Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Escape of the Dead, better than I remembered

At a very different place in my life, I first discovered and played Escape of the Dead. At the time, I considered it a game whose chief virtues were that it was free PnP that took minimal construction skills and played out in maybe ten minutes. Now, I still think those are some of it’s strongest points but I value those things more :D

Short version: Escape of the Dead is a solitaire dice game where you are trying to fix your car before the zombies break through the walls. It uses a Stone Age-style worker placement where you assign dice to one of three zones. Four dice to spread out over killing zombies, rebuilding your barricade and fixing that darn car.

One of its biggest criticisms is that there is a degenerate strategy where you focus on killing zombies and use the bonus for killing ten zombies to fix the car, until the end where you go all in on repairing the car. And, to be honest, it’s a pretty reliable strategy. There’s still a chance you’ll lose but the odds are in your favor.

At the same time, the game itself is streamlined without any fiddlyness. Each step is easy to understand and flows into the next. And since the zombie spawn rate increases as the car gets closer to being fixed, Escape of the Dead does a good job ratcheting up the tension. In other words, the game is far from perfect but it manages to still be fun.

Over the last few years, I have played a lot more PnP solitaires, particularly short ones as parent breaks. Going to back to Escape or the Dead, I found that it does very well as a mental coffee break. Thematic and with a tense endgame, it does the trick.

When it comes to free PnP games, I freely admit that I have a different standard than I do for published products or PnP files that I’ve paid for. I do cut them more slack. While Escape of the Dead definitely has some flaws, it’s worth both printing out and playing.

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