Tuesday, November 26

NaGa DeMon 12: Responding to Feedback

We played a couple of games of Zombology at lunchtime today, with Wilka, The Nefarious Doktor M and Mal (who hadn't played before). It went ok, Mal's major criticism was that he wasn't clear when the conference rounds were coming up. So here's yet another version of the rules. This time there's no changes to the cards, and only a couple of slight tweaks to the rules - when you get dealt extra cards has been changed slightly so that you always have two cards in hand at the start of a Conference round (and having two cards in hand can be used for working out whether or not it's a Conference round), plus a couple of improvements to the wording of the rules based on comments from Tiffany and Derek (though I've lost Derek's comments when reverting to Blogger comments, so I've fixed the typo he mentioned, but can't remember the other point he made :-( ). I've also incorporated Konrad's scoring suggestion, so cards score at most 1 or -1. This seemed to be a good improvement, preferred by Wilka, Dr. M and I over the previous version we'd played.


The Science of the Zombie Apocalypse

Version 5 - 26/11/2013

3-10 players, 20 mins


The game comprises of 120 cards, 19 each in the following 6 suits (treatments):

  • DNA Retroviruses
  • Stem Cells
  • Herbal Extracts
  • Vegan Diet
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Crystals
Plus six additional Repeated Experiments cards.

For each treatment there are the following cards:

  • 1x Bad Science (value:-2 - flip 1-5)
  • 3x Strong Rebuttal (value: -1 - flip 1/2)
  • 5x Theoretical Framework (value: 1)
  • 5x Petri Dish Proof (value: 2)
  • 2x Works in Mice (value: 3)
  • 2x Works in Monkeys (value: 4 - requires 1/2/3)
  • 1x Successful Human Trial (value: 5 - requires 3/4)

Aim of the Game

The aim of the game is to score high in the two most successful treatments and low in the least successful treatment.


Separate the cards into their three types: Groundwork, Trials and Prejudice. Shuffle each pile separately. Deal each player five of the Groundwork cards and two Prejudice cards. The remaining Prejudice cards will not be needed and can be placed back in the box. Place the remaining Groundwork cards centrally as a face down deck and all the Trials cards in a deck alongside them, also face down.


The game is played over 8 rounds. Each round the players secretly choose a card from their hand and place it face down in front of them. Once all players have chosen a card, the chosen cards are revealed and added face up to their player's collection.

Once all of the cards played have been resolved, the players pass the remaining cards from their hand to the player on their left and receive the cards from the player on their right. Note: Do not pass on your Prejudice cards, they remain with you.

Another round is now played as before with the cards they have just received. In the eighth round, each player chooses one of the three cards they have been given and discards the other two - they will play no part in the game. After the eighth round the game is scored.

The eight rounds are either Research or Conference rounds:

(Deal 5 Groundwork and 2 Prejudice cards to each player)
  • 1: Research
  • 2: Research
  • 3: Research
  • 4: Conference
(Restock up to 2 Groundwork and deal 2 Trials cards to each player)
    5: Research
  • 6: Research
  • 7: Conference
(Deal each player 1 or 2 Trials cards, so they all have 3 cards in hand - excluding Prejudice)
  • 8: Research

Research rounds

In Research rounds the players can only play the Groundwork (or later, Trials) cards from their hands.

Conference rounds

A Conference round occurs when the players have only two cards in their hand. In the Conference rounds the scientists get together to debate their progress. It’s your chance to debunk, rebut, lambaste or otherwise rubbish your opponent’s support of ridiculous treatments. You can either present new research (play a Groundwork or Trials card) or attack an opponent’s shoddy research by playing one of your two Prejudice cards.

  • After the first Conference round, if any player only has one Groundwork card deal them a second Groundwork card and then deal each player two of the Trials cards.
  • After the second Conference round, deal each player Trials cards until they have three cards in their hand.


If the card played has a requirement (Works in Monkeys requires 1, 2 or 3; Successful Human Trial requires 3 or 4), the card cannot be played unless one of the required cards in the same treatment has been played in a previous round by any player. E.g. Jack can only play the Successful Human Trial (5, requires 3/4) for Stem Cells, because Jesse has played a Works in Mice (3) of Stem Cells in an earlier round.

Prejudice cards

If the card played was negative (Bad Science or Strong Rebuttal), choose a face up card in any player's collection to target that was played in a previous round. It must be of the same treatment type and have a value within the range shown on the negative card played. Flip the target card face down - it will not count for scoring unless flipped back face up. E.g. Tiffany plays a Bad Science (-2) card in Crystals, and chooses to flip a Works in Monkeys (4) in Crystals that Dave played in the last round.

Repeated Experiments

The Repeated Experiment cards let a player repeat an experiment that has previously been discredited - they flip one of cards they have previously had to flip face down back face up - it will contribute to their score at the end of the game.


Determine the two most successful treatments (these will score positive points) and the least successful treatment (this will score negative points). The most successful treatment is the one which has a Successful Human Trial (5). If there's a tie, then the treatment with the most Works in Monkeys (4) will break the tie. If still tied, then the treatment with the most Works in Mice (3) will break the tie, and so on. The least successful treatment is the one with the lowest high card, i.e. if Stem Cells has -1, -1, 1, 2 and 4 and Crystals has -1, 1, 1, 1, 1 and 3 then Crystals is less successful since 3 is lower than 4.

Players score one point for every positive card they have in the two most successful treatments and minus one point for every negative card they have in those treatments. In addition, they score one point for every negative card they have in the least successful treatment and minus one point for every positive card they have in that treatment.

The player with the highest score wins and can boast, brag and crow about their scientific prowess, while ridiculing the pathetic attempts of their fellow scientists.


As ever, the new rules are available for downloading: V5 Rules.

Please let me know what you think, and for those of you who've downloaded and printed it out, let me know any comments from yourselves or your fellow playtesters.


Mal said...

After a little more reflection, and being the theme-whore that I am, it's struck me that I like the whole scientific research-and-rebuttal theme - I especially like the theminess of the repeated experiment, despite expecting to find it a complication too far. However... there's really not much zombie in the game.

In fact, it reminds me of some criticism of Carpe Astra, in that the theme now feels a little pasted-on (at least for the zombie side of things, not the rest). I realise it's tough to get everything spot on in a single month, but do you reckon there's any way that a slightly more zombie vibe could be introduced? Even if it means trading off some of the science theming?

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Mal,

That's a very fair criticism, and one I've heard before. I'm hoping that the addition of some zombie artwork would tie the zombies to the theme better, but I did want it to be about the science (though clearly tongue in cheek science) not the chainsaws.



Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Mal,

Should also give you a few PIPs too for consistency! Here, have 2, but don't spend them all at once.



GamesBook said...

No more comments for you :(