Independence Lane: Crowdfunding Edition – ZtoZ

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Last Friday night, I had the opportunity to try out ZtoZ, a new game by Peter Newland. ZtoZ is a fun social game of trying to pass yourself off as a zombie while causing another player to show some form of amusement. At first glance, this game seems to be a very simple party game–and that’s exactly what it is.

The premise for ZtoZ is pretty straight forward with the rules managing to fit onto a single card. Basically, you and the other players are sitting at a table, surrounded by zombies waiting for their next meal. On their turn, each player will draw a card and read it to a designated opponent as if they themselves were a zombie. As we all know, zombies don’t have a sense of humor, so if either player is caught smiling, giggling, or laughing, they are immediately eaten by zombies and now must help turn the other players as well.

The ZtoZ deck of cards has a wide ranging collection of words, phrases, and sounds for players to moan at each other…or you could draw the blank card which is essentially a wild card. In that case, you can either choose to say whatever comes to mind…or say nothing and just stare at the other person (my personal favorite.)

A small selection of phrases to say in ZtoZ.

Much of the enjoyment of this game is in watching the other players act out their phrases and trying your best not to laugh or show any emotion yourself–this can be VERY difficult. The first time I played ZtoZ, we used this as a sort of ice-breaker and, although it took a little while before we were comfortable calling each other out, once everyone got into it we started having fun. As mentioned earlier, this is not a deep, strategic game or anything even close to it, but it was an enjoyable 20 minute game that got us to open up and laugh together. And, being a newcomer to the group, I very much appreciated it.

During our most recent gaming session, ZtoZ was what I like to call a “palate cleanser” or a short, light game to play while setting up the next game or to quickly pull the group out of a serious mood before starting a longer game. In this role, the game was perfect. We played about 4 games and there were times where none of us could look at each other without bursting into laughter again. There were even a few times where just thinking about having to say the words on the card and locking eyes with the opposing player was enough to get one or both of us to laugh and, in turn, join the zombie horde. I really never thought it would be so hard to groan things like “Watermelon” or that staring someone in the eye and gurgling “Ho Ho Ho” could make even the best poker faced player lose it–but that’s exactly the experience we had.

Don’t smile. Really, it is harder than it sounds…

With the current price point of $13, ZtoZ is on par with games like “We Didn’t Playtest This At All” and there were many more laughs from this simple zombie game than I’ve seen in better known party games of the same size. There are currently about 5 days left on the Kickstarter Campaign, which you can check out here.

In the end, we all agreed that this game was a lot of fun and we will definitely play it again in the future. I’ll admit that, between the two gaming groups I brought this to, I had much more fun with friends than a group I didn’t know as well. However, as an ice-breaker ZtoZ did a great job of loosening everyone up and set the mood for the games we played afterward.

PyroFrog is a gamer through most every medium as well as a father, novice blogger, hopeful game designer, and hopeless Kickstarter supporter. His blog is dedicated to gaming news and tends to focus on interesting and high value opportunities. He regularly organizes game nights where he and 3-8 friends frequently try out new games, playtest new IP's and enjoy popular favorites.

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