to various sewer networks throughout the city. Doing so would allow them to move about unseen. More importantly, the human player would never know exactly how many zombies his nukes would catch until he detonated them. While this does introduce extra record-keeping for the Zombie player, it may be worth the "holy crap!" factor when zombies come pouring out of the water treatment plant to overrun the National Guard in that section of the city. Also, it further obfuscates scoring, making it harder to calculate who is going to win early in the game.

You've got a very interesting design going, here. The rich theme lends itself to all sorts of interesting mechanics. I can't wait to see what you do with it!

africacrossgames
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Zombie Strategy game

Hi:

At Asymmetric Games we published a card driven strategy game that deals with a zombie apocalypse.

It has a lot of what you are looking for (though it is not real time).

You can play it at the link below.

http://www.asymgames.com/?p=63

africacrossgames
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Joined: 12/25/2015
Zombie Strategy game

Hi:

At Asymmetric Games we published a card driven strategy game that deals with a zombie apocalypse.

It has a lot of what you are looking for (though it is not real time).

You can play it at the link below.

http://www.asymgames.com/?p=63

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