'Tis the season for wandering hordes of undead descending on unsuspecting small towns. It didn't take long for the modern tabletop gaming industry to embrace one of the most cherished themes in geekdom. Zombie games feature tense survival scenarios amidst the exciting backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world with few rules but lots of guns.
Best zombie board games
- Dead of Winter: Build a compelling narrative of harsh survival, heroic collaboration, and devastating betrayal.
- Zombicide: Play as a zombie-killing hero as you work together to fight back against the ever-growing horde in a series of tactical scenarios and campaigns.
- Last Night on Earth: Embrace the silly tropes and ridiculous characters of the cheesy horror genre in this very self-aware zombie adventure.
- Dawn of the Zeds: Manage multiple lanes of zombie invaders and heroic townsfolk in this solo-friendly survival game.
- Tiny Epic Zombies: The beloved Tiny Epic series effectively tackles the zombie genre, with all the mall-exploring, zombie-killing, crowbar-wielding mayhem in a tiny box.
- Hit Z Road: The genre takes a sharp left turn where players bid for the most optimal route while driving cross-country across a zombified USA.
- Zombie Kidz Evolution: Not just a solid children's game, but also a wonderful introduction to legacy games as you unlock more advanced rules and abilities.
- The Walking Dead: All Out War: The infamous characters of Robert Kirkman's comic book series wage miniature war across an undead-filled battlefield.
- City of Horror: Cosy up to your fellow players for when the time comes to vote to throw one of your dwindling survivors to the zombies.
- Zombie Dice: Everyone's a zombie in this push-your-luck dice game where you compete to eat the most brains.
While many zombie board games feature a checklist of tropes and ideas, like scavenging for supplies and dice-fuelled combat, they also include a fun variety of gameplay styles, such as negotiating for survival, bidding for the best way forward and managing the defences of your collective community.
Whatever flavour of zombie game you're into, they all require loaded guns, steeled nerves, and juicy brains.
1. Dead of Winter
Work with (or betray!) your friends to survive a wintery zombie apocalypse
Surviving a post-apocalyptic zombie world by hiding amidst a harsh winter seems like a solid idea, except that you also have to survive a harsh winter. Thankfully you've got your friends to help - but any one of them may betray the entire group. Dead of Winter infuses the perfect undead cocktail of survival, humanity, heroism and cruelty that makes the zombie genre so compelling.
Dead of Winter features a number of cooperative scenarios, along with an optional secret traitor. Each survivor must work together to keep their fledgling colony alive by scavenging for resources in the surrounding buildings, saving survivors and building barricades, while secretly furthering their personal ambitions, whether they align with the rest of the group or not.
Throughout each game you'll be making tough decisions, like whether or not you have the food supplies to take on additional survivors, or choosing to mercy kill one of your own infected characters before they start a chain reaction that wipes out your entire colony.
The ultimate zombie adventure RPG-in-a-box
If Gloomhaven is a fantasy RPG campaign in a box, then Zombicide is the closest game we have to a boxed zombie RPG. The Kickstarter smash-hit features cooperative scenarios on a tactical map full of zombie minis.
Players choose from a fun roster of colourful survivors with katanas, chainsaws and rollerskates. Unlike most zombie games, survivors gain experience after defeating zombies, unlocking new abilities as they gain levels. On the flip side, higher-level heroes attract more and more dangerous zombies, and losing a high-level, well-equipped hero is all the more painful.
Like a good tabletop RPG, Zombicide is highly expandable and moddable. The original base game features ten scenarios. Over the eight years since its initial release, Zombicide has received multiple expansions, sequels and spin-offs - including a medieval fantasy plague and mutated space zombies. With a new second edition of the base game featuring 25 scenarios launching later this year, as well as a fully-fledged RPG spin-off on the way, it's never been a better time to go zombie-hunting.
3. Last Night on Earth
Self-aware tactical zombie romp with a B-movie theme
Like many horror subgenres, zombie films are often loved in spite of - or even because of - their cheesiness, whether it’s poor acting, a brain-dead plot, gratuitous violence and nudity, or all of the above.
Last Night on Earth embraces the cheese with card art featuring "real" actors ripped straight from your favourite fictional B-movie zombie flick. The gameplay pits up to four humans against one or two zombie players on a modular, tactical battlefield representing a small town. The humans must work together to scavenge for weapons and resources while trying to complete various scenarios, such as gathering gas to escape in the truck or simply killing a large number of undead.
Last Night on Earth's tactical combat, multiple scenarios and hero survival has been replicated many times over the decade-plus since its release (including by some of the games on this list), but what keeps it shelf-worthy is its endearingly self-aware theme that focuses on cheesy fun over brains.
4. Dawn of the Zeds
Protect the town of Farmingdale against the undead horde
The town of Farmingdale has a nasty case of Zombie Epidemic Disease, and players will need to work together to keep the town safe, healthy and productive, while sending out heroes to repel the undead. It's like the later seasons of The Walking Dead TV show with slightly more dice rolls and a dog named Pickles.
Featuring no fewer than five rulebooks, automated zombies and a lengthy play time, Dawn of the Zeds works particularly well as a solo game. In fact, the original version of Dawn of the Zeds was designed specifically for one player to handle all the actions, events and movement. The most recent third edition includes cooperative as well as competitive gameplay modes for up to five players.
