This Tiny Epic Zombies review was made after playing the game six times.
What is Tiny Epic Zombies?
Tiny Epic Zombies is a horror co-op game with multiple game modes in which humans are attempting to complete objectives while also trying to keep a horde of zombies under control. The game was designed by Scott Almes and is published by Gamelyn Games.
How to Play Tiny Epic Zombies
There are five different game modes in Tiny Epic Zombies. There’s a fully cooperative mode, a competitive mode, a Zombie Player vs. Humans co-op mode, a Zombie Player vs. Humans competitive mode, and a solo mode.
In the cooperative and solo modes, the human players are simply attempting to complete three objectives before they run out of time and before the zombies kill too many people.
In the competitive modes, the human players are still trying to keep the zombies from killing too many people, but each player is racing to complete the three objectives before everyone else.
In the modes with the zombie player, that player has more control over the zombies and gets access to some unique zombie powers.
Turns are pretty much the same in every game mode. A human player will move three times around the mall, which might include killing zombies, completing objectives, and interacting with the rooms they’re in, and then the zombies will take their turn.
Each human character has a special ability, a wound track and an ammo track. Humans die when their wound and ammo tokens meet on the same space on their tracks or cross over each other. If your human character dies, you’ll drop their items into the room you’re currently in, flip the character card to its zombie side (giving the zombies new special abilities), and then you’ll get a new human character. You’ll also remove one of the Survivor tokens; if you don’t have any Survivor tokens left, the humans lose.
Humans have two main ways of killing zombies: melee attacks and ranged attacks. You’ll perform melee attacks against zombies in your current room, and you’ll perform ranged attacks against zombies in adjacent rooms. Melee attacks always kill the zombie you’re attacking, but you have to roll the die to see if there are any additional effects, such as taking wounds or getting a free move. Ranged attacks cost bullets, but you don’t have to roll the die.
At the end of your turn you’ll search the store you’re in and add that revealed item next to the store. The Search card also determines where the next group of zombies will be added; you “check for noise” by looking at the entrance symbol on the card and add zombies to those rooms. If the symbol matches the symbol of the room you’re currently in, even more zombies will be added.
The biggest difference between the modes with the AI-controlled zombies and the modes with the zombie player is the way the zombies get added to the board. The zombie player gets to choose which Search cards the human players get, so they have a bit more control over where the zombies are going to end up from turn to turn. Also, any time the humans do “make noise,” the zombie player gets to use a special ability on one of their zombie cards.
Once the last Search card has been revealed, each human player will get one last turn. If the humans are able to complete their three objectives at any point during the game, they immediately win. The zombies win if the humans don’t complete their objectives in time or if too many humans die.
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- Tiny Epic Zombies really can have some epic moments. The most memorable moments seem to come when a character is able to kill four or more zombies in a single turn by rolling the Overkill! symbol on the melee die.
- The attachable items are really cool. They’re easy to snap to the meeples and they definitely do help to bring the theme to life. Plus, some of the abilities the items give you make you feel way more powerful.
- All of the game modes play well, which is very impressive. There are small differences between each of the modes, but it’s nice having the option to play the game in a bunch of different ways.
- The objectives are really well thought out. My personal favorite is the one with the tanks, which has you attempt to get four tanks to the middle of the mall without having the zombies show up in their spaces along the way.
- These games are short regardless of player count yet it always feels like a complete board gaming experience.
- This game has a lot of replay value. The mall is randomly set up, you’ll have different objectives to complete, and you’ll play with different groups of characters each game. Plus, you have all of those different game modes.
- Some people might like playing as the zombie player, but I found it kind of boring. Your job is to make the game more challenging for the other players, but you don’t have that many interesting decisions to make.
- I wish the mall cards and the character cards were a bit thicker. They can move out of position pretty easily, potentially moving important pieces around.
- The text on the mall cards is very small. That’s not a problem once you’ve played the games few times, but someone has to be the designated reader in those early games so everyone knows what all of the room abilities are.
- I don’t know if this is a problem with everyone’s copy of the game, but the paint on my zombie meeples rubs off of the meeples and gets all over the place.
- A few rules aren’t clearly defined in the rulebook. I recommend bookmarking this FAQ on BGG if you buy the game.
No one in my group is too into the zombie theme, but everyone had a good time playing Tiny Epic Zombies. That tells me that it is going to be a potential hit for groups that are into this theme.
I’ve had a chance to play all of the game modes except for solo and the Zombie Player vs. Humans competitive mode, and each game has been fun. I’m not a huge fan of playing as the zombie player, but that actually ended up being the most intense game that we played.
If you like the zombie theme or you like the idea of owning a portable game with a bunch of different game modes, I highly recommend checking out Tiny Epic Zombies.
Update: TEZ made it onto our Top Horror Board Games list!
Tiny Epic Zombies Links
Thanks for taking the time to read our Tiny Epic Zombies review!
Be sure to also take a look at our Best Cooperative Board Games list and other rankings.