Yes, I'm calling it a Solo Review instead of a Single-Take Review, and yes, it may have everything to do with seeing Han and Chewie on screen for the first time in over 30 years...
Today I'm taking a look at Run, Fight or Die, a Richard Launius game from 8th Summit and Grey Fox Games.
Run, Fight or Die, is a zombie dice-roller for 1-4 players that gives players three options as you face the oncoming hordes of unpainted hordes of zombie guys and gals. Will you a) run, b) fight, or c) ....wait for it...die? The answer is up to you, and of course, the dice. Should this game run, fight, or die? And what does that even mean? Let's find out!
The game takes place in a town where the dead have become undead and are now hungry for, well, you. Each player has a unique character and a player board featuring three zones indicating how close the approaching hordes are to you--and believe me, they are approaching quickly! Along the way you'll be able to search for loot that gives you a bonus, followers that can either help or hinder your plight, and, of course, there are events that can affect the whole game or just yourself, while you travel from one location to the next.
The game ends when either: A player is killed, a player gains five followers (which triggers the game end and allows each player one final turn), you defeat the Mutant Boss Zombie (we'll talk about this distinguished gentleman later), or you pull the Town Line card and the criteria is met. The winner is the player who has the most VP's and is still alive.
Let's dive a little further!
Dice - There are 5 action dice that will allow you to beat back the zombies, but also give you the option to gain other bonuses along the way. There's an additional action die that can be gained from a bonus of another card. There is also the event die that will trigger an event on your turn that will either help you, or can possibly completely crush you. It's fickle that way.
Action Boards and Character Boards - There are 6 different characters to choose from, and each has a special ability you can roll, as well as varying hit points. The action boards simply tell you how close the zombies are in those three zones we talked about earlier.
Cards - There are a few different types of cards, Loot, Follower, Location, Event, Mutant Zombie, and Fleeing cards. Certain combinations of dice rolls allow you to draw these, which is typically a good thing. But Mutant Zombie cards are not a welcome sight and Fleeing cards are a penalty for... that's right, fleeing. We'll talk about that in the gameplay section.
Tokens and Miniatures - There are wound/vp tokens which are pretty self explanatory, and the base game comes with 60 zombie miniatures. There are two different models, male and female, and there are plenty to go around... you're going to need them!
You'll shuffle all the cards into their respective decks, each player will take an action board and character board (either randomly or selectively), and each player gets two zombies in zone 1, three zombies in zone 2, and four zombies in zone 3. Pick a player to start and then get rolling!
You may have an idea of how gameplay goes down already--it is, after all, a dice roller--but here's a quick overview of how you play the game!
Players will take turns in by completing a series of phases:
- Initial Dice Roll - You get to roll the five action dice and one event die.
- Event Resolution - Where you resolve... the event.
- Rerolls - Up to two rerolls each turn.
- Zombies Advance - All of your zombies move one zone closer!
- Hunt Phase - MORE ZOMBIES!
- Check for End Game - See if you've triggered the end game!!
The Event die can really swing your strategy for the turn. If you roll the All Quiet, it means that no zombies come out in your Hunt Phase. But if you roll an Ambush, you're taking a wound and might need to roll and try to snag a Loot card or Event card in hopes of healing up.
The Action dice give you the ability to fend off the zombies, or you can roll the blue "Book of the Dead" (because that's what books are called in the zombie universe) and rolling different amounts of them will allow you to gain certain cards (followers, events, loot, etc.). The other catch is that if you roll a zombie icon on any of your rolls, you can't reroll that die unless you have a specific ability, or you draw a Flee Card (which usually causes something terrible to happen... Usually.) There's also a Search for Followers icon that grants you cards depending on how many you roll. The other three icons are Run, Baseball Bat, and Gun. The bat and gun allow you to remove (kill zombies) and using the Run icon allows you to move a zombie back a zone.
The last thing we should talk about is the Mutant Zombie Boss. He comes into the game by way of bad things happening in Event or Flee cards. When he does he gets a number of wound/vp tokens placed on him (that amount depends on the number of players). Once he's in the game you can only hit him with gun icons (there's also a card that allows you to use book icons). If you hit him, you take the VP token. If he loses all of his tokens, he goes away until another card brings him into the game. Also on your turn, during the Zombies Advance Phase, you get to draw a Mutant Zombie Boss card and subsequently terrible things will probably happen to you.
Players keep taking turns trying to stay alive and trigger the game end, all while also trying to score the most VPs. It gets pretty frantic! The tie breaker is most number of followers, and any tie after that ends with a shared victory.
Let's talk about the components first. I have completely mixed feelings about them. On one hand the artwork is really cool and stylized, and the zombie minis are really awesome quality! On the other hand, I'm just not a big fan of the icons on the dice--in particular the Event die. Sure they work and they don't break the game, but it seems at times they aren't very intuitive. And there's also a whole pile of mini cards--MINI cards! Again, just a pet peeve of mine. I was also fortunate enough to score the big limited edition Mutant Zombie Boss miniature--he's huge!! The base game comes with a token that represents him. He is a little bit on the grody side, as is much of the artwork and thematic content of the game, so the "14 and up" age range is pretty appropriate and I would recommend sticking to it!
My group found the rule book to be very thorough--maybe a little too thorough. The gameplay is still fairly light at its core, but with all the cards that come into play the learning curve slows a bit. There maybe could have been a quick-start set of rules to get things rolling and then bring in more and more depth as you go...or maybe not. The slowest part of the learning curve is remembering what cards you can draw/bonuses you can gain by rolling specific numbers of Book icons, and Find a Follower icons. Thankfully there's a quick-reference board, and we wore that thing out!
The game play is fun, though, and that's what really matters! At its core it's a dice game, but unlike MANY dice games that consist of press-your-luck type mechanics and not much else, Run, Fight, or Die places itself into the realm of games like King of Tokyo, and Tiny Epic Galaxies, where there's a fun theme and LOTS of ways to mitigate the luck of your rolls. Not only that, but there are some great decisions that come with hefty consequences! You may need to reroll a zombie icon to avoid being completely swarmed, but drawing that Flee card might just end the game if you're too roughed up!
The Final Verdict
Run, Fight, or Die is a fun, quick-playing thematic dice game. For the most part I loved all the components and the way they immerse players into the theme and the moment of the game. It's also full of great, tense decision-making moments that affect the whole game! Definitely not for the younger set, but still a lot of fun for your non-gamer and gamer friends alike!
Have you played Run, Fight, or Die!? What did you think!? Let us know in the comments below!
We'd like to thank Richard Launius for providing Jeremiah with a review copy of Run, Fight, or Die. This in no way affected his opinion of the game.