Despite its potential complexity, the game is highly customisable with multiple difficulty levels that greatly alter the gameplay and add entirely new mechanics - hence all the rulebooks. If you like the zombie genre but want your tabletop gaming with a bit more meat on its bones, Dawn of the Zeds is the zombie board game for you.
5. Tiny Epic Zombies
All the brains of a zombie survival-horror game in a tiny box
Name a popular gaming theme, and chances are there's a Tiny Epic version of it. Tiny Epic Zombies recreate the classic mall survival scenario, with locations, weapons, heroes and meeples squeezed into the series’ signature tiny box.
Tiny Epic Zombies packs in a ton of gameplay and modes, including cooperative and competitive modes, both of which can involve human or AI zombie players. Heroic survivors such as The Teacher, The Photographer and The Athlete run around a zombie-filled mall picking up radio signals, saving survivors and finding the source of the zombie plague.
Despite its small size, the fun components really help sell the theme. Equipping a little plastic chainsaw on your meeple before heading out to hunt some zeds is always fun, and who can resist placing their meeple in the little wooden police car before crashing into the hardware store? Tiny Epic Zombies isn't only one of the best Tiny Epic games, it also keeps up with its bigger siblings on this list.
6. Hit Z Road
Survive a post-apocalyptic road trip by bidding on the best route
Most zombie stories end with the survivors escaping their current predicament into a hopefully brighter future somewhere else. Hit Z Road dares to continue the story on the road - specifically a cross-country road trip across the undead-infested Route 66 in the United States. Road trip!
Hit Z Road offers a starkly different gameplay experience compared to most zombie games. Every round players bid on which route they wish to take from a selection of cards that have much-needed resources - and oft-avoided zombie hordes. Ammo can be used to shoot zombies with little risk, while adrenaline is needed to avoid getting your passengers killed in the middle of a big fight.
Players will need to carefully balance their own resources in order to survive the increasingly barren and zombified areas as they travel further west. Surely California isn't full of zombies, right?
7. Zombie Kidz Evolution
A co-op legacy game that's fun for the whole family
A zombie game that's great for kids isn't even the most surprising part of Zombie Kidz Evolution. It also serves as a My First Legacy Game. Zombie Kidz Evolution elevates the original Zombie Kidz with the addition of over a dozen sealed envelopes that are unlocked through playing.
The co-op game stars a group of ragtag kids defending their school from the undead by moving room-to-room defeating zombies and sealing the entrances before the horde grows too big. Players track the number of games played, win or lose, via stickers, unlocking envelopes that contain new rules, including special powers for the kids and zombies.
Zombie Kidz Evolution lives up to its name as a game that actually evolves and grows more advanced as you play, making it the perfect introduction for kids. A fun video game-like achievement system (with more stickers!) adds an additional layer that unlocks new content even faster, making it one of the most rewarding and replayable board gaming experiences for families.
8. The Walking Dead: All Out War
A miniatures war game set in Robert Kirkman's comic-book universe
With its larger-than-life heroes and villains waging war across a dangerous post-apocalyptic battlefield, The Walking Dead provides the perfect backdrop for a miniatures wargame.
In All Out War, two players draft familiar characters like Rick, Michonne and Glenn, along with important equipment like Rick's lucky hat, using a points system - though you'll definitely need expansions to collect 'em all. Characters then take turns moving across the map searching for supplies and rolling dice to dispatch enemies, alive and dead.
Zombies are an ever-present threat in The Walking Dead. In All Out War they represent an AI-run third faction that attacks both sides throughout the game. Generating mayhem or making noise (such as firing a gun) will add to the threat meter, which in turn causes survivors to panic. Both sides will need to use the terrain and zombies to their advantage, replicating some of the most dramatic moments from the comics and TV show.
9. City of Horror
Beg your friends to let you live, then leave them to die
City of Horror knows it's not enough just to survive during the zombie apocalypse - we also need to establish a society. We won't be passing civic policies or nominating representatives, however; we'll be voting on who gets fed to the zeds.
City of Horror is a survival game where players desperately negotiate to save their survivors and gather the precious vaccines scattered around the map. Each player is dealt several survivors and, unlike the typical zombie-killing heroes of other zombie games, these are just everyday people. And they'll get eaten. A lot.
Players will need to debate and haggle over their survivors’ lives by making deals, trading items and antidotes, and garnering good will. If all else fails, use an action card to blow up the armoury, sending other survivors out into the zombie-filled streets. City of Horror is best played with a full group of five or six players, ideally with thick skin and juicy brains.
10. Zombie Dice
Roll to eat more brains than shotgun blasts
While some of the games on this list include player-controlled zombies, all of them include survivors battling against the zombie threat. But what if we just wanted to be a bunch of zom-bros having a night out on the town?
Gameplay doesn't get much simpler than Zombie Dice, which consists of one cup and 13 dice. Players take turns rolling three random dice from the cup, trying to eat as many brains as possible while avoiding shotgun blasts - the zombies' natural predator.
While the dice rolls are entirely random, the strategy lies in determining when to stop rolling and enjoy the brains you have. Dice come in three different levels of danger; holding onto a red die is practically begging for a shotgun blast to the face. If you accumulate three shotgun blasts before stopping, you have been sufficiently triple-tapped into oblivion. Don't get too greedy, we all want some piece of mind.