The Average Gamer

Friday Night Unplugged #24: Quarantine Z

There’s one issue that tends to crop up when trying to get 3 – 6 people to sit down for what could potentially turn into a six-hour game; actually getting the required people together. Unfortunately that hasn’t managed to happen this week so we won’t be bringing you our A Game of Thrones: The Boardgame playthrough just yet.

This week on Friday Night Unplugged, we’re instead checking out a game that popped into my letterbox a week or so back. Quarantine Z is the first game from US-based Alloyed Creations. It’s a 3-5 player, semi co-op, zombie survival card game full of humour, bad weaponry and a surprising level of tension.

Quarantine Z logo

The Basics:

In Quarantine Z, one player takes on the role of the zombie horde and the other players become survivors. There are three main card types that play a role in Quarantine Z, split across the zombie, supply, munitions and location decks.

  • Location: Location cards are shuffled at the beginning of the game and nine cards are randomly drawn then placed in a 3×3 grid in the middle of the table. Each location has its own name, a bonus for searching it (upon defeating a zombie inside) and an escape value to be used when running from zombies. Locations can only be searched once.
  • Zombie: Zombie cards are double-sided cards used by the zombie player. On the back of the card is the standard zombie template with its life, damage and escape modifier. On the front are either mutations or events the zombie player can play, depending on the card text. Zombies are played as a face-down card from the zombie player’s hand whenever survivors enter a location and can be loaded up with any number of face-up mutations to add extra damage, life or just weird effects. New zombie cards can be drawn when a survivor makes noise with a gun/bomb or fails a sneak check when moving between locations.
  • Weapons: Each survivor gets three action cards to use during combat with a zombie: escape, shoot and fight. Shoot and fight cards require the survivor to have a weapon of the relevant type to use, else they revert to base stats for minimal damage. Weapons are found in the munitions deck and range from katanas to revolvers, each with its own stats and power. Attacks are resolved by rolling a die and matching it with the result on the weapons card. Headshots (almost) always kill a zombie instantly.
The Supply deck holds health items and armor to boost your damage/life.

The Supply deck holds health items and armor to boost your damage/life.

The game’s phases go as follows:

Each survivor starts with four cards from the supply and munitions decks and three life points. The zombie player starts with four cards. First up, the rest phase allows the players to equip/unequip items and use any supply items they want.

Next, all the survivors must plan and agree on a location to travel to, then move to the location by rolling a die for a sneak check. Any survivor that rolls over a 3 makes noise and allows the zombie player to draw another card.

During the zombie phase the zombie player can play a zombie from its hand for the survivors to fight. Combat proceeds in rounds with zombies dealing damage to survivors after each round of combat. Damage dealt by weapons and abilities are deducted from the zombie’s life total until it reaches zero and it dies. Once all zombies on a location have been defeated, the remaining survivors may loot that location drawing x number of cards from the munitions and supply decks as stated on the location.

9 Locations set out ready for a game ranging from an old vault to a hippy farm to a standard house.

9 Locations set out ready for a game ranging from an old vault to a hippy farm to a standard house.

Play continues like this, moving from location to location and fending off the horde until either all survivors have been killed or the zombie player has run out of cards in their deck.

What we think:

For the most part of our time playing Quarantine Z, we love it. The location and zombie mechanics in particular are really well thought out and surprisingly crisp for what is Alloyed Creations’ first card game. The artwork is basic but the card text and locations make up for it for being chock-full of zombie and sci-fi culture references. There are a few concerns we have here at FNU towers.

Every zombie killer needs an armory.

Every zombie killer needs an armory.

If you’re playing a three-player game with two survivors against one zombie player you’re going to have a bad time. The fewer the players, the faster the zombie horde will grind you down and we’ve had games where, by the end of the second combat, both survivors have died at a stupidly mutated-up zombie.

This directly follows into my next issue. In nine out of ten played games that we’ve tried, the zombie player wins. All it takes is a few bad rolls and there goes the game. The likelihood of the zombie player winning does drop with four survivors vs one zombie player, to the point where it’s almost too easy for the survivors.

Each survivors cards are used in combat and help decide who's turns are taken first and who gets hit by the zombie,

Each survivors cards are used in combat and help decide who’s turns are taken first and who gets hit by the zombie,

I would love to recommend that you go out and buy Quarantine Z despite its issues with balance because really they can be worked out over time with your group as they adjust to the ruleset. For a first game it’s crisp, smooth to play and easy to learn. The only downside is it isn’t actually out in stores yet but it will be hitting Amazon soon. However all is not lost.

Quarantine Z is available in full to print and play over at so go download it, head to your nearest Staples and get it printed.

Over the next month I’ve got some great games to talk about including Gearworld, Arkham Horror and Cosmic Encounter so be sure to hang around. Subscribe through RSS, Twitter or Facebook.