Friday 7 November 2008

Rainy Day Activities: Stage A Zombie Uprising

It’s a really shitty day today, weather wise. Overcast, drizzly, and with the promise of a similar weekend to come. We need something that’s fun, a little bit geeky, sociable, and based around the central premise of Hell being overpopulated, so the dead have to rise and tear the flesh of the living.

To be honest, if you haven’t seen George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, you probably don’t qualify as Emotionally Fourteen. In any event the plot is relatively simple: zombies have risen and are winning the war against the living, so four people escape the city in a helicopter and hole-up in a shopping mall. Yes, it’s the original zombies-in-a-shopping-mall movie.

Back when this movie was in 1978, there wasn’t much in the way of computer game adaptations. Well, there was a video-game based on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre released for the Atari 2600, but it didn’t really capture the atmosphere for the film all that well, as it consisted of running around, and bumping into things to kill them. In fact, atmosphere in computer games was distinctly missing all round, and in the future I may even do a feature on shitty horror movie adaptations, because doing shitty movie adaptation regardless of genre would be too easy.

For atmosphere and intelligent gameplay in the late seventies, the option was pretty much just boardgames. And if you wanted the game to be more than just a simple Monopoly/Game Of Life roll-and-move fiasco, you’d sell the license to a wargame company. Which is exactly what the creators of Dawn of the Dead did when they sold the franchise to SPI Publications.

The resulting Dawn of the Dead wargame was highly popular, providing a choice of either solo-play, with the player controlling the zombies whilst a series of rules directed how the zombies would move, or competitive two-player play, with one person playing the four survivors, and one controlling the flesh eating hordes of ex-shoppers.

The wargame was highly popular at the time, and garnered a very strong cult following. In fact, it’s not uncommon for good condition copies to sell on eBay for in excess of £100.

If the game sounds intriguing, you don’t have £100 to spend or the weather’s crap where you are (I don’t know about you, but I qualify for all three), then there’s good news, and a fun activity for this weekend. You can download the parts for free, cut them out yourself, and be playing it in about an hour’s time. What’s more, there’s even updated artwork, so you don’t have to be playing on a rather dated looking board (believe me, board game artwork has only increased in quality over the last thirty years).

What you need to do first is head over to this page on Witchmaster Creations and grab all the necessary files. First, decide how large you want the board to be (I’d recommend 4 x A4 given the choice, but check first that this will fit onto your gaming table). Then grab the counters, and the rules, get cutting and get playing.

You can probably play with paper board and paper counters if cost/bothering to go out in the rain is a concern, but I recommend getting some foamcore for the board and some chunky card for the counters. It’s make everything easy to handle and make it look better as well.

Enjoy, and have an awesome weekend.

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