Zombie Teenz Evolution is the brand new family friendly legacy game from publisher Le Scorpion Masqué. Designed by Annick Lobet, featuring artwork from Nikao and Rémy Tornior, this extends the story from the original Zombie Kidz Evolution, though it is a standalone experience for 2 – 4 players. With individual games lasting around 10 – 15 minutes, players will be attempting to collect supplies while stopping zombie hordes from overrunning local buildings. As a legacy game things will change throughout the campaign, with stickers to place and envelopes of secret content ready to be opened. This review aims to be spoiler free, describing the base experience prior to any of those envelopes being opened – with vague hints at how things might change. However, will players want to keep playing over and over to see all of the content? Let’s find out!
Setting up each game, after putting the town board in the middle of the table, the players randomly choose one of the four coloured zombie horde tiles, and place it onto the matching coloured sewer space. The remaining three are placed into an ordered line. Choosing a character, players start on the center space of the board, the school which was the focus of Zombie Kidz Evolution. Four ingredient crates are put into play, with one placed on each of the corner spaces of the town board, on the building spaces. One change from the original, an event deck is included which is simply shuffled. The white basic die is used, though the blank black die is put back into the box for later on in the campaign.
The aim in Zombie Teenz Evolution is to get all of the ingredient crates back to the school. Each turn the players will first activate the zombies, by rolling the white die. If the die shows a zombie face the zombie of the denoted colour is activated. It either is placed onto the board, on the matching coloured sewer, or moves clockwise a space around the board. When zombies reach a building it becomes overrun, with a special overrun tile added over the space. Buildings being overrun does not stop players from entering them, though whenever a zombie moves into that building, in the future, it is trampolined straight to the next building. The dice also features two ? symbols, which sees the top event card flipped and applied. These could see zombies from the line spawn, see a hero unable to attack zombies for that turn or many other things occur.
The active player then has 2 actions to either stop the zombie hordes or advance the team towards their objective, of retrieving the crates. A player can perform any of the actions and can perform the same one twice. They could move to an adjacent space, attack a zombie horde or transfer a crate. Attacking a zombie horde removes it from the board, with it placed at the back of the zombie line. Therefore, a player could move onto a space with a zombie horde and remove it from the board, via attacking, in one turn. To transfer an ingredient crate there must be a player on the space with the crate and one adjacent to it. As long as one of those two characters is the active one they can transfer the crate from one space to the other. In a two player game a dummy character is placed in the school at all times, to allow players to transfer the crate to them.
The game then continues clockwise to the next player, starting with a zombie activation and then their two actions and so on. If all four ingredient crates are brought back to the school then the game is won. However, if the four buildings are overrun then the game is lost, so there is a balance to be made between delivering the crates and stopping the hordes. Regardless of the outcome players get to add a brain sticker to the progress track on the reverse of the rulebook. Missions are also available, such as winning a game in which a player transferred a crate twice on their turn. These can gain players a single trophy sticker each game, which are also added to the progress track. After filling in the first 4 stickers on the progress track players are instructed to open the first of 10 numbered envelopes. These introduce new content and rules for players to discover. Four lettered envelopes are also included, which are unlocked via completing groups of missions and challenges that come into play later in the campaign.
Much like with the original, when rules tweaks and changes come out of the envelopes it is up to the players if they want to use them. Some might make the game a little more challenging or introduce a new ability, changing how players will need to play. Zombie Teenz Evolution follows a similar flow to Zombie Kidz Evolution, where content is progressively unlocked – regardless of winning. This unlock system means that approximately every few games something new and exciting gets opened and introduced. In a way these split the experience into chapters. However, due to always wanting to play with newly unlocked content, it is in fact between these milestones where players tend to pause.
From playing through the original, the start is almost too simple – though there are challenges ahead. One aspect that will benefit new players, but is a bit off putting for those returning to the series, is that nothing happens after game one regardless of winning. While winning with a completed mission does boost players towards the next envelope it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get new content. It would have been nice to see the first win seeing content unlocked, with the steady progression system kicking in after that.
The major introduction is the event deck. In a few cases the events are beneficial – such as the Taxi event, which lets a player move to anywhere on the board. Alas, most will see the zombies activate in a different than normal way. Unlike Zombie Kidz Evolution there are no blank sides of the die to hope for. Four sides feature coloured zombie heads and the other 2 feature the event symbol. Events regularly occur, having a 33% chance of being rolled. With only a small deck all of the events are seen in one game – to the extent players will often have to reshuffle and see cards come out a second time. Players will learn to embrace knowing what might come up though!
There are some clear decisions that have been made on the artstyle. On top of making everything less gory and therefore family friendly, colour has been used to great affect to make it easy for players to know what to do. The coloured faces on the die, match the coloured zombie hordes. Extending past this there are even coloured footprints on the board from the sewers to further cement the rules of their movement to new players. The town board is a great size, allowing all of the components on a space to not feel cramped right through the campaign. It also features some amazing details inside the four buildings that players journey to.
After nearly 30 games of Zombie Teenz Evolution we reached the final envelope. In a time when there are so many games out there, it is a testament to the game that everyone playing wanted to invest so many plays into one game. Things remain fresh throughout the experience, thanks to the progress tracker keeping new content flowing at decent intervals. The challenges and missions introduced make things a little harder – as they distract players away from the main goal of the 4 ingredient crates. Overall, Teenz has presented more of a challenge, more right up to the finish moments, than Kidz. As a result it is a brilliant game for gamers looking for a lightweight legacy experience and fans of the original. For first timers and families Zombie Kidz Evolution may be a better start point in the series though.
(Editor’s Note: Zombie Teenz Evolution was provided to us by Coiledspring Games for the review. Check out the official game page here.)