I have spent countless hours of high school and university playing Axis and Allies. It is a game that my friends and I used to spend days on single campaigns, so when Avalon Hill sent over the new version, Axis and Allies and Zombies, I was a bit excited.
Cracking into the box and you will find a relatively recognizable board and sets of pieces, save for a few notable expectations. There are now zombies as part of this edition of the game. You still have your World War II setting, with all the major powers in play, and the overall structure of the game remains relatively intact. What Avalon Hill has done is used the zombies and a few rule changes as a way to make Axis and Allies a much more streamlined experience, in some ways for the better, and others less so.
The turns and base game are instantly recognizable if you have ever sat down to play Axis and Allies before. You must select a faction from the slew of forces at conflict during WWII: America, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union. From there you get resources and units based on your faction to defend or attack on select areas of the board. Each turn you are given an allotment of money, all based on your power and on control of the game board, and must use it to invest in forces to ultimately become victorious. If only it were that simple.
Avalon Hill has done a fair amount to the way the game flows, making it overall feel much more streamlined, making it easier to pick up and play. The issue for some purists will rest in how the zombies come into the mix. They, at their core, feel like a pandemic gripping the world, and as troops fall in battle, they join in with the zombie hordes; this horde acts as a secondary enemy that you must fight in tandem with the opposing military factions.
At first, these zombies are relatively easy to dispatch, taking little to no work to clear this scourge from the board. But as the overall global conflict unfolds, and more troops start to fall, the zombies quickly become a menace that can’t be ignored.
At the start of every round you will need to draw cards to see where the next zombie outbreak takes place, from the already existing territory too areas of the map not even being utilized. Worse still, if you ignore the zombie menace there is the potential of them multiplying, making an unstoppable force that will soon claim the board.
While playing, my friends and I quickly understood that ignoring the zombies would only lead to trouble, but it also managed to lend a level of urgency to every choice. Avalon Hill has made many smart choices in how they executed on Axis and Allies and Zombies, and the game is a blast if you are up for the challenge.
As with any classic board game reinvention, you have to decide if you are okay with bucking tradition and embracing the new way to play. There is a lot to love about Axis and Allies and Zombies, but you will need to set many of your preconceived notions at the door. The zombies are a great new challenge, and the speed of the game makes it much easier for new players to jump in and enjoy. Avalon Hill has been making some fantastic moves in the board game space, and Axis and Allies and Zombies is not different